Wednesday, 29 September 2010

The World of Robots By Zack Kaufen (

I am scrolling through my unsent drafts on my phone. Being a fairly changeable, easily distracted kind of guy I find a multitude of undated, ambigious message-starts; texts I started writing but never finished and never sent. I find my own forgotten past intriguing. “Something very rare just happened” states one, ending abruptly there. “I’m 100% sure that” entices another. “I’d really like to see”. “I just thought of something”. You could play a game; invent your own ending!

One message I find was never intended to be sent; it was a quick note I wrote on my phone because I didn’t have a pen at the time. It was a thought I had about Einstein and his famous quote: ““Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity” which already is a bit harsh, but he slyly adds “..and I'm not sure about the universe” just to really hammer it home. This is in reference I believe to the Atom Bomb being used to slaughter thousands of innocent civilians. Mankind’s stupidity makes a pretty powerful case for itself, but I, fifty odd years later, do feel that statement lingering over humanity a little bit. It’s hard to make a comeback to that. Today’s generation would probably come up with “Your MUM’S infinite, Einstein!”

One way I hope we can get past this blemish is to prove Einstein wrong about nukes. Use them against bloodthirsty aliens, aliens so outright and undeniably evil that if Einstein were still around he’d modify his statement; “Two things are infinite: the universe and how freaking evil those aliens are, you feel me?” This would be a great situation for humanity to prove the benevolence of nukes. Now most of you smarty pants are probably thinking ‘But if aliens developed sufficient technology to space travel to Earth, surely nukes would be piss poor compared to their weaponry?’ Well first of all the way you think is so predictable I’ve pre-empted your train of thought. But also, how much do we really know about how aliens think?

For all we know, the evil aliens don’t constantly war and arms race amongst themselves. Maybe they got up to muskets and thought “Fuck YES. We have a weapon that can kill a guy twenty metres away instantly? This is it. This is the best weapon anyone could possibly invent. No-one will top this. This is weapons done. Weapons: check.” Alien 2 chimes in; “Ok we’ve packed the muskets, now how do we power the spaceship?” Alien 1: “Well, coal, of course!” Alien 2: “Don’t you think there might be a better energy source we could research into?” Alien 1: “Listen, Larry. We have a black, naturally occurring substance that gives off harnessable when set alight. Do you really think the Earthlings will have touched upon this kind of technology? Next you’ll be saying they’ll be lighting rooms without candles!” Laugh. Laugh. Snort. Snort. Stupid Larry.

So the aliens (who I feel I’ve humanised a bit too much, especially the one I called Larry, so in keeping with their evilness, please imagine they were murdering puppies during the previous conversation) turn up at Earth in their wooden, steam powered spaceship brandishing muskets and BOOM. We decimate them all with a swarm of nuclear missiles. Smugly, we sidle over to Einstein’s grave. “So,” we say, grinning, “what was that about atom bombs and human stupidity, Einstein? We must be really stupid to keep making atom bombs, eh?” We start getting rowdy and kicking his grave. “Those stupid inventions didn’t just save Earth from aliens or anything did they? Eh, Einstein?”

Really, what’s so bad about nukes? The ‘worst case scenario’ figures in an episode of 24 don’t seem too high whenever there’s a dirty bomb in LA (read: every episode). Hell, one episode a nuke even went off and around one hour later, in real time, this was old news. I feel the people who come up with worst case scenarios don’t use much imagination. “10,000 people die.” Yea, but surely like a worse case would be 10,000 people die then you stub your toe? And slightly worse is if you then spill your coffee. What about if, by total coincidence, at the exact time the bomb detonates, the sun went supernova obliterating the solar system? That’s like, the worst case scenario. And at the other end of the spectrum, the best case scenario isn’t just that prevailing winds blow the nuclear fallout to an uninhabited area of desert. No – the best case is if the terrorists change their minds. And then buy everyone ice cream. Be more honest in your scenario predictions.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

The World of Robots By Zack Kaufen (

A spider started crawling up my wall. I moved coldly to terminate it. Only after it was in its kitchen-roll-ey grave did I stop to consider the morality of my actions. Killing creatures with brains smaller than specs of dust is just a bit of a gray area for me. I still can’t decide my position on the issue of vegetarianism. Given the slew of Mcdonalds adverts oozing into my subconscious constantly, vegetarianism as a protest doesn’t change anything. ‘That’s not the point!!’ cry the vegetarians. Well what exactly is the point, veggies? You don’t want to eat meat, fine – I don’t like the idea of eating sushi but you don’t see me demanding a nut-based substitute. Ironically I actually love vegetarian food; I just wish I could eat it without the ideology. I’ve been suspiciously questioned just for eating a vegetable burger, as if by doing so I’m picking a side.

Spiders. Is killing them wrong? I’d like to hear something solid on both sides of the argument. Is there anywhere I can view a real debate on this kind of issue? I say ‘this kind of issue’ but I actually mean this exact issue, specifically.

Anyway I afterwards assured a nearby timid girl that Mr. Spider had gone to spider heaven. And I began to wonder what said place would be like. Loads of spiders crawling around on clouds? I really doubt any spiders would rate that as eternal bliss, mainly because their existence boils down to pissing off humans. They wouldn’t want a spider heaven. They’d want to come to our human heaven and crawl all over our walls. And given their short lifespan, the amount of dead spiders in heaven they must outnumber us humans hugely. I can picture turning up to heaven to find a swarming mass of spiders, wasps, cockroaches and snakes fluttering, skittering and writhing like one giant monstrous organism. The humans have backed into one tiny corner of infinity battling the swarm away, terrified, tearfully screaming at approaching newcomers: “Don’t go into to the light! Go back to Earth and wipe out the spiders for good! Only you can save us!”

Obviously the big G wouldn’t allow this really. But it did make me wonder how much compromise would be required in this infinite happiness. Because shaking hands and swapping stories with Einstein, Martin Luther King, Charles Darwin and Dennis Hopper (insert more politically correct greats here) might be a blast for all us peasants but I’m pretty sure Einstein is fucking sick of it. I’m pretty sure his idea of heaven is not playing host to a bunch of simpletons with stupid questions. I’m pretty sure he wants some fucking peace and quiet. It’s a clear conflict of interest. (I never really understood the phrase ‘a conflict of interest’. It seems that more or less everything is a conflict of interest. A game of darts is a conflict of interest. Both players are interested in seeing the other player lose. It’s a conflict of interest!)

So how does God handle this balancing act of constant compromise? Obviously you want to enjoy heaven with your friends and loved ones, with whichever people you choose. But suddenly you’re in a game of politics. Say you want to keep a small close-knit group to enjoy never-ending happiness with; then someone suggests “We have to invite John!” Great. ‘John’. Sure he’s an OK guy. He’d certainly make it past purgatory. But now he’s involved we’re leaning towards eternal mediocrity. You just never got along with ‘John’. After countless millennia you might finally snap, and scream it isn’t heaven with John around. Suddenly all your shocked friends are deserting you to go live in John’s corner of heaven. Suddenly heaven doesn’t seem so great. Suddenly heaven is a pile of shit.

A final worrying train of thought I have pursued is that we all might get our own personal heavens. All of our friends and ideal lovers there, smiling at us; but all just fake constructs to make us happy. And with that thought, I have ruined heaven. Now, no matter what, if I die and go up to the big white cloudy place there will be a permanent niggle in my mind that is could all be false. Any time I see Rachel McAdams smiling at me telling me how she loves my skinny ribs and German accent I will be plagued with doubt that the real McAdams is out there somewhere in her own personal heaven, dancing in a nightclub with Brad Pitt and Paul Bettany. Even if it is entirely genuine, she is the real deal, I will never be able to tell. And therefore I can now never enjoy heaven. The lovelier it is, the more I’ll believe it’s fake.

God, give me a lobotomy.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

The World of Robots By Zack Kaufen (

It’s interesting; the difference between ‘shy’ and ‘anti-social’. The actual difference is good looks. If a good looking guy announces sheepishly that he is a bit shy, girls will regard him as cute, endearing and even outright brave for openly admitting it. If an ugly quiet guy mumbles it, people scowl, jeer and look generally disgusted. Ugly person hasn’t hurt anyone! Ugly person is still the enemy. Simply being quiet is an act of war. Surrounded by loud drunk people, trying to logically explain you don’t enjoy drinking is like trying to batter down a brick wall with bubble bath foam. You will be drowned out by yells of “CHUG! CHUG! CHUG!” and elongated incomprehensible vowels.

I don’t really regard myself as a shy person, but by god am I regarded as one! Now entering my twenty-somethings, the volume has been switched up. Talking is off the table. Is has to be yelling now. Your average group of people now blare incessantly. I’d have to visit a vocal coach to maintain that level of volume. They literally ‘blare’. A verb that used to be reserved for the horns of cargo ship is now used to describe your average – not a select subgroup, but your average – twenty to thirty year old. It seems once you reach twenty if you don’t add ‘fucking’ at random points in every sentence you aren’t a real man. “Can you pass the remote please?” are the words of a pissant. “Change the channel” is for when you’re in a good mood, like once a year at Christmas perhaps. “Gimme the fucking remote for fucks sake” is a step in the right direction.

I consider myself a fairly regular, inanely normal person. I wake up. I read the paper. I drink coffee. I eat food. I go out. I come home. I study a fairly bland degree. But no! – this is not normal, it’s become apparent. Wild, selfish and reckless is the new black, people! Hearing the previously quite reserved people are now frequently visiting the pub, normal has angrily raised the bar. Anything short of frequent drug use, drunken one-night stands, pregnancy scares, broken bones, bricking policemen, bottling your friends and stabbing your enemies is now considered fairly prudish. You have to up your game to be normal now, I’m afraid. Class A drugs are the new tipsy. Threesomes are the new twosomes. Casual sex in the car park is the new snogging behind the bike shed.

One of my greatest curses is my brutal honesty. Many attempts from people to banter with me have been victim to the cold knife of grim, dull logic. Thus I recall soon after I moved to this country, being in a club, talking to a girl.

“Me and boyfriend weren’t really sure about coming out tonight,” she said. “Sometimes it seems an effort to come out, know what I mean?”

I replied: “My social life consists entirely of coming here once or twice a week and I hate it. I dance to music I despise, trying to drown it out with good music in my head. I drink little, pretending to be drunk and enjoy myself to fit in, pray that something interesting happens to me so I can at least take with me some kind of anecdote to recall later, other than the usual ‘I was too drunk to remember anything!’ default option.”

And to my great surprise she said “Yea me and my boyfriend feel like that all the time.” That was nice to hear. Clubbers-who-hate-clubbing, hear me – you are not alone!