Uplifting in the countryside

Me, Dad, sauna; loose talk. Birds have been blocked out of the strawberry patch with nets; this leads to one of us noting that, given time and effort, and a dearth of other food sources, this would lead to the forced evolution of smarter birds: smart enough to get under the nets, to the strawberries, and then back out.

Or smart enough to get in, and cute enough to survive getting caught. (“You cute little thing… I’ll let you go this time. Gosh darnit.”)

Then: penguins.

Which, looking at things from the busy woodlands of interior Finland, is a species of bird without a whole lot of problems.


Dear Academy of Finland,

Brief: I hereby submit this application for a grant of 30.000 euros for the study of avian intelligence enhancement and artificial selection. The expenses include tickets to the Antarctic and back for myself (3rd class), several graduate students, and the requisite equipment (freight containers).

Methodology: I go to the Antarctic and kill the stupid penguins. The smart ones live.

“Cooo, you befrocked pest. Are you afraid of the elephant gun? No? Boom! How about you? Run, boid, run!”

Then we came up with a less sociopathic and more just garden-variety odd alternative for making more intelligent penguins.

Picture the Antarctic coastal plain, white and empty except for a flock of black-and-white birds, hundreds strong, cawing and waddling and looking like the grand-ancestors of the butler race.

Among them moves one that is a bit stiff, a bit too immobile… a bit too glassy in the eyes and too tread-like in the legs.

“Move the drone north. Penguin #322, ‘the Prof’, is in the mating mood, and we need to run intercept in case any of the other males makes a challenge.”

“Aye, sir professor sir.”

“Don’t get nautical with me. Just slip the drone’s beak open and get the needle gun ready.”

“Sir, are you sure this is what they approved the tranquilizers for?”

“Shut up and shoot that dumb penguin. It doesn’t get to breed this year, and the Prof gets.”

The problem is, this isn’t going to result in big results even with a four-year grant.

Then, finally, we came to an idea that could be a manga by Yasuhiro Kano and Waita Uziga. Somewhere in the back roads of Finland, a compact car gets overrun by a maniacal lorry driver. The compacted driver (a hapless everyperson he) is horribly injured, and wakes up an indeterminate time later.

He feels really funny, and is greeted by a retired doctor of biology and surgery, who saved him from the wreck and did the only thing he, a caring and not very insane individual, could do to save the man’s life…

This, then, is “I am a human brain in the body of a cow! Oh no!”

A pasture, some hectic and comedy-filled days later. Two not-particularly-nice boys are leaning against the fence. One picks up a rock and tosses it at a cow that’s sleeping standing up towards the middle of the pasture. The cow wakes up and gives a garbled moo of displeasure.

The other boy laughs and tosses a stone as well.

The cow gives them a piercing evil glare, and bellows in unearthly, gargling, barely but unquestionably intelligible words: “Yooo leave moooo alone, fooooking braaats!”

Some traumas may result.

A few days later; the same duo comes to school, late and winded, ragged like they’d ran half the way through the woods.

“Well”, their stern schoolmistress snaps, “come in. And where is your homework? I specifically told you to remember to bring it with you today!”

One of the boys collapses against the wall, sobbing. The other combs sweat-soaked hair off his forehead and gasps, “Teach, sorry, but, sorry, a cow ate our homework.”

There is a chilly moment of silence.

“Really”, the teacher says.

“And”, the boy against the wall mutters, “and I never knew cows could fucking leap or laugh like that, I mean, holy fuck.”

And then there is detention.

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