Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mothers’ Day! No, Really, It Would Be

From a broke and overworked misanthrope’s perspective, the best holidays are those which incur no social, familial or financial obligations. Therefore, my childless orphan self nominates Mothers’ Day at the best holiday of the year. And in honor of it, I’ll confess to a fundamental sea change in my view of the world: though I’ve said many times that I never, ever want to be a mommy, I’ve changed my mind. Gladly will I have and raise a child, if she’ll grow up to be the genius who invents a hand-held EMP gun and gives it to me as a present some Mothers’ Day. Like today. Right now.

Spring has come to New England, which means my windows are open and my neighborhood peppered with cars driving at 5 miles per hour while playing the bass on their stereos loudly enough to rattle the antique rhinestone boudoir clocks I keep arranged on a shelf. I want to destroy the stereos with an electromagnetic pulse, but I'm not quite miffed enough to detonate a nuclear bomb for it. Hence my desire for the gun.

Back on point: none of my rattling clocks work anymore, except for this one 60-year-old Florn model that keeps near-perfect time, but only when the clock’s propped upside down. I swear. It's been like that since I got it.

Somewhere in that clock lies an important metaphor regarding my life, but I probably don’t want to know what it is. Anyway, I don’t feel like spending whatever it would cost to have the clocks cleaned and oiled so they’ll run again, so instead I blame the rattling bass and imagine a spooky Dorian Gray vibe ‘twixt me and the clocks: my biological one starts ticking, albeit in an extremely conditional fashion, as soon as my rhinestone ones stop (except for one that works quite well, albeit in an extremely conditional fashion).

So what do you think? I think I need some coffee. Right now.

TEN-MINUTE-LATER EDIT: Did I forget to mention my future child would also have to develop time travel so I can have my EMP gun today? I think I did. Anyway, I don't want to put undue stress on my eventual offspring but: my coffee's almost DONE and you still haven't shown up with my Mothers' Day gift. Granted, the cars have gone away and it's nice and quiet now, but for how long, I ask you? How long? You should know. You're the one from the future, not me.


Anonymous A Moose said...

And it would have to work on red light camera's too....

3:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are an orphan? Really? I had no idea, but you have my sympathies, of course. And no, you'll get no smartass remarks from me today.*

*Perhaps tomorrow. ;-)

8:17 PM  
Anonymous smartass sob said...

anonymous is me - I forgot to type in my name. Sorry.

8:19 PM  
Anonymous NoStar said...

Gee Jen,
Sorry to hear that. Uh wait.
You're not an orphan in the same way the Menendez brothers are orphans, are you?


12:07 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Though a true statement, that was meant as the build-up to a joke, not a ploy for sympathy, guys!


5:16 AM  
Blogger Timothy said...

No sympathy from me, then! And no more gruel either!

7:40 AM  
Blogger Anne O'Neimaus said...

Not so futuristic, but deliverable now (and sure to make you a favorite with your neighbors): A feedback-squeal system.

Simply attach a directional microphone to a reasonably powerful amplifier, and feed that into an external loudspeaker. Adjust mic sensitivity so that it ignores "sane" volume-levels, and add some sort of "time-out" squelch circuit, so your squeal doesn't become self-propagating.

Whenever John Rudely drives by, he gets his own noise back as an even-louder "echo", immediately turning into a classic feedback squeal. After he drives off (or turns down the stereo), the effect dies away.

Whenever Jane Nicely drives by, where you can barely hear her CD - and that because the convertible's top is down, nothing "extra" happens.

Depending on zoning laws and neighbor tolerance, you might even legally get away with this. EMP's that fry all nearby electronics are probably going to be considered deliberate (even malicious) property damage.

7:59 AM  
Blogger Anne O'Neimaus said...

I had a much-spiffier design, relying on overloading the phase-locked loop oscillators inherent in all audio equipment, all written out - then my browser died, and I lost it all. Grump I won't pollute your Blog with the full musing (you are SAVED!), but will give a brief summary of my idea:

Suffice it to say, I am NOT an Electrical Engineer, nor anything more than someone who was interested in electronics back in high-school, so I don't know that it would work. But some 10 or 15 years ago, I read that one of the "thought police" types in Italy had developed something very similar (designed to determine if your radio was tuned to a banned station, from a distance of half a kilometer or more).

While that one was designed to clandestinely detect resonant frequencies, it seems not much more from there to broadcasting on that same frequency. If your broadcast is powerful-enough, it will override the "reference frequency" used by the phased-lock loop, and instead lock on (and generate) whatever noise you broadcast.

If you use a parabolic antenna, you can probably keep the beam narrow enough that nobody but the offending target will notice (in particular, the FCC probably won't hunt you down), so long as you're careful not to also be pointing directly at the home-entertainment center of the people across the street.

Doesn't actually "burn out" their system like a true EMP-attack would, but does give them a nasty squeal, out of their own speakers (i.e. closer to their ears than anyone else's) when they drive by. Or, if you just want quiet, I guess you could just force their system to generate nothing but a very low-frequency hum (too low for their speakers to reproduce). If they have the sound up loud enough, that might blow out their speakers, as very-loud low-frequency (say, 5 herz) sound forces a very large movement of the driving magnet in the speaker.


So, there you are, Jennifer: Happy Mothers' Day from your as-yet unborn red-headed techno-hellion!

P.S. Actual Time-Travel (except in the normal "forward" direction) is not yet possible. Retrograde temporal implantation of psychic suggestions in weak minds, however, has always been possible - look how easily history is rewritten. Thus, this poor non-entity was "inspired" to communicate your gift to you. Too bad she's so slow-witted that it came a day late... ;-)

8:21 AM  
Blogger Anne O'Neimaus said...

BTW, Jennifer, you should check the actual angle at which your Florn sits. I bet if it were actually back "home" in Germany (the other side of the world, although still in the Northern Hemisphere), it would be sitting right-side up.

8:29 AM  
Blogger rhhardin said...

Consider geting a dog. Advantages over children include that they actually like you and grow closer, rather than planning their escape starting around age one and a half.

Old people thrive with dogs because it's all that they'll let old people do something for, and doing-something-for is all that makes a person unique and irreplaceable. Indeed, taking away pets is a way that authority controls people, by making them interchangeable and useless again.

Rescue boats refuse to take dogs so that the people will be docile. Those that don't refuse to come without their pets, and so stay behind, that is.

Kids similarly change who you are, and love comes to include more, particularly more than the woman's fanaticized view of perfect love, for instance to include taking the kid to the dentist.

Overall the effect will have been a good one, retrospectively considered.

There really isn't anything you can find to do instead that winds up worthwhile, that it prevents.

6:19 AM  
Blogger rhhardin said...

Story ideas : check out Joan P. Emerson ``Behavior in Private Places : Sustaining Definitions of Reality in Gynecological Examinations,'' in _The Production of Reality_ Jodi O'Brien, ed. Maybe in the library, sort of expensive (textbook).

It's what she calls a precarious situation, where one story is professional objective conduct, and the other is intimate sexual encounter, and the point is to keep the second at bay. The nurse/chaperone is there not to keep the doctor in line, but to keep the definition in line, correcting the patient.

The next essay in the book is ``Precarious Situations in a Strip Club,'' which refers to that work, and notes that the situation is the opposite, but there's the same problem of keeping things in line.

Somebody who knows the precariousness could pretty easily undermine the situation amusingly, in recounting if nothing else.

It won't occur to anybody to combine the businesses, I guess.

8:38 AM  
Anonymous A Moose said...

There really isn't anything you can find to do instead that winds up worthwhile, that it prevents.

er...sorry to be dense, but..uh..what are you trying to say here, perhaps I missed something?

10:10 AM  
Anonymous smacky said...

You are an orphan? I know two red-headed, libertarian orphans on the internet. Lucky me!


10:46 PM  
Anonymous Thoreau said...

There's a scene in Cryptonomicon with an EMP. Some geeks think they'll be all helpful and stop the feds from searching a guy's computer by using the EMP. Except that the feds were after the contents of the hard drive, which was unaffected by the EMP.

6:19 AM  
Anonymous smartass sob said...

Speaking of EMP guns*: there was a story on the television news last night about an EMP device being developed to use as a non-lethal weapon against people. It goes right through walls and will mess with the center of balance in the inner ear making one dizzy and nauseous. Experiments on mice are already quite successful. A usable prototype is expected in about five years.

*Your future daughter showed up this morning in my driveway of all places; I'm not clear as to why she selected me. (She had the oddest devices attached on either side of her head where one would think her ears should be.) She also had a couple of screaming, squawling brats in tow, but their noise didn't seem to bother her much. She said their names were Jabel and Babel, and she wanted to know if she could leave them with mefor awhile; something about their grandmother not being very responsible or something. She promised she'd return for them on the second Tuesday of last week - or some such gibberish. I thought she had alot of nerve! ;-)

12:15 PM  

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