Aug. 24, 2023. 18 min. read. 26 Interactions

Hruy ponders over our bewildering value system, where rationality seems to perish rapidly, leaving humanity's compass adrift in a sea of absurdity. Is humanity trading unicorns for plain old donkeys?

Credit: Tesfu Assefa


I always dream of a pen that would be a syringe.

Jacques Derrida

I present the following imaginary news report not out of desperation nor of nostalgic melancholy. It was merely a moment of amusement for me. The world is full of anomalies, and some of these anomalies are indeed the strangest. From our side of the world, the Third World, the things of the West have ceased to make sense or are ceasing to make sense. Perhaps my grandfather and someone from the West, during his time, had a better understanding of each other than I can manage with someone from the West today.

It’s not just a West vs. Rest gap; the upper class from my land can’t comprehend our values, our pains, our struggles, our aspirations. It’s not about race or skin color; it’s a natural mystic river blowing through the air (quoting Bob Marley). This is natural, the gap and disparity are natural!

I hope that the story below offends you. Getting offended is the first step to waking up from one’s bubble. It is a sign that you recognize there are other views, dreams, and pains. If we become wise, we will stop getting offended and instead work together for the common good and benefit. However, my intention to offend is a benevolent one. Trust me, if I wanted to offend you viciously, there are a million and one ways – and they’re quicker than this. 

I believe the world is undergoing a transition period. Transition periods are marked by great disparity, unheard-of confusions, vehement polarities, and hopeless value misalignments. As you can see, we can no longer define what a woman is. 

The main disparities in this transition period? I would say they revolve around rationality (objectivity) and emotionality (subjectivity). Our progress in the Age of Reason, our progress in somehow understanding our emotionality, was limited, was incomplete. We didn’t get the chance to master it! Fanning the flames, most cultures leave little room for emotionality, and teach us to hide it. Our ability to tolerate others’ emotions and as well as our knowledge and expertise, or spend time mastering our emotions – that is also limited. We didn’t master our emotions: we didn’t identify the toxic from the curative, or the ones that can be universal or the ones that are forever personal. Time, the great Father (or should I say Mother?) waits for no mortal, and the new era is already upon us. The war for change has begun. Time will tell if it’s a good or bad change. (I feel like I am obliged to share the African psyche (or at least the Ethiopian one) here. We perceive time as a merciless and emotionless force so we can’t refer to it as ‘mother’. But, we do not perceive fathers as emotionless and merciless.)

Transition periods should not be marked by who is right and who is wrong; rather, they should be teaching moments to reflect on the past and reshape the future. Civilizations thrive or die based on how they navigate transition periods: the ten-thousand years one has done it harmoniously and with minimal extremisms, of course, these are from some distant galaxy or alternate reality. Unfortunately, I am not in the mood to share advice for a smooth transition period for our present reality and the current vastly divided civilization. We might even be in a simulation, and transition periods are like the twilight of factory resets. And if this is the case, I am in no mood to offend the all-knowing Simulators by going against their will. 

But I say this with unfaltering rationality: if emotions are unchecked Derrida’s pen will always be someone else’s sword and a rebellion is on its way!

Berbere Tera: This was a small corner inside one of Africa’s largest marketplaces in Addis Ababa. Berbere Tera got its name after the main commodity item sold there, pepper: always very hot Ethiopian pepper. ‘Berbere’ (በርበሬ) means the hot testing powder prepared from a dried red pepper and ‘Tera’ (ተራ), loosely translated, means corner. This place is known for two things, it is one of the market’s corners where the wretched of the earth dwell, yet every Ethiopian, rich or poor, educated or illiterate, civilized or barbaric, happily visit because we need the hot pepper for almost every cuisine, because it feels so empty without it (one of my nods to rap music culture).

Merkato: This is the name of the largest marketplace in Africa located in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The word is a direct adaptation of the Italian word for ‘Market’. The generic word for a market in Amharic is ‘Gebeya’ (ገበያ). Addis Ababa has six more big marketplaces, each with its own distinct name, and none of them are called Merkato, or Market, or Gebeya – always something specific. Merkato is the one marketplace that has the generic term ‘Market’ as its referral name. Today, Merkato is dying and shrinking, due to modern urban planning. It will quickly lose its rank as the largest marketplace in Africa because modern urban planning has gotten rid of thousands of small merchants who sit by the side of the road and sell all those bizarre items ranging from a second-hand (used in rich people’s homes) green grass called ቄጠማ (qetema) which Ethiopians use to decorate their homes in holiday seasons, or piles of leftover food from restaurants. I also remember those merchants who sell tiny gears collected from thrown-away wristwatches or flip-flops made of old car tires (የጎማ ሸበጥ ‘yegoma shebet’ in Amharic). Among these bizarre items, you’ll find everything in Merkato from the latest iPhone to the most expensive car, all sorts of clothes, grocery items, medical equipment, or in short everything you want to buy (including sex for sale). Today, the average urban dweller Ethiopian can’t buy qetema because it is too expensive and the poor residents of Addis miss those wretched merchants in Merkato selling used/second-hand qetema. Sadly, the forces of urbanization cared too much for the buildings and not enough about these humans: these merchants and their kids now are beggars, scammers, or pickpockets in Merkato.

The beauty of Merkato was that one could buy a second-hand Ketema! (Credit:

Darios Begelaw: ‘Darios’ (ዳሪዮስ) is a boy’s name and it is adapted from ‘Darius’ the Persian or Greek name. The Ethiopian version is most probably adapted from Persia because of our ancient connection with the Middle East which has more influence on our culture than that of the Mediterranean part of Europe where Greece is located. Darios is an old name now, and you will not find it easily in Ethiopia. ‘Begelaw’ (በገላው) is an original Amharic name meaning ‘by his body’. It is also an extinct name and I have come across it only once in my lifetime. For some whimsical reason, it’s the name of the lead character of my little story…

The abridged and diluted news report

A group of 120 esteemed scientists from Berbere Tera Technical University – known as the Harvard of Merkato – convened a press conference during the annual SERN (Society of Endangered Ravenous Noblemen) summit, often regarded as the CERN of East Africa. 

The group of researchers unveiled to a shocked crowd final evidence that we are living in a simulated reality. 

Speaking at a press conference held during the 337th International Conference on Low Energy Physics, SERN researchers stated that the Simulated Reality Hypothesis is no longer a theory, but a concrete and irrefutable fact.

The scientists claim to have discovered four irrefutable propositions during their lifetime study.

Research leader Professor Darios Begelaw, the associate dean at SERN’s School of Low Energy Particles & High-Priced Food, said the results settle a debate that has been hotly contested ever since the notion of Simulated Reality was raised by stoned philosophers.

He and his team have been looking for strange anomalies in our world – a tedious job, delayed by decades by the fact that our world contains little else but strange anomalies – they discovered the Four Laws that govern our simulated reality. Professor Begelaw emphasized that there is not even the slightest room for doubt in the significance of this terrifying yet unassailable scientific discovery.

“Some of you may be aware that there have been previous attempts to prove the Simulation Reality Hypothesis. Unfortunately, these theories assumed that posthuman gods were puppeteering the simulation – a shaky assumption at best. Having spent my entire life in this field, I can confidently assert that the fact we are living in a simulated reality has no connection with either posthumans or probable existential traits. Oh, when you have everything, you will be blind to the simple facts. Maybe the rich can play football on a pizza field!”

Explaining the Four Laws, he said that the team started its research on anomalies. However, after a short time – 12 years, to be precise – they realized that the world is one big anomaly and everyday reality is full of aberrations. Hence, the team shifted its focus towards the ‘strangest anomalies.’ After another 32 years of study, three irrefutable propositions were shaped. “But as every sane scientist knows, you need Four Laws to make your theory a fact; the number has to be four,” the professor asserts.

The first proposition is the 2nd law of Simulation — The Age Old Universal Amnesic Syndrome. According to the professor, all living beings – humans (the ones currently alive, ghosts, and even fetuses), along with our dogs, cats, goats, and all other pets and farm animals – share one thing in common: we suffer from incurable amnesia!

“We have all heard the news about the USA allegedly plotting a coup d’état in Ukraine, and the subsequent scandal that followed this political fiasco. The tapped phone call, the bitter insults towards the EU, and an apparent buy-and-sell arrangement with the next Ukrainian president: I am referring to the Victoria Nuland scandal. Then, just a month later, a civil uprising broke out in Ukraine, and we were told that the people in Ukraine are hungry for democracy, and as usual, the US of A cannot stand aside in such dire situations. ‘Oh, the people are hungry for democracy!’”, says Professor Begelaw.

“This is just one example of our amnesia; not a single media outlet attempted to link the three incidents: the coup, the civil uprising, and then the current war which to any sane mind, are more than crystal clear; they are clearer than Michelle Obama’s fake glasses.”

“How many cats are castrated by their beloved owners every year, yet how many of them speak of this to other cats? Are they cats or pussies? Ah, how many injustices, just how many? Fetuses marching in a pro-abortion demonstration? Then it forgets that and cries for the kids via programs like ‘No Child Left Behind’… Ftsssm, this is beautiful, just beautiful.”

The team discovered the 2nd law of Simulation in the early 1980s. They were baffled by the cows, sheep, and all the farm animals; how on earth can they still live with humans while every Easter, their offspring are slaughtered? The dogs are loyal to the very same people who have castrated them, and the birds are gentle towards the owners who break their wings or imprison them in a cage. Forget international politics; a little monkey can figure out how silly it is; America and the good West making the same ‘mistake’ time and again. Yet, all the rest are evil regimes that deliberately do wrong; they don’t make mistakes, and if they do, bombing them is considered good for their health. When the people in the impecunious global south or the black sheep of Europe rebel against their governments, it is a democratic right. However, when the rich and noble-hearted people in the West, like in the US, march toward the Capitol building, it is deemed the darkest day for democracy and the end of civilization.

“Oh, we thought they were liberals, freedom fighters, friends of the Western Ideology; how could we know that they would turn out to be such bloodthirsty, completely cuckoo fundamentalist psychopaths? Hey, wait a minute, didn’t we hear this in the Iraq War? No, no, no, we heard this long before that, yeah, in the first war against terrorism in Latin America. Nope, this must be in Cambodia. No, no, no, we heard it in the Afghanistan war. Ah, I remember now, it must have been in Syria just three years ago.”

This is proposition number one: ‘We all have amnesia.

Credit: Tesfu Assefa

Professor Begelaw then goes on to explain the second proposition, which the researchers refer to as the 4th law of Simulation— The Filthy SSOS. The professor was apt and forthrightly vulgar when explaining this, so put on your offense-resistant glasses before finishing this sentence. “Need I remind you that a rotten, stupid cunt like Kim Kardashian has more influence and media coverage than, say, Professor Hawkins? Even when she was younger, more stupid, and less famous, and while he was alive, more active, and less deadish – obviously, he is a complete deadmeat now!”

The last law of simulation states that “The Sheer Stupid Shine over the Smart,” and this is what the team calls (I bet it is the modern way and the scientific method to abbreviate things and make them more ambiguous yet marketable), ‘the Filthy SSOS.

Open your television sets or the book next to you; your hero is the physical manifestation of the mythical Little Red Riding Hood! That stupid girl, at least, figured out that her granny is not her granny but is the big bad Wolf in disguise after a couple of mind-bogglingly silly chitchats. Who asks their beloved about a manicure while they are suffering a terminal illness? In the real world, we are still naming people like Kanye West as one of the top 100 influential people in TIME magazine. For the sake of God, tell me why on earth I am expected to listen to a man, whose job is just to sing, blabber about economics or the Holocaust?

Proposition number two states: The sheer stupid will always shine over the smart.

The third Proposition is the 1st law of Simulation— Rothko’s Feces. The world is paying for shit! “While people suffer to access clean water, the lords, spending millions, buy a painting that is neither mystical nor beautiful. But at least that is a painting, but what about those buying excrement, feces, crap, poo-poo, doo-doo, ca-ca, poop, and other filthy human wastes like a fart in the name of art? And this is not the scary part, but the fact that our intellectual leaders, our media, and even the starved people approve such shits scares the shit out of me,” states the professor.

The world is spending incredibly too much on the useless despite the fact that we are all here on borrowed time from the future. One can have four houses, not for rent but to live in, on four continents yet never spend a single night in one of them. “When you piss while lying on your back, you ought to test your urine. But in our world, pee like that, and the world will reward you more so you can shit on people’s faces,” says another angry and most definitely ravenous professor from Begelaw’s research team.

For what we are cultured to spend was one of the biggest anomalies.“We had been studying our value system… well, the modern capitalist value system. Hmm, to be fair, this isn’t even capitalism as we know it. We discovered that our gold, if not for our subjective yet collective agreement, is no better than horse poo, but we never understood the reason why we are spending gold on shit. Salt was money, then salt became salt, and money became gold, and then gold became salt, and money was paper. Then paper money became salt, and crypto became gold, but then crypto became NFT, and now NFT is salt. ‘Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt has lost its savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing but to be cast out and to be trodden underfoot of men.'”

“We are having a go at being cultured today. Lovers of the current arts, fashions, avant-garde goods/services, and brands must be a special breed of people. They can see things other people can’t. And because of this big fat anomaly, shit is now gold. Well, I have one thing to say to such people: suck on my smelly ass! Says Professor Begelaw, admitting that he is deeply disturbed when proving our reality to be some irrational entity’s simulation.”

According to the team, the 3rd proposition was irrefutably proved in the mid-90s. It was the time when brands and fashion designs began to dictate the heart of the world, and glitter, shallowness, emojis, confusingly stupid reality shows, and identity disorder triumphed.

This is Proposition number three: ‘The Mark Rothko Shit affects everything!’

The last proposition is what the team calls the 3rd law of simulation— WaMMI. Yes, it is abbreviated scientifically, and every Berbere Tera student knows that the last proposition was primarily ‘discovered’ or added to complete the laws of simulation, making them four. However, according to Professor Begelaw, it is the most important proposition, and this one by itself is more than enough to prove the simulation rule.

“First, let me be clear on the rumor. Yes, we started to look for a fourth proposition to complete our simulation reality hypothesis. I have told you before, every sane scientist knows that the laws are always four. Now allow me to explain WaMMI. Why do you cry when someone shoves a stick in your ass instead of retaliating and sticking it back up theirs or die trying? In all my years, I had been suffering from some ear disease, but I don’t think this is the reason why I fail to hear a single news where victims stand for themselves. Oh, it is something else; it is one of the most important and probably the founding rules of the simulation.”

Proposition number four states: the why me mommy cry is inevitable.

Credit: Tesfu Assefa

According to the research team from ‘the Harvard of Merkato,’ it is most likely that the simulators of this reality shaped their simulation rule based on this particular proposition. Begelaw says, “If you want to run a world marked by injustice, the first thing you will need is the why me mommy cry. Look around; bad is triumphant because no one punishes it! Instead of seeking justice, we are trained to cry, curse our luck, and question our self-worth. My wife used to say ‘You cannot construct a public latrine using shit as the building material for the roof; it might leak urine’. Just like that, our last proposition is not a mere filler; rather, it is the main course.”

If it were not for the ‘why me mommy cry’, every injustice would have been penalized, and if every single injustice were penalized, every single offender would have refrained from their second unjust act. “In a ‘real reality,’ the logic of the law of physics would make sure that intelligent entities will discover the power in unity and punish the unjust. It is totally opposite here; in our reality, we, the most intelligent beings on the planet, fail to see our real power, unity, and instead of punishing injustice, we cower and bury ourselves in our dark oceans of self-hatred, trying to comfort ourselves with the WHY ME MOMMY CRY. This proposition also capitalizes on an abstract savior, someone will save you!”. 

“Why did the banks get a bailout after the ‘Great Mortgage crisis’? A tax collected by the powers that be, a tax snatched straight from the poor’s pocket. And then the very same bank spent that bailout on bonuses, empowering the rich to buy their 6th luxury yacht or another fart called modern art? Why this, while the banks evict the poor from their homes because they are short on that month’s mortgage debt? Oh, why this, why that!”

“WiMMY is the national anthem of most black nations. The irony is the leaders of such a country are probably worse than the enemy they blame. WiMMY is the everyday excuse of the minority, yet this very same minority oppresses its kind more than the majority, the boogie man. WiMMY is the foundation of the illusion, humanity always blames the others.”

The professor concludes, “If you doubt that our discovery is erroneous, question every single proposition and ask why they work all the time. Maybe sometimes they fail, and this is what we call the ‘super strangest anomaly.’ Luckily, my team and I are members of the Society of Endangered Ravenous Noblemen, which means we can’t afford to pay for the cryo chambers and become immortal when the science gets there in the soon-to-come future. We do not intend to study the ‘super strangest anomaly’ and its meaning in this simulated reality. Even if we did find the time, perhaps the answer is, ‘so what?’ So what if there are ‘super strangest anomalies’ amidst the strangest anomalies? Additionally, you have to figure out why we are aligning the propositions with the ‘wrong’ number of laws. By doing that, you will see at least two of the laws on your own.” 

When you open your eyes, avoid staring directly at the sun!

Professor Darios Begelaw

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About the Writer

Hruy Tsegaye

87.09063 MPXR

Hruy Tsegaye, co-founder of iCog Labs, pioneers AI development in East Africa since 2011. Published author, committee member for IEEE's Global Initiative, and CEO of Mindplex, he contributes to ethical considerations in AI and autonomous systems. Co-authored 'The End of the Beginning' book on the Singularity.

Comment on this article



  1. well done

  2. It's a right sticky wicket, innit? Seems like the world's gone a bit pear-shaped on the moral front. People used to have a good chinwag about decency and all that, but now it's all gone pear-shaped.

    First off, you've got this social media craze, where everyone's more interested in chasing likes and followers than being decent. It's like they've forgotten how to have a chinwag.

    And then there's the way people treat each other online, all trolling and whatnot. Back in the day, you'd have a good old natter face to face, but now it's all keyboards and anonymity, and folks say things they'd never say in person.

    But it's not just the online ballyhoo, mate. It's this obsession with buying stuff. Consumerism's gone bonkers, hasn't it? People are more bothered about the latest gadgets and fashion than, you know, reading a good book or taking time for a chinwag.

    And speaking of books, not many folks have their noses in 'em anymore. It's like they've forgotten the joy of getting lost in a good story. Instead, they're glued to screens, and that's not doing anyone's moral compass any favours.

    So there you have it, a right mess, it is. But maybe, just maybe, if people start remembering their manners, put down the shopping bags once in a while, and pick up a book or have a proper chat, we can turn this moral nosedive around, eh?

  3. Good

  4. Oh, I need to add one more thing. The final illustration in the article is captivating! It holds such power. Thank you, Tesfu!

    It manages to encapsulate the façade that masks our perception of reality. The more I look at it, it says, " beneath this illusion, lies a deeper reality that's often overshadowed"! It scares me guys! While Hruy's article is a lampoon, Tesfu's last illustration is like a banshee: a scary metaphorical representation of the intricate web of beliefs, societal pressures, and conformity that keep us trapped inside the illusion. The suffering hidden within this illusion...

    1 Like
  5. Where do I even begin? Hats off to Hruy! I see a storm coming because this is a direct attack on woke culture! I hear you loud and clear, my friend. Loud and clear.

    First, discussing woke culture stirs a tempest of opinions, provoking intense debates! The controversy lies in it's claim: the woke say they genuinely promote equality but they inadvertently stifles diverse perspectives! It is a touchy topic to navigate and I can see why the news is fictional in this article.

    But I don't think this is fictional! While the notion of living in a simulation might sound like science fiction, the evidence is all around us, hidden in plain sight. Just take a look at the baffling decisions and absurd situations we find ourselves in. It's as if the simulators are sitting back with buckets of popcorn, amused by how easily we abandon rationality. From reality TV to internet challenges that defy all logic, they've turned the world into their own personal sitcom. Our susceptibility to misinformation and our tendency to prioritize drama over reason only serve to confirm their playful manipulation. After all, what better way for the simulators to get their kicks than by watching us stumble through a maze of irrationality while they enjoy the show?

    Oh, of course, the world's brilliant strategy of losing rationality seems foolproof. Who needs logical discourse when we have a surplus of sensationalism? Critical thinking? Nah, let's just toss that aside for a daily dose of beautiful stories where a fully grown man beat's the hell out of a women in the name of transgender athletics. It's not like reasoned debates ever accomplished anything – far better to embrace the chaos of wild emotions and half-baked ideas. After all, who wouldn't want to trade the steady ship of reason for a thrilling rollercoaster ride through the amusement park of absurdity?

  6. Good job.

    1 Like

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