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Here are a few scenes that will at first sound common to anybody's standard of science fiction practice, but I've altered them so that they reflect what the real universe would be like. Isn't that peachy of me?
"Remarkable! These Rovorgians look just like humans, except they have blue skin and forked noses!"
"Actually, Captain, those are the boys from engineering. They thought they'd put on some make-up and have a bit of fun with you. Real aliens come from dozens of lightyears away, having evolved on planets with completely different biomes, so it would be impossible to have a coincidence where they resembled humans in any way at all."
"What is the Seguzians religion? I expect they are an entire race of warriors modeled after the Earth Japanese Shinto religion?"
"That's a pretty stupid question. There are about four major denominations of religion on Seguzia and hundreds of minor subdivisions, not including those who are agnostic, atheist, or weak of faith. Only a small fraction of them are warriors at all. In fact, you might want to sit down for this one, but they find it easier to manage the planet by subdividing it into a whole bunch of smaller nations, rather than having one world government. Exactly like you'd expect from any developed society."
"Our starship is stranded until we find a planet close by where we can mine some Hijixian crystals!"
"Will you stop being a drama queen and punch 'hijixian crystal' into the replicator already? That'll be enough to get us home. And when we do, we're court-marshalling the logistics engineer who sent us into deep space without a back-up fuel supply."
"Perhaps the aliens came for our Earth-women."
"No, actually, since the aliens are hideously abominable to us, we look equally repulsive to them, and sex with our females would be no more appealing to them than sex with a squid would be to us."
"Of course, our human emotions must be confusing to an android such as you who cannot experience them."
"Uh, if you're done being such a condescending smartass, I'll point out that I have a functional IQ the equivalent of a 1000, hundreds of terabytes of memory at my disposal, and full programming in every facet of human knowledge available. Your primal monkey feelings are no more a challenge for me to know and anticipate any more than the mating habits of salmon."
"Any luck that this is a class-H planet capable of sustaining human life?"
"You ask that every time. No, even though plenty of other life forms find the place to be perfectly cozy, it's gravity is nowhere near 9.8 meters per second ^2, its ambient temperature isn't close to 70 degrees F, its atmosphere doesn't just happen to have the exact components needed to make it safe for humans to breathe, and in any case, it's a planet, not a basketball, so it has different climates and biomes all over it just like any other planet, including Earth!"
"Hi, we're from the future! We're here to stop the assassination of your president!"
"Bullshit! In the first place, need I point out that you speak my language perfectly even down to my regional accent? Then you have clothes similar to mine, though you didn't bother to dress for my exact period instead of that cheap spandex jumpsuit of yours. You have no protection from germs of our time so you would have to be currently dying of airborne diseases that your immune system has never been exposed to. And finally, you seem overly familiar with our local customs and culture, not to mention our system of government, whereas if you were really telling the truth, you'd be as out of place in my time as I would be if I went back to ancient Egypt on a mission to rescue King Tut."
"Did the four-person rebel force infiltrate the base of the galactic overlord?"
"Uh, no. The suicide mission you sent them on turned out to be, what a surprise, suicidal. Might have something to do with the thousands of highly-trained guards who are armored like tanks and armed like a walking munitions factory, against your four kids wearing leisure suits and carrying pistols. They were greasy spots on the deck before they even made it to the gate."
"Prepare for light speed! Warp factor seven!"
"Very funny, captain, but we still have plain old regular physics in our everyday Einsteinian universe. Who's up for a sixteen-year chess tournament en route?"
Gee, how can I post my reaction in the most succinct form? Let's see. Maybe the cast of my webcomic can express it best:
Close-captioned for the unaware: US schools would not teach something useful unless Muslim terrorists wiped out the entire US military, invaded, occupied, stationed ragheaded gunmen in each classroom, and pointed AK-47s at the teacher's heads and said "Now really TEACH something!" Even at that rate, teachers probably have a cyanide capsule in a hollow tooth they can swallow just in case this ever happens.
I loved the two clips from Japanese television demonstrating the new Windows 7 release - or rather, demonstrating that it still crashes!
But a new development has me a little jealous. In the second clip, from 'FailPost.com,' we see some news anchor trying to show off the touch-screen interface. So it freezes on him, and they bring out a woman who squats in front of the monitor and seems to have the sole function of rebooting the computer whenever it fails. He has his own Reboot Girl!
There she is at 1:06, and again at 1:55. The first time she humbly stays crouched over as she moves back out of frame after earning her keep making the magic box listen to Mr. Vest again. The second time, she stays in the frame for a while all "You gonna be needing me again?" And she sits like that kneeling for a minute before choosing a second when Mr. Vest walks across the frame before scuttling back behind the furniture again. Her face is never allowed to turn to the camera.
Where do they keep you, Reboot Girl? In a crate behind the bookshelves? Are you an MSCE? Is this a typical Japanese subservient-female thing, or is it in fact a role of privilege that you have, and Mr. Vest's grubby fingers are not allowed to touch the keyboard? And how do I hire one of you to perform those menial computer tasks I'm tired of doing myself? Do I post in Craigslist, or is there an agency I go through?
Seriously, Mr. Ballmer, your lack of gratitude to your best friend in the Linux community is appalling.
I am talking about Ken "Helios" (named after the Greek god of the sun) Starks, who has recently helped defeat your main competitor a little further this year. I know that Linux sometimes worries you, though you may laugh it off in public.
This year, Mr. Starks pulled off a real coup. He collected money as donations from the Linux community, then paid big bucks to a radio station to run a scratchy, echoey, low-fi "radio commercial" for Linux. But hold on! Not just any radio program, but the commercial slot during Kim Komando's show - a long-time Microsoft advocate. So the ad dollars literally went into your pocket - straight from desktop Linux users all over the world! Isn't that sweet for you, Mr. Ballmer?
But that's just the beginning. By collecting money, time, and resources out of the limited reserves of the Linux user base, Starks has ensured that funds which could have gone to worthy causes like the Free Software Foundation or the Electronic Frontier Foundation - or even the donation jar of a SourceForge project - went into his pocket instead. He has also kept Linux proponents busy "marketing" Linux when they could have been busy improving it, so it would have been more competition for you, and from teaching more people how to use Linux, which could have taken more customers away from your company.
Now, I know what you're worrying about, Mr. Ballmer - you'd think this business of running Linux radio commercials would carry the risk of converting a user to Linux. Fear not! This is Ken Starks we're talking about - he couldn't sell icewater in Hell! As reported by his right-hand mouthpiece, the ads produced a smashing windfall of just four people who showed up wherever it is Starks sent them - to a cow pasture in Austin, perhaps.
There were a few more who called and emailed - relax! That was less than 200, not enough for you to worry about. You can get more responses than that by having a garage sale and nailing cardboard signs up by the road. And just in case some of those people might be intrigued enough to investigate the blog behind the ad, they will get to Helios' site, where he baldly tells them to their faces that they "Should never be allowed to touch a computer without professional on-site guidance." Now see, he puts himself forward as the face of Linux, boldly proclaiming himself to be the entire Linux community every time he opens his mouth.
So don't worry about your market share dwindling by a bit, not with Starks insulting people the minute they answer his call. After all, it isn't like he's going to teach people what to do with Linux or anything! That would be follow-up, without which marketing Linux is useless. Now, when IBM advertises Linux, they put up a whole wing of their site teaching people how to use it. See the difference?
All in all, Mr. Ballmer, this was a pretty sweet move by Mr. Starks on your behalf. Like I said, he really outdid himself:
- Wastes Linux user's money, time, and resources.
- Gives Linux a bad name.
- Makes sure that the money went to you.
- Advertises in a market that has no hope of finding a convertee.
- Dumps people right back out in the cold if they do happen to answer the call.
- Insults them on their way out.
He wishes "spontaneous combustion" upon the people who responded to his ad wanting to run Linux. Surely, that detail brought a smile to your hammy face?
The least you could do is publicly thank him! Nothing fancy, just bring it up at your next stockholder's meeting. He deserves to be recognized for shooting down your enemies - with their own money, no less! Certainly, a plaque, a trophy, a handsome signed certificate of appreciation?
People like Starks are out there working miracles, undoing a year's worth of my own time and effort in the blink of an eye. And if you need proof of the ill will he generates towards the REAL Linux community, just watch what his Austin pals have to say in the comments when they come 'round this post. Truly, if I knew where to make a swap, I'd gladly trade one of him to deal with for two of you.
Update OK, Helios cult members, if you can't take a joke, then get the hell off this site! Adios! Go huddle in your little troll den on LXer. The rest of us have lives to live. I've been very patient with you in the comments below, and then I remember that manners, like common sense, is a foreign language and a waste of time to a Helio-tard.
You know, I could point out that Ken Starks, for all of his posturing and preaching against corporations, himself has a company. It's called Helios solutions. All this spam and asstroturf and bullshit you people sling just so you can sell free Linux distros for $50 and thumbdrives for $75. You're not a non-profit, you're not a charity, you're not doing anyone any favors - you're phonies, you're crooks, you're scam artists, you're robbing the public and wearing a Tux mask while you do it just to be assholes. Any two-year-old can see through it. That's why Helios got raided by the FBI a few years back.
There, is that better than the light satire I posted above?
You Helios employees are the Scientologists of the technology world, and as you should know by now, the harder you push, the harder I DO fight back! You should also know that when I post about SunGod, I deliberately look for several of his choir boys to show up and piss about it. Just for entertainment for the rest of us, until I wave them away again. You Helio-tards even keep falling for the same trick, and then wonder why I don't respect you.
And on a final point... for now... may I note that the post is addressed to Steve Ballmer, and yet no Microsoft apologists, astroturfers, or plain trolls showed up to complain that I'm razzing Microsoft too. When you out-do Microsoft at evil, you're RE-E-EALLY being a heel. No wonder the rest of the tech world hates Helios and his brainwashed cult.
Just one of those ideas that I couldn't get to fit within the constraints of Doomed to Obscurity.
UPDATE Wow, the Reddit hits for this one are over 9000!* Thanks for dropping by!
*Yes, I know it's a lame meme. That's why I hung a lampshade on it.
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Since you're reading this, I'll assume that at least you can understand something of what I mean. So, for the record, my income is derived about 50% from writing, 30% graphic design, 10% coding, and the rest is dribbling into website ad revenue and the odd consulting gig. It's all done from home. Literally, I sit at home and type on a keyboard, and checks mysteriously arrive in the mail.
Now, you try explaining that to people.
My wife and I, in our day-to-day transactions with The Outside World, have developed a reflexive cringe whenever the subject comes up. "So, what does your husband do?" is the kind of thing that these days gets her to just hang up on people, if the call wasn't all that important. Or change the subject, if in person, even if that requires her to knock something over and break it.
For myself, I'm just contemplating changing my answer to: "I'm a witch doctor. I dance around a pentagram drawn in goat's blood while biting the heads off chickens and shaking some maracas." If people don't understand that answer, it at least confronts them with the idea that they should just drop it.
But no! Doggedly and determinedly, I try to keep up the hope that I will eventually chance upon somebody living in the same century as I. And the one thing people won't believe is the bald truth. So my spouse and I are reduced to frantically calling out random professions that are sort of related to what I do, like two contestants on the 'Beat the Clock' game on The Price is Right, both hoping that we will find whatever the magic phrase is that will just, please, for the love of God, END this conversation.
Attempt one: "I'm a web designer." A bald lie, but everything I produce ends up on somebody's website, so close. If I'm lucky enough to be talking to someone aged 25 or younger, they kind of get it. Though even then, the concept that I don't have to drive downtown to one of the skyscrapers to do this is a point of confusion.
Attempt two: "I'm a writer." This is 50% of the truth, but then I get "You mean like $FAMOUS_AUTHOR?" (the only one they read). No, I write for the Internet. The Internet? How can you do that? Well, have you seen writing on the Internet? Somebody got paid to write all that. Yes, but I didn't know computers could read.
Every now and then, I can say "I'm a blogger." and sometimes I get lucky and find someone whose kid bandied the word "blog" around at the dinner table, once in a million times. At least "blog" is sometimes related to what I do.
Attempt three: "I freelance online. I do writing, graphics design, and programming." No, no, no! You've used four and maybe even five words that the average American does not know the definition of.
You can get away with that in Silicon Valley. But you're sitting across the desk from the guy filling out your credit-background check, so he can find out that you're guaranteed to pay for the stupid little car he wants to sell. He has no little box on the form that corresponds to you. The #2 pencil drops. The brain shuts down. The eyes go dim. This unit has stopped, and it will not be available for service again until it has been rebooted.
Attempt four: "I'm a webmaster." Not how I derive main income, but some folks buy that. Except that "the webmaster" is a somewhat dated term, and sounds like somebody Batman should be fighting.
Attempt five: "I work in computers." Ah, yes, the great catch-all. If you're dealing with anyone over the age of 35, this is your only recourse. It's inevitable in the case of a landlord. Surely, by this time, they've learned that this answer actually means "Just drop it." You know, computers? Those big box things with reels of tape and blinky lights and cards with little square holes in them?
Seriously, this is the year 2009, I'm in Iowa (the state with the 3rd-highest graduation rate, and continually ranks in the top 3 for ACT and SAT scores), and half the bloody people I talk to have never SEEN a bloody computer! Not even on TV! I have no idea how these people live. In a cave, roasting venison on a spit, I gather. I could at least allow for it, if I was talking to a hog farmer in overalls. But no, this guy owns the damn property I'm trying to rent from him. He wears a suit, drives a car, and has a wallet with plastic cards in it. Com-pu-ters? News to him!
Of course, the party I'm addressing concludes at this point that there has to be something shady going on. After all, the TV news said that the Internet is full of hackers and pedophiles. And you have to say "Internet" to explain why you don't get into a car and drive to your computer job every weekday morning.
Meanwhile, my neighbors peek suspiciously over the fence in my direction, growing more convinced by the day that I must have some kind of dark secret. Is he selling drugs? No, there's no cars pulling in and out of his driveway all night. In the mafia? No, nobody that important-looking ever comes to see him. Win the lottery or a lump-sum inheritance? No, he's obviously not rich. Well, look at him! He's always in shorts and a T-shirt with three days' growth on his face, and he only comes outside about once a week! What, is he blackmailing somebody?
I hear my IT-career peers bemoan this dilemma all the time. I hear IT-workers relate the conversation that transpires when they tell people what they do. I want to cry when I hear them complain that everybody asks them to fix their computer. You don't know how lucky you have it! You talk to people who own computers!
Whoops, I have to go. The goat's blood is drying out and the black candles have burned down, and I haven't summoned my succubi yet.
Update: While we're on the subject of people with a technology blind spot, I loved this story about Amanda Palmer and her dealings with a mindless record label exec, for the quote:
"i had to EXPLAIN to the so-called 'head of digital media' of roadrunner australia WHAT TWITTER WAS. and his brush-off that "it hasn’t caught on here yet" was ABSURD because the next day i twittered that i was doing an impromptu gathering in a public park and 12 hours later, 150 underage fans - who couldn't attend the show - showed up to get their records signed."
For shame, Roadrunner! Even I knew to show a media director using Twitter.