Kris an’ Murphy: Information Superhighwaymen

Murphy: “So what have you been doing since they sent the students home? … you’re on mute.”

Kris (unmuting)Damn it, Murphy, you’d think I’d have this Zoom platform crap figured out after eight months of being forced to use it! What do you think I’ve been doing?”

Murphy: “Wondering when you’re going to get furloughed?”

Kris: “Yeah, that. And when our Classics department is going to get axed permanently.”

Murphy: “At least we’ve got tenure.”

Kris: “I hope it will matter whether we have tenure or not.”

Murphy: “It matters. Just remember our lecturers, like Emily and Ahmad.”

Kris: “Do I have to? Gah! They were furloughed months ago. And they were living out of their cars before COVID! Do they even have cars now?”

Murphy: “Not that it’ll matter. Once folk finally get how much it’s going to cost to get climate change fixed, and how it’s got to be fixed, like, yesterday, they won’t be able to get gasoline to put in the cars.”

Kris: “And we will?

Murphy: “Let’s just say that I hope your house is really well insulated this winter.”

Kris: “Oh happy day. What other great and glorious news have you got to pester me with while I should be preparing online lectures?”

Murphy: “No fair, I asked you first. And don’t try telling me that you’re putting any more prep into those lectures than what you were doing months ago.”

Kris: “OK, I won’t try telling you that. I’ve been trying to catch up with my … sigh … mandatory trainings.”

Murphy: “Where the computer network records minutiae and you waste hours on end? Which one are you on now? Ergonomics? Online attendance and grading policies? Back pain?”

Kris: “Cyber security.”

Murphy: “Oy.”

Kris:Dammit, Murphy, five minutes in to the program and you’re ready to return the world to parchment and stylus. Paranoia, much? As if a bankrupt university has anything valuable left in cyberspace to protect these days anyway.”

Murphy: “Besides your retirement account?”

Kris: What retirement account? The moths in my checking account they can have, and good luck finding them. But yeah, I get it. There’s stuff out there to be taken. Has to be, ’cause every time you pick up the phone or log in to your laptop, there’s a phishhook hanging over it. Or a bogus Social Security scam. Or, geez, there’s a dozen of them a day. What the hell are you supposed to venture out onto the internet with, huh? A suit of armor and a posse of riflemen?”

Murphy: “Funny that you should mention those forms of personal protection.”

Kris: “Hm?”

Murphy: “We have all been here before. We might even recognize it, if we thought anything about ancient history except how to use its carcass to balance the university’s budget.

“A trip on today’s information superhighway is just like one on the roads of medieval Europe. Roads that were infested with bandits. Highwaymen and footpads, out to swipe your dough. They even had protection rackets; your carriage gets safe passage if you leave a bag of gold on the third stump from the left as you enter the woods. Ransomware, horse-and-buggy version.”

Kris: “And no police forces to call upon. Or were they all defunded?”

Murphy: “Can’t defund what you don’t spend money on in the first place. Which most communities either didn’t or couldn’t. So you traveled at your own risk. If you’re the king, you have your armed guard. Can’t afford a posse, well, good luck to you.”

Kris: “And no one accounted for this possibility when we started building our virtual paths through the woods?”

Murphy: “Need I remind you how our nation’s computer infrastructure was built?”

Kris: “Piece by piece.”

Murphy: “And each piece by the lowest bidder on a government contract.”

Kris: “Or a typically narrow-minded, not ready for the speed of business government research grant. The budget for which got cut in half – if it survived at all – after it got Proxmired.”

Murphy: “You get what you pay for.”

Kris: “A rickety Rube Goldberg contraption that, if it’s not knocked down by its parasites, will collapse from its own weight?”

Murphy: “Pretty much. Those who don’t know history …”

Kris: ” … get the tech they deserve. And the politicians.”

Murphy: “Mail in your ballot yet?”

Kris: “Why?”

Posted in computers, history, Kris an' Murphy, satire | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Amoeba’s Lorica: Big Black Uber

I wrote Big Yellow Taxi on my first trip to Hawaii. I took a taxi to the hotel and when I woke up the next morning, I threw back the curtains and saw these beautiful green mountains in the distance. Then, I looked down and there was a parking lot as far as the eye could see, and it broke my heart… this blight on paradise. – Joni Mitchell, Interview, 1996.

Wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then. – Bob Seger, Against the Wind, 1980.

Taxi? You want a taxi?!? – Incredulous local, Honolulu International Airport, 2020


They paved paradise, and
Put up a parking lot,
With a pink hotel, a boutique
And a swinging hot spot.

(Chorus) Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone?
They paved paradise, and
Put up a parking lot.

They took all the trees, and
Put ’em in a tree museum,
And they charged all the people
A dollar and a half* just to see ’em.

(Chorus)

Hey, farmer, farmer,
Toss away your GMOs,
Your papayas don’t belong here,
They belong in Mexico.

(Chorus)

Late last night
I heard the screen door slam,
And a big black Uber
Took the last wise man on the lam.

(Chorus)

They paved paradise, and
Put up a parking lot.

(giggles)

With apologies to Joni Mitchell, Big Yellow Taxi
Copyright © 1970, Crazy Crow Music


* US$1.50 in 1970 = $10.00 in 2020. As of 23 October 2020, Foster Botanical Garden charges $5 admission ($3 for kama‘aina). So, in Honolulu, the cost of seeing trees hasn’t kept up with inflation. Probably the only thing that hasn’t …

Posted in Amoeba's Lorica, current events, Hawai'i, satire, We the People | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Dude and Dude: See Me, Hear Me, Touch Me – Not

“Dude?”

“What?”

“Who was that masked man?”

What?!?”

“I said, who was that masked man?

“How should I know, dude? He wuz wearin’ a mask!”

[…] Same as you, dude.”

“An’ you!”

“So wha’d he tell ya?”

What?!?”

“Tha’s whut I asked ya, dude!”

“Well, ya go ask him then. All got wuz mmmffrmurmruffmf.”

“Tha’s whut I wuz afraid of. Tha’s whut we all are now, yeah dude? Ships passin’ in tha night, sayin’ nothin’, hearin’ nothin’, touchin’ nothin’. Mebbe ya get a wave, if’n they care. If’n you care.”

“They’s always Zoom, dude.”

“Riiight. An’ whaddaya plan ta pay fer yer Zoom call wit’, yeah?”

[…] Yer just fulla Christmas cheer taday, yeah dude? Sure ya ain’t depressed?”

“Yeah, well, ya know’s well as me whut the official 2020 Christmas carol’s gonna be.”

“Silent Night?”

“Dude.”


Hello darkness, my old friend,
I’ve come to talk with you again.
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping,
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence.

In restless dreams I walked alone,
Coronavirus dread my own.
Near the window of a closed café,
I took what comfort from the chill I may,
When my eyes were blinded by
The glare of a computer screen
That lit the scene,
And touched the sound of silence

And in that naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more,
People talking without speaking,
People hearing without listening,
People writing words that voices never shared,
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence

“Fools”, said I, “You do not know,
Silence like a cancer grows.
Hear my words that I might teach you,
Take my arms that I might reach you.”
But my arms were warded off
And my words like muffled raindrops fell –
And echoed in the wells of silence.

And the people bowed and prayed
To the IT gods they made.
And the screen flashed out its warning,
In the words that it was forming,
And the screen said
“The words of the prophets are
Written out on Facebook walls!”
But no one calls,
To break, the holy sound of silence.


(With apologies to) “The Sound of Silence”
Words and music by Paul Simon
Copyright © 1964 Paul Simon

Posted in current events, Dude and Dude, humor, satire | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments