Russell flexed his left thumb and blinked slowly as he woke up, stretching out to his full height of more than two meters. Stretching to his length, he supposed, thinking about it for a moment, as he stretched in a way that passed for comfortably, stretched and woke up on the pile of cardboard. There was a new pain in the same place it always was, the same place on his left thumb. He massaged the bump there, feeling grounded into whatever passed for some semblance of reality, reassured a little tiny bit by the sting of the bump on his hand. He just lay there for a minute or more, fully awake. Russ had no particular obligations to anyone today, no more than ever, just the same vague responsibility he always had, his entire career. That was it, what he did in this life. What a blessing, eh. Russ was one of those people who don't work for the government. He was a true pariah. It would drive anyone nuts, people didn't realize... In a situation like this, anyone would go completely insane. He wasn't even that pissed about it, most of the time. There were certain privileges along with the vague obligations he fulfilled in the role he played in the bigger picture. He didn't even want to know, no one who thought much of it through would want to know. It didn't take much figuring out, from a vantage point like this, that figuring anything more out would only lead to more trouble and more questions. He flexed his left hand, feeling the sting which only helped him believe any of this was even real in any sense, much less meaningful... a life worth living. It was cold, the sun had not yet risen. He dragged some of his multipurpose cardboard bedding to a good section of concrete where it would serve a new purpose yet again, and lit it on fire to warm up a little bit. He found the map he used, not so much to figure anything out, but simply to avoid the same suffering over and over. Today... he inhaled good energies, exhaled any resentments, letting everything go. Today would be a good day, new opportunites, new suffering. He absolutely refused to ever suffer in the same way more than once. Never again. The cardboard didn't burn for long, but it was nice. For a moment he was warm by it, at least enough to fuss around doing any morning routine to really speak of. He left the whole mess where he had excreted it. Better than some other government work, he thought to himself wryly. He made several marks on the map. Whatever was going on with these things in his left hand was serving a purpose to him as well, with this map. Tracking something. He looked at the marks on the map. Jurisdictional, borders, imagined dichotomies in his mind as much as any other human being's. Right and wrong didn't exist outside of the human experience, no, but the concept remained the single most important thing in all reality. False dichotomies, and they all were, labels, all of it, everything was completely made up, everything was fictional, everything that really mattered even the slightest bit. From the bottom of that reality here, the bedrock where there was nothing further down, Russell looked up at the ass end of it all with such utter clarity. He wondered if world leaders could see it all this clearly. Maybe he had an ever so slight advantage that no one ever came up to him with much of any kind of an agenda at all. He looked at the map, figuring out which way to go. Which way would lead perpendicular to any contour of anything the same. Nothing would truly ease suffering, life would always be suffering no matter what he did, but it was such a miracle and an opportunity to be here, alive, suffering in some brand new way every day. He figured out a reasonable azimuth based on the marks he had already made on the map, packed everything he cared much at all to bring with him... and the dog-eared map was about it. Losing this map now would be such an awful way to suffer. He gently, carefully tucked it away safely. He looked at the crayon he had been using to make the marks the past few days, weeks, however long it had been. The crayon was secondary. He kept it of course, but made a conscious effort not to give half a shit about the crayon. There would always be something somewhere to make a mark on the map if he needed to... if it was meant to be. As the sun rose, he continued on his way into the desolation most people never even thought to despair much about, until their shit really hit the fan. Russ had been through all that, himself. Eventually there was just not a shit left to give, he supposed. Even he couldn't quite understand a mentality like that. The map, for example. There was always something to care about. Even if things like that were all imagined, all in the mind, there was always meaning in something. It was hard to care if the world just burned. If it all just ended. Russ had a career taking care of himself, staying out of trouble as best he could, as a pariah, he had a full time job at this road trip to nowhere. While most people just spat on him as he passed. It was hard to care if the world just ended, from a viewpoint like this. He walked purposefully into a gas station, his motivations clear. He made eye contact with the clerk at the counter. They had an understanding if two men ever did. The clerk nodded to him, and looked pointedly at a display of sushi that had to be a week old. He gave an ever so slight shrug. No one cared. Russ helped himself to the sushi no one gave half a shit about, the clerk didn't give a shit. No one gave a shit. It warmed Russ's heart. As he left, he thanked the clerk, who looked back up at him from an upside-down Japanese magazine full of meaning, and smiled ever so slightly.
FINDINGS AFTER MANY YEARS OF RESEARCH OS DISK WIPING
WORST THINGS FOR SECURITY
- pissing people off
- doing anything interesting ever
- exterminating humans from the keyboard
BEST THINGS FOR SECURITY
- paranoid schizophrenia
- play discus out the windows with computer
- ☺ positive mental attitude ☺
I sat at the keyboard, my husband massaging my shoulders. We had quite a little bit of a problem in front of us. He was reassuring me, honey, it's not a problem. No one is going to care. If it's even what's going on, it isn't our fault. Eventually I snapped at him, this isn't a joke. He left the room sighing exasperatedly and I sat alone in the den, continuing to work on it. There had to be a way to remove the defect. I sat there working on it for another hour at least until he came back into the room with two steaming cups of coffee. I looked at him and he snorted a laugh, saying maybe we should just put a warning label on it and call it good. I looked up at him from the chair where I sat at the keyboard, incredulous. This product may turn you... gay? --- My husband Jules and I had started a small company together in the years prior. It had only been the two of us, and our mutual college friend Monique. I was the programmer, Jules was marketing, and Monique in all fairness handled everything else. Jules and I had come up the concept, and like so many other brilliant young entrepreneurs we had recognized its worth and dropped out of college to focus on our dream. I can't imagine what Monique had thought, throughout. She was a bit of a misfit, musically-inclined, strange; she often alluded at a checkered past which I sometimes suspected she had completely made up. She was quick to drop out of college as well, and she never disappointed either of us with her complete dedication to the company. One night we had all gone out after work to celebrate one success or another. We were up and coming. The dynamic trio. We all had a little bit more than usual to drink that night, and as the night went on it seemed clear that one or the other of Jules and I were going to go home with Monique. The night ended, at least as we were a party of three, as I recall vividly, in an elevator. Monique and I were laughing hysterically. It wasn't even something that funny, it was some joke Jules had made, I don't even remember now. It was only funny if one had too much to drink. I had felt something in myself that evening, and I tried to squash it down. Had Jules felt it too? Monique was cackling in the back of the elevator, Jules and I were closer to the front... together. We locked eyes. I don't think any of the three of us saw it coming. Jules was always quiet, reserved. He was marketing, what can I say? He always had some kind of agenda. He would plan out a relaxing evening like this to the last detail, if he could. Wouldn't he? That seemed like Jules, I reminisced. He would never admit a thing like that, but he had known what was going to happen if any of us did. I looked into his eyes, Monique drunk at the back of elevator, laughing hysterically with a twinkle in her eyes, watching us, she knew... then I knew... then Jules grabbed me and kissed me passionately, right there in the elevator. --- I sat in the den with my husband, each of us holding a cup of coffee, talking it over. I was near tears, and Jules saw it. I could tell my pain pained him equally. He looked at me with such compassion... we had true love between us. It still baffled me a little. How could I have ever found this perfect man? To be confronted with this problem, just a handful of lines of code in a program that sold millions of copies in the past year alone... I felt like reality as I had ever known it was crumbling right before me. How could I believe in anything anymore, if a handful of lines of code could do a thing like this? For something this important in so many people's lives to be decided by what amounted to nothing more than a bug in some software? I was almost inconsolable. Tears dotted my face like only an afterthought, as I ranted like a madman to Jules. How could we have missed this? I practically shouted. Jules urged me to relax. No one could have known something like this could happen, could they? We would sort it out, things would be ok again, you'll figure it out, he said to me. I wanted to enjoy the moment, to focus, to feel passionate about the project. Instead, I felt like it ruled my entire existence. Software, our company's product, was it possible? Could it really have had this profound of an effect on us? There's no way to remove it, I said to him. It's too essential a concept to the core of the system. Even if it were redesigned a million times, refactored, recoded from scratch, it's just too ingrained in the thing. There would be no way we could change a few lines of code to somehow fix an inevitable design flaw like this... as I spoke my voice raised almost to a shriek. Jules urged me to relax, calm down, people still love our product. Even if anyone noticed something like this it wouldn't stop us from... he stopped himself, seeing it was only making me more upset. What if it is, Jules? I snapped at him, getting up abruptly and walking to the window, looking out our fancy bay window at our nice manicured yard, our rich man's life. What if it's just plain wrong? Not who we were ever meant to be, I sobbed. Is our success really worth something like this? Jules walked up beside me and put his arm around me. It felt wrong, in that moment. Was this even who we were meant to be? It all seemed so impossible, but the facts lined up before me, unavoidable. The code couldn't lie. It was nothing more than numbers in a machine for doing math. It was inescapably, inevitably true. If anyone ever noticed this we would be in serious trouble with millions of gay customers. --- Jules had once confided in me, after we were married, his deepest, darkest secret. As a teenager he had drugged and raped another young man. It had blown my mind when he told me that. It had shattered my liberal mental image of gay men everywhere. I still loved Jules, as much as anyone ever could. I could tell he was more remorseful about that mistake than most war criminals were about genocide. It may have been the only time I had ever seen Jules cry. He was such a strong man, like a greek God. Tall, muscular, he was perfect. Perfect to me. After the shock of what he told me wore off, I only loved him more. It seemed like a small imperfection only slightly marring the perfect gay adonis. I had never brought it up again, until this morning by our bay window in the den. There were some things one just didn't say to a man. We had a mutually uplifting relationship, synergy, love, we always had. I would never have brought it up to him, and of course in a way I still didn't. I only asked him now, as we stood there looking out at our perfectly manicured lawn, Jules... what's your deepest, darkest secret? My voice trembled. He looked at me with such pain in his beautiful face. He knew what I meant. Now we were in this to the hilt. We shared this secret now, our joint deepest, darkest secret... He looked away and down, unable to face the matter. It broke us both, clearly. He shrugged, a vestigal tittering uttering up from his deepest subconscious, stopped halfway through. He looked back at me, crows feet of stress practically blossoming on his face as the severity of the matter weighed heavily on both my own and his broad, capable, strong, beautiful, and inexplicably... so gay... his marble statue physique slumping ever so slightly under the weight on his shoulders. It was like we had raped the whole industry, the minds, hearts and souls, millions of young, hapless, otherwise innocent consumers of a software product we had taken such pride in for so long. We had built our lives around this, and it seemed now like we looked down from clouds like mythical giants, on nothing more than the tip of a fragile beanstalk. It leaned precariously, ready to snap. --- I went back to the keyboard, sitting there doggedly as ever, unwilling to throw in any towel. Jules sat beside me, his marketing genius no doubt churning through one contingency after another. We were playing damage control alone to a situation that could grow at any moment into an epidemic, a rash of bad decisisions one after another, spreading like wildfire across a world we had helped shape in our own, though very homosexual, strong, capable hands. Had we driven ourselves to the brink, to the point of a gay insanity, en masse? I never could have believed in such a thing as a mass gay psychosis. I looked at the cursor blinking on the screen. The code couldn't lie. A number cannot lie, it is a fact, isn't it? In college shortly before I dropped out... like I had known better, I thought now, ruefully. In a college class we had started the term for weeks proving the number one alone, not taking anything for granted, assuming no axioms in any formal system of logic. I slammed my fist on the desk next to the keyboard, lifting it ever-so-slightly into the air. I was so frustrated I could snap like a metaphorical beanstalk and fall seemingly forever, to a bottomless, horrible pit, gnawing at me. Jules tried to reassure me, but I was too upset. He stroked my long blonde hair, which I had preened like a talking, vain bird, like I felt like I always had, never questioning. Never thinking about anything... like I was some diminutive of Alan Turing, I felt near tears. Had I ever been thinking about anything, throughout my entire life? I felt on par with the software that sat before us, giving us fits now. Like I was some machine for the purpose of homosexuality, and why? Nothing more. I looked at Jules feeling utterly sick. He looked back at me, nodding thoughtfully, slowly. He said to me, you know what I suggest. You know what I've always done. Think about it. --- We practiced the whole solution on Monique first. She was so close to this, if we could conceal the problem from her it would be possible with countless millions of others. We skirted, danced around it. Like male ballerinas of a new age, like a new informational sport, we danced around her, and she never knew. She knew we were getting at something, we let it hang out for a minute then pulled back, forward and back. She was our guinea pig, a beta tester for a new golden age of information, homosexuality, and what was still such a quality product we knew we would sell millions of copies a year for decades to come. It worked like a charm. Monique never guessed what we never told her, as much as she strained to figure it out. We gave her so many hints we practically handed it to her, and she never figured it out. No one ever would, the source was closed. No one would ever know, it would continue on like this. Maybe our product would outlive humanity even. It was a chilling thought which Jules and I would discuss in private for the rest of our natural lives. It was the perfect product, wasn't it? So what if it was extremely gay, to the point of informational infection. Jules had convinced me, everything was marketing. In a world like this, everything, anything, it all came down simply to the marketing. I yearned to tell people, but I knew I never could. The years passed, our company growing only in profits, the three of us becoming richer every day, never sharing the truth of the matter. We sat back, it was a cash cow. Why should I feel bad about a thing? I loved Jules passionately, I loved our product, our work. However it had ended up happening, we were set for life in so many ways. I sometimes yearned, my soul screamed to tell everyone, but I knew I never could. We sat back and raked in the cash in an ever-changing, ever more homosexual world we had practically created with our own beautiful, manly hands.
My Bark du Jour
I feel like a miniature world leader sometimes. In outsider fringe culture I must be near the very edge. Truth goes through phases. First, ridicule. Second, violent objection. Last, the truth is held to be self-evident.
I did not make any of this. Darth Vader would force choke me in an instant if I were really in charge of anything but feeding a cat, would he not?
Education is the foundational keystone. Lol. People cannot make an educated guess, an informed democratic vote; an economy cannot thrive on nothing of worth. If our educational system was fixed everything else would follow within a decade. Man cannot live by selling my e-mail address back and forth forever alone.
Greed is a disorder. It should be diagnosed and treated, much more harmful than stark raving madness. If I could find an expert today I would listen to them with my full attention. An ancient American proverb states, "dumbest motherfucker is the loudest." I can handle this myself.
Might makes right only proves so much, mathematically speaking as only such a layman could. I'll bet on Pascal's Wager that it's a good solution to be a decent human being.
If I could find an expert in the midst of this circus I would listen very carefully. Ask a charlaton how trade can continue with nothing of worth. Ask a problem-solver's opinion on what they don't know.