Episode 1: X = Vampires

Episode 1: X = Vampires

The Thing About X

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Transcript: Look. Vampires aren’t real. There’s no way there is an immortal subset of humanity that’s living in perpetual darkness and feeding on a new human every night. It’s absurd. Let’s do the math. Assume they feed 99% of the time, killing their victims. The other 1%, the lusty, buxom woman or lithe, sculpted man is too delectable to waste and gets turned so they can have fun for eternity or whatever. That means our vampire makes 3.65 new vampires per year. It follows that each of those new vampires would do the same. You can apply the compound interest formula (1+3.65)*[(3.65)^(x-1)], where x is years elapsed. After 5 years, 825 vampires. 10 years gets you 534,673. And that’s how many humans would be dying each day for the vampire population to survive, if it were real. It’s simply not sustainable. You can change the numbers if you want. Maybe only 1 in 1,000 gets turned, and maybe they only kill a human once a fortnight to feed. It slows the growth, but on the timeline of millennia there are just too many humans dying for vampires to be real. Immortal vampires means exponential growth. Of course, you’ll remind me that there are vampire slayers to keep the numbers in check. They’re a secret cabal of highly trained, stealthy, disciplined, financially stable warriors who pass the secrets on, generation to generation. They keep the vampire population in check. But it’s still a matter of numbers. How many vampires would have to exist in one place, terrorizing an area before the community would realize there was enough of a problem to create and learn these skills and pass them on? I can imagine a solitary, dumb vampire getting found out and killed. Maybe even a small coven of five or six. But would such an isolated incident inspire a secret society of slayers? No. The lucky ones who’d done the killing would tell the story at holidays and festivals. In a generation, they’d be the crazy claims of great uncle Jerry. You know, the one who claimed he killed a “vampyre”. Vampires are generally depicted as smart, powerful, and wealthy. If they suspected organized resistance, they would either wipe out the town completely or just leave and come back in a few generations when the knowledge of them had become less than even myths or whisperings. Vampires would always win the long game. The thing about vampires is that if they’re real, they probably know all of this and wouldn’t be so short-sighted as to consume all their resources and starve their kind into extinction. They’d be able to look at the math and say, “Wow, at these rates. Even with a steadily increasing human population, I’m going to starve in 3,000 years.” That kind of knowledge would inspire some real lifestyle changes. Like, “oh, you’re a very voluptuous and lively brunette. Normally, I’d turn you into a vampire so we could have eternally good, sexy times, but I’d rather not starve to death, even if it’s amongst an insane orgy of a million other beautiful beings like us. Instead, after the outrageously good love-making, I will restrain myself from turning you and instead eat you with a very decent wine and ponder what could have been.” Or perhaps this vampire will see the light and kill every vampire who didn’t agree to keeping replacement-level population growth. It’d be a species-saving genocide. Because unlike human slayers, a vampire vampire-slayer would have far better luck. He wouldn’t get worse as he aged. Speaking of aging, I can imagine a lot of vampires end it for themselves. Even if a lot of your buddies remember when long-form epic poetry was en vogue, or love the clothing from the 14th century Ottoman empire, just like you, you’ll have to change what you wear when you go out, and eventually tire of the same media and have to find new stuff like Baroque art and Gregorian chant. The cycle will repeat ad nauseum. Then there’s the evolving language. How successful could a vampire be if he still spoke in the heavily German and French-influenced early English? Even the English of the early 20th century seems weird to us now. Any would-be victim would be put off by the odd word choice and accent. They would have to keep evolving to be successful. It’s like how old people don’t understand the kids these days, except vampires don’t even get old people. The changing racial and gender dynamics of the last 100 years have probably been hell on them. Women and minorities went from being subservient to equals. They’d no longer be able to condescend to one on the street, use their rank and standing to lure the victim into a dark alley and feast on their blood. I imagine most vampires are exceedingly racist and sexist. Classist, too. I suppose they’d be most interested in sucking the the life from the blue-blooded veins of lily-white skinned, well-to-do, respectable, old-monied families. It’d limit their diet. For all these reasons, assume that most vampires don’t succumb to a stake through the heart or a case of severe sun poisoning. They get tired of the ever-changing world, seeing the land pillaged and seas polluted. All the stuff they cared about evaporate like nothing of consequence. So, we say our farewells and they off themselves. And regarding the myths about vampires turning into bats, hating garlic or the cross, being killed by a stake through the heart, not having reflections, and the burning, or worse shining, in sunlight - they’re all ridiculous. If there really are vampires, I bet they started those myths. Well, except the shining bit. I know who can be blamed for that one. And maybe the being scared away by crosses. What better way for the church to boost membership and create a more insular, unified community that would be afraid of outside ideas like, I don’t know, the Enlightenment? We can peg that one on them. But the rest? Imagine a vampire is trying to seduce dinner, but the victim knows there have been mysterious disappearances as of late, rumored to be vampire-related. What better way to put them at ease than showing themselves in a mirror, or saying “well, if you truly think I’m a vampire, let’s meet tomorrow at noon in the park by the church, and I’ll bring the garlic bread to go with our lunch.” The next day, with the victim at ease, the vampire can eat at his leisure. Seriously, vampires would be in it for the long game. If they don’t need to feed daily, I’m sure that after a few decades of dealing with hunger, they’d have the strength to control their impulses enough to wait a day and build a bit of trust. Stupid rumors and misdirection are the realm of conmen, pickpockets and our hypothetical vampires. As for the theories that the greatest atrocities of human history are really the cover-ups for vampiric gluttony on the largest of scales, how can I account for these? I’ve heard the claims - Genghis Khan and his Golden Vampire Horde more than decimating Europe, drinking the fresh blood of the fallen every night, and raping enough women to ensure he’d someday see his descendents rule all the countries of the world, and he’s still waiting, laughing and planning a comeback. Or Cortez and the Vampire Conquistadors wiping out entire civilizations while they pretended to hunt for gold, glory and land for their respective countries, but instead lustily filling themselves in the rivers of blood they created. And the disturbing dynamic duo of vampires Hitler and Stalin, who used their powers of persuasion and influence to essentially subjugate the already disenfranchised cultures around them, only so they could utilize industrialization and assembly-line tactics to harvest the blood from concentration camps? What do I think of those theories? How do I answer these “obviously vampire-related” genocides? Or Tibet, the Bosnian/Serb conflict, the Khmer Rouge, and all those in Africa? I answer them by saying that these are the saddest examples of what humans -- normal humans -- are capable of doing to one another. It needs no other justification or explanation, and any bullshit theory about it being caused by vampires is stripping those atrocities of their importance, sadness, and our shared responsibility to ensure they never happen again. Humans don’t need vampires to give them nightmares when they have each other. So, I hope you now have faith that if you meet a good-looking stranger, say me, at an event, like a book signing, and if they find you charming and witty and offer to buy you a drink later, but not to worry, they aren’t asking you on a date (I have a partner, and sorry, you’re no match), maybe you can take it at face-value. And when, after a few drinks, they start to share their appreciation for the grammar of ancient Greek, or the inimitable styles of the Ming Dynasty (which are really fascinating, by the way), accept those quirks. And once the night is going so well you know you’re not ready for it to end, invite them up to check out your apartment. There is no way you’ll end up as dinner, because vampires aren’t real.  
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Transcript: Look. Vampires aren’t real. There’s no way there is an immortal subset of humanity that’s living in perpetual darkness and feeding on a new human every night. It’s absurd. Let’s do the math. Assume they feed 99% of the time, killing their victims. The other 1%, the lusty, buxom woman or lithe, sculpted man is too delectable to waste and gets turned so they can have fun for eternity or whatever. That means our vampire makes 3.65 new vampires per year. It follows that each of those new vampires would do the same. You can apply the compound interest formula (1+3.65)*[(3.65)^(x-1)], where x is years elapsed. After 5 years, 825 vampires. 10 years gets you 534,673. And that’s how many humans would be dying each day for the vampire population to survive, if it were real. It’s simply not sustainable. You can change the numbers if you want. Maybe only 1 in 1,000 gets turned, and maybe they only kill a human once a fortnight to feed. It slows the growth, but on the timeline of millennia there are just too many humans dying for vampires to be real. Immortal vampires means exponential growth. Of course, you’ll remind me that there are vampire slayers to keep the numbers in check. They’re a secret cabal of highly trained, stealthy, disciplined, financially stable warriors who pass the secrets on, generation to generation. They keep the vampire population in check. But it’s still a matter of numbers. How many vampires would have to exist in one place, terrorizing an area before the community would realize there was enough of a problem to create and learn these skills and pass them on? I can imagine a solitary, dumb vampire getting found out and killed. Maybe even a small coven of five or six. But would such an isolated incident inspire a secret society of slayers? No. The lucky ones who’d done the killing would tell the story at holidays and festivals. In a generation, they’d be the crazy claims of great uncle Jerry. You know, the one who claimed he killed a “vampyre”. Vampires are generally depicted as smart, powerful, and wealthy. If they suspected organized resistance, they would either wipe out the town completely or just leave and come back in a few generations when the knowledge of them had become less than even myths or whisperings. Vampires would always win the long game. The thing about vampires is that if they’re real, they probably know all of this and wouldn’t be so short-sighted as to consume all their resources and starve their kind into extinction. They’d be able to look at the math and say, “Wow, at these rates. Even with a steadily increasing human population, I’m going to starve in 3,000 years.” That kind of knowledge would inspire some real lifestyle changes. Like, “oh, you’re a very voluptuous and lively brunette. Normally, I’d turn you into a vampire so we could have eternally good, sexy times, but I’d rather not starve to death, even if it’s amongst an insane orgy of a million other beautiful beings like us. Instead, after the outrageously good love-making, I will restrain myself from turning you and instead eat you with a very decent wine and ponder what could have been.” Or perhaps this vampire will see the light and kill every vampire who didn’t agree to keeping replacement-level population growth. It’d be a species-saving genocide. Because unlike human slayers, a vampire vampire-slayer would have far better luck. He wouldn’t get worse as he aged. Speaking of aging, I can imagine a lot of vampires end it for themselves. Even if a lot of your buddies remember when long-form epic poetry was en vogue, or love the clothing from the 14th century Ottoman empire, just like you, you’ll have to change what you wear when you go out, and eventually tire of the same media and have to find new stuff like Baroque art and Gregorian chant. The cycle will repeat ad nauseum. Then there’s the evolving language. How successful could a vampire be if he still spoke in the heavily German and French-influenced early English? Even the English of the early 20th century seems weird to us now. Any would-be victim would be put off by the odd word choice and accent. They would have to keep evolving to be successful. It’s like how old people don’t understand the kids these days, except vampires don’t even get old people. The changing racial and gender dynamics of the last 100 years have probably been hell on them. Women and minorities went from being subservient to equals. They’d no longer be able to condescend to one on the street, use their rank and standing to lure the victim into a dark alley and feast on their blood. I imagine most vampires are exceedingly racist and sexist. Classist, too. I suppose they’d be most interested in sucking the the life from the blue-blooded veins of lily-white skinned, well-to-do, respectable, old-monied families. It’d limit their diet. For all these reasons, assume that most vampires don’t succumb to a stake through the heart or a case of severe sun poisoning. They get tired of the ever-changing world, seeing the land pillaged and seas polluted. All the stuff they cared about evaporate like nothing of consequence. So, we say our farewells and they off themselves. And regarding the myths about vampires turning into bats, hating garlic or the cross, being killed by a stake through the heart, not having reflections, and the burning, or worse shining, in sunlight - they’re all ridiculous. If there really are vampires, I bet they started those myths. Well, except the shining bit. I know who can be blamed for that one. And maybe the being scared away by crosses. What better way for the church to boost membership and create a more insular, unified community that would be afraid of outside ideas like, I don’t know, the Enlightenment? We can peg that one on them. But the rest? Imagine a vampire is trying to seduce dinner, but the victim knows there have been mysterious disappearances as of late, rumored to be vampire-related. What better way to put them at ease than showing themselves in a mirror, or saying “well, if you truly think I’m a vampire, let’s meet tomorrow at noon in the park by the church, and I’ll bring the garlic bread to go with our lunch.” The next day, with the victim at ease, the vampire can eat at his leisure. Seriously, vampires would be in it for the long game. If they don’t need to feed daily, I’m sure that after a few decades of dealing with hunger, they’d have the strength to control their impulses enough to wait a day and build a bit of trust. Stupid rumors and misdirection are the realm of conmen, pickpockets and our hypothetical vampires. As for the theories that the greatest atrocities of human history are really the cover-ups for vampiric gluttony on the largest of scales, how can I account for these? I’ve heard the claims - Genghis Khan and his Golden Vampire Horde more than decimating Europe, drinking the fresh blood of the fallen every night, and raping enough women to ensure he’d someday see his descendents rule all the countries of the world, and he’s still waiting, laughing and planning a comeback. Or Cortez and the Vampire Conquistadors wiping out entire civilizations while they pretended to hunt for gold, glory and land for their respective countries, but instead lustily filling themselves in the rivers of blood they created. And the disturbing dynamic duo of vampires Hitler and Stalin, who used their powers of persuasion and influence to essentially subjugate the already disenfranchised cultures around them, only so they could utilize industrialization and assembly-line tactics to harvest the blood from concentration camps? What do I think of those theories? How do I answer these “obviously vampire-related” genocides? Or Tibet, the Bosnian/Serb conflict, the Khmer Rouge, and all those in Africa? I answer them by saying that these are the saddest examples of what humans -- normal humans -- are capable of doing to one another. It needs no other justification or explanation, and any bullshit theory about it being caused by vampires is stripping those atrocities of their importance, sadness, and our shared responsibility to ensure they never happen again. Humans don’t need vampires to give them nightmares when they have each other. So, I hope you now have faith that if you meet a good-looking stranger, say me, at an event, like a book signing, and if they find you charming and witty and offer to buy you a drink later, but not to worry, they aren’t asking you on a date (I have a partner, and sorry, you’re no match), maybe you can take it at face-value. And when, after a few drinks, they start to share their appreciation for the grammar of ancient Greek, or the inimitable styles of the Ming Dynasty (which are really fascinating, by the way), accept those quirks. And once the night is going so well you know you’re not ready for it to end, invite them up to check out your apartment. There is no way you’ll end up as dinner, because vampires aren’t real.  
...Read More