Friday, December 14, 2007

Polydacyls sighted over Manchuria, satellite photos confirm

(New to the Plastisaurus story? To start at the beginning, read the first posting at the end of this blog.)

Passengers looking down from jet flights over northern China have often commented on the large, tangled clouds of polyethlene shopping bags that appear to be "flying" on the high winds, thousands of feet in the air. Infrared analysis of satellite photos now suggest that actual creatures may be hiding among these masses, feeding off them, and propagating whole communities of flying plastisauri.

Authorities have been unwilling to comment on this phenomenon, or to speculate how it could be happening. But one scientist, quoted off the record, has referred to these airborne creatures as "Polydactyls".

Monday, December 3, 2007

Plastisaurus Update

UPDATE on the Plastisaurus story---
(To start at the beginning of the story, read the earlier posting below.)

This morning the story took a chilling turn. Yes, synthetic lifeforms such as Plastisaurus, Styrodon and Polydactyl, which seem to have evolved spontaneously from inanimate heaps of cast-off plastics, are terrifying to the average civilian. But national security experts have chosen not view them as major threats, believing them to be isolated phenomena. It now turns out this may not be the case. About a month ago, these creatures, if they can be called that, were found to be emitting weak electromagnetic signals, perhaps attempting to communicate with… what? Or, with whom?

Soon after these signals appeared, similar signals were detected emanating from a large mass of plastic drifting in the Pacific Ocean. This mass, nearly the size of a small continent and growing, is just the largest sibling in a family of similar masses growing in all our oceans. A great deal of discarded plastics seems, at some point, to migrate into an ocean, where currents and prevailing winds push them into large, floating clusters. But natural forces alone cannot account for the speed at which these masses are growing. The products of our throw-away society seem to be almost consciously migrating to one or another of these great masses.

When the unfamiliar signals were first identified, those from the creatures appeared to converge with those from the drifting mass, somewhere deep in space. Latest readings, however, show the convergence point to be aproaching Earth at an alarming speed.

No doubt about it: Something, some entity perhaps, is getting closer. Something very big, and very fast. And for some reason, it appears to be communicating with the growing aquatic “colonies” of discarded plastics, and with the creatures that have spontaneously evolved from the same source: That mysterious “Away” place that we have been mindlessly throwing our refuse into. But, as eyes-open scientists know, nothing is ever just "thrown away", because there is no "away" to throw things to anymore.

How can we save ourselves from this menace? There are many things we can do, but they all boil down to the same thing: starving these monsters, and the oceanic colonies that spawned them, of the large quantities of plastics they need to survive. The “Away” we're throwing our trash into is getting bigger every day, and now threatens to be taking on a life of its own.

Where did Plastisaurus come from?
I'm not a journalist, but I have gathered some information. Plastisaurus appears to be an Alien Menace growing in our midst, feeding and thriving on our cast-off plastics.

Plastisaurus' story begins on the far-off home planet of the Plastisauri, a rapacious, space-faring race that “seeds” ambitious, developing planets like Earth with apparently convenient plastics technology. They know that, because Plastic Is Forever, the planet will reach a critical mass of manufactured non-biomass. If the target planet's citizens don't interrupt the process by that time, the Plastisauri return and take over. They strip away the superficial convenience elements, enslave the whole planet’s populace and resources, and force them to work day and night manufacturing non-biomass to feed the Plastisauri. When the planet's resources are depleted, the Plastisauri pick up and move on, leaving the planet a depleted shell.

On the other hand, if the planet’s natives wise up and reverse the tide before critical mass is reached, the Plastisauri are helpless. Without the critical non-biomass, they cannot take control of the planet. If this happens, rather than invading the planet, they will fly right by it, leaving those on the target planet unaware that they were ever targeted for destruction.

So why, if we aren't yet at critical mass, are Plastisaurus and Polydon battling in the parking lot of my Acme today? That's uncertain. Perhaps a diplomatic screw-up led several Plastisauri tribes to lay competing claims to our planet. Or maybe the monsters were dispatched to Earth by their leaders intentionally, each tribe wanting to get the jump on the others. Either way, their battles have become a major embarrassment to their own kind. But to we humans and our planet, they're a godsend. They've tipped their hand, giving us an advance warning. Very few planets have been so fortunate, and so far, none has had the foresight to heed the warning and reverse the trend.

"Plastics," he whispered in The Graduate's ear.
A side note: Do you remember the kindly uncle who whispered "Plastics" in the ear of The Graduate? Yep— he was an alien, as shown in this digitally re-processed clip of that scene. [link to YouTube video goes here.] Notice, in this digitally deconstructed and reconstructed sequence, that the human image was just a mirage, hiding the true, horrifying visage of the plastic alien that spoke those fateful words.
Watch, now— there! Did you see that tiny, squishy, almost-transparent creature jump from the uncle's mouth into Dustin Hoffman's ear? Unfortunately for the creature, Hoffman turned out to be an unacceptably hostile environment. Without knowing it, he ejected the invader's harmless corpse in a slightly uncomfortable bowel movement the next day. But the message itself had invaded many of the millions of youth who saw that movie, in one of 33 languages. They have gone on to become major promoters, purveyors, and marketers of plastics, concentrating on the types that are most difficult to recycle.

Next: Satellite photos confirm Polydacyl sightings over Manchuria

Monday, November 19, 2007

Plastisaurus vs Styrodon

What is a Plastisaurus?
It’s a way to humorously dramatize the impact of plastics in the environment, and educate the public how to identify and demand recyclable plastics and recycling, and why it’s important.

Picture a crowded supermarket parking lot on a Saturday afternoon.
A pickup truck stops in front of the store, and a worker in a sanitation-looking jumpsuit shovels two big heaps of plastic onto the pavement, jumps off after them, and the truck drives away.

The piles begin to move and growl. Suddenly they burst upward with a roar, into two giant, trash-heap monsters— slashing, shoving, and bellowing at each other. Soon, as the volume of their roaring drops, the worker-narrator begins to speak.

The amplified narrator tells a tale of the battle between recyclable and non-recyclable plastics.
The largely-ignorant public is either trashing both, or recycling both. Either choice is wrong. Except for the (intentionally) almost-imperceptible number on the bottom, you can’t tell them apart. But to the planet and its creatures, there’s a huge difference…

What’s really wrong, goes the tale, is that this store, like many others, is forcing consumers to buy non-recyclable containers in the first place. (Trader Joes, incidentally, has pressured many of its suppliers to use mostly #s 1 and 2 recyclable plastics. But they don’t proclaim that, because they have a long way to go.)

Of course, the story holds for most food outlets of any kind in this region, and perhaps across the nation, although I haven’t checked yet. So the venue and impact potential is endless.

Actually, this is a highly simplified version of a complex story. Of course #s 3-6 are recyclable, but for various reasons, both economic and technical, most recycling centers won't take them. So, municipalities won't, either.

How this came about
I had triggered a family member's anger by going through her recycling bin, pulling out the many carefully-washed #6 take-out, sushi, and produce containers, and putting them in the trash.
She was already disgusted with her Manhattan apartment building for their half-hearted support for recycling. Now here I was, stirring that into impotent consumer rage at all the stores and vendors who sell things in ostensibly “recyclable” containers, that are, in fact, not recyclable.

In my vision, a large pile of discarded plastics transforms itself into a pair of battling monsters: an evil one risen from a simmering landfill to take over the world, the other risen from a recycling center to battle it. The battleground, of course, is the shopping center parking lot, drawing attention and heat to the major retailers who are forcing consumers to buy the most non-recyclables.

Is this plastic recyclable? Bally's YES, Fantastic Foods NO

Kudos to, of all places, Ballys Health Clubs for using #1 PETE plastic for their vitamins. Discouraged recently by how few things are #s 1, 2, or 3 (the only ones my municipality will take), I almost assumed it wasn't one of those. Happily wrong I was! Into the recycle bin it went.

Now, Fantastic World Foods-- Remember Fantastic Falafel and the other grainy, pasty vegan treats from the Health Food Store days? Well, the food's still as appetizing as Garrison Kealor's infamous Raw Bits, but now they're putting it in un-recyclable #5 containers, instead of the coated cardboard of old. Oh, what's the World (Foods) coming to?