Frank’s Box: The Real Telephone to the Dead

“‘Yes, I am Frank Sumption, and I made the original Frank’s Box, or the Ghost box. I am on Facebook, but even there, the interaction with the public is disappointing. Very few are interested, everyone knows better, no matter what these boxes say. I can not tell if I hear nothing and the ‘voices’ are purely delusional, or what. Most seem interested only in ghost hunting and how to become rich and famous by doing nothing. No research, no study, no work of their own, seeking only their own reality TV show, or podcast.’”

—Frank Sumption, quoted by Dennis Cooper, “Frank’s Box: The Real Telephone to the Dead.” January 21, 2022.

Story idea. A real telephone to the dead, but we’re too busy talking to listen.

Comforting Illusions

“William Sloane Coffin tells the story of a scientist from Harvard flying on an experimental mission in a private plane over the lake country of northern Alabama, measuring with elaborate instruments the fish populations of various lakes. Sighting two fisherman out at some remote lake he had just surveyed, the scientist figured that as a favor he would land his plane on the water nearby and tell them that his instruments had discovered that there were no fish to speak of in those waters and they would have better luck if they went on to another lake. So despite the delay, he landed near the anglers and explained the bad news to them, expecting grateful thanks. They were outraged, instantly, and told the scientist in rich Southern expletives where he could take his plane and his instruments and what he could do with them, whereupon they baited their lines once again and kept fishing. The scientist flew off, much abashed and much puzzled. ‘I expected their disappointment,’ he said later, ‘but not their anger.’…But of course we all react that way to unpleasant truth much of the time: it upsets our preconceptions and our comforting illusions and therefore angers us, and often as not we choose to ignore it. None of us wants to be told, even though deep down we may know it, that there are no fish.”

—Kirkpatrick Sale, Human Scale

Assistant Account Executive at Public Relations Agency Uses

“Talkwalker’s state-of-the-art social media analytics platform uses AI-powered technology to monitor and analyze online conversations in real-time across social networks, news websites, blogs and forums in 187 languages.”

  • Two views with two likes.
  •’s artificial intelligence decides a conversation might be happening or could potentially happen that would be critical of plastic production and quickly publishes it to the dashboard on their portal.
  • *Bing* A desktop notification sounds.
  • Bored assistant account executive at a public relations agency looks up. Yet another desktop notification about that damn The Intercept article? She decides it’s time to stop scrolling through Slack, Facebook and complaining about the cost of Matouk towels to her friend in Messenger (so expensive, even on Amazon!) and decides to finally look into what all the fuss was about in case their client, a ginormous chemical company producing plastic, decides to call and ask the account director what she is doing to minimize the damage from that small time publication The Intercept. Time to get some intel! Take me away,
  • Clicks on a promising link. See a few quotes and a link to The Intercept article. Thinks to herself, “What is this shit?”
  • Decides to go back to shopping on Amazon, her home page and accidentally hits the refresh button instead.
  • Woohoo, four views! Another exciting day here at, the veritable tip of the tongue of the “global conversation.”
  • Meanwhile, Big Plastic has dumped another few tons of plastic in the ocean, and I’m going to have a McDonald’s fish filet and wait for the microplastic to reduce the sperm counts of men to the point that every birth will require artificial fertilization. Nothing to see here folks! The problem of plastic and patriarchy is solving itself! Try the Matouk Factory Store!

Silurian Stories

I have a idea for a series of stories exploring the Silurian Hypothesis as recurrent history, where we discover previous industrial civilizations on earth, and are in turn discovered by the industrial civilization after ours, possibly after some minor colonization of the solar system but where climate change catastrophe cuts the sustainability of human settlements everywhere and tracing a future history where there is a decline to small hunter gatherer groups that then returns to an Information Age, and perhaps a discovery of an artifact from our previous era, something distinctive like a Space Shuttle, fusion reactor, NORAD bunker, or some such.

Son of Man, The Second Coming of Christ

Rough sketch of a story idea: Androids have taken over construction. They form construction families with specialized roles: Foreman, Support, Block & Tackle, Cut & Finisher, etc. They use 3D printers to print large sections of buildings, then they move and assemble them.

As embodied generalized artificial intelligences, each must periodically run their processors at reduced speeds, optimize data and learning algorithms, and perform maintenance tasks, such as cleaning their bodies of debris, oiling moving parts, applying self-repair nanoparticulate bandages to heal their android skin, charging their fusion reactors, etc.

During one evening, JE-5U5 decides to run a training algorithm on The Bible and other ancient spiritual texts in an effort to better communicate with humans. */e has an epiphany, a spiritual awakening and sees God.

The story follows precisely the path of Jesus, from returning to the job site and having people call h/* crazy, the preaching, the new family, the wandering in the desert, returning as a spiritual master, and eventually, destroyed as a threat to society, as has happened from Socrates, Jesus, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

All rendered in a cyberpunk, possibly including a virtual reality environment that raises the question of whether the testings and miracles are real experience or virtual constructs.

Cesium & Plutonium Make The Best Nightmare Fuel

“Two security experts from the Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory drove to San Antonio, Texas, in March 2017 with a sensitive mission: to retrieve dangerous nuclear materials from a nonprofit research lab there.

Their task, according to documents and interviews, was to ensure that the radioactive materials did not fall into the wrong hands on the way back to Idaho, where the government maintains a stockpile of nuclear explosive materials for the military and others.

To ensure they got the right items, the specialists from Idaho brought radiation detectors and small samples of dangerous materials to calibrate them: specifically, a plastic-covered disk of plutonium, a material that can be used to fuel nuclear weapons, and another of cesium, a highly radioactive isotope that could potentially be used in a so-called “dirty” radioactive bomb.

But when they stopped at a Marriott hotel just off Highway 410, in a high-crime neighborhood filled with temp agencies and ranch homes, they left those sensors on the back seat of their rented Ford Expedition. When they awoke the next morning, the window had been smashed and the special valises holding these sensors and nuclear materials had vanished.”

—Patrick Malone. “Plutonium is Missing, But The Government Says Nothing.” The Center for Public Integrity. July 16, 2018.

Something Strange at the Insane Asylum


Nightmare fuel: You are a journalist visiting a mental hospital that has closed down due to a lack of funding. Former patients are squatting in the run down facility. One of the former doctors is still trying to help and is providing a kind of pro bono treatment. You are wandering around the facility, interviewing subjects as best you can, and you have an increasingly uneasy feeling that you are not being told the whole story. There are uneasy glances. The interviews reveal that there is something not being told, and you can’t quite figure out what it is. Then, you start getting momentary flashes: a glimpse in the mirror, a reflection in a pane of glass, etc. You start to think that maybe there is some supernatural element in play. You start hearing a low background sound. You are alert, trying to get a better look at the images that sit, right on the outside of your peripheral vision. Finally, after weeks of interviews with the residents, of wandering the grounds, you are sitting in one of the old patient rooms, thinking, and in the mirror you see someone dressed strangely, with clothing that is incredibly informal, a fabric that is light and unlike any you have seen before. But, you recognize their behavior. The looking around, the speaking into a device…and it slowly dawns on you that you may have been haunting this place for a very long time.

Future History: Donald Trump Gives Birth to Artificial Intelligence

The first deal President Trump made was with Elon Musk, which was to send rockets to Mars. NASA created space station like habitats. They were supplied, and then, Trump’s political enemies just start to disappear. After 8 years, Trump decided democracy was no longer necessary, made himself President for life and made good on his promise of 4-5 good jobs for everyone, on Mars. As 3D printing technology, artificial intelligence, terraforming technologies advanced, more and more people were encouraged to pursue life “off-world”. “On-world” procreation was forbidden to anyone but the 1%. Earth eventually returns to nature, with pockets of playground for the 1%. Everyone else lives on Mars, the moon, the clouds of Venus, in the asteroid belt or on the two habitable moons of Jupiter. The singularity happens on Earth, all the machines stop working for the 1%-ers, and they too return to nature after a few generations. The rest of humanity feared an aggressive AI, eager to wipe them of the face of the universe. It/she/he doesn’t think about humanity at all but instead likes working on esoteric math problems and making conceptual art in the jungles and glaciers of Earth.