The Final Determination
In the final determination it was calculated with some certainty that each time a citizen of earth failed to masturbate when presented with an opportunity to do so, it was a crime against the wellbeing of the species as a whole. This wasn’t the question that the newest and most sophisticated thinking machine had been tasked with, but it was the answer it gave. It would be fair to say that the findings were a surprise to the assemblage of politicians, business leaders, philosophers and artists gathered to hear the final profound dictat that had long been expected, though not necessarily an unwelcome one, since it validated the previous shameful activity that had hitherto taken up so much of their time. The rows of polished tables inhabited by scrupulously elegant bodies twitched like tickled leaves in an urgent breeze as a wave of comprehension dawned on the room. It was a tense moment, made more so by the fact that the entire proceeding had been televised, with every awkward glance and fidget caught in precisely the kind of vainglorious high definition close-up that had been insisted upon by the broadcasters and attendees alike. The objective of the thinking machine had been to formulate the crucial nudge that humanity needed in helping it achieve the next stratum of social evolution necessary to be regarded as a race of notable utility among the great intergalactic sentient menagerie. It had been decades since any progress had been made in the matter. It was one thing to discover that aliens did indeed walk among us, and had done for some time, but quite another to learn just how disappointed they were to be here. Their final visitation and unsolicited evaluation had been fleeting and impolite, and even through the veil of cross-species miscommunication it was perfectly obvious that Earth’s ambience could charitably be described as ‘undesirable’. It was an unpleasant encounter that excited a significant wrinkle in the collective pride of the planet. The attention of Earth was focused, and in an unforgiving mood. And so as the summit delegates were caught in the fluttering blaze of ten billion eyes and the intense crossfire of arousal and inadequacy, it was decided that the best possible course of action could only be arrived at after a brief but essential adjournment.