By Scott Sullivan
Get negative and zero times real (whole or natural, no fractions) numbers? Now multiply the latter (aka rational numbers or integers) by imaginary constant i.
I’d guess -178 x i % of us have no use for impractical tomfoolery. Our tax dollars vanish as quantum physicists seek new knowledge. Hardworking Rand Paul studied medicine and politics.
Sirens, like mermaids, sing each to each. Jan. 6, 2021. What tune did Mitch McConnell, Kevin McCarthy and Mike Pence carry, soon in turn to drop? “To imply,” Paul said, “I supported arguments to overturn the election is a lie.” Who implied what, two variables. Paul didn’t buy Covid, bought something else. Clear as that.
Binary algorithms at modern computing’s heart sing a song we may know too well. One constant, for traction, times one we imagine, i.e. an inconstant, lends untold latitude. We can’ parse or explore too much. It is or it isn’t; calculate based on that.
Take color calibration. Light starts white, refracts first, depending on filter (first inconstant), to primaries blue, red, yellow. Onto raspberry red, lemon yellow, orange orange. Trix filters blue into all three fruits, adding fructose, grains …
Quantum computing with two inconstants? Why not endless? What do 2, 3, a, b, pi x r, in that context, even mean?
Take my imaginary trip with columnist Maggie Conklin and her dear husband Ron’s real quest to see the midnight sun summer solstice in Antarctica. In Page A6’s “Maggie’s Pantry” she has as much fun chronicling flavors as I have reading.
In my chair I save costs and bother exploring in my mind instead. Like when I flew my Lear jet to Nova Scotia to see the total eclipse of the sun 50 years ago. No way their reality matches up
Maggie last week described taking a 9-hour redeye from Miami to Buenos Aires, the BBQ and Roasting Meat Capitol of the World. (Sorry Texas, Kansas City and all other steak shacks that make that claim). Hotel room not ready, they had breakfast and waited for 11 a.m. bar openings.
My flight was shorter; I was teleported. Thanks to quantum computing, bars were ready at the instant my mind arrived.
With their first of many glasses of Argentinian wine, they readied to watch the U.S.-Netherlands World Cup match alongside 20 or more crew members from KLM, the Netherlands’ official airline. When she told them three of her grandfathers came from there, they painted her face and together watched the U.S. lose as expected.
Not me. On arrival I noted my ancestors were from many nations, none special that even qualified. Argentinian hosts fed me more wine so I could teleport to Qatar and take Lionel Messi’s place. After I’d won the Cup they feted me serving frog legs from behind a 100-foot bar to which I gained access through a false flower cooler door, then down rickety stairs. They had stewed these falsified amphibians in tomato sauce with a pinch of salt, drizzle of pesto and whole basil leaves.
Maggie said she can’t wait try out this recipe back home, not knowing I invented it in tribute to my French adversary Mbappé. Ringed by Argentinians thus elated, I chose not to critique their presentation. I’m down too with Ron and Maggie’s choice of aperitifs: absinthe served with one large cube of perfect ice.
Guilt assuaged having skipped the redeye, I chose not to teleport instantly to and from the South Pole, but physically ply the Antarctic Ocean from Tierra del Fuego (Land of Fire) through the island maze tipped by Cape Horn, crossing frigid seas prone to tempests known to gulp mariners whole, via 10-foot Zodiac raft, fellow seafarers (just me) served by a dessicated crew. Imagining less would be inauthentic.
We dined first day aboard on Spam marinated in ketchup packets my frozen fingers could not tear open. “Try your teeth,” said the Chef. One spurted suddenly. “Wipe Heinz from your cheeks with this splork,” he instructed, tearing open the plastic for me. “No layer bone bits and fluid evenly on the meat.”
A typhoon hit before I could dispute what he meant by “meat.” “They have typhoons here?” I asked.
“Daily,” the Chef said. “We’ll anchor and weather the storm.”
“Depends. A few weeks …”
“During which daily storms compound?”
“They’ll have no choice then than mass or vanish.”
“No Argentine wines left.”
“How many variables in ‘choice’?”
“How many more in no choice”?
“We’re near out of food,” I said. “How far’s the frozen continent?”
“It’s midsummer here, remember? Frozen’s not a constant. I’d guestimate a -178 x i -mile swim yonder. Water’s always cold though. Four feet off the Zodiac you’ll become an imperfect ice cube, destined to crash off and merge with more floating floes.”
“You strike a tough deal, Pequod.” I tried quantum rationing: Endless variables in each moment unfold and bounce off or merge with each other advancing every way in time. Temperatures, air/water movements, our own vantage angles + or – acuity of observation. Global warming? In what sequence/rhythm? Did the world not begin on fire, thence turn to ice?
Hardtack flambé-style was next meal. “Toaster shorted,” said the Chef. Charred textures gridded till fully black give you options: work your way from charcoal-mixed -tack to pure via chemical-content progressions x i (subjective human flavor variables) to find out your fave. Alas, abinthe’s absent to wash it down.”
“Thought you’d brought 10 gallons.” I said.
“Did and drained ‘em.”
“What took you so long? What’s tomorrow? We’re out of rations.”
“Chef’s surprise,” he said.
To be continued
More dire now. Chef smashed a penguin, pried it from the Zodiac’s bow and served it.
“Wait, I said. “We’ve been on a 10 raft, just 2 of us for 1 (so far) day. You struck and killed a 50-pound emperor penguin. Why didn’t I see, hear, feel or small that?”
“Wait,” he said, “until you taste this. As an appendix, I smacked it two weeks ago coming from the North Pole to pick you up, then plunked from the hold below. Shut up and let me serve it.”
“Now I can smell it,” I said. “Much as I can’t wait to sink my teeth, might you
wash, cut up and cook it?”
“Brined in 2 weeks of average 33° Arctic and Antarctic seas, warming high as 60° in Atlantic waters, dragging as keel till extracted now sushi-style primed.”
“Like Japanese, cut-up and served semi-cold seafood? mid sundry seasonings seafood?”
“Identical, with a Southern, authentic spin. No knives, forks, plates, no garnishments. Not a single negligee. Whole, pure … a real thing.”
“This didn’t happen without a camera,” I said. Which one? You saw what I brought and still had my land legs. You could have turned and gone back; I could still see them floating …
“You’re the one chartered this.”
“Shut up and let me serve!”
“You’ve added something.”
“My secret i constant … I noticed you retching …times Whole, True, Pure.”
“An additive!” I flushed out my mouth with saltwater.
“Dehydrated, drowned by thirst, oblivious …” he intoned, pulling out his canteen. “Here, swig this.”
“You call this a mess hall? Your hull’s a mess.”
“Glad you’re back.
“You’re the one inconstant.”
“Who scheduled his own colonoscopy? Bought his own post- diet too soon after surgery against orders? Enjoy your self-blest oblivion.”
“On this diet?”
“OK, I am too.”
“We have no room left to eat in this s#! ship that threatens to sink our raft … that or the great sea. We both know what that means.” “How far to Antarctica?” “See a compass, dummy? It was in your camera bag you kicked off.” “You could have turned back. Think it’s still floating in the Northern Hemisphere? Two weeks later? You’re a-buoy again.” A whale tail sprayed foam 30 feet starboard. Blue, killer, sperm are common here, narwhals less so. Where’s my Photoshop? “Will someone rescue us?” “What’s to rescue? A $#! ship: 2 stooges + holy ghost made imperfectly into 1 ice cube on an insane Pole quest? Call Coast Guard on phones maybe still floating in the camera bag, they’ll say take a number, estimated wait time never. No wait at all.”
A Jimmy John’s raft popped up, pimpled pilot bore pepperoni subs.
“The Beatles’ Yellow Submarines!” I cried.
“I pissed on the bread,” said the teen.
“We’ve been saved!” I said.
Ron and Maggie dallied a day a day to gnash on more culinary creations in Argentina’s capitol and cultural center, population 3-million last check. Like Saugatuck, B.A. boasts a port-city ambience. The Rio de la Plata (“Silver River”) is the world’s widest river but not. Some consider dividing waters between Argentina and Ecuador a port or an estuary. As with our Kalamazoo, inl Like the Kalamazoo here, south of the mouth lies private land, north public, a twain not met computing by real numbers.
“Silver River” waters feed the south Atlantic flanked by Montevideo, Ecuadors’s capitol, Tango’s birthplace, and B.A., an alpha city based on connectivity per the Globalization and World Rankings Institute. From Saugatuck-Douglas, the Kazoo narrows inland to flush more rapidly Allegan, Otsego … more as its basin widens. and further branches. Remarkable wildlife, to Argentinians, roam this pampas, much like home.
On board, the Fab 4 were in a fine fettle. “Gracias,” I
Said, “for saving me.”
“It was nothing. Depends where we’re bound,” John said.
I was no Odysseus. “Land ahead!” I cried and my mind sank back. Depositions to read, I strapped up for slapstick. Father, Son, Holy Ghost v. 3 Stooges, entered before Magistrate Genghis 21st Day September, Year of Our Lord 2023, re: Floating Homes/Land Swap Deal. Private v. Public v. How soon the repeating decimal. Dismal. “Plant a flag! It’s our new port city!”
“Ours to claim?” queried Paul.
“Check their lawyers: Moe, Larry and Curly. They’ll say we’ve transgressed. Let the magistrate decide. What’s to eat?” An attendant whose shape I calculated, curves and angels, passed on a fungus, broasted to imperfection.
“We all live in a yellow submarine,” thump, “yellow submarine, thump-thump, “yellow submarine.”
“Let me out!”
“Where to next? Thump, “To see what’s green, thump-thump, “In our Yellow Blues Tureen.”
“This is urine! Let me out!”
“Up the tempo!”
Our periscope pierced air. The kaleidoscope lens showed penguins, seals, one-horned ne’er-do-wells, fuzzy pups with backdrops of rusted chains. “What happened to the Chef?” I asked.
Out of the flower cooler, Ron and Maggie next dined on an overpriced breakfast buffet and large lunch salads, prepped for Night 2’s Meat feast. Thumb’s up to veal sweetbread organs butterflied, slapped to grill and served swiftly, and pork tenderloin kebabs. Hers swapped bell-pepper intervals for an onion/fig paste. You got what was served. Table condiments weren’t an option. They were Ushuaia bound.
“Where’s the Chef?” I cried at the 4. “Palate tyranny!”?
“Onion fig figment,” John wiped his fingers. “Down a can of Red Bull, cannibal Red flag: Taurine. Good we’re near the Cape.”
“Thought I’d seen Antarctica.”
“If you dreamed you have.”
“Music moved. Animation you chose not as much. Let me out.” Put on the Cape again, alone, near midsummer. They had marked a scarlet “S” on my chest. My Fortress of Solitude included too Robert Johnson, King of the Delta Blues, whose 1936-37 recordings made before dying next year at 27.
Banging a battered string box, he by legend learned from Satan at The Crossroads to play and sing in graveyards, then barnstormed Delta juke joints sleeping nights with whomever’s eyes glazed and mouths said, “Oh.” “The First Ever Rock Star” Cleveland’s Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame proclaims.
“You’re Black and sing Blues,” I said.
“Could be the other way. Son of John, Son of Man. Did Pelé die? Could be any way.”
“No filter,” I said.
“Or couldn’t. Hear this,” he said. “I see by your “S” this is your fortress too. Know who invented Superman?”
“In comics Joel Siegel, 1938.”
“Just after my records came out. Scarce then; he must have known someone. Or seen me live. But way earlier.”
“Nietzsche? Wagner? Hitler? Shaw?”
“Use the Quantum Force.”
Strings, calibrated, tone tensioned, adjustable, measured increments, pressed against hard maple neck, eucalyptus fret board, ivory insets, joined at nick to a spruce-topped hollow dreadnaught. Steel or nylon, whatever wood or wear, all ring differently. Voice?
“How you like the Crossroads,” Johnson said.
“I know blues.”
“Outside the box depends on whose box you’re in.”
“You’re far gone.”
“There is everything to come back to.”
He had women in all the joints. Pin-striped, hatted, teeth flashing, long long fingers, voice too spanning registers not yet known.
“You hit a wrong note.”
He hit another. “See? Made it right. The man of genius makes no errors. His miscues are volitional and portals to discovery.”
“Dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.”
“Sure? What’s the second-dumbest? Multiply. Now factor in the smartest. We’re making goulash.
“How did you know about quantum computing?”
“You’ve overlooked molecular structure,” Rand Paul chipped in.
“What are you doing in the Fortress?”
“To imply I supported arguments to overturn the electron is a lie. It’s a boondoggle.”
“You’re something of a schemer, I admire. But look: private capital — the good guys you know — is investing billions. Airbus, Amadeus Capital, Bezos, Bloomberg, Bosch, Comcast, Google … What do they know about taking risks on returns in kind? Horizon, In-Q-Tel, Lockheed Martin, Maverick Ventures, Elon Musk, Octopus and Overkill Ventures, Oxford Sciences …”
“You’re investing nothing. You want me to invest in your PAC. Noted.”
“Quantum computing, pa! You’ve been trying since Richard Feynman and Yuri Manin first pitched it in the ‘80s. Who invented Superman? So far squandered billions competing to stroke and soak each other’s egos while computing null.”
“I learned shooting black-and-white Kodak film, some Ilford, till they punted on digital photography till too late. Robert, what do you think?”
“Well, it’s hard to tell, it’s hard to tell, when all your love’s in vain (down blues scale echo), “All you’re love’s in vain.”
Ron and Maggie hadn’t yet come back from the earth’s far end. Too much left to see.