Thursday, July 10, 2014

Fishing on Mars

The year is 2050. The location is Mars. Humans have just finished setting up their first colony on the Red Planet. Mission Control (MC) gets the following phone call from Vermilion Base (VB).

VB: "This is Wild Bill.  Can I talk to the guy who sent us fish for the fish farm?"
MC: "You've got him. What can I do for you?"
VB: "First of all, I want to thank you for deciding to send us walleyes. They're the best-eating fish in the world, well, two worlds now. I'm just wondering why you didn't send us more big fish? We've been following our planned schedule of one fish meal a week and after only a few months there's only a couple of big ones left."
MC: "What happened to the others?"
VB: "Well, we ate them, of course. There was a lot of meat on those big suckers but now they're nearly gone and we've nothing left but lots of smaller ones."
MC: "Are you saying you killed the breeders?"
VB: "I don't know about the 'breeders.' We ate the biggest ones, naturally."
MC: "Oh my God, you killed the breeders!"
VB: "I didn't kill them; I caught them on a rod and reel I brought from home. Sure, I'm just fishing in a tank here but it still takes some skill to bring in a 10-pound 'eye on a jig with only six-pound test."
MC: "I can't believe it. You killed the breeders!"
VB: "Would you quit saying that? I did nothing wrong. Why, I even had my picture in the colony newsletter."
MC: "Was the headline: 'Dumb-ass kills breeding stock'?"

VB: "Hey! Watch it! No, the headline was 'We eat good tonight'"
MC: "Well, the sub-heading should have read 'And now we starve for the next several years'"
VB: "If we starve it's because you didn't send enough big ones!"
MC: "Wild Bill -- why are you called that anyway? -- what is your mission specialty?"
VB: "I'm 'Wild' Bill because I'm good in the wilds. I always 'bring home the bacon.' And my mission specialty is artificial intelligence."
MC: "Yeah, there's a surprise. Look 'Wild' if you had eaten the smaller fish, then the breeders -- the big ones, as you put it -- would have been producing more eggs, more fish, year after year, by the hundreds of thousands while the smaller ones were growing larger. You only had to let one per cent of the juveniles -- the little ones -- grow to maturity to produce a self-sustaining population. You would have had fish for the colony forever. But instead, you ate the one per cent that really mattered. You ate the breeders! And why? Because they had a 'lot of meat on them' and to get your picture in the paper!"
VB: "Well the little ones will do the same thing, right? It's only fair to let them have a chance to do the 'horizontal mambo' and let nature take its course."
MC: "That's right. We sent you fish in a year-long spaceship ride just so you could be 'fair' to them. You killed the breeders, for cripes sake! Here's what is fair: now you will need to wait two or three years for the 'little ones' to reach maturity. That's when they'll do, what did you call it, the HORIZONTAL MAMBO! Until then, no more fish meals for you or the rest of the colonists!"
VB: "Jeez, I don't see why you are so sore about this. I mean it was only human nature to eat the big ones. They had a lot of meat on them, after all."
MC: "Bill! Bill! Why are humans colonizing other planets?"
VB: "Well, you know, because there isn't enough food on Earth any more, basically."
MC: "Yeah. And we thought we would be different on another planet. Goodbye, Wild Bill."

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