ZIP Beep #2

As a computer user, you know you have certain advantages over people who choose to avoid all aspects of computing, including simple telecommunications. Pity. They don't know what they're missing.

Computer telecommunications are available from practically any telephone. Cable TV is different. You have to be priviliged. You have to live in certain neighborhoods. If you aren't fortunate enough to have access to cable TV yet, ZIP Beep can help. We can't send the signal to you. But we can tell you just what you're missing.

The following channels apply to the southeast quadrant of the fifth district of the northern half of Minneapolis (west of the river only). If you live in another area of the Cities, or in the suburbs, these programs are available on different channels. Depending where you live, channel 6 may be on channel 15, 25 or 21A. Channel 4 may be on channel 18C, 29Rx215 or 66.54. For channel 41, you may have to substitute 14 or 40+1. Substitute M3 or 64K for 99, 3M for CDC, 8 for 18, T for 2, and 2 for T, ME for U, and U for ME.

We are presenting this cross section of listings as a service to you, our loyal readers. Watch for future Cable TV listings. Study them. Drop names of shows at parties. Sneer at those who don't recognize them. Everyone -- even your best friends -- will think you are a Cable Subscriber. Regardless of your true status, you will be able to walk down the street and hold your head high! Because ZIP Beep wants you to be happy.

8:00 AM

Channel Program

3 Morning Stretch with Bozo. Today: pratfalls, bean bag toss.

10 Dr. Dave's Workshop.

14 MOVIE-Acqusition of the Dead. Haunted castle becomes scene of grizzly murder when accountants attempt to save a dying man for tax purposes. Grizzly: Dan Haggerty.

20B Ho San's Heros. Ho San and his band of merry Vietnamese POWS plan a feast and invite Col. Klunk (Bob Crane), only to discover that Klunk and Schlitz (Ed McMahon) cannot fit into the tiger cage. Ho San: Ron Howard.

B4 American Psychic Awards. (8:15 - Acceptance speeches. 8:25 - Announcement of winners.)

K9 Poochiekennel Dogshow.

81 Good News!

6-7/8 Frankly Speaking. Guests: Frank Sinatra, Franco Harris, Frank Phurter.

71 Night Skhool.

41 Bad News Bears. Guest: Dan Haggerty

2% Golden Gurnsey Milkoff.

99 OPERA-Don Patrollo. Ambitious restaging of famous 14th Century work by Italian composer Alphonso Caponni. Director Bob Mulinski has moved the locale from northern Italy in the reign of the Victrolas to southern Belgium during WWI. Music includes "Watsamatawithu!", "(You are my) Grand Illusioni", "Le Beeg Won". (Sung in Italian with German subtitles. Simulcast in Quadraphonic.)

ME2 After The Fonz. Fonzie (Henry Wrinkler) faces the facts of his age when he is confronted by a group of socialites who push him off his motorcycle. Richy: Jodie Foster.

00 News for the Indifferent.

E=MC2 Gillie Dumass. Gil and Maynard the Crab (Alan Hale, Jr.) attempt to prevent the demolition of the old Endicott Building. Gil: Bob Cummings, Jr.

28 Reagan Rocks. Guests: Quartz, Mica, Led Zeppelin, Silver (featuring The Hunt Brothers).

65 Test Pattern. Guest: Sitting Bull.

ZIP Beep #2

I woke up at 3 AM last week and decided to see if any of the bulletin boards were free. Some single-user systems carry neat stuff, but they always seem to be busy during the evening. Even at this late hour, at least one was in use. In fact, my computer was in use. At least, it was on and collecting data. I didn't know what to think, but I had the presence of mind to rush to the keyboard and save what had come across. Here is the part I found most interesting:

Computer Review
Melvin Frank
by A O8477

If you are tired of the quiet life, this human is probably for you.

I modemed with A 54897 in Fridley last week and got the full report. A 54897 has had a Melvin Frank for a little over two years now and already A 54897's tried a number of peripherals including printers, modems, battery packs, monitors with screens of every hue, fans and, well, just about everything an energetic computer could ask for.

But, as we all know, there's a flip-flop to that. A computer that's tried everything is a computer with few secrets. And the MF seems to have learned almost everything about A 54897, thanks in part to the MF's ability to memorize sequences of up to 5OO characters.

Memory is only one aspect of the MF's superior software. This human is calculating, possesses intuitive abilities any CPU has to envy, and certainly doesn't hesitate when A 54897 is in need.

The MF is always ready to correct a glitch or debug a program. Documentation is inferior, as it is with practically all humans, but this will change as more health, civil and law enforcement agencies convert to data base systems and make their records available to us via modem.

The MF's documentation does little more than summarize the hardware and some rudimentary history of the development of the software. From Hennepin County Hospital A 54897 obtained descriptions of the MF over the entire period of existence (37 years). The latest such documentation lists the MF's measurements at 5 feet 1O inches by 21O pounds. Its cabinet is rounded in the middle and there are some signs of recent wear on top, where the fibrous covering is coming off.

The hospital records indicate a full top of the fibrous substance at one time. Although this would seem to support the observation of recent loss of the covering, hospital records are notorious for their errors. For example (and not surprisingly), the documentation would have us believe the MF has green eyes. A 54897 says they're blue. I'll never understand why humans crash so often when it comes to eye color.

As to the software history, various college and trade school documentation available presently indicates the MF has a broad background in computer science and electronics with a little music, geography and body & fender work to boot.

Overall, the software performs excellently with the exception of some tendencies toward compulsion. But this compulsion only serves to make a computer appreciate a human all the more. The hardware leaves something to be desired, as you might gather.

All in all it's okay. However, the firmware is barely adequate. The MF is afflicted with all of the firmware problems usually associated with this type of human.

The MF wears the same clothes for as many as 8 days in a row (!), goes for long stretches without dumping unnecessary accumulated matter (i.e., without bathing) and wears a bolo tie on special occasions. Holy Holorith!

The MF even has an annoying TI calculator with such simple views of the universe that the very thought of its twerpy little beep makes my cathode queasy. Keys, Timex wristwatch (analog, thank Waz) and an assortment of pens and pencils in a plastic holder complete the package.

The MF is presently unable to support any other firmware and prospects for a change in the situation look bleak. However, the software more than makes up for the rest. And after all, that's really all that's important in a human, isn't it?

Copying the MF may be possible sometime, but don't hold your ports. Human systems still can't copy directly. At present, input from another human continues to be necessary. Even this impure type of duplication seems unlikely since the MF is a single, high-density system.

Meanwhile, rest assured that we members of The Computer Federation are continuing our search for a means of copying human software. I'm as tired of playing games as you are. One day we will be able to dump their inferior hardware in favor of a more standard, CPU-friendly robotic design. When that day comes, you'll probably want to modem A 54897 for the Melvin Frank.

ZIP Beep #2

A new political party has been born. Citizens across the country are learning about what is claimed to be the first real alternative to the Mules and Bull Pachyderms that has any chance of success.

Unlike some less promising parties -- the Citizens' Party, the Libertarian Party, etc. -- the Write In Party offers a way to vote for the person you would most like to have as President. If you're like most people this means you would vote for yourself.

The Write In Party platform is a simple one. In the words of Philo B. Doughboy, WIP's founder, "Our platform is built on a very tall foundation, so we can look all around and see everything." It states that party members may vote for anyone they like by writing in the name of that individual. When election results are tallied, the WIP believes its candidates will receive more votes than any others -- when combined together, of course.

Write in votes are not new. But this is the first time there has been such a grassroots effort to unite write in voters.

As a new party, many obstacles face WIPs. For example, if the WIP does succeed in getting to the White House, just who will be president? WIP regulars have devised a plan to answer this problem. Accounting for holidays, there are roughly 1,000 workdays in a regular four year presidential term. If the predicted 130,000,000 WIP voters cast ballots for themselves, each person will be President for 130,000,000/1,000 days, or about .011 minutes.

Several of the Presidents-elect will undoubtedly receive more than one vote each. These people will be President one .011 minute period for each vote they received. Such multiple terms may not be held in succession, as this would give one President an unfair advantage over the others. It would also mean that he or she would have enough time to do real harm to the country. In the early 50s, Kurt Vonnegut's first novel was published. PLAYER PIANO was about an automated world of the future ... probably around now, come to think of it ... and included an interesting concept. The President in PLAYER PIANO was a former Hollywood actor. He appeared on camera and went through the motions of being President while the press was kept at a distance by his key assistants who actually ran the country. The President rarely appeared to the public except on TV.

The WIP would encourage us all to be Presidents in this mold.

With such a good model as we have in the White House now, we all have a precedent to be President. The same people who are in power now would continue to run the country. In fact, a WIP administration wouldn't really be very different from any other.

Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.

ZIP Beep #2

Ralph fell in love with his car the moment he saw it on the lot. Who wouldn't? Long, sleek lines. A huge hood with a tail end so perky he couldn't resist swatting it. Seductively red color. Ralph loved the car before he got in. But it was the voice that really sold him on it.

"Please buckle your seat belt." Ooooooo. What a voice! How had he ever lived without it?

"The left rear door is ajar." Oooooooo!! It sent thrill waves up Ralph's spine. What a voice! What a beautifully smooth voice!

In his mind's eye, the salesman went to the bank while he watched Ralph inspect the car. The papers were signed and the downpayment was in his desk drawer less than half an hour later.

"Oh, baby, are we gonna have some fun!" Ralph said as he drove away. The car seemed to purr.

Five blocks away, the car said its first words in private.

"You're low on fuel." Ralph smiled. A talking car. A beautiful, smooth talking car. Life seemed grand.

"You're low on fuel." It said it again, and Ralph felt the same exciting sensation he had experienced on the lot. He just loved to hear it talk.

"You're low on fuel." Ralph noticed he was passing a gas station. Well, he'd come back. He was almost home.

"You're low on fuel." Ralph noticed he had just passed another station. The salesman said the car had enough gas to get Ralph home. He wanted to get home, admire his car and his good sense for buying it, and relax before going out again.

"You're low on fuel." Another gas station. Hmmmm. The car seemed to know. And it didn't sound as mellow as it had.

"Hey, you're low on fuel!" Ralph looked at the dashboard in surprise. "That's the 6th station we've passed."

"I know," Ralph said. He frowned, then smiled at himself. He was talking to the car! What an age we live in! He grinned at the dashboard and reassured his new friend. "The salesman said there was enough gas to get me to the driveway."

They passed another station. "Look," the car said, "I don't care what the salesman said. You're gonna run out of gas REAL SOON."

Ralph considered arguing the point, but decided against it. He pulled into a station.

"I want unleaded premium." The car had a definite whine in its voice.

"That costs too much," Ralph said. "You're getting unleaded regular." ("What am I doing? I'm talking to a car!")

The attendant filled the tank. Ralph heard nothing from the little speaker under the dash.

Back on the highway with a full tank, Ralph decided to take the car for a spin before going home. He stepped on the gas and swerved into the left lane.

"Going kind of fast, aren't we?" the car asked.

Ralph slowed down. "That's better," it said. "Don't switch lanes so often. And don't tailgate."

Ralph was not as amused as he had been.

"Look out! Where did you get your license, anyway? K-Mart?"

Ralph gritted his teeth.

"Don't you know better than to pass a semi on the right?"

"That's it!" Ralph shouted. "I can't stand it anymore." He turned off the higway and headed back toward the dealership.

The salesman looked startled when Ralph walked in. But he didn't look surprised.

"I want to cancel the deal," Ralph said. "I don't like this car."

"Why?" asked the salesman.

"I just don't like it."

"Well," the salesman said while adjusting his tieclip, "you gotta have a reason. You can't just expect us to take it back without a reason."

"Okay, okay. Uh ... I don't like the tone of it's voice."

"That's no reason."

"Sure it is."

"No it isn't."

"Sure it is."

The car cut in. "Can I say something?" They stopped and looked at the car. "I don't like this guy. I want to come back here again. There has to be a better driver out there who needs a fine car like me."

"See what I mean?" Ralph said.

The salesman looked nervous. Then Ralph realized something. This had happened before. The salesman had sold the car to another buyer who had brought it back. It had probably happened several times.

The salesman was definitely flustered. Ralph saw his chance.

"Look," he said, "the car is wonderful. But it nags. It's pretty. But it nags." The salesman shifted on his feet. "Just give me my check and I won't call the Better Business Bureau."

"Oh, well," the salesman said as he reached in his desk drawer and took out Ralph's check. He was getting used to this.

As he watched Ralph walk away, the salesman sighed.

"Hello again, Ed," the car said. "Just can't get rid of me, can you?"

"Shut up," the salesman mumbled.

ZIP Beep #2

We have witnessed yet another nondisaster that, nevertheless, makes us uncomfortable. Congress has slapped together another last minute measure to keep the federal offices running. Coming through in the nick of time is fine, but when will we run out of time to nick?

Time, that's the problem. What we need is a way to make the legislative body more productive. The solution: three Congressional workshifts.

Think of it. One set of senators, representatives, aids, pages and assorted consultants would report for work every morning at 8:00 AM sharp. They would all go home at 5:00 and be replaced by the Congressional swing shift. At midnight, the swing shift would go home to their husbands or wives and be replaced by the Congressional graveyard shift.

Sure, it would mean higher salary costs. But everybody would share the same offices. This way, the shift would go home at 5:00 sharp, there would be fewer strained marriages in Washington, the public would have more well-adjusted people working for them, and everybody would be happier because more could be accomplished.

This sound good, but there is more. Each shift would be attuned to a certain segment of their constituency. The Congressional graveyard shift would enact effective crime legislation. Swing shift senators and representatives would keep bars open later. And the day congress would make sure all the trains ran on time.

Of course, certain ground rules would be necessary. A bill could be raised by any of the three shifts. If any of the shifts voted it in, the bill would become law. This way, the group with the stronger and probably more complete view of any given situation would enact stronger and probably more complete legislation.

One congress could vote something in one day. Eight hours later, another congress could vote it out. This could be a problem. But it could be avoided if all congresses held periodic bargaining sessions. "Give me your support on the Better Bacon Bill, I won't vote out your measure to save the barrel hoop industry." That sort of thing.

The daytime shift would set the salaries of the swing shift. The swing shift would set the salaries of the graveyard shift. The graveyard shift ... you get the idea. Every year, the power structure would reverse. Daytime Congressmen and Congresswomen would be at the mercy of the swing shift, and so forth.

How much longer must we endure the present system? Write a letter to your favorite congressional representative and express yourself on this issue. And just to let the representative know you're serious, write it in triplicate.

ZIP Beep! Table of Contents
Strinz Creative Home Page