Corporate autonomy

Life as a business owner was not as she had thought it would be. Instead of the big leap into freedom promised by starry-eyed entrepreneurs, it mostly seemed to be mindless minutiae in endless, exhaustive detail. After realizing that there had to be a web page and that it had to have a graphical design, she almost snapped. What saved her was the realization that she could just pay someone to do it for her

Then, she got it. The idea that would make her rich

For every mindless task that needed to be done, she found someone to do it for her. Not in the role of a full-time employee, but rather as a microtransactioned independent contractor. The web page? Outsourced. The logo? Outsourced. Accounting? You betcha it was outsourced

Soon, she found herself in a position of having nothing to do. The whole thing ran itself, no input needed. Months passed by, and the business seemed to be making money somehow. She was not quite sure what it did, but as the money kept coming, she did not quite manage to muster enough energy to care

Then, she started another business. And another. And another. Before long, she had a dozen businesses minding themselves, running wholly on outsourced microtransactions

Truly, the autonomous market is a glorious thing

The skateboard academic

He was, to put it bluntly, a good educator. Not only did students leave his lectures heads abuzz with new thoughts and a desire to get new impressions – they also anticipated each new lecture with trembling knees, and a mild sense of awe at the upcoming widening of perspective. Nor were they mere passive recipients of information; the aforementioned anticipation sparked action, reading, discussions, in some cases a whole academic habitus. From a pedagogic perspective, he was quite the thing

From a pragmatic business point of view, his presence also had distinct advantages. In survey after survey, students reported they had actively applied to this university instead of literally all the others – based on his presence alone. Indeed, even those who had managed to get enrolled at more prestigious universities had turned them down in favor of coming here. Of all the things that put the university on the map, he was one of the more significant

Alas, he also had not published a paper in 2.7 years. When the administration took note of this abysmal performance and lack of academic excellence, they immediately informed him that his contract would not be renewed

Algorithmic matchmaking

At first glance, the trend was as inexplicable as it was unexpected. For what seemed to be no discernable reason, hiking rates had hiked. More people than ever ventured out into the countryside to explore the nooks and crannies of nature – the mountaintops, the deep forests, the long treks only possible in wilderness conditions. Something had set all these people in motion, and no one knew what

At first, it was assumed it was the ancient allure of Nature, in all its splendor. The simplest answer usually being something akin to the truth, and all that. But when asked, hikers rarely made reference to this most natural of reasons. In fact, the responses didn’t seem to indicate any particular reason at all, on either individual or collective levels. The stated reasons were all over the place, ranging from budding but enthusiastic spirituality (which somehow did not make reference to nature), to a (seemingly very sudden) interest in exercise, to vague stories of very distant relatives once having occupied these lands. The sheer variation of flimsy responses became the subject of much speculation, before the real reason finally revealed itself by means of participatory observation

It turns out that uploading photos of oneself in outdoor situations into dating apps generated more matches than indoor equivalents. Moreover, the more outdoors the photos were, the more matches it generated. Thus, it became something of a race to the most remote locations, so as to be able to return home and tell the tale

Perhaps it could be said to be the ancient allure of Nature, after all

Grassroots forestry

“Climate change? Oh no, that’s fake. 100% made up nonsense. Hot air, if you’ll pardon the pun”

“But, why then go all in on solving it? Wouldn’t that be a waste of resources?”

“One might think, but we actually gain a lot from the efforts. Being more energy efficient is better in general, and figuring out large scale ecological processes will help us grow better food. Good stuff. But the best part is political”

“Political? How so?”

“See, people get together and perform remarkable feats when they are threatened by external forces. Throughout history, these external forces have often been other people, which caused war and genocide and all kinds of mayhem. By focusing everyone’s attention on a non-human threat, we avoid a lot of potential future repetitions of these tendencies. And get better peacetime tech, too”

“So what you are saying is that solving climate change would be a victory, even if the whole thing is made up?”

“The distinction between trees and forests is more subtle than you’d think. Truly, it is a beautiful world we live in”

Moments of gratefulness

Those instances where things could have gone very differently, but didn’t due to the convergence of chance and improbably happenstance

Turns of phrase that sparked life

The times where we acted on sudden inexplicable impulses, which resulted in us finding a new life interest or a vital course of action

Those moments when we were mere inches from the abyss, but the slightest hint of a breeze made us turn away

Those liminal moments when beauty catches us unawares

The sky

Conversations where a half-remembered fact caused us to ask a question or say something that changed the trajectory to the better

Sudden bursts of energy to Power Through It

Situations which first appeared high energy, but then turned out to not be

Accidental coincidences that statistically speaking should not have happened, but thankfully did

Cats

Stray social media interactions that led to long-lasting friendships

The times we realized we’ve never actually seen what’s around a corner, and went there to see

The things that caused us to have new dreams

The myriad of instances where things wouldn’t usually, but on this particular day, they did

Forgiveness, deserved and undeserved

Cats

The times where we accidentally said just the right words to help someone out, without realizing it

The times when it happened to us

Found books, wherein we found ourselves

The days beyond this one which are still perfect

Overlapping borderlands

It seemed a match made in heaven. Finally, someone who shared her interests. And with such passion! The way he spoke about it! The sheer down to earth, no-nonsense application of theory in concrete praxis; the way he incorporated the ambiguities of simply being alive into a coherent framework that accounted for both the most universal of generalities and the most contingent of particulars. Here, now, but also everywhere, everything. Both at once and in-between.

And he would be here in five minutes.

Five minutes passed.

As he appeared, she spotted the hat. And the other hat atop it. Her heart sank as she realized her misreading of the situation, and she quickly hid away her heavily annotated copy of La Frontera.

Honest Johns

They look like job applications, she thought as she scrolled past the dating profiles, one at a many. Every ounce of social capital, real or imaginary, scrambled together in an effort to impress whomstsoever. Some were stylized using the tools of some trade or another; others were barely cobbled together. Not a single one of them, she guessed, were honest.

And then it happened. The unsolicited. Given her current mood, she almost appreciated the unrelenting directness of it all. No pretense, just the ding-an-sich.

Still. Report and block. Some dishonesty is worth the price of admission. But only when admitted.

How history hacked your hardware

It began with an accidental discovery. Someone played around with a legacy device just to see what made it tick, and at some point during the elaborate jury-rigging the discovery was made that it talked flawlessly with a state of the art modern security device. So flawlessly, in fact, that it defaulted to root access and allowed anyone to do whatever they wanted as long as the connection lasted

Naturally, this raised some concerns

This one particular vulnerability was patched with silent swiftness, but the implication had already been planted in the fertile minds of legacy device enthusiasts. If it could happen once, it could happen again. All that’s needed is the correct combination of old and new

Thus, the field of technoarchaeology soon became the next big thing. Finding and testing all permutations was a big undertaking, seeing as there are a lot of them. Gameboys and drones. Tamagotchis and smart houses. Prototype baby monitors and intercontinental ballistic missiles. No combination or permutation was too out there, too obscure, too unlikely. Gotta test ‘em all

What followed was a marginal increase in security, and a distinct increase in the quality of UI design. Old, forgotten ideas were rediscovered and reincorporated into new machines. Insights from previous eras were dusted off and included into contemporary textbooks. The affordances of old skool Winamp were made canon

Overall, it was the best possible use of resources earmarked for the war on terror, and everyone knew it

How to become a billionaire

Here is the process, in full

First, begin with a piece of string. A solid, useful, reliable piece of string that can be used for many purposes. Trade it for a rubber band. Travel to an office building, and trade the rubber band for a pen. Go to a flea market, and trade the pen for an antique cassette tape. Go to a record store and cash in this unique Genesis bootleg. Buy a bagel for the bum outside. He will give you a harpsichord. Take the subway across town and enter into a musical contest after the announcement that another act had to cancel last minute. Lose utterly. Ask one of the attendees if you can crash at their place, seeing as you’re down on your luck and far away from home. Steal their prized buffalo trophy belt. Travel across town again. Wear the belt to impress onlookers. Ask the celebrity for an autograph. Learn to copy it flawlessly, then use it to set up a nigh undetectable stream of revenue. Use this money to pay rent and buy a nice suit. Show up at a bitcoin scam convention and impress everyone using fancy language. Sell the bitcoins twice on the dark web. Rent a room at the conference center. Secure a contract from the Department of Defense by talking to the drunk man in the toilet. Use the fake signature. Visit the Orkney library. Read the newspaper, then gracefully accept the impromptu dinner invitation. Tell the story of how you lost a music contest once. Go home. Sell the bitcoins a third time. Repeat the conversation with the drunk man as many times as is necessary; should the need arise, use the belt to generate new celebrity signatures

Enjoy your new life as a bona fide legit billionaire

The wisest of men

“I don’t know but I’ve been told” he began, unwisely. He never got to continue his retelling of whatever fascinating anecdote he had in store, as a philosopher suddenly interjected himself into the situation:

“I must object to this proposed state of things. According the standard model, knowledge consists of true justified belief. Thus, you believing it after being told means that you do, in fact, know it. Yet here you are, maintaining that you do not know the thing, despite evidently being in the know. How do you account for this discrepancy?”

Bewildered, our protagonist stood silent for a moment, until he half-remembered something about togas and drinking parties. Inspired, he proclaimed:

“I don’t know”