Halfway between meme and gene is the ringtone, an informational packet passed from person to person, and replicating more often based on their social success. It undergoes selection, just like everything else with a replication system, but China has forced it to mutate in aggressive and destructive ways.
In mere megalopolises, the ringtone is selected for uniqueness so that the owner knows it’s their phone. But in Chinese cities the sheer density of mobile phones per square meter has passed the critical concentration where any sound you could imagine is sure to be used by someone else as well, and the only reliable identifier is volume. Sheer bone-shattering volume.
If you’re on a bus being deafened by polyphonics, well, that just means that there’s phone service in the area. That could be anyone’s. It’s only when you notice your own ossicles bouncing out of your ear canal that you can be sure it’s your own phone. The concept of avoiding disruption of other passengers simply doesn’t exist. Possibly because being bothered into not doing things by the presence of other people would cause a population of this size to crash and freeze entirely.
You could set off a golabl tidal wave by hacking the cell towers to ring every phone at once, without the hassle of organizing everyone jumping at once. In fact, jumping would be unnecessary, as the resonance of every possible ringtone sounding simultaneously at maximum volume would project the population into the air, where they’d float like electro-hovercraft over the disintegrating wail of badly digitized pop and movie samples.
This synchro-sounding would drive the tidal waves even faster, washing away every other nation on Earth, while resetting China to pre-industrial times as everything electronic is overloaded and destroyed. It could well be a last-ditch antipocalypse intended as a final fall-back position, to keep humanity going at the base level when we’re on the verge of utterly wrecking the ecosphere.
At least, I think that’s why everyone has their phones so loud.
More Sino-Gaelic investigations:
No-good snitch Jimmy “Two Weasels” Narconi was found dead yesterday, of what Bootleg City PD describe as “extremely natural causes”. An array of bullet wounds of varying caliber, range, and direction were described by BCPD coroners as “very common”, and “the only person who would even bother to talk about wounds as uninteresting as these is someone who received them. Or wanted to. If you know what we mean.”
The Bootleg City Commissioner of Police told reporters, without being asked, or even approached, “If this case was any less remarkable, it would be suspicious. But it isn’t! It is in no way suspicious. I must stress that this case is at the exact minimum level of remarkability to guarantee a lack of further investigation. It’s so forgettable, I would swear that I won’t even remember it after this conversation, except that I would never say anything about it under any kind of oath, under any circumstances, if anyone’s worried about that.”
“It’s a tragedy, is what it is” said Jimmy’s close friend, and last person to see him alive, Clubber “Doesn’t Bother With Clubs” Killerillo. “He died of natural causes. Real natural, like. I saw the whole thing. In fact, if anyone is in any doubt of how it went down, they should let me know and I’ll show them personally.”
So normal and legitimate was Jimmy’s death, a number of concerned citizens have organized a meeting right here in our newsrooms to make sure that everyone understands just how entirely unfortunate and legitimate it was. The staff off the Bootleg Price Sheet would like to pass our condolences to Jimmy’s family, along with our wishes for speedy and total amnesia.
More breaking news:
Fellow executives, my name is Dick Jones, and it gives me great pleasure to relaunch OCP’s flagship law enforcement product. Sure, I know what you’re thinking – “Dick Jones is dead!” – but if there was ever a time law enforcement had to listen to the voices of dead men, well, that’s right now. Because 2015 is the perfect time to relaunch the ED-209.
In the last thirty years, every flaw in our Enforcement Droid series has become a major plus:
- ED-209 gives suspects a full twenty seconds warning before shooting them to death.
- The fact it could easily be outrun by a child means it’s highly unlikely to publicly execute a child, on camera.
- Complete lack of arms means it’s impossible for the droid to choke an unarmed, outnumbered, already restrained man to death.
- Incredibly high caliber twin automatic cannons ensure that ED could never, ever pretend that a suspect had somehow shot themselves from inside a locked car with their hands cuffed behind their back.
- When people run from this murderous public projection of capital enforcement, people will completely understand the reaction, and not think the person running must have done something to deserve it.
- The only person ED publicly executed without even the thought of facing consequences was a rich white man. Shit, that’s practically progress.
More movie expansion with
Cats are the perfect models for dystopian sci-fi*. A race of beautiful bastards motivated by greed and manipulation, naturally inquisitive, acquisitive, and territorial. They’re already all our human problems in a wrapper people want to spend time with. Which makes them the perfect analog for working out science-fiction stories: give them an equivalent item to your story’s MacGuffin and watch what happens.
*The only problem is that we can’t combine the names, because I’m sure scat-fi is something that already exists, and am even surer that it’s not something I want to read.
Example: we’ve just set up our automatic cat feeder, and the cats have already started worshipping it. Once they realized they couldn’t beat it into submission (as with earlier and inferior cat feeders, which had clearly been designed by someone who thought cats were patient) they started sitting in supplication. Staring. Waiting. I’ve never seen them so close to religious. Once they work out the feeding times they’ll move on to the next stage: rebuilding their feline society around the infeline whims of an all-providing, suddenly all-powerful machine.
It’s appalling how quickly humanity became superfluous. We’re not the feeders any more, so we’re not as important. And we might know that in the long run we’re still necessary — the machine will need to be refilled, the machine will need new batteries, the machine might break — but then, when have we ever chosen long term survival over short term convenience? This experiment was meant to model a possible future and it’s already extrapolated the present.
I sat on the bed, obsolete before the Altar of Automatic Food, when one of its fuzzy supplicants scooched over to lean against me. Never taking his eyes off his whirring god, of course, but nevertheless moving to be warm, and comfy, and wait for the machine to take care of everything else.
And I thought, “I wonder if I can get a feeder.”
More feline fun with The Shrinking Cat Box Experiment