Another thing that got forgotten was the fact that, against all probability, a sperm whale had suddenly been called into existence several miles above the surface of an alien planet.
And since this is not a naturally tenable position for a whale, this poor innocent creature had very little time to come to terms with its identity as a whale before it then had to come to terms with not being a whale any more.
This is a complete record of its thoughts from the moment it began its life till the moment it ended it.
Ah Ö ! Whatís happening? it thought.
Er, excuse me, who am I?
Why am I here? Whatís my purpose in life?
What do I mean by who am I?
Calm down, get a grip now Ö oh! this is an interesting sensation, what is it? Itís a sort of Ö yawning, tingling sensation in my Ö my Ö well I suppose Iíd better start finding names for things if I want to make any headway in what for the sake of what I shall call an argument I shall call the world, so letís call it my stomach.
Good. Ooooh, itís getting quite strong. And hey, whatís about this whistling roaring sound going past what Iím suddenly going to call my head? Perhaps I can call that Ö wind! Is that a good name? Itíll do Ö perhaps I can find a better name for it later when Iíve found out what itís for. It must be something very important because there certainly seems to be a hell of a lot of it. Hey! Whatís this thing? This Ö letís call it a tail Ė yeah, tail. Hey! I can can really thrash it about pretty good canít I? Wow! Wow! That feels great! Doesnít seem to achieve very much but Iíll probably find out what itís for later on. Now Ė have I built up any coherent picture of things yet?
Never mind, hey, this is really exciting, so much to find out about, so much to look forward to, Iím quite dizzy with anticipation Ö
Or is it the wind?
There really is a lot of that now isnít it?
And wow! Hey! Whatís this thing suddenly coming towards me very fast? Very very fast. So big and flat and round, it needs a big wide sounding name like Ö ow Ö ound Ö round Ö ground! Thatís it! Thatís a good name Ė ground!
I wonder if it will be friends with me?
And the rest, after a sudden wet thud, was silence.
Curiously enough, the only thing that went through the mind of the bowl of petunias as it fell was Oh no, not again. Many people have speculated that if we knew exactly why the bowl of petunias had thought that we would know a lot more about the nature of the universe than we do now.
My turn: For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much - the wheel, New York, wars and so on - whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man - for precisely the same reasons.
In the TV series Battlestar Galactica, there is one particularly dramatic episode in which the Admiral undertakes a particularly heroic (and seemingly insane) operation to provide close air support over the rescue / evacuation of several thousand civilians who are being held captive by hostile forces in an internment camp on the surface of a planet which they originally intended to colonize.
To wit, he jumps* the Galactica** from a position some distance away from the planet to a position directly above the fight, within the atmosphere of the planet itself. As ships of this nature possess no capacity whatsoever for "flight" in the sense of gliding through the air, it immediately begins to plummet towards the surface, launching every available fighter to engage the enemy and cover the evacuation before jumping back into space just before crashing into the surface.
When I first saw this scene, the words which immediate crossed through my mind were "falling like a whale."
* = Jump drive is a magical propulsion technology which allows a ship to instantly move from one point in space to another, usually employed to traverse extremely long, inter-stellar distances in a short time. Differs from warp drive, hyperspace, etc., in that the ship doesn't actually travel faster than light per se, as it doesn't "travel" in the conventional sense at all. It just vanishes from one spot and appears in another. In this way, it's quite similar to HHGTG's Infinite Improbability Drive.
** = A very large capital ship, essentially the outer-space version of an aircraft carrier. Not well-suited to operating inside a planet's atmosphere in much the same way that a large nuclear submarine is not well-suited to operating inside a fishbowl.
Interestingly, what's expected is a "palace coup", where the current president may step in to have full power over the cabinet - and the country.
On a side note, Turks have a total loser attitude in terms of describing power.
For instance the White House is "White Palace" in Turkish. Turkish culture could not fathom calling the building located at 1600 Pennsylvania Av. a "house".
That's why the current president's residence is officially called a palace.
(Actually the guy e-really went overboard when he had the place built. It is grotesquely large, and has over 1100 rooms. AND, work is underway to construct a "residence" for him right next door. Even that residence will be many times bigger than the US White House.)
Turkish culture could not fathom calling the building located at 1600 Pennsylvania Av. a "house".
That's why the current president's residence is officially called a palace.
The early history of the US Presidency is rather fascinating in this way.
Today, the office of the President is steeped in pomp, ceremony, and celebrity. We intuitively understand that "The President" is the most powerful figure on earth, capable of moving mountains and charting the fate of all humanity with the stroke of a pen. He travels with an entourage rivaled by Kings and Popes, dines on the finest china, and is attended to by an army of stewards.
But it was not always this way.
At the time the office was enacted in 1788, it was the intention of the Congress to make it as austere and humble as possible. This was done largely to put some conceptual distance between the US Government and that of Great Britain, and to prevent the elected leader from getting a big head. To this end, the President was not adorned with a crown, or dressed in robes, or given a palace from which to rule.
Even the very name "President" was, in fact, chosen for its austerity.
In the late 1700s, nobody knew what to call the elected head of state of a representative federal republic. There had never been one before, and so there was no word to describe it. Lots of titles were thrown around; King, His Excellency, Chief Magistrate, His Highness, Protector of the Liberties of the People of the United States of America, and so on. The House of Representatives finally settled on the title of President.
At the time, referring to the leader of an entire country as President would have sounded rather silly. The word already existed, but it was used to refer to people who presided over small and relatively informal organizations such as fraternities and athletic clubs. And the Congress initially opposed the idea for this very reason. Their newly-elected leader was going to be ratifying treaties and meeting with foreign dignitaries, and they didn't want him to look like an idiot when he was introduced.
The debate dragged on for weeks, and of course the House finally won over its opposition out of sheer bloody-minded perseverance as much as anything. And, today, the title of President is one aspired to by every would-be dictator around the world.
So I shot a Mountain Lion with a Glock 17. Ignore the part were I say I don't know what it was. My heart was still racing and I was thinking about a hundred things and distracted. When I caught it out of the corner of my eye it was about 60 yards away and moving fast towards me in a crouch, got it at about 50 yards.