Veggie Cuts

“Nice one, Polly… Really-really nice…”

The banged up van was driving fast down Sunrise Highway, on its way to Freeport High. Polly was nervous. Sitting in this deathtrap with 7 more people on a Sunday night, she started questioning her choices.

For the last 23 years, cows, pigs, and poultry were born infected with the “C4L1” virus. Nobody knew its origins, but it was there, and it was incurable.

Four years ago, a small company called “Veggie Cuts” offered a solution. Vegetarian products that tasted like meat, and were virus-free.

“C4L1” or “CALI” as people started calling it wasn’t deadly. At least that was the official story. Everybody knew it would eventually kill you (one way or another), but there was no definite correlation. And that was the alibi meat companies needed. Meat was cheap. So people ate it. And public school cafeterias with small budgets had no choice.

Then, 2 years ago, a group of college students calling themselves “The Nine”, decided to take action. They started protesting, boycotting, and suing meat companies.

It didn’t work. Nobody cared.

So, they started promoting “Veggie Cuts” products (burgers, “chick”-fillets, sausages) to make people realize it’s time to stop killing themselves. People still didn’t listen. It was time for more extreme measures.

They picked 3 High Schools (one in LA, one in Colorado, and one in New York). They would load 3 trucks with products, and put them inside the cafeteria freezers. Each truck would be accompanied by a van full of volunteers to carry out the mission. And Polly found herself into one of these vans.

She told the group she was in for the cause. And yes, she did care about food quality. Who wouldn’t? But the real reason was her shyness. Polly was never good with people. Her parent’s divorce and moving around the country because of her mother’s job (a VR experience designer) didn’t help much. So when “The Nine” invited her to join, she said “Yes!

And then there was Nick, the group’s leader, and her crush for him. Maybe if she stayed close, he would finally notice her.

“Stupid, stupid Polly…What are you doing? …”

She was nervously tapping the floor with her foot, when the van reduced speed and turned right into Brookside Avenue. She looked outside the window and saw the school’s baseball field. They had arrived. The van passed in front of the main building and then turned right again into the school parking space. Nick opened the van’s side door:

“OK everybody, let’s do this.”

Everybody got out. The place was empty. The smell of spilled beer and fast food garbage was quite strong.

Game night…Right…” Polly thought.

She could see the football stadium in the distance.

The white truck carrying the “Veggie Cuts” pulled in, and parked next to them.

Nick’s cellphone buzzed.

“What? Crap… OK, thanks for telling me.”

“What’s the matter?” Polly asked.

“The other two groups failed. The cops got them.”

Everybody turned around and looked at him, worried.

“How did they find out, man?” Paul, the truck driver asked Nick.

“I don’t know guys, and we don’t have much time. Let’s go!”

Paul opened the truck’s doors, and pulled out 4 big trolley carts.

OK guys, start loading”.

The whole group started loading the carts. It took them about 2 minutes to finish. Then a guy everybody called “JJ”, started walking towards the back of the building:

This way people …

Are you sure you know where we are going?” Nick asked.

Please man. Freeport Alumni here, class of 2079!

The group followed him quickly across the parking lot, to the back entrance. Nick picked the locks, and they went inside.

JJ took the lead.

Follow me.

Five minutes later, after passing a few walls with dented lockers, handmade posters for school events, a trophy case, and some dark and empty classrooms, they entered the cafeteria.

OK everybody, you know what to do”.

The rest of the group started emptying the meat products from the freezers, and replacing them with “Veggie Cuts”. Nick gave Polly some stickers.

Stick them to the front of the buffet line, so that the students know they are eating Veggie Cuts today.

But, won’t the staff notice the difference?”

“The boxes are unbranded, Polly. They won’t know what they are serving. They just don’t care.”

“Cool!”

Ten minutes later, the job was done. Everything was in place, and all the meat boxes were loaded on the trolleys ready to be disposed.

Time to go, people.

Everybody smiled. As they started walking to the exit, Nick turned to Polly:

Good job Polly. How do you feel?

That…was…awesome!!” Polly replied loudly.

Everybody laughed.

But, as they took the last turn towards the exit, they saw red and blue lights blinking in the distance.

You are surrounded” a voice yelled.

Put your hands up, and walk out slowly

Everybody froze.

This is your last warning. Come out with your hands up”.

Damn it, how did they find us?” Nick asked himself.

Do what they say, people. Live to fight another day.”

As they walked out of the building, they saw 4 police cars and a police van parked. Officers were pointing their guns at them.

On your knees. Hands behind your heads”.

Everybody complied.

How did you find us?” Nick asked.

Next time you decide to use a stolen truck, remove the tracking pods, genius”, a sergeant replied.

Seven hours later, the group was escorted to the court to face punishment. As they were waiting outside the court room, Polly looked at a newspaper left on the chair next to her. The title read:

Freeport High students demand the ban of all meat products after Veggie Cuts makes it into their school cafeteria.” “NO MORE CANCER IN OUR FOOD!”

“Oh man, my mom is going to kill me.”

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Story Type: Flash fiction

Length: <1000 words

Based on this article: https://thehustle.co/missouri-law-meat-alternatives/

 

The delusion of perfection

You are doing well.

Making good money, just got promoted, and you are bringing in new clients every day. Your colleagues love you. Your bosses wish they had more like you. Your parents are very proud of you. And your romantic life is at its peak.

Those around you, start using you as an example. More and more people feel the pressure to deliver results. They just keep looking for ways to get an advantage. That’s how life works today. Deliver, or disappear. So, if you’re doing well, you must have a sound strategy in place. You are someone with a clear vision. A great motivator. A person with excellent orientation, and culturally educated. You must be, right?

Here’s the problem, though. People usually look in the wrong places for those golden nuggets that will give them an edge. They usually turn to books, coaches and lessons that promise to show them the road to El Dorado. Literally devouring books and content that promise a clear blueprint for success. From ordinary, to hero. From competing, to dominating.

Truth be told, all these tools look credible. They base their claims on data. And they have a lot of facts and figures in them. But many of these studies are flawed. They are usually based on questionable results that will eventually lead you to false conclusions. What’s even worse, a lot of times they lead you into believing that in order to be successful in life, all you have to do is follow some “simple steps”. Just think of how many books you have read or saw lying on a bookstore shelf, with that title.

When people claim that you can succeed by following specific steps, they hide (or are ignorant of) a very basic truth. In the real world, your success is most of the times the result of decisions you make under conditions of uncertainty. Moreover, the same success is partly shaped by factors out of your control. Finally, in the real world, good choices don’t always lead to success. Think about it. From your own experience, wouldn’t you say these three statements are true? Maybe it’s time to dig a little deeper than that “5 Steps to Awesomeness” book. What do you say?

Many conclusions we arrive at, are undermined by a phenomenon called “The Halo Effect”. The term was introduced in 1920 by an American psychologist called Edward Thorndike. In simple words, the Halo effect states that people tend to make specific inferences based on general impressions.

So, when something bad happens; when you lose your job or you separate from your partner, people usually think it’s because you made a mistake (or mistakes). “You are to blame”. It’s because you got lazy. Rude. You neglected your responsibilities. You forgot your cultural references. Where you came from.

In reality, you haven’t changed a bit. You work, interact, and behave the same way you did a month ago. But your success creates a “Halo” around you that shapes the way people see and judge your victories and your losses.

Smart people –the ones you really want to keep close to you-  will look deeper. For them, your success doesn’t necessarily mean that you are a visionary, or have excellent social skills. They know success doesn’t last forever, and nobody can be a top performer all of the time.

Your performance is a relative concept. You can be always on time, cut your costs, make more money than last year, and be a very caring and thoughtful partner to your better half. That doesn’t mean that you will succeed. Your success or your failure also depends on the actions of your rivals or competitors. Someone might work longer hours than you. Care more than you. Invest more than you. It’s as simple as that.

It’s the delusion of perfection.

And it doesn’t exist.

Then, there’s the delusion of forever. This one builds upon the perfection fallacy, and makes things even worse. It is the idea that if you keep doing what you did in the past, you will never fail. The theory usually uses examples of people that are successful for decades “because they kept the same job”, or “stayed married with the same person”. I can almost see you smile right now. We’ve all heard those stories, right?

Here’s the thing, though; in life, (just like in nature) perfection and lasting success are a statistical anomaly. A delusion. People work backwards to justify these claims. They look for real-life examples to support their arguments and not the other way around. But that doesn’t make the argument right. It makes it cheap. In fact, if we take those people and look at their lives as a whole, we will easily discover periods of huge success, followed by periods of less success, and a couple of failures somewhere in between.

And it’s ok! We are not perfect. You are not perfect.

The delusion of forever is a serious problem because it makes people think that being perfect all of the time is an achievable goal. The few that have achieved success for long periods of time, did not do it by unlocking the secrets of the universe. They did it by winning consecutive small victories. So win the small battles, and stop dreaming of the forever perfection. It’s not there.

You might think it would be nice to find that formula. A plug-in that guarantees success. But if you think of it, not having that formula is not a disappointment. It is actually a relief. Because if we had such a tool, there would be no need for evolution. You wouldn’t need to do the unexpected, that one thing that would surprise the people around you. You would just need to press the right buttons, check the right boxes, and you would be done. Every time. Now, would you call this a life worth living? I think not.

So, recognize that life is messy and uncertain. I know you like things to make sense. Your brain prefers that. To have instructions and rules that explain your actions and their consequences. But in reality, your choices are an exercise in making decisions under uncertainty. Will those around you accept, or reject your choices? And even if they do accept them, will they pick you and your version from the ones of past and present friends or foes?

Then, look at your life and your decisions through probabilities, not steps. Improve the odds.

Look at what’s going on around you. Observe what are the people you admire or compete with, being doing. Then evaluate your situation, and make the best possible decision. Once you realize you can’t be absolutely perfect, life becomes so much better.

Finally, separate the inputs from the outputs. Good things don’t necessarily come from good decisions, and vice versa. For example, the fact that you failed in your relationship, doesn’t mean you “picked” the wrong partner. You should instead examine the whole decision process that led you to that final choice. This is the sort of thinking that requires an extra step from us. To judge our actions and decisions based on their merits and not just judge ourselves and others by making “after the fact” comments; good or bad. Smart people fight this natural urge we have to pass judgment based purely on outcomes.

I know this is how the world usually works around us.

I also know it’s wrong.

Maybe we can start fixing things. For ourselves, at first. Because if we can’t adjust our thinking, we can’t make our lives better.

Be safe, everybody!

Who wants to live Forever? Apparently enough to fund a $200bn. Industry.

Freddie wasn’t the first one to wander, when he sung “Who wants to live Forever”. The topic fascinated us for thousands of years.

Our efforts to develop anti-aging compounds increased during the last decades. All of them failed. Recent #medical breakthroughs though, have helped us explain better why we age, and increase our average life expectancy. As a result, we experience a massive influx of capital and research into the #anti-aging market (now worth 200 billion dollars according to a Citi Report).

Today, research teams concentrate on hereditary and other cell factors. One of the most promising routes is a group of drugs that attack “senescent cells.” These are the cells to blame for a series of aging, as well as degenerating conditions like #Alzheimer’s. Studies suggest that by eliminating these cells, we can increase our lifespan by up to 35%!

The first company to offer a treatment is Unity (NASDAQ: UBX). They are testing a compound called #senolytics with patients suffering from osteoarthritis. If this #drug gets approved, it will disrupt both big and small brands promoting products for this condition. Add to this the knee-replacement surgery market (3million surgeries/year by 2030) and you can see how big the impact of new technologies will be in the next decade.

#Technology is also a major disruptor of jobs and their future. Hundreds of millions of jobs will be lost in the next decade because of technology and #automation. At the same time, millions of new jobs will be created. #Healthcare related jobs will be at the top of that list. McKinsey predicts that by 2030, “there will be at least 300 million more people aged 65 years and older than there were in 2014″. As lifespan increases, people change their spending habits, and this will lead to a whole new demand for medical and healthcare related professionals. Doctors, nurses, personal care aides, the list is big and it will continue to grow as new demands are created. McKinsey estimates that healthcare related jobs will increase up to 85 million new jobs by 2030.

Technology will make a lot of professions obsolete in the next decade. It’s a good idea to start thinking about alternatives in order to survive this shift. Especially for young people planning their studies, this process is even more important. As more traditional professions (like lawyers, accountants, real estate agents) will start to suffer the consequences of the new AI world, it’s good to have options. Healthcare and medical research is one of those. Especially when institutions like the NYU make their Medical schools tuition free!

Off to listen to some Queen now.. Have a great day, everybody.