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Notes from the Field

 

The Great Bureaucrat

 Bureaucratus horrificans

General Description  Bureaucratus horrificans is a highly territorial, uncommon, and deadly hybrid. Although its effects are widely felt in civilized societies, few observers have survived a close personal encounter with it. As are all members of the genus Bureaucratus, the Great Bureaucrat is parasitic. In this case devastatingly so, as it is able to single-handedly bring any process to an irreversible halt. An organization containing an example of B. horrificans will subsist on the paralysis of other organizations. When a Great Bureaucrat is placed in a position affording a view of its employer's internal operations, the outcome is invariably fatal.

Related Species  The genus Bureaucratus is globally distributed. Most modern authors consider the Minor Bureaucrat, B. minimus, to be a cultural variant of B. vulgaris, the Common Bureaucrat. This species is characterized by an uncanny ability to foul promising solution pathways. Unlike B. horrificans, these forms are capable of reverting to typical human type if removed from positions of authority. Such may not be the case with Pissants, B. pissanti. This species is distinguished by its dietary dependence on the irritation of others. Indeed, Pissants are unable to survive in habitats where adequate supplies of irritation are unobtainable.

Identification  The pelage in the Great Bureaucrat is typically dowdy, permitting it to escape detection by non-bureaucrats. Tendencies aiding visual identification include a pasty complexion and prominent jowling, although ascetic examples have been reported. The presence of a Great Bureaucrat should be suspected when one member of a congregation of bureaucrats attracts the persistent attention of some colleagues and is studiously avoided by others. The surest means of identifying B. horrificans is observation of the pathognomonic “gape-jawed perplexity” and catatonia it induces in an audience. Although encounters with Great Bureaucrats are an occupational hazard for some unfortunates, it is foolhardy to seek out a specimen for study.

Behavior  The Great Bureaucrat depends on the care and protection of lesser bureaucrats for its survival but does not tolerate the presence of another Great Bureaucrat. In contrast to the excitements to which Pissants and Common Bureaucrats are prone, B. horrificans responds to provocation with deceptive calm. Territorial conflicts involving Great Bureaucrats are contests to the death, but these are fought in such a deliberate and indirect manner that inexperienced observers often fail to realize that a battle has occurred until long after its conclusion. A series of recent neuropathological studies correlates the lack of emotion and empathy in Great Bureaucrats with severe atrophy of the limbic brain structures thought to mediate these processes in mammals. B. horrificans is unable to speak without reference to law, regulation, or policy. Indeed, most investigators believe Great Bureaucrats have lost the power of thought except in these subject areas.

Diet  The Great Bureaucrat seduces its human or institutional prey by promising to explain a problematic regulation or decision.  It proceeds to mesmerize the victim with a flow of verbiage which occasionally appears on the verge of making sense. At these moments the Great Bureaucrat strikes, shifting reality such that the hapless quarry is befuddled once again. Multiple assaults result in debilitating disorientation. The victim ceases struggling and is slowly digested by periodic injections of regulatory minutia.

Reproduction  B. horrificans is a sterile hybrid. Due to its rarity and the unacceptable risk posed by any intentional production of Great Bureaucrats, parental requirements remain speculative. Many believe it is an uncommon result of chance matings between Pedagogue sadistica and any representative of the genus Lawyer.

Economic Impact  The Great Bureaucrat is extremely dangerous. A population density of less than 1 per 100,000 was sufficient to cause the systemic paralysis and eventual collapse of the Soviet Union.

—Michael Hopping
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