ZIP Beep #54
THE UNBEARABLE BYTENESS OF BEING
by Greenscreen
as told to Don Fitzwater

[Editor's Note: Long-time ZIP Beep readers and frequenters of Gizmode will remember our resident paranoic, Greenscreen. We're not sure just who or what Greenscreen is. From time to time he manages to crack the system by some arcane method. Sometimes he leaves a very long message on our answering machine (the last one filled a 60 minute tape) alerting us all to some unimaginable horror awaiting us out there. This time, he might actually be on to something.]

Less than 1 percent of Americans have personal computers at home. Out of a total population of about 200 million, that is fewer than two million current computer users. The other 99 percent don't need a computer, don't want one, and even if they had one, wouldn't use it! Rather than taking these figures to mean that we computer users are "elite" I think a more appropriate assessment would be that that 99 percent out there view us as "freaks!"

Freaks.

I don't know about you, but for me that is a label that takes some getting used to.

Not that I object to the term "freak." After all, in the 60's that's a term I had a close acquaintance with. We reveled in our "freakiness" and took comfort in the society of freaks. We wore our hair long (actually called it a "freak flag" if you can believe that), and generally "freaked out, man." And we were called Freaks. And Hippies. And Yippies. And Godforsakenpinkocommiehomo Outside Agitators. And a few other names, all told.

How the worm has turned.

We forsook "tune in, turn on and drop out" and many of us have now embraced "The Establishment" and its accompanying high tech (a "turn on, plug in and network" approach, if you will). We see technology as a continuation of our democratizing liberalism. We've joined the over-the-counter culture of the VAR. We're "working within the system" instead of divorcing ourselves from it. The only problem is that, once again, society is divorcing itself from us!

You'd think we belong to some sort of nasty cult or something from the way mainstream America views us.

Think on it a minute.

To that 99 percent out there, we're a pretty weird group. We speak a strange unintelligible language -- CPU's, bytes, hard disks, baud (obviously we must be sexual degenerates), modems, boot blocks (fascist overtones there, eh?) and a whole plethora of apparent gobbledygook. We hang out in user groups (communes?) and swap software (sexual degeneracy again?) and apparently, to the man on the street, we have nothing better to do with our time than to figure out ways to crack banking and Pentagon computers and spread high tech diseases through these awful sounding things called viruses and worms.

Next thing you know these computer freaks will be out in the airports of America hitting up unsuspecting travelers for donations to feed our unsavory habits.

"Hello there, Sir or Madam. Have you ever thought about how a computer could change your life? We have these monthly meetings where we share with each other and you'd be welcome to attend. Here, take this copy of the Norton Utilities as a gift. Oh, by the way, could you spare some money for a donation to our cause? We're sure you'll find it useful, and your donation would go a long way towards improving the quality of life..."

My point is this: Despite all our best efforts, we're still viewed as freaks.

But it could get worse.

We've already seen some signs of just how much worse it could get. Remember the big stock market crash in October a year or so back? Remember who (or what) finally had to take the rap? Remember? Yup, it was "computer trading" that was the miscreant (and not the greedy profit taking speculators) that was responsible for the big plunge. Why, the SEC even suspended computer trading for a while!

So not only are we viewed as some sort of dangerous cult, but now we are being trotted out as part of some vague international financial conspiracy responsible for all the economic woes of our country.

Does any of this sound vaguely familiar? It should. It was this sort of thinking that marched the National Socialists right into power in good old Germany back in the 30's. You bet!

How long before we computer users find ourselves ostracized from polite company? How long before we find ourselves forced into restricted areas, apart from decent society?

"Those computer freaks, you know...they're the reason the stock market crashed."

"Yeah, and I heard that they commit all kinds of unsavory acts. They're not human I tell ya!"

"The government really ought to do something about them."

And what, dear computing enthusiast, just what might that government do?

It'll start out simply enough - there'll be all kinds of public pronouncements about just what a rotten bunch we all are. Then the government will move to pass some legislation downgrading us to second class citizens decent folk shouldn't have to put up with the likes of!

Soon computer users will be forced to wear some sort of symbol (perhaps a stylized chip?) to mark us as "undesirables" and persons to be avoided at any cost.

They won't stop there (they never do), no siree.

Soon there will be "relocation" programs. Whole LAN's will be broken up and separated. Users cut off from servers, MIS types isolated from network administrators, chants by rowdies in the streets "Computins Computins." Hey who cares what happens to a bunch of unwashed sub-human computer freaks anyway?

But that is just a foretaste of the ultimate horror to come.

Computing enthusiasts and their systems will be rounded up and shipped off to "Service Centers" where, under the guise of having their systems checked out, their hard drives will be totally an irreparably erased!

"*.* will make you Free" will be the rallying cry as millions and millions of bytes of information are sent to a magnetic inferno.

Wake up computer users! They have met the enemy and they think it's us! We have to move now, educate, protect, do whatever we can to safeguard against this final erasure.

We must act now or face oblivion. We have to @#$%*^((f$^^>>>act or%%()f%f%
all will be lost $f^*#@**f(*f!@# death...!@#$%^f*()_%#%@#@#%f^^@~{})($#$@+..

TRANSMISSION LOST

UNRECOVERABLE SYSTEM ERROR

---defaulting to previous command level

ZIP Beep #54
AN IMMORTAL BALLAD
by Chuck Strinz


 It's good to grow old gracefully, and gain the world's respect.

 And those of us most fortunate are likely to collect

 On Medicare, full life, Social Security, and such.

 Yes, aging is its own reward.  We'd like to think as much.

 

 But grace is not a touchstone in the culture of the youth.

 And 'though it may seem fine to some, to others it's uncouth

 To let yourself grow older.  You have loads of time for that.

 Watch MTV.  Read Tiger Beat.  Drink Pepsi.  Don't get fat.

 

 Oh, let us stop this aging!  Let Claude Pepper take a rest!

 (The poor guy has enough to do at other folks' behest.)

 Forget the autumn leaves, and leave September's song unsung.

 'Cause Retin-A and Rogaine can forever keep us young.

 

 For many generations there's been talk of wonder drugs

 That fast remove the wrinkles from our sad, maturing mugs.

 Or starting with a cue ball that's as smooth as it is fair,

 Replace its creamy surface with a healthy shock of hair.

 

 In '88 we saw it come to pass before our eyes

 That two such drugs made youth another product money buys.

 So if you can afford it, give old Father Time the slip.

 And tell that Mother Nature hag you've finally gotten hip.

 

 It's much more fun to rock to dancing beats than in a chair.

 This growing old is for the birds!  It's more than we can bear.

 'Though time may pass, don't show it to the people you're among.

 For Retin-A and Rogaine can forever keep us young.

 

  

ZIP Beep #54
THIS IS THE ONE
by Dennis Wallaker

WARNING: This one involves one person talking to another person a whole lot so if you don't like that kind of thing, you might want to do something else instead of reading this, understanding full well that TODAY is my BIRTHDAY. Thanks.

The most nervous kid in the world whom I've ever met in my life and what's left of it, lives upstairs on the 4th floor.

I'm telling you this in case you want to check him out for yourself...but don't be too obvious, 'cause it's just going to make him more nervous.

PARENTS - Everyone worries about their little girls but figures the "boy" can take care of himself. This kid is far more nervous than I am and I'm the guy that the IRS wants to use for their poster child. DON'T LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU!

3RD GRADE
---------

He's firmly convinced that he's not going to be able to graduate from the 3RD GRADE. In his words, "Then they get to keep you back a year and if you still don't pass, they send you to jail."

Now I'd heard this when I was in the 3RD GRADE but I didn't realize that it was still going on today.

"Poet," he'll say (a lot of people around here call me Poet and thank you for asking), "How did you get through the 3RD GRADE?"

"I sucked up to my teacher. I was always telling her how pretty she was and what a nice dress she was wearing."

"Well, Poet, my teacher talks like a girl but he's a guy."

"In that case, you're going to have to learn how to combine your colors topped off with a tasteful blazer and shoes that don't brag but say I'm here."

DINING
------

I was coming back one night and he was simultaneously zipping down the stairs.

I said, "Hi!"

He said, "I came down as soon as I saw you and the cat coming down the street."

I asked, "Anything wrong?"

He said, "No, but I wanted to get down here to see if you were going to do anything."

I said, "I'm going to make supper. Did you eat yet?"

He said, "Yes, I just want to be down here and watch."

SINGLE MOTHERS - Nobody hates married more than I did but if you don't have your brothers or your father coming over on a regular basis then I'm going to have kids like this coming down to watch me make Ham & Eggs for the rest of my life.

But then he asked the magic question.

"Are you going to put that stuff on everything?"

I don't think there is any greater pleasure for an adult then to introduce a child to his first tablespoon of horseradish. To look him or her straight in the eye and say, "Swallow it whole. It's not unlike ice cream."

And then be able to watch the eyes tear up, the nose start to run and the wax flow out of their ears...and have the God-given pleasure to ask:

"Would you like some water?"

And even though it sounds like I like children, I don't, because they are basically little adults that haven't figured out yet how they are going to acquire incredible amounts of money so they can basically make enough for the American essentials and still enough for that Christian church we have over here.

Not to let certain others off.

Another kid at the church asked me:

"Is it true that Jesus Christ can walk on water?"

I said, "Yes, it is."

He asked, "How come?"

And I said, "Because he's Jewish. And Jews think they can get away with anything."

This had the minister biting his lip and my job in jeopardy, but I think that it also gave that "other" kid another idea of a different kind of God. One that's less nervous.

Which brings us back to my boy on the 4th floor who's nervous for reasons that we'll never understand and the sooner I get back to them, the funnier this story will be and Chuck and Don worry about this because they feel I'm losing my edge.

They could only hope to write this good because sexually they are at a standstill and if you don't believe me, talk to their wives.

THE INDIAN'S DOG
----------------

This one got a little bit sticky because there are only two people that are allowed to touch the Indian's Dog. One of them is me and one of them is the Indian.

This happened on a day that bachelors often have when you are trying to figure out how to use all these different laundry products, and when they say (and they say it often) that "it all comes out in the wash". It don't.

Mr. Nervous shows up and says, "It's all your fault even though part of it is my fault."

I said, "OK."

"But Poet, you said that I can't touch or do nothing with any of the animals except for Little Pete who's hardly ever here, 'cause he's always on your shoulder and you're almost never here. So I..."

Then he paused and he's the best pauser I've ever seen except for bald guys who are trying to describe how certain anti-baldness products really work.

This nervous boy finally did some verbal bolting out of the very inside of his soul and said:

"I was with the Indian's dog."

"You know the rules."

"Oh, yeah, sure. The Indian's gone, you ain't here. He just sits out there in the snow sometimes."

"What did you do with the dog?"

Now, why a kid that is as nervous as he is about the 3RD GRADE wants to spend time with a dog that's mean and ugly, I'll never know.

Anyways, he responded, "I petted and I fed him."

"What did you feed him?"

"Half a tuna fish sandwich."

"Where'd the other half go?"

"I ate half, he ate half."

"Yup. He eats real fast."

"Then he rolls over on his side and just waits for you to pet him."

"Kid, you may be the only guy he does that for."

"Poet, I should be allowed to see that dog whenever I want."

"No," which is what I said.

"Yes," which is what he said and a bit less nervous.

"Okey Dokey, but you have got to get through the 3RD GRADE without anymore worrying and complaining."

He softly said, "Yes."

But the kid is such a liar and a nervous wreck and you have to worry yourself about anyone that's going to give that Indian's dog a tuna fish sandwich because he's OK with seafood of any kind, but he does have a problem with mayonnaise. Especially something like potato salad.

Now on to myself. My animals don't like my Dad. I don't really care except that when he walks into the room, instead of scratching and biting him they run up and bite and scratch me.

I thought at first when he walked into the room and they started biting and scratching me that they were figuring that my Dad is a man well into his 50's and who dresses in a rather oblique fashion, so why mess with him?

No!

It's a weird kind of psycho warfare that no one would be involved in unless they were a lower form of life and had nothing better to do certain times of the week.

I've got a squirrel in the bathroom who does nothing to me never and no how and I got cats and dogs and possibly the only mean pigeon I know that WANT ME DEAD!

Sounds like I'm complaining. Why don't you try to be me and just see how you wind up.

Or else, you can try something else.

Pray for the
Kid,
Myself,
the animals
and
my ex-wife

ZIP Beep #54
SAM GOETZ MEETS THE LIBYANS
by Chuck Strinz

Life doesn't seem fair sometimes. You do what you think you gotta do, and all you get for it is flack.

Take the case of Sam Goetz. Sam made the news when he "attacked" a couple of Libyan ruffians on the subway recently. He says it was self defense. They say it was harassment. I'm biased, since Sam happens to be my uncle. Still, a relative's inside point of view might help put things in perspective.

Sam has a job that takes him to all sorts of strange places at odd hours. On this particular night, he had just left his company's New York satellite office, and was debating whether to go out and have a good time, or just cruise on back to his hotel.

I wouldn't say Sam is nervous, and I wouldn't say he's the kind to seriously think he can take on the world, but I have to admit he can be a bit pugnacious at times. Especially when he feels threatened. And I guess he can feel threatened pretty easily. But at his heart, he's not really a bad guy at all.

So Sam is riding on the subway, it's late at night, and he has the whole place pretty much to himself, which is the way he usually likes it. The subway stopped, and two kinda dark looking characters got on.

Sam says it made him uncomfortable to see them, but they entered through a door clear on the other end of the car, so he didn't think they would be a problem. They both sat down on the same seat, which was strange since the car was empty but for them and Sam. Even stranger, they sat facing Sam, staring at him with their cold beady little eyes.

Sam saw from the patches on their leather jackets that they were members of a Libyan street gang led by an unstable bozo called Big Mo. The gang members claim to be protectors of their neighbors, but Sam has always had his doubts. The fact is, most things about the Libyans rub Sam the wrong way. They eat wierd food. Their women dress funny. And a few years ago, they virtually took over a basketball court that once belonged to some very good friends of Sam's.

And here they were, staring at him.

The longer the Libyans stared, the more uncomfortable Sam became. It wasn't long, he says, before he decided to do something to break the tension. Rather than confront them, Sam decided to move to the other side of the aisle.

That's when Sam says he first felt a cold shiver run up his back, because the Libyans quickly moved to the other side as well, positioning themselves so they could continue staring at Sam.

Sam was getting agitated now. When they had changed sides, the Libyans had also moved a few seats closer, and Sam could see what looked like a can of mace in one Libyan's jacket pocket. For a closer look, and to show that he wasn't really afraid of them, Sam moved forward a couple of seats.

Who knows what those crazy Libyans thought they were doing, but they looked at each other and stood up for a moment, stretched, and started walking down the aisle toward Sam. They claim they thought they might be able to make a drug deal, and just wanted to check Sam out a bit more before taking a chance on him. One of them stuck his hand in his pocket. He says he reached in to pull out a jar of pharmaceuticals. Sam still swears it was the can of mace, or a tear gas pen, or some other chemical weapon. I'm inclined to believe Sam. In any case, I can see why this made him jump up.

Sam's a pretty fast guy when he wants to be. He grabbed an empty coke bottle and pitched it hard at the Libyans. They froze and showed a couple of surprised stares, which gave Sam time to pick up what was left of somebody's sack lunch and throw that at the Libyans, too.

Both projectiles missed. The Libyans recovered, and leaped toward Sam. They say it was to stop him from hurting them. He says they wanted to kill him.

Anyway, they never got the opportunity to make their sale. ("We only had five dollars' wortha 'ludes," one of them told the TV reporter, "that was all we was gonna hit him for." But I have my doubts.)

Sam snatched up another coke bottle and gave it a heave. It bounced off one Libyan's shoulder and struck the other in the head. By then the car had pulled into the station, where two policemen were returning from a benefit ball. They stepped in and broke up the fight.

Sam's getting all the blame for this. Maybe he has it coming. Probably not. He sure got a bum deal, if you ask me. One of the Libyans is back in his neighborhood now, and treated like a hero. The other one has been in and out of jail for various reasons, but his community still looks up to him. Sam was found guilty of assault and battery, fined $5,000 and sentenced to a year in jail.

I don't know. It just doesn't seem fair. I think it's just going to lead to more trouble, now that the Libyans feel they were vindicated. Those guys are really crazy. That's okay, but they sure shouldn't be so uppity about it.

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