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?”

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2 Responses to Kris an’ Murphy: Information Superhighwaymen

  1. Tora says:

    Ha. Good one
    Mail? Seems bandits lurking there too.
    I put mine in a deposit box at the election office. I do wonder what bandits are lurking there. WI has many brands of posse in the woods.

    • Amoeba says:

      A culture can’t worship pirates and then complain when, one fine day, they wake up in the morning to discover that the pirates are in charge.

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