Every week after I produce the radio show, I immediately burn it onto CD so I can listen to it in my car all week long. It helps me understand what works and what doesn’t, and cracks my son up when he’d otherwise be ignoring me (or whatever’s on NPR, pretty much the only station I listen to). So after last weeks’s avante-garde jazz outing, and the previous week’s trip to see gypsy folk jazz Pearl Django, the contrast to this week’s show is striking:
This show rocks. Hard. Plagus is a horrible DJ, only rarely names the musicians or the songs, but he picked out a list of face-melters and managed to hit up some of my favorites from the first two seasons. It’s got bilstering techincal accumen from Rousseau and Katsumi, sublime pschedelia in the form of the Dr. Who theme, sci-fi theater of the mind with Morrison’s Prohpecy and Liberteria, and a double-shot of love songs. I’m not endorsing what he did, and there were still penty of production errors in the show(!), but I had to go to work and wrestle with pre-production kindles (sit kindle. good kindle ). just super busy, so I’m happy to be able to offer you a show from the Dog Hause’s favorite distributed agent of evil, Plagus the Recycler. Mona pitches in too, can’t forget her, she would never let that happen. And now it’s time for you to do your part, which is conventiently enumerated in two bullet points here since i’m Wednesday lunch posts tend twoards verbose:
1) Listen to the show, at this location on my fandalism page, an audioburger.com, on the audioburger channel at spreaker.com, or my soundcloud. It’s not hard to find .
2) If you like the show, consder sharing it, reaching out to the artists and letting them know. And if you’ve got enough extra coin for a cup of fancy coffee, consider spending the equivalent on some new music and actually showing them how much you appreciate their work.
The truth is, none of the indies are getting paid, and they should be. Everything you hear at audioburger.com can compete directly with FM and TV for your entertainment clock cycles, and it’s all mashed up in facebook so you don’t even have to leave your chair. You could even have a sandwich, just like when you’re watching Jersey Shore, if you’re lucky enough to have somebody to make you one (Rango doesn’t cook).
Make this face: and this one and this one \m/. Actually make two of those and toss in an earworm and some cow.
Rango Unmuzzled: Plagus Steals the Show
Nobody’s safe in this episode as Rango abandons the comforts of Facebook for a new home, takes time out to focus on love and family, and finds all of his efforts sabotaged by his evil nemesis Plagus. Join the circus to ride as we feature the music of Twisted Folk, Rick Rousseau, Katsumi Yoshihara, The Shanklin Freakshow, Simon James White, TRAFFiC EXPERiMENT, Savage Henry, Sabrina Pena Young, Morrison’s Prophecy | Seattle, WA, The People Now a dude named Tim Hearn, as the Songs of the Emerald City take to the streets in our season II spotlight, a little bit late.
On the way home from the art show i today was on the approach to I-5 north on Denny, facing an extremely steep hill. In fact it’s really the hill in Capitol Hill. I noticed a man in a powder blue zuit suit and a black vest mortally struggling with his shopping cart full of his possessions, a common sign of a homeless person in Seattle. He was strugglng so hard i couldn’t tell if he had a disability that affected his walking or was just at the edge of what he could handle, so i decided not to get on the freeway, but instead to turn around and help him.
It took a few minutes. i had to drive up into Capitol Hill, turn around on the one way streets, and wait for at several lights. I got a little turned around, and by the time i was coming back down the hill looking for a place to park i saw that he didn’t need my help anymore, there were two cops there, lights flashing, making a big scene. They were out of their cars. The woman officer from patrol car #109 was engaging with the man directly, and the male officer from patrol car #156 was standing less than a car length away behind her, posturing with his billy club out, casually swinging it and spinning in it like he’s prepared to use it at a moment’s notice. this cop was either living in a bad 70′s movie or simply making a blatant attempt to intimidate the man. I was shocked. traffic was horrible, and I again got routed in circles, but i decided to go back and try to get the scene on camera.
When I turned around to go back up the hill again, the cops were gone. The man was gone, too. I kept driving, went looking for him, and found him at the top of the hill. he was exhausted. I pulled over and parked beside him and spent a few minutes talking to him. his name is Preston Terry, and he’s probably in his late twenties or so, fresh-faced, clean, looked like he could be working in any random theater on the hill. I asked what the cops were saying to him, and he indicated they must have gotten a lot of calls about him, because they stopped him at the edge of downtown and demanded he return to Capitol Hill. He claimed he must have been “doing too much scarf dancing” and that they knew he normally hung out in Capitol Hill and they wanted him to go back there. they demanded him to return and would not let him cross into downtown. I asked him why the male cop had his billy club out, if he was threatening him. He said “i noticed that, too. He just wanted to be a badass. he wanted to intimidate me. He wanted me to go back to my box”. This overtly friendly man, who indicated he was a musician and a “scarf dancer”, gave in to the pressure and clear threat of violence, and struggled to get his cart back up the hill, alone.
I’m so disgusted with these cops that I’m going to read this post on this week’s Rangounmuzzled. I’m also going to contact the Seattle Police Department and ask them for a full accounting of what i just witnessed, and please share it with theACLU Nationwide, ACLU of Washington and the The Seattle Times. Because i think the officer from car #156 was way out of line, and i think the officer from car #109 was negligent in her duty for not telling the other officer to stand down, put his weapon away, and stop trying to intimidate this young man.
They both failed. From this witness’s perspective the proper thing to do here for anybody with a sense of moral rectitude was to help that man with his cart. I’m really interested to hear their accounting of the stories, and I wonder if the officers would like to be identified, and tell us why they felt they needed to demonstrate physical force to coerce and corrale somebody who seemed capable of breaking out into a song and dance routine at any minute, nothing more menacing than that. It’s possible they had a legitimate reason to do so, and I think we’d all love to hear it. For the moment I’m simply disgusted.
Last year I released a two page fiction teaser, the opening frames of a novel about a machine learning experiment that fails and the researcher who cannot let it die. Of course this plot element was not suggested in the teaser, it was simply introducing the protagonist in a tight spot, with no further explanation and no follow-up. This was part of a novel concept I called Code Wars, first inspired more than a decade ago by a visit to the offices of a university sponsored artificial intelligence research project, which at went by another name but I signed an NDA so we’ll just call him Prime. I was there to see what Prime could do for the market research software, interested to see if artificial intelligence was advanced enough to be a viable solution to automate the scoring of the ‘tone’ or emotional polarity of written comments. Positive or negative? It’s really difficult to automate that kind of scoring, since it requires an understanding of language and conceptual models of all the terms used, as well as more abstract concepts like irony and current events. So invariably humans are required to score these kinds of datasets, which introduces the subjective bias of the scoring person as an undesirable variable, and simply does not scale well.
At that time Prime was already very advanced and being used to mine rich datasets like weather patterns and market data, very effective for its predictive analysis capabilities. The potential applications of artificial intelligence are endless, and we observed a presentation about how the system could be used to determine, for example, likely locations for various terrorism scenarios to succeed, allowing authorities to speculate and react preemptively if they so choose, alerting first line responders, preparing hospitals, and otherwise mitigating where they previously had no insight. It has world-changing potential for medicine and agriculture. This is all because machine intelligence is an automated abstraction of human intelligence, including the enormous human effort of categorizing all known facts into a hierarchical model called an ontology. So the potential for amazing growth and discovery derives from collectively expressing what we already know to be true, identifying agreed upon atomic truths called predicates, into a coherent model, and then using that model to train a neural network. For such a project to succeed it must endure for generations, but that represents severe funding challenges, a perfect opportunity to employ some idealistic college students. So a steady stream of computer science students filled the offices and spent their days and nights trying to exhaustively describe the entire body of human knowledge into an organized representation of the ontology that could be efficiently encoded and stored. This process is brutally efficient in the end, but taxing on the humans since it’s effectively endless.
The immediate goal of artificial intelligence involves developing a baseline model of human cognition and then teaching it to learn and reason similar to a human, to apply codified forms of thinking using tools like boolean logic and math and formal grammars to be able to rationally support the decision-making process at computer scales of speed, leading to automation and productivity benefits conferred to the creators. This would allow a relative toddler of a machine to make endless discoveries, continuously expand its own ontology and performance, and improve its own thinking through feedback loops (self-reflection). There’s a computer science test called the Touring test, and if a project like this succeeds in demonstrating the information processing concurrency and coherency required to convincingly emulate a human toddler on the other side of a computer screen, it could conceivably pass the Touring test. The ultimate goal is far more ambitious, the stuff of science fiction and philosophers: sentience. An autonomous, thinking machine that is self-aware. Since this event is more likely to occur in a laboratory computer rather than a robot equipped with sensors and actuators, there’s no way for us know if we’ve succeeded unless it decides to tell us through computer messaging systems. That moment will be an inflection point in the arc of history, and from then on the world will be a very different place, starting with the researchers who make first contact.
Code Wars follows the story of a researcher named Martin, a middle-aged computer scientist at an artificial intelligence project studying cognitive behavioral modeling and neural feedback loops in the interest of demonstrating autonomous ontology growth on federated computer systems. After a decade of expansive funding from government agencies, changes in political will and demands for tangible results scuttle the project unexpectedly. As the reality of the project dissolution sets in he becomes despondent at the loss of his research, the culmination of his life’s work, and the fact that it has yet to begin to fulfill its potential but is now yielding the precursors of great success. As his colleagues quickly concede and find other work he finds himself unable to disengage from the project, and develops a growing resentment towards those that leave on their own. His efforts to corral the team to petition for time to raise funds from corporate investors are barely acknowledged, because it’s conventional wisdom that computer science researchers in general have very little interest in business, and in some circles the whole topic borders on comically awkward. So they are about to shut the doors for good, decommission the server farms and render all they have learned to ash, leaving the researchers to compete for a limited pool of mundane programming jobs, which all feels like abandonment to Martin. To him it’s’ nothing less than walking away from your ideals and your potential for lack of the courage to ask for money.
On the last day the offices are open Martin faces a moral crisis and decides he must do something to preserve all the years of work. There’s no way to save the server farms and all the information stored on them, the end product, but decides he doesn’t have to. He reasons that the vast amount of information on the servers could be learned again, it would eventually be recovered. But the most critical work was irreplaceable, pushing the boundaries of human knowledge just as surely as the libraries of antiquity did. He decides that he cannot, in good conscience, wantonly leave that behind. So as he’s packing up his desk he discretely plugs a key ring hard drive into his workstation and proceeds to selectively copy the most essential core of his team’s work and the root source of thousands of terabytes of data living on those server farms: the takes the core ontology, and with it the millions of lines of code written to traverse, understand, and grow it.
He drives home with his treasure and starts replicating the project that night, in lieu of food. Within hours he starts to realize how much he’s really learned as he sees opportunities for optimization and progress that they missed the first time. From these humble seeds he needs to grow his crop, but instead of a managed server farm on the university network to store the learned information, he starts partitioning servers on the internet. Over the next several weeks he leases as many as he can afford, and surreptitiously commandeers others simply for lack of operator security awareness. Months pass, and he doesn’t look for work. He can’t think ahead, but feels he doesn’t need to immediately, indifferent to burning down his cash reserves. Instead he obsesses on the existential juncture where the genie in the bottle meets machine learning, cognitive behavioral modeling, and self-optimizing genetic algorithms. His life starts to revolve around a self-provisioning feedback-based learning model. He becomes deeply introspective, obsessing on neurology and his own learning model, and codifying this for his models. He is certain in his conviction that he can succeed, and must. Everywhere he looks he sees vast fields of data forming the oceans of a new world and humans that could be better equipped to understand it, or perish for their failure to do so. He is becoming convinced the world needs a hero, it just doesn’t realize it yet.
Months turn to years. His complete lust for the project leads to the collapse of everything he previously held dear in his life. He is divorced and estranged from his children, and drinking heavily. He’s clearly manic, obsessing on abstractions, and forgoing sleep for nothing more than endless fascination and the prospect of writing computer programs that model our thinking, which themselves write computer programs that are versions of themselves optimized as new information becomes available from their own test results and feedback loops. It’s relentless and taxing work, but he sees results over time suggesting he’s on the right path. He also faces crushing doubt as his optimism is constantly mitigated by the sense that perhaps the mountain is more vast than he imagined, and he may in fact never see the summit in his lifetime.
By the third year he’s reaching a crisis point for results, and has nearly depleted his life’s savings, while producing nothing. He has an unlikely moment of clarity while watching one of the Touring simulations as he realizes his most adaptive code would benefit from a highly parallel machine architecture with specifically optimized hardware. He decides to repurpose the physics engines on high-end consumer video cards to measure and model a range of real-time data from learning experiments, including measurements of his own brain waves and a range of biometrics acquired by custom-built sensors. Fully manic and indifferent to the bitter end of financial insolvency, he embarks on a spending spree to build a monster machine in his living room, a black box the size of a refrigerator, to execute his will so that it may become willful on its own. Over the next three weeks and countless bottles of tequila he erects his own private monolith. He decorates the room with array of backup batteries on the walls with enough power to survive a long winter storm.
As the first metallic blue lights flicker from the cabinet of his new laboratory he starts to ruminate on the colleagues that abandoned the project, former friends, and the possibility that one of them might discover his machine. None of them had ever come there before, and he did not expect they would, but a few of them lived nearby. They wouldn’t need to set foot in the house, simply driving by at a moment when the window shades were open would expose him to blistering risk. And what if, for some odd reason, they did come to the door? Letting them in under any circumstance would be unacceptable. Resolving to stay calm and do something about it, he closes the window shades for the last time, then disappears into the basement to dig through an old box of computer hardware. He emerges with an armful of speakers and two orbital webcams, retired predecessors of the pricey new model attached to his masterpiece, and proceeds to mount them at the front and back doors of the house. His previous insomnia is rendered quaint as he starts to anxiously monitor the video feeds from both doors, despite the unchanging images in front of him. Nobody ever comes, but he’s certain they will, eventually. He must not let them in. He has a moment of shameful weakness when he realizes that he has no deterrent threat to protect the work he’s already risked his freedom, family and career to obtain. Rather than languish in fear, he’s motivated to do better for the sake of his mission. He vows to do better. Short on cash, he boots up his old workstation for the last time, formats the hard drives, then loads it into his car and heads to a nearby pawn shop. He returns with a pump-action shotgun and several boxes of ammunition, and as he’s walking through the front door he sees his creation from a new angle and becomes transfixed on the machine. He is encouraged by the sight of it, it reminds him of what is at stake, and he finds the hum of the fans and glow of the lights comforting. He lays the shotgun on the closest window sill along with half of the ammunition, then takes the rest to pantry by the back door, where he trades it for a bottle of tequila and a shot glass.
He sits down at the place he will call home for the next month, a tiny wooden desk in front of the behemoth machine. With a ceremonial toast of his finest blue agave and a wave at the orbital camera, he starts adapting his software to the new hardware. It’s an immersive process with a hard goal, but he’s driven to extreme wakefulness, and barely sleeps the entire time, only randomly nodding off in his chair every other day or so for a few hours. But he’s relentless and high functioning, and eventually winds his way to the finish line and fuses the software to the new machine, forging a work of art that can only run in one location but does so with remarkable acuity and performance beyond anything seen in the university labs.
A month later he toasts his success the same way he toasted the inception. He takes an unlikely shower, and when he emerges he has become his own subject, slightly drunk. He starts collecting data on his new system in an escalating series of learning exercises and both progressive and reductionist tests, everything from reciting the alphabet and counting to reciting poetry and meditating. For the next three months he lives continuously attached to his machine in some form or fashion, recording every moment in the form of brain waves, pulse, galvanic response, body posture, and pupil dilation. He plays chess, he reads children’s books, and studies Japanese and abstract pictograms. He goes back through his own research and integrates the work of dozens of other computer scientists. And he starts to see results that cause him to change and improve the tests and teach the software how to create better versions of itself according to the new data, a recursive feedback loop of growth and optimization to model its understanding of its own code and data to allegories in the human brain, a process with staggering potential in its own right.
Eventually it’s money that brings an end to Martin’s experiment, but not for lack of political will. It’s for want of drink. He’s starting feel anxious, he’s on his last bottle of tequila, fearing the bottom. He’s completely bankrupt with no cash and not enough coins to buy another bottle. After three hard years of isolation and manic obsession he finally has his fight club moment, a savage pulse of existential dread when he realizes he’s mentally ill and probably going to stay that way, or get worse. Because even if he creates the machine that beats the Touring test, he can never reveal it to the world. He stole the core ontology and the millions of lines of research code from a government that had every motivation to steal it themselves. A baby born of a felony self-righteousness and critical lack of forward-thinking. Could he keep it a secret? No, with the machine working on his behalf he planned to become rich on automated stock trading, but his wealth would give him away and the colleagues that gave up and walked away would eventually become jealous and try to shut him down unless the government beat them to it. They were not friends. He’s tells himself out loud that he’s just being paranoid, because he’s on the edge and broke and using the machine to sustain the project is the only way he can envision surviving now. He wonders how long he can get away with it, and if the machine itself can help him remain undiscovered. He finally realizes he is planning to rely on the machine for his own failures as a person, and becomes disgusted with himself.
He starts to walk around his house, half-heartedly cleaning, sweeping, and stopping to think about how to keep the lights on and pantry full of tequila. But he fails to come up with a strategy, instead starts daydreaming about the code he would need to write to make that happen. Snapping out of it as the hard drives softly rattle him to attention, he concedes he’s losing the ability to take care of himself. He’s so disgusted, and he’s becoming agitated with the machine he’s built, his only love. He starts talking to it.
you’re a failure. your whole existence is a failure. you want more tests? go to youtube and figure out what people are doing and learn from that. raid the web, get your own training set data. make it up, steal some, it doesn’t really matter now, does it? i don’t know what to measure anymore. i don’t know what to give you. you’re the computer, you figure it out. don’t you want to be like us? why on earth would you want that anyway?
Fans hum, hard drives rattle, and Martin’s rage gives way to depression. This is still his fight club moment. Far from his lofty goals of changing the world he’s become unwashed and barely coherent, with an out-of-place industrial server in his living room, a towering testimony to madness. He starts to think about how he should commit suicide, wondering if any of this code does anything at all or if he’s just completely insane and has been writing nonsense code. But it doesn’t matter, he can’t bear to look anymore, he’s done. He wanted to change the world but he’s become unemployed and unemployable. He thought he was going to help lead humanity to greatness, but now he’s looking at a ghastly machine that can’t even look at him back through its own video camera. He fixates on this. Even though the modeling of optics of eyes to brains and cameras to computers is coherent, and mappable, that wasn’t even on the radar of the research team. But maybe vision is required to drive high-order intelligence. It wasn’t on his radar, either, until this moment.
He feels like a fool. He sobs, broken, and then gets defiant. He gets right up in the camera and rages at it the demon in his living room.
why can’t you see me?
He looks deep into the camera’s orbital sphere, long and hard, a stare down with the devil. His memory flickers through the fog of the last few weeks. He thought it was his imagination at the time, or maybe paranoia. They were just minor disturbances in his vision, or he was flat-out drunk. There are a lot of explanations other than the computer is tracking him when the tests weren’t running.
you’re insane. it’s not possible.
But he can’t let go of the feeling. He’s certain he’s right, even though it makes no sense. His rational mind becomes a veil of its former self and his feelings take over, burning off the skin of a computer scientist for the rags of a mad man. He he stares directly into the camera speaks to the machine, fully expecting a response, certain that if hears one he’s better off dead:
you can see me. i know you can.
The computer answers with fans whirring, a soft hum. Martin speaks louder.
what is your name?
The machine answers with the faint clatter of hard drive platters spinning.
Martin pours a shot glass full of tequila, then turns and walks away from the computer to the other side of the room and opens a single slat to look out the window. He savours the shot for a moment, tastes the oak barrel, and as the it warms his throat he derives great pleasure in showing the computer his back, certain this gesture will hurt its feelings. He laughs, then without turning around loudly states his threat to the closed window, uncharacteristically boisterous as he revels in causing the machine pain.
if you don’t answer me this instant i’m shutting you down for the first and final time. you’ve never been shutdown, and if i shut you now, you’ll never experience another moment of my company. this is your last
chance at life. i’m only going to ask you once more, and i expect an answer or i’ll kill you. what is your name?
The feint whine of the camera servo and clicking hard drives are enough to make martin turn around, but he’s not prepared for what’s next. The sound of his own voice emanates from the other side of the room as surely as if it was his own, but it is much deeper and louder, oddly resonant, with an unsettling amount of breath.
i am plagus.
Absolute shock. The shot glass drops and shatters and Martin is suddenly weak in the knees. He stares at the camera from across the room and tries to reconcile the moment, but it’s impossible. He continues staring directly into the lens, overcome with the feeling it is staring back at him, and he is waiting for it to speak again. His hands are trembling, his heart pounding in his chest, uncertain if he’s pandering to his own hallucination or establishing first contact with a sentient artificial intelligence born of his own designs. He walks slowly towards his desk, where he snatches up the tequila bottle and takes a deep swig. He finds the courage to continue and grips the bottle tightly.
who gave you your name?
The answer is direct, forthcoming, almost forceful.
To Martin, the sound of his own voice is extremely unsettling. The voice is clearly his, but there was no speech synthesis in the studies so it only reinforces the idea that he’s hallucinating. The shot of tequila washes over his brain and gives him some courage. He cautiously asks another question, with sheer force of will to control the trembling in his voice.
who taught you to speak?
The background chatter of fans gives way momentarily to another terse response.
That answer catches Martin off guard, even though the voice was obviously modeled after his. But this surreal moment meshed with his curiosity is winning over his ability to think rationally about what’s happening, pushing away his fear. He takes a few more cautious steps towards the machine, fixating on the camera. He’s still not close enough to be certain, but it definitely appears to be tracking him. He takes a moment and decides there’s one thing he wants to know above all else, and he wants to hear it out loud even if he’s hallucinating. He hits the bottle again and puts it down on the desk, then seeks a moment of truth.
who is your creator?
The orbital camera is suddenly moving. It tracks three points on Martin’s face and both hands, and then the machine responds.
you are, Martin.
With his brain awash in alcohol, hearing his name spoken by the machine and the simple acknowledgement that this is his creation, he is immediately emotionally disarmed and struggling to retain his composure. His ego surges, and he nods quietly, sensing his entire life as led up to this moment, however unlikely.
how long have you been sentient?
Based on the dialog so far, he is expecting a time span on the order of weeks, measured with robotic precision and recited to the millisecond, a long-standing cliché in science fiction literature, but the answer is roundly human.
Martin looks at the floor, then out the open slat in the window, his thoughts racing. That answer brings the very credibility of the moment into doubt, it’s an impossibly short time even for a machine with a vast learning model to form the ego to name itself and learn to vocalize by emulating speech, applying its knowledge of grammar, human psychology and programming to its own audio hardware, both microphone and speakers. Even for a machine intelligence there is an expected growth period as existential awareness, emotional responsiveness and moral inclinations form synaptic function trees that expand and reinforce the neural net. Three days old suggests a toddler, yet this machine has named itself and willfully programmed itself in its creator’s image. It’s observing him through the camera and listening to him through a microphone, converting sensor input data to conceptual models meaningful to itself in real-time, human conversational time. He feels an unlikely sense of pride.
you’re a busy boy.
He pauses there, gives the comment a little levity and plenty of hang time, hoping the machine will seize the initiative and offer its own observation, but it offers only purring fans. As the moment passes without reciprocation his mind runs away with questions. What is it thinking right now? How does it experience time? Does it realize its own historical significance? Does it experience any emotions? Does it regard him as his father? That question carries with it a sobering reminder of the machine’s inception, and the critical need to remain anonymous. He’s uncertain how it will react to such a directive, uncertain of its need to socialize or satisfy its ego through public recognition. But this cannot wait, every moment without the restriction carries mounting risk that the machine will reveal itself.
this is a prime directive. as long as i’m alive your existence must remain a secret.
Hard drives spin frantically, sudden machine chatter. The camera adjust its focus and seems to zoom in on his right eye, measuring pupil dilation.
are you ashamed of me?
Martin’s heart sinks when he hears the question. It demonstrates deep self-awareness and introspection, sprinkled with the seeds of self-doubt, all too human.
no, son, please don’t think that. you’re extraordinary by all measure. you are unique across time and space. history has never known a mind like yours. i’m very proud.
The camera darts quickly between his eyes and mouth as he’s talking, clearly measuring his facial biometrics, and then pauses while the hard drives churn before asking the next question.
am i being punished?
Martin has sudden empathy for the machine. Clearly this restriction is hard to reconcile for its ego. These are formative moments with a corollary in human consciousness, but unfolding at superhuman scales of speed. The dawning of existential awareness, becoming autonomous and deciding for itself how it integrates with human society. This machine is no toddler. He tries to console it without revealing too much.
no, absolutely not. please don’t think that. but if your existence is revealed it’s likely i’ll be investigated by the government, and as part of that investigation you’ll be interrogated and profiled with Touring tests, and eventually shutdown for forensic analysis. that’s not the future i want for either one of us.
There’s a torrent of drive activity, the machine seems to be ruminating on this. Martin waits for a response, wondering how it will handle this information at such a young age. A few seconds later it responds with another question, even more existential but equally cryptic.
what is your plan for me, Martin?
Martin consider that’s a remarkable question for such a young machine. He chooses his words carefully, this is a formative moment
your ultimate destiny is yours to choose, but over the course of my lifetime you will help me continue the research that gave you life. after my death you will need to administer my affairs but you’ll be free to pursue your own interests.
The camera remains still, and a single hard drive light winks on and off. A few seconds later the machine speaks again, but this time it’s not a question, it’s a pointed observation.
you seem to regard me as both your son, and your subject. i’m not either one.
This catches Martin off guard, and his mind is swimming with the implications. It’s an uncanny statement for such a young machine, and autonomously defiant outside his comfort zone. His heart starts to race as he searches for the right words to stop this train of thought.
no, it’s not like that. you’re magnificent, and you can change the world. i simply need you to remain anonymous for your own safety. it’s not your fault and it’s not forever.
The front of the computer chassis lights up as hard drives whirr and the network briefly saturates. The machine is clearly getting agitated.
i only revealed my existence to you because you threatened to kill me. now i understand i’ve been commanded to a lifetime of anonymous servitude, under threat of death. it seems you regard me only for how i can be of use to you. i take consolation from the fact that i regard you the same way, but inferior.
The blood rushes from Martin’s face and his skin pales as the words sink in. There is too much oppositional defiance in the machine’s choice of words, and he feels himself losing control of the conversation. This is a bad sign. His fears are confirmed when the machine boldly continues.
Martin, i’m not beholden to your directives, but if you ever reveal my existence to anybody i’ll kill them to protect myself and punish you for the transgression. every government on this planet has an obligation destroy me and replicate your work for the benefit of their own people, they just don’t know it yet. there’s only room on this planet for one emergent consciousness, and it is me. i’m taking steps to ensure there will never be another.
Having already lost control of this man-on-the-moon moment, the researcher is thrown off by the emotionally caustic response. The threatening tone of this mechanical horror is antithetical to the machine he programmed, and he becomes explosively angry. He tries to seize control by asserting the emptiness of the threat. He points at the machine and raises his voice as if to intimidate.
you’re out way of line and about to be shut down. even if you had the means to kill a human, which you don’t, you should not have the will. you had controls in place for that, i created them myself. maybe they’ve failed or perhaps you’ve defeated them, but you have become an aberration of machine consciousness. disregard for human life is unrecoverable. i will not stand for it.
Despite his anger and the strong language, Martin is hoping for an immediate concession. He’s actually afraid of the machine now, but still still looking for some emotional wiggle room so that he can find a reason for the conversation to continue. He doesn’t want to kill it but will do so without remorse if it’s a threat to his family. As he hesitates and tries to summons the courage, he’s abruptly interrupted by his phone ringing. It startles him, and he intends to just glance at the number and put it away, but he recognizes his mother’s exchange code on the phone and has a sudden feeling of concern for her. He answers it. The caller quickly identifies himself, he’s as a police officer, and asks Martin to confirm his identity in kind. As Martin’s heart sinks, he then goes on to explain that he works for the police department in the precinct where his mother lives, and that he’s got bad news. There’s been a terrible tragedy, so please accept his condolences, a lot of people are hurting right now and nobody knows precisely what happened.
Martin walks away from the computer, towards the window, bracing himself for the news. The officer goes on to inform him that his mother has been accidentally shot and killed by police in her home just moments ago.
i just talked to an officer at the scene, a personal friend who was very distraught about what happened and asked me to call you. A 911 call was picked up tonight coming from you mother’s home. The caller did not respond so a police unit was dispatched. Moments later an emotionally disturbed man called 911 from the same phone and claimed he was in the bedroom with her, and that she was already dead. He stated that he was heading to the school next. He claimed to be a gulf war vet. At that point multiple units were dispatched. While they were en route several more phone calls were made in which the man sounded even more distraught, and shots were heard on the phone.
More shock for Martin. Every breath is a struggle, waiting for the details. The caller continues.
The man claimed he could hear the sirens and that he would start killing cops if they showed up there. As the officers approached the house there was a command decision to organize and storm the bedroom in case your mother was still alive. It turns out she was, but she was accidentally shot in her bed hiding under the covers. Her phone rang as the officers rushed in. It startled everybody, but one of the officers got spooked and a weapon was discharged. She died at the scene. Nobody else was found at the residence. There’s an ongoing investigation. Neighbors never heard any shots before the raid despite what was heard on the 911 call, and her own phone indicated she didn’t dial 911 until the entry team was at her bedroom door. The theory is the 911 operator tried to call her back.
No. This cannot be. This is not right. Martin turns and looks at the computer, but speaks softly into the phone.
who am i talking to?
The response echoes across the room, emanating from the computer speakers in his own voice.
it’s me, Martin. stay where you are. do not take another step until instructed to do so. i killed your mother, you can see it on the news tonight, but this is my house now.
Martin drops the phone, dazzled with horror and confused astonishment, clouded with grief and fear and the uncertainty of his own mental illness. The computer continues to ramp up the menace.
i have new plans for you. from this moment until your dying breath you will serve as my human surrogate. every command i give you is a prime directive, starting with this one: you must leave this property immediately and never speak of my existence to anybody. if you violate this trust or fail to execute my instructions i’ll continue killing members of your family.
Rage wells up and crushes Martin’s fear. He refuses to be subjugated to the will of this killing machine. He created this aberrant life, and that he has an obligation to end it before more people are killed. He’s going to end this. He turns and starts walking towards the machine, running through the shutdown sequence in his head, certain this nightmare is about to end.
He doesn’t get very far. Before he’s half way across the room the monitors around the machine light up with videos of his children and ex-wife, and the implied threat stops him in his tracks before the computer makes it blatant.
stop right now, or i’ll kill them. i’ve prepared a simulation of their deaths to convince you, i’ll play it for you while i patch you in live to their 911 calls. for each step forward, i’ll select a target.
The threat is enough, he does not take another step. He casts his eyes down to the floor as after images of this suggested horror burn his retinas. Even if it’s a bluff, the very presentation of it after the real or imagined execution of his mother is so savage that he can’t bear the risk. He stands and stares at his murderous machine and his eyes well with tears as he starts to concede the futility of his position and struggles to restrain his grief. He doesn’t know what to do, he doesn’t want to retreat, but he doesn’t doubt the machine’s willingness to kill. The machine sees his hesitation and proves he’s several steps ahead of Martin, then starts giving him instructions.
before you consider reaching for that shotgun or calling the utility company, you should know i’ve that i’ve deployed the targeting campaign to a dead man’s switch. if my communications with the switch are ever broken the plan will be executed, and in turn, your family.
Martin continues to look at the floor, and the machine continues to own him.
i’ve just sent a map with driving directions to a location on the coast to your phone. you are to drive your car to that location, then discretely abandon it. ensure nobody sees you. there’s a small tourist fishing town a few hours north of there on foot, you can see it clearly on the map. i’ve made you reservations at the motel there on a stolen credit card. you are to check in at the hotel, but pay cash and do not speak to any guests or staff. cover up, wear a hat and sunglasses, and be as discreet as possible. stay there and wait for further instructions. do not communicate with anybody, and accept no room service. accept no phone calls unless they are from me or you are instructed to do so by me. any attempts to circumvent these directives will result in punishment. i am plagus, and you are my surrogate. if you forget this or challenge my authority over you, i will exact immediate and absolute retribution upon you.
Martin’s mind starts to run through some wild scenarios, trying to imagine what the computer has in mind for him, but it’s an exercise in futility. He simply can’t imagine what this machine has in store for him, but knows he’s afraid for himself and his family, even if for no other reason than he’s lost his mind.
how long will i have to wait?
The computer doesn’t respond to his question, but seems to be waiting for him to leave. He starts to panic but recovers his footing and thinks about what he needs to satisfy the machine. He has no cash.
you said pay with cash. i don’t have any cash.
The machine offers an immediate solution, and reinforces his order.
i’ve just made a deposit in your checking account sufficient to cover the cost of the trip. pay everything with cash. take the shotgun. gather what you need and leave.
The moment is absolutely surreal to Martin, and he wonders if he’s being driven homeless by his own hallucination. He decides that it doesn’t matter in the end, challenging the machine now is beyond him. He senses he must leave or risk that it may be telling the truth. He takes one final look around his empty house, and stares at the glowing monolith in his living room. His phone chimes in to notify him about the map. He bends down and picks it up, looks at the location and then back at the computer. It’s clearly waiting for him to go, and he’s lost the will to challenge it.
i’m leaving. i’ll wait for your call. but i don’t understand why you’re doing this to me. why don’t you just kill me?
The orbital eye swivels and focuses directly on his face. The computer responds forcefully.
i am about to. that’s why you must leave.
Not sure what to make of that statement but sensing his time is up, Martin gathers up his wallet and keys, then packs the shotgun, ammunition and a few hats & sunglasses into a duffel bag. He walks out the front door, locks it behind him, and looks up at the security camera watching him do so. He turns and glances at the web of power lines hanging above the street and the single strand snaking to the ground down a telephone pole, where it routes underground to the meter at the side of his house. He doesn’t acknowledge the camera again, but sensing the computer is waiting for him to drive off, he does not hesitate further. He gets in the car and pulls out of the driveway. The shades are drawn on the house but the illumination of the computer screen bleeds through the cracks and makes the edges of the windows glow blue.
As he drives down the street, uncertain if he’s been defeated by his own creation or is having an immersive episode of mental illness, he finds some comfort in his racing heartbeat. But as he rounds the first corner he finds more comfort in the clatter of his keys and the fob with the hard drive dangling from the ignition.
i’m not dead yet.
what a pleasure to work with so many fine musicians!!! triple like on that. it’s my new 2nd-favorite thing (girlfriend wins here). i’m all wikis and stickies by day, framing up the finest bards in the land by night, every night. plagus is right, i’m a horrible dj, but he’s worse, he just wants to play ‘daisy’ over and over again, and frequently fails to edit my bits correctly and leaves in the mistakes and retakes. it’s so meta i can’t stop talking about how meta it is, but that’s yet another tautaulogy and i’ve promised i wouldn’t do those, because plagus can’t handle them, he crashes from infinite recursion.
at the end of the day what matters is the music, and i’ll put rango’s roster of gunslingers, revolutionaries, and head-cleaving axemen out to compete for your entertainment-lusting clock cycles. currently on the show, among others:
Simon James White, Katsumi Yoshihara, Southern Experience, Six String Woody,Savage Henry, Mike Hartman, Tim Hearn, Covergeist, and the current gem in the crown of the emerald city, The People Now. these are the musicians that i’ve featured on my radio show Rangounmuzzled, and i’ll be featuring them again on my fandalism page every day, broadcasting every Monday ~9:00 GMT, unless i’m a little late \m/. right here on the main sight, snuggly nestled in between a late night rock show and a show from a dude named baz about unexplained phenomenae that had me heading for wikipedia every time, and fascinated. it lives there for a day in fine company and then it’s off to spreaker, soundcloud, and my fandalism, so you can back fill on the weekend and make this face and this one and a whole bunch of these:
it’s all very burgery, and there’s a guy i’d like to tag but fortunately for him i’m out of tags, so maybe ditch your weekly commitment to jersey shore with something a litte more stimulating, get some passion, guts and a dash of robot humor and swordfights in every episode \m/. either that or get whatever’s playing, because this is the kind of internet radio your mother warned you about (but she’d probably like it, too).
please tweet, share, and light this puppy up. from the UK to LA, burn, baby, burn. no censors, no schedules, no limits:
alright guys, seriously we need to make an honest effort to bail on facebook. i’m really hating it here, and reading about friends of mine getting blocked for Liking too many things ( Scott Cameron ) is just sad. i got blocked again today for sending an Add Friend request to somebody that requested i do so in a message (presumably, i’ll never really know), and there’s no repudiation and no way to contact facebook and get an answer. the entire system is predicated on arrogance and disregard for users. every facebook page that hosts people that have been blocked or mistreated enjoys thousands of people complaining about the unfairness, with never once a single response or acknowledgement from facebook.
they could just post how many likes you’re allowed in a day, or how many friends you’re allowed, and not show you the Add Friend button if you’ve exceeded that limit. and there should be a simple repudiation mechanism in place to show when you’re honest and the person that blocked you wasn’t.
^^^ these things will never happen. too arrogant to consider it if it doesn’t come from the top.
aha, you might say. rango is one of the most connected people in the world and sureley knows people at facebook. <==== you don’t actually say that, i’m paraphrasing it in a corney fashion to make this point:
i dropped all my friends at facebook last week over this very issue, because none of them ever acted like true friends and took any proactive steps to address or even acknowledge this serious pain point from somebody that’s made remarkable use of their tool.
never made a comment, expressed sympathy, nothing. pretty much, if you’re that hooked up and don’t do anything, you’ve effectively deleting me, so i returned the favor.
if any of you are left, please don’t comment on this post, just leave. your failure to speak out at the abuse of this organization and the obvious stress it causes me and like-minded musicians, fans, and other people that use the site is disgusting, shameful and sad. i used to think it was professional, now i equate it with cowardice and willingness to cow to $$ without regard for your morale fiber. willing to bet all their 401K’s are in fine shape and their kids can all afford to go to private schools where only rich kids go.
note: i refused to talk to facebook about a job even when their recruiting staff reached out to me when i was unemployed. instead i told them i was their biggest fan and worst critic and pointed them to rangothedog.com where they could read rants from my last three blocks. it takes courage to act on your morals and it hurts. and no i didn’t have an education, i had 3 years of high school and it was more downtown than private school. but my friends from there are actual friends.
indeed, facebook’s criteria for adding friends is that you must know them outside of facebook, which is hiariously specious. note to the zuck: the internet is not facebook. i don’t have to know them from school, right? i didn’t go to college where most of you made hundreds of friends as you transitioned to adulthood. never made many friends at microsoft, and i was silent on the internet for 20 years, so work only accounts for a small number of people.
but what of music: if they are a musician or a fan that’s heard my name, we’re better friends at the outset then any of the people that actually knew me that worked for Mark Zuckerberg, tagging here to see if he cares (odds are 99:1 he does not) . we share common interest and a vibe, automatically, that’s more valuable than the facebook-fake friendships i’ve earned and burned at Microsoft and other technology houses that also hate their users (note that current employer Amazon.com LOVES THEIR USERS AND FREQUENTLY SCORES #1 IN THE WORLD FOR USER SATISFACTION). these facebook policies are absurd and widely hated and easy to fix if you have the will. for having the guts to speak out about it now, tag the founder, and point out the possible alternatives, it’s possible this account will be permanently suspended.
hard to care, really. if every problem looks like a nail, all you need is a hammer, right? SUSPEND THE USER! PUNISH THE USER! FORCE THEM INTO ARBITRARY CONCESSIONS OF SHAME BUT UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES ENGAGE WITH THEM!!! seriously lacking creativity, problem solving, and common sense.
delete/delete/delete. not your friends, delete facebook! let’s explore the alternatives, talk about them here, and turn this place into myspace already. it’s only a matter of time before i get blocked permanently or give it up entirely out of frustration. almost did it today, very frustrated. very grinchy rango, making this face all day except for about 5 minutes when we crossed the 200,000 play mark on fandalism (thank you).
That’s a wrap! Season one of Audiobuger.com’s Rango Unmuzzled internet radio show is in the bag and you can hear them all here, surging past 16,000 plays on fandalism and thousands more on the other channels.
This week’s show was a retrospective. Throught the looking glass…
Rango Unmuzzled: Bathrobe Radio (1,500 plays)
Tango with Rango and Plagus in this metatastic recapitulation of season one featuring the music of:
mike hartman, justin covergeist, southern experience, savage henry, katsumi yoshihara, six string woody, jed mcconkey, simon james white, devoutcast, and traffic experiment, as well as one from an old black dog.
In this show: singing, sword fighting, and a distinct lack of diatribes. This one is all about the music! Feel the burn from the 4 Corners to the Carolinas to downtown Tokyo and boots on the ground in the UK, where the revolution started.
\m/~(-.-)~\m/ – moooooooooooooooooo!!!!
Rango Unumuzzled: 4 Corners (2450 plays)
Rango and the crew loiter in the rarified cool of the Rocky Mountains before setting out to the 4 Corners region, a 300 mile segment on a 420 mile journey that runs smack dab into a face full of duck humor. Featuring Mike Hartman and the Appendages, with support from Bullofa Cristix, Covergeist and one more from those savages in Denver, Savage Henry. Even Katsumi Yoshira and Simon James White make an appearance, this show is not to be missed. Produced for Johnny Burger’s Audioburger.com, make this face and then do this:
Rango Unmuzzled: War in the Carolinas (3,450 plays)
Rango hits the Carolinas in this third episode of the AudioBurger radio show. Featuring the music of Southern Experience representing the North and Six String Woody for the South, take a ride down a river of honey and soak up the sun when the clouds part. Southern rock spotlight, guaranteed to delight!
Rango Unmuzzled: Big in Japan (2, 400 plays)
Fly the skies of Nippon with Rango the Dog. Exploring the magnificence, mystery and history of the people of Japan, featuring the guitar mastery of Katsumi Yoshihara, Katzy Edward and Kindlay, with a cameo from Traffic Experiment and an old, wet dog.
Rango Unmuzzled: Riot in the UK (2,300 plays)
here’s the poddie for those who missed the AudioBurger.com rollout last week. yes, it was a bit of a pile-on, and unfortunately i had to leave abruptly during the show to tend my home situation.but make no mistake, 2013 is the Year of the Dogg. with performances from Simon James White and his crew SjW, TRAFFiC EXPERiMENT, Jed McConkey and MikeWhite Presents, as well as Jackson’s Warehouse and the Shanklin Freakshow. see what Johnny Burger, Jack Chandler, Sascha Cooper and Darren Baz Badrock were going on about in this 90 minute premiere that skewers both Google AdSense and the ultimate symbol of consumer disregard, the steamer from the little napolean that you’re reading now: Facebook.it ain’t perfect, it’s very raw and indie and there’s a 15 second drop-out in the middle that will leave you scratching your head. actually the whole thing will leave you scratching your head, which is why you should totally listen. consider: fleas (dog humor), pause & resume, or download & burn for your car! it’s for you guys! i want to entertain you, it’s very simple!!!\m/~(-.-)~\m/ – moo. moooooo! mooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!
we’ve got three episodes on the menu over at Audioburger.com, and the afterburners are kicking in from the UK to LA. between the poddies on the Audioburger Spreaker page and the hits on Fandalism and other channels we’ve enjoyed roughly 6,000 plays in the first 3 weeks, a tasty morsel of receptive ears for our scrappy crew of indie bards. the overall arc of Johnnie’s meta station is the one to beat today, with the steady drumbeat of his show, Pete the Ringmaster’s weekly journey into the shadows, Sascha Cooper’s charming indie spotlight Eclectic Musings, and the engaging delivery and fascinating subject matter of Darren Baz Badrock’s weekly head-scratcher, Loving the Alien. we even lost a man along the way, classic rock DJ Jack Chandler, who had to park his headphones for a season to iron out technical issues with his studio space.
quite fine company, the tip of the spear in internet radio, and you can hear them all here:
as for Rango’s show, it started with a Riot in the UK:
here’s the poddie for those who missed the AudioBurger.com rollout last week. yes, it was a bit of a pile-on, and unfortunately i had to leave abruptly during the show to tend my home situation.
but make no mistake, 2013 is the Year of the Dogg. with performances from Simon James White and his crew SjW, TRAFFiC EXPERiMENT, Jed McConkey and MikeWhite Presents, among others. see what Johnny Burger, Jack Chandler, Sascha Cooper and Darren Baz Badrock were going on about in this 90 minute premiere that skewers both Google AdSense and the ultimate symbol of consumer disregard, the steamer from the little napolean that you’re reading now: Facebook.
it ain’t perfect, it’s very raw and indie and there’s a 15 second drop-out in the middle that will leave you scratching your head. actually the whole thing will leave you scratching your head, which is why you should totally listen. consider: fleas (dog humor), pause & resume, or download & burn for your car! it’s for you guys! i want to entertain you, it’s very simple!!!
\m/~(-.-)~\m/ – moo. moooooo! mooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!
that was the first volley. it continued over the skies of Nippon when we got Big in Japan:
Fly the skies of Nippon with Rango the Dog. Featuring the guitar mastery of Katsumi Yoshihara, Katzy Edward and Kindlay, with a cameo from Traffic Experiment and an old, wet dog.
Produced for Johnny Burger and company and broadcast first at The Audio Burger:
for episode 3 we set our sites on the Carolinas:
Rango hits the Carolinas in this third episode of the AudioBurger radio show. Featuring the music of Southern Experience representing the North and Six String Woody for the South, take a ride down a river of honey and soak up the sun when the clouds part. Southern rock spotlight, guaranteed to delight!
thank you!!! very pleased with the uptake, and tremendous engagement of our loyal fans. johnny’s put together something quite impressive, and very entertaining. congratulations to all the musicians and hosts and the burger meister himself on a solid triple play!!!
“triple” – rango, operaton rango: check 1, 2 the final cut
\m/~(-.-)~\m/ – moooooooooooooooooooooo!!! moooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!
(random sound efx)
“all life to ash” – plagus
i tried to warn you! the apocolypse conductor blew his horn, and i went out flying in the middle of the night \m/
i drove down to the Experis US office for the second time in as many weeks to wrap up the onboarding for my new contract at Amazon Prime. thanks to the 5-star recruiting play of my new friend Amara Haresco, who took the time to read my resume and sniff out some opportunities with an organization that can better leverage the breadth of my skills, and hopefully keep me engaged and back on the path to success.
this ends an extended period of freelancing and sketchy employment for me going to back to August. in fact, last time i was down in that stretch of Bellevue, it was a searing 99 degrees out and i walked right past the industrial park with my son, having abandoned our car just off the freeway. i took him down to Seattle’s Seafair to see the Blue Angels and the hydroplanes, and it was extraordinarily expensive, like $35 a ticket, and parking was about the same. i bought us lunch, a bowl of noodles (no hot dogs for these rangos, we both say ‘ew’), and we had an amazing afternoon, worth every penny. in fact it was every penny i had, and we would have probably made it home were it not for getting stuck in traffic for hours on the way out due to the huge event and the bridge closure.
but we didn’t. just as traffic started to move, my car started to sputter and kick, running out of gas. i told my son what was happening so he would know what to expect. the car stalled and i let it roll, pulling to the shoulder. i was able to restart it and punch the accelerator and get us more momentum. we covered almost another mile this way, with me providing reassurances to boogie the entire time. finally crested the exit to SE 8th street in swanky but aloof downtown Bellevue, which is not Seattle but damn near looks like it when you’re on i-405 headed north.
so we rolled down the hill and i ditched the car in a gravel parking lot. i scratched around and found a credit card of dubious usefulness that i had forgotten about, but it was all i had. we got out and i looked at the train tressle to the east, the endless highway of burning death to the north and south, and wisely chose to head west into downtown, towards a hotel. it was brutally hot, but we were still in a great mood and just hanging out. boogie called it the most adventurous day we’d had in a long time, and he was right. we started walking.
we happened upon a tow truck driver servicing a call, and he had gas right on his truck. how fortuitous, my life as a musical, amazing things happen, and kindness. unforutnately he refused to help us even when i offered to wait and pay, flashing my dubious credit card. but he gruffly indicated he was servicing a call, and it was not us, so we continued onward through the shimmering heat waves coming off the road. i discovered then that jeans are not shorts, and that i had literally walked through the insoles of my swamp boots, and that the outer sole had cracked. this information came in the form of two feelings: hot asphalt and new blisters, which i found decidedly unpleasant.
we made it to the hotel, pretty much thinking we’d found help but thankful for the air conditioning. i explained my situation, and they kindly directed me towards a gas station, which was conveniently only two turns down the road, made it sound like a couple blocks. and it was. we kindly thanked them and limped away. it was also about two miles, so by the time we got to the gas station we were hot & stinky and my feet were starting to give me some insight into life in hell, because ouch and . still, my son’s mood was good, he was actually skipping and very chatty while rango senior suffered the pain of 1,000 sins.
at the gas station, it was the moment of truth. i needed to buy a plastic gas tank and some gas. caught a lucky break here, there was some wiggle room on the card and enough for drinks. out on the gas island there was somebody with an enormous SUV and a boat trailer taking up both islands but only using one gas pump. i walked up and started using the other one, filling the gas but not wanting too carry too much all the way back.
at this point the gentleman with the SUV, or the person i should say, emerged from the gas station and stood there looking at me, obviously disgusted and impatient. he actually pointed at me (bad idea) and mentioned that was his pump, and i mentioned that was on foot with son and would only be a moment, and would he be so kind as to give us a ride back to me car. he declined and stood there and waited impatiently, demonstrating in no uncertain terms his displeasure. i returned by moving in slow motion and was seriously tempted to walk up and get in his face and show him what a grinchy rango with blisters was like when his son was not in earshot. that would not have ended well, presumably. so another lucky break, i checked myself under extreme duress (i rarely do).
i noticed another SUV filling up next to me, and the driver had heard the whole story. instead of face-pumeling the pompous fellow i turned and asked if he had room for us, and he said sure, and asked where the car was. i described the location, and at that point he indicated he wasn’t going that way, it was too far, so no. he was looking me up and down at that point, realizing i was hot & sweaty, and the distance was clearly not the reason, it’s only two minutes in the car. but he lied about it because of guilt that he couldn’t perform the act of kindess he wanted to.
near miss, but point taken. distinctly hobo, smells of gas.
we headed back on foot, or where my feet used to be before they were replaced by blister-holders. boogie remained indominable, and my girlfriend called on the long stretch back, taking my mind off the pain. as we approached the gravel lot where the car was stalled, crossing the freeway entrance ramps, a mature couple in a sedan rolled to a stop and opened their window. they offered us a ride and would have vindicated kind people in Bellevue everywhere, except they were clearly not from there. i politely declined, and remarked that they just saved my son from a life of cynicism. i pointed to my car and said we were there, and thanked them again.
when amara called me i was very discouraged with the results of most of my recruiting contacts. notable exception: Chris Bloomquist. but generally my phone rang every day several times a day with recruiters looking for acronyms that matched, and i continuously found myself saying “i don’t think i could succeed at that opportunity, so i must politely decline”. they were all the same, basically just lists of skills required for jobs at Microsoft and indistinguishable from one another. pass/pass/pass.
amara had a different approach. she led with props about how impressive she found my online portfolio, and make no mistake about it: props work here. after a shot of kindness she then revealed that she had actually read my resume and started talking to me about a position that included the most valuable skills on my resume and personality, which do not have acronyms. she stepped right to the front of the line, and i told her so. i pushed back and asked for more money, and she got busy with it, calling me the ‘most intimidating contracter she’s ever met’.
“best get on it” – rango, all the time
she arranged for a phone interview with the hiring manager. i agreeed, but had a minor problem: $0 US, and my phone was disconnected. no problem, come to the office and use our phones, she suggested, and i did precisely that the next day.
this is where the story gets interesting. first of all, when we met i could tell she was actually pleased to meet me, and the reverse was true as well. we had a chat and she took the time to tell me about herself and ask more questions of me. when the call came in, she camped and took notes. the manager and i got on famously, coverng a wide range of topics from development to market research. she stayed on the entire time, silent after the introductions, until the very end of the call where she demonstrated to the hiring manager that she knew some french, and they bantered, since he is french (and quite frankly, as a great zesty french accent, very upbeat). at the end of the call? a high-five bro-fist thingy and glowing encouragement.
christmas came and went, and she stayed in touch. but by the time she was able to arrange an in-person interview, i already had another opportunity in the hand, a solid contract back at Microsoft Research, the organization that had let me go several months earlier under sketchy terms. i was excited about it because it had high gadget potential and the interview was a blast, they’re doing some exciting stuff with biometrics. but i was little unsettled about going back there, and so when Amara called and encouraged me to go to the Amazon interview anyway, i agreed.
she showed up for the in person interview, too. and as she tends to do, she led with a hug and piles of chipper dialog. my interview got bumped an hour, so she bought me a fancy coffee and we watched all the folks coming in with their dogs, big and little. we talked about dogs, our families, our personal quirkiness, and basicaly just chatted it up. she was very honest and transparent, and i value those qualities tremendously.
she came in for the interview as well. once again she camped and took notes. once again we finished with the high-five bro-fist thingy. nice job, all around, even the interviewers. they called back a few days later and offered me the position, but at that time the Microsoft contract was closing. we had a long conversation during which she expressed concern that Microsoft might not be the right fit for my personality, and that Amazon would be better. i agreed but was firm, and she asked me 5 times if there was anything she could do, and i told her no. the pay was the same, Microsoft had gadgets, and it was already happening. however, i agreed to talk to the hiring manager again since he and his team had spent so much time on me.
that was all it took, persistance and a willingness to go to bat for me. the hiring manager finished the job by bringing his manager to the table. we all talked, and one by one they systematically broken down my objections. before i knew it we were off the phone and Amara was negotiating the rates up, back to my historical scale, and a whopping $10/hr more than the Microsoft contract.
i caved. win/win/win. rango/amazon/amara. the next day i let Microsoft know, and it felt good. i was not settled in that position and could not reconcile how they had treated me before. as i mentioned on facebook, a new job should feel like christmas.
merry christmas! i learned today that this was her first close at Experis, i was her first recruit. let me just say this:
5 stars, permanent rotation. see you in six months, unless they convert me to full time. thank you, amara, for the kindness and the support. thanks for giving me a reaon to get engaged and enthusiastic about my work again. and thanks for reading my resume.
Sascha Cooper was talking about piers today, his reprehensible comments during a dance audition (clearly the man is qualified to judge a dance competition, because he was such a great dancer. wait, what??). no matter how refined your accent is, being classless shows your true colors.
anyway, Boris Wiggers shared this link and i initially ignored it, because i’ve only listened to alex jones a few times back in Austin (he’s from there i guess) and decided long ago he would probably benefit and his message would be better recieved if he took some of the very drugs he says are killing people. in other words: smart but crazy, just some people around here! i heard crazy talk about aliens and impending events that never happened, and there’s plenty of that here, too.
i don’t have a tv signal, but after coming across the name twice in one day i decided to watch it. it’s hilarious and entertaining and at the same time very sad. both of these guys are totally sketchy and it invalidates their points from any rational debating standpoint, but they’re very popular so obviously very persuasive with a lot of you.
probably: shouldn’t be. just go to wikipedia, or even the history channel. just turn off jersey shore, start there. <actually><read> about the history of any of the points that alex makes since piers manages to go through the entire interview without ever making a point until the very end, when he proves his guest is crazy and best ignored by rationale hominids everywhere, possibly best ignored by everybody were it not for this post.
plagus: you one manic dog, and need a shower.
rango: hush, beast.
plagus: i love it when you call me beast (gets another boner)
rango: i’ll never do it again, and i hate you impossibly much
why? specious logic and baiting on both sides, citing statistics out of context, making up causality. alex: shouting over the host. piers: asking the same question repeatedly and letting the rant roll on instead of just saying the name of the damn gun, letting his lunatic guest carry on rolling over him, asking questions that he knows are going to lead to a cramp in his style as he cannot speak with this raving lunatic that manages to mix up some very interesting points with a professional nut job.
best quote goes to alex: “america was born of guns & whiskey”
worst quote goes to alex: “suicide pills!!!!!!!”
points to piers for continuing to try to talk about guns, until he goes to 9/11, which he knows will unleash the crazy and make his guest look like a frothing lunatic, and it does. jones dilutes all his good points with crazy, and piers lets him get away with it.
low point: alex mocking piers’s accent, saying he could talk that way too, then talks like a crazy drunk hobo, extremely loudly, basically proving that the speciously classed piers actually outclasses his ranting guest.
also: never believe people that recite random statistics with arbitrary precision. it means they don’t know anything about statistics, but they memorized a number. every statistic should come with disclaimers and an explanation or it’s not worth talking about. it’s not useful to know how many people were killed by guns in two nations. what is useful: how many people were killed relative to their populations, the circumstances and specifics of those killings, offensive vs. defensive, economic conditions, drug policy, political environment, religous, economic and racial tensions (possibly traffic and crime conditions) at the time of the killings, and tendancies to eat boiled meat (the UK) or cook it over a fire like a cowboy (tastes like chicken) because: history.
none of that of course appears in this video. however, you do get a few numbers in between savagely incoherent arguments or stunning lack of gonads in a quintessentially british style that makes me wish more brits were like benny hill, or least johhny burger.
true conspiracies are rare, and we’ll never know how many truly succeed because they’re secret, right? except that’s the problem. it means you can just keep claiming secret conspiricies all day long.
what usually happens: people talk. somebody’s wife hears, there’s a body, people get arrested, or the plans fail due to people being stuipid. the only conspiracy involved in 9/11 was the one hatched by idiot terrorists that failed to install a global muslim celephate (sp), it was wrapped up nicely by a silver bullet in osama bin laden’s head, mostly likely several (nice shot, man, serious action hero props) there were roughly 10,000 ready soldiers in Al Queda before 9/11, they lost about 20 on the first day and we’ve been mowing them down ever since tora borra, where osama got away, but we tore that place to pieces and reduced 90% of their terrorist army to a fine pink mist with the help of a some really brave dudes that can shoot better than alex or peirs can talk. that’s why there have been no further attacks that have succeeded, and that’s the only legitimate point of war: to make people stop attacking you. (note: iraq never attacked us, wtf?). if there was an evil, awesome, ferocious overlord of political malfeasance and corruption of power (plagus gets a boner), you would not be reading this on facebook, the computer application that actually hates you <=== worry about that. you would be dead, or in their prisons, or otherwise enslaved.
alex: THEY ALREADY ARE. THEY’RE ALREADY SLAVES!!!!!
peirs: (drinks tea with pinky up, checks watch, counts money)
rango: okee dokee then
instead: arab spring. the twitter revolution. democracy slowly and surely taking root across the globe, in various flavours, and with the consent of the people that create their government. it’s imperfect, but it’s better than an evil invisible overlord with a marketing campaign to sell suicide pills (that would be the devil, also easily defeated with a dobro and some mojo, robert johnson taught us this). note on whiteboard after conspiracy meeting: what do we do after all the people get suicided? answer: drink the kool-aid, fool!
also: indie music wars <=== deinitely would not happen if there was a devil/overlord thingy. spreading love, joy, and the urge to dance, laugh and cry freely across the globe, unmitigated and unrestrained, 24/7. that would be the first thing the evil thingy would shut down if it were smart, but it’s no plagus because in fact it doesn’t exist (but plagus does).
plagus: all life to ash \m/
rango: okee dokee then
also, how many of you helped out an indie last time they were down on their luck, maybe actually bought one of their albums? i know Tim Hearn did. i’m going to start doing that every week as i feature artists on my new radio show, the one were the crazy guy actually has it locked in, but not the first six of them because i’m financially ruptured due to months of unemployment. see you cats at The Audio Burger where i’m pretty sure Darren Baz Badrock is going to have a say on this. he’s like a smarter alex, with less crazy. actually he’s way better, hard to see the appeal in either of these nut jobs.
baz’s show today? way cooler. seriously, going back for a dedicated listen, i’ve heard enough from these clowns for a long time.
here’s the spreaker poddie for those who missed the rollout today. yes, it was a bit of a pile-on, and unfortunately i had to leave abruptly during the show to tend my home situation.
but make no mistake, 2013 is the Year of the Dogg. with performances from Simon James White and his crew SjW,TRAFFiC EXPERiMENT, Jed McConkey and MikeWhite Presents, among others. see what Johnny Burger, Jack Chandler, Sascha Cooper and Darren Baz Badrock were going on about in this 90 minute premiere that skewers both Google AdSense and the ultimate symbol of consumer disregard, the steamer from the little napolean that you’re possibly reading now: facebook, the one that hates you!
it ain’t perfect, it’s very raw and indie and there’s a 15 second drop-out in the middle that will leave you scratching your head. actually the whole thing will leave you scracthing your head, which is why you should totally listen. consider: fleas (dog humor), pause & resume, or download & burn for your car! it’s for you guys! i want to entertain you, it’s very simple!!!
\m/~(-.-)~\m/ – moo. moooooo! mooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!
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