11 July, 2009

Against Megalomania

The public has an odd image of scientists are reclusive loners with deep eclectic streaks and megalomaniacal tendencies. Eclecticism aside, it should most vehemently noted that megalomaniacs are, by their very nature, doomed to failure, so as a scientist you shouldn't even try. Yes, it may be tempting to ponder as you blearily load Blue Juice into agarose wells and wonder why you bothered to crawl out of bed. And yes, you may know, in your data-ey heart of hearts that the world would be a better place if it was ruled by a rational scientist*, but the truth is that each and every megalomaniac aspirant begins their path to conquering the world with grand visions of uniting the world as one cohesive and peaceful society. Then they inevitably make 2 mistakes:

1) Try to invade Russia.
2) Fail to take into account that people actually live in the world.

First of all, it should be noted that unless you've found a way to animate snow men as soldiers, you will never successfully conquer a very cold, wintery Northern country (except maybe Canada). The people that live there are used to the staggeringly brutal winters and know how to use it as an advantage against you. To understand that this is true, you only have to look to the historical examples (of which there are relatively few) where one Northern country tried to whup another militarily instead of just economically. In the Winter War of 1942, Finland and Russia fought a nasty border war. The Russians attacked on snow mobiles, and the native Finns who knew the land ambushed them, guerilla-style, on skis. Russia tried to use tanks, but really should have known better: they got stuck in freezing mud. Moscow may be flat, but Karelia and Finland are full of lakes, and what looks like dry ground between lakes is usually actually a swamp. Finland eventually lost this battle because they didn't have the supplies to keep fighting, and they wound up losing a substantial amount of territory in Karelia and also lost the important industrial city of Viipuri (now Vyborg).

Secondly, in almost everywhere on the planet, in every little nook and cranny where you'd least expect to find them, are people. Living there. With histories, and traditions, and individual languages and land rights that make the task of being their benevolent ruler aggravatingly complex and bureaucratic. You're stuck with them. You have to deal with them, regardless of whether or not you want to because, if you're in charge and decide to ignore them and focus elsewhere, you'll have a steaming pile of rebellion dropped right into your fancy oatmeal. And let's face it: rebellions are an expensive pain in the ass. You've got to send soldiers to keep them from taking it out on any vulnerable scapegoats, you've got to rebuild whatever they manage to destroy (never underestimate the sheer raw power of 10,000 angry people with hammers), and then you've got to figure out whatever the hell it was they wanted in the first place. Pain. In. The. Ass. Instead of eating exquisite grapes off the juicy bodies of your servants and having your wine washed in fancy feet, you've got to rule the people.

Alternatively, you could conquer the world and set up a Parliament so that the people you now have to rule would feel like they had some say in things, but then you'd also have to deal with Parliament interfering in your wishes. And if you decide to go even further and let Parliament actually rule and be a figurehead emporer instead, well, let's just say you're setting yourself up for a coup d'etat, and once the whole world is pissed off at you there's no where for you to flee to.

Isn't this sounding like a massive bother? Wouldn't a nice cup of tea and a cookie be better instead? I mean, if you're going to rule something absolutely, start somewhere where you can decide who gets to live there. Like the Moon. If anyone tries to rebel you can politely tell them to go walk it off outside.

*Because if we let an engineer run the world everything would suddenly have 3X as many buttons, 1/2 as many useful functions, and nothing would be properly labeled.


LostMarbles said...

you will never successfully conquer a very cold, wintery Northern country (except maybe Canada).

Take that back! Our army of bears, moose, and Canada geese can kick anyone's ass.

Toaster Sunshine said...

Bring them on!

I've got a big hammer and I ain't takin' no gruff from no one!!! You forget that your precious geese fly south for the winter, and then they're vulnerable, oh, so very vulnerable indeed! Just wait'll you see what they come winging back with next summer: motherfucking laser monocles! Then they'll inadvertently destroy you from the inside out!

LostMarbles said...

Hahaha. You think the geese are silly enough to fall for your tricks. They've been flying down to spy on you and they already know all your plans. And you really shouldm't underestimate the Canada goose's ability to literally shit your country up.

P.S. You don't even want to know what we're hiding in the CN Tower

Toaster Sunshine said...

We already know what you Canucks are hiding in the CN Tower. I'm not fazed by the prospect of a giant goose poop and moose rutting pheromone cannon; I have, after all, been to Branson.

We'll see who laughs last when all your snobby French fry vinegar is transformed into sugar water!

LostMarbles said...

French fry vinegar turning to sugar? Dude, that won't phase me as long as I have enough gravy and cheese curds to make poutine.

DuWayne Brayton said...

Toaster -

Fuck you for insinuating that I can't animate an army of snowman soldiers!!! Any reasonable excuse for a meglomaniacal scientist knows how to do that - we just don't always want to. Sheesh! Projecting your own inadequacies on the rest of us!!!

And dealing with those nook and cranny populations is easy with the mind-control satellites. Again, just because you can't manage it, doesn't mean there aren't some of us who could make it happen in our sleep, with one hand tied behind our backs - if we really wanted to.

LM -

You fucking Canadians are all just talk...All we need to do is call you nasty names and cut in line. If that doesn't mortify you into submission, even the toughest of you crumble when we throw something in the street and kick you right in the ass and knock you down, when you bend over to pick it up. Worse comes to worse, we can catch you in a loop of "sorry's" by bumping into you repeatedly until all you're good for is knocking your head against the rubber wall, mumbling "sorry" over and over and over...*

A HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!11!1!!111!!!!

Fucking Canadians!!!!!11!

(*I promise not to invade you if you marry me so I can get healthcare)

Toaster Sunshine said...

Dammit, DuWayne, a good Mad Scientist doesn't flaunt that kind of shit around! Haven't you watched any spy movies or horror films? The villain is always undone by revealing his entire motherfucking plan.

And I daresay your Canadian invasion plan is rather inefficient. Why not just reprogram the moose to commit lewd and lascivious public acts against automobiles 24/7? When no one can get their car out from under an amorous moose, the entire nation's transit system will be mostly crippled!

Of course, now that I've disclosed this plan I can't very well use it.

Toaster Sunshine said...

And for something as gross as it is, poutine should be at least have the decency to have a very low flash-point.

Stephanie Zvan said...

All right, boys. Talk all the big plans you want as long as you understand that you won't actually be allowed to touch Canada. It's very important that Canada still be allowed to maintain its illusion of independence.

For now.

Toaster Sunshine said...

Surely a Minnesotan knows better to make such a claim! We, Minnesota and Michigan together, are Gondor. We must contain the Canadian threat to keep the rest of the world safe.

Jason Thibeault said...

One does not simply walk into Canada. Our armies of Uruk-Hai (bears with chainsaws) stand at the ready.

Jason Thibeault said...

Additionally, your plans for immobilizing our transit system fail to take into account snowshoes and dog sleds.

DuWayne Brayton said...

Yeah!??! Well what the fuck are they going to do about my sky-sled, pulled by subverted Canuck geese? Geese that will poop on you slow movers...

DuWayne Brayton said...

Son of a BITCH!!!!!

Why, oh why, do I keep letting loose with my super-secret plans!?!?!

Jason Thibeault said...

If convincing geese to poop on us is the worst you have in store, I'm afraid that years of living in Canada have made us immune to such treatment from years of having it happened with un-subverted geese.

DuWayne Brayton said...

All right Toaster, these motherfucking Canucks gotta go down!!!1!111!!1

LostMarbles said...

even the toughest of you crumble when we throw something in the street
You should be aware that the garbage collectors in Toronto are already working on desensitizing us to litter. We've gone almost a month with garbage everywhere. Windsor is even further into the program with several monthes worth of garbage collecting on the streets.

Why not just reprogram the moose to commit lewd and lascivious public acts against automobiles 24/7? When no one can get their car out from under an amorous moose, the entire nation's transit system will be mostly crippled!

Dude, you are aware that in Toronto we have a good public transit system and no moose? Also, the places that have sucky public transit systems and moose are already used to moose attacking their cars.

quietandsmalladventures said...

oh my, i think this is my comment list this week!! please oh please send me a goose with a lasar monocle!!!!