return to screencuisine

Not My Desk... never once [says] it represents temps or helps temps in anyway. There are no resources for temps, no help for other temps, nothing like that. --message board quote

The Hot Seat
Of Rice and Men

More Essays

Two if by Bus
Girding Your Loins
The Receptionist
Not Your Desk
The Office Assistant

Field Guide Archives

Office Playground
Who Moved My Cheese?

More Reviews

Do You Huzzah?
Now 33% Steamier!
Secret Identity Crisis

More Temp Chat


All Look Same?


Diversions Archive

Terms of Service
Meet the Staff
Link to NMD

Site Archives

5.3.02 - Go Spit

I sorta kinda tackled evolution a while back, but I need to return to the topic, and reinforce my negative opinion of El Schmucko, Charles Darwin.

Now.  I appreciate all the work that Darwin did.  I really do.  I mean, he went out, he looked at animals and stuff, he probably had to crap in the woods and off the side of his boat a lot, and he did his share of writing.  That's all very nice.  He came up with his theories of evolution and natural selection, made a few bucks, retired to Boca.  I won't begrudge him any of that.  Wait, I will, actually.  Right now.

I don't want to bore you with the entire concept of natural selection, so I'll just bore you with two little parts:  

1) If a creature possesses a certain trait that helps it live long enough to doink other creatures, it will contribute disproportionately to the offspring that make up the next generation of creatures, yo.

2) There will be a higher proportion of creatures in the next generation possessing the same characteristics that helped their capable and obviously horny parents survive.  Fo sheezy.

This is all very well and good and seemingly accurate.  Take a case like an insect that looks like a leaf.  It's easy to see that it helps them survive, because if they look like a leaf and not like a bug, creatures who eat bugs or things that look like bugs will have a tough time spotting and eating the bug that looks like a leaf.  Of course, creatures that eat leaves will probably often wind up with a mouthful of bugs that look like leaves... a somewhat glaring hole in Darwin's case, though not the particular hole I'd like to focus on.

So, we see that bugs that looked less like bugs and more like leaves would have a better chance of survival, and a better chance of passing on the "Hey, get me, I'm a leaf!" gene to their offspring, and the bugs that looked less like leaves and more like bugs would tend to get eaten, until all that was left were the bugs looking like leaves, breeding like crazy.  This process can take a very, very long time, as many as ten to fifteen years.  The leafbug, or whatever the hell its called, is a pretty simple case, and it's easy to see how it works.  Look like a leaf, live, make other bugs that look like leaves.

But if we want to make fun of Darwin, we have to look at more complicated creatures.  For instance, the coolest fish of all time, the Archer Fish.

Archer fish are those fish featured on nature documentaries, the fish that spit streams of water at bugs (the kind that look like bugs) on branches, knocking the bugs into the water and then eating them.

If you've ever tried spitting water on a bug, you know it's, well, kinda easy.  Especially if the bug is just sitting there, and you have a glass of water handy.  But keep in mind you have a bigger mouth than a fish, okay?  Jaded bastards.

To shoot a bug, the archer fish presses its tongue against the groove in the roof of its mouth, forming a tube.  It then sticks its snout out of the water and snaps its gills shut, forcing a jet of water towards its target.

It can do this about seven times in rapid succession.  It has excellent aim for up to five feet, due to large eyes located near its mouth, which give the fish good binocular vision.  It can even make allowances for the curvature in trajectory of the stream of water, if necessary, and holy fuck, it actually has the ability to fucking compensate for refraction (italics and swear words mine).  See, the great vision isn't enough, because it's ultimately looking through a layer of water, which distorts the light, which makes the bug appear to be somewhere it isn't, so it actually learns how to position itself directly below the insect to cut down on refraction.  Amazing.  What's more, its back is darkly colored, which helps to camouflage it from the insects sitting up on the branch, and its body is shaped to allow it to cruise just below the surface of the water.

We're well beyond stupid bugs that look like leaves, here, Darwin, you asshat.  We're talking about multiple characteristics that needed to develop in this fish (and this is apart from the basic fish things, like swimming and breathing underwater and being delicious pan-fried with garlic):

1)  A grooved palate

2)  A tongue that can be pressed against it, forming a tube

3)  The gill-snapping shut thing

4)  The rapid-fire power-up (which completely 0wnz)

5)  Knowing to stick its little fishmouth out of the water, which is just so darn adorable

6)  The big eyes, as well as said eyes being set forward in the head  

7)  Knowing or learning to adjust aim for trajectory

8)  Actually being able to adjust aim for trajectory

9)  Learning how to compensate for fucking refraction, fer crying out loud.

     9a) Jesus.  Fucking refraction.

10)  The camouflage and body shape

Now.  Darwin.  Honey.  All of these things need to be present for this fish to be able to make a living shooting bugs off sticks.  All of them.  So, am I really supposed to believe that all of these traits just developed in tandemAll of them?  

This whole thing doesn't work, and doesn't provide an evolutionary advantage, if these elements develop one or two at a time.  I mean, take away the groove in the fish's palate, and you got nothin'.  You've got a camouflaged fish with binocular vision that knows a fuck of a lot about physics but can't catch a bug to save its life.  Take away the gill-snap and you've got a fish with a mouthful of water.  Take away all the aim or even just the ability to correct for trajectory, and you've got a fish that can't hit the side of the barn, just firing jet after jet of water into the air, missing by embarrassing margins.

I'm not buying all of these traits just happening to develop simultaneously, Chimpy, and I'm not seeing how these traits are advantageous one or even a few at a time.  Hence, natural selection, in this case, is a load of flop.

And a few more tidbits to take into account:  the archer fish is also a pack hunter, and many of them will gather together to shoot down the insects cooperatively.  Ya dig that?  And you know what else?  Shooting bugs isn't even the fish's first choice for capturing prey.  When first spotting an insect overhead, it will jump out of the water (it can do that, you know) and try to catch the bug in its mouth, only resorting to spitting if the insect is out of reach.  By jumping, one would guess, it doesn't run the risk of a fellow shooter taking the prize.

Another point to be considered:  the bug.  It's sitting there on a stick, watching a fish jump out of the water at it for a couple minutes.  I don't know what it's thinking, probably something along the lines of "Huh.  I'm a bug.  Lookit the fish jumping out of the water at me.  Wonder what he's up to.  Well, anyway.  I'm bug."  Perhaps, by now, it should have evolved to where it knows that, if it doesn't clear out of there or start looking like a leaf, it will soon be pinned down by sniper fire?  Hmm?

Evolution.  Selection.  Darwin.  



5.2.02 - Oook Chat!

Here's something I came across a while back and wanted to incorporate into a temp chat, an Internet Chat with Koko the Gorilla.  Unfortunately, I can't think of any way to really make use of it, so I'll just post it.

I've always been amazed by Koko's intelligence and vocabulary, but this chat log kinda took the wind out of my pro-talking gorilla sails.  I'm starting to think that Koko might not be as gifted as advertised.

A lot of the answers she gives don't seem to have much to do with the questions she is asked, but her trainer can always find some way to explain how relevant Koko's responses are.  You'll see what I mean when you read it.  It's pretty funny!  I think Koko outdoes me with chat humor.

And, that's about all I've got for today.  Kinda pooped.  Seeya tomorrow!


5.1.02 - Temp Chat!

Lore from has a book coming out in October!  Hooray!  You can pre-order it from by clicking the banner up there.  You can?  Nay, you shall!

Speaking of advertising, that happens to be the theme of the latest Temp Chat!

Click here to check it out!


4.30.02 - Three Guys Walk Int....

I decided to quit my current agency and sign with a new one.  Time for a change, really.  Time to start fresh.

Signing with a new temp agency is always a huge pain in the ass.  You can pretty much kiss an entire afternoon goodbye, mainly because of the paperwork and computer skills testing involved.

The paperwork is especially bad, because you basically need to re-write your entire résumé on the agency's own unique forms.  I don't even know why I bother with a résumé, since I wind up simply recopying it into little boxes once I get there.

However, this agency I signed up with recently was different!  When I called to set up my appointment, they told me I could take care of about 50% of the paperwork online before I even arrived.  Hey, great!  Welcome to the paperless office of the future!

So, I went and used their online forms.  Since I had time to think about my responses, and wasn't rushing, I could edit myself and even add in humorous comments, which I did.  I decided I would let this agency know outright just who they were dealing with.  They'd know I was a wiseass, they'd know I had a sense of humor, and maybe I'd even tell them about my website, something I never even tell the people I work with.  I've always had this vision of my ideal temp agency, one where they know who I really am (a shiftless yet amusing layabout), and one where they will really try to find me good or at least memorable jobs.

One section of the form asked me to describe the kind of career I was looking for, my ideal job, my special abilities and traits, etc.  So, I typed my responses into the little box provided, trying to make the last line of my response light-hearted and humorous.  This would surely tip them off that I was no ordinary run of the mill temp.

For example, under: "Please briefly describe the type of career opportunity you are seeking", I wrote something along the lines of:

"I am seeking a challenging, exciting career full of variety and growth potential; a career that would allow me to exercise not only my administrative capabilities but also my creativity and problem-solving skills.  I would prefer an Executive Assistant position, although I would consider an Administrative Assistant position if the environment was right.  Oh, and jeans, man.  I gotta be able to wear jeans."

Well, it was something like that, only a little better.  Not funny, really, but it might tip them off that I'm taking the whole thing too seriously.  Under "Traits and Abilities", I listed the usual cluster:

"I am self-starter, a creative problem-solver, and am able to cope with high-energy environments and deadline-oriented projects.  I am highly organized, efficient, dedicated, and I work extremely well both in groups and on my own.  I keep a cool head under pressure, I am familiar with a wide variety of software, and I possess excellent written and communication skills.  I can also use phrases like 'connective facilitation of proactive paradigms' with a straight face, if need be."

There were about ten little boxes like this to fill in, and I tried to add one humorous line to the end of each of them, then submitted it to them over the internet.

When I went in to the agency the following day, I took the tests, then finally sat down with the temp agent.  I saw him pull out a paper, and could see the responses I submitted were printed out on them.  Perfect!  Soon he'd be chuckling at my comic genius and I'd be joking around with him and then we'd be good pals and play basketball and talk about chicks and he'd find me cool jobs.

I quickly noticed, however, that he was not laughing, or smiling, or even commenting on my comments.  We was looking down at the paper, reading all the lame-ass arglebargle, but not reacting in any way to the light-hearted stuff.  Sure, maybe they weren't all knee-slappers, but he could at least acknowledge them in some way.  Even, for the first one, just saying something like "Oh, you wanna wear jeans, huh?"  Something.

But I got nothing from this guy.  At one point, near the end of the interview, he leaned over to open a desk drawer, and I squinted at the paper.  Here, basically, is what I saw.

*Description of Career Opportunity Sought*

I am seeking a challenging, exciting career full of variety and growth potential; a career that would allow me to exercise not only my administrative capabilities but also my creativity and problem-solving skills.  I would prefer an Executive Assistant position, although I would consider an Administrative Assistant position if the environment was right.  Oh, an....

Whaaaa?  Da hell?  Where did my charming little comment go?  It got cut off!  There must have been some sort of character limit that they didn't bother mentioning!  I didn't print my entire entry.  I glanced at the next one and saw:

*Traits and Abilities*

I am self-starter, a creative problem-solver, and am able to cope with high-energy environments and deadline-oriented projects.  I am highly organized, efficient, dedicated, and I work extremely well both in groups and on my own.  I keep a cool head under pressure, I am familiar with a wide variety of software, and I  possess excellent written and communication skills.  I can al....

Aw, helllllls no.  It cut that one off too!  It cut them all off!  Without my stupid little jokes, I'm nothing!  I'm nothing!

It completely threw me.  I didn't know what to do or say after that.  I somehow muddled through, sweating and mumbling, until he was done with me.

I haven't gotten a call from them yet.  Maybe it has nothing to do with the interview.  Maybe they just haven't found something for me yet.  And hey, at least while I sit home, I get to wear jeans!


4.29.02 - T.E.M.P. 

We really need to start keeping an eye on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  They're being very silly.

In March, the military forked over $50 million to M.I.T. to design futuristic combat gear for U.S. soldiers.  And when they say futuristic, they really mean it.  For example, they're envisioning a technology-laden supersuit that will make soldiers bullet-proof, super-strong, and even invisible.

An actual quote:

''Imagine the psychological impact upon a foe when encountering squads of seemingly invincible warriors protected by armor and endowed with superhuman capabilities,'' MIT's publicity materials said. 

Uh-huh.  They're talking about nanotechnology, engineering on a molecular scale.  A very silly molecular scale, apparently.  Some features this cyberoutfit will supposedly provide:

1)  Allow a soldier to become bullet-proof.  Sounds good.

2)  Allow a soldier to jump twenty feet into the air.  One must ask why.  Do soldiers in combat often grit their teeth and curse the luck that left them without the ability to leap twenty feet straight up?  Are we finding most of our enemies hiding on the rooftops of two story buildings?  Are we planning an offensive against that dastardly Hadrian?

3)  Automatically apply pressure on a bleeding wound, which, uh, doesn't really make me to confident in the whole bullet-proof concept.

4)  Harden a section of the uniform into a splint, in the event a bone is broken.  Possibly a leg bone?  Possibly from plummeting twenty feet?

5)  Harden a section of sleeve for use in hand-to-hand combat.  This was actually referred to in one article as a "karate-sleeve."  Kung-fu grip can't be far behind.

6)  Inject morphine directly into the soldier's body.  If they're wounded, or, you know, if the bars are all closed.

7)  Recycle the wearer's, um, moisture.  Ew.  Calling Frank Herbert!

8) Changing colors or turning the wearer invisible.

This paints a picture not only of "squads of seemingly invincible warriors protected by armor and endowed with superhuman capabilities", but of "squads of seemingly invincible color-changing karate-chopping warriors, leaping twenty straight up and landing with a scream as their ankles snap and their outfits harden and inject them with drugs and they slump over into unconsciousness."  I'm not sure what this will strike into the hearts of enemies, but it might not be fear.

Perhaps I'm being a bit skeptical.  There is, after all, an obvious danger in developing invisible, nigh-invulnerable soldiers, namely: every goddamn news reporter who does an article or story on it using the line "But is this science-fiction?  Or science-fact?" and then being all smug like they're really clever to have thought of that.

Another concern I am pretending to have is the possible impact this technology will have upon the temping industry.  I mean, what if they start designing super-temps?  Temps outfitted with special Dockers that will protect their shins from getting bruised from contact with open file drawers!  Or conceal unwanted, mid-morning erections from the rest of the staff!  What if they develop white cotton button-downs that will inject caffeine and nicotine directly into the temp's bloodstream, eliminating the need for breaks and naps?  Special gloves that will protect them from the horror, the sheer horror, of getting a staple jammed under their fingernails.  Clothing that can change colors to match the shade of embarrassing toner smudges.  Special soundproof ear-covers that can snap into place to protect the temp from annoying phone calls.  My very livelihood could be in jeopardy!

Come to think of it, maybe the military would pay me $50 mil to develop a special temp cybersuit.  I can start right away.  Just as soon as the caffeine kicks in.


Diversions this week:  All Look Same?  This test shamed me horribly, so I thought I'd pass it on.  Can you tell the difference between Chinese, Japanese, and Korean faces on sight?  I only got 4 out of 18 and I feel like a total dick about it.  See how you do!  Also, Mini-Putt, a flash miniature golf game that is incredibly enjoyable for some reason.  And, Incriminati!  Your folks are coming over, hide the porn!  And the drugs!  And the underwear!  And Gary Glitter!  And about a million other things.  A very noisy yet entertaining flash game.


Last Week on Not My Desk!

Alas, Alack, Alarm
Bag Reel
A Hyena ate my Dingo Baby!
Missed Connections

My Desk Archives

Smurf Rescue
Donkey Kong
Space Panic

More VotF

Mary Jo Pehl Interview
Kids Page
The Temp Test

Hall of Henchmen


Art Page
NMD Store
Message Board
Publishing Progress
NMD On Paper
Chapter One

All material © 2000 - 2002 by Christopher Livingston, except for this statement.