The Parable of the Blackmailing Mad Scientists

24 Feb 2009

The first time a Mad Tinkerer called the President, he demanded a lot of things: and since this is a Mad Tinkerer I am talking about, many of those were a bit unusual. There would be blood, chaos, destruction, and evil atomic mutants unless the whole nation would stop wearing ponchos, increase their pizza intake and never, ever make jokes about ions.

The Tinkerer added that an effective deterrent for this last one would be criminalising the deed: an Anti-"I'm positive!" Act of sorts.

The President declared the nation would not be blackmailed by a kook with a science degree from Mouhaha Tech --- mainly because the democratic equivalent of blackmail (elections) every four years was already more than enough for him --- and fine, there was blood and chaos, destruction and three green-skinned giants with laser eyes. The nation got over that --- not the President, though, as the next election was all about "being soft on the physics menace". That particular Mad Tinkerer fumed a bit, but his threats were increasingly hollow, thanks to the Pan-Continental Atomic Mutant Early Warning System (PCAMEWS, pronounced pee-zee-myers).

The next Mad Tinkerer, seeing that blackmailing the entire nation was a bit troublesome --- some were willing to obey, others not, and no matter what the final decision was, there would be grumbling and everyone would blame the would-be world-ruling scientist, and no-one would understand his Grand Vision --- well, seeing that, the next Mad Tinkerer went personal.

One day every TV everywhere turned on, and the sneering, weak-chinned visage of the engineer with a Ph.D., too much free time and a "Spock so loved the world"-t-shirt glared at the populace. He proclaimed he had devised a giant distributed Atomic Robot-Mutant Killer Legion which consisted of insect-sized nanite drones, scattered all across the nation.

His ultimatum was clear, though the reasons for it were obscure: Ponchos for everyone. No more pizza. And ion jokes every Thursday, on every TV station and radio channel, at least five of them. (If there were as many --- he didn't tell.)

Anyone that didn't obey would be immediately and personally killed by the distributed drones.

This, connoisseurs of Mad Tinkerer lore proclaimed, was a new and very interesting approach --- usually mad scientists went for the "everyone obeys, or the skies will fill with green shit!" ultimatum. This concern for individuals --- and the willingness to go for individual throats and other fatal spots --- was, according to the specialists, the herald of a new age in the glorious history of blackmail by almost all-powerful figures unwilling to make an intellectual case for their curious demands.

The meaning of this parable --- that is, the parallels to the Gods of the Testaments Old and New --- should be obvious. In the Old, either the nation did as the Lord said, or there would be much blood, chaos and destruction, though no evil atomic mutants. According to the New, either an individual does as the bum rabbi said, or the individual goes to Hell --- which may or may not contain distributed insect-robot-drones (the New Testament, even the Revelation, fails to mention those).

last updated: (Mar 15 2011)