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BEAMS Chapter 11:              EM-Powering People

I WAS ENJOYING the alien’s visit.  It reminded me of how stretching the imagination can actually improve the quality of life.  Creative minds gone wild. 

     With all this talk about size and matter, I was hoping that there was hope for the expansion of the human collective mind.  I had been worried about the current flow of deteriorating but expanding grey matter down the brain drain where wasted talent flows down the gutter, into the sewer and back into the sea where it all began.

      The alien started to speak, and I prepared myself to listen even on an empty stomach.  He then stopped a moment, and the balk allowed the neuron runners in my mind to advance a base. 

      Despite the false start, I appreciated the alien having reminded me of how creative we had once been.  For example, I remember having thought about a twilight-zone type of queer scenario in which a person were given the chance of immortality by spending one year in the body of each and every person alive on the planet.  If this year that soul were assigned a person’s body, then the previous year that same soul were assigned a different person’s body, then the year before that another one, then that traveling soul would experience a lifespan which would according to prevailing opinion of modern science would include a number of years that would take the poor soul back to the creation of the planet and solar system. 

      And on the other hand, if a person were to live a life in which every day was his or her birthday, that person would not live much longer than three months, a season in the sun.  Something to think about.  Moses would not have lived beyond four months, and only forty days would have been spent in the desert.  It probably wouldn’t have mattered to Moses, as leading such his stiff-necked people made every desert-wandering day seem like a whole year. 

      Then the alien cleared his throat, and after a more seconds more of thought, began speaking:  “It seems so destructive to your people, and so detrimental to society to ignore the effects of this talent waste.  We are still not clear on why you use the term “job creation” when jobs are not really created.

     I had to agree with this, even though I had heard the term ‘job creation’ so much these days.  The misuse of the term “job creation” just made no sense.

      “Do you have an alternate suggestion?” I asked earnestly.

      “On Zatox we consider the term ‘creation’ as an act of bringing something – matter or energy - into existence from nothing.  It seems this is what you do with your money supply, just creating more and more of it without any of the money going into the hands of the people who need it, and without taking into account the same type of “creation” of jobs so that at least the people can do something in exchange for these handouts.  

     He still didn’t answer my question about an alternative expression, but instead continued:  “Is your government really and truly so short-sighted that it can’t see the consequences of not integrating the talent of your people to solve those potential problems from chapter 11?”

     I was going to ask him about chapter eleven and what he meant, but instead pursued his point about job creation because I was preoccupied with it every day.  Was his reference to the number eleven a simple representation of the Roman numeral 2?  Or was it a more elaborate binary translation of our mystical number three?  I decided to postpone my questions on chapter eleven until a little later. 

     “Our job creation system,” I tried to rationalize, “is one of the most important aspects of capitalism.”  I said proudly and patriotically.

     “I am glad to hear that,” he responded, turning color to a something of a celestial blue, befitting his condescending extraterrestrial demeanor like a tailored space suit.  “So, you are using the system to apply for jobs, get automated responses, rejection notices, apply again, continue the cycle on and on, ad infinitum, it seems.  Is this right?” 

     I then looked down in shame, and probably was blushing to some odd color myself.  I then told the alien my version of the truth:

     “I keep doing the same thing again and again, sending résumé after résumé, fixing, customizing, doing everything the experts are saying, and I have been getting the same results for many months now.”

     “So,” he responded.  “Are you doing the same thing over and over again and expecting some success?”

     “Yes,” I said somberly.  “For once I want to find a job.”

     “You know,” he said, looking at me with a serious expression indicating he was about to impart some great piece of knowledge:  “Einstein himself defined that as “insanity”.  He described it literally as the action of doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” 

     “I see your point,” I commented, tilting my head to one side like a pseudo-intellectual from a Woody Allen Movie.  That's one thing about intellectuals — they've proven that you can be absolutely brilliant and have no idea what's going on.

      “Would you agree that by “the same thing” Einstein meant doing exactly the same activity ‘ceteris paribus’, that is, with all other conditions being the same?

      All this and Latin too!  I guess when the druids taught this guy English they threw in a little of that Romance language from Aulus Platius’ conquest of Britain.  “Yes, I guess that makes sense,” I said in capitulation.  

     “But how do you know what those conditions are?” 

     “What do you mean?”

     “Let me put this in terms you will be more highly motivated to understand:  When you play the lottery or Powerball, do you know ahead of time what the winning numbers will be?”

     Stupid question, I thought.  “Of course I don’t.”

     “Why not?”

      There were so many reasons why not, it was hard to sort them out.  My brain just wasn’t capable and probably wouldn’t be either even if my cells were fed properly.

      “Let me try again to put this in terms you can even more easily understand:  If you are about to flip a coin, can you tell me with certainty whether it will be heads or tails?”

      “No,” I said simply, hoping he would get to the point soon.  “But I know it will be one of the two.

      “But which one?” he persisted.  “If your life depended on it, and you could win a billion dollars, would you be able to predict the outcome of the coin toss?”

      “Not with certainty, but statistically I probably could with a fifty percent probability.”

      “I’m not talking probability, I’m talking certainty.”

      “In that case,” I said “No, not with total certainty.”

      “And why not?” he asked, wanting to prove his point, too.

      “Because there are too many factors.  Even if the coin is a valid one, in terms of its weight and roundness, there are many other factors which lead to the outcome.  The height of the toss, the speed of the thumb when it flips the coin, the type of floor, the air pressure of the room and of the localized area where the coin is tossed…”

      “Exactly.  And what causes these factors?”

      “I don’t know – just luck, I guess.”

      “But the same Einstein also postulated that God does not play dice with the universe.  Things don’t happen by chance, but by cause.  Can you tell me what these factors are?”

      “I don’t know – a lot of things, I guess.”

      “Actually, you are right.  A great many things, in fact.  Millions of factors upon perhaps billions of little tiny factors that affect the outcome of the coin toss.”

      I was impressed by his stellar arguments, although his ultimate objective remained nebulous at this point.

      “Even if you could name all the factors, calculating them would be an even greater chore. The question is, is the total number of all the factors finite?”

      Good question.  I found myself a bit obtuse and unprepared to answer it.

      “That is precisely what is meant by the words “the same thing”.  The ability to calculate this kind of “thing” is beyond the human mind.  That is why it relies on statistics.”

      “I guess that is why I will never win the lottery,” I said in surrender.

      “Do not worry; in this respect too you are not alone.  You limited human minds are forced to rely on Bayes’ theorem in order to take into account all probable outcomes.  The human cerebral cortex, as miraculous as it is, simple is unable as a race to consider and measure them all, much less to process the variables and their values.  The Bayesian interpretation of probability is your next best approximation, but it cannot replace the actual outcome itself.

      A small comfort.

      “Just like no two snowflakes are the same and no two humans have the same fingerprints, no two situations have the same factors.  That is why you have to continue submitting résumés.  No two places of work have the same needs.  No two employers have the same decision makers.  No two requirements are the same.”

     Interesting point.

     “In a sense, it just seems you have been doing the ‘same thing’ when you submit a résumé for employment, but that’s simply not the case.  There are just too many factors out there you would need to consider that cause a resulting outcome.  You just have to keep on trying.  You never know when a decision is favorable to you.  That also happens to be the case with all decisions that are made, those that seem important and those that appear trite.”

     “What do you mean?”

     “Think of a decision you made recently.  Go ahead, any decision you may think was either large or small.”

     “I thought of my decision this morning to get out of bed.”  

     “That is a good example right there.  Any decision would suit this example.  Most decisions have more than two possibilities, not simply to be or not to be.  The choice you make could be much more elaborate, such as what colour clothing to wear on a particular day, what to have for breakfast or whether to say “hi” or “hello” to someone you know.  The big question is, what are the causes that affect your decisions?  Why did you make that decision to get out of bed?”

     “I don’t know.  I just did.”

     “But think about it closely.  How did you come to that decision?”

     “I don’t know.  It seemed like the right thing to do.

     “But why?”

      “It just felt right.” I answered in a doltish tone.

      “I understand.  Decision processes are always based on knowledge and stimuli which change from moment to moment.

       Knowledge and stimuli.  I was sorry his stimuli had not been significantly different enough to choose someone else for this line of questioning.  Why me?  What did I do to deserve this?

     “But there were causes to your feeling, right?” he continued, pursuing his line of questioning.

     “I guess so.  I hadn’t thought of it, really.”

     “It’s these causes that I think need focus.  It is some combination of the causes that comprise the notion of “the same thing”.  And when you think about it, these very causes are in fact effects of a previous outcome.”

     It was something I was having a hard time thinking about.

     “All effects become causes to the next effect, like a chain-reaction.”

     Heavy stuff, man.  I felt like a gomerel nincompoop, momentarily undernourished since I didn’t have my Wheaties; it was a no-“Go” with Cheerios this morning.  My bad!  I should have had a more wholesome breakfast but was too busy with my résumé submissions.   

     The human Genome project is the consequence of such an effect.  You may think of a person’s DNA as being something of chance, but in fact everything since the beginning of time has been predictable.  Just you humans, as well as we Zatoccians have insufficient brain capacity to understand the collection of causes that bring about a result.

     I was glad he grouped us together as having insufficient brains.  Mine was feeling altogether insufficient right now to even nod in agreement even if I did understand every individual word he was saying.

     And these set of causes are in fact what Einstein meant as “the same thing?” in the most precise way?

     You do understand that even one factor in the scheme of “things” is different, as imperceptible as it might be, even if minutely, microscopically different, then a result could turn out to be different.  In such a case you are actually not doing “the same thing.”

    “I guess so,” I said, feeling like a nitwit out of his league.

     And do you agree that at any given moment in time there is one and only one set of relevant causes that can affect the future?

    “I guess so,” I repeated, nodding like a noddy simpleton.

     “But your theoretical physicists point to quantum physics, theorising that a particle can actually be in either one place or the other at the same time.  It is this ‘either’ that seems to work counter to Einstein’s statement.  How can one do the ‘same thing’ if the components that comprise that thing are either one way or another? “  

     I was now stumped.  I couldn’t decide how to get out of this impasse, as time now seemed to be dilated and its passage was slowed.  I guess my time-frame-of reference was affected.  In the Einstein tradition, I looked around for a clock in my reference frame.  It was nearly two, and I was getting hungry.

     “You see, despite the consequences of quantum physics, you can’t have it both ways.  And you can’t have it either way, either.  That is insanity – at least according to Einstein’s definition.” 

     I wondered if this precluded the possibility of parallel universes.  Was our fate sealed?  Was there a reality that we were destined to get to, and that no decision of free will could change that destiny?  Was there free will at all, even in our free country where freedom is what we were all about?   Couldn’t we do SOMETHING to intervene with the fates by somehow affecting our appointed round with destiny?  Or was my repetitive dream something of a regular checkup appointment whose fate had been predestined and played itself out exactly the same way every time?

    And if there were some way to take a furtive peek into the future, what we saw could affect it like the Heisenberg uncertainty principle.  So it seems we have no way to take such a gander, whether we’re talking about one of kind reality or a none of a kind fantasy.  As Yogi Berra would have probably said in an alternate but close reality, “We simply can’t see future events, especially those that haven’t happened yet.”  .

    That makes good sense in any reality, even a virtual one.  It seems to be valid in any alternate universe.  If we could all see future events, we would all win the Powerball or some other lottery, and money would become useless.   All bets would be off, and no alternative outcomes would be possible.  In short, the determination of results eliminate all risk factors.

    The thought of losing one’s freedom of will in this way was disheartening.  In a universe where these is free will, the future has many variables that become constants as future goes into present and then to past.  With all the variables, many people think there are multiple alternate universes.  And one should be able to slide across these universes or travel in time to change history – only it isn’t history they are changing, merely entering a different alternate universe.  Every decision made brings about a set of circumstances, where no decision can change the past. 

    On the other hand, in a universe without free will, both future and past are constants and there is only one universe without alternates.  Time travel would be impossible, as fate controls all.  Some philosophers have questioned whether God knows what the future will bring, or is everything unfolding out as things get processed in the present through an input to process to output computer flowchart.  

    Agnostics would probably argue that if God had known that mankind would turn out evil in Noah’s time and would have to bring a flood to correct the course of history, He wouldn’t have created Mankind, and wouldn’t have regretted doing so.   If God really knew the future, why would He have created man?  Why did He bring the flood?  Couldn’t He foresee the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah?  The golden calf fiasco? The Israelite Priesthood becoming corrupt under Eli’s sons Hophni and Phineas?            

    Whether or not there is free will, it is still too late to change the past unless time travel is possible.  Otherwise, no NEW decision can be made.  A case of a late “breira” where it is too late to make a new decision.

    “So, human, I guess this proves my point.”

    By this time I had forgotten what that point was.  I regretted that I was unable to connect his point to the others in a series which could comprise a segment I could comprehend on this plane of existence.  I was also sorry I had wished earlier to be a fly on the wallpaper of his thoughts, which were currently two-dimensional.  I needed space as my final frontier to bring me back to life; and time, too, to figure it all out.  And then, of course, food.  Those were the three dimensions on my mind right now.

     Then I remembered the alien’s mention of chapter eleven, and thought it would be a good idea to finally address that subject.  By now I couldn’t resist asking the alien about it, so with unrestrained curiosity I reminded him of it, hoping finally to get an explanation.    

    “Oh, yes, human, please answer the question I asked you a while back.  Why is your government so short-sighted that it can’t see the consequences of not integrating the talent of your people to solve problems your succeeding generations could suffer, like those from chapter 11?”

     Again with chapter eleven.  I had no idea what he was talking about.  It seemed like I was trying to use words and he was using numbers, while something was getting lost in translation.  I knew I may be sorry, but couldn’t resist eating of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge:  “Are you saying that by not being prepared to resolve the issues that we are open to some form of bankruptcy?”

     The alien appeared annoyed, and with nettlesome and freakish vexation responded: “I was neither referring to that chapter 11, nor to this one, human.  I was referring to chapter 11 in the book of Deuteronomy, which I have read carefully before coming here, in the hopes of better understanding the human condition.  Remember that although I am only an outsider looking in, but I am beginning to see the picture.  It may indeed be that this Wise Book is warning the people of upcoming natural disasters.”

     I was intrigued by the alien’s warnings of future adverse events.  I took notice also, that the alien and I seemed to express the number eleven differently.  This may sound particularly strange, but his usage of that number was digital, and he seemed say ‘11’ as opposed to my analog version in which I would say ‘eleven’.  I guess it was nitpicking – he said tomato and I said tomotto; perhaps we should call the whole thing off.   

     We humans tend to look at mystical messages behind cryptic numerals.  We look very hard sometimes stretching the numbers with some sort of meaning that would stimulate and satisfy our imagination.  Some of us look at Friday the 13th as a folklore day of bad luck.  Others see the number of the beast 666 as a symbol of the Devil.  I used to have fun with numbers, particularly with the Qabalah and the Hebrew lettering of the Gematria meaning of numbers.  The three digits of 666 taken together sum up to 18, the “chai” meaning “life”.

     Then there’s the multiplicative product of three sixes.  The cube of 6 is an interesting number I always thought, because 6 equals the number of surfaces on a 3-dimensional cubic shape, while the number of sides on a sphere is 1.  The number 6 x 6 x 6 happens to equal 216, which is the Gematria equivalent of “fearsome awe”.     And by jumbling the Hebrew letters, one can give it the meaning of “He will see”, which is latter part of the name the Patriarch Abraham gave to Mount Moriah after the Angel spared his son from sacrifice before the mount became the traditional spot of the Solomon’s Temple.  Actually the full Hebrew name of the spot is “God Will See.” 

     Perhaps the combination of God with a word that equates to the multiplicative product of 6 symbolizes the conflict between good and evil in a city known as a place of peace named Salem, but has become a point of conflict over the centuries and millennia.  It has had more names than conquerors:  Jebus, Jerusalem, Aeola Capitolina, Al-Quds, City of David, and the Holy City. Then, when the Gematria letters of 216 are jumbled once again, you get the word “Arieh” which means “Lion”, the same beast mentioned in Jacob’s blessing when referring to his lion-cub son Judah, destined to become the most successful tribe of Israel.  Jacob also mentions in the blessing the word “Lavi” which also means “Lion” and whose numbers equal 43.  I always felt that significant when considering the Gematria number for “esh” which means “fire” whose letters add up to 301.  That number is an interesting one, because when you divide it by 2 or 3 or 4 or 5 or 6 you get always get a remainder of 1.  Only when you divide it by the Sabbath day, whose number is 7 do you get an even number withc no remainder, and that number just happens to be 43, the number of a beast known as “Lavi”.      

     Since it is mentioned in the Book of Revelations, that number 666 is repeated in a lot of modern folklore with reference to the “number of the beast”.  Was that in reference to a lion?  Or was it to a bull that symbolizes Wall Street?  After all, the Hebrew phonetic spelling of “Taurus” is “TRUS” which happens to sum up to 666.  Maybe the collection of interest is considered work of the Devil and that’s why it can be found in the number of the bull that happens to bear horns like Lucifer’s beams.       

    The repetitive digits of 666 following a decimal point representing the fraction two-thirds, and the number of sixes is hellishly infinite if one is to precisely and accurately represent that fraction.  Like the theoretical Big-Bang, it has a starting point, but seems to continue forever in orthodox fashion like a ray with a starting point continuing forever.   If one were to take on the task of writing out the number of sixes, one would eventually have to settle for rounding slightly upward the last digit, but that last digit would have to be a 7 instead of another 6.  Thanks to the number 7, the observant undertaker performing the task can now rest just as God did after the 6th day.

     But sometimes a number is just a number.  One can amuse oneself with the applications of either, but the numbers are not an angelic development or a devil’s contrivance.  It is most likely the development of the creative human mind, the one that looks for meaning in all the numbers, including the number eleven.

     We humans tend to be preoccupied with numbers of beasts.  Sometimes a beast is just a beast.  Sometimes a pipe is just a pipe.  Sometimes a skin color is just a chromosome.  And sometimes a symbol is just a geometric design.  A pentagram, for example, is nothing more than a pentagon superimposed on any lone star on a Cowboy helmet or a Hollywood sidewalk.  What could be more safe than a Pentagon like the one along the banks of the Potomac and a lone five pointed star?  Yet when you impose each on the other, the combination is a satanic symbol which ironically, Hollywood has made famous.  I guess it’s like mixing sodium and chloride, which results in a substance that is totally different from the constituting elements.

     Many people feel Washington DC is satanic because of the pentagram planning of the streets.   Some people conclude that money really is the root of all evil because of the many pentagrams on the dollar bill, something for the Devil to pay.  I understand he is sitting on cash, and is always hiring.  Furthermore, he is much more accessible than an HR Department, as he has a special hotline which may be monitored or recorded for quality assurance. 

     Besides the alien’s reference to eleven, the first double-digit prime number, and the number which when represented in binary form represents the smallest prime number and the only even one amongst an infinite number of prime numbers, his reference bothered me.  His cryptic prediction caused me to have a great deal of apprehension.

     Natural disasters?  My co-humans had already suffered so many hurricanes already, having devastated the New Orleans and New York areas, floods on the Mississippi River, droughts in the Midwest, earthquakes and famines, deadly diseases, and other disasters all over the world.  It’s too bad that global warming became such a political issue rather than a scientific one.  Some see it as propaganda, while others see it as a true global warning of things to come.  Although I am a very interested in this topic, I try to be a casually disinterested observer so that my objectivity can triumph.

    The alien seemed to tolerate my aside thoughts, to a point anyway.  I still wasn’t sure if he could telepathically read them.  In any case, he then continued his observations:  “We on Zatox have noticed that many humans see these disasters as punishment for the peoples’ not behaving with integrity.  But perhaps it is an admonishment of what could happen if your society doesn’t integrate the talents of its people into a strategic solution prepared ahead of time.  Such a solution which could help solve problems which can arise when the spring and autumn rains do not fall.  Maybe if people were valued more, they would be able to contribute ideas to help society gather in its grain, new wine, and olive oil when famine eventually hits.”  

     Interestingly put.  I never thought of such a connection between social ‘integration’ and ‘integrity’.  It appears our societies have neither of these.  Perhaps I was right about chapter eleven being related to the bankruptcy of our society due to a current lack of true ethics.

      I was particularly impressed, however, that my alien friend was seriously concerned about our future as if he had a stake in it.  Could he have been some a time traveler from the future?  Was he a product of evolutionary selection who was studying his history, our present to him?  If so, wouldn’t he be interested in conserving his own time line, instead than offering a rather decent token to a descendant of human descent such as myself?   Or perhaps he wanted simply to know more about the descent of mankind.

     “Your people need to consider the options, and perhaps this means putting your shameful past behind you where it belongs.  You need to take action for the future.  For example, make the possession of assault rifles more illegal than marijuana.  Focus on the future consequences of your actions and inactions – use the lessons from your shameful past to move forward.” 

     This was a bit insulting.  I was a staunch supporter of the second amendment-the right to bear arms, but I didn’t want to debate the point with such a celestial creature who may not even have had a basic understanding of the human condition.  So I challenged him:  “What did you mean by our ‘shameful’ past?  What do you know about our suffering?”   

     “Well, please answer me this, human:  How much do you really know about your human heritage?”

      Now I was getting annoyed.  After all, I am from here and the Earth is my home planet.  Here my ancestors lived, and here their remains orbit the same sun more times dead than alive, with these orbits going on for so many years.  And now comes along this alien foreigner, wanting to know how much I knew about my home planet.  “I know a lot more about my people than you ever will.” I answered rather insolently, folding my arms in a defensive posture.

      Most people would have been slighted by my answer, but not this guy.  He had a hole to dig and it looked like he would get to his destination soon.  He then asked:  “How many parents do you have?”

      Very strange question, but at least it was trivial and I didn’t have to think hard.  Though the relevance wasn’t clear, I supposed that if I were on the witness stand, at least the question seemed easy enough.  I answered simply, “Two.”

     “And how many parents does every human have?”

     “Two,” I answered without a pause, employing the same tone and demeanor as I had in my previous response.  The questions were easy, so far.

     I was taught to believe in the Biblical story of Genesis, particularly the part where it says that He created them male and female, and they become one flesh.  Since then we descendants have been generated by a pair of parents.   Maybe that’s what the alien his seemingly digital use of ‘11’ – he was using a binary expression for the number ‘2’, which is not only the number of genetic parents each of us has, but the chapter number from Genesis.  I remembered reading there that after Eve received Adam’s rib, and he woke up, they took each other hand in hand and had strength to set everything in motion.  We the descendants are the same:   No man is an island.   Hand in hand, we join with the opposite sex to have the strength to continue procreation and provide for the survival of our species. 

     “Biologically, do you know why there must always be two?” The alien asked, making me feel for a moment that I was being psychoanalyzed.  I guess there was nothing in that agreement we made at the beginning of the probe which nullified such a possibility.

     I was glad that I could answer his question.  “It has something to do with the chromosomes of a normal human being which must number forty-six, half coming from each parent.”  I said, sounding like an authority of sorts.  “No one has three parents, and no person has ever been generated with only one.  I guess Adam and Eve would be considered special cases, as would be cloning.”

    “So everyone knows who their two parents are?”

    “Not always,” I said, thinking about the exceptions, which today seemed at times to be the rule.  “It’s much easier to know who the mother is.  The father, well…that’s a different story.”

     “I think I see.  So everyone knows who his or her mother is,” the alien concluded, trying to make a point.

     “It’s much more likely, but even that’s not always the case.” I responded after some thought.  Knowing who a person’s mother is can be complicated too, due to family events that can cast doubt as to the identity of the maternal parent.  Adoption is probably the most common cause for the uncertainty, as well as in-vitro contraception and surrogate mothering, the task of identifying parents has become more scientific these days, though not impossible.”  I was sounding like an authority.  I guess those evenings watching endless Law & Order episodes was paying off.  I enjoyed being interrogated, because I seemed to know all the answers.  It was better than school.  

    “But is it possible for a person to have more or less than two biologically contributing parents?”  He asked, cornering me effectively with his questioning.

     “No,” I answered curtly.   “They must have two parents, a man and a woman whether or not the parents ever even touched each other or knew each other.” 

     “Are you absolutely sure?” he asked again just to clarify, persistent nudnik that he was at times.  

     “Absolutely, for every human alive.” I replied in an authoritative tone. “Once a sperm comes into contact with an ovum, the resulting zygote prevents other sperm from penetrating and fertilizing an already fertilized ovum.  Even if twins are eventually born from the fertilization, each would have two parents; albeit the same ones, but two and only two parents, nevertheless.”

     “So,” he concluded carefully, “while a child can be raised by several adults or even a single parent, that person had to be generated by two contributing parents.  No more, no less.”

     “Absolutely.” I responded stubbornly and without hesitation.  You didn’t have to be an expert in the Book of Genesis to understand that.  I was, in fact, tapping into my high-school and college background in biology.  I had not problem doing this, and added, “The laws of human biology are orthodox in that generating a new person requires twenty-three chromosomes from a donor who is male and twenty-three chromosomes from a female.”

     I then thought about possible exceptions such as Down’s syndrome, and threw in this disclaimer:  “Even if there is a rare case where twenty-two or twenty-four chromosomes are donated by one of the parents, that doesn’t change the basic requirement that there be exactly two donors: one male to donate the sperm, and one female to donate the ovum.  Each person in this way has two direct parents, in the previous generation.  Not one parent, not three, but there must be two.” 

     “And there has never been any other way to generate a person?”

     “No,” I responded, sounding like an expert on the matter.  No matter how or where sperm fertilizes an egg, in a test tube or Petrie dish, in a lab or in some alien spacecraft, the contribution of the sperm and ovum always has its sources traced back to two contributors.  The even mix of forty-six chromosomes is absolutely vital for conception and eventual reproduction – at least on our planet it is.”  

     “Interestingly put, human - concise up until the end.  The human system of reproduction is indeed part of an elaborate one, one of the immutable GACTs of life you might say, enabling the nucleotides called guanine, adenine, cytosine, and thymine to become sequenced as the building blocks of nucleic acids, ultimately generating a DNA double helix sequence which defines the specifically unique nature of each person who has ever lived.”

     I had no idea what he was talking about with all those words taken from a biomedical journal.  His mention of the chemical thymine reminded made me of mutated T cells which mutilated the word “often” all too often.  I wasn’t sure if such a mutant T cell was related to mutant ninja turtle cells or terrapin shells joining the Big Ten Conference.  My own inadequate nescience brain was probably incapable of comprehending the truth in what he said.  Maybe I just can’t handle the truth. 

     Nevertheless, I was sure of one thing:  That each and every one of us has two parents, as that was the way particularly in the Book of Genesis.  The serpent had nothing to do with it; it wasn’t a case of hiss and hers.  Until, of course, Eve game her adamant Adam an apple from a forbidden tree that he did eat, during which Adam’s apple got stuck in his throat when he found out the sin he had done.

     I wanted to keep pace with the alien and was trying to think of something clever to say.  I must have fallen short, because all I could come up with was, “Yes, that seems to make sense.  Actually, it’s as simple as two plus two.” 

     “More accurately,” he added, “it is multiplication; a product of 2 x 2.  Your faith is inspired with spirit within your bodies that are generated as a genetic multiplicative cross product, educated to honor your parents, who in turn then submit you to society to be ethically cooperative congregants as responsible participants who hold moral obligations to society.” 

     Between the alien’s cruces and the luces, his cross-products and the intersecting beams of his elucidation, I wondered about the his own choice of words, as they were full of religious symbolism:  Spirit, cross, submission, generat(ion), congregants, ethics, honoring parents, the Supreme Being…it did seem to resonate with my background.

     “So”, he continued his dig, “if we were to take this further back in time, now measured by generations, would it be right to say that each person who ever lived is a descendant of four grandparents and eight great- grandparents?

      I thought for a moment and replied what might have seemed to be the obvious.  “Yes, that is true.  These are our ethics, our morality.”

      “Ethics?  Morality?  We have these on Zatox and they are well defined,” the alien responded.  “You probably have your own ethical codes of expected behaviour and your moral character which complements that behaviour.” 

      I had to admit I didn’t know the difference between ethics and morality, and probably most people couldn’t tell you the difference.  But I did know that each person alive had to have eight great grandparents, sixteen great-great grandparents, and so on.  This was Earth, not Mars.  This may or may not have been the way of extraterrestrials, but it was the way of man.  It was us.  It was our Tao.  It was ME.

      Nevertheless, I wanted to check this out in the Bible, which I always had nearby.  I begged the alien’s pardon for a moment, asking:  “Could you give me a just a minute?  I want to check my sources.”  I then turned to the Book of Genesis, and found that what the alien was saying with all the generations mentioned there:  Adam (who was not born), Seth, Enosh, Kenan, Mehalalel, Jared, Enoch, Methusaleh, Lemech, Noah. 

      I looked up at the alien, and noticed that he was now a color of royal pink.  I suppose our chat about chromosome-related ideas had accelerated an untimely shift in his own vividly colorful chromes.

      After he saw that I looked up, he respectfully continued his argument:  “And to continue this backwards, would it be right to say that each person who ever lived has 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 = 16 great-great grandparents, 32 great-great-great grandparents, 64 great-great-great-great grandparents, and so on and so forth going back beyond 40 generations?” 

      “Yes, that would make sense to me.  It wouldn’t stop at forty generations, but would go further thousands of years.”

      “True,” he conceded, “But 40 is a very convenient number that helps prove a point most effectively.  Here’s what I mean…”

      He seemed to be taking his time at telling me what he actually did mean, and I was getting a bit restless in the meantime…

      “How long would you say a generation is?” he continued.  That is, what is the average age when a person generates a person of the next generation?”

      “I guess that would be hard to say.  These days there are so many teen pregnancies, and so many people who delay having kids until their careers have solidified.” 

      He thought for a moment, keeping his cool color of light blue, and offered “I suggest we could say 25 years.  Looking back over the most recent centuries, with life expectancies much shorter, this may be a well-estimated average.”

      I nodded in agreement, as this part of his thesis did seem to make sense.  I didn’t yet see the relevance to his point about having two contributing parents.

      “So if we do the simple math,” he continued, “and take 40 human generations back in time.  That would take us to a time one thousand years ago.”

      This made sense.  I couldn’t argue the fact that twenty five times forty was one thousand.  It was a mathematical fact, not an opinion, and could be proven with any calculator.

      “So,” he continued, everyone who has ever lived since the creation has had genes from 2 parents, 4 grandparents, 8 great grandparents, 16 great-great grandparents, and so on, how many such parents would go back 40 generations, or as we have just established, one thousand years?”

      “Yes,” I said simply, seeing the pattern of the multiplicative process.  “I guess you would have to take the number two and multiply it by two, multiply the resulting product again by two, and repeat the process again multiplying the product by two, and continue this 40 times.”

      “Very good, human.  You seem to have good aptitude for someone who has been out of work for such a long time.  With this multiplicative process you would eventually get a resulting number which the lay-mathematicians call ’2 to the power of 40’ or ‘2 to the 40th power’.  Does that make sense?”

      I hesitated for a moment, because this was a new type of calculation in terms of its application to ancestry and generational development of mankind.  I had to think it over.  The alien was meticulous in his arguments, and there was no escaping his logic.  I’m sure the character Mr. Spock and his Vulcan cohorts would have found it compelling and the logic inescapable.  

      Just when I was about to agree, he asserted rather abruptly.  “Why not take out your calculator and see what number actually represents 2 to the 40th power actually equals.  I’ll wait for you to calculate.”

     It took me time to find a valid calculator, and I wound up using the one on the computer.  I needed a little time but at last I came to a number which I double and triple checked.  It was a huge one, specifically 1,099,511,627,776, which was over a trillion.   A trillion!  Imagine the invitations that would have to be sent out for a family reunion, or just a get-together for the holidays! 

     That was the second time I was astonished by the number trillion.  The first was when were talking about getting the twenty-five million unemployed people back to work on a forty thousand dollar salary.  We hear about trillions of dollars a lot more these days, when the media mention annual deficits and total debts.  It used to be we were impressed only with billions of dollars, and before that mere millions.  Things on our planet seemed to be changing geometrically in many ways:  megabytes to gigabytes to terabytes.  Where will it all end? 

     The more I thought of that large number of ancestors, the worse I felt.  In a way it was something of a reverse copulation explosion, where the number two to the fourth power was a number less than sixteen.  In that respect we were less of a hexadecimal species and more of a decimal one with ten fingers and ten toes, unlike this hexadecimal alien visitor whose counting system was most likely very different from ours.  Though his race seemed socialist, they were probably more ethical than we humans. His people probably had sixteen amendments to their bill of rights and sixteen commandments - one per alien finger rather per our human decimal digit system.

     What could have caused that mathematical discrepancy among forty generations that would lead one to conclude that there were once a trillion people on the planet?  I couldn’t have been wrong about the two-parent assumption, but could I have been wrong about the four grandparent one or the eight great-grandparent one?  Was there simply more incest over the last thousand years?  Did those forty generations, were newborns generated through horizontal incest between siblings or vertical incest like in Lot’s regeneration of his family?  True, like everyone else Amon and Moab had two parents but unlike the four-grandparent assumption, each of these nation-founder patriarchal figures had only two grandparents:  Lot, and his wife turned-pillar-of-salt of the Earth.  Could this vertical incest have been a cause for the numeric discrepancy?   Were horizontal incest cases also common in the past thousand years despite the adverse lethal genes involved in generating new people from parents so closely related?   If incest was not the cause, what else could cause such a trillion-different –person result?

     Our population sure was full of degenerates; there could be no arguing that.  We were truly a generation lost in space with no time left to start again, as Don McLean’s prophetic words seemed to hint. 

     “According to your own scientists,”, the alien continued, “the crossing over of the ancestors of homo sapiens to humanity was not more than 200,000 years ago, and according to many of your Biblical scholars was not more than 6,000 years ago since Adam and Eve.  Neither of these time frames-of-reference can explain the trillion ancestors each of you has – unless, of course, we assume horizontal or vertical incest, something which de-generates the population.”

     He paused, perhaps considering whether he should enter the sensitive topic of Darwinist evolution theories or the Biblical narrative, or something in between recently known as ‘Intelligent Design”.  It seemed he wanted to be politically correct, if you’ll excuse that oxymoron. 

     Now I was preoccupied with the possibility of the incest and rape which all the membres of our vane species were carrying in our veins.  How could this be?  Was there some sort of vertical incest where a grandparent was also a parent, or where siblings united frequently to conceive? 

     The assumption that there were never one trillion people on the planet was either incorrect, or that family trees were taller.  Were we like what Danny Kaye may have said, the result of the twisted eugenics, a family of in-bread schizophrenics, the end of a long, long, line of incest brats?   

     OMG!  This was something of a reverse people-ation explosion!  It would mean that grandparents of our past populations were also their parents and that siblings may have coupled in incest to generate people.  I was stunned at my new reverse-understanding of this copulation explosion which managed to increase the number of our species almost geometrically in recent centuries, reaching what seemed at times to be alarmingly logarithmic birth-rates.   

     If true, the multiplicative product would comprise humanity’s very own Persian flaw in its natural innocence.    Now I felt ashamed like a naked, wounded animal.  I wish I knew the reason for this, but all I knew was that serpents don’t hiss and tell whenever there is some new scandal of original-sin proportions.  The ‘Eden-gate’ episode caused a great cover-up which gave rise to the clothing industry.  Eden-gate was a catalyst to a loss of paradise, with cherubim and a flaming sword at the east of the garden to guard the way to the tree of life.  Maybe that’s what the alien meant when he said we were dumber than a tree, since the cherubim gatekeepers prevented us from finding the way back there.  And maybe that’s why we of golden stardust were “shown the gate” before being cast out. 

     After having made clothes for the newly naked couple, Adam probably said to God, trying to bring some levity to the situation like a president at a press conference:  “To wear is human, to forgive, Divine.”  To this statement, came God’s final warning to the ex-president resident and his first lady before banishing the human creations from Eden  “This will be the last time I will cover for your scandals.”  The sons of man probably misinterpreted this to mean they would have to do the cover-ups on their own after being shown the gate.    

     Once upon a time-space reality in our space-time continuum, I felt secure in the genetically historic aspects of family purity.  But I couldn’t think of any other reason for the mathematical result the alien presented.  I never would have expected that our genetic history would take us to over a trillion people simply by assuming that a parent couldn’t be a grandparent and   – not in my wildest dreams, and this one definitely qualified for that.   I was admittedly shocked, and definitely could have been admitted to any hospital if I could afford health care.  The impact of calculating 2 to the 40th power had so much power, that I felt stunned me even more than the beams which blinded me In The Beginning.

     This was a big bang of sorts; an eye-opener, an epiphany of how we humans spent the last thousand years.  The whole paradigm of generational understanding had shifted like a tectonic plate.  Were we a people generated by centuries of incest?  Were we endowed by our Creator with a savage killer instinct for survival?  How could we live with ourselves knowing that we the people, the “Hoi Polloi” are all descendants of rapists, many of them the SAME rapists? 

     Now, I need to take it easy.  There is, after all, more to a human being than just genetics.  It is environment, too.  This would include teaching, learning from examples, acquiring cognitive skills, and accumulating experiences which are stored in memory.  Just how much heredity and environment shape a human code of morals and personality is more than just vector addition.  Philosophers have been debating what generates hoi-polloi sub-cultures for centuries, most recently from George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion to Lerner and Loewe’s My Fair Lady with Liza Doolittle’s “Rhine in spine”.  That ages-old debate of heredity vs. environment, which relates various factors of human environ-mentality, was also a recurring theme in a number of Three Stooges short features, too.

      The perception of orderly ancestral genetics and chromosomal contributions which I had only moments ago now seemed to have evaporated, and I longed for the naïveté I had only moments before had tasted of the fruit from the tree of knowledge.  I now missed that innocence of Eden and was sorry this alien had provided me with a morsel of understanding of fruit that expelled me from that innocence forever.  I was now heading eastward towards the setting earth, a wanderer in Nod, a lost soul trying to recapture his radical roots.      

      My departure from the innocence of Eden now complete, I tried to regain my composure, still in denial about that large number which had appeared on my computer screen.  I showed it to the alien hoping I had made some mistake, full of disbelief.  Like Moses, I was first in denial.  I performed the calculation again and again, at least several more times carefully, but got the same result.  He seemed unimpressed as if he had already known the result. 

      All I could say in response to the alien’s thesis was a weak but sincere “…how can this be true?”

      Looking back in retrospect to the past several minutes, the alien’s line of questioning hadn’t seemed like that of an investigator, but rather a categorical prosecutor.  I hope he remembered his promise about alien probing and wouldn’t try to badger this witness.

     I’m not sure why this trans-galaxial tourist had to drive his point further when he already made it.  He continued with my hopes that this would be a summary of sorts:  “Yet there have never been more than ten billion people alive at any time, and far less number of births since your species of Homo Sapiens first crossed the threshold into the anatomically and behaviorally human species it is today. 

     Were there hints in Genesis that this incest was the norm?  Was the story of Abraham’s drunkard nephew Lot, who fathered children through intercourse with his daughters a social norm?  Or was it something of a way of life which we the people should frown upon and not look back to as Lot’s wife, the daughter’s mother had looked back to the burning Sodom and Gomorrah?  Was her dying and being turned into a pillar of salt an ethic which actually told us not to look back?  Was it wrong to do this backwards calculation the alien and I had just done?  

     I looked over at the alien for some encouraging remarks, but he seemed to be caught up in his own world, trying to figure his way through another dark passage of time.  I myself felt demoralized, like morality itself had fallen apart.  The beams that held up my belief system didn’t support it anymore.

     Everyone knows how sensitive the theory of evolution is, particularly the part where humans are postulated as being descended from monkeys.  I always thought that we were more than what Stephen Hawking described as an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star.  We were more than just a planet of the apes after our evolution forward.  We were more like little engines that could.  We think we can understand, we think we can…then we KNOW we can actually understand the universe.  Our unimposing star was more than just an asterisk footnote in our galaxy.

     I wonder how Clarence Darrow would have argued the monkey case even with all the lessons from the Scopes trial.  I was curious also as to how William Jennings Bryan would have counter-argued it.  Would Darrow have done so claiming that Lot’s wife had become not salt of the earth, but rather a figure of martyrdom while her widowed husband had become both a father and grandfather, and while her grandchildren Moab and Ammon would each have less than four grandparents?

     She may have been salt of the earth, but Lot’s wife symbolized more than martyrdom.  In a world where people could earn their keep and say “the money is mine” because their salaries were paid in salt from the mines, the salaried workers were worth their weight in salty sweat, rather than gold.  With CEOs today raking in salaries through the roof and earnest wage-earners pinching pennies like Manna from heaven just to survive in the desert between fountain and mountain, Lot’s wife would have to be considered the martyr of all wars – grandmother of few but matriarch to many peoples to the east of the Jordan, an ironic tribute to ionic bonding.     

     In the meantime the alien had halted his interrogation, neglecting to cap it with some perfunctory statement like “No further questions”.  Apparently his interstellar kangaroo court was done with me.  As a witness I could step down.  This is where I used to hear on TV the line “You’re a witness”, or “Your witness”.   I never could get a clear understanding which of these two lines was used on TV so much; nor did I have any idea what that line meant.   

     The alien had just been staring off into space as if to recharge his batteries.  He seemed to be in overload and was checking his memory circuits, perhaps to compare his findings with others of his kind in their excursions to other inferior worlds.  He left me wondering about the Bible, and the wise warning mentioned in chapter eleven.  I seem to remember that chapter eleven in the First Book of Kings was also a turning point for the Kingdom of Israel when its fortunes started to wane, beginning with Solomon’s promiscuous affairs.  I remember that this triggered a series of events which eventually led to the destruction of the kingdom and of the Temple, and Israel never did regain its stature.  I’ll look that up later – I want to be ready to continue my discussion with my unearthly friend.

      He was still “out”, using up more time to stare into space.  My own mind wandered a bit more, and our discussion about that Biblical passage was making me further think about the importance not only of faith in the building of our society but in the Supreme Being whose name appears on our money and in Whom our trust is minted and printed on our currency.

      Creation, faith and trust.  Our government has done all three in the most corrupt way:  It has created money without jobs, proclaimed faith in a currency that is on paper, and placed trust in a group of elected officials who have shown that they just don’t care about anything but themselves.  If I sound bitter and cynical it’s because I may have witnessed too much.  I was waiting for my strange friend to come back, getting tired of being all alone in this universe and listening to myself rant and rave.

      By now I “had become in every respect a fitting subject for the species of torture which awaited me,” to quote Poe.  I guess my animated alien friend wasn’t really a species of torture, but at times I admit he did make me somewhat uncomfortable with his probing.  I remember thinking again that I might have preferred being held prisoner in a space ship while a distorted species of torture tied me up and performed painful experimentation techniques we often hear about in alien abductions.

      I was now waiting for him to come back from his momentary hiatus.  Though I realized that it was impossible for a person to live even for a moment in an empty room, it was also clear to me as day that nature abhors a vacuum cleaner that sucks up all intelligent ideas and human potential.  Nevertheless, I was feeling alone in a room where I knew I was not alone, particularly now that I learned that our “intelligent” life wasn’t alone in the room, either. 

      At this point I felt trapped in a new reality type of show just as if I were in an Irwin Allen production of one of the recurring theme of being trapped.  I was simultaneously lost in space, trapped in a time tunnel, and stuck in a hellish land of the giants.  My structure was burning as a towering inferno, and my own Poseidon adventure was being realized as things were now upside down.  Maybe I should take a lesson from the preacher in that movie and ultimately realize that prayer isn’t useless, whether one is in a situation of strength or from out of the depths of despair. 

     Why should I be a trapped castaway on a TV program in the 60’s when so many situation comedy characters were themselves nebbish prisoners of their own devices?  Besides, I wouldn’t have minded being marooned with Mary Ann or Ginger on an uncharted desert isle.  I probably wouldn’t have seen rescue as a top priority.   

     Anyway, I was looking forward to the return of the alien.  It would be a welcome rescue on a day the earth seemed to stand still.  Despite his oft times demanding demeanor, this verbose visitor was decent sort of weirdo.  He was not at all like the tall Kanamit whose only desire was “to serve man” for dinner according to an exotic cook book of culinary human recipes to delight the alien palate.   

      This alien on the other hand, seemed decent, and I truly respected and trusted him.  But the horror he had brought me wasn’t too far from the one which was brought on board the Nostromo. 

      My discombobulated mind continued to wander in the land of Nod where I felt I was banished, and I hoped I would be rescued soon from my dark inner pit and appeared more refreshed, as if he were ready to go another round with the champ.  I knew that my sparring abilities were inadequate, because I was trying to relate to him the truth as I could perceive it – which was getting more and more difficult to explain. 

     Finally he returned, and it was a relief knowing that I was not alone.  But now the alien seemed energized with new ammunition and I was trying to brace myself for some alien pincer movement.  I wasn’t worried, because his pincers appeared vestigial, anyway.

     It didn’t take him too much time to put on the squeeze:  “Didn’t one of your most notable physicists propose that matter is convertible to energy?” He abruptly asked, wanting to get to the truth about theoretical physics.  I wasn’t sure what the relevance was.

     “Yes, that was the Theory of Relativity.” I answered, appearing smart and enjoying the opportunity to explain Albert Einstein’s theories to a creature who had already traveled light-years to be in my company.  

     “And, wasn’t there an economist named Keynes who drew a similar relationship between E and M?” he asked, and now I realized I was lost in space to a greater degree than my alien adversary had been.  I didn’t know what he was talking about, now, and was feeling a bit insecure over his formulation.  I was speechless, but realized he was waiting for an answer. 

     I remember reading about John Maynard Keynes in my MBA studies but really wasn’t much of a fan.  Being strongly against government bailouts, I didn’t feel that it is the government’s role to stimulate the economy by injecting dollars into it.  I also have to admit that I didn’t see the relevance with Einstein’s theories. 

     So I asked the alien, “Did Keynes write about energy and matter, too?  Did he come up with a formula relating E and M? Was the total energy of the working class equal to the masses’ financial times square of the speed of light beams?”

      My friend then sighed a bit, but didn’t want to appear impatient with my ignorance.  With an apparent look of serene superiority he then added “I was reviewing my knowledge about Keynes on your internet”, he said, knowingly but without superiority.  I remember reading his work when I had free time of about one of your Earth hours.  Anyway, I am surprised no one on your planet ever equated Keynes’ work with Einstein’s work.”

     “What do you mean?” I asked.  After all, the only relationship I knew of between M and E related to me.  I was beginning to feel a direct object of ridicule, but then remembered that I may be the first person to be paid a visit by this inquisitive intergalactic investigator who wanted nothing more than to understand the data he had been collecting.

     “Simply put”, he responded seriously, “Keynes theorised about the equivalence of money and employment.  He wrote about the same time as Einstein, but drew an economic correlation between money and employment.  This relationship is similar to the relativity which Einstein theorised about matter and energy.  Don’t you see it now?  Have the beams of light reached you yet?”

     I was starting to get a bit annoyed and impatient with this obviously superior being.  How do his comments relate?  What relative connection do these two things have?  If he was trying to prove a point, I wish he would get to it, already.  He seemed to want to draw a connection between two dots, but I wasn’t getting it, not in this dimension, anyway. 

     I was beginning to get a bit peeved at the attempts of this polymath trying to kill two birds with Einstein, even if both the twain were just members of that diverse class of featherweights united in an international Bolshevik-socialist scheme of subversive intent, plotting to overthrow our planet at the first opportunity.   

     But I had to be a polite host in peaceful coexistence even with those guests who become burdensome.  With this in mind, I reestablished communication by gently breaking what had become a sound-barrier between us.  “No, I guess I don’t see what you mean” was all I could say. Apparently I couldn’t break the light barrier that was dividing us, and couldn’t see any beams, either.  

     He responded, “There is a simple relationship between employment and money, according to Keynes.  Don’t you know what it is?”

     I had no interest in the theories.  All I knew was that I felt like going back to send out résumés.  This was getting tedious.  So, with an uninterested tone, I inquired “Please enlighten me what this relationship is.” 

     “Very simple”, he responded.  “If people are interested in making money, they will invest in a venture that will cause people to be employed.  This means that money can be converted to employment by means of the interest that investors have in enhancing wealth.  This is much in the same way that matter can become converted to energy, which in turn is related to matter by the speed of light squared.”

    Spoken like a true emcee on the square.  Money does motivate.  It energizes.  It’s the reason why many people want to work, and why income of the masses is important to the economy.  But money means nothing without income.  If very few have it, little goes around.  And what little goes around comes around little too, whatever the outcome of shrinking incomes.

     “Or, to put it another way, money matters like employment energises.  The problem I am having with you humans on this third planet from the sun, is that you are not rational – not in this country and not in any of your third world countries.  Even if your governments choose to ignore possible disasters in the future, do not they at least have an interest in the welfare of their people?”   

      Here was a strangely worded question from a strange inquisitor with syntax issues.  Nevertheless, his inquisition proceeded smoothly, as he had managed to categorically put my entire species on the witness stand.  But what he was saying made sense:  We humans had become very irrational in our thinking.  “What do you think we can do to grow the economy?  What can we do to move ourselves forward, prepare for future disasters, and in the meantime provide developmental activities that engage the people in meaningful work?”   

      “There are plenty of things you can do,” he said in a more conciliatory, reassuring tone.  “You do what humans have been doing for centuries – you have a social necessity which becomes the mother of some new invention, forcing you to take advantage of the material and energetic resources available in order to provide a solution to the necessity.”

      He paused for a brief moment which I found opportune to finally get a word in edgewise.  “I guess I understood what you’re saying.  We the people have to get busy and proactive in order to find new ways to develop ourselves, before it’s too late.”  All this talk about disasters was beginning to get to me.  Humans may not be omniscient, but we need to think our way out of this mess we’ve gotten ourselves into.  We need to start thinking outside the penalty-box and get back in the game. 

     Although we always had had our Jeremiah types admonishing us with prophecies of doom, it was human nature to ignore the future consequences of today’s actions.  We humans have been deemed doomed before.  Today it’s just not a pleasant thing being in the spotlight where gleaming beams of gloom are directed towards you. 

     “Absolutely,” the alien responded, by which time I had forgotten what I had said.  His response came with a with a long nod up and down that seemed to remind me of a pendulum oscillating vertically on a horizontal axis.

     Then he said something that came as an unexpected bombshell:  “On Zatox we understand the effects of unbridled greed.  That is why we have a law that no person can have more than the equivalent of about six potchkies.”

     OUCH!  I wasn’t expecting that.  I didn’t know what to say.  I was shocked.  I couldn’t believe my ears.  For the moment I was deafened by the bombshell he just dropped.  Like the beams that accompanied his arrival, the blast caused a neural shutdown.  Not through optical nerves, but through the high decibel, mordant sound-bytes biting my overworked brain, biting pieces of it out of my mind.

     “What?” is all I could ask, hoping I had heard wrong.

     Then he repeated what he said word for word with admirable accuracy:  “On Zatox we have a law that no Zatoccian can have more than the equivalent of about six potchkies.”

     Unfortunately, I had heard right.  HOLD IT!  I said to myself.  Time out!  Wait a minute!!  I wanted to say “Everybody freeze!”  I decided not to, though, because of the stationary episode the alien went through a while back.

     But what in the world was he talking about?  Limiting wealth?  Distributing it?  Not on THIS world!  That would be like repealing the first amendment and pealing a dictatorial one to replace it.  Them’s is fightin’ words!!  Now I was ready for battle.  But I wanted to hear more.  I didn’t know how much a “potchky” was worth-it could have been many trillions of dollars.  But whatever the amount, the very idea of limiting personal wealth was abhorrent to me.  There should be no limits to a person’s wealth!  IT SHOULD BE INFINITE! How is it possible to limit one’s wealth to a certain amount?   How would it be considered ethical?  It’s unheard of!  It’s unspeakable!! 

     I calmed down a bit as my curiosity got the better of me, if not the best:  “And how much is a potchky in American dollars?”

     This I asked out of curiosity, even though it really didn’t matter.  I had already discarded the idea.  There should never be any wealth limitations for any individual.  It would be much worse than a commonwealth of nations as a remnant of the British Commonwealth.  At the expense of insulting the states of Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Virginia, it would be worse than any commonwealth idea anyone ever had.  Though such a limitation of wealth may have worked on Zatox, it sounded like the beginnings of another communist calamity here on Earth. 

     “That is a good question, human.  Let me find that out,” he said, then left the room.  I knew he wasn’t going over to my computer, as I didn’t think we had any information about the value of a potchky.  He probably had some way of interfacing with a universal-wide web, and I really wasn’t that curious how he did it.  It may have been hideous, and I didn’t want to take the risk of finding out and ruining my day or, if it was all a dream, turning it into a nightmare.

      The very idea of limiting an individual’s wealth was depressing me.  In our society it was the worst thing that could happen.  It couldn’t be enforced.  Not through taxes or similarly forced robbery.  What about stock ownership?  Does the stock ownership count towards the dollar equivalent of a six potchky limit?

      The whole banking system relates to that cup that runneth over like in the 23rd Psalm.  On the alien’s planet the excess above the sixth potchky would probably go to some public fund, perhaps a peoples’ fund.   Or perhaps they would want to destroy the excess runoff money in their equivalent of the Cayman Islands or Switzerland, or other places off-shore where fat-cash accounts are kept so that the remaining money in the hands of the people would have more purchasing power by virtue of its being more rare.  Such runoff money would go the way of Madoff money.   No excesses to be usurped by the super-wealthy.  The money of the filty rich would be laundered into nothingness.

      On our planet that excess goes into the person’s bank accounts.  This alien’s race probably doesn’t like banks, and I could see him arguing that reservoirs should be used to irrigate the life on the land rather than being stored in the oceans, lakes, rivers, and their banks.    The tributaries, they probably would say, would be avenues of contribution.  I say, this redistribution of wealth is nothing but an attempt at reviving Marxism!

      Human beings have already experimented in this brand of red-blooded bloody socialism.  Look what happened as a result.  That movement enabled the rise into power of scoundrels such as Lenin, Stalin, Ceaucescu, Castro, and most recently Kim Jong Un.  It was Stalin who led the way to hell that is traversed even today.  He was perhaps the most successful and influential mobster of all time, with his realm covering more terrorized terrestrial territory than any other single human individual.  From Ulianov to Yanayev, no other Soviet bloc-head came close to spilling more of the bloody, rustic, terrestrially terrific ferric fluid.  No other man of terrifyingly terrible mettle wasted more ferrous metal while causing so many regimes to tank.  That man of red-star-steel conquered people, places, and ruled with an iron fist behind the iron curtain.  When it comes to turf wars and influence mongering over other nations, Stalin was the most successful gangster-mobster of all time.  Like many CEOs and politicians who don’t care about the bloody scorched earth policy that leaves behind soldiers, farmers, and everyone else alike, Stalin was a deluded man of steel who thought he was a superman with a steel-trapped heart of a selfish capitalist and mind of a wolf in a socialist worker’s cheap sheep clothing.

      We have our own uncivil warriors from both red states and blue states who seem to stand postured to fight political battles to the last drop of intermixed blood, a purple testament of bleeding war with all its broken purple hearts.

      Between the hero and the fire, from the hierro to the fierro, in the midst of the hell of those that fell, the true causes of conflict are soon forgotten, if they ever were known in the first place.   

      I remember reading once about the Franco-Spanish War which followed the Thirty-Years War sometime in the seventeenth century.  Were they fighting over “F”’s and “H”’s?  Was it about the Latin origin of the word for flour-“Farina” vs. the Spanish word “Harina”?  Or was it the Spanish use of “H” as the first word for brother while the other Latin languages used words that each began with an “F”?  Was it an argument whether iron used in tools was “hierro” or “hierro”?  Or just a simple quibble about the French translation vs. the Spanish translation of “the sea”?  The French preferred using the feminine “La mer”, while the Spanish insisted on using just the opposite masculine form while switching the vowels:  “El Mar”.  But just like other squabbles like in Gulliver’s travels, could such quibbling be a valid reason to fight wars in which much ferric hemoglobin is spilt on the battlefield?          

      I waited patiently for the alien to return with the exchange rate between dollar and potchky.  Could one of his potchkies be worth a billion dollars?  That would be a lot of money.  Maybe unlike us humans, his species takes potchkying seriously.  When his folks potchky around they accomplish a great many feats of interplanetary incredibility.   Maybe that is how they add value to their seemingly utopian society.

      On Earth, we humans tried idealistic ways to achieve some sort of utopia.  That’s what motivated Marx to write a communist manifesto to change the world.  But what happened in practice was that these communists usurped their power to take over peoples’ farms, their land, and their personal property.  They turned over the wealth to the communist party whose coffers they themselves eventually raided. 

     The more I thought about limiting a person’s wealth the madder I got.  I thought again of that rouge rogue Stalin who made a deal with his devilish Nazi counterpart that enabled the National Socialists to ravish Poland from the west while the Soviet Socialists invaded that previously sovereign nation from the East.  The socialist foreign ministers Ribbentrop and Molotov made even more deals that enabled them to carve up large tracts of Eastern Europe.  After defeating the national socialists, the soviet socialists made life miserable for the people everywhere they touched.  In Yugoslavia, Cuba, and North Korea, the soviet socialists left their Marx on entire indigent populations.   They supported terror for many years in the Middle East, and aroused Afghanistan like to trigger religious fanatics all over the world.  Wherever they set their boots, the socialists left a horrible mark still felt today.  

     That’s why I was vehemently opposed to such economic oppression that would result if wealth limitations were forced on free people whose cups runneth over.  What would happen with such runoff, with wealth overflow?  Wouldn’t that money be embezzled by the leadership?  What incentive would they have to invest the money in the people?  The problem with socialism is that it empowers evil people to take that runoff for themselves.  It is paid in taxes but goes to a group of privileged people who call themselves “socialists”.

      Even if six potchkies came to a hundred billion dollars, I still didn’t like the idea of limiting an individual’s wealth.  I felt that the accumulation of dollars should no limit and that we humans should be striving to get more and more.  I was a firm believer in what another space traveler, Buzz Light-Year would say: “To infinity…and beyond!”

      At that point the alien returned to the room.  I was anxious to hear the exchange rate.  A potchky from his planet was probably equal to many billions of dollars.  Otherwise, I couldn’t imagine such limitations to wealth.

     “According to my sources…” he started rather hesitatingly…”there really is no exchange rate between a potchky and a dollar.”

     That didn’t surprise me.  Anyone that spends his time potchkying around doesn’t deserve to have any money. 

    So I asked him with my sagacious wit:  “Then there is no black market either, not through exchanges that involve black holes?”

     “There is no record of such a transfer of wealth,” he responded seriously.   “However, based on a review of purchases made on each planet, while considering technical advances of my planet and indexing supply and demand of consumer goods on each, together with…”

     I was waiting patiently for him to get to some conversion factor.  I was getting hungrier by the moment.

     He finally cut to the chase:  “…I have concluded that a potchky can be reasonably estimated to be equivalent to an amount that is roughly equivalent to about…to about…”

      I didn’t know why he hesitated.  Was a potchky worth hundreds of billions of dollars?  Was he embarrassed about that?

      “How much – please tell me!” I prodded him, starting to lose my patience.

      “The rough estimate is about – about – about 1.6 million of your U.S. dollars.”

       I was dumbfounded:  “WHAT?!  Only 1.6 million American dollars?   Are you sure?!!!

       The alien turned back to a bright yellowish hue like the path of a yellow-brick road.  “That is the rate that most closely approximates the relationship between our currencies,” he stated with conviction.

       “So, the limit of six potchkies is about 10 million dollars,” I calculated.  It was much less than I had thought and made very little sense.  Anyway, I was surprised that I could do the calculation on an empty stomach.  

      I guess when his people potchky around, they really are working to bring value.  Not like us humans.

      “That is about right, human.  In your terms, our laws would limit an individual’s wealth to ten million dollars.  It is what we call the fulfilled limit of wealth.  Something like the capacity of one of your car’s gas tanks.”

      I was still in a state of disbelief.  I was in some first stage of denial.  WHAT?  To limit a person to just TEN MILLION DOLLARS?!!!  To rob such a person of any piece of the eleventh million and beyond?!

      My denial turned quickly to rage.  I was enraged but engaged, engrossed and overtaken with rage at the repercussions of that exchange rate.  I was very disappointed.  I thought that if there had to be such a limitation on wealth, at least that level would have to be exceedingly high, in the hundreds of billions of dollars.  I knew that no human individual ever had attained that amount of money, anyway.  But ten million dollars?  Many people have acquired that low level of wealth.  I guess it’s all relative.  Another theory of relativity, I guess.

      After another moment of thought in which I got lost for a moment, I recovered with even greater conviction:  “That limitation is terrible!  Here on Earth no one would talk about such a thing.  It’s too revolutionary; too Bolshevik; too-too-too radical; a sick-sick-sick socialist idea from the devil!”  The idea seemed more like a six-six-six devilish idea.  Someone evil must have succeeded to pass gas and to piss and diss and tell in hell.  It seemed like a plan from the deepest parts of the underworld, but probably no one honest could ever have infiltrated deep enough to testify.  Conspiracies born in hell seldom have angels as witnesses. 

     The alien tried tolerantly to explain, and in my hungry depleted state I seemed to have no choice.  “Under this Zatoccian law, no one individual holds more than the Zatoccian equivalent of $10 million dollars.  The next million – the increment of the 11th million, does not contribute to utility of the people.  It is like utilitarianism theory developed by your own John Stewart Mill.  Individuals who have earned a certain amount of money gain less utility on the next million, and gain less utility from it than the people who have less.  The percentage of incremental growth is less.”

      I was still not convinced.  I had to object to the principle of the eleventh million outright, perhaps because of my objectivist thinking.  I still didn’t know how any government would be so honest as to see that overstock cash would get to the people.  The eleventh million increment of wealth should go to the one who already has the ten million dollars. 

    “We can afford to limit wealth with no problem,” he continued.  “Just like you humans, we can’t be at more than 1 place at one time.  And a Zatoccian typically does not live past the age of 300.  That is a significantly long time to gain a potchky and lose it as well.”

    Despite his articulate argument, I still felt that government redistribution of wealth was really a terrible idea, whose horrible implications were being realized one after another, exploding in my mind in starburst succession like fireworks over Fort McHenry. 

    I couldn’t hold it in any longer:  “That sort of wealth redistribution is socialist, and all freedom-loving people should fight it with everything they’ve got!  They would see such regulation as an affront to anyone who suffered under the evils of socialism like the one that ran the Soviet empire.”

    “Socialist, you say!  I am aware of a few socialists who suffered under the oppression of that Soviet empire you mention.”

    The alien did raise an interesting point about those poor people who suffered as victims of communism.  But I was adamant in my sentiment.  The last thing we freedom-loving humans needed was some government legislation remnant of an affordable wealth-care act.  We already had an affordable care act and an un-affordable welfare act.  Look where those put us.

    Limiting a person’s wealth to a certain level was absurd.  It made less sense than a lorem ipsum typesetters’ quote.  It was all Greek to me, or Latin – whichever the case of the typeset.

    Nevertheless, I decided to be polite to my guest.  I entered what may be called the bargaining stage, figuring I could turn the tables and do some probing and poking around of my own.  So I asked benignly, with some questionable level of curiosity.  “How does this principle of the eleventh million dollar work?”

    “On Zatox, the pile of money individuals have above that limit you call eleven million dollars, simply gets taxed.  It is put into a large pot of money together with the other overflow from Zatoccians who have more than the equivalent of your ten million dollars.  The money is used by municipalities to do things that help make us go.  In your terms, it would translate to fixing roads, ensuring sanitation, fighting fires, keeping the place clean, and other things the public needs to live well.”

    “But,” I protested, “the problem is, who would manage such a fund here on Earth, where everyone in government is so corrupt?”

    “On Zatox, WE manage it.”

     “Who are ‘we’?

     “The people.”

     “We the people?” 

     “No, WE the people.  In order to establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty…did ordain a system of laws on Zatox.  We did this for us.

     “Us?”

     “No, US.  Period.  With no periods after letters.  US, the people of Zatox.  By the people and for the people.   For ourselves and our Zatoccian posterity.

     By the people and for the people.  Now THERE was Objectivism in its infinite wisdom.  Ayn Rand would have been proud.  It applies to all accusative or dative cases of Latin grammatical and political correctness of the Roman Republic, where both direct and indirect objectivism matters only To Whom it May Concern in this material world of rational self-interest.

     Despite my support of objectivist thinking, I did object to his planet’s application of it.  Their socialist objective seemed anyway to be consistent with their socialist thinking, to which I always had vehemently objected.      

     Many of us would agree, however, that some prudent accountability of political play money, and other pools of the “p” would make sense.  For no one ever thought to give Ben Franklin a free kite to fly with no strings attached.  He never would have contemplated the key source to electricity if his string had been cut and the kite were free to fly away.

    “I guess it’s good that your US doesn’t include US.  That is, it precludes U.S. and the rest of the free world.  What I mean generally, is that it’s good that you don’t interfere with human development,” I said, glad that his species left ours alone to fend for ourselves.  I did respect his planet’s priorities which apparently included a prime directive of non-interference, a sort of Star Fleet ethic held high in much the same way we hold the truths of the first amendment to be self-evident.  I was glad his planet seemed to be disinterested in our unlimited wealth system.  It was another positive sign that his planet had no designs to invade ours and would rather just leave us alone.

     His response lent credence to my observations about any alien designs on our maligned planet.  Sounding like a career diplomat, he put all these fears to rest:  “We on Zatox do not want to interfere with your affairs.  We have no alien designs on your maligned planet.  You need to be left alone to mind your own business, infinitely corrupt as it is.  We know you will change it someday after so many generations of suffering are recorded.  But for now, you are still too primitive a species.  You need time.  Your mentality needs to change.  You are not ready for such a law and would also need to get over your traditional metamorphobia that frightens you so much.  Only then could you make such a leap of faith.  And when you do, you would need to do it by yourselves and for yourselves without any help from us.”

       I was now in an early stage of depression.  The alien seemed to notice my disdain and sat down again on my fauteuil.  My objections to the principle seemed apparent to him.  Even with all the prodding and poking I didn’t have a particularly successful poker-face.

       “I understand your objection to the principle, human, but please be objective.  Limiting wealth has proven to be a good thing for us on Zatox.  Although you are not at all ready for it, at least you should understand how it could have solved the problems of humanity brought about by the over-accumulation of wealth by so few and the affluence of that wealth on the banks of the flowing rivers.  Unfortunately, your World War I was all about such flow, from life-sustaining water to life-spoiling wealth to life force blood.  While the people were trying to earnestly earn living wages, the only wages the wealthy considered were those in waging a war to end all wars.  Such was the case of the first of two worldwide nationalist conflicts; the pent-up aggression of the century’s teen years exploded when which Queen Victoria’s wayward grandchildren declared hostilities on each other.  While the masses of pawns were incited by the royal regime to kill each other under threat of criminal indictment, emperors and national leaders had become motivated by their respective military industrial complexes to engage in a revolutionary world’s fair of warfare technology.  During this bloody application of industrial revolutionary practices, the masses of people were distracted from their day-to-day poverty so that the only employee wages considered were those of the deployed masses who paid with their blood in waging a war whose cause they probably didn’t even know.   Centuries after Julius Caesar was stabbed in the back, his namesakes Kaiser and Czar watched their fortunes crumble.” 

      The alien socialist really knew our history.  He put an Earthy retrograde spin on our planet.  For the first time I saw how soldiers on the various battlefield in ancient times were ultimately nothing more than hired hit-men in a hierarchy commanded by the king with the command structure arranged in a hierarchy of structured loyalty at the top and poverty at the bottom.  The alien seemed to appraise our militias in this way.  Apparently, both our history and our hysteria were well-known throughout the galaxy, too. 

      The causes and effects of civil human unrest may be best be understood by aliens with telescopes looking at our world from the outside.   Maybe they could understand the unfolding of events in our history by drawing parallels across many years, like how Xerxes of Persia appointed Haman the agitating Agagite whose plan to destroy the Jews failed, while a couple of millennia later von Hindenburg enabled actions that empowered Hitler to nearly succeed where Haman had failed.  The way evil unfolds itself shows the Devil in the details.  He has been known to use fire decrees to the nth degree to make hell on Earth.

     “Then, of course, came the armistice which held for about twenty of your earth years.  Humans had thought   when that first war ended on that 11th month on the 11th day of the 11th hour, that there would be no more fighting.  You know what happened…”

     Once again, the number eleven.  It kept cropping up in our discussion.  Funny how it had become a recurring theme.  While I had been searching desperately hard for something positive in the principle of the eleventh million, my mind wandered to another reference to the number eleven.  I thought about the parable of the day-laborers from the Book of Mathew, in the vineyard being paid wages in what the King James Bible referred to as the eleventh hour.  No matter how late in the day, the laborers who served the longest are given the same treatment.

     The alien’s reference to World War I now made sense, as once again the number eleven figured prominently at the that “war to end all wars”, which was scheduled to end in the eleventh month on the eleventh day of the eleventh hour.  Here was an example of limitations, maybe something like the principle of the eleventh million dollar.  Like the strict rules that would be required to implement that unearthly principle, eleventh hour of that eleventh day was adhered to so closely, that the killing on the battlefield continued down to the last second, even though everyone on both sides knew that armistice was agreed upon six hours before.  It is said that many thousands of people died on that last day of the war, even though everyone knew hostilities would cease.  Just like the parable from Matthew, the laborers who served the longest were given the same treatment:  Death.  Ironically and perhaps cynically, the same treaty of peace to end all wars was used by the generals as an excuse to continue acts of desperate eleventh-hour destruction and murder before the peace took effect.  Another ferocious piece of bloody-irony to be considered when such eleventh hour dead-lines are set and then met. 

      All this thought on an empty stomach was truly challenging.  I finally thought of something to say:  “I know your ideas are noble, but I can’t see us embracing a principle such as that of the eleventh million.”

     “I understand, human.  As I said, your species is still too primitive.  You would need many years to establish trust in each other as individuals and in your leadership.  You could start now, even though it would take too many years and only your posterity would enjoy the blessings of that trust.   Like your founding fathers, you would have to start with faith and trust that there CAN be future generations of people who will want to live well and to trust in their fellow human being and their government.  You the people on Earth would have to discard your selfishness and not steal from your neighbors across spatial boundaries.  You would have to also agree not to steal from your future descendants across time, while developing that true sense of altruistic giving without receiving anything in return.  You would need to work hard and persevere for generations, with the goal of helping those who have not even been born yet and could not thank you:  Those are the ones who are destined to judge you.”

       Eloquently put.  I guess every person alive has had to have some trust in something or someone, or even some One.  Otherwise they wouldn’t survive to see another day.  Even the money mentions trust, though not in the money itself or the government that prints it.

      “And once we have established that trust, what then?” I asked.

      “It would have to be REAL trust, not just one generated by cable news agency propaganda on Orwellian-type telescreens or high definition plasma TVs.  It would have to come from the heart.  There would have to be an agreement among the people that no one is above the law, and that no one - not elected officials, CEOs, or anyone else has permanent power and tenure.  Once they reach a level of wealth and power they would be replaced by other like-minded people with trust in the system and a will to grow and fulfill their wealth desires.”

       Finally I reached the last stage of grief.  I didn’t accept his theory because I couldn’t really fathom how it could be implemented on my planet.  But I finally felt bold enough to concede that we could even discuss such a theory:  “Then and only then,” I asked, “can the principle of the 11th million actually work?  On Capitalist Earth, even talking about it could get you locked up in an insane asylum.”

       “Yes, it can.  But there should be patience in implementing such a wealth delimiter.  It cannot be done in just one generation.  That was the reason why socialism failed.  The trust didn’t have time to bake.  All the wealth went into the hands of the party leadership and there was no time to bake the bread.  Those who kneaded the dough could not wait to take it before it was baked, even at the risk of impoverishing those who needed the dough.  It is like the story of the Israelites hurried departure from Egypt in the middle of the night.  Despite the light of the full moon’s beams, there was no time to bake the bread.  Consequently, they and their descendants remember that night by feeling socially compelled to religiously eat of the unleavened bread of affliction every year for the one week of Passover.”

     “Even in haste they could afford to bake and break bread of affliction,” I added.  “They had the spoils of Egypt to buy foodstuffs.”

     Undertaking such a last-minute task in the middle of the night must have been an eye-opener even in the dark.  For darkness of night is a negation of the sunbeams of light that strike a full moon monthly without our ever seeing the beams themselves.  It’s interesting that in practically all of the European languages both the word for “night” and the word for “no” tend to begin with the letter “N”.  This is true for Slavic languages, Germanic languages, and Latin-based languages. 

     Funny how the relationship between “night” begins with the same letter as the family of words that are related to “no”, such as “not”, “null” and “negate”.  That same relationship exists with Semitic languages too, except that instead of “N” the common letter is “L”.  In both Arabic and Hebrew, the words for “night” and “no” both begin with “L”, and whether it is pure accidental and not just occidental is kind of interesting.  The relationship may just be incidental to our lives, but certainly it is something that can help us understand our human cognitive mind, in that organ’s relating “Night” with the negation of “Light”.

     Also striking are the references to light, which in most western European languages begin with “L”:  Licht, lux, luminous, lamp, and lumière, while the Semitic equivalents use “N” words.  The Hebrew word for candle is “ner” which is supposed to be lit twenty-four hours a day in the ner-tamid, while the Arabic for light is “nur” like in the twenty-fourth Sura of the Quran.  Lots of connections, lots of relations among the nations.  Too bad there’s so much infighting rather than in-sighting. 

    “But the Israelites ate of the unleavened bread on good faith.  For then just as now, man cannot live on manna alone.  From mountain to fountain they nurtured that faith while knowing they would not be entering the Promised Land.  They and that generation died out in the desert over the next forty years so that their descendants would reap the benefits of that promise and be able to claim liberty throughout all the land.”

     That made me think again of Charlton Heston at the end of that film epic.  Usually when I saw that I realized how tired I was after having sat breathlessly for over four hours.  It was time to breathe again.

     “You see, human, true faith comes in recognizing that you may need to make sacrifices even if those future generations who benefit never met their benefactors.  And that faith gets nurtured when these future generations become benefactors for their descendants.   Each generation must submit the next one to society and carry a cross not for its own salvation but rather for its children.  And they must continue to do this for their own progeny.  And so on, and so forth, as the seasons change, as the planet orbits faithfully its bright heavenly star.” 

     He was waxing poetic, and I was getting so hungry I could have eaten wax.  Though I would have preferred feasting on some bread of affliction at the moment, even that was not available.  It reminded me that people need to put food on the table so that they can work.  But man doesn’t really live by bread alone.  There must be trust built up to bake the bread.   And some spark to ignite and then fire up the imagination in order to initiate the baking process.

     Like with banking, baking trust can take time.  Warmth in the home is central.  When a house is built in a cold place, one of the first things considered is the fireplace that is more than a place to fire the imagination – it is a place to provide warmth for the family.  That simple living-room structure is so central to the home, so much at the center of things.  The hearth is the heart of a warm home.  Maybe that’s why the Spanish word “hogar” means both hearth and home.  Perhaps only a homeless person can truly understand this. 

     “I understand all the warm and fuzzy talk,” I felt it necessary to interject, “but without the desire for a person with ten million dollars to want an eleventh million, what would motivate investment?  What would spur economic growth?  Doesn’t a person with ten million dollars have a burning desire to invest in something that could double that money?  Isn’t that what triggers investment?  I know it may be greed, but doesn’t that greed power national growth?” 

    The alien then turned a bright turquoise and exclaimed, “That is a fallacy!  IT IS TOTALLY FALSE!   That’s just like saying that the politicians aren’t in it for the money!  You know very well that if they were sincere, they would cut their salaries to minimum wage in order to identify with the people.”

    This time the alien and I were in complete agreement.  It may have been the one thing we both agreed on without reservation. 

    For the first time I think I really understood the lyrics of that Bon Jovi hit.  I liked to think of them sprinkled with a bit of Dylan Thomas:  Who IS going to work for working man?  Who is ready to be hurting for the hurting man who just wants to make a living wage not just a dying rage?  Between friends and dreams, hopes and streets, grave men who see the blinding beams with blinding sight, I’m the only one who’s got to look my family in the eye. 

     He continued his premise:  “The large six-figure salaries they make do not motivate them to do an effective job, but rather for them to conduct an aggressive electioneering campaign.  The money doesn’t motivate them.  That is how they are like a senior manager or corporate officer whose wealth is at least 10 million dollars.  A large six-figure salary cannot motivate such a wealthy person to an effective job at managing or growing the organization as much as it can motivate someone who has far less money.”

     The comparison between a CEO and a politician was startling.  Both are part of the upper realm detached from the middle class, and both deal with money of the political type.  Neither is from the focus realm which is unaware of what is truly going on, nor of the awareness realm which requires management effectiveness.  Both CEOs and politicians stand apart and above true-value type money, that currency which working class grunts try very hard to earn just to keep current, even on a salary that is all too often on near minimum wage.

    “After a person has 10 million dollars, each additional dollar motivates that person means less.  It therefore has less impact.  Every marginal dollar added incrementally to that person’s wealth motivates him or her less than the previous dollar.” 

    The alien’s argument about adding an incremental dollar made me think about macroeconomic theories related to price elasticity of demand.  If every minute of effective work that brings utility could be measured in units of public utility, then the quantity demanded of such units should lead to a change in the price that the people need to pay for such utility.  There is a demand for such effectiveness.  The people do demand it. 

     “I hope you can see, human, how a financially fulfilled person such as a CEO or politician on the Hill is unqualified to bring quality results.  They will not have the economic engine to motivate themselves to bring as positive results as they did when they were unfulfilled with less than 10 million dollars to their name.  It is the motivation of those financially unfulfilled employees drive the organization to success.  That is because they are more motivated to do that effectively.  Until, of course, they get to their 10th million!”

    “But,” I said, “If too many people had ten million dollars, you would have too many fulfilled people without a desire to work.”

     “What you are saying makes sense, here on your planet.  On Zatox we are very different.  Anyone with excess money has the opportunity to spend that money, and if they get below the ten million mark, they would be able to get back to the ten million dollar level.”

    The alien and I continued kicking each other’s opening “buts” that started our sentences for the next few minutes.  Our wits had become engaged in an intellectual and friendly bout of buts.  The battle of wits and buts seemed to end in a jousting stalemate.

     “The law of the seventh potchky, or as you may call it the principle of the eleventh million has been successful on Zatox.  Our desire for that trust caused us to do this by ourselves, but not for our own benefit.  We did it not just for those whose potchky pockets whose wearers have been happily fulfilled with their ten million dollar-equivalent put away.  They did it for what you call the wannabes, who have more desire to work harder than the millionaires who have reached that potchky-equivalent limit.” 

     “So you must really trust your government to be able to manage this,” I said.

     “Absolutely.  We manage the trust fund for all of us.  By us and for us.  But remember:  That trust has been built up over the eons.  The trust fund managers are wise judges who have earned their position.  They understand the consequences that might happen when that trust is breached.   On Zatox, our leaders are not two-faced actors involved in a role-play.  They are neither political nor cosmo-political.  They keep future generations in mind.”

     His compelling arguments made me think of Gary Cooper a Kapra movie.  In such an interstellar setting he could have given a similar radio speech which would have gone:  “You are a great family, the John Does.  You are doers; the meek who are supposed to inherit the Earth.  You raise the crops; you dig the mines, work the factories, keep the books, fly the planes and drive the busses.   In your struggle for freedom you have hit the canvas many a time, but always bounced back!  Because you are the people - and you are tough.  A free people like you claim to be can beat the world at anything, from rope-climbing to a tug of war; from World of Warcraft to the World Series, if you all pull in the same direction.  You may think you are just little punks out there, but remember:  The little punks have always counted because in the long run, the character of a planet is the sum total of the character of its little punks, the John Does:  The world’s greatest stooges and your world’s greatest strength.”

     Such a speech would have worked well.  It would have been a home run and would have definitely hit home. The strength of John Doe is what truly built enlightened societies, not the politicians that tore it down.  In many ways the John Does were more important than the founding fathers of the country because they were the ones the founding fathers never knew, but were trusted to keep the home fires burning bright. 

     The alien’s soapbox was not as basic and down to earth as Cooper’s.  It was built differently.  It was more acidic and he was no Gary Cooper.  He continued his diatribe on his own terms:

    “On Zatox, the leaders are not politicians, in your sense of the concept.  They are devoted 100% to their service, to their people.  They forfeit their families for the duration of their service so that they do not give any advantage to one citizen over the other.  No one gets any preferred treatment.  After the term of service, the leader goes back to family, none of who can be selected for leadership service.  Not offspring, sibling, parent, grandchild, aunt, uncle, nephew, niece, or in-law, can serve as leader.  When the current leader does take a vacation it is to vacate the mind like sleep does for you.  It is a type of treatment you humans might call a “retreat”, or something of pure “recreation”.  They get closer to their creative impulses in secluded solitary confinement where they can clear their thoughts and prejudices.  This is our definition of re-creation, where we seek wisdom and the various perceptions of the truth.  We hold these truths to be self-evident:  That all Zatoccians are created equal, that they are endowed they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights which include, but are not limited to life, liberty, and the pursuit of our happiness.”

    There was that ironic term again, “unalienable”.  I wonder if that would preclude human foreigners visiting his own planet with all its exotic set of priorities.   They sounded so enlightened that they probably didn’t distinguish between citizens and foreigners, labeling illegal aliens as having nothing more than alienable rights.  Such a bill of limited rights would be so limited that even Congress probably wouldn’t have much of a trouble passing it

    “The problem with you humans,” he continued his critique, turning a pale but bold green hue, “is that you have never had a chance to build up that trust the way we have.  You were able to do so only through lying and cheating the people who knew the truth about who was usurping the money.  That’s why the socialist experiment failed on Earth.  The society on Zatox is very civic minded.  Everyone who has the Zatoccian equivalent of ten million dollars is considered what could be translated on your planet as “self-actualizing.”

     I remembered that term from Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.  It is a kind of fulfillment that transcends satiety, safety and self-esteem.   The pockets are full and the people self-actualized.  They have neither wants nor desires.  That is, until a person from his planet runs short of funds.  In that case there is always is always more room and motivation to earn money in order fill the pockets again until the equivalent of ten million dollars is reached.

    “Maybe that’s the difference between our two species.  The one on Zatox functions with cooperation while the one on Earth cooperates with dysfunction.  The consternation that occurs instead of cooperation is indicative that your species has too much larceny running through its deoxyribonucleic acid-tested bellicose veins.”

     Now it was starting to make sense to me.  P-money is more than political.  It is a sort of play money, promotional and propaganda inspired and press delivered.  V-money is actual virtue money of valor and value earned through verified virtuous work.   The comparison with the ideal gas law PV=nRT makes more sense now.   In order for the right side of the equation to stay at a constantly isothermal absolute temperature, an increase in P would require a decrease in V, and a decrease in P would need to entail an increase in V.  I guess we need to ensure that the ratio of P to V is as small as possible; otherwise the politics will stifle our capacity to develop:   Another consequence of increased entropy and chaotic civilizations.    

     I guess that while both “work” and “wage” are 4-letter words, that “W” word in no way related to one of our presidents.  For our leaders and politicians get their p-money from contributions and wages not even sanctioned by the Constitution, they don’t seem to want us little folk to engage in that “w” word, whether that word refers to work or to the people’s wages. 

     All this is despite the importance of enabling the people to earn v-money in exchange for adding value to the country.  Unfortunately, that’s how the powers that be can be:  They just don’t seem to be on the square, which is ironic when considering that when the “v” word is taken on the square, or v2, is proportional to the work performed on an object.  In a more practical social sense, the a simplified definition of applied work, ½mv2, can be applied to civilization itself:  As a nation’s workforce is motivated towards advancement, it can provide an opportunity for that society  to move a distance where it becomes more valuable than it was before the work was performed.  That society is then kinetically energized with more v-money to drive the dynamo further, and perhaps THAT is the type of “m” that motivates both energy and further work to derive even more energy.

     Besides being another way to look at ½ mv2, this provides an alternate view of what is called “majority rule” from a both a Jeffersonian democratic and financial perspective.  If the vast majority of current money out there is v-money, and only a small amount of that currency is considered just noise in the incidental form of political p-money which only acts to inflate prices by polluting the money pool, then poverty declines as value rises in the form of quality of life

      But the opposite is true too, unfortunately.  Or, as is more commonly referred, the vice versa, or the v.v.  If most of our money becomes noisy p-money, then value rises while poverty goes up – and often in smoke. 

      Interesting that when that value velocity proposition is taken to the square power with v and v connected, the result is that annoying double-v letter “w”.  No two ways around it, vis-à-vis the notion of workforce and resultant energy that empowers the people to buy more with their v-money.  Like the alien said earlier, civilization is like a thermodynamic array, work must indeed be put into the system in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, etc.

      It’s unfortunate that the powers that be don’t see this.  Or, they refuse to be enlightened by the physical relationship between work and power.  For the power to be a superpower nation means that a certain amount of work must be performed by the people of that nation over a period of time.  This isn’t an issue for physicists alone.  It is theoretically relevant for the congressional Energy and Power Subcommittee, and the Energy and Commerce Committee under whose auspicious umbrella the energy and power sub-commits itself.  Our elected leaders should take an example by encouraging and motivating.  Such an electromotive force would be most welcome to the people by providing a background for them to work and contribute value.  More empowering of the people. 

       But to do this, the politicians’ p-money should be miniscule in relation to the voters’ v-money.  Whether that proportion is optimized at 1% or 2% or 3% is unclear, but it would be helpful and beneficial to find that percentage.  

      “Please keep in mind, human,” the alien added, continuing to describe his planet’s potchky politicies, “that my planet does not want to interfere with yours, and in fact I should not be telling you too much about how our law of the seventh potchky – or the eleventh million dollar – actually is implemented. Nor should I be telling you about how the natural consequence of homosexuality in overpopulated places on your planet is…is…”

     The alien immediately changed colors several times over, going through the spectrum at least a few times.  It was as if he were looking for one of the colored chambers in a “Cube” movie, a place from which to escape.  Now he had opened the door to the subject to homosexuality, and regretted it.  This I understood, too, as I felt all such discussion should remain in the closet.  But he opened the door, and my curiosity got the best of me.

     “What ABOUT the homosexuality on our planet?”

     The alien looked like he regretted opening that door.  His expression looked just like the one he displayed when he had earlier regretted bringing up the subject about the disasteroid, and then chapter eleven.  I learned to recognize that look.  It seemed to be one of personal regret of having hastily and haphazardly opened up a Pandora’s Box that was better off closed.      

     “Are you not aware of the growing trend of homosexuality on your planet?” he asked me rather impertinently.

     “Of course I am aware of it.  The media make sure we are.  I really don’t care to know more about it.  Even the word ‘homosexual’, which I understand means ‘man sex with man’ kind of repulses me.  But hey, that’s me.  I never wanted to impose my personal beliefs on others.”

    “Actually human, the ‘homo’ part of ‘homosexual’ does not derive from your Latin word for man, but rather your Greek word for ‘same’.  This is a common misconception amongst you humans.”

     I always thought that homosexuality was something of a missed conception.  “I guess we do seem to have a lot of preconceived notions.”

     I wasn’t really referring to spermatozoa of missed conception opportunities, but the alien didn’t seem to have a sense of humor, anyway. 

     “Yes, your species does seem to misconceive.  Actually, the XX pairing of the female chromosomes makes them the more natural ‘homo’ sex, more of a homo-x-ual gender.”

      I was sorry we got on to the subject, as I really didn’t want to discuss it.  I just wish the word ‘gay’ hadn’t been changed to mean homosexual.  That word used to mean happy and carefree, but since was replaced there doesn’t seem to be any substitute.  Color patterns can’t be gay anymore; people can’t feel gay on a nice sunny morning, and cheerful moods can’t be gay either.

      “All I know is homosexuality is an abomination of the Laws of Moses.  That’s really the only reason why many of us humans are so against it.”

      The alien then changed colors; this time to a more intensive beige, if you could describe such a hue.  I don’t think I had ever seen it before.  Maybe it meant that he was going to say something revolting or even revolutionary. 

      “But do not you see human, that those laws were codified at a time when the population of humanity was very low and people were dying of diseases which have since been eradicated.  Though morality was low,                               mortality was high.  Since then, morality still is low but the population has risen way past the billion mark, and the species of homo-sapiens is numerically successful and in no danger of extinction.  There are humans in every part of the world, thanks to utilizing knowledge of the birds and the bees.  Consequently, the humans have replenished the Earth just like your feathered creatures and insects.  Your diversity is seen all over the globe on land and on sea.  Your commandment of ‘Pru Urvu’, which has been translated as ‘Be Fruitful and Multiply’ is one of your Biblical commandments which humanity has followed rather successfully.”

     I guess it’s true.  We humans have been fruitful and have multiplied.  And not in the agricultural and mathematical sense, though our civilization has indeed owed its success to being able to use agriculture to feed billions of people and utilize geometry to develop technology and build buildings.  We have been fruitful and multiplying while we have also been dividing and conquering.   That multiplicative inverse seems to have kept our populations in check with a sort of equilibrium of birth and death.

     “But today,” the alien continued, “with the billions of people out there, you have for the first time a case of overpopulation.  You have reached a tipping point, sometime in the past century.”

     I understood the subject of tipping points.  Often they were in the form of stock bubbles, or cycles of inflation followed by deflation.  I knew about disappointment points that have exploited and exploded stock markets, of points of no deposit no return.

     The alien continued to connect the points, this time getting my dander up:  “On Zatox we recognize this phenomenon.  That is why we see the increase in your homosexual behavior.”

      I was now getting mad again, and I felt myself changing color.  I was probably a bright red, because that was all I could see.

      “Are you saying”, I said, for the first time raising my voice, “that the Biblical prohibitions against homosexuality are today…today…”

      I couldn’t say it.  I was too emotional.  And hungry.  But now my anger rose above that primitive instinct.  Somehow I found the strength to complete the question:  “…OBSOLETE?”

      At my completion of one of the lengthiest interrogatives I have ever asked, the alien seemed to pause a moment to consider how to answer it.  He saw that I was taken aback, so he decided to step back.  He probably recognized the sensitivity of the issue and needed to proceed with caution.  About that he was right.

      And he was right to take the time to consider a politically correct answer, as he probably wasn’t expecting such a need to address the issue.  But it was HE who opened the closet door, and after all, he was the one who was investigating our social ways, whys and woes. 

     True, more people are being generated, and less are dying due to medical advances.  Humanity is indeed practicing Pru Urvu very well, not only in the Fertile Crescent.   But overpopulation is nevertheless a dangerous thing in terms of spreading of disease.  And competition is becoming even ferocious over food, water, and other resources.  Economic sharing cannot always succeed without military skirmishes, as bread is always at the heart of war.    These days petroleum is the pretext for, as Halliburton showed us by rocking the Cradle of Civilization.  Both swords and blood are remixed in bitter irony nowadays, too.   

     The alien took another deep breath, again clearing the room of available air momentarily, then began his answer which seemed like it would be a sage explanation like that from the Haggadah as to why unleavened bread is eaten at Passover, with the story given in the form of an entire Megillah.  Funny how he chose to refer to Mesopotamia in that explanation, as that was what I was thinking.  

     “In classical society when the population was low, you relied on teaching the sons to be the builders, and the daughters to be domestically grounded.  In Babylon, boys built towers, while girls tended the hanging gardens.  The men were the animal husbands who erect houses and the women would accept that erection, making it a home, while providing a receptacle for both homemaking and lovemaking.”

      He was eloquent, I must say.  He was connecting dots very well, building beams to his thesis rather effectively. 

      “But today, your civilization is being TOO fruitful and multiplying TOO much.  The increase in homosexuality actually may be a natural response to overpopulation. ”

       A natural response?  That was hard to accept!  Even hearing such a notion was like experiencing an atom bomb!   I always thought of homosexuality as unnatural, for no society can be sustained with such a national agenda.  Certainly no genesis could take place, no regeneration, no nation could rise with such pre-natal abomination.

       The alien’s TOO-TOO argument was becoming too much for me.  It was sort of the opposite of the too-little-too-late argument, something of a too-much-too-soon reasoning.  I understood that he was talking about excessive procreation, or perhaps something about increasing our quantities without enhancing the quality of life.  If he was saying that our wisdom was not growing at a rate that could match the population growth, then this was one point with which I definitely agreed.

       Nevertheless I was still concerned about the alien’s argument about homosexuality being a natural consequence of excessive.  The Bible has no statute of limitations on its precepts and commandments, particularly with the ‘be fruitful and multiply’ and the prohibitions of homosexuality.  None of the Biblical laws   have expiration dates.  That’s what made me so angry at the alien’s premise, even if I did understand it.  But I had to reject it outright.  It was my right to do so.    

      I was still reeling at the alien’s comment about natural response to overpopulation.  It seemed strange how he used the subjunctive verbiage ‘may be a natural response’ as if that weren’t definitely the case, as if it weren’t proven clinically with definitive results.  I wondered if our population was something of a social laboratory being monitored by alien scientists from his distant planet checking the increase in our population data. 

     I felt like asking the alien why they don’t have a similar problem with overpopulation, but that would require me to understand how his species procreates, and that would have been disgusting, particularly on an empty stomach.   And then for the first time I realized that I didn’t really know if the alien was in fact male or female.  I had assumed it was a ‘he’, and in truth I don’t really care to find out. 

     The alien then turned a dark orange, and changed his tone somewhat:   “I am sorry if I have offended you, human.  I understand how sensitive the topic is.  There are many people who see what you call ‘gays’ as non-productive aberrations.  On the other hand, these people are part of society and cannot be denied a certain level of basic human rights.”

     I agreed with this part.  I wasn’t against homosexuals, but rather the idea of homosexuality.  I was tired of the discussion.  I wanted to close the closet door again.

     I must apologize again, human, for as you know, I have been sent here to learn more about your existence.  Just so that you know, we on Zatox understand the complexities of the argument.  But we tend to look at your ancient Greek philosopher-statesman Pericles who said in a funeral oration:  “The freedom of government extends also to our ordinary life.  There, far from exercising a jealous surveillance over each other, we do not feel called upon to be angry with our neighbour for doing what he likes.” 

     “What does that have to do with homosexuality?” I asked, not being able to connect the plot of dots he was presenting.  Was he talking about something related to “Love thy Neighbor”?

      “Just this:  Even if you have an aversion to the notion of homosexuality, those you call ‘gays’ still have certain rights and freedoms.  You cannot be preoccupied with the hatred.”  

      “Are you suggesting something of a ‘Don’t ask Don’t Tell’ doctrine?” I asked.

       “I am here to gain information, not really to give out advice or suggestions, except to admonish you that in order to survive you humans should consider the lives of your descendants, or else they will suffer the consequences of nature.”

       “Are you talking about disasteroids again?”  I asked, remembering that term he taught me.  I was asking too many questions, again feeling like the inquisitor this time.

       “Not just that, but other fast flotsam out there.  Although we are not going to interfere with your lives such as they are, we nevertheless do not want you to become victims of some unforeseen disaster for which your race is not prepared.  It could be in the form of a disease of unknown etiology that confronts your relative ease of living.  Or perhaps a computer virus or some disruption that disturbs your turning turbines, threatening to bring our electrical grid to a gridlock that even Washington DC can’t rival. Beware of those misfortunes of the future mentioned in that Biblical chapter 11.”

       Again with chapter eleven; - I wanted that to end already.  Maybe it would soon.  I was still working on the principle of the 11th million and trying to digest it on an empty stomach.  At least the alien didn’t go into aspects of the ideal gas law, or other laws of thermodynamics as stated by Charles, Boyle, or Clapeyron.

      The alien now went silent but appeared thoughtful for several minutes, and I guessed that he was grasping the gravity of the financial situation our planet was in. I then broke the silence: “The matter stuff we were talking about earlier is real heavy”, I said somewhat jokingly, trying to “lighten” up the situation by slowing down the beams to a reference point to which I could relate.  After all, I wasn’t an expert on the matter.   

       But he didn’t respond.  I had to admit that the connection between being speedily enlightened and industrially motivated by interest was still unclear to me.  That elusive seventh lesson of today’s humanity.  Maybe all this was indeed a dream, after all.  Maybe I was still lying on the couch in indignant ignavy, feeling sorry for myself and my wasted creativity.  Or perhaps it was the alien’s dream. Was I lost in thought – his thought?   We were of one mind, anyway, sharing the notion of being totally perplexed with humanity.

       To his credit I do have to say that I admired his tenacity.  He was now in ‘review’ mode, digesting the new information and taking stock, so to speak, at what we discussed.  Maybe he would invite me back for a second interview.  Whatever the case, I hope this experience wasn’t too much for the poor tentacled traveler who appeared somewhat confounded. 

       Maybe the alien was getting a little homesick; maybe he was having culture-shock.  I couldn’t be sure, but I did know that I understood his bewilderment, as I have been living it every day.  From my extensive experience at being out of work I often felt as if I were the alien amongst the humans. 

       Although he left me for the time being to seek a more sober cyberspace help in the next room, I took solace in the notion that I am not alone on my own home planet. At least, I knew I wasn’t the only crazy one. 

       His true intentions were still a mystery.  Was he simply a clinical psychiatrist trying to investigate the basis for our problems?  If so, was he visiting other victims of unemployment, trying to get a larger picture of our existence?

       It wasn’t long before I was thinking again about War of the Worlds and other far-reaching scenarios seen in popular movies over the past half-century.   Was his objective to engage in a reconnaissance mission to strategize an invasion by first finding our weakest points?

       If so, this would be a good way to get the information - through online research, through covert espionage, through interviews with disenfranchised people like me or others like me.

       Maybe his species colonized other planets in the same way, looking for worlds whose inhabitants would do the job for them.  No need for the aliens to provide the tools of conquest and no need to come with bombs and explosions and fallout.  Perhaps the aliens know who the real monsters are.

       They probably see us as just another species inhabiting a vulnerable world out of many, an e pluribus Unum in a segmented target market of planets.  Such aliens would probably know how to probe for social weaknesses to exploit in an effort to colonize one planet after another.  “One to the other…one to the other…one to the other.”  

       Perhaps my guest was part of an intergalactic communist conspiracy which employed the same basic strategy.  But even if my paranoia was well-placed, there was little I could do to stop him.  All I could do was look on with interest and think of the narrator on the Batman TV series, saying something like:  “Can this sinister fiend succeed in his diabolical scheme?  Will his kind overtake mankind?  Will the next earth-rise be a human uprising?  Stay tuned next week, same channel, for the next exciting chapter…”                        

 

               h h h h

 

Click here for the next chapter: 12. "Wake-up Call"