Yucks Digest V2 #19
Yucks Digest Fri, 13 Mar 92 Volume 2 : Issue 19
[Greg Moulton: movies and postmodern aesthetics.]
Dave Barry -- Credit Record Attack
FWD>Shoot yourself in the foot
Humorous coffee blend
What medical treatment is currently available for candiru removal?
The "Yucks" digest is a moderated list of the bizarre, the unusual,
the sometimes risque, the possibly insane, and the (usually) humorous.
It is issued on a semi-regular basis, as the whim and time present
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Date: 2 Mar 92 09:30:04 GMT
From: email@example.com (Jerry Sweet)
Subject: [Greg Moulton: movies and postmodern aesthetics.]
This is my friend Greg's official guide to late night video fare. I
think that the requirement for viewing The Abyss alone makes this
Not responsible for advice taken.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Mr. Racquetball)
Subject: Re: movies and postmodern aesthetics.
Film Category Requires for maximum enjoyment:
============================ ========= ===============================
The Cook, The Thief, His
Wife and Her Lover Weird Chocolate pudding
Raising Arizona Satire Cheetoes and Captain Crunch Snak Mix
Legend Fantasy Chicken Pot Pie
The Thing (the remake) Horror A tub of spaghetti
Andy Warhol's Dracula French Fresh bread and grape juice
My Dinner with Andre Weird A straightjacket and 4 caffeine pills
Eraser Head Weird Babysitting an infant
Brazil Satire A hard day at the office
La Femme Nikita French A sharp pencil and a bitch in boots
Hellraiser B-flick A Rubic's Cube and a box of nails
Colossus, The Forbin Project Old-SciFi A TRW credit report
Thin Blue Line Documtry A room at the Motel 6
Clockwise Satire High blood pressure
Tie Me Up - Tie Me Down Spanish A weekend with a hostage
Monsieur Hire French Binoculars
True Stories Satire TV Dinners
Silence of the Lambs Suspense Steaks rare with potato skins.
Taxi Driver Suspense A mohawk and a place to do push-ups
Blood Simple Suspense A hot summer's night
Last Exit to Brooklyn Drama A suicide letter
After Hours Satire Someone else's car keys
Paris Texas Drama Photos of strangers
(with Glenn Close) Drama A naked friend and some writing paper
9 1/2 Weeks Drama A Love Slave
The Abyss Suspense A plastic bag over your head
Date: 31 Jan 91 20:13:47 GMT
Subject: Dave Barry -- Credit Record Attack
CREDIT RECORD ATTACK
by DAVE BARRY
Recently I received an exciting offer in the mail from my credit-card
company. Usually their offers involve merchandise that no actual human
would ever need.
``Dear Mr. Dave Barry,'' they say. ``How many times have you asked
yourself: `Why can't I cook shish ke-bab AND enjoy recorded music?'
Well, Mr. Dave Barry, because you are a valued customer who has
consistently demonstrated, by paying us 3 million percent interest, that
you have the financial astuteness of a lint ball, we are making
available to you a Special Opportunity to purchase this deluxe
combination gas barbecue grill and CD player.''
But this recent offer was even better. This was an offer to sell me
MY OWN CREDIT RATING. Yes. One of the great benefits of living in
America is that, regardless of your race or religion or hygiene habits,
you are entitled to have a credit rating maintained by large
corporations with powerful computers that know EVERYTHING ABOUT YOU. For
example, let's say that this morning you deposited your paycheck at the
bank, made a phone call, wrote a check for your electric bill and
charged some gasoline on your credit card. By this afternoon, thanks to
high-speed laser fiber-optic data transmission, the computers will know
EVERY SEXUAL FANTASY YOU HAD while you were doing these things. And
don't think they keep it to themselves, either. They are as human as the
next person. They go to computer parties, they have a few too many
diskettes, and the next thing you know they're revealing your intimate
secrets at the rate of four billion per second.
That's why I was so excited about this offer from my credit-card
company to sell me the TRW CREDENTIALS service. TRW is a large company
that collects credit information about people and sells it. According to
the TRW CREDENTIALS offer, if I give them $20 a year, they'll let me see
The offer states: ``Financial experts recommend that you carefully
review your credit report TWICE A YEAR to check its information and make
certain that it is accurate.''
In other words -- correct me if I am wrong here -- they're telling me
that I should give them $20 a year so I can look at the information
ABOUT ME that they collected WITHOUT MY PERMISSION and have been selling
for years to GOD ALONE KNOWS WHO so I can see if it's INCORRECT.
Which it very well could be. Because even with computers, things
sometimes go wrong. I know you find this hard to believe, inasmuch as we
live in such a competent nation, a nation capable of producing
technological wonders such as the Hubble Orbiting Space Telescope, the
only orbiting telescope in the universe equipped with dark glasses and a
cane. But sometimes mistakes do get made, and they could affect your
For example, just recently we got a phone call at home, at night,
from a woman from a collection agency. She said we'd be in big trouble
if we didn't turn over four cable-TV boxes, which she said we had failed
to return to the cable company when we moved a year ago. I explained
that, (1) it was only two boxes, and (2) we had made three appointments
with the cable company to get them, but nobody ever showed up, and (3)
we would love to get rid of them, and (4) maybe SHE could get the cable
company to come get them. The woman said, basically, that it was too
late for that, because this matter had been turned over to a COLLECTION
AGENCY, which is apparently several levels above the U.S. Supreme Court,
and we better hand over four cable boxes or this would go on our
Permanent Credit Record.
So I called up the cable company, and joined the millions of
Americans on hold, waiting to talk to one of the nation's estimated four
cable-company service representatives, two of whom are on break. Future
generations, when they look at formal family portraits from this era,
will say, ``There's Aunt Martha, who was a teacher, and the man holding
the phone receiver to his ear is Uncle Bob, who was on hold to the cable
Finally, miraculously, I got through, and even more miraculously,
they came out and got our boxes. And I was feeling very good about
America until the collection-agency woman called again, at night, to
inform me that we'd be in big trouble if we didn't turn over the boxes.
All four of them.
So I don't know what our credit record says. I wouldn't be surprised
if it holds us largely to blame for the savings-and-loan scandal. So I'm
definitely interested in the TRW CREDENTIALS offer.
However, I don't like to do business with an outfit unless I know
something about it. So I've decided to develop a file on TRW. I'd
certainly appreciate anything you can contribute. But I don't want any
wild speculative unfounded rumors, such as:
-- TRW is the world's largest distributor of hard-core pornography.
-- TRW has destroyed two-thirds of the Earth's ozone layer.
-- TRW is a satanic vampire cult headed by the love child of Jim
Bakker and Leona Helmsley.
There is no need to run the risk that absurd statements such as these
might get into print. In fact, it would probably be a wise idea for TRW
to examine my file, from time to time, just to make sure NOTHING
INACCURATE appeared in there.
I'm sure we can work something out.
Date: 2 Mar 92 15:33:38 U
From: "Chuq von Rospach" <email@example.com>
Subject: FWD>Shoot yourself in the foot
To: McLoughlin#m#_Gary.90's_Project@msgate.corp.apple.com, Jackson#m#_Paul*.Service_Ops_Mail_4@msgate.corp.apple.com, Stevens#m#_Dale.Service_Ops_Mail_4@msgate.corp.apple.com, Young#m#_Jim.Campbell_3#m#_3rd_floor_E@msgate.corp.apple.com, chuq_von_rospach@
[This is an expanded version of something in a Yucks of long-ago. --spaf]
How to tell what Programming Language you're in
The proliferation of modern programming languages which seem
to have stolen countless features from each other sometimes makes
it difficult to remember which languages you're using. This guide
is offered as a public service to help programmers in such dilemmas.
C: You shoot yourself in the foot.
C++: You accidently create a dozen instances of yourself and
shoot them all in the foot. Providing emergency medical
care is impossible since you can't tell which are bitwise
copies and which are just pointing at others and saying,
"that's me, over there."
Fortran: You shoot yourself in each toe, iteratively, until you run
out of toes, then you read in the next foot and repeat. if
you run out of bullets, you continue anyway because you have
no exception-processing ability.
Ada: If you are dumb enough to actually use this language, the
Unites States Department of Defense will kidnap you, stand
you up in front of a firing squad, and tell the soldiers,
"Shoot at his feet".
Modula/2: After realizing that you can't actually accomplish anything
in the language, you shoot yourself in the head.
Cobol: USEing a COLT45 HANDGUN, AIM gun at LEG.FOOT, THEN place
ARM.HAND.FINGER on HANDGUN.TRIGGER, and SQUEEZE. THEN
return HANDGUN to HOLSTER. CHECK whether shoelace needs to
Lisp: You shoot yourself in the appendage which holds the gun
with which you shoot yourself in the appendage which holds
the gun with which you shoot yourself in the appendage
which holds the gun with which you shoot yourself in the
appendage which holds.....
Assembly: You crash the OS and overwrite the root disk. The system
administrator arrives and shoots you in the foot. After
a moment of contemplation, the administrator shoots
himself in the foot and then hops around the room rapidly
shooting at everyone in sight.
SmallTalk:You spend so much time playing with the graphics and
windowing system that your boss shoots you in the foot,
takes away your workstation, and makes you develop in COBOL
on a character terminal.
FORTH: Foot in yourself shoot.
APL: You shoot yourself in the foot, and then spend all day figuring
out how to do it in fewer characters.
Pascal: The compiler won't let you shoot yourself in the foot.
SNOBOL: if you succeed, shoot yourself in the left foot. If you
fail, shoot yourself in the left foot.
BASIC: Shoot self in foot with water pistol. On big systems,
continue until entire lower body is waterlogged.
sh, csh, etc: You can't rember the syntax for anything, so you spend
five hours reading man pages before giving up. You
then shoot the computer and switch to C.
APT: You cut a perfect bullethole in your foot, and shoot through
it. [Note to the uninitiated: APT is the oldest computer language
currently in use -- Automatic Programming of Tools.]
Concurrent Euclid: you shoot yourself in somebody else's foot.
Motif: You spend days writing a UIL description of your foot, the trajectory,
the bullet, and the intricate scrollwork on the ivory handles of the gun.
When you finally get around to pulling the trigger, the gun jams.
APL, version 2: @#&^$%&%^ foot
BCPL: you shoot yourself somewhere in the leg - you can't get any finer
resolution than that.
VMS: %SYS-F-FTSHT, foot shot
(fifty lines of traceback omitted)
Unix: % ls
foot.c foot.h foot.o toe.c toe.o
% rm * .o
rm: .o: No such file or directory
JCL: You shoot yourself in the head just thinking about it.
MSDOS: You shoot yourself in the foot, but can unshoot yourself with
Picospan. You can't shoot yourself in the foot, because you're
not a host.
Paradox: Not only can you shoot yourself in the foot, your users can too.
Revelation: You'll be able to shoot yourself in the foot just as soon as
you figure out what all these bullets are for.
Oracle: The menus for coding foot_shooting
have not been implemented yet, and you can't do foot shooting in SQL.
HyperTalk: put the first bullet of the gun into foot left of leg of
you. Answer the result.
Date: 3 May 91 23:30:04 GMT
From: ZABRISK.auvm.edu@auvm.UUCP ( CHRISTOPHER T. ZABRISKIE )
Subject: grading methods
Here is a list of the ways professors here at the American
University grade their final exams:
DEPT OF STATISTICS:
- All grades are plotted along the normal bell curve.
DEPT OF PSYCHOLOGY:
- Students are asked to blot ink in their exam books, close
them and turn them in. The professor opens the books and
assigns the first grade that comes to mind.
DEPT OF HISTORY:
- All students get the same grade they got last year.
DEPT OF RELEGION:
- Grade is determined by God.
DEPT OF PHILOSOPHY:
- What is a grade?
- Students are asked to defend their position of why they
should receive an A.
DEPT OF MATHEMATICS:
- Grades are variable.
DEPT OF LOGIC:
- If and only if the student is present for the final and
the student has accumulated a passing grade then the student
will receive an A else the student will not receive an A.
DEPT OF COMPUTER SCIENCE:
- Random number generator determines grade.
- Each student must figure out his grade by listening to the
instructor play the corresponding note (+ and - would be sharp
and flat respectively).
DEPT OF PHYSICAL EDUCATION:
- Everybody gets an A.
Date: 13 Jul 91 04:19:58 GMT
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Ben Gamble)
Subject: Humorous coffee blend
Okay, I'm a little late with this, seeing as most of the coffee
traffic cleared up some weeks ago, but I thought I'd kick in a little
note on the only humorous coffee blend I've seen.
One of the profs in the Chemical Engineering dept. here has a can of
stuff sold by Trader Joe's, comes in a cardboard/foil can like the new
<begin excerpts from package copy>
Werner Karl Heisenberg's Uncertain Blend
Whole coffee beans of indeterminate origin!
<all Arabica, no Robusto>
This coffee is dedicated to the memory of one of the greatest
physicists of the 20th Century, WK Heisenberg.
<Britannica squib on Heisenberg>
The coffee beans in this can are all high quality beans, but the
coffee roaster lost their identity. That's what happens occasionally
in the coffee roasting plants.
We've made a deal to buy all the roaster's "indeterminate beans" at a
very low cost, which we're passing on to you. But please don't expect
the next can to be the same as this one!
<cartoon with two men looking at a huge piece of equipment that
includes a massive bell. One is saying:
"If I measure it, I can't observe it; and if I observe it, I can't
measure it. But it makes a helluva noise!">
Date: 27 Feb 91 20:10:42 GMT
From: email@example.com (Marybeth A. Griffin)
I saw this on a bboard on campus. Thought it sounded interesting.
Confessions of a Nerd
By Ben Stein
Taken without consent from Cosmopolitan Magazine January 1991
Think of this as the report of a geologist announcing a major new oil
find. Or of a securities analyst discovering a highly undervalued stock
that's bound to go up and make money for the investor. Only this report
is about nerds -- and why they are worth your attention. And it's by
someone who ought to know, since I make a good part of my living playing
one on TV (most recently on the sitcom The Wonder Years) and play the
role from life experience.
Every young woman knows that there is a gigantic shortage of
interesting men. Masses are married. Other masses are nasty and cruel.
Still others have sexual preferences that render them unavailable. But
-- and this is a but -- big there is one large pool of men who are
habitually passed over as boyfriend material. These are your basic
nerds, the kind of men whose mere mention makes many women's lips curve
Now, to define my terms, a nerd -- for the purposes of this
investigative report -- is a guy who is shy, bookish, not cool, not
cooly dressed, tends to lack certain social graces, and maybe carries a
white plastic pocket protector in his shirt pocket to shield the
cotton-Dacron mix from the blue ink of his six ballpoint pens. (I do
not include men who are repellently fat, pick their noses in public or
private, have terrifyingly bad acne, or chew beef jerky. Someone else
will have to defend them.)
As I said, the normal woman (who is not herself a nerd) has nothing but
contempt for the kind of men I'm pitching here. How vividly I recally
the female friend who told me about a date with a nerd from her history
class at UCLA: "On our first date, I thought that if he tried to kiss
me, I'd throw up."
But consider these few facts about nerds. . . . First, by definition
nerds lack many of the most unfortunate characteristics of cool guys.
According to the basic laws of dating, cool guys are mean guys. Cool
guys are guys who take you to a party and spend the whole time talking
about the newest-model Porsche with their pals. Cool guys are guys who
have sex with you and don't ever call you. Or who sleep with your best
friend while you're home in Oak Park visiting Mom and Dad.
Now, some women ( all to many women, but then that's another story)
like mean guys. But if your're sick of being treated that way, consider
As a matter of necessity, he's scared of women. (That's part of what
makes him a nerd.) He's also convinced that women think he's a hopeless
geek. ( I assure you, this is so. I've felt it. I lived it until I was
was about twenty years old.)
Therefore, the nerd will be incredibly grateful for a date with you. If
your are even a little bit nice to him, he will be wildly happy. If you
have sex with him, he will remember you in his will. There's added
value here. There's something to be said for being treated like a
queeen instead of like a punching bag.
Second, the nerd will need not always be a nerd. And if you are the one
who brings out the cool part of your nerd, he will always be at your feet.
I volunteer myself as an example. For all of my high-school life. I was
a nerd -- if not to everyone, then certainly to enough people. But in
college, by a miracle, I met a wonderful girl named Mary. She treated
me with love and respect and even valued my brain-o nerdy qualities.
(Her father was a world-famous scientist-nerd, and this obviously had
something to do with it.)
She treated me so wonderfully, in fact, that for about fifteen years I
stopped being a nerd altogether. True, during a bout of terror in law
school, I treated her badly. But for the ensuing twenty years, I have
been permanently grateful and have her on a good-sized pedestal in my
In her worshipping eyes, those twenty-five years ago, I was James Dean,
JFK, Carl Perkins, and Roy Orbison all rolled into one. The result was
a permanent change in my self-esteem. This is what a woman earns for
treating a nerd well -- and it's a lot better for the nonmasochist than
the kick in the teeth that the guy with the shiny smile, the
quatrterback's assurance and Daddy's Beemer is likely to give you.
Third -- and this truly crucial -- today's nerd is tomorrow's
superstar. The guy you spot today who is hammering out programs on his
Macintosh is the same guy that who is going to give you a twenty-room
mansion tomorrow. The guy who stammers when he asks you if you want to
have coffee after class is the you who is going to clutch an Oscar in
his breast someday.
This is not just a hypothesis or hope. This is fact, and I have seen it
with my own eyes. In high school, there was a guy who was funny and
amusing and could play the guitar. But he was goofy-looking and had
dirt under his nails sometimes and was always talking about obscure
books on political subjects that were taboo for most of us. I knew him
well, and in our little circle we used to wonder what park bench we
would see him sleeping on when we all grew up.
Instead, he became Carl Bernstein, multiprize-winning journalist,
legendary lothario of the beautiful people, and the exact opposite of
the nerd he once was. (Although, like Napoleon's soldiers, who each
carried the field marshall's baton in his knapsack Carl carried the big
winner's easy smile and assured slouch even in high school, as every
nerd carries some hint of future hip inside.)
In junior high shcool, there was a boy who was scrawny, withdrawn, and
perpetually sad-looking. I used to see him at the neighborhood pizza
place, where both of us ate our solitary slices. By this time, you've
probably seen him too. His name is Sylvester Stallone. Of course, he no
longer qualifies as a nerd, although he still has the slightly
bewildered, slightly frightened look on his face that made him a
superstar in Rocky.
There were also nerd girls in my high school who went on to bigger and
better things. One was a skinny, definitely not quite-cool girl who was
always trying to please and who succeded. Her name is Goldie Hawn.
Another was an almost unbelieveably shy Chinese-American girl who
hardly spoke, although she's certainly made up for it lately. Her name
is Connie Chung.
Look at Woody Allen, Steven Spielberg, Rick Moranis, or any one of a
million ex-nerds who have gone on to fame and fortune. Nerds have to
work harder. They have to study. They have to put in long hours. That's
why they're called nerds. If they didn't do that, they would be cool guys.
Which brings us to the big catch-22 for the cool guys, at least those
who are cool in high school or college. Their peronal qualities that
make a young man cool -- comtempt for school, obsession with appearance,
a studied surliness -- do absolutely nothing at all to produce income,
fame or prestige in later life. But the things that nerds do -- study,
work hard, think creativly -- do produce the goodies of life.
Fourth, nerd is as a nerd does. Or, don't assume that because a guy
looks like a nerd even when he's grown up, he'll be a nerd for all
eternity -- or even that he really is a nerd right now.
A man can look like a nerd and still be totally cool and hip and
famous. Here in Malibu, where I am writing this, I often eat at a
nearby Italian restaurant. A few months ago, I walked in behind a an
unimaginably weird-looking man with a head much too big for his body, a
wildly outsized chin and strange-looking sideburns. "What kind of
people are you letting in these days?" I demanded of the headwaiter.
"Who is that goofball?"
"Are you referring to Bruce Sringsteen?" the captain asked.
Then, not long ago, while walking in the local shopping center with my
assistant, Miss Vicky, I saw a man with curly hair and funky dark
glasses, wearing a long leather coat on an eighty-degree day. "What a
loser," I said to Vicki. "Doesn't he know that the sixties are over?"
"Wait here," Vicki said. "I'll tell Bob Dylan to change his clothes."
So, as I learned once again, with enough talent, hard work, and luck,
the nerdiest-looking guy on earth can become a superstar.
Finally, I can give you an example even closer to home. By a series of
very, very lucky coincidences, I, who have never had an acting lesson,
got to play a nerdy high-school teacher in the fabled movie Ferris
Bueller's Day Off -- just because I have the nerdiest voice in history.
Because I played a nerd so well, drawing on all my experience and along
family history of nerdiness, I got to be a famous nerd, asked for my
autograph almost every day. From that, I got to play a nerd in
commercials, a nerd in a wonderful sitcom called Charles in Charge, and
then a recurring nerd in The Wonder Years, the megahit ABC sitcom. Now
there is talk of a TV show starring me as a robot teacher (though most
of the talk comes from me).
Because of my nerd fame, people cryout to me from cars, from across
crowded rooms, and from a lot of places where nerds ar not usually
welcome, like nightclubs, and ask me to talk to them. And so I've
discovered that a famous nerd is no longer a nerd -- and yet retains
some lingering soupcon of nerdiness. Or, to put it another way, a nerd
can be cool and a nerd at the same time, and that is pretty hip. (By
the way, if you don't want to consider me, think of Elvis Costello or
Garry Shandling or Pat Sajak and you'll come to the same conclusion.)
Fifth, and closely related to all of th the above, nerds can make good
lovers. For one thing, there is that gratitude aspect of their
relationships. That translates into more time spent and more attention
paid. For another thing a nerd is by definintion fairly new to women
and is therfore teachable, which is a key to happy sex. He doesn't
assume that he knows everything and therefore can absorb what a woman
tells him about what she wants in romance. Best of all, a nerd
desperately wants to please. He is not likely to be as self-absorbed.
All of this is related, and it all may add up to some nice surprises.
By the way, remember the girl who said she would throw up if the nerd
tried to kiss her? That's right. They're married, and you can send them
presents at their house in Beverly Hills. He's a big time producer --
in his late twenties. She plays a lot of tennis and writes in a little
cabana next to the pool.
So there you are. Nerds, at least teachable nerds, a are a major
undervalued male resource waiting to be tapped. The cool guys won't
tell you because they don't want the competition. But I just did.
Date: 1 Mar 92 06:27:27 GMT
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Malcolm L. Carlock)
Subject: What medical treatment is currently available for candiru removal?
Warning to sci.med readers: The following material about the "urethra fish"
(and questions about treatment after an "attack")
has not been posted to alt.tasteless for nothing.
I'm curious (and not just for academic reasons; I might go to South America
someday and get exposed to this little beast =:-0 what medical techniques
are currently available for treating victims of a candiru "attack". For
those unfamilar with the candiru, or "urethra fish", this creature inhabits
rivers in the Amazon basin, where it (usually) lives by parasitizing the
gills of larger fish, in which it lodges with backward-pointing spines, and
absorbs phosphorus given off as a byproduct of the host fish's respiration.
It turns out that phosporus is a non-negligible element of human urine, which
means that if you go swimming in many South American bodies of fresh water
and happen to be dribbling pee for any reason, you run what is often a
non-trivial risk of having one of these li'l bastards make a beeline for your
urethra and burrow far inside, rather irremovably, due to those backward-
pointing spines. To quote from an earlier posting on the subject, "the
pain is excruciating, urination impossible [..] you must find a doctor and
ask him to amputate your penis." (!!)
The Indians of the area have long known that prevention is the best way
to avoid such an occurrence, and have a long tradition of not peeing into
rivers or other bodies of water (supposedly these monstrous little beasties
are capable even of swimming up a piss-stream!)(*) for this very reason.
An author whose name I forget but who was quoted in the same (or possibly
yet another) posting on the subject, while on an expedition into the wilds
of South America, cured himself of a near-incapacitating case of candiru-
terror only after constructing, and using while bathing, an anti-candiru
device made of some tubular object with fine screening over the end.
I guess my question is... is amputation of the affected member still the
"treatment of choice [sic]" for males in which a candiru has lodged?
Maybe I'm asking too much of "bush medicine", but it seems to me that
the offending candiru could be removed by first locating by feel the nasty
li'l crittur within the penis, then making a longitudinal incision in the
top of the penis through which the fish could be grasped and then removed.
Before this was done, perhaps a prior insertion of a rod or similar object
through the diameter of the penis, and ahead of the fish's head, would be
advisable in order to prevent the fish from burrowing further into the
urethra during the operation. It seems such an operation could be carried
out (if crudely and painfully) even in primitive conditions? Surely
_amputation_ isn't really necessary in all (or even any) such cases?
Thanks in advance for any info.
"All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small
[..] the [Good?] God made them all."
(*) "Tristes Tropiques", Jean Claude Levi-Strauss
Date: Sun, 1 Mar 92 13:55:19 -0500
From: email@example.com (Kevin D Clark)
[taken from the NYT, OP-ED, Wed. Feb. 26, 1992, page A21]
By Gary Trudeau
``Is the future fully carpeted, Doctor?'' I ask anxiously,
``Is it well lit?''
``Relax. Everything's been parallaxed. You'll feel no
So saying, the Spin Doctor carefully fits the HMD
(Head-Mounted Display) to my face. As the cushioned nose piece
settles snugly into place, I am plunged into inactive dataspace, known
to non-cybernauts as total darkness. My outstretched hands, wrapped
in sensor-line Lycra DG's (Data Gloves), begin to tremble.
``O.K., let's go on line. Tap your forefingers together.''
I comply. A million juiced pixels explode across the
stereoscopic display. I am instantly bathed in the luminous glow of
an exquisitely contoured winterscape, over which I find myself
hovering effortlessly, like a snowflake caught in an updraft.
``Welcome to Virtual Reality,'' intones the Doctor's
``Where am I?''
``You've entered an APL. Artificial Political Landscape.''
The digitalized voice is soothing, oddly reassuring, considering the
amount of disinformation it has put into place over the years.
I lift my DG. Instantly, I soar up over the tree line.
``It looks like Maine.''
``It is -- almost. It's Virtual Maine. Maine with climate
control. Extend your forefinger.''
I obey. Tiny sparks of frost crystalize through my nose
pores. I'm impressed, but confused.
``Why Maine? Maine is history. You promised me the future.''
``Look out over the horizon Occupying the center. What do
``I see...Clinton. Well, Virtual Clinton. He looks a little
``And how's he doing?''
I focus on Clinton. The air around him is clearly charged.
``Better than expected?''
``There you go. And the Governor had no on-site telepresence
or surrogates. The caucus delegates accessed his vision entirely on
Intrigued, I reach up to the menu bar and pull down
``Vision.'' Out tumbles the index to the scariest database I have
ever seen. Virtually hundreds of positions from scores of cyberwonks
and policy hackers have been uploaded and integrated into the Clinton
``Feel free to window shop,'' says the Doctor. ``For
instance, call up the Governor's new urban renewal paradigm. Feel
free to dupe it. No charge.''
``I can't. I'm a journalist.''
``Well, believe me, the competition has nothing like it.
Jerry Brown? Mr. 30 percent? An anomaly. Brown spent five days
cruising the system, dumping his message into every unattended
dataport. Tsongas? Neo-lib nukehead with snooze control....
I glance over at Virtual Bill. He seems somehow larger than I
remember him. At 15 percent, he shouldn't dominate the landscape, but
``Issues are Virtual Bill's cybersteroids,'' asserts the
Doctor. ``They feed his head and make him stronger.''
``You mean, slicker. He has an answer for everything.''
``Hearing this, Virtual Bill smiles, sending nearby fractal
clusters scampering for safety. My charm alarm goes off.
``I don't get it. Why Virtual Bill? We already have Real
``Real Bill can't be everywhere at once. Virtual Bill can.
Any citizen with a PC can have unlimited face-time with him. For
instance, you want to know what the Governor thinks about waste
disposal? Virtual Bill will tell you. You want to test him, see how
he performs in a crisis? Introduce a bimbonic virus. You want to
hear him do Elvis? Virtual Bill can croon ``Love Me Tender'' in nine
keys. He's a cyber-candidate, both everywhere and no-where, meeting
information needs of the electorate. Virtual Bill is the only truly
democracy-friendly candidate out there.
I whistle softly. Virtual Bill looks up and winks, this time
having taken the time to deactivate my charm alarm. I am defenseless.
``Come on son,'' he drawls, ``Let me show you around.''
End of Yucks Digest