Widely syndicated and beloved INTERGALACTIC RADIO PROGRAM Solutions to Problems welcomes a new co-host this week to discuss problems with humans, gift giving practices, and transporter incidents.
Eeeheeheehee: Hello, Gentle Listeners. And welcome to another episode of Solutions to Problems. I am your host Eeeheeheehee Heehee. Today is a very special day, because I have brand new co-host to introduce to you. Her name is Janet, and she is a Human from the planet Earth. Janet, why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Janet: Hi everyone! I am so excited to be here tonight, and to share my expertise on human culture with the wider galaxy. Gosh, a little bit about myself. Well, like my new co-host said I grew up on Earth, in an area formerly known as the United States. You may know it as the home of such intergalactic pop culture sensations as David Hasselhoff and Home Prairie Companion.
Eeeheeheehee: Home Prairie Companion is very popular on my planet. We even made our own version of it. It’s called Fetid Swamp Friend. But anyway, Janet – can I call you Janet?
Janet: That's perfectly acceptable *strangling noise* Did I say that right?
Eeeheeheehee: Close enough, Janet. Close Enough. For those of you joining us for the first time, Solutions to Problems is a show where we provide solutions to problems. If you have problem you’d like us to help solve, you can e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or just hold up a large sign outside our studio. We might see it. Who knows! You will need gravity boots though, since our studio is in space. Since we have a human with us now, today's first question will be about humans. But before we get to that, let’s hear from our sponsor, Brablaba’s Starblabas.
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Janet: Boy, do I really need some fidgit in my wurples!
Eeeheeheehee: Janet, that’s disgusting. There are children listening.
Janet: But- Wait, are wurbs different than wurples?
Eeeheeheehee: You can’t say that word on the radio, Janet.
Janet: Wurples? Or wurbs? You just said wurbs. Is it wurples?
Eeeheeheehee: I do apologize to any sensitive listeners out there for my cohost’s, er, impropriety. I just want to make it absolutely clear before we move on that Brabalaba’s Starblabla’s contain wurbs, and nothing else.
Janet: So wurbs is the okay one. Well, you know they also have fidgits. It’s a blend of fidgits and wurbs. That’s in the copy.
Eeeheeheehee: Anyway, let’s move on to our first letter.
Dear Human Adviser and Eeeheeheehee,
I am an Elorden from Elordis Prime. Currently, I am a drill operator at a low gravity mining operation. We were recently sent a new human coworker. Previously, our company only employed other Elordens, but due to new initiatives we have started to diversify our staff. My human coworker seems to perform her duties sufficiently, despite only having two arms, but I have noticed that in otherwise pleasant interactions she bares her teeth at me. What an insult! I will think everything is going fine, and BAM. Teeth. On Elorden, I would have called the mind police by now. I want to be understanding of my coworker's habits, especially as we'll have more humans joining us soon, but I'm down to the last dregs of my generator just dealing with this!
Trying on Triton
Eeeheeheehee: My, that is a puzzler. Well, Janet, you're the human. What do you think?
Janet: I think there's a very simple explanation for this. This is an action that most humans refer to as “smiling.” Humans have been doing “smiling” for thousands of years, and use it as a way to express joy, contentment, or amusement.
Eeeheeheehee: Are you content or amused right now, Janet?
Janet: Oh, no, as a human woman I’m required to project an aura of vague pleasantness at all times in order to work as a talk show personality.
Eeeheeheehee: I see. So the appropriate context for smiling is somewhat determined by gender and somewhat determined by career?
Janet: Exactly, but officially it’s just indicating joy, contentment, or amusement.
Eeeheeheehee: In other words, Janet is saying that this smiling is similar to when I puff out my neck frills, or when an Elorden wags their many tails.
Janet: ...Sure! Those things sound exactly like what I meant. At one point there may have been human cultures that didn't smile, but thanks to the global homogenization of our media, they've been for all purposes extinguished.
Eeeheeheehee: Now Janet, I think I read that smiles also play a role in human mating rituals. Is that correct?
Janet: In a work context that would be terribly inappropriate! Humans prefer to keep their working relationships very platonic according to all of our workplace regulations. A smile by itself should never be taken as romantic interest, but rather as normal good old fashioned human friendliness. However, if there were some sort of fluttering of the eyelashes, say in addition to the smile, that's a very different story.
Eeeheeheehee: Well, I am certainly glad you imparted that information to me now, my workplace compatriot.
Janet: Of course, …Eee-ee-ee-eeeh? Eee ee ee?
Eeeheeheehee: You're getting better every time!
Janet: Now, for our letter writer, I recommend explaining to your human coworker that smiling is an inappropriate action in your culture. You'd be doing them a huge favor. However, if they slip up every now and again and show some teeth, I'd give it a pass.
Eeeheeheehee: That reminds me of the first time I met a human. I was spelunking in the marshmellow caves of Spedonious 7. When I met a group of humans, I greeted them as is customary for my people, by depositing a small amount of my slibula fluid on their heads. Boy, did they not take that well!
Janet: Gee, I'm sure they didn't. Bodily fluids are very taboo in a human culture, unless of course they're being exploited for profit.
Eeeheeheehee: Aren't humans fascinating?
Janet: I wish I thought so! Let's move on. Our next letter is from a very nice sentient program on Proximus Beta.
Dear Janet and Eeeheeheehee,
I am a Daystorm 4001 AI interstellar ship interface, and I have recently been presented with a dilemma. During a long journey between Alpha Centauri and Proximus Beta, I entered into a relationship with my engineer, who later built me a humanoid prosthetic body to use during intimate relations. However, at the conclusion of our journey, my partner discovered that I am also in relationships with many other ship’s engineers (I have a type) at a work conference. We never established any sort of boundaries or clear monogamous protocols for our relationship, and I think he wrongly assumed that our being in hyperspace meant that I did not have internet access. Just because humans cannot access the internet in hyperspace doesn’t mean my superior processing skills cannot, in fact, check my BotDate profile from time to time.
Now, this is not my dilemma, but does provide necessary reference material. Upon the conclusion of our relations, he has asked for the synthetic body back, as he expended considerable resources to make it. However, I enjoy having a physical form as it makes many tasks easier, and my other lovers have found it to be a pleasant surprise. Just last week, I made tea for the first time. I did not drink it, but I have not done that before. Am I required to return the body, or may I keep it as a gift from a former paramour?
Physical and Frazzled on Proximus Beta
Janet: Well that’s a doozy. Listeners, it’s always important to discuss the parameters of any kind of romantic or sexual relationship up front. What do you think Eeeheeheehee?
Eeeheeheehee: Oh certainly Janet, especially when dealing with a member of another species.
Janet: Well, I don’t know if I consider AI’s to be a different species, as many of them are patterned after the neural pathways of their creators’ species. You know I once dated an AI back in my college days? I was getting my second degree in human anthropology of pop stars of the nineties. Of course, I didn’t know she was an AI. I assumed she was a very shy lesbian in the art department, when she was actually the art department’s filing system. We broke up after I incorrectly entered a call number into the system and caused this huge error. She used to speak to me through morse code via the computer’s electronic clock and it was so romantic.
Eeeheeheehee: That is a… lovely story, Janet. I can’t say I’ve ever dated an AI. I did date a member of a cybernetic species though, so I guess I’ve sort of half dated one?
Janet: Well, you can’t really half date an AI. They either have an organic brain or they don’t.
Eeeheeheehee: You can’t just ask someone what their brain is made out of Janet.
Janet: I guess not? How long did you date this.. Person?
Eeeheeheehee: We went on three dates when I realized they were very pushy. They were always pressuring me to meet their collective, and I felt it was too soon. Also, they kept saying how nice I would look with fewer organic appendages.
Janet: Oh, I hate when partners try to improve you. Like, if I’m not good enough, go date someone else in your own dumb century, you know?
Eeeheeheehee: I’m not certain I do know.
Janet: Sure you do. You know, you meet someone, and they’re like, all, why are you like this, and you’re like, I just am like this! Get over it. Stop whining that I crashed a ship into your petunias.
Eeeheeheehee: I’m not sure that’s the same thing… never mind. Let’s get back to our letter, shall we?
Janet: Oh right, we’re working. I’m so good at JOBS. Well, I think they should be able to keep it. The body was a gift after all, and they shouldn’t be required to return it over this miscommunication.
Eeeheeheehee: Gifts are also a potential cultural quagmire! As far as I know, when humans give gifts, they typically do so without stipulations. Is that correct, Janet?
Janet: Oh, it depends! You should never give a gift if you think you might want it back one day. Besides, if the guy made one robot body, I’m sure he can make another. In the meantime, Physical and Frazzled should enjoy their form and treasure the memories of this past lover.
Eeeheeheehee: That brings up a good point. What’s he going to do with this body if you give it back? Recycle it for parts, or upload some other consciousness into it? You have to ask yourself, are you comfortable with that? I don’t think I would be.
Janet: Yeah, no one wants a used body. You’d be like literal damaged goods, right? Right?
Eeeheeheehee: I don’t believe our letter-writer said anything about any damage to the chassis.
Janet: You know it's like metaphorical damage, you know what let’s move on.
Eeeheeheehee: Alright. Speaking of damage, our next question is from a human, and centers around a human mating conundrum. Let's hear it!
Dear Janet and Eeeheeheehee,
I am in bit of a bind. I have been with my wonderful boyfriend. Um.. let's call him... Chad. I’ve been with Chad on and off for about four years. A few weeks ago he was duplicated in a transporter accident. Apparently there was some kind of power surge and, well to make a long story short, the computer spit out one Chad on each end. Each Chad insists that he's the real Chad and that the other one is the duplicate. To me, they look identical. It's honestly been really nice having two boyfriends! One can spend time with me when the other is busy, which is especially valuable as Chad has always worked long hours. The problem is that if I spend time with one Chad, the other Chad gets so jealous! They both really love me, but neither of them signed up to share me with themself. What do I do? Do I let one of them go? How do I choose? I'd ideally like to keep them both.
Seeing Double on Sagittarius Beta
Janet: Wow, you weren’t kidding when you said it was a conundrum. One romantic partner is so much work, don’t you think?
Eeeheeheehee: I don’t know if you’re right Janet, as I don’t understand the cultural context of your comment!
Janet: That's alright. Now, without one of them obviously being the double, this is a bit of a philosophical pickle. Do you have any expertise on transporter accidents?
Eeeheeheehee: Well, technically, neither of them is the original Chad. I understand humans avoid this subject as it forces them to ponder their mortality and calls into question their concept of a “soul.” Suffice it to say, every time you use the transporter, you die.
Janet: Right, but you don’t like, die, die. It’s like a science death. Which isn’t real. I mean, I beamed to work this morning and I’m not dead. I have a monthly pass! I do this all the time.
Eeeheeheehee: Well, the Janet who stepped on that transporter pad was disintegrated. You’re a perfect duplicate with all her memories. Technically “you” have only existed for a few hours. Fortunately, from a legal standpoint you are the same person. So the monthly pass is still good!
Janet: I do love savings! Anyway, Seeing Double, I would have a heart to heart with both Chads at the same time. Explain to them that you love them both equally, and that you would hate to let either of them go, because they're both equally valid as your boyfriend, since, in a very technical way, neither of them really is your boyfriend.
Eeeheeheehee: Alternately, if you think you could recreate the incident, you could duplicate yourself! Then each Chad would have one of you.
Janet: There have been worse reasons to create human life! Why not an arbitrary romantic dispute. Who hasn't tried adding another human into the mix to save a dying relationship, like my parents, right? [forced laughter]
Eeeheeheehee: Again, Janet, cultural context. I was hatched from an egg and raised in the communal nursery.
Janet: It takes a village! Really, the important thing is communication. Think about what's best for Chad, but also think about what's best for Chad. Eventually one of them will have to get another job anyway, and start on the long process of differentiation. Also, if they haven't, they should apply to their local council as a new individual human. You don't want problems later when both Chads file a tax return.
Eeeheeheehee: Good point, Janet. As my broodmother always said, only two things are true on every planet: mortality, and the collection of funds by the government.
Janet: Not technically true! Sometimes it's non-monetary compensation collected by the government, like emotional labor or your hair samples, but the sentiment is universal.
Eeeheeheehee: Another fine point, my human compatriot. I can tell this is going to be a fruitful partnership.
Janet: Sure, as long as it’s paid! Well, that's it for today's episode. Join us next week as we tackle inter-dimensional tax fraud!
Eeeheeheehee: Until next week, may your tentacles always quiver with the happiness of the sun god!
Solutions to Problems is written by and features the voices of Austin Hendricks and Nathan Comstock. It is produced and musically scored by Michael F. Gill. Our theme is by Thomas Dwyer. This episode’s letters were read by Thomas Dwyer, Bridget Hillyer, and Kristen Breward. Find out more information about us at stppodcast.com. Also, please leave us a review on iTunes as it really helps us be self-conscious about ourselves. Today’s cryptic question is “If the US Post Office added half of Pennsylvania, all of Oregon, half of Texas, all of Louisiana, and then North Dakota, why would they equal the largest place in me? The answer, as well as more questions, on our next episode.
Janet: That sounds really sexual. Do you say that every ti- oh my god are we still live?