So it's another day (or, gods-is-that-the-time, evening), I'm sitting in a computer lab again, my mind's wandering, and my brain's wondering. Wondering what the hell is the reason for all these computers to make such a bloody annoying noise.
See, they're all powered-down, monitors on "orange light" mode (cue irritating statistic about little power light thingies using the entire output of several generating stations) but the computer to the left of me is whining irritatingly, the one across the desk is whirring in a vaguely fan-flavoured manner, and the remainder appear to be emitting a general high-pitched background headache inducer.
What is the point? If the processor's powered down and the hard disk is powered down and the monitor is powered down and the fucking keyboard chip is powered down, then why the sound? Are we trading environmental pollution for noise pollution?
Tough questions had to be asked, so I phoned Intel, who made these particular PCs. Apparently the mean cost-benefit ratio of system design indicates something-or-other, but I fell asleep at that point in the phonecall; this was clearly a transparent attempt to bore me off the scent.
Resolving not to be mislead, I called in my Mafia connections. Luigi denied all knowledge of excessive computer noise and told me he had to hurry off "for a plumbing job. if you know what I mean, heh heh".
Finally, I decided to make the most dangerous move. I was going to get in touch with an animal welfare charity.
Three days later, after endless phone calls of codewords and meaningful silences, I had arranged a clandestine meeting. I was to go alone that evening and meet on their territory - a nearby nature reserve.
Amidst an aural attack of bird-calls, strange bubbling noises from the marsh, and other threatening atmospherics, I nervously awaited their representative. At last he arrived and we got down to business; the set-up I'd been fearing didn't come to pass and I left the nature reserve without being fed to the ducks. But his answers were evasive and he kept trying to change the subject away from the one that mattered.
Therefore, after the meeting, I had a pretty good impression of what was going on.
Having given up on the cause of keeping natural places undeveloped, clearly the animal welfare people were trying to bring back a suitable habitat in modern offices. Then, when the time comes, a gigantic manufactured flood (passed off as global warming) will reclaim the floors of office buildings for the fish and amphibious animals. Humming of computers higher up on desks will provide a constant, reassuring background tone, just like in a real swamp. And hence nature will be returned to its full glory.
So next time you buy a PC, check the noise level. Your choice of computer might be a form of natural selection.
It's coming up to the end of the year and I thought this might be a good point to do what every other 'zine, electronic or otherwise, appears to be currently engaged in. That is, running a kind of edited highlights of 1997.
Of course, after I've edited them, they should be slightly different to those other reports, so I hope you won't stop reading here. As well as blandly repeating the face-value stories you were fobbed off with the first time round, I'll be going into the facts behind the stories and the conclusions that can usefully be drawn.
So, 1997 started in a bit of a blur. Maybe I forgot to wear my glasses or something. I can't remember much of anything until May when there was a general election in Britain. For the first time in umpteen years we have a different party in government, at least in theory; in practice the same principles seem to be in play. ("Single mothers? String 'em up. Disabled people? Kick 'em while they're down. Child criminals? Bring back the death penalty.")
Most observers have confined themselves to witty remarks on the topic. But what if there's a deeper reason? It's already widely rumoured that Peter Mandelson (a spin doctor in the new government) is actually an emissary of Satan. But what if it's worse than that? He could be the reincarnation of Maggie Thatcher.
Yes, I know she's still alive but let's face it, nobody heard much from her for years. Disillusioned with the Tory party that removed her from the post of Prime Minister, she clearly decided to animate another body and, using that body, work towards the rise of a political party that would sweep her old cohorts from office. The really clever part was to fool the British public into thinking they were getting the same Labour Party who used to be in opposition to Thatcher's views. In fact, each of the prominent politicians in the new government was gradually corrupted and taken over by the pervasive willpower of Maggie's undead spirit, made into a pale zombie mouthpiece for her insane diatribes.
Anyway, that's politics, which is really kinda dull.
At the end of August (or thereabouts) that annoying woman who used to be part of the royal family, and had a good track record for creating photo-opportunities, created another one. She died.
For some inexplicable reason, the media decided this was important and a reason for natural distress. (At least, any part of the media that didn't agree was removed from newsagent shelves.) Even less explicably, large segments of the public seemed to concur, exhibiting embarassingly, crassly, ridiculously exaggerated mourning over somebody they never knew.
There must have been a purpose to this. A plot to discredit press photographers? Since they had no part in causing the accident, but initial reports suggested it was their fault, there is some credence to this. But it seems a small reason for weeks of mind-numbing "news" reports and a hit single that set new records for mediocrity.
No, the real explanation is much more alarming. Obviously the whole charade was a test - a test not only of total media manipulation (it's been done), but of total public manipulation.
Who would be behind this? And what more serious event will follow the successful test?
Well, if you notice the religious fervour of Diana-worshippers, the answer is plain to see. Many suicide cults predict the end of the world in the year 2000; one of them is going to successfully spread the word.
Anyway, that's religion, which is really kinda dull.
The final key event of the year was in October. The European Union agreed that British milk chocolate could not be referred to as "chocolate" because it includes non-cocoa fat. (It now needs to be referred to as "chocolate made with 5% vegetable fat".) This caused a minor uproar; manufacturers claim that the other gunk they put in our chocolate is necessary to improve the texture, although everybody knows that they really do it to save money.
So what was the reason for this? Simple pressure from the famous chocolate-producing nations like the Swiss who wanted to ensure the name "chocolate" wasn't tainted by our poor imitations?
Indeed no. A secret cabal of typographers has been working in the background for many years in order to increase the total amount of lettering used - if you've ever seen a software license agreement, appliance warranty, or Sunday paper you'll appreciate their results. Eventually, a critical mass of lettering will be reached and the world will be in danger of imminent collapse - until the aforementioned group of font-designers releases their specially designed collection of typefaces to cram more lettering into tiny spaces than was ever previosuly possible. Licensed for a price that would have been prohibitive in any less desperate situation, the fonts will create unimaginable wealth for the conspirators.
Anyway, that's food packaging literature, which is really kinda dull.
You want me to find some connection between these three dull events? Fucked if I know. Happy 1998.
[Sorry for the lack of new articles recently, I've been rather busy with the release of CuteChat 1.0 - an Internet chat client program which you should definitely check out. Anyway, there might not be more articles for another 3 weeks or so, too.]
On the way to the computer labs today (in a vain attempt to get some work done at the weekend for once) a car pulled up alongside me. The guy in the passenger seat asked me what the time was.
I told him three p.m. and he drove off. But then I stood there a while wondering... don't cars have dashboard clocks anyway? And out of the two or more guys in the car, wouldn't one have a watch? What were the chances that they wouldn't know the time already?
So they couldn't have been wanting to know the time. They must've been trying to confuse me. Thing is, I had a watch, I knew the time. Where was the confusion?
Unless they didn't mean the simple interpretation I'd thought of. "What's the time" could equally be interpreted as something confusing about the concept of time, with an interesting metaphysical answer... and suddenly, it clicked.
That was a test. And I blew it.
If I'd answered correctly, clearly I would have been asked to join some secret society of top scientists and philosophers. In fact, given the nature of the question, the society might well have been involved in inventing a time machine. That would result in incredible royalties for those involved.
And so, I've figured the solution. All I need to do is find out where their time machine is, send mys'elf back to this afternoon, and answer that question in a more interesting manner! That'll ensure my millionaire status in later life, as one of the inventors of the most revolutionary device of all time.
Well, I guess I'd better get looking for that secret lab. I could wait a while and then begin the search, but you know the deal:
There's no time like the present.
I'm looking at a box-full of printer paper which bears the legend " Plain paper for micro's".
You might draw the inference that whoever wrote the label didn't know about the correct placement of apostrophes. But really, just how difficult is it to get apostrophes wrong? There should be no way a grown person could make a trivial mistake like that. It must be deliberate.
But what's the point of propogating unnecessary apostrophes? What is achieved? Why the secrecy? I'm sure you've all seen the crackpot conspiracy theorists who don't have a real reason for their paranoia, but this site isn't satisfied with that. We need clear logical thought to unearth the real reason.
Is there anything special about apostrophes? Well... not really. But they do have a quite distinctive shape - kind of a dot with a curling line coming down from it.
Notice how that description makes it sound just a little bit more primitive? In fact, wouldn't that description seem quite well-placed if it was talking about a mystical rune?
If you're familiar with ancient cultures you'll know that runes were used for many purposes - in particular, writing the symbol of a god would give that god more power. Writing it in an unusual place - such as where apostrophes don't normally go - will be even more effective.
So, do you want to encourage the power of this ancient deity by misplacing apostrophes? Well, consider the reputation some of these old gods have.
It might not just be grammar that you're sacrificing.
There's a new radio station in my area which I found the other day. It plays dance music (though a rather limited selection), so I programmed it as a preset on my radio. None of this is particularly odd, but after a while (as I would switch between stations when one played a tune I didn't like) I began to notice something.
This station was the same.
At all times that I would listen to the radio, it seemed to imitate the other music station I listen to. When the other station played classic dance tracks, this one would play classic dance. When the other station played rap, this one would play rap.
I got a bit concerned.
Still thinking about the fragment of two weeks ago (I've been busy), something was bouncing around in my mind. I was listening to the radio; they played Moby's "James Bond Theme" - a great tune. Then it finished and they went onto something I didn't like, so I flipped channel. And there it was again, just starting...!
The spy theme tipped me off to the connection. It wasn't a coincidence, or some weird market-led similarity. The stations sounded the same because they're both funded by the same organisation. That's right, American religious fundamentalists are controlling British radio.
Using American intelligence officers sympathetic to their cause, they've infiltrated all radio providers and are providing funding for new outlets. The homogenised brand of dance and dull guitar music they provide contains ubiquitous coded subfrequencies that cue the reponses they desire; that's why you hear so many sex- and drug-related tracks, because the "bad" subsonics overlay each one in a "thou-shalt-not" manner.
So next time you listen to the radio, see if your brain can still divide up the songs from the hidden meanings. Is it really "I shot the sheriff" or "I shot the sheriff and then got the death penalty and burnt in hell"? "Freedom for all is our destiny", or "Freedom provided we live strictly within the Bible's laws is the destiny for those who aren't single mothers or on welfare"?
Anyway, it's not that important. Don't worry, be happy.
(as far as this is possible within a strict moral life and dedication to family values.)