“Salf, hurry up, we haven’t got all day. What are you staring at, anyway? Old dude in a lab coat, with piglets?! The piglets are curtey-cutey, yes, ok. Nice piece of educational hologram, whatever it’s supposed to be about. But, need I remind you, Salf, you’re the one who fancies new cotton wear. You’re the one who insisted on walking all the way to try buy old-fashioned pre-sawn from a classical bricks-and-mortar shop that’s bound to be outrageously expensive, instead of going online to align your 3D persona with a nice cut, select a fabric and have your cotton wear custom made, like a normal person. Need I remind you, Salf, how I proposed…”
Lenk doesn’t get to finish his litany. Salf is too excited about his discovery to let him proceed, as he usually would, for at least ten minutes, as per their long established custom:
“You got to read this, Lenk! Yes, it’s an edutainment window, yes, those are not cool. But this is so amazing. Look at this, Lenk, please, who’d ever have thought…”
Pulling his companion closer to the display, Salf starts to paraphrase the explanatory note:
“Back in 2025, people were eating lots of meat, for whichever disgusting reason, especially pork. Kept at very close quarters, pigs tended to get aggressive, sometimes pretty lethally so, as in maiming each other. Omar Tabori, that’s the dude in the lab coat, people went by two or three names in those days, because of some clan concept, Omar Tabori, he was studying the porcine gut biome. That’s the community of bugs in the entrails of pigs. People have one such community, too, in their guts. For them, it’s called the human gut biome.
The Omar, let’s call him by one name, like he was a modern person, to facilitate, the Omar, he was looking for ways to fatten pigs faster. He worked with different pig farms, in a very practical type of research. In the course of years of study, the Omar couldn’t help notice that one of the farms lost lots of pigs to aggression, whereas there were no such incidents on another, and very few on a third. Intriguing difference. Our guy Omar, he wondered what was behind it.
Different breed of pigs? Nope. Different stables? Nope. Different pig feed? Nope.
Different porcine gut biomes? Bingo! With a lot of help from a lot of very early days AI, our guy Omar found out that a combination of three bugs made pigs peaceful. None of the three bugs worked on its own. But in the presence of all three what was a bad tempered pig on Monday had turned into a zen pig by Friday.
Our guy Omar published his results, got himself a nice pile of cash from a big vetpharm company, and went on to live happily ever thereafter in a nice mansion on a posh island. End of Omar story. But by no means end of overall story.
By 2030, all farmed pigs all over the world were inoculated with PigZen. Please don’t ask how. Details not suitable for polite conversation, like access through the rear entrance,…
Anyway, by 2030 peace reigned on all pig farms, and even some animal rights activists were prepared to concede that the livestock had a better, if still exceedingly short life. Pretty good progress, just like science is supposed to deliver.
Don’t look at me like this, Lenk.
Yes, we are vegetarians, and couldn’t care less about pretty repulsive ancient dietary choices. But the pigs are not the true story. They’re just the prequel.
Pigs and people, they’re not that far apart, biologically speaking.
By 2040, some army types and football coaches in regions with big pig farms, like the US, Asia and Europe, noticed a marked decrease in animal spirits among juveniles that made it ever harder to find promising new recruits. As national securities were at stake, research was funded, pretty much across the world. And guess what so many scientists discovered, in parallel and in secret, because that’s how defense research is done?
Exactly! Good old Omar’s zen inducing combination of bugs had jumped host. Pig farm workers had spread the adaptable bugs to their families, and from there on they conquered the world. There was a mild diarrhea associated with the infection, barely noticed by most people. In defense circles, the diarrhea got nicknamed Colitis Generosa, because it not only made people less aggressive, it also made them much more willing to share.
A very secret and nevertheless lively debate occurred. Normally, infections are for fighting. But this particular pandemic came with advantages.
Just imagine yourself a general, Lenk, you’re a leader kind of person, should come easy.
As a general, you’d be awfully keen, on the opposite side getting infected with Colitis Generosa. No recruits, no combat readiness, that’s exactly what you cherish in an adversary. As long as your side manages to stay just a little ahead, on the agressivity scale, you’ll be pretty sure to prevail, and at less cost than in the past.
Military administrations can do speed, in an unambiguous emergency, but with Colitis Generosa, no one felt threatened enough to move fast. ‘Let the zen bugs roam and weaken our potential enemies’, was the attitude of choice. By the time the bugs had spread far and widely enough to convince majorities to open borders and dismantle armies, it was too late for the top brass to reconsider. As they also had gotten themselves infected, just like everybody was carrying the bugs by 2050, they melted into retirement without so much as even a minuscule last war.
And that’s how our global government came about. Bit late to do enough about climate change, getting there earlier would have avoided us a lot of decades of rationing. But I’d rather not imagine how bad we would fare now, without good old Omar and his pig gut research. Even total no brainers, like the disappearance of racism and homophobia, might have needed help from Omar’s bugs, to prevail. Just imagine it all hadn’t happened, Lenk.”
As usual in this kind of situation, Lenk is torn between shaking his head and melting with love. Not prepared to choose, he goes: “I’d rather not, Salf, but thank you for sharing.”