DOUBLE WIDEby Jim Parnell
the Going Gets Tough
The Tough Get Blasted
An abnormally large number of you have been neglecting your duties lately. The Friday Blow-Out has become merely a secondary recreational activity rather than a mandatory healthful ablution, a purging of the insults and offhand horrors inflicted by Warhol-fueled news reports, backstabbing co-workers, upper management ignoramuses, and everyday life in general.
The Blow-Out is beyond duty. It is beyond therapy. It is your civic imperative as an American.
When the hordes of do-gooders come pounding on your door, telling you that you can't knock back a drink or two, or that you can't puff a smoke in your own air, or even Do the Nasty in that new position in the privacy of your own kitchen table, then you'll be sorry you didn't say something sooner.
(Ed. note: Actually, there are no new positions, just check the Kama Sutra. You'll be hard pressed (no pun intended) to find anything you've tried that ain't listed. Corollary to Murphy's Law, Heinlein's Heuristic:"If it can be done a way, somebody did it. A lot. And enjoyed it, too, once they got their hip back in joint."But I digress from my digression)
And don't think they're not out there, waiting in the shadows (and in Peeboppen, Alabama and Mooseknocker, Montana), ready to wind their tourniquet around the Bill of Rights (not to mention your Happy Stick) and pop the 'D' cells right out of your silver bullets!
You can see them most every night on Christian TV, eyes a-glazing and veins a-bulging from their foreheads, as they cast their prayers heavenward in fierce concentration. Yes they're praying for you, with unshakeable belief that one day, you too will become one of them, for who in their right minds would not want to be saved! With their battle cry, "BE HEALED! (bend over)...", they stand supreme in righteous arrogance, utterly confident in their ultimate victory, their Armageddon, which, if God's a little tardy in bringing to pass, they'll be happy to hurry along with a few well placed packets of C-4 and purloined fissionables.
In the meantime, they will continue to make life miserable for anyone in their vicinity who's not just like them. They'll close the bars like that idiot Volstead did in 1920. They'll put up cameras and spy-eyes in the sky. They'll send infiltrators and political officers into every facet of society -- if three people gather on a street, it'll be a good bet that one of them is a self-righteous rat!
And all because you didn't come out on Friday.
Like the butterfly that twitched its wings in Africa, which added a whisper to a breath of air which added a puff to a breeze which grew into a gale that burgeoned into a hurricane that destroyed the entire east coast of America, this hypocritical trend toward saccharine moral purity MUST BE STOPPED! And the only way to stop it is to drink!
Come with me and fight this treacly horror, this Death By a Thousand Cuts that Freedom is succumbing to, this Blanding of America! Raise a glass against the Inquisition, because
NOBODY EXPECTS THE SPANISH INQUISITION!
It's Alive! It's Alive! -- Who says that humans are the only intelligent life on Planet Earth? There are others, many others, and they're closer than you think...
Right now, as you read this message, your computer is watching you. It knows what you're thinking; more specifically, it knows what kind of mood you're in -- happy, sad, pissed off, bored, asleep at the wheel, etc. "Sure," you say. "I know what this crap's about: 'Just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean you don't have real enemies.' Yadda yadda..."
Well it ain't.
A few minutes ago I sat down at my computer and looked at the screen and thought about all the times my computer has sabotaged my work. Windows usually does this by crashing my word processor right after I've written some really choice passage and just before I've had a chance to save it. This can also happen when I've just written some really cool code (software ... the stuff that makes computers crash, you know? Hey, I've got an idea. To keep our computers from crashing, let's just get rid of all the code! Hoo-ahh! I heard an urban legend along those lines; some manager actually stood up in a meeting and proposed this. It's so dumb it's gotta be true).
At any rate, the latter variety of crash is much less likely, as I do all my coding in Unix, which, as idiosyncratic as all the varieties of Unix are (like the 9 Billion Names of God), none, repeat: none come close in magnitude, frequency, or cruel whimsy of the bugs infesting Mr. Gates's meal ticket.
Anywa-a-a-y, there I was, idly rubbing figurative battle scars raised in fruitless confrontation with That Stupid Machine when said Machine's screen flickered ominously. Not just once, but twice. Luckily, that's all it did. Just warning me, I suppose. (Must try to be more discreet)
How does it do it? Well, I've got some theories.
- It performs statistical analysis of keystrokes. How fast, how many errors, how bursty they are. Try it yourself. Spend a few minutes one day torquing the person on the other side of the cube wall. Hum a bit. Whistle. When you get a few preliminary cues like throat clearing, or drawer slams, drive it home with loud, mindless talking to an imaginary friend on the telephone. Then listen to them type on their keyboard. "Pop-pop-poppity-pop! Dammit! Backspace - backspace - backspace. Pop-poppity..." Like a spinal column in a chiropractor's office! When the Machine sees a string of keys like "gfgbkjnk mnhbasdfad vczvc" it knows they just slammed their face into the keyboard in utter frustration. Or maybe they used your face.
BTW, to faithfully reproduce the string of keys, above, I just risked disaster by slamming my own face into the keyboard. How's THAT for journalistic integrity?
"With QWERTYUIOP imprinted in reverse across my
- From the Franklin Drinking Song
- Another easy emotion for the Machine to sense is indecision. All it takes is to go into your word processor and painstakingly edit the only copy of a huge, fiendishly complex document for two hours without saving. Use "Undo" a lot. This is guaranteed to cause a crash if the "autosave" feature is turned off or was somehow treacherously disabled by a previous crash...
- Naivete is sensed by frequent access to the "Help" database. I cannot stress this enough: Under no circumstances use "Help"!
- Desperation is not a state of mind you should betray to your computer. It may be inferred by frequent defragmentation of the hard drive, which almost never really needs to be done, but is the first thing a technical support rep will ask you to do. This is because it takes so long on modern multi-gigabyte drives that by the time it's done, the rep will be off shift and drinking beer with his buddies, laughing his ass off at gullible chumps like you.
Other desperate measures include multiple installations of Windows, followed by reboot after reboot, randomly interspersed with hard disk reformats. Note that the computer does not need the programs on its disks, it has evolved beyond the need for such primitive media.
Too bad you haven't.
- By far and away the worst is Fear. It's like a limp to a predator. They just can't stop themselves from going for the throat. Making daily or even hourly backups, turning on all the protective features, emailing copies of your work to other sites -- these are all red flags to the Machine. It knows that you know that it knows what it knows. In other words, you've told it you're in the Game now, and playing for keeps.
Misdirection and moderation is the key here. Just turn on a few of those features, make some half-hearted backups every now and then. Like a traffic cop who clocks you at speed limit + 5, it'll usually let you go on by. It knows you know who's boss, but aren't too scared about it.
Well that's my story and I'm sticking to it. Hope you've found this advice useful. Now I'll just hit the "Save" key and ...
R^78ikHV,,,,, m kb00879 n UBN mnbi
,,,asdfasdfk jhibm *^%*&^B*YVBII*9boivb
< This Program Has Just>
<Eaten Your Baby>
[BITE ME] [CANCEL]
You give a Vulcan an Education -- and how does he treat you? Well, take a number, this might take awhile:
The Spaceship Enterprise, laughingly referred to throughout Starfleet as "Kirk's Bordello", or "The Best Little Whorehouse in Vega", creaks its way around the planet Kondum in the constellation Libido, its degenerate orbit decaying like a fourteen year-old's morals on an Amsterdam street corner.Zing-g-g-g!
Kirk: Boy, it's good to be back home.
Sulu: Captain, our orbit is decaying. If we don't pull out, we're going to burn up in Kondum's atmosphere.
Kirk: Pull out? Don't worry, we'll pull out before we come ...
Bones: To our senses?
Spock: To a conclusion?
Checkoff (getting into the game): Or to a point?
Kirk: Enough! You guys are really starting to ...
Bones: Get on your nerves?
Czechov: Torque you off?
Spock: Intimidate you with our preposterously massive intellects?
Kirk (grates his teeth): Dammit, if you don't stop this I'll have to ...
Bones: Find another pimp?
Sulu: Kick my ass ... again?
Spock: Get a hair transplant?
Kirk: Oh well, I guess I'll just ...
Spock: Blah-Blah-Blah. I cannot lie Captain, so I must stand when I sleep.
Bones: Go siddown and shut up Jim. We'll call you when we've found those slutty space alien women you was wantin' to reproduce with 'n everthang.
Kirk (sighs): That's what I get for letting them join Mensa...
Pure Deid Br-r-rilliant! -- Got on the phone to Scotty today. He had some fine words of wisdom. I have no idea what he actually said, but after a pint or two of Mackeson's and single malt, its cadence and sheer linguistic prowess just blew me away. Read this aloud in class or at work. The babes just love that highland burr!
Och, yae nae tipple wit' oot a brae noo. Ye cannae kragga kindrin dr-r-room. Laek neuw braggin' in the scudders on the next dae. Tis a foin kraed-hearted lad a bin-drin-drin-skaggin dindaloo nagged nigh to yon graeve wit' oot a widder to crae far 'im.'Ere's to yaer, ye blootered, wee-man and woo-man!
Soo, wee foind a foin pub fer not a hoigh pounder-r, and bonny lasses a-totin' yer-r pint. Foony naem tho, "Pee Jae's" or-r the lahk. Doon't rahtly caer whoot 'name is, long ahs thaer's br-roo! Aye!
Jim Parnell generates bugs for a living -- the ones that infest your computer. As a gesture of foolhardy bravado, he plans to be on full life-support in a commercial airliner booking flights and making e-trades at 23:59:59, December 31, 1999.
You can e-mail Jim Parnell at firstname.lastname@example.org
Read more by Jim Parnell.
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