Category Archives: The kairos made me do it

Liking, commenting and subscribing – the next step

At some point in time, the stream had been about something. This much was evidenced in the paraphernalia – it made inexplicable references to eternal things, more often than not seemingly by virtue of once having been put there and then unceremoniously forgotten. The stream itself though, as it now stood, was an endless, self-referencing series of interactions between streamer and audience, where the subject matter seemed to be nothing but the stream itself. As such, there were no new viewers or long time firsters – indeed, either you were in it with evident alacrity or not at all. There were no entry points, possibly also no exit points. The rare accounts given by those who had managed to leave were disjointed and fragmented at best, common grammar seeming to be one of the first victims of the neverending, self-fulfilling stream of shared consciousness. In the absence of accessible data, it was thought best to treat it as a black box, whose internal mechanisms remain unknown, but whose effects are obvious for everyone to behold

An incomplete list of the different kinds of apocalypses there are

Apocalypse: a revelation regarding an impending catastrophic event, often heavily implicating the end of the world as we know it; the term is sometimes also used to connote these events

Anticipatory apocalypses: the end is nigh! Rejoice!

Antagonistic apocalypses: the end is nigh, and we shall fight it tooth and nail until it has been overcome and a new, better tomorrow (where everything returns to normal) can be secured

Resigned apocalypses: the end is nigh, and there isn’t really anything we can do about it

Designed apocalypses: the end is nigh, within budget and proceeding according to schedule

Selectively acknowledged apocalypses: it only becomes apocalyptic when it happens to affluent people

Understated apocalypses: the world ended in 1879, and no one really noticed

Zombie apocalypses: this might very well be the first time any of these people acknowledged your existence

Nuclear apocalypses: we built ever bigger bombs, and then used them. In retrospect, this might not have been the wisest, most virtuous course of action to have chosen

Postapocalypses: it happened, and we somehow remained

Postapocalyptic zoology: ordinary animals have mutated into unusually large and aggressive versions of themselves. It is unclear how the food chains of these massive animals are structured or maintained

Postapocalyptic warfare: war. War never changes

The aesthetic sensibilities of preapocalyptic postapocalyptic modern culture: its self-alienation has reached such a degree that it can experience its own destruction as an aesthetic pleasure of the first order

Post-Benjaminian aesthetic sensibilities of preapocalyptic postapocalyptic modern culture: we got self-annihilations we ain’t even got names for yet

Prophetic visions of the coming year

It will take a while to get used to this new, unfamiliar number on calendars and stationeries

You will be, ever so imperceptibly, older

Your friends have all started to have kids, and keeping track of them all is an exercise in forensic demography

More and more often, your attempts to communicate with youngsters run into the roadblock of not knowing their mediated frames of reference

Equally as often, your attempts to reference contemporary popular culture results in blank stares and discreet Wikipedia inquiries

The recent year 2009 happened ten years ago

Your list of things to do never actually gets any shorter; things are just removed from the top and added at the bottom

Failures accumulate while successes fade away

Those books will never get read. For most of them, that’s okay

Everything is embedded within layers and layers of history. Some of these layers are yours

No matter how much you did, you could have done more. Ironically, the key to getting things done is to let this thought go

Productivity is a myth that obfuscates the amount of energy we actually expend doing things

Even expensive pants tear

You are not missing out

No one actually remembers what it meant to party in 1999, so you are free to make up your own nostalgic throwbacks

We are, ever so gradually, becoming the Wise Ancients

2019 will be a glorious year to create your own ancient rituals

Hug every cat

Just in time logistics

It had been a long ride to the interview. Traffic, rain, GPS giving wrong directions, roadworks, stray cattle, a train intersection remaining closed for an extended period of time (possibly related to the stray cattle), more traffic, more rain, no coffee

No breakfast, either. It was one of those mornings. The only way forward was to power through it. Unless “it” is cattle; it was not that kind of morning just quite yet

And then, suddenly, he arrived. The automatic doors opened, the receptionist politely nodded directions, the strangely colorless (yet tasteful) wallpaper flew past as he hurried past on his way to only being tastefully late

They were all there, smiling, understanding, yeah, cattle, it happens in these parts. No worries. Let’s just all take a deep breath to collect ourselves before the interview proper starts, no hurry

Deep breaths were taken. Worries were noped

And then it was time for the first question. Worries were quickly unnoped in anticipation, and then it came:

“Time zones”

That was it, not even a question mark. Apparently, it was his turn to talk

Shit

Maximum security

All other methods had failed. Strong passwords – nope. Two factor anything – nope. A robust training program regarding safe management of login credentials – no dice. Nothing worked. Except, it was hoped, this one last final solution

Finding volunteers had been difficult. Partly it was due to incompatible personalities, but mostly it was due to a fundamental reluctance to let go. Old habits died hard, and so at length only a few viable candidates were found

It would have to do

Soon, the new system was in place. In order to log in, you had to get the system administrator purring, and then keep it purring. The theory being that those trying to break into the system would be too stressed to multitask properly, and thus unable to make progress

So far, the system seemed to work perfectly

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.

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

To have love and lost

And so it came to pass that the League of Exes was formed, on the basis of the Compact, signed under the aegis of the Old Ones:

Yeah, I can see that we are all kinda alike but also kinda similar, and that there would be reasons to like each of us for who we are. Upon finally meeting all at once, we also seem to get along pretty well, without any sense of competition or jealousy. A relationship is not a situation wherein you own someone, but rather a commitment to make life work in the loving (and sometimes not so loving) presence of someone else, as best it can be managed. Sometimes it works out, sometimes not. Sometimes it fails based on the persons who are involved, sometimes it fails because of the habits they fall into over time. Sometimes you just fall out of love, and that’s okay. We’re all just happy we got to be with this wonderful person at different times of their life, even if it came to an end eventually

An addendum was later made to the Compact, as follows:

We are also rather confused as to who send the invites to this gathering? No one here seems to know? What’s going on? The décor is really creepy, to be quite honest. Where even are we?

And thus it was so

Print me a picture

It was supposed to be just another day at the office. Mindless processing would commence, the reasons for which were utterly unknown, but which ostensibly made someone somewhere enough profit to pay everyone in the process. The less the process was questioned, the more pay it seemed to generate, and so it continued. Another day at the office, one at a time.

Until this day.

This day, the printers started to act weirdly. Not an infrequent or uncommon occurrence, to be sure, But rather than merely stop running for inexplicable reasons after having worked perfectly for months, or suddenly deciding that the one operating system they were explicitly built for was unsupported, this time it was strange for real. Really strange.

Instead of graphs, spreadsheets and utterly standardized form letters, the printers started printing short stories and excerpts from books about seemingly random topics. At first, it was assumed that someone merely needed something printed for extracurricular activities – a frowned upon but discreetly accepted practice and/or office perk. However, upon closer inspection, it turned out the instructions to print these things did not originate from any computer in the office. Moreover, they did not originate from any computer anywhere. One of the technicians joked that they seemed to come from within the printer itself. Like some sort of daydream.

But that could not be.

Do printers really dream about library cataloguing systems and highly technical DnD campaign specs?

Terminal velocity

She liked to listen to podcasts. Specifically, she liked to load up a gazillion episodes on an ancient, barely digital mp3 player and walk around the cityscape with voices talking in her ear. Sometimes, they said interesting things, but most of the time they were just good company – friends and travel companions in a handy, portable package.

Until one day, when she was in a hurry to get out the door, and forgot it.

Being in a hurry is a strange state of mind. You miss things you’d see in a non-hurried state, and conversely notice things you’d not otherwise notice. This particular day, she was in a state beyond hurried – the need for speed was worthy of an ancient Greek poem suddenly being rediscovered in a forgotten monastery. As she arrived at her destination, her hurried self was mostly on autopilot, and thus reached for the off button on her mp3 player. It was not there, but being partly metaphysical at this point, she pressed it anyway. Through some unknown means, she had reached through to the control panel of her universe, managing to – through the pressing of one single stop button – bring her internal monologue to an end.