ZIP Beep #46
POWER USER, HEAL THY DISK
by Don Fitzwater

There is a moral issue facing hundreds of computer owners all across this country. No, it's not data security. It's not the illegal duplication of office software. It isn't even the threat of fly-by-night computer mail order.

It is a matter of faith.

What, you all may ask, does faith have to do with computers?

Plenty, if you are a member of a new religion sweeping through the ranks of America's power users. A faith that is as alluring as a COMPAQ 386, as pervasive as LOTUS 1-2-3, and as risky as Betaware. I refer, of course, to the Computer Cyanists.

For a faith that depends on users of high technology, the congregations are remarkably technophobic. And the extent of this technophobia is alarming MIS experts throughout corporate America. In fact, the whole ugly mess is spilling into the courtroom as concerned data system operators are taking legal steps to have the state intervene and resolve this issue.

A recent court case made national headlines when the whole accounting department of a major multi-national corporation crashed their network by refusing to upgrade to the latest laser printer drivers. The network stayed down for 3 months until the corporation got a court order forcing the members of this faith to upgrade their drivers. The Computer Cyanists screamed that their freedom of religion was being violated, and in protest erased every disk they could get their hands on.

The courts (and an independent accountancy firm) are still trying to sort it all out.

At the heart of this issue is the long-standing conflict between the rights of the individual and the rights of the community at large.

One of the basic tenets of the Computer Cyanists (other than their predilection for blue suits), is the belief that all malfunctions can be "cured" by prayer and "right thinking." Adherents to this faith go as far as to outright prohibit visits by service personnel, ban the use of disk recovery programs and even require the faithful to shun the use of such preventative measures as line conditioners, surge protectors or uninterruptable power supplies.

Obviously, this sort of behavior is at odds with most network and information systems managers. As more and more of their work force convert to this faith, corporations are facing the specter of wholescale data loss, corruption of files and massive downtimes. Needless to say, this does not make them happy.

"We are confronting the complete and total collapse of the role of computers and computer systems in the work place if we can't put a stop to this right now," said Hal Bridges, MIS for Info-Mation Services, Inc. "Without the ability to maintain our equipment in peak condition we face the very real possibility of catastrophic failure of our network...failure that would put us out of business."

He is not alone in his fears. All across corporate America executives are taking members of this sect to court in a desperate attempt to preserve network integrity.

But maintenance concerns are not the only point of contention. Another tenet prohibits the transfer of data from one system to another, much like the Jehovah's Witness prohibition against blood transfusions.

Members routinely pull network cards, disable file servers and "accidentally" cut network links all in an attempt to resist practices they claim are against the natural order of things.

How do the adherents to this faith see the situation?

Computer Cyanist spokesperson Rhea Cursive explained, "For years we've had it pounded into us just how powerful these darn computers are, how much they are going to revolutionize our lives, and how much time they are going to save us. But what REALLY happens? 'I'm sorry, the network is down' or your hard disk crashes, or you have the product of the two most productive hours you've ever spent working in your entire life wiped out in a momentary power fluctuation. What do you do? If you call service they just send a repairman who pokes around for a while and leaves. He can't make it work, the MIS guys can't make it work, the dealers can't make it work, even the factory can't make it work. Everybody leaves, you still have your project half completed, and in desperation you punch the darned thing once, utter a few choice phrases and Voila! the idiot box works! It usually takes only one or two miracles like that to start you believing..."

And believe they do. Computer Cyanists quickly adopt the view that if they pray hard enough, any repair is possible. Stories abound of hard disk sectors remarkably healing themselves, deleted files reappearing on disks, locked-up frozen systems miraculously unfreezing -- without using the Reset switch. All due, so the Computer Cyanists believe, to the power of positive thinking, and not to any disk utility programs.

A little harder to understand, perhaps, is their fear of networks, LAN's, token rings, work groups or any other connectivity environment.

"All that data being exchanged back and forth gives me the willies," said one member of the faith. "I mean, you don't know where any of that stuff has been before...yuk!"

Computer Cyanists hold that your operating environment is your own sacred trust. Purity must be maintained. Your OS is a temple, and other such truisms. In this day and age of Trojan Horse programs and computer viruses, there are many who see a fundamental wisdom in these tenets. But information systems managers are aghast.

"Sure there is a lot to worry about with viruses and all...but if you take a few simple precautions, you can exchange data without worry," replied Hal Bridges. "But without connectivity, not only will office work be pushed back into the dark ages. Thousands of computer manufacturers, dealers, consultants, VAR's, MIS folks and software publishers would be without jobs!"

ZIP Beep #46
AQUARIAN
by Chuck Strinz


 

 When the moon is in the White House,

 And Poindexter aligns with Meese,

 The stars from out in Hollywood

 Will make us ill at ease.

 

 This is the twilight of the

 Aged Aquarian, Aged Aquarian,

 Aquarian, Aquarian.

 

 Nostradamus had predictions,

 Merlin had his tools of magic,

 Alexandra had Rasputin

 And the mad monk's machinations,

 All his bold manipulations,

 Changed the fate of many nations.  It

 Was in the stars,

 Aquarian.

 

 Let the sun sign,

 Moon and stars' decline

 Control our lives.

 

 Let the sun sign,

 Moon and stars' decline

 Control our lives.

 

 Richard Nixon

 Or Jeane Dixon, who

 Would you vote in?

 

 Hoodoo, comics,

 Voodoo economics,

 Out of control.

 

 In compliance

 With the science of

 19 A.D.

 

 See the sun sign

 See the sun sign in

 The hydrogen.

 

 Bush is burning,

 Fit and yearning but

 The stars bode ill.

 

 Let the nuts in

 Let the nuts come in

 The nuts come in.

 

 Just say No No,

 Just say No No No-

 Say No-ri-eg-a.

 

 Let the sun sign,

 Moon and stars' decline

 Control our lives.

 

ZIP Beep #46
FATHER X GOES TO ORRIN
by Jeff Schneider

If many midwesterners grow up in what can be considered the country, then I must claim a childhood on the frontier. Anamoose, North Dakota. Population 497 and falling fast. Nothing much out of the ordinary happens around this Dakota hinterland. There aren't enough souls. At least that's what I thought until I drove through there recently. By the end of Monday night BINGO I'd learned of a bizarre plot in a tiny town to the north.

The next town to the north of Anamoose is Orrin. It is about 20 miles away, and in those 20 miles the population falls fast. Only 46 souls inhabit this forgotten hub that can actually lay claim to being the town closest to the geographical center of North America. Oh, I know that the marker proclaiming this distinction stands in Rugby, North Dakota. Rugby is another 20 miles or so to the north but residents of Orrin have long called foul. It is their claim that since no major highway or town is near the actual site of the geographical center of North America, State Officials chose the more traveled spot to place the commemorative marker.

Wendelyn, Bickler recently deceased, owned the parcel of land touted as the geographical center of our wonderous continent. In memory of his wife (living first, eternal later), he built and maintained a shrine which paid homage to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Ever since the 1930's people have trickled through town, stopping to visit the little shrine. They sign Bickler's guest book and are on their way.

All in all Orrin and its aging population of devout Roman Catholics have led a quiet existance in a pious manner. Orrin has always been known as a little more devout than Anamoose or any of the other little towns nearby. My theory is that Orrin folks do actually pray a bit more and maybe even a little bit harder than folks nearby. This is because they must scrape out a living on some of the state of North Dakota's least productive soil. Farmers in Orrin don't just pray for rain four times per day like the others living in the countryside nearby. Orrin farmers must pray eight times per day if their fields are to yield any crop at all.

These devout Catholics enjoy going to church nearly as much as they enjoy praying. Many of them yearn for the good old days when the rituals of the church's Mass were recited in Latin. No doubt, some of Orrin's citizens prayed for Mass a la Latin to return to their town some day.

Otherwise this geographical center that a majority of Americans would catagorize as the middle of nowhere has led a sleepy life indeed. Except for recent deaths, hailstorms, dust storms, and, of course, the ever-present possibility of rain, there wasn't a lot shaking in Orrin, North Dakota.

Nobody paid much attention when a Canadian woman bought a few of the abandoned homesites scattered around town. The woman is Jennette Beaulne (prodounced Bone) and she claims that while on a religious pilgrimage to Portugal she was directed to Orrin where she was told to prepare for the coming of the Lord. She would do this by honoring the shrine already erected. She would erect a church on the site of the shrine so that the pilgrims of the world could pay a visit. She would build a monastery, a convent, a home for unwed mothers and an orphanage. She would do all of these things in a pious manner and with fervent honor. What's more, she would do these things with other people's money. That way other folks would have the opportunity to feel pious, too. Now all they needed was a patriarchal leader to head up the march. Every devout Catholic endeavor requires a devout and pious patriarchal head.

Two strangers moved into town shortly after Jennette Bealne relocated to Orrin from Ottawa. They were Gerald Strauch and Joseph Domanski.

Life in Orrin went on. People's lives really hadn't changed much since this new bunch had arrived. There was a sign hung on one of the old houses proclaiming it to be the convent but nothing much happened around the new institution, except another woman came into the picture. She was dressed as a Franciscan. Nobody caught her name.

It was the middle eighties and there were better things going on in the world worth paying attention to. Every night on the news, anchor people from the big cities talked of corporate raids and unfriendly takeovers. Orrin folks watched as vigilante groups formed to protect neighborhoods taken over by youth gangs carrying automatic weapons. They watched TV preachers squirm after the rocks they were hiding under had been turned over. The world outside was going berserk. Things in Orrin still seemed comparatively mellow.

One morning Orrin woke up and, lo and behold, a Franciscan priest had moved into town. He was staying at the convent with the fransican sister. What had started with an acquisition or two in 1981 seemed to be turning into quite the movement. People got curious.

The new arrival claimed that he had been called to Orrin in service of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He would oversee raising the funds for the convent, the new church, the new monastary, the orphanage, the home for unwed mothers...maybe they would even import the unwed mothers. Most of Orrin's unwed mothers were wed once and have buried the men they had wed. They were now patiently and devoutly awaiting their maker.

Orrin has a priest, but he lives in Balta. He takes care of three parishes because they are too small individually to support priests of their own. The real priest's name is Reverand Vincent Tuchscher.

The man dressed as a Franciscan priest claiming to have the calling told the townspeople to come to his Mass. His Mass was in Latin. He said a mean Mass. The people of Orrin liked the new priest's Mass but they weren't fond of the name that their new arrival had given: Father X.

Actually, there was a lot that was myterious about the good Father X. He said it was supposed to be like that. He passed duplicates of a snapshot taken of the back of a priest holding up a host. The host contained red and fleshtoned colors. Father X told the good citizens of Orrin that this was a miracle of the host and that the priest in the picture was he. The miracle, he said, took place in Rome. That was where the host was for safe keeping until the time was right.

Father X told some of the members of his new flock that the mystery surrounding him was due to the fact that there were enemies -- people who worked for the Antichrist that were trying to destroy the work he was doing for the Blessed Virgin Mary.

He did not tell them that his real name was Gary Michael McLaughlin or that he was also known as Father Jean Claude Joseph, Father Peter, Reverend Father Michael Francis and Father Michael O'Connor. He also failed to mention that the authorities in New Jersy were looking for him. They want to press charges against him for having sex with an underage individual.

Instead, he announced that he and his little group would begin fundraising immediately. And, at first, "the money came through the mail by the bagful," said Father Tuchscher.

Then the authorities came to visit. Father X is temporarily resting, according to his little flock. He should be rested up very well. He spent several of the frigid winter months in a north Dakota prison on a double mail fraud conviction. Then he took a hotel room in Minot. There he waits for the messenger from Rome, so together they can march back to Orrin.

ZIP Beep #46
50 WAYS TO LEAD A LOAFER
by Ed Eubanks
with apologies to Paul Simon

There it was! Right there in the middle of Time magazine! The startling revelation that our President takes his instructions from his missus who gets her leads from the entertainment section of the National Enquirer! Voodoo economics is one thing, but this was a whole enchilada of a different color! Remember Star Wars. I thought Star Wars was some high tech weapons system that was so complicated it took 20 rocket scientists just to explain the taillights, and now I find out that it's a simple matter of deciding what day the stars say is best to bomb the hell out of Iranians. Hell, for twenty-five cents, the price of a punk haircut, I can get that info from a newspaper box. Here's the question: If the paper only costs a quarter, what do they want with the other $489 trillion dollars? One can only assume that's what the Pentagon will pay for the hardware: the vending machine.

Wait! I am a sophisticate. A worldly-wise journalist who knows better than to believe every tortured phrase splashed across newspulp. I had to investigate this one myself. I contacted "Axe" Splisider, a member of the Conservative Satanists for Reagan, and a close friend of the Presidential couple. We met at the "Frontal Lobotomy" -- a bar quite popular with Republican crowds. There I stressed the importance of my ability to interview the President so I could write a fair, unbiased account of the matter. Otherwise, I pointed out, Reagan would go down in history as a joke; a "cartoon in a cartoon graveyard." Splisider was most anxious not to have his President come to such an ignominious end and was most agreeable to setting up an interview with the most powerful person in the free world.

Three days later I received a phone call. Nancy was on the other end warmly singing out greetings and salutations. I felt this was rather curious until she explained that her astrologist had advised her to deal with the press in a harmonious manner. Excepting this small oddity, there was nothing remarkably unusual about the interview. In fact, I found the First Lady to be an utterly charming and perceptive conversationalist.

Our chat quickly moved to the topic of her belief in astrology and the effect this has upon the President. She intonated she'd been interested in the occult since the days she hung out with Boris and Bella (Karloff and Abzug: two people she described as having monstrous faces but hearts as big as all outdoors). She insisted, however, that she did not press her views until after the assassination attempt upon Ron's life.

"Back then," she chimed, "I was content to let Ronnie's advisors run the show. But after the shooting, when George (Bush) and Al (Haig) were still telling him to go all by himself to Beirut and Teheran on a secret goodwill mission and to wear his red beanie with the target that Bill (Casey) had sewn on it, well, I thought that it was time to put my foot down."

As our conversation continued, I noticed that Mrs. Reagan's chanting was actually melodies from Paul Simon tunes. I could hear snatches of "Mrs. Robinson" and "Bridge Over Troubled Water" as she sang about the ups and downs of being married to a man only a bloodclot away from brain dead and surrounded by a batch of backbiting, power-hungry coattailers who were constantly conspiring against her. When I made note of a hint of "Graceland" in her lilt, she readily acknowleged that she'd recently started to polish up her aura; "Simonizing her karma," as she quipped.

"You know," chirped the First Lady, "He's always trying to end apartheid and promote world peace. Ronnie just loves that! We've always felt that these things are best handled by the private sector. We're really big fans of his. We love his music, and when he talks it sounds just like Ron's mantra. There's one thing we don't understand, though. How can a guy who writes such funky music wear those stupid bow ties?

The President and I talked for several minutes wherein she answered my questions honestly and with no attempt to obfuscate the truth or to deflect my inquiries. The following text is the gist of our conversation. It is lyrically written to convey not only the content of the interview but also the harmonic atmosphere in which it was conducted (rapped to the tune of "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover").


 

 "Running a country seemed a snap," she said to me.

 "It's pretty easy if done astrologically,

 And though I wasn't prez, I knew there had to be

 At least

 50 ways to lead my lover."

 

 She said to me "It's not my habit to intrude,

 But Ronnie is a sort of blumbling, fumbling dude,

 So when his cabinet all my best advice eschewed,

 I looked for 

 50 ways to lead my lover.

 

 

 "I got out the bones, Jones.

 Charted his stars, Lars.

 I rolled out some guts, Lutz,

 And he listened to me.

 We gazed at a ball, Paul,

 And his doubts they did all fall.

 He'd drop off the key, Lee,

 And be home by three.

 

 

 "Our swami said bombing Khaddaffy was a must.

 We hit Grenada after sprinkling magic dust.

 Some folks believe in god, but in our cards we trust

 And in the

 50 ways I lead my lover.

 Now I'm not proud, but, Geez, I hate being ignored

 So I fired staffers and brought in a Ouija board.

 Though Michael Deaver spat and Donald Regan roared

 I had those

 50 ways to lead my lover.

 

 "I got him a seer, Peer.

 I summoned the dead, Fred.

 Threw names in the flames, James,

 And he listened to me.

 I picked up Voodoo, Hugh

 At the feet of a Zulu

 I'd read from his tea, Lee

 Then we'd watch TV.

 

 

 "If Ladybird had squeezed the entrails of a ram

 she'd have told Lyndon to get out of Vietnam

 And Jackie would have passed up Dallas for Siam

 If they'd used

 The 50 ways I lead my lover."

 

 She said, "The mystic arts have been misunderstood.

 I can swear by them all and all's worked out for good.

 Let's hope they always will."  And then she knocked on wood.

 Yes, she has 

 50 ways to lead her lover.

 

 She opens that ram, Sam.

 Scans Dixon each day, Ray.

 Reads bumps on his head, Ted.

 And he listens.  You see,

 It ain't left to chance, Vance.

 Ole Nance wears the striped pants.

 He gives her the key, Lee,

 And nods off carefree.  

 

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