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[P]
The Elevator to Hell

By localroger in Fiction
Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 10:00:36 AM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

The observant K5'er will quickly recognize what inspired this story. Consider that it disturbed me more than this and you will understand why it was written.

I may have gotten things wrong and I mean no disrespect to those who have actually survived these places. I was once given an ultimatum by my parents that amounted to, "us or her."

I chose her. I understand a lot of people end up in these hellholes for reasons like that. If these places had existed then I have no doubt I'd have been "enrolled."

Instead, I am still with her after twenty years, and only my imagination takes me to Hell.


My life ended three days after my fifteenth birthday. As often happens when a life or even the world ends another life or another world will take its place and existence will go on, and that's how it passes that there is still a person wearing the name and matching the physical description and carrying the memories of the life that was lost. But make no mistake, my life ended three days after my fifteenth birthday.

That was the day I was awakened at four in the morning by two very large men who asked me politely to dress and then grabbed me and put me in handcuffs. While my parents watched passively I was dragged into a van and then to a chartered jet and then to the island of Jamaica, and made a member of a special tropical Hell.

You might ask what drove my parents to have me committed to the School. I asked myself that a lot over the next three years, and I'm pretty sure I know. I was too perfect. I made mostly A's and the third highest score my high school had ever seen on my entrance exam. I never did drugs, drank, or hang out with anybody; I was always at home. I was on the computer a lot, and while my parents probably thought I was playing games I was actually trying to master the deliberately obtuse computer language Brainfuck.

And nothing was ever good enough for them. The one time I got a C in History (I hate rote memorization) they hounded me for months. They complained that I sometimes forgot to take out the trash. I was picked on and I was a loner, so I kept to myself, and my parents picked on me so I kept a lot back from them too.

Nothing in my history has given me much cause to like people so I became a student of how they turn bad. I read Colin Wilson, I read Sade and Neitzsche and I even flipped through Mein Kampf. I became a connoisseur of hate propaganda. I read King and Koontz and the Goads' Answer Me! and I read some pretty disgusting stuff online that required me to lie about my age in order to access it.

If my life had not ended three days after my fifteenth birthday, if my parents had allowed me to simply mature into my obsession, I think I would have become a pretty good social scientist or criminologist. I might have become like Colin Wilson, who wrote at obsessive length and in gruesome detail about crime for his entire life but never showed any sign of wanting to commit a crime himself. I might have been a quiet loner, archiving the data to bolster my basic axiom that humans are, when you get down where the short hairs grow, just plain not very nice.

But I didn't get to mature into my obsession. Three days after my fifteenth birthday the darkness with which I was obsessed came for me, and my life as I knew it came to an end.

---

I knew all about the School, since it was among the evils I had catalogued. I had a pretty good idea what they would try to do to me, and if I hadn't known my life would have still ended but in an entirely different way.

They market themselves as a "behavior modification facility" and it's an accurate title, but their methods are more down to the Viet Cong than the American Psychiatric Association. They had taken everything from me and would make me as uncomfortable as possible without killing me. (A couple of times in the past they have even fucked up the "without killing" part, a factor I had to consider.) The only thing I had left was my mind, but that in turn was what they wanted.

I knew there would be rituals I could exchange for a little comfort -- rituals designed to wear me down, to make me doubt myself. Rituals well proven to erase the old personality so they could build up a new one to their liking, a personality that would be compliant, subservient, respectful and fearful of authority.

What they wanted from me, literally, was my soul. I decided while I was still on the jet that I wouldn't let them have it.

I had to think about it. It was a big decision. They would hurt me, a lot. They might even kill me, if only by accident. The thing was I had developed a huge distrust of all things human, and I didn't want to lose it. I didn't want to be supplicant and worse, I didn't want to be stupid; I was smart and I knew it and it was the one thing I had to call my own when the jocks were pushing me around. If I lost my curiosity and drive what would I be? I decided there at the outset that I'd rather die than become the drone they would try to make me.

So the plane landed and they gave me the drill. I'd start out at "level one," not allowed to do anything without permission -- talk, go to the bathroom, look out the window, anything. There was also no privacy, even in the bathroom where my "buddy" would make sure I didn't do anything untoward, like masturbate. Even though it made sense this little detail astonished me. I imagined the pervert sitting in a comfortable office in Utah who decided with the stroke of a pen that thousands of teenagers under his care would not be allowed to have orgasms. Their vision was breathtaking.

The overt rules concealed a network of secondary rules which were only implied, and much more sinister. You couldn't trust anyone or become trusted by anyone since the rules required you to narc any unpermitted behavior you observed. (I once read a story by Norman Spinrad set in a dystopian future where "any act not permitted is prohibited," a terroristic state of affairs that prevails at the School.) Yes it was a simple matter to proceed up the levels, if you were willing to sell your soul. If you were willing to undergo "sessions" where you spilled your most intimate secrets to be ridiculed, if higher up you would become complicit by handing out demerits yourself to those at lower levels.

Unlike most captives of the School I was already familiar with brainwashing techniques before I arrived and I saw right through their bullshit. Unfortunately that didn't change the fact that I was under their "care." Their major sanction for uncooperation is "face time," lying face down on concrete with your arms tied painfully for hours, days, even months on end. I foresaw doing a lot of face time.

Theoretically face time is only for wild, out-of-control behavior, but in reality it's for anything that pisses off the staff. I got my first taste of it on my second day and I don't think it's for anything I did; I think it's because my family host considers it a point of pride to make all new recruits cry, and I didn't.

I knew from the outset that my secret weapon was my dignity. I knew I couldn't shame people who are shameless torturers of children, but it wasn't about them; it was about me. They could apply any ridiculous sanctions for no good reason and this was beyond my control; but if I could shrug and simply endure the discomfort and quietly cooperate with the things that weren't important, it would be a tremendous victory.

On my second day at the School, lying on my face with my elbow nearly dislocated, I realized two important things. The first was that I could take the torture if I had to. I could take it to save my soul. If I simply alternated between a little face time and level one I could survive. I'd have a lot of time to think, but thinking is something I do well. Blind people learn to organize their thoughts without paper; I might acquire a similar discipline and extend my understanding of algorithms.

The second thing I realized was that I would never forgive my parents. They were suggestible and I knew, having seen it online, that the School's literature was slick. While they weren't evil people they had a responsibility, and they had fucked it up unforgivably.

On my third day I sat and did my mail-order lessons. (cheap bastards couldn't even be bothered with teachers, despite charging P and M over $30,000 a year for incarcerating me.) I raised one or two fingers depending on whether I needed to take a piss or a dump. I tried to get used to my "buddy" watching me wipe my ass. I didn't say a word. Late in the afternoon my case worker visited me, a truly despicable piece of human trash whose name I have erased from my memory.

It began to occur to me that I could cultivate a taste for masochism. I wasn't naturally disposed to enjoy pain but it might be better than crushing boredom.

"Well, you seem to be adjusting better than most, Brian. A little face time helps the attitude, doesn't it?"
I shrugged and shook my head.
"Come on, you can answer freely, I'm your casey. Along with your family members here, I'll be deciding whether you move up the levels, eventually to graduation. So you should be open with me."

"I have no intention of moving up the levels."

"Come on, the rules are simple. All you have to do is follow them."

"I don't feel like it."

"That may change."

"It may or may not. Time will tell."

"An unusually poetic thought for a School member. But time has told many times, and you'll find life at level one gets old pretty quickly."

"In some ways, I've been at level one my whole life. I think I'll handle it okay."

"Come on, a smart lad like you will want to occasionally venture an opinion."

"I don't see why. Doesn't seem like much of a privilege to be allowed to talk to people who are running a brainwashing camp, and their toadies at the high levels."

Not surprisingly, that got me my second day of face time on day four.

---

After a week I was told I should write a letter home. Just like that; typical of the place's attitude, subtle as a brickbat over the head. It was obvious that P and M had been inquiring. So I wrote them a letter:

Daniel and Margaret:

I won't bore you with tales of how awful this place is, since I'm sure they will assure you I am trying to manipulate my way out of the situation. And so I would be; life itself is manipulation, each organism trying to get the best position for itself in life.

I have given much thought in the last seven days to the question of whether I can ever forgive you. And sadly, I find that I can't. It's not about the treatment here so much as the being dragged out of bed and hauled off to a foreign country at the behest of people you once trusted. If I can trust you that little, even if you were sending me to Club Med I'd have to avoid you for the rest of my life.

Looking back I see I made a terrible misjudgement. I thought you were not monsters. Now that I am paying the price I vow it is a mistake I will never make again.

Please do not write again. You are dead to me.

--Brian

That got me three days face down on the floor, and I'm certain they didn't send the letter. Not that it mattered, because the intent was sincere and the content didn't change a week later when they asked me to write another one.

---

Of the three years I spent at the School the middle year, when I was sixteen, was hardest. The first year I lived on rage and the last year I lived on hope, knowing they had no choice but to release me on my eighteenth birthday. (They tried to tell me they could keep me until I was twenty-one but I knew that was a lie.) But the middle year was very hard, and sometimes I'd falter in my meditation or find myself crazy with addled lust.

If I'd been incarcerated at thirteen or fourteen instead of fifteen I think they would have gotten me. But I was stronger than I knew and I was as exceptional as I thought and after awhile, never seeing level 2 became something of a badge of honor.

I saw three Fun Days, when we are "allowed" a little "freedom." Actually a little free-acting is demanded of us before our parents show up. The place is cleaned up, much more so than usual. (The filthy conditions aren't just cheapness; they're part of the overall brainwashing thing of making you "uncomfortable." Also, the unpermitted adjustments which are necessary, like hoarding the inadequate supply of toilet paper, make everyone vulnerable even if they've reached level 3 or 4.)

I spent my Fun Days looking out through the chain link at the beach as my parents begged me to get with the program. They were obviously hooked deep into the School's cult, spouting their little code words and parroting the same bullshit my casey did. Eventually I'd start talking, and shortly thereafter the "interview" would be over because I'd basically restate the topic of my first and every following letter home. I was done with them. The only good thing about the ongoing train wreck is that I knew it was bankrupting them.

Although I had formed the theory that it would be a good idea I never was able to cultivate a taste for pain. I was able to learn to drive it out of my mind. As Nietzsche said, "whatever does not kill you makes you strong." I became very strong indeed at the School, but not in the way they wanted.

Since I'd always had a problem with rote memorization I made a project of memorizing every aspect of the School. I memorized all the workers and their names and practised recalling them at will and in as much detail as possible. I memorized the layout of the place. At first it was very difficult, but eventually I got the trick. Before I left I had memorized nearly all the other prisoners, too.

---

The School director affected scorn as he teased me with the airline ticket, but I could tell he was as genuine as a used car salesman. He was losing an income stream, and he wasn't happy about it.

"We've advised your parents to cut you off if you don't graduate the program," he warned as if it was important. "You'll never inherit, you'll be on your own."

"I've never planned to inherit since my third day here," I said. "I'm an adult now and I can honestly tell you to go fuck yourself. As for my parents, as I've written in every letter you've demanded I write, I'm through with them."

"Well, you may find it hard to make your way in the world without their help."

"I know, this little adventure sabotaged all my chances at a real education. Don't worry, I'll deal with it."

"You'll be back."

"You know, you may be right."

He thought that was an admission of weakness and he smirked as he handed over the ticket and the fifty dollars. But it wasn't weakness, it was a very dark truth.

---

The School had advised my parents to put me up at a hotel for a few days with just a little money and no car, a different kind of leash. I took the room and refused to meet with them. I wandered around town and tried to figure out what to do next.

I happened to run across a tree crew cutting down a fallen oak. It's an interesting truth about the economy that shit jobs are never in short supply; somebody will always underpay you to do hard physical labor. It's the lack of jobs that pay enough to let you buy a house and raise a family that get the economists all in a lather. I found the tree crew foreman and asked if he was hiring.

"We're always hiring, but you look a little frail for this job."

"Mister, you wouldn't believe what I can put up with. Will you at least give me a chance?"

I had always been afraid of heights but the School had taught me that I could overcome fear. I learned quickly and on my very second day I earned overtime, $18 an hour for working as the dusk closed in.

My parents showed up as I was packing to move out of the hotel room.

"We were wondering if you'd reconsider," Daniel aka Dad said.

"No. I have a job and I just rented a place and I'll be fine."

"But we hate to see you wasting your potential. You could still go to college if you complete the program."

"You wasted my potential. I am just picking up the pieces. And if you ever come near me again I'll get a restraining order to keep you away."

Whatever does not kill you makes you strong. I could never have told my parents that before the School.

---

I had nightmares. I went to the library and looked up the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and three cherries came up. None of the treatments looked very effective. I thought about it and realized that the one lesson the School had taught me successfully was to face my fears. Every night I meditated at length, focusing on one of the employees whose faces I memorized. I made up elaborate deaths for all of them.

The nightmares didn't stop, but they became manageable.

At the library I noticed Internet terminals. I was far from being able to afford a computer and broadband Internet access but I could get an hour for free just by hanging around. I started hanging around a lot when I wasn't cutting down trees. I found a huge amount of information online about the School and its sister Schools around the world. I found a number of victim support groups and one time for long minutes I contemplated joining one.

Thinking of my nightmares, and how they always ended now, I realized that this was not the way to deal with things. I was meant to confront my demons, not to complain about them or run from them but to duke it out, mano a mano whatever the odds might be. I was the owner of a great power. I had successfully resisted three years of brainwashing, as I watched hundreds of other kids fold up. This was not a thing to be taken lightly.

I wasn't spending much money and soon I could have bought a computer, but I bought a gun instead. I also had some pictures of my parents blown up to life-size and I brought them to the shooting range where I used them as targets as I learned to use my gun. At least one good thing about the School is that, unlike a real prison, it doesn't encumber your rights. Seven days after filling out the form I was the proud owner of a brand new Glock pistol.

I mastered it quickly. I have always had a knack for machines, and this turned out to be true even for machines of death.

---

I made the decision to become a criminal easily, but not without some sadness. I had important things to do which would not be financed by cutting down trees, and I needed the time and energy.

I heard the ghost of Colin Wilson whispering in my ear about the criminal shortcut, and I politely asked his forgiveness. Colin had not envisioned the thing that had been done to me. I researched everything and acted boldly when necessary. I became skilled in the arts of false documentation and I practiced the casual theft of things like cars and boats. I decided not to learn to fly; if I was going to become Repairman Jack then the paper trail would be too thick.

Being a successful criminal requires you to understand things, but moreso it requires you to understand people. Which is easier, hot-wiring a car or simply driving off in one whose engine has been left idling? I became a student of what people do not notice. I learned disguise. I learned to make myself invisible.

I learned Spanish.

I took what I needed only from those who could afford it. When you are a criminal you walk like a god among men; everything is potentially yours to command. Of course there is a flipside to this, and most criminals are undone because they forget to be careful. I was very careful. I had developed a wonderful memory for detail thanks to the School and I could collect opportunities for future action simply by walking down the street and noticing things.

---

I wrote a script which polled a government website for flight plans filed to and from the little airport nearest the School in Jamaica. It ran quietly for me on one of the computers at the library. One day I checked in on it and noticed a charter was due to depart soon from Lakefront Airport, only a few miles away.

If this was what I thought it was, I could not let it happen.

I hot-wired an old beater I found in the parking lot of the local mall and drove out to the airport. I quickly found the plane; it wasn't hangared but neither was there anybody around.

Whatever you have been told about airport security after 9/11, let me assure you it doesn't apply to small private airports. I knew enough about aviation to spin a good yarn but nobody even confronted me as I wandered around the parked aircraft. Acting like an admirer I schmoozed up the plane scheduled for Jamaica, and as I inspected its three-point landing gear I snuggled the gun up to one of the rear tires and blew it out. (This wasn't the Glock registered to me; at this point I had many untraceable guns.)

After that I puttered around one of the nearby aircraft as if I was the owner. Eventually a little procession arrived, the pilot followed by two burly goons and a handcuffed teenage girl between them. When the pilot saw the blown tire, a great altercation started. Clearly he was unwilling to fly with it that way, and equally clearly the goons wanted to get in the air ASAP.

I strolled over casually.

"Problem, guys?"
One goon pointed at the tire.
"You know anything about this?"
he snarled.
"As a matter of fact, I did see something."
I pulled the gun and shot him in the neck. Before his co-goon could react I wheeled and shot him in the neck. Then I wheeled and drew a bead on the pilot.
"Please, man...I'm just flyin' 'em."

"How often you fly handcuffed teenagers to Jamaica, mon?"

I gave him a few seconds.
"You shouldn't work for evil people, mon. Your deeds come back on you."
And I shot him. Knowing this was a momentous act, my first murder, I troubled to notice my feelings. And I had never felt better. I had wiped a giant dog turd off the foot of humanity, and mentally I patted myself on the back for a job well done.

Then, calmly, I got out my handcuff key and unlocked the girl's restraints. She was understandably upset, and I had fucked up; she had seen my face. I'd have to change my appearance and assume a new identity.

"You killed them,"
she said, and it wasn't an accusation. Her tone conveyed wonder. As it possibly should have.
"They were evil people intent on doing you great harm. I have come back from where they were taking you. You don't want to go there."

"What do I do?"

"Run, and don't get caught until you are eighteen. Trust no one. Steal what you need from those least likely to notice. Don't go to a relative, no matter how well-meaning they are. If your parents are behind this they can have you sent anyway."

"I don't have any money. I don't have anything."

"One way or another your life as you knew it is over. It's your choice whether to let them turn you into a nightmare-plagued zombie or resist them."

To this day I don't know how it ended, if she evaded her pursuers or get sent to the School anyway. I do know that the ambush made only the local papers, and nobody made the connection with the School. I suspect it cost the School a few bucks to keep it that way.

Since I'd compromised my identity I didn't bother going home. I could get everything I needed again in short order, and soon I was a different person living in a different American city. And the gun which had killed the "escorts" lay at the bottom of the Mississippi River two hundred miles upstream, where I was confident it would never be found.

---

I read the survivors' accounts faithfully. Always my destiny hung in the air as I visited the library. I could have afforded a computer of my own; I could have afforded a Beowulf cluster of them, but I rarely stayed in one place long enough to justify getting a broadband hookup. And most libraries have Internet access.

I considered recruiting helpers, but my basic distrust of people was too great to let me take that route. What I wanted to do required an army, but it would have to be an army of one.

I made it to Jamaica on a stolen yacht, which I abandoned at a point on the island far from the School. I stole a speedboat and bobbed offshore until my calculations told me the hour was right to revisit the School.

There had been a little employee turnover but jobs at the School pay very well on Jamaican terms and for the most part I knew who to kill. I was methodical and efficient. I knew they would hear and become aware; some of the students were too complicit to cheer me on, and there is no such thing as a "silenced" firearm that is really quiet. So I planned my route to make use of the chaos. When the workers affected to be prisoners I recognized them and picked them away. The staff were used to dealing with compliant teenagers on overwhelming terms, and against me they had no defense.

I made my way back to the speedboat, to yet another part of the island, where I had identified another yacht ripe for stealing. In two days I was back in the USA.

---

I had the first sleep without nightmares since returning from my first visit to the School.

---

I smiled and thought of other Schools in Mexico, Samoa, even the northern USA, and I began to formulate plans.

But first, I prepared to visit my parents.

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Display: Sort:
The Elevator to Hell | 254 comments (237 topical, 17 editorial, 0 hidden)
theres a lady who's sure all that glitters is gold (4.28 / 7) (#1)
by rmg on Wed Jul 09, 2003 at 09:59:01 PM EST

maybe you could work her in there somewhere...

_____ intellectual tiddlywinks

And... (4.00 / 3) (#3)
by localroger on Wed Jul 09, 2003 at 10:13:30 PM EST

...she's buying a stairway to heaven.

I have always wondered what her currency is, as it is either really obvious or really deep. No in-between.

What will people of the future think of us? Will they say, as Roger Williams said of some of the Massachusetts Indians, that we were wolves with the min
[ Parent ]

now's your chance to find out. (1.00 / 1) (#4)
by rmg on Wed Jul 09, 2003 at 10:14:26 PM EST

write her in!

_____ intellectual tiddlywinks
[ Parent ]

Write her in to what? (nt) (4.00 / 3) (#6)
by localroger on Wed Jul 09, 2003 at 10:16:32 PM EST



What will people of the future think of us? Will they say, as Roger Williams said of some of the Massachusetts Indians, that we were wolves with the min
[ Parent ]
the story... (2.00 / 1) (#7)
by rmg on Wed Jul 09, 2003 at 10:21:05 PM EST

isn't this still in the edit queue?

_____ intellectual tiddlywinks
[ Parent ]

That doesn't work, dude. (4.66 / 3) (#8)
by localroger on Wed Jul 09, 2003 at 10:33:29 PM EST

The Lady is an archetype. I understand some of the symbology around her, and you could build a good case that she is Caroline in my novel. But she doesn't have a place in this story; this is a much more mundane thing. I can't just "write her in" any more than the producers of the movie Independence Day could just have the Starship Enterprise sail in and save the day.

What will people of the future think of us? Will they say, as Roger Williams said of some of the Massachusetts Indians, that we were wolves with the min
[ Parent ]
you and i are very different people, localroger nt (2.00 / 1) (#10)
by rmg on Wed Jul 09, 2003 at 10:38:36 PM EST



_____ intellectual tiddlywinks
[ Parent ]

But they could... (4.00 / 3) (#17)
by skyknight on Wed Jul 09, 2003 at 11:33:35 PM EST

have a Macintosh interface successfully with the alien mother ship, because clearly serial ports are a constant in the universe.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
Hahahahaha (2.00 / 3) (#31)
by SamuraiJack on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 12:35:02 AM EST

Trying to teach writing to a troll...

[ Parent ]
How about this? (4.75 / 4) (#59)
by mcc on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 12:26:50 PM EST

You don't need to change anything; The Lady from the song is already written into your story. She is the handcuffed girl at the end. The stairway out of hell (into heaven?) is "bought" for her with Brian's suffering-- because of what has happened to Brian, she is given a path into freedom. Her path out is probably a long and painful climb, unlike the "elevator" that brought her there (to Jamaica). The "sure all that glitters is gold" part in the song refers to her naivete in her previous life in upper-class america, a naivete that ends when upper-class america (her parents) betray her.

The parallel between the song and your story can actually be continued from there. The "songbird who sings" is probably the caged-songbird archetype. The rest of the song after that line is sung from a first-person perspective, and it can all be interpreted from Brian's perspective ("There's a feeling I get when I look to the west / And my spirit is crying for leaving" ... "Yes there are two paths you can go by /  but in the long run There's still time to change the road you're on" ... "And as we wind on down the road / Our shadows taller than our souls"). The "Spring Clean for the May Queen" can probably be taken as a reference to Brian's attacks at the very end.

I don't have the foggiest idea what the line near the beginning about all the stores being closed means (or the line about the sign on the wall), but I could probably bullshit some kind of interpretation for them too if I really tried ^_^

*ducks*

---
Aside from that, the absurd meta-wankery of k5er-quoting sigs probably takes the cake. Especially when the quote itself is about k5. -- tsubame
[ Parent ]

Enterprise? Ha! (none / 0) (#254)
by Zoshnell on Mon Jan 05, 2004 at 09:40:26 AM EST

The Death Star would be better. Just think about it, as the mothership passes by the moon, they realize as it starts to turn slowly and see a big assed dimple that its no moon... its a space station! And the neighing and braying of barnyard animals follows...
---------------------------------------------------- "I think there I am, I think." - Nordom The Modron
[ Parent ]
Awesome--Fiction! (4.20 / 5) (#11)
by Pink Shirt and Leather Pants Radar on Wed Jul 09, 2003 at 10:40:08 PM EST

This is pretty cool. My friend referred me to this site, telling me that there was some really good fiction here. Man, was he right! You should write a book!

If this is all you've seen of localroger (3.00 / 2) (#77)
by wurp on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 05:34:12 PM EST

You should read some of his "Metamorphosis of the Prime Intellect" stories.  Excellent stuff.  Search around on kuro5hin (or just with google) and you'll find it.
---
Buy my stuff
[ Parent ]
another recommendation (none / 0) (#227)
by irksome on Mon Jul 14, 2003 at 12:40:52 AM EST

I also recommend the Casino Odyssey series (4 parts, nonfiction)

http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2001/7/19/181127/355
http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2001/7/20/182344/184
http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2001/7/21/16525/2904
http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2001/7/22/103557/135
I think I am, therefore I'm not.
[ Parent ]

maybe I'm just too desensitized (4.25 / 4) (#12)
by Laiquendi on Wed Jul 09, 2003 at 10:57:26 PM EST

I have very much enjoyed your previous writings, localroger, but this story is too much the emotional masturbation of angst-filled teenager to pull me in.

Had I not spent my teenage years hanging around with similar but less committed people, I might have enjoyed it, so I abstain.

OK, I understand (4.75 / 4) (#13)
by localroger on Wed Jul 09, 2003 at 11:03:00 PM EST

I am a long way from being a teenager though. Too close, entirely too close to forty. But the linked story hit me, as I think I hit a lot of people, like a big weight blindside. I'd like to forget that feeling, and this article made it all to close with bells and whistles and special reminders that the gulag is operational.

What will people of the future think of us? Will they say, as Roger Williams said of some of the Massachusetts Indians, that we were wolves with the min
[ Parent ]
The ancestral article hit me like a ton of bricks. (4.00 / 1) (#21)
by Laiquendi on Wed Jul 09, 2003 at 11:48:06 PM EST

But the choice of perspective in the retelling, in my opinion, limits the effect. The gulag seems to have done nothing but push the protagonist down a path he already wanted to travel.

I was aware of your (relative) age, and all else aside I must commend your recollection of teenage psyche. Whether continued familiarity with it is a good thing at your age is a question you must debate alone, heh.

[ Parent ]

Nailed it... (none / 0) (#112)
by kcbrown on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 04:30:27 AM EST

But the choice of perspective in the retelling, in my opinion, limits the effect. The gulag seems to have done nothing but push the protagonist down a path he already wanted to travel.
Yes, exactly.

And it seems reasonable that his parents sent him there precisely so that he would not go down that path (among other, more selfish reasons).

Which is probably one of the points of the story -- a message to parents that if they do shit like send their kids off to hellholes like that, they're playing with fire and it may seriously burn them in the end.

[ Parent ]

Well. (3.66 / 3) (#14)
by Spencer Perceval on Wed Jul 09, 2003 at 11:12:13 PM EST

See, I thought this story was about the music group Elevator to Hell and so I thought: "cool." But then it's all localroger fiction and stuff, and I'm like "dang."


All the animals come out at night - whores, skunk pussies, buggers, queens, fairies, dopers, junkies, sick, venal. Someday a real rain will come and wash all this scum off the streets.
I liked the story... (4.00 / 1) (#15)
by igny ignoble on Wed Jul 09, 2003 at 11:21:49 PM EST

It was a bit too bloody for me, though.  I would have liked to see the narrator use his experience for good (although I imagine some eye-for-an-eye advocates might see the story as having a positive ending), but I suspect your vision is closer to the mindset of an abused teenager.


I think you missed the point (4.00 / 2) (#50)
by rdskutter on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 09:13:13 AM EST

The School damages people. Either they are turned into subversive lobotomised soul-less drones, or they are turned into angry criminals with nothing to lose and no-one to trust.

I did see this as a good ending. The protagonist faced his nemesis. What he does with the rest of his life is up to him. He has no friends, no family and no history. He must start afresh. There's something strangely euphoric about that. Knowing that you have a clean slate.


BEEN A BIT CARELESS HAVEN'T WE? - Mr Death.
[ Parent ]

Some counter-points (4.50 / 2) (#60)
by igny ignoble on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 12:28:02 PM EST

The School damages people. Either they are turned into subversive lobotomised soul-less drones, or they are turned into angry criminals with nothing to lose and no-one to trust.

I understand the school damages people, but I'm not convinced that this results in only two possible outcomes. The narrator seemed smart enough that he could have shut down the School though lawful means. Choosing violent means is just typical hollywood BS.

I did see this as a good ending. The protagonist faced his nemesis. What he does with the rest of his life is up to him. He has no friends, no family and no history. He must start afresh. There's something strangely euphoric about that. Knowing that you have a clean slate.

The narrator suggests that he'll continue with his murders until the rest of the schools are shut down. I would hardly say he has a clean slate or that mass murder is a positive ending.

A positive ending in my opinion would have been for the narrator to find a legal means to shut down the schools and see those responsible brought to justice. Seeing his cassy imprisioned for 25 years would have been a bigger victory than to just kill him.


[ Parent ]

Positive ending (4.66 / 3) (#64)
by Cro Magnon on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 01:43:30 PM EST

Any chance of a "positive ending" ended "3 days after his 15th birthday". The main thing the narrator learned from his experience is that the system sux! He was put in that hellhole through "legal means". Maybe he was "smart enough" to figure a way to shut them down without becoming a murderer, but he was, in his own way, just as damaged as the poor kids who broke under their brainwashing. Even fictional stories don't always have happy endings.
Information wants to be beer.
[ Parent ]
Legality (none / 0) (#216)
by Benabik on Sat Jul 12, 2003 at 11:58:35 PM EST

If you read the origional article about the real life Schools, and read the origional news article about them that that linked to, then you would know that these things exist in the nice gray edges of legal.

The children's origional parents sent them there. The schools are given legal custody of the children. Parents are allowed to do as they will. They operate under forgein law, and generally these places operate where the local government is more than happy to turn a blind eye to what's happening in return for the money. And, quite possibly, where there is no kinds of child protection laws so what's happening is legal anyway.

There is no legal battle here in the US... although I suppose the main character could have gone campaigning in Jamaca.

And aside from that, the idea is that the character was damaged and deranged by the camp, not that he became a happy person. His parents and the camp took what was a minor, but fairly safe, obsession and made him drown in it.

~~Benabik Alvar

[ Parent ]

-1, not by CruelElevator [n/t] (2.50 / 4) (#16)
by RyoCokey on Wed Jul 09, 2003 at 11:29:22 PM EST



"During election times, we tend to lose our grandmothers, grandfathers and young children. They just disappear. But I want to warn you all that you should
dude, (5.00 / 1) (#111)
by Cruel Elevator on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 04:03:23 AM EST

Looks like you really like me, but see, all stories regarding people having their basic human rights abused mercilessly isn't authored by me.

My version of the story would've involved a team, a good bit of C-4, a hamster and of course, an old car. Probably I'd have thrown in RMS in it somewhere as well. It'd be like Under Siege or Masterminds, but this time the terrorists win.

If you want my take on this, mail me privately :-) Do note that I suck at fiction.

[ Parent ]

Angst-ridden teen empowerment fantasy (4.07 / 13) (#18)
by TheSleeper on Wed Jul 09, 2003 at 11:35:14 PM EST

When the story that inspired this hit K5, I realized: Many of the people commenting on this are secretly excited by the idea of being dragged off to a place like this. They're thinking that it would be an opportunity to demonstrate their unbreakable will, that they're individuals, unlike all the other sheep who gave in to the brainwashing.

The vast majority of those people were daydreaming; This reads like an extended version of one of those daydreams. It's pretty awful. Sorry, localroger; I've liked everything else you've written here, but this was a big disappointment.

oh man (4.33 / 3) (#36)
by auraslip on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 02:07:41 AM EST

Check this out.
A elitist making fun of elitist, and then being voted up by more elitist.
Makes me grin.
___-____
[ Parent ]
You could recurse on forever with this notion... (4.50 / 4) (#58)
by Netsnipe on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 11:47:07 AM EST

since everyone on kuro5hin.org is an elitist? I don't think anyone who doesn't consider themselves an elistist in some way or another can survive all the intellectual masturbation that goes on around here for very long.

--
Andrew 'Netsnipe' Lau
Debian GNU/Linux Maintainer & Computer Science, UNSW
[ Parent ]
Painfully sad reminder (4.00 / 1) (#70)
by DodgyGeezer on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 03:52:20 PM EST

Ya: it reminded me of similar dumb teenage day dreams I had 10 or 15 years ago.  It's a statement about how the weak and powerless day dream about being strong.  Personally I don't want power over anybody, and I now believe that participation in society is more effective than shying away from it.  Even if that's a missplaced belief, the postive attitude it encompasses it's much better for my general well being ;)

[ Parent ]
+1FP, fiction from localroger (3.66 / 3) (#19)
by Kasreyn on Wed Jul 09, 2003 at 11:37:01 PM EST

Btw, ROFL at "Brainfuck". I could name a few languages that should be called that... Is that a real language?

Re: rote memorization in History, that is not a real history course. A real history course focuses on motivations and causes of past human behavior, and its results. "Christopher Columbus discovered America in 1492" teaches you exactly zip that's useful for life. "Christopher Columbus fudged his math on the Earth's Circumference, and would have starved or been killed by mutineers in the middle of the Atlantic, if he hadn't accidentally smacked into America", DOES teach you a few valuable lessons: don't behave like Christopher Columbus being one of them!

"I imagined the pervert sitting in a comfortable office in Utah who decided with the stroke of a pen that thousands of teenagers under his care would not be allowed to have orgasms."

You said it perfectly, and with fewer words than I'll use to congratulate you. It's the people who think masturbation is bad who are the perverts.

The "letter home" creeped me out. Even if my parents sent me to such a place, I don't think I'd be capable of cutting them dead. But then, it would be literally impossible for my parents to do such a thing to their child.

As to the person turning into a criminal and murderer: Do you believe that's what you'd do? Or that that's inevitably what would be produced by a person who WASN'T broken by them?

In any case, a chilling and compelling read.


-Kasreyn
"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
bf (4.00 / 2) (#20)
by Suppafly on Wed Jul 09, 2003 at 11:39:41 PM EST

brainfuck is a real language.. i'm sure google has a few links.
---
Playstation Sucks.
[ Parent ]
brainfuck (5.00 / 2) (#23)
by strlen on Wed Jul 09, 2003 at 11:56:50 PM EST

oh don't worry, it's real all right:

[ http://www.muppetlabs.com/~breadbox/bf ]

Enjoy it. Best language evAr.

--
[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
[ Parent ]

History (none / 0) (#204)
by joto on Sat Jul 12, 2003 at 12:01:23 PM EST

Re: rote memorization in History, that is not a real history course. A real history course focuses on motivations and causes of past human behavior, and its results. "Christopher Columbus discovered America in 1492" teaches you exactly zip that's useful for life. "Christopher Columbus fudged his math on the Earth's Circumference, and would have starved or been killed by mutineers in the middle of the Atlantic, if he hadn't accidentally smacked into America", DOES teach you a few valuable lessons: don't behave like Christopher Columbus being one of them!

Grades are about what school bureaucrats and teachers consider to be a suitable indicator of being well equipped for higher education, not about what's important for life. And while either one of rote memorization and actual understanding will make you pass history, typically only a combination of both will give you an A. I for one do not disagree with that.

And don't tell me that mathematicians, engineers, scientists, programmers, etc... don't memorize things. We do it all the time. Mathematical theorems, "laws" in physics, chemical formulas, standard library functions, memorizing stuff like that makes you better at what you do, just as memorizing dates make you a better historian (because to be able to reason about cause and effect, events need to be put in the right order, and for you to work efficiently, those dates should better be in your head than on some piece of paper).

[ Parent ]

Hello (5.00 / 1) (#237)
by synaesthesia on Tue Jul 15, 2003 at 07:36:35 AM EST

I agree with the sentiment of what you say (I enjoyed the piece), but I'd just like to pick you up on one thing, because I'm a bit anal and it's a bugbear of mine.

Replace the word "literally" in your comment with something like "practically" or "nigh on" or something. It would not be literally impossible for your parents to do such a thing to their child. It would be literally impossible for your parents to create an unmovable rock, or to be the grandchildren of their sisters.

Yours,
The (Figurative) Literal Police.

Sausages or cheese?
[ Parent ]

BTW, regarding brainwashing (4.66 / 12) (#24)
by Kasreyn on Wed Jul 09, 2003 at 11:57:05 PM EST

I've studied it fairly extensively, and the method you detailed for avoiding it (complete non-participation in the system) is the only method that can provide even a strong-willed person even a slim chance of making it through three years of determined brainwashing with his original personality intact. In fact, there are proven methods that work better on intelligent, determined people than on anyone else. The "failure" of the system in the story on the main character can be put down to artistic license, or to clumsiness and inefficiency on the behalf of the brainwashers. They may be shameless, but they have limits.

For one, they can't permanently harm/disfigure or kill their prisoners. For another, they have to keep them sane enough to be presentable on visitation days (can't have them babbling and sticking straw in their hair). The communists who captured American G.I.'s during Korea and Vietnam were under no such compunctions, of course, and frequently the method used to crack a tough case was to simply drive them bonkers with torture and sleeplessness. I'm sure these people would use that method if not for the fact that once you've broken someone's mind that harshly, it's really hard to put them back together in any way that even resembles who they once were.

So the school in Jamaica has to be considered to have a certain failure rate due to the fact that they can't use every tool in the brainwashing toolbox; merely most of them. In any case, the main character may have avoided being reprogrammed into a dutiful Parental Emotional Support Unit, but the price he paid was his soul being corrupted instead.

I doubt anyone can go through that sort of thing without being permanently changed. I know I couldn't.


-Kasreyn


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
couldn't he (3.00 / 1) (#37)
by auraslip on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 02:09:38 AM EST

just go along with it.
Lock off your dignity and just pretend you've given in.
That's what I would've done.
___-____
[ Parent ]
Most people aren't that facile. (5.00 / 5) (#53)
by Kasreyn on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 09:30:53 AM EST

In any case, the School is missing out on some methods of torture that don't leave marks.

Asphyxiation torture, Water torture, careful beatings on pressure points and joints (which don't leave marks), and most importantly, electric shocks, can all be applied. It is possible to drive people insane from the pain, even with methods that leave no marks. Furthermore, EST (electro-shock "therapy") can be applied to burn a person's brain out enough that they can no longer effectively coordinate a resistance.

The goal in all forced brainwashing is to tear the old personality down - usually by inducing a mental instability and exploiting it to drive the person into a suggestible "alpha" state - and then build up the personality you desire in its place.

It IS possible, if one is of strong enough will, to avoid an attempted brainwashing by going so far into your own mind that they cannot reach you. It has been done before. However, the consequence is, the subject will usually be a vegetable for the rest of their life.


-Kasreyn


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
Have you read.... (none / 0) (#107)
by bjlhct on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 02:02:09 AM EST

The Comforts of Madness by Sayer?

Also, for someone in such a place, is it possible to fool them if they're a good actor?

*
[kur0(or)5hin http://www.kuro5hin.org/intelligence] - drowning your sorrows in intellectualism
[ Parent ]

No, haven't read that one (4.00 / 2) (#154)
by Kasreyn on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 05:52:41 PM EST

And as to fooling people by good acting, it depends on how competent the brainwashers are.

If they're smart, they won't trust your outer appearance to tell whether you've been programmed. Instead, they will come up with a programming regimen that results in success for 99%+ of the population, and even if you seem to be programmed, you will still be put through the entire course, just to be certain.

In a system like that, no amount of pretending can save you. There are methods of brainwashing that have nothing to do with how the victim behaves outwardly. Only sufficient willpower or the ability to withdraw into one's own mind can do it.

Of course, the people at Tranquility Bay are obviously quite incompetent brainwashers, probably because they don't really fully understand what they are doing. The evidence for their incompetence is the large number of ex-"students" who speak out against them, which could be considered to be evidence of a high failure rate. So in the case of Tranquility Bay, putting on a good enough act might save you, if combined with complete non-cooperation with the system. But don't bet on it.


-Kasreyn


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
Another question (none / 0) (#187)
by bjlhct on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 09:48:18 PM EST

Are there "preventative measures"? I mean other than http://zapatopi.net/afdb.html

*
[kur0(or)5hin http://www.kuro5hin.org/intelligence] - drowning your sorrows in intellectualism
[ Parent ]
Preventative measures against brainwashing (5.00 / 8) (#193)
by Kasreyn on Sat Jul 12, 2003 at 01:07:21 AM EST

or other mind control / mental influence:

*) Do not trust anyone who wants you to believe your life will magically improve if you accept their radically different worldview. Great personal change has to come from a devotion and love from within yourself; all truly beneficial religions or spiritual organizations understand this. Crackpot cults will tell you the way to Nirvana is to subordinate your mind to the cult hierarchy. Don't fall for it.

*) Be aware of snow-jobs. Be VERY suspicious of anyone who wants you to take anything on faith, or discourages you from asking for proof of their claims. If they discourage you from questioning, 99% of the time it means that they have no answer, or that if you had the answer it would tear down their illusory house of cards. I do not include valid religions in this; wise preachers will simply say to you, "If you feel you need proof, perhaps our religion isn't for you. I hope you find your answer elsewhere". A cult leader will merely push you harder in an attempt to convert you. If you decline to accept someone's worldview and they keep pushing it, they are trying to manipulate you.

*) In general, be as skeptical as you can manage. If it seems too good to be true, don't believe it. If it seems too awful to be true, don't believe it. If it seems true, don't necessarily believe it until you see proof. The only thing that can reliably protect you from your usual everyday mental influence (advertisers and cult recruiters) is a great big whacking dose of disbelief and stubborn skepticism.

Be aware of how a communication is affecting your thinking. When you see a coke bottle covered with icy sweat burst up through ice and water on your TV screen, note your physical reactions. Does your tongue feel dry, is your gaze riveted to the logo? Advertising isn't anywhere near as harmful as cult programming. Note your reactions to advertising, so you can detect when you're being affected by other communications.

*) Be aware when someone is "reframing" an issue in a way that automatically alters the viewpoint of anyone discussing it with them. If someone is offering you a new view of things, grab it and shake it and turn it upside down and inside out. Look at it in different perspectives to see if it still holds true, before you trust it. For instance, a fire insurance salesman will try to reframe the issue from "buy or not buy" to the issue "let this nice house go up in flames, or protect it". Once he gets you thinking the latter choice, the answer is obvious! No one wants their house to go up in flames. The issue has been reframed by making the slim chance of a house fire seem much more likely. Train yourself to recognize this and don't let people get away with it. ("That's not the issue! The issue is, why should I pay your company $huge_bux for fire insurance, given the low chance my house will burn?")

*) Hypnotism works. Subliminals also work. It's just that precious few know how to do them properly. (I am not among them). Be aware. If you decide to pursue hypnotherapy for a problem, like quitting smoking, great for you - but do your homework on the hypnotist. Check his criminal record, look for any suits or claims of abuse or molestation. If you see any, steer clear. As for subliminals, there's not much you can do but pray.

*) As to hypnosis "not being able to make you do something you don't want to": bullshit. We all have darker sides, base urges, the reptile brain. We all have violence and hatred in us. If the trance state is deep enough and the victim suggestible enough, any pre-existing negative emotion can be linked to a stimulus that can cause actions completely out of character. Families of cult members almost universally report a complete change in personality, such that the person they know is unrecognizable. Mind control is real and it can permanently change a person's personality, even against their will.

*) Be aware of "vocal roll". This is a technique of speaking used by the readers of TV / radio commercials, as well as politicians, Revivalist preachers and other cult recruiters. It is a rhythmic speech pattern which holds to a 45 beats-per-minute speed (occasionally a bit faster, but no slower). This rhythm matches the average human resting heart rate and can induce a suggestible state, even in people who are prepared for the effect. If someone is ever telling you about something and your mind seems to wander and you're paying more attention to emotions and how good their voice sounds, WAKE UP, because your subconscious IS processing what they're saying, and you're half asleep.

*) Do not go to "bible study groups" or "religious seminars" or "free discussion groups" without a buddy. (If you're not religious, don't go AT ALL) If you go, sit together with your buddy, in the back of the room. Do not seperate. Do not "mingle". Do not "share". Do not drink anything there; some cults have used GhB on recruits. Cult recruiters will attempt to seperate you so you can't anchor each other in reality as they try to snow you. Be aware of any rhythmic pulse or oscillating hum in the background, like a washing machine rattling or an air conditioner hum. These can make you "zone out" and go into a suggestible state, much like vocal roll. If you detect any of these warning signs, LEAVE IMMEDIATELY and warn everyone else in the room to do likewise. Unless you WANT to be one of J. Random Messiah's devoted body slaves, breadwinners, and cock-suckers for the rest of your life.

*) Be aware of distractions. Some cults aid recruitment attempts by shocking / startling you with loud noises, bright lights, violent and sudden motions, and other attention-grabbing stuff. When your attention is elsewhere, your subconscious is no longer guarded against suggestions.

*) Do not share personal details with strangers. Do not trust strangers who suddenly reveal deep, intimate secrets about themselves, and do not let them guilt you into reciprocating. The purpose of this trick is to forge a feeling of a link or a bond, emotionally, where one should not exist.

If you are ever captured by people who are holding you against your will with the intent to alter your personality (mind control / brainwashing): good luck, but you're probably screwed. Modern methods have improved a lot since the Inquisition, and success rates are high.

Some things to keep in mind, though:

*) Intelligence does not equal resistance, in fact, the smarter you are, the easier you are to break, because you're more likely to go stir-crazy if they use the boredom approach. If they try to bore you, find something to do. I recommend self-injury (cutting / biting yourself), because it focuses the mind quite powerfully and can prevent you from losing your grip on reality. Just don't accidentally kill yourself. In all likelihood they will try to prevent you from doing this, eventually straightjacketing you. It's an interim measure, though.

*) Willpower isn't the answer to everything. EVERYONE has their vulnerability, everyone can be broken. Ever read 1984? Winston doesn't actually resist pain very well, but even if he did, the terror of the rats broke him instantly. There was simply no capacity of resisting it. If your captors discover your weakness, then heaven help you, you're done for. The goal is to find a way to keep them from finding that weakness for as long as you can (hoping to escape or be rescued in the meanwhile). The way this translates to a plan for resistance is simple: Resist the things you CAN resist, for AS LONG AS POSSIBLE, but make it LOOK like you're always just about to break. This keeps them using the method that's failing, instead of moving on to one that might work.

*) Don't scorn the application of physical torture. This alone will break the vast majority of people, probably including you. However, it's not used as often, as mental torture is far more effective. Besides, little things torture far more effectively. A month of not being allowed to bathe or change, or a month of being forced to sleep on a flea-filled mattess, will torture a man far worse than a day on the rack.

A little known fact of the subconscious: It doesn't rate bad experiences and good experiences by value. It just notes that a bad thing happened, or a good thing, without much sense of the scale of it. It doesn't do "quality of life math". Your subconscious can't tell that a month of fleas is better than a day on the rack. To it, that was 30 days of "bad" instead of 1 day of "bad", and it will break sooner from the stress of the fleas. I was once told this by the shrink who diagnosed me with depression. He told me that the secret to happiness is having a lot of unimportant good things happen during the day, and few little bad things. It's the little things that add to stress and bring you down.

*) Don't think they can't break you. Be aware of your vulnerabilities. Anyone can be broken. If you remind yourself of this fact, you will be better prepared if someone attempts to influence or manipulate you. If you are cocky or unaware that you can be manipulated, then it will be all the easier for them. When it comes to non-forcible (that is, covert) manipulation, your level of alertness is one of the most important factors.

Avoid falling asleep around people you don't trust. And (this goes without saying) don't take mind altering drugs, including alcohol, around people you don't trust.

*) In the end, drugs or sleeplessness can break you without your having a hope of resisting. Why am I bothering writing all the rest, then? Because most times you won't encounter those. You'll probably only encounter drugs and sleeplessness if you are detained and forcibly brainwashed by really serious fucking people. In most cases, you'll merely be up against persuasion, reframing, vocal roll, and perhaps subliminals. If you run up against drugs or sleeplessness, then you're probably in the hands of people who really know what they're doing, in which case: kiss your personality goodbye. Certain drugs can force a trance state. Two weeks of sleeplessness (sometimes much less) will do it, too. A month of sleeplessness will drive most people permanently insane (which also makes you suggestible). I think a month and a half is the current record for a personality remaining intact through sleeplessness.

In any case, remember: Question everything, be skeptical, you can be broken, be aware of your vulnerabilities, beware of "reframing", and beware of rhythmic hums or vocal roll. While you're at it, watch TV commercials for a day or two and study the methods used to program viewers. You will be affected, but only minimally as long as you maintain the proper attitude of complete disbelief. And it will be a good education in mind control techniques.

Some have asked in replies to my earlier comment, why I claim to have "studied this extensively". I can claim several interests. First off, I've been trying to get into other people's heads since I was very small. I became a big fan of sci-fi, for one. I'm also fascinated by history, and how religions have programmed people into doing amazingly foolish things. But my real education began when I developed an amateur interest in hypnosis and other forms of mind control. I've read a great deal online, from too many links to repost here, though if you IM me I'm sure I could provide a few. I've learned about hypnosis, accelerated induction methods, neuro-linguistic programming, subliminals and why they work, Rohypnol (the date-rape drug, aka GhB), and the more forceful methods of persuasion as used by the KGB under Stalin. Fortunately, even if I were tempted to use this knowledge wrongly, I'm not capable of it. I don't have the right kind of persona or charm to actually persuade anybody. I just study it to see how others achieve it, and how to protect myself. And, I'll admit, out of a kind of morbid fascination with the subject.

Finally, I once read L. Ron Hubbard's (no, not Dianetics :-P) "Mission: Earth" series. At first I didn't understand why he was so down on psychiatrists, until I met an ex-Scientologist who opened my eyes. He had been a walk-out who years later is still recovering from the negative effects Hubbard's manipulative, evil cult had on his life. I took the chance to read Hubbard's "Brainwashing Manual", which is fairly primitive and erroneous in places but does detail the basics (if you can sift through his schizo paranoia to get to it). My association with the ex-cultist forced me to realize that millions of my countrymen are living in mental slavery in extreme cults and religions across this nation. That's when I started studying the harder kinds of brainwashing, and looking specifically for ways to protect myself.

More info can be found at the Cult Awareness and Information Center. They have hundreds of links to other sites detailing methods of mental control and persuasion, many more than I've listed here. There is also a great anti-scientology info site available at Operation Clambake.

I hope this info helps you protect your mental integrity and help you live with the personality YOU choose, not one chosen for you.


-Kasreyn


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
best comment... (none / 0) (#196)
by sesquiped on Sat Jul 12, 2003 at 04:58:37 AM EST

That was the most informative comment I've ever read on k5. And a cool sig, too. Thanks!

Back on topic: I hope I never get on the bad side of anyone with an interest in mind control or hypnosis, because I'd be done for in an instant. I tend to be quite gullible and trusting in general, and willpower is not a strong point of mine. Still, I'd like to think I'm more attentive to details than most, and I'm going to try practicing watching for techniques in commercials and reframing.

The thing about the subconcious remembering events in black and white terms only is very interesting and seems to match some of my experiences: I remember a weekend a few months ago when I was feeling really shitty, because of three bad events that had happened on that Friday, even though none of them was really that bad at all, relative to other things going on in my life.

[ Parent ]

Oh, one more thing (5.00 / 1) (#198)
by Kasreyn on Sat Jul 12, 2003 at 06:05:03 AM EST

That's the "Cult Awareness Information Center".

NOT the "Cult Awareness Network" (can be found on google).

The Cult Awareness Network (CAN) broke down and was taken over by the Church of Scientology. You heard me right, cultists run the self-styled Cult Awareness Network. The organization now exists to mislead people into thinking cult deprogrammers are villains brainwashing people who just want the religious freedom to be Scientologists. Every link they provide for "factual" sites about Scientology leads to pages full of lies. Basically, Scientology uses CAN as a mole to attempt to make you think some neutral third party (the CAN) doesn't consider scientology bad at all.

Don't trust the CAN, Scientology is running the show there.


-Kasreyn


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
suggestion (none / 0) (#236)
by adiffer on Tue Jul 15, 2003 at 03:30:42 AM EST

Learning about auto-suggestion can actually be very handy in many ways.  Besides learning how to listen to and integrate your multi-mind personality, you pick up on the techniques to do it.  Once you know some of them, you can spot them better when others try to use them on you.

Obviously, you don't want to try learning this stuff from people you don't trust.  You are safer on your own, but a kick start is useful since few people know where to start.

My personal experience involves effecting my learning style and comprehension rates on each pass over a set of material I must absorb.  There are some neat tricks people can do with or without realizing it.
--BE The Alien!
[ Parent ]

+1 FP (none / 0) (#200)
by localroger on Sat Jul 12, 2003 at 08:55:12 AM EST

Really, you should write a story on this. I have to concur with the "best comment ever" sentiment.

What will people of the future think of us? Will they say, as Roger Williams said of some of the Massachusetts Indians, that we were wolves with the min
[ Parent ]
Another good link (none / 0) (#208)
by bjlhct on Sat Jul 12, 2003 at 02:46:39 PM EST

http://www.cultinformation.org.uk/faq.html

And like localroger said, +1 FP.

<diary>

And maybe I'm lucky, but I can notice myself doing something I consider silly (like an ad working on me), say to myself "you really shouldn't do that, but oh well" and a month or so later either I've stopped or I'm not noticing myself doing it.

Also -

I was just sitting around a while ago and over a couple seconds I suddenly developed a powerful belief in, well, some supreme being anyway. I saw everything in the world as an extension of this supreme spirit.

And then, about 10 minutes later, that feeling went away.

However, me wondering what was going on, I carefully watched (?) what was going on. And remembering that, I can feel religious whenever I want to.

Thus I concluded this is just my brain playing tricks on me.


*
[kur0(or)5hin http://www.kuro5hin.org/intelligence] - drowning your sorrows in intellectualism
[ Parent ]

you're certainly right (none / 0) (#210)
by Battle Troll on Sat Jul 12, 2003 at 05:49:56 PM EST

Thus I concluded this is just my brain playing tricks on me.

Based on the evidence, this sounds correct. It would be a mistake, though, to generalize and say that your '10 minutes of religion' are akin to any other religious philosophy, sentiment, or action.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

Beats me. (none / 0) (#211)
by bjlhct on Sat Jul 12, 2003 at 05:59:42 PM EST

But it's good enough for me.

*
[kur0(or)5hin http://www.kuro5hin.org/intelligence] - drowning your sorrows in intellectualism
[ Parent ]
look (none / 0) (#221)
by Battle Troll on Sun Jul 13, 2003 at 05:21:06 PM EST

You have just risked dismissing most of history and ethical theory on the implicit grounds that your brain may play tricks on you. Doesn't this worry you? Doesn't it worry you that you're raising the possibility that most of mankind's greatest thinkers are stupid? If this stuff doesn't worry you, it should.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]
Not quite. (none / 0) (#222)
by bjlhct on Sun Jul 13, 2003 at 06:07:54 PM EST

The "developed" implied it wasn't there, and it wasn't there for other reasons.

I had a religious experience. I have compared it to several religious experiences that other people have had and it matches up pretty well. So this religious experience - the kind of thing that has converted many people - happened to me, and converted me. But it was something that is demonstratably (at least to me) not what a religious experience is "supposed" to be. And I am going to hold that any given religious experience is a trick of the mind while it is most probable that is is like the one I had.

Ethical theory isn't based on religion, necessarily. I think it was Gardner who said that you can either guess what Supreme Being wants you to do or you can make your own structure of what you should do. The two are often similar, and anyone who doesn't believe in Supreme Being believes that the former is actually the latter.

And lots of people are stupid in some particular way. See deadly potatoes and Chomsky's belief in generative grammar.

*
[kur0(or)5hin http://www.kuro5hin.org/intelligence] - drowning your sorrows in intellectualism
[ Parent ]

heh (none / 0) (#230)
by Battle Troll on Mon Jul 14, 2003 at 01:53:57 PM EST

I think it was Gardner who said that you can either guess what Supreme Being wants you to do or you can make your own structure of what you should do.

It is you, not I, who brings this up, but unless you admit a transcendent morality, you have to be a total social constructivist. And I don't think you want what that implies.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

Eh? (none / 0) (#233)
by bjlhct on Mon Jul 14, 2003 at 09:00:48 PM EST

What about what I said makes you think I subscribe to Vygotsky?

*
[kur0(or)5hin http://www.kuro5hin.org/intelligence] - drowning your sorrows in intellectualism
[ Parent ]
you're either bluffing or trolling. /nt (none / 0) (#242)
by Battle Troll on Tue Jul 15, 2003 at 04:14:31 PM EST


--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]
The Intarweb, where neither is both NT (none / 0) (#243)
by bjlhct on Tue Jul 15, 2003 at 04:27:50 PM EST



*
[kur0(or)5hin http://www.kuro5hin.org/intelligence] - drowning your sorrows in intellectualism
[ Parent ]
The Intarweb, where neither is both NT (none / 0) (#244)
by bjlhct on Tue Jul 15, 2003 at 04:28:02 PM EST



*
[kur0(or)5hin http://www.kuro5hin.org/intelligence] - drowning your sorrows in intellectualism
[ Parent ]
Whatever, BT. (none / 0) (#245)
by bjlhct on Wed Jul 16, 2003 at 01:03:02 AM EST

I got mine, and you got yours.

*
[kur0(or)5hin http://www.kuro5hin.org/intelligence] - drowning your sorrows in intellectualism
[ Parent ]
nitpicking (5.00 / 1) (#224)
by suntzu on Sun Jul 13, 2003 at 07:10:21 PM EST

it was unclear from the sentence, but you seem to be saying that rohypnol and ghb are the same drug. they aren't. both can be used to the same ultimate ends, but they are different chemicals with different characteristics. and ghb has a bad rap as a date-rape drug. though illegal, it does have recreational value (very similar to alcohol). also, keep in mind, the #1 date-rape drug (by far) is alcohol.

[ Parent ]
Cult Awareness and Information Centre (none / 0) (#231)
by R4venS0ng on Mon Jul 14, 2003 at 03:45:46 PM EST

Hopefully, this is the page that the parent meant to link to.

[ Parent ]
Alpha state? (1.50 / 2) (#217)
by Josh A on Sun Jul 13, 2003 at 12:39:51 AM EST

I've been using sbagen to try to induce, among other things, alpha states. Can I brainwash people with it? :-)

---
Thank God for Canada, if only because they annoy the Republicans so much. – Blarney


[ Parent ]
First rule of brainwashing (none / 0) (#116)
by Gully Foyle on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 05:42:53 AM EST

If they can make you say it, they can make you believe it.

If you weren't picked on in school you were doing something wrong - kableh
[ Parent ]

Big hairy deal (1.50 / 2) (#114)
by Cruel Elevator on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 05:10:40 AM EST

Did you know that Tex Bigballs is "highly trained" in 43.5 varieties of martial arts? I see that you have "extensively studied" brainwashing (or so you claim), but you seem to be more content in boasting your 31337 sk331z rather then contributing to this discussion. If you want to say that there's no way to keep sane in the school, say it already. If you want to leave notes on how to dodge the system do it already.

Or perhaps you're hoping to get hired as a consultant by the school? Post #53 seems to point to that direction. Who knows, you're probably a sensitive flute player who raises bunnies as a pastime, but prefers a real mean online personality.

In other words, stay on topic mon.

[ Parent ]

studied it extensively? (none / 0) (#117)
by parasite on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 05:54:58 AM EST


Happen to have any especially wonderful links (I know I can hit google, but
I'm talking specific recommendations) on this brainwashing stuff ? Specifically
about the part you say you've studied extensively, and one can only make it
through with this technique or complete noncapitulation ?

(I'm very curious because when I read the first article on the camp, I thought,
oh -- screw that, if I went there I would be the most evil suck-up ever and
make up a fake-life for myself -- so everytime they demanded something personal
I could tell them I was thinking about some BS, and then if I knew they were
trying to embarass me into crying -- just fake it all... I want to know whether
or not THAT scenario is possible.)

[ Parent ]

i aggree (none / 0) (#239)
by psyborgue on Tue Jul 15, 2003 at 09:37:55 AM EST

I was in a similar facility and i aggree that non-compliance is the only way to stay sane. I played with them if I needed to but i let them know that they would never break me. I contemplated comitting suicide yes, but not complying.

[ Parent ]
Nice novel outline (3.00 / 1) (#27)
by wji on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 12:12:13 AM EST

Not such a great read, though, I have to admit, even though I'm behind the sentiment in a revenge-fantasy way.

Perhaps I'll draw on those old unused writing skills and some of the thoughts I had on reading that story and put something together.

In conclusion, the Powerpuff Girls are a reactionary, pseudo-feminist enterprise.

They may well rename the bloody section (4.50 / 6) (#30)
by Pac on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 12:30:30 AM EST

Drop the false sense of neutrality "Fiction" gives and call it by its real name, the "localroger" section.

Evolution doesn't take prisoners


Or perhaps (4.50 / 2) (#32)
by SamuraiJack on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 12:36:00 AM EST

the "Good" fiction section, for people who can actually write.  All others are warned to wear asbestos.

[ Parent ]
Who gets into that section? [n/t] (none / 0) (#94)
by gzt on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 10:04:58 PM EST



[ Parent ]
the very, very poor man's (none / 0) (#130)
by Battle Troll on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 10:44:10 AM EST

Iain Banks.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]
Why this isn't FP to me (4.66 / 9) (#34)
by llimllib on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 12:47:09 AM EST

The character of the story seems to me to know too much. This is his fatal flaw; he is boring because he always knows exactly what is going on. There is no revelation, no hint of fear inside him. He is who he is, and the only subtle change in him is the flip from obsession with violence to action. That's not even a big change, really.

What I really did like about the story is the plot; it's salinger...ian? salingeresque? whatever. However, you lack the (admittedly incredible) power to be inside a character's skin that he had. To me, your story reads as if somebody wrote it from outside, not as if this was really written from the protagonist's POV. I'll give you SP because I like to vote anything decent up (and this is better than just decent), but there are a lot of things that could be done with this story.

Note: This comment is topical because I feel that a critique of the writing is a topical comment for fiction.


Peace.
This is true (4.60 / 5) (#63)
by localroger on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 01:36:39 PM EST

The character of the story seems to me to know too much.

Before I could write this I had to imagine a person who could believably resist the techniques used by WWASPS facilities like Tranquility Bay. As a result Brian is quite a bit smarter and stronger than I was at fifteen.

I did try to give him a believable reason for being familiar enough with WWASPS to know what to expect. Indeed, his obsession with the dark side of human nature probably contributed to his parents' decision to have him sent away. Brian is fascinated because he hates the darkness, but some are fascinated because they want to embrace it, and he admits to not being communicative about his motives.

One of the most horrific things about the environment of a WWASPS facility is the ruthless editing away of possibilities. By definition this limits the number of plot possibilities that don't end "and then he was crushed."

Anyway, for what amounts to a more literate than usual howl of outrage, I think it came out pretty good and I'm glad to see the vote agreed. I don't know how likely it is that someone like Brian actually exists, but this is definitely what the perverts who run these facilities deserve.

What will people of the future think of us? Will they say, as Roger Williams said of some of the Massachusetts Indians, that we were wolves with the min
[ Parent ]

understandable (4.50 / 2) (#66)
by llimllib on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 01:44:17 PM EST

I see how it was hard to do anything different than what you did, given the constrained setting. The only thing that I would have liked to have seen would have been some moments of uncertainty. You stated that the 2nd year was hard, but at no point did I really feel any fear from him; it was stated too matter-of-factly, IMHO.

As for the topic, I agree on how terrible this sort of facility is, and I pray for the people stuck in it. I also agree that, considering how literally you took your setting, this was an enjoyable story.


Peace.
[ Parent ]
Looking at it wrong (4.80 / 10) (#38)
by cameldrv on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 02:11:57 AM EST

People who are voting this down because they think this is a teenage revenge fantasy are misunderstanding the point of the story.  Here you have a slightly messed up teenager, alienated at his parents, and the situation he is in.  He's in a bad place, and is possibly flirting with some seriously bad behavior.  Someday, if he makes it through though, he will go to college, meet people like him, and realize that the world is not a completely fucked up place, find his little spot in it, and manage to lead a decent life.

Instead, everything that has been leading him down the dark path is reinforced.  He figures out that the world is completely fucked up.  The "school" has made him a psychopath.  Ultimately, to be healthy, people need space to grow.  As it is presented, ultimately his actions after leaving the school aren't even decisions.  They are just consequences of his mind being destroyed.

well (4.84 / 13) (#39)
by Cruel Elevator on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 02:58:12 AM EST

First of all, this story has nothing to do with my username. I don't remember transporting anyone to hell recently. Interesting concept though.

On a more serious note, I think that there could a different reason on why you were so moved by the original story. I have a feeling that a large chunk of the K5 userbase had problems with authority, especially in school. In fact, thinking about it brings back lot of angst – read this comment, and a diary entry I wrote.

See, quite a few of us had problems in our teens with the wonderful education system. I had my share. I have been made to stand in the corner with hands raised, thrown out of the class, run around the football field in hot summer, and slapped around quite a bit. In fact, being slapped by attractive teachers can drastically alter your sexual behavior. Nah, this is clearly off topic.

What I'm trying to say is that sometimes the “system” sucks, and we chose to fight back. Now what happens if you're in a controlled environment like the camp? You just suffer without any hope. Hey, some of us fought back didn't we? We did interesting things like hate mails and bomb threats... it allowed us to vent now and then. Besides, we weren't in isolation – if we felt that things were seriously screwed up, we could do something about it. Not in camp TB. See, people have been killed and that there was nothing the kids could do to alert the authorities.

So you tend to draw parallels with your situation and gasp at the horrors. You tend to think “what would I do if I was put there?”

I had the misfortune of studying with spoiled brats. You know, the type who owns a Lexus at the age of 16, got shitloads of cash to burn etc. It wasn't a pleasure – those guys were complete assholes. However, it was their parents who were to blame. If you find, say for example, Mr. Dipshit MacBride, 16, saying that chicks are basically whores, and getting them is a matter of time and money, don't be surprised. Now if Mr. Darl MacBride of SCO thinks that his son is “unadjusted” and sends him over to camp TB, well... he's just removed his asshole son from the society for 2 years, without realizing his personal contribution in nurturing an asshole.

So when Dipshit MacBride comes back at 18, is he going to follow the localroger route? Nah. I don't think so. He'd just probably screw as many chicks as possible, and become a major junkie. That's it. He'd hate his parents and the school, but won't have the balls to kill them. He'd rather live a twisted life then chance it at a prison.

Although localroger hopes for a poetic justice, these things don't happen in this planet. The best way to take out these hell holes is to form pressure groups and lobby with the authorities. Victims need kindness, love and affection – not guns and malicious ideas.



Thoughts (4.87 / 8) (#54)
by rdskutter on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 09:35:11 AM EST

Although localroger hopes for a poetic justice, these things don't happen in this planet. The best way to take out these hell holes is to form pressure groups and lobby with the authorities. Victims need kindness, love and affection - not guns and malicious ideas.

As any recovered alcoholic will tell you: the first stage towards rehabilitation is realising that you have a problem.

The protagonist here has been hardened by his time in The School. He has come to believe (by neccesity) that he is right, and everyone else is wrong. To admit that he has a problem would completely break him. He has only his own conviction and to rob him of that would leave his brain a slobbering mess of self-pity. The protagonist has no choice but to live on his own, inside the strong walls of his own mind, until such time that he learns (slowly) to trust someone else. Maybe he will find a lover, or a soulmate. Maybe he won't.

Either way, he's fucked. He will never learn to trust authority. That would break him.

So when Dipshit MacBride comes back at 18, is he going to follow the localroger route? Nah. I don't think so. He'd just probably screw as many chicks as possible, and become a major junkie. That's it. He'd hate his parents and the school, but won't have the balls to kill them. He'd rather live a twisted life then chance it at a prison.

Dipshit MacBride, not a strong person to start with, would be brainwashed and would respect authority. He would most likely return to his parents (who are rich and have power) and be given a business to run. He will undoubtably run this business into the ground but he will forever repeat the mantra "The school made me stronger. The school made me what I am now". He will believe that, despite his failure, he is successful - attributing his success to his time at the school and not to the extreme generosity of his parents.

There is no way to leave The School and not be fucked up in one way or another. The moment you are incarcerated your life is over.


BEEN A BIT CARELESS HAVEN'T WE? - Mr Death.
[ Parent ]

Whoever TRASG0 is... (4.33 / 3) (#73)
by Tau on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 05:01:54 PM EST

...he's just found his way into my sig

---
WHEN THE REVOLUTION COMES WE WILL MAKE SAUSAGES OUT OF YOUR FUCKING ENTRAILS - TRASG0
[ Parent ]
Okay, (4.00 / 2) (#74)
by Tau on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 05:03:43 PM EST

And today Tau learned that some sort of separating marks are probably a good idea.

---
WHEN THE REVOLUTION COMES WE WILL MAKE SAUSAGES OUT OF YOUR FUCKING ENTRAILS - TRASG0
[ Parent ]
Really? (none / 0) (#108)
by bjlhct on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 02:08:40 AM EST

The rich kids seemed alright to me. Not great, but average.

*
[kur0(or)5hin http://www.kuro5hin.org/intelligence] - drowning your sorrows in intellectualism
[ Parent ]
Ooh! (2.50 / 2) (#41)
by Sciamachy on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 03:38:16 AM EST

More please! This could become a pretty good novel in the Andy McNab/James Patterson mould.

--
Fides Non Timet
-1 encourages disdain for authority (3.66 / 3) (#43)
by rmwise on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 05:08:51 AM EST

You will be incarcerated under my regime.

---
SAVE RUSSIAN JEWS COLLECT VALUABLE PRIZES!


Reality vs Fiction (4.33 / 3) (#44)
by bugmaster on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 05:32:24 AM EST

I voted this +1 section because it's localroger... But something about the story just rubs me the wrong way. I think it's the fact that the story is marked as "fiction", whereas everything about The School aka Tranquility Bay is actually real. There really are unsanctioned prisons where kids are tortured 24/7 under the watchful eye of their Big Siblings (tm). I think that writing a fictional story about this place, and one with a revenge plot to boot, cheapens that fact.
>|<*:=
slightly OT (3.00 / 1) (#46)
by tetsuwan on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 06:04:03 AM EST

I have to recommend Pär Lagerkvist's Evil Tales (Onda Sagor), which includes the story "Elevator to hell".

What I miss in this story ... (2.85 / 7) (#51)
by mami on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 09:19:02 AM EST

Why not bring in the fifteen year old's friend at school (the regular high-school), the one, which was always the loner, who wasn't that nice, the one, who had his little boots of hate and beat some cats to death in the secrecy of some parking lots.

He would be the rich kid, who ended up torturing his parents, for whatever reasons, may be the parents were very cruel in their own brilliant, loving, overprotecting ways ... this kid also will be sent to that Jamaica school, may be at the advice of some social services, because the parents got scared about their off-spring and feared for their own lives ...

Then your main character and this kid compete in their attempt to survive the brainwashing methods of the Jamaica school, they exchange secretly their plans of survival etc. But after leaving, one turns into a sophisticated criminal parent killer acting out his revenge and the other, who threatened to kill his parents before he was sent to "reeducation camp", turns out differently.

He "had a change of mind" and starts to plot against the plans of his comrade in pain at school and is out to rehabilitate himself by preventing the "good boy" from killing his parents afterwards. Just an idea to make it more complex.

Great start, can't wait for the continuation.
+1 FP

I have difficulties to understand (none / 0) (#96)
by mami on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 10:15:17 PM EST

why people are mad about my comment. If someone has to rate me down to one, why are they so coward not to give a reason what they are so mad about?

It seems pretty ridiculous to me to conclude from my suggestions for ideas that came to MY mind (ie to include a completely different character of kid prisoner as to contrast the described imprisoned rich kid victim who was send there because it has the wrong boy/girlfriend) that would justify to bash my comment.

I think narrow minded people conclude from my suggestions that I support those camps. You must be pretty balla, balla out of your mind, if that should be the case ... I thought this is fiction and one can let one's fantasy bubble along.

 

[ Parent ]

sir, (none / 0) (#115)
by Cruel Elevator on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 05:22:03 AM EST

I rated you a one because of your fantasies about beating the shit out of cats. I suspect that others have done so for very similar reasons. Perhaps you do like beating up cats in your parking lot, but cats are popular in K5.

Get it?

[ Parent ]

Madam (none / 0) (#128)
by mami on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 08:57:56 AM EST

are you sure you got it? I don't think so.

[ Parent ]
Unfair (none / 0) (#249)
by pauliephonic on Wed Jul 23, 2003 at 12:21:35 PM EST

The inclusion of a rich kid who tortured cats is no more a fantasy about "beating the shit out of cats" than localrogers inclusion of patricide is a fantasy. The suggested addition was a tad twee, but , hey relax. P
- - Nice, you guys did seperation of church and state, now hurry up and do seperation of business and state will ya!!
[ Parent ]
What is this, cool week? (3.00 / 2) (#52)
by megid on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 09:30:03 AM EST

Regardless of infantility, simple plot line, bla bla bla...

... a joy to read. +1 FP.

--
"think first, write second, speak third."

What happens to the parents? (re poll) (4.83 / 6) (#55)
by fraise on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 09:37:14 AM EST

Write-in: left behind and unforgiven, but no harm wished whatsoever. Other than karma, perhaps. Forgiveness comes in its own time and should not be rushed simply because it's a "good" thing - it can be damaging to forgive too quickly.

I too had parents who would have sent me to a place like Tranquility Bay had it existed, and if they had had the money. Luckily that wasn't the case. Instead, I left Hell, aka my life with them, as soon as I was able, and only look back if I need to (not if they want me to). Revenge? They're not worth the trouble. My payback comes in the form of talking about them frankly, and letting other abused kids know they're not alone, someone believes them, they aren't doomed to grow up to be like their parents.

I'd have voted this up (4.00 / 3) (#57)
by 5pectre on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 11:00:18 AM EST

I thought exactly the same thing after reading that article in the Observer.

"Let us kill the English, their concept of individual rights might undermine the power of our beloved tyrants!!" - Lisa Simpson [ -1.50 / -7.74]

Wow (4.00 / 2) (#61)
by Skeevis on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 12:40:26 PM EST

That's really good man. I don't think anything else could capture my feelings reading the original article as your story did.

great story.. (3.50 / 2) (#62)
by Suppafly on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 01:11:32 PM EST

yet another great.. you should really consider writing all out novels.
---
Playstation Sucks.
quit reading after 1st paragraph (2.76 / 13) (#65)
by turmeric on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 01:43:59 PM EST

'two large men awoke me and put me in handcuffs'

sorry, theres only so much hot gay bondage porn i can take.

You don't really expect us to belive that, do you? (4.80 / 5) (#75)
by jayhawk88 on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 05:25:19 PM EST



Why, then, should we grant government the Orwellian capability to listen at will and in real time to our communications across the Web? -- John Ashcroft
[ Parent ]
ZING!!! (none / 0) (#84)
by Subtillus on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 07:15:34 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Never said it was a guy (none / 0) (#201)
by CoolerQ on Sat Jul 12, 2003 at 10:34:49 AM EST

localroger never said that the main character is a guy. Just imagine them to be one of the "barely legal" girls :P
--Quentin

[ Parent ]
Signed his letter home "Brian" (nt) (none / 0) (#202)
by localroger on Sat Jul 12, 2003 at 11:04:57 AM EST



What will people of the future think of us? Will they say, as Roger Williams said of some of the Massachusetts Indians, that we were wolves with the min
[ Parent ]
could have been a dog. [nt] (none / 0) (#212)
by rmg on Sat Jul 12, 2003 at 07:21:29 PM EST



_____ intellectual tiddlywinks
[ Parent ]

Das Was Sehr gut ! (3.00 / 2) (#67)
by techwolf on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 02:40:46 PM EST

I really liked that one, how aboue some more? maybe you should think about writing a full blown novel??


"The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government." - Thomas Jefferson

good story except (3.00 / 1) (#68)
by modmans2ndcoming on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 03:38:06 PM EST

Rich whiners are nothing like this person.

they don't have overly demanding parents, except in the realm of social graces...most of the time they are ignored and left to the nanny type person.

Based on research (4.50 / 2) (#71)
by localroger on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 04:33:41 PM EST

Not all the kids in WWASPS facilities are rich whiners. If you google for tranquility-bay abuse, you will run across some survivor stories that I used as a starting point for this character.

What will people of the future think of us? Will they say, as Roger Williams said of some of the Massachusetts Indians, that we were wolves with the min
[ Parent ]
Thank you so much (2.00 / 2) (#69)
by fhotg on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 03:38:31 PM EST

for writing up the daydream-fanatsies I had after reading that MLP.
~~~
Gitarren für die Mädchen -- Champagner für die Jungs

Analysis and Discussion. (3.94 / 36) (#72)
by RobotSlave on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 04:56:14 PM EST

So, let's see. We've got an antisocial geek with a fetish for true crime, and no friends. His evil parents, fearing his 1337 h4x0r powers, send him to re-education camp. At least, that seems to be the reason they send him away. It's really not explained in any remotely plausible way. Maybe they thought he was a dangerous sociopath? And were correct?

Well, anyway. Let's just assume he wasn't anything more than an antisocial computers-geek with a true-crime fetish, no friends, and a very dim view of humanity. That's what he tells us he was like, anyway. Then his parents send him to torture-camp.

Where he doesn't change in the slightest.

We're told that all sorts of terrible things happen to him, but due to his 1337 knowledge of brainwashing methods, he keeps his personality as it was when he arrived, and emerges with that personality intact. He has no noteworthy interactions with fellow prisoners at all, though he does "memorize" them, whatever that means. Certainly he doesn't feel much in the way of empathy for any of them; he simply regards them as weaker, less able, and thus helpless beings. He is tortured, or at least made to lie face-down for a while, but that torture does not change him.

Interestingly, the only form of torture described in any detail is referred to as "face time," a phrase that more familiarly refers to direct personal interaction with other human beings, without telephones, computers, or other technology in the way. This is one of several clues that perhaps this story isn't quite what it seems— more on that later.

Emerging from torture-camp, Our Hero takes a "shit job" clearing trees on his first day out (and never mind the fact that arborists, as with so many professionals who deal with living things, are highly educated and well-paid, and the unionized municipal employees who assist them are not hired on the spot).

Why did he take the job cutting trees? Well, he took it so that he could abadon it later to take up a life of petty crime, apparently. The tree-care job serves absolutely no purpose in the story, and provides no diverting entertainment value, but it does remind us, less than subtly, of the presence of the author, who took pains in his introduction to remind us of his own recent wild-and-crazy experience with trees. Hey, wait a minute. Why would he want to do that? Anyway:

Having become a super-criminal without so much as a hiccup, Our Hero then sets about a bit of garden-variety internet stalking, which leads to an opportunity to rescue a young teenage girl who is being sent to his old torture-camp alma mater. However, rather than actually rescue her, he simply kills her guards and then leaves her to fend for herself, after a brief lecture about how crappy humanity is. What's up with that? A Libertarian rescue? It's colder than an Ayn Rand sex scene, for heaven's sake. Does localroger have some reluctance to write sympathetic "mushy" scenes with female characters in them? Might this be a calculated omission?

It seems Our Hero didn't gain much in the way of social skills while becoming a super-duper excellent criminal, even though he told us that "being a criminal requires you to understand people." Understanding people is a skill that can be obtained simply by learning Spanish, apparently. We have to assume so, at any rate, because the language isn't put to any further use in the story.

Then he lands on the enemy island and assaults the enemy base and frags all the enemies. The end.

Um, OK.

Maybe this is just a hackneyed bit of macho college-sophmore chest-thumping (every college writing workshop in the America has at least one male student in it who will write at least one story about a serial killer or mass murderer). More generously, it might be a clumsy attempt at an unreliable-narrator exposition, but with all the implicit insight curiously omitted. Either way, it doesn't amount to much as a stand-alone short story.

This piece, however, is also a localroger story, and that gives it a specific context that allows further interpretation.

We know several things about localroger. First, we know that he is trying to leverage his success as a K5 short-story writer into a full-blown dead-trees book deal. Second, we know that he likes to gamble, that he cheats when he gambles, and that he glorifies cheating.

When you cheat at gambling, there are two ways to win: cheat the house, or cheat the other people at the table.

Localroger's bid for a book contract is a gamble, and it's a game he's just started playing. You don't cheat the house your first time out. You start by raising your stake off of the other people at the table.

The table, in this case, is a low-stakes affair; no real money on it, and not too many people involved. The table is named kuro5hin.org, of course, and the pot is the front page.

Localroger has had a look around the table, and he's sized up the marks. They're pretty predictable, maybe because he's got a lot in common with them. He's got a good idea what will get them riled, and how to butter them up. They're geeks, some less social than others, and they'll buy an antisocial computers-geek as a hero, every time. They might prefer interactions with people via computers to "face time." They might be uncomfortable with mushy boy-girl stuff. A lot of them had a difficult time in torture-ca— er, high school. As a group, they take a dim view of authority, on average, and maybe of human beings, too.

It's notoriously hard to get fiction published in this house, but localroger keeps raking in that jackpot. He's working the marks for everything he can, and having a pretty easy time of it. They're hardly losing their shirts, after all, and everyone likes to be flattered.

To its credit, this particular story is less embarassing than the one that ended with the giant spaceship-phallus (localroger) prodding at the virginal earth-ova (publishing world) and ejaculating forth a fecund swarm of phallus-worshippers (K5 users).

But that's not saying much.

Oops (3.40 / 5) (#81)
by localroger on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 06:55:13 PM EST

This is one of several clues that perhaps this story isn't quite what it seems

No, it's a clue that you can't be bothered to read things by people you aren't trolling.

You should have quit while you were ahead. The comment about the phallic symbolism in Passages was pretty funny. This personal attack just makes you look like a jealous asshole.

What will people of the future think of us? Will they say, as Roger Williams said of some of the Massachusetts Indians, that we were wolves with the min
[ Parent ]

Temper, localroger, temper. (3.50 / 8) (#83)
by RobotSlave on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 07:14:01 PM EST

Remember, your future publishers are watching.

We wouldn't want to make them think you're not mature enough to deal with criticism from grown-ups, or with grown-up contract terms, now would we?

[ Parent ]

The story criticism I can take. (5.00 / 3) (#85)
by localroger on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 07:39:13 PM EST

So you didn't like the story, or you score points by pretending to not like it and picking it apart; fine. I can even laugh along with you. Other people will read the story and make their own decisions.

Make fun of my online presence all you want. Everybody finds it funny when you pop a prominent person's bubble. Lie and draw ridiculous conclusions about my motivation all you want; most people know how stories get posted here.

Accusing me of being a cheat, however, is libel and there are people who won't bother to click through the articles to find out that you are bullshitting. Or they won't scroll down to the comment where I cite the Nevada court case that established that, contrary to what some people think, card counting isn't cheating. That isn't funny, and you should be ashamed of yourself.

What will people of the future think of us? Will they say, as Roger Williams said of some of the Massachusetts Indians, that we were wolves with the min
[ Parent ]

Good one (3.00 / 4) (#86)
by shoeboy on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 08:36:46 PM EST

most people know how stories get posted here.

Yes indeed we do. You simply pander to the (pathetic) core users and refrain from challenging them. I think we've all mastered this little trick.

It's not something to be proud of.

Your daddy,
--Shoeboy
No more trolls!
[ Parent ]

Oooh, are you going to sue me now? (2.77 / 9) (#87)
by RobotSlave on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 08:50:02 PM EST

For not liking your story?

I'm sure the publishing agents reading this will be most impressed with your threat.

Regardless of whether or not the courts think counting cards is a crime, localroger, you and I both know that cheating means something very different.

You've got a pretty damned selfish idea of what constitutes fairness. Allow me to quote:

"I won't bore you with tales of how awful this place is, since I'm sure they will assure you I am trying to manipulate my way out of the situation. And so I would be; life itself is manipulation, each organism trying to get the best position for itself in life."

Granted, that comes from your "hero," or antihero, or whatever the fuck he's supposed to be, and not from you, personally, but I'm pretty damned sure that's what you believe, as well. That attitude has surfaced in other stuff you've written, too, localroger. And I don't like it.

So yes, my criticism is, in part, ad hominem. I don't like that particular aspect of your personality. I don't like your cynical exploitation of any advantage you can find, without regard to anyone but yourself. I'm not to fond of the rationalization that such exploitation makes you "better" than others (or would "fitter" be a better term?). You're right about one thing, localroger— part of my analysis was indeed a "personal attack," or rather, a criticism of a particular part of your personality.

The rest of it, however, was criticism of your writing. Outside the context of K5, this lousy story wouldn't stand up for a moment, for reasons that I outlined in detail. You don't seem like you can take that criticism, localroger. Your first response, in fact, was to accuse me of not reading some material extraneous to the story. That's not the response of a man who can take criticism.

Finally, speculating about your motives was, of course, simply an amusing way to finish my critique. As it happens, it bears a grain of truth-- the stories you have posted since you started looking for a publisher for MOPI do, in fact, contain strong themes of ambition that rather specificly evoke your tiny (but oh-so-brave and admirable) k5 fanbase, and a much bigger (and oppressive and hostile) publishing world. That spaceship-phallus line was no throwaway, localroger— it was based on a careful reading of the story in question, which contained blindingly obvious sexual symbolism.

I suspect the largest difference between my whimsical gambling analogy and your "real motivations," whatever they may be, is that you didn't have any clue that your ambitions were leaking out into the themes of your stories.

Your better stuff is entertaining, but you're not nearly good enough as a writer (yet?) to pull off the subtle thematic manipulation that I somewhat facetiously accused you of. Hell, you're not even good enough as a reader to recognize a semi-facetious flight of fancy.

What's more, you're not mature enough to ignore it, instead of getting all upset and waving your dick in my and the rest of K5's face with accusations of "jealousy" (that's a riot), and then with the veiled threats of legal action (ooh, scary!).

Grow up, localroger. Stop making an insecure ass of yourself.

[ Parent ]

It's not practical to sue you for being a liar. (5.00 / 2) (#89)
by localroger on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 09:21:27 PM EST

Oooh, are you going to sue me now?

Of course not. Neither said nor implied.

For not liking your story?

No, for being a liar.

It's too bad, because you're capable of being really funny. You just either don't care or don't know where the joke stops working.

I guess it's just easier to troll and declare victory when you get a response, any response, even if it's a pile of 1 ratings. If you want to call shit caviar and brag about having an unlimited supply of it, who am I to stop you?

What will people of the future think of us? Will they say, as Roger Williams said of some of the Massachusetts Indians, that we were wolves with the min
[ Parent ]

14 pounds of cocoa (3.00 / 4) (#92)
by shoeboy on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 09:25:17 PM EST

If you want to call shit caviar and brag about having an unlimited supply of it, who am I to stop you?

Who indeed? This seems to be the approach you take with your own (godawful) writing.

Your daddy,
--Shoeboy
No more trolls!
[ Parent ]

Trolling? (3.28 / 7) (#93)
by RobotSlave on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 10:04:01 PM EST

Is that the best you can do? Call the criticism that makes you uncomfortable "trolling," and hope no-one notices the fact that you haven't addressed the substance of that criticism?

Good luck with that. Oh, and incidentally, if you're trying to accuse someone of making a baseless personal attack, the label you're supposed to affix in the service of your name-calling fallacy is flame, not troll.

But I guess flame doesn't have the same resonance as troll here, at K5, does it? Doesn't quite have that magical power to distract people from the fact that you haven't produced a coherent argument?

As to knowing where the joke stops working, localroger, I suspect it stops working as soon as you lose your temper and start in with the cock-bruised ranting and the accusations of jealousy and the shortsighted invocation of comments-ratings as a dick-size indicator. Wouldn't you agree?

But I'm not laughing. I stopped laughing as soon as I saw a writer with some chance of getting published risk that chance due to a thin-skinned sense of entitlement.

You've got most of them hooked, localroger. Don't blow it by digging yourself in deeper. You'll catch more flies with honey, you know.

[ Parent ]

Some friendly logical tips. (3.00 / 11) (#95)
by Estanislao Martínez on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 10:06:47 PM EST

Of course not. Neither said nor implied.

I'm sorry, but telling somebody that they have done something that gives you ground for legal procedures is a threat. Especially when delivered in an emotional, incoherent manner.

No, [I'm going to sue you] for being a liar.

I'm sorry again, but your assertion here presupposes that you're going to sue him (as I've highlighted by filling out the elliptical material in the clause). You can't both say that you never said or implied to sue him and then, in your next statement, presuppose it.

Let's put that in more precise terms: Robotslave's question "For not liking your story?" presupposes an elliptical main clause: "[You're going to sue me] for not liking your story?" The elided content is clearly inferable identifiable in context; it is the preceeding sentence. Your response is interpretable only by reference to this context; you have accepted the presupposition. By current accepted definitions of presupposition (see e.g. Stephen Levinson, Pragmatics, Cambridge Univ. Press), that means that you hold the truth of the proposition that you are going to sue him as a truth that's not subject to question under the current context.

Not to mention that Robotslave clearly used the preposition for to introduce a motive complement, and you've twisted it around into a reading where it introduces the charge under which you threaten to sue him. To spell it out: he asked whether the fact that he does not like your story is the motive for your threat to sue him under the claim that he has lied about you.

Summary:

  1. Learn to read. Studies show that writing skills improve with reading comprehension levels.
  2. Be logically consistent, dammit.

If you need any further logical consultancy, I have good rates.

--em
[ Parent ]

Okay, I'll bite (5.00 / 5) (#91)
by Gregoyle on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 09:25:13 PM EST

First off, the parent seems like a personal attack more than any type of "Analysis and Discussion".

Okay, now to discuss the actual "discussion" part.

Where he doesn't change in the slightest.

Right. He doesn't turn into a methodical, sociopathic killer with no sense of conscience or fear of consequences.

Interestingly, the only form of torture described in any detail is referred to as "face time," a phrase that more familiarly refers to direct personal interaction with other human beings, without telephones, computers, or other technology in the way.

I thought it was a very effective and realistic euphemism for a (somewhat) undefined torture. How many times have you heard similar ones? Loss of sleep and reduction or increase in priviledges combined with "only" one form of torture have been used in brainwashing before.

Then he lands on the enemy island and assaults the enemy base and frags all the enemies. The end.

Yes. It's a short story, not The Count of Monte Cristo. Perhaps the ending could be a warning about unintended consequences of evil decisions rather than a lack of an idea of where to continue?

Now for the personal attacks.

Second, we know that he likes to gamble, that he cheats when he gambles, and that he glorifies cheating.

I call shenanigans. In this the poster implies that gambling is immoral, perhaps intrinsically, and then goes on to accuse the author of unethical (illegal?) behavior and glorifying that behavior.

Gambling is and has been a huge part of human society for as long as history has been recorded; there is also significant archeological evidence of gambling in prehistoric civilizations. While this alone does not justify the activity (because assassination and war have also been just as entwined if not more), it provides a basis for a justification. Gambling is also victimless and relies solely on a person's free will. These combine to make it at most a vice, and at least one that forms a major part of our culture.

"Cheating" at gambling is doing things like slipping an ace out of your sleeve or using a remote video camera to see other players' poker hands. Counting cards would only be considered "cheating" by casinos, and that's just because they stand to lose their edge. It is quite simply applying mathematics and statistics to the card game. I guarantee you that the casinos do the same thing, and probably on a much larger level than any card counter. What the card counter does is use analysis and acting skills to extract a small advantage and exploit it. This practice is not illegal, but it most certainly discouraged by the casinos.

When you cheat at gambling, there are two ways to win: cheat the house, or cheat the other people at the table.

To avoid rehashing the above argument I'll assume the poster meant "win money" rather than "cheat". When you win money from the house, it is because they made a bet and lost. They bet that you would not have the self control, math skills or "luck" to win; if you won the money apparently you had one of the three. When you win money from the other players, I'm sorry here, but it's money that they threw away. Whether they are trying to count cards just like you (in which case they won't be phased by a small setback), or they are compulsive gamblers, they willingly parted with their money. Are you indirectly participating in a massive con-game? Maybe, in fact that seems to be part of the thing that turned the author off from the whole scene as mentioned in the linked articles. However, you are not stealing it from anyone, and you are not "cheating" (which means breaking the rules).

Analysis and discussion are one thing, but personal attacks based on faulty assumptions are quite another. Also, the last few paragraphs of the parent are a stretch in logic at best.
-------

He's more machine now than man, twisted and evil.
[ Parent ]

Agreed (none / 0) (#139)
by nuntius on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 02:11:52 PM EST

I was about to submit a similar writeup, but now I'll just agree with you.

Localroger submitted a short story that is clearly meant for quick amusement.

Flamebot then attacks it as if it were a novel (which it isn't) and supports his attack with ad-hominem attacks (which localroger should have ignored), thus starting a small flame.

As far as card counting goes, it comes naturally for some people.  You'd have to be a fool to assume you weren't getting a 10 soon if half the deck has been dealt and no 10's were seen...  Playing the game without observing this effect reflects poorly on one's intelligence.  Likewise, why should games against the house be any different than games like poker where taking advantage of slight twitches in the other players is seen as a virtue?

[ Parent ]

Seconded, in part. (5.00 / 1) (#144)
by RobotSlave on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 03:46:10 PM EST

I didn't bother with the comment you respond to, because I've covered it all elsewhere. Also, it was really, really boring to read.

"attacks it as if it were a novel (which it isn't)"

OK, what's the minimum word count for a piece of fiction before it can be subjected to literary analysis? You know, just so I don't screw it up again next time. 60,000 words? 100,000? Does it have to tilt toward the less colorful end of the imaginary entertainment vs. serious art scale, too, or am I allowed to notice things like symbolism and theme in fiction "meant for quick amusement?" Do these rules only apply to contemporary fiction, or do I have to obey them when reading older stuff, as well? In short, what are the parameters under which am I expected grant a piece of fiction amnesty from critical thinking?

"(which localroger should have ignored)"

Agreed. Wholeheartedly.

"why should games against the house be any different than games like poker where taking advantage of slight twitches in the other players is seen as a virtue?"

You've touched on the heart of the issue-- what constitutes cheating depends on how one is expected to play a given game in a given culture. Reading poker players' faces isn't cheating, because everyone expects all the players at the table to be scrutinizing every facial twitch.

Counting cards at blackjack, on the other hand, is cheating, because you are expected to place your bet without careful calculation based on the precise memorized number of ten-point cards played previously.

The culture of blackjack does, however, appear to be in flux, due largely to books, tv shows, and other publicity focussing on card-counters. Due to the continuing popularization of the practice, counting cards ten years from now may or may not be considered cheating, whereas it most certainly was a decade ago.

[ Parent ]

Cheating? (none / 0) (#162)
by roystgnr on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 06:30:59 PM EST

Counting cards at blackjack, on the other hand, is cheating, because you are expected to place your bet without careful calculation based on the precise memorized number of ten-point cards played previously.

If I expect you to play by hitting on 19 or less, and you don't, are you cheating?  Unless there's a chapter in Hoyle's Rules of Games that I missed, you derived your own expectation from similar wishful thinking and not from any of the rules of blackjack.


[ Parent ]

Suggestion (none / 0) (#197)
by nuntius on Sat Jul 12, 2003 at 05:18:47 AM EST

Sorry about the "novel" potshot.  My roommate is a grad student in English lit and he was talking about Lukacs' "Theory of the Novel" all last semester.

Note that I'm not particularly disagreeing with your analysis, but I think that it was misapplied.  As with free software, take localroger's work if you want - leave it if you don't - at least you didn't pay for it.  I personally feel that the shortness of his story lets it fit into a different category of literary criticism than the one you applied - much as a poem does not need much coherence to be beautifully symbolic.

Since you have some clearly defined opinions on what constitute a good read, I challenge you to write your own fictional work and post it for the rest of us to enjoy.

Thanks in advance.

[ Parent ]

The Fountainhead (none / 0) (#105)
by Juppon Gatana on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 01:49:06 AM EST

It's colder than an Ayn Rand sex scene, for heaven's sake.

Lay off. Howard Roark is a steaming hunk of manmeat, and rape can be sexy as long as it's the only way the woman can appreciate intercourse.

Wait a minute, that doesn't sound right...

- Juppon Gatana
能ある鷹は爪を隠す。
(Nou aru taka wa tsume wo kakusu.)
[ Parent ]
Couldn't have said it better myself, RobotSlave (4.00 / 5) (#106)
by starX on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 01:52:59 AM EST

I've seen more mature and well developed writing in collections of poetry written by children of privelege in private high schools who think they've een "the world."  I'll admit, Localriger had me up until his narrator started playing with firearms; I would say it goes downhill from there, but it's more like the story falls off a cliff.  

Basically, the story is about a deranged serial killer who was always a deranged serial killer.  He doesn't seek healing, and to listen to him narrate, you would think he was never hurt (so why the nightmares?).  Instead, it seems as if the narrator was merely given an EXCSUSE to justify his own actions to himself.  In the end, I imagine that the excuse could have been anything; one day some of the more popular kids at school pick on him, and then he goes columbine on them, etc.  

You'll also notice that the narrator is not a protagonist: he does not change.  What has made fiction truly interesting ever since romanticism gave way to realism is that characters are put in complex situations of physical and psychological trial, and they CHANGE as a result of it.  The narrator says he wasn't playing video games, but I don't believe him one little bit.  He was playing quake the whole time, and hoping that one day he could get the chance to gun down real people.

So who is the protagonist?  Me, the reader.  I changed.  I learned that maybe some people should be sent to behavior modification programs, and while I take issue with WWASPS methods, deranged, anti-social serial killers must be dealt with in some way.  Sadly, localroger doesn't pose a solution to the real problem of his story, and he is unfair to his readers by making them think that WWASPS has anything to do with his character's problems. Maybe if the writing were a bit better, and the fantasy element of walking around and gunning everyone down in the facility were less transparent, one could take this as a brilliant commentary on the psychological state of some of those who blame their lifes problems on having been in one of these programs.  However, as the writing stands, this is just one dimensional tripe that would possibly earn a C in a high school creative writing class.

"I like you starX, you disagree without sounding like a fanatic from a rock-solid point of view. Highfive." --WonderJoust
[ Parent ]

You might be right (5.00 / 1) (#113)
by bugmaster on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 04:43:43 AM EST

You may be right about the story, if not about the motives behind it.

Earlier on I posted a comment, saying that the story rubs me the wrong way... I think one of the reasons is that, as you mentioned, the protagonist is some sort of unkillable omniscient teenager superhero, who has been trained by Vorlons to withstand any amount of torture.

The truth is that real people aren't like that; Tranquility Bay would not exist if it did not actually succeed at transforming people. We can argue that transforming people from disobedient teenagers to mindless sheep (through torture) is an evil thing to do, but no one can argue that TB is effective at it.

That's probably why I didn't like the story... It's a total lie.
>|<*:=
[ Parent ]

You're not missing the point (none / 0) (#119)
by squigly on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 06:37:23 AM EST

So, let's see. We've got an antisocial geek with a fetish for true crime, and no friends. His evil parents...send him to re-education camp....Maybe they thought he was a dangerous sociopath? And were correct?

Sounds like a reasonable analysis.  While the writier clearly intended to suggest that the camp caused this to happen, it could also be that he would have ended up this way without that influence.  However, whichever of these is the case, the camp clearly failed in its aim.

Where he doesn't change in the slightest.

Doesn't he change?  Sure, he remained an asocial computer geek, but his ambitions changed from becoming a social scientist or a criminologist to vengeance.

We're told that all sorts of terrible things happen to him, but due to his 1337 knowledge of brainwashing methods, he keeps his personality as it was when he arrived

No he doesn't.  He retreats further into himself.

He has no noteworthy interactions with fellow prisoners at all, though he does "memorize" them, whatever that means. Certainly he doesn't feel much in the way of empathy for any of them

He's a geek with no social skills, a superiority complex and little trust for others.  This limited amount of trust has been totally eliminated by the time he arrives at the camp.  Besides, he clearly feels its too late for them.  

Our Hero then sets about a bit of garden-variety internet stalking, which leads to an opportunity to rescue a young teenage girl who is being sent to his old torture-camp alma mater. However, rather than actually rescue her, he simply kills her guards and then leaves her to fend for herself, after a brief lecture about how crappy humanity is. What's up with that?

He doesn't really care.  He wants revenge, and wants to be a hero, but quite simply believes that given a fair chance, it's up to her to work out what to do.

A Libertarian rescue? It's colder than an Ayn Rand sex scene, for heaven's sake. Does localroger have some reluctance to write sympathetic "mushy" scenes with female characters in them? Might this be a calculated omission?

So, yeah.  It's a libertarian rescue if you like.

This piece, however, is also a localroger story, and that gives it a specific context that allows further interpretation.

However, since this is a RobotSlave comment, it must be a troll.

[ Parent ]

Oh, that clears things up. (4.33 / 3) (#125)
by RobotSlave on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 08:08:43 AM EST

So, the point of the story, then, is that torture-camp doesn't stop violent psychopaths. Well, not ones that are self-made ubermenschen by the age of 15, anyway.

Thanks to your insightful comment, it is now obvious to me that torture-camp takes torture-resistant sociopaths that have retreated almost as far as possible into themselves, and, uh, makes them retreat further into themselves. Oh, and it makes them turn violently vengeful, a transformation that would just as easily be effected via a job a Burger King, or anywhere else where there's an evil, authoritarian boss with the temerity to tell Our Hero that he has to do this, and can't do that, and needs to learn to be a team player.

I think what you're saying, really, is that this isn't a story about how horribly evil torture-camps are, but rather, about how ineffective they are. That being the case, the lesson we ought to take away from this story is not that the torture-camps should be abolished, but rather, quite the contrary, they should be upgraded to include screening and special treatment (or simple execution) for sociopathic fifteen-year-olds who have magic +18 bonuses to their saving-throws vs. torture.

[ Parent ]

That's not the point (none / 0) (#149)
by squigly on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 05:17:45 PM EST

However, it strikes me as a perfectly valid interpretation, if you believe that torture camps are a valid way to transform dangerous psychos into respectable members of the community.

I fail to see how a menial job at Burger King would have the same effect on someone with aim and purpose.  The option to leave is always available.  If the guy is as great as he thinks he is, he wouldn't stay there for long.  If he wasn't, he'd need a better excuse to start a life of crime.

You also seem to be unable to believe anybody could possibly resist.  Look at the guardian article that inspired this.  There's a mention of a girl who hasn't progressed after three years.  Perhaps some people can resist.

[ Parent ]

Yeah, it is. (5.00 / 2) (#153)
by RobotSlave on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 05:44:57 PM EST

Hey, my suggestion was a consequence of your reading of the story, not mine. Of course, in my reading, we're looking at a wooden, unbelievable, geek-stroking fantasy, which doesn't leave much to work with.

Now, let me get this straight— your imagination, which was so limber when traipsing over all of the preposterous gaps in localroger's story, fails you when trying to picture a borderline psychopath snapping after a few days of work at Burger King? Um, OK.

Perhaps some people can resist.

Hey, I didn't say there wouldn't be a few fifteen-year-old sociopaths with magical +18 saving throws vs. torture. I just suggested the torture-camps ought to treat them differently, given your reading of the story.

[ Parent ]

You're making too many assumptions then (none / 0) (#157)
by squigly on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 06:06:22 PM EST

your imagination, which was so limber when traipsing over all of the preposterous gaps in localroger's story, fails you when trying to picture a borderline psychopath snapping after a few days of work at Burger King? Um, OK.

I can see why he would have anger at being placed in a hostile situation by people he trusted.  I cannot see how this character would react in the same way to a lowly position that his alleged intelligence could surely get him out of.  It is possible that the character isn't as clever as he thinks he is, but who would he seek revenge against in this instance?  

Hey, I didn't say there wouldn't be a few fifteen-year-old sociopaths with magical +18 saving throws vs. torture. I just suggested the torture-camps ought to treat them differently, given your reading of the story.

They need to treat them differently to achieve their apparent aim.  I don't think for a second that this is a good aim - they hoped to brainwash their captives.  However, in this case they quite clearly failed, which resulted in a murderer with heroic justifications for his actions.  Whether he would have ended up this way without the camp's help is impossible to tell.  He may always have been a psychopath.  What the camp provided was an excuse.  

[ Parent ]

Duh. (5.00 / 2) (#169)
by RobotSlave on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 06:53:25 PM EST

"the character isn't as clever as he thinks he is, but who would he seek revenge against in this instance?"

His boss. His co-workers. You know, like the dead and injured people you read about in the paper whenever there's a real-world workplace shooting? Or have you not heard of real-world workplace shootings?

"However, in this case they quite clearly failed, which resulted in a murderer with heroic justifications for his actions."

Uh, "this case" is a fictional fantasy, poopsy, not a real-world thing that actually happened.

What the camp provided was an excuse.

And my point, which you seem to have missed completely, is that a real-world sociopath doesn't need a torture-camp to provide an excuse to commit crimes and do violence.

I know it works that way in the movies a lot, what with the villains having some great big trauma or other that they use to justify their comic-book doomsday villainy, but those movies are fiction, too. Real life isn't nearly as linear. Real-world psychos don't snap because stormtroopers ate their doggies. They snap because they're ready to snap.

[ Parent ]

Never done much physical labour, have you? (5.00 / 1) (#120)
by xtal on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 07:41:42 AM EST

Emerging from torture-camp, Our Hero takes a "shit job" clearing trees on his first day out (and never mind the fact that arborists, as with so many professionals who deal with living things, are highly educated and well-paid, and the unionized municipal employees who assist them are not hired on the spot).

Arborist! Hahahaha. I can see you live in ignorance of the real market for tree trimmers and thinners; It's not landscaping work, it's managing replanted fields for the pulp and paper industry. Some of the companies that manage those operations do trimming and other tree maintenance on the cheap. Another side market is the Christmas tree industry; that involves minimum-wage-or-worse treks through endless fields of spruce trees with a machete.

It is some of the worst work you can imagine, done with a hot engine slung over your back and a saw blade a few inches from your toes. Talk about something you have -some- idea about, or better yet, try it first hand.

Watch you don't hack up your leg.

[ Parent ]

Dear macho idiot: (5.00 / 2) (#126)
by RobotSlave on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 08:19:41 AM EST

The job taken in the story is not in some crude, muddy logging camp, far from the comforts of civilization. It is on a municipal work crew managing trees in an urban environment. Those crews are composed of unionized government employees, and they have a much easier life than the average restaurant dishwasher, for example. Watch one of those crews some time, if you live anywhere near an urban area. I think you'll find they're not exactly breaking rocks all day.

And laugh all you like at professional arborists. They're still highly educated and highly paid, no matter how funny you find them.

[ Parent ]

Regular joes. (none / 0) (#133)
by Melba Toast on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 11:58:13 AM EST

The crew of no-necks who came through here a few months ago to hack up and damage trees for the power company didn't look like highly paid professionals to me.  And I doubt if 'the union makes them strong' either.  They seemed like regular working class joes.  And it's not unlikely that they'd hire people right on the site.


[ Parent ]
Cheating ? (none / 0) (#121)
by ColeH on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 07:55:54 AM EST

I don't know where you got the idea that card counting is cheating, but you are incorrect.

With your premise flawed, I don't think your analysis can be correct.

[ Parent ]

Yes, cheating. (4.00 / 3) (#127)
by RobotSlave on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 08:40:45 AM EST

Come back when you understand the difference between cheating and crime.

Start with this:

"There is a folk understanding among players of games of chance that certain procedures are not going to be employed in the game. Use of those procedures is called `cheating' in the common language."

Note, particularly, that though counting cards (or at least, doing it poorly) has become commonplace in the past decade, it is quite clear that it was far from widespread when localroger went on his gambling spree. He was, beyond a shadow of a doubt, violating the common understanding of what constituted "fair play" in the game of blackjack.

Furthermore, though counting cards is legal, commonplace, and contervened in many ways these days, gamblers who are caught doing it well are still routinely kicked out of casinos. You know why?

Because it's cheating the house.

See, when you take a game of chance, where everyone knows the odds, and try to turn it into a game of not-chance, where only you understand the odds have been tipped in your favor, it's called cheating.

[ Parent ]

I suggest you come back (5.00 / 1) (#134)
by ColeH on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 12:06:15 PM EST

when you understand what cheating is.

Apparently you have not looked at the definition. From dictionary.com
1. To act dishonestly; practice fraud.
2. To violate rules deliberately, as in a game: was accused of cheating at cards

The rules of blackjack do not prohibit counting and therefore is not violating the rules of the game. No card counter has ever been accused of cheating - violating the rules of the game. Your statement "certain procedures shall not be employed" doesn't apply. If the "certain procedures" are not listed somewhere, who makes them ? You ? (apparently you think you do).

Easily spotted counters are kicked out of casinos because it is not in the casino's best interest to have such customers - part of the right to refuse service. Not because it is cheating.

Your last statement is also invalid

See, when you take a game of chance, where everyone knows the odds, and try to turn it into a game of not-chance, where only you understand the odds have been tipped in your favor, it's called cheating.

In blackjack, the odds are changing constantly depending on the cards beinj played. The only wat to even have an idea of what the odds are is by keeping track of the cards.

[ Parent ]

Oh, great. (5.00 / 1) (#135)
by RobotSlave on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 12:51:44 PM EST

Proof by dictionary.com? Are you out of your skull?

Look, if you want to cite a few good dictionaries, then by all means, be my guest. You'll find the definitions of cheating are a little more complicated than "breaking the rules," particularly when applied to games of chance. Once you've finished amusing yourself with dictionaries, however, you'll still have to go out and have a look at what reasonable people think "cheating" means in various contexts, anyway. Even decent dictionaries aren't going to be much help, there.

If counting is no big deal, then why doesn't every table have a device displaying the count, so that all players have the same knowledge? Wouldn't that be fair?

The "certain procedures" you have such a problem understanding are not defined by any one player, but by, as was clearly stated, the behavior that all players expect everyone to abide by. In short, what does and does not constitute cheating is defined socially.

I realize this will be hard for a dogmatic empiricist to accept, but that's the way it works. "Cheating" means violating social expectations, not breaking rigidly defined rules. Rules do sometimes explicitly ban particular forms of cheating (no spitballs allowed in baseball), but rules can never specify all possible forms of cheating. Cheating means violating the nebulous, socially defined spirit of the game.

When you refuse to understand the fact that card counters are tossed out because the house feels cheated, then you're just being willfully obtuse.

Having a cheater at the table is always against the "best interest," as you put it, of the party being cheated. When you argue that the ball is round, this does not mean that it is no longer a ball.

Contrary to your unsupported assertion, you can, and do, know what the odds are in blackjack without counting. Playing those odds is called "basic strategy," and that is precisely what people who wish to enjoy blackjack as a game of chance employ. Card counters, and other cheaters, don't want to play those odds. So they cheat.

If you want to argue that it's OK to cheat, all the time, or under specific circumstance, or against particular opponents, then by all means, have at it. Just don't be stupid about it. If people get pissed off when they figure out what you've been doing to skew the odds in your favor, and you get thrown out of the game for it, then you've been cheating.

[ Parent ]

please show me your 'good' dictionary (none / 0) (#136)
by ColeH on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 01:39:13 PM EST

while you are at it, show me where these 'certain procedures" are that you repeatedly state card counting violates. Apparently you believe you can make up your own definition of words; "socially defined spirit of the game"

I will take dictionary.com over your own skewed interpretation, thanks.

Once you've finished amusing yourself with dictionaries, however, you'll still have to go out and have a look at what reasonable people think "cheating" means in various contexts, anyway. Even decent dictionaries aren't going to be much help, there.

I don't think you qualify here either. Again, you are making up your own definitions so support your warped view of what cheating is. If we can't use standard definitions of what a word means, then you can apply any sort of meaning you like to it and offer that as proof (as you have done).

Having a cheater at the table is always against the "best interest," as you put it, of the party being cheated. When you argue that the ball is round, this does not mean that it is no longer a ball.

Not even the casinos call counting cheating, so your statement 'having a cheater at the table' again applies your own definition of cheating. Nice argument.

Contrary to your unsupported assertion, you can, and do, know what the odds are in blackjack without counting. Playing those odds is called "basic strategy," and that is precisely what people who wish to enjoy blackjack as a game of chance employ. Card counters, and other cheaters, don't want to play those odds. So they cheat.

If you don't understand that the odds change after every hand (unless shuffled) then you shouldn't even be discussing blackjack. The casino doesn't post basic strategy at the table either, so according to you using basic strategy would be cheating too, wouldn't it ?

[ Parent ]

Sorry, pal. (5.00 / 2) (#140)
by RobotSlave on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 02:16:26 PM EST

Cheating is not merely "breaking the rules," and the distinction is not trivial.

Clearly, you don't get it, you don't want to get it, you'll fight like hell to avoid getting it.

There are lots of things that are defined not by precise, rigidly defined rules, but by shared social values. The notion of "cheating" is one of them. So is the complimentary notion of "fairness," incidentally.

According to the requirements of your dogmatic, rules-based definition of "cheating," nothing can be considered cheating until there's a rule against it. That's patently absurd, but it's clear there's no way in hell you're going to allow yourself to admit it.

Have fun with dictionary.com. I'm sure it will give you a lot of insight into how the world works, in the years to come. Why don't you start by looking up cheat? You'll notice that in the multitude of definitions, precious few mention rules. Quite a lot of them, however, mention swindling, fraud, deception, infidelity, and other concepts that apply to pretending to play a game one way when you're actually playing it another.

If you don't understand the fact that blackjack odds can, in fact, be computed, even though you don't know what cards have been played, then you don't have the slightest understanding of probability, and shouldn't be discussing odds.

Oh, and I almost forgot— most casinos will be quite happy to teach you basic strategy for blackjack. Just ask.

[ Parent ]

pretty funny (none / 0) (#141)
by ColeH on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 02:29:31 PM EST

If you don't understand that the odds change after each hand, you clearly don't understand the first thing about the game or probability. I have supported my argument, but all you do is keep applying your own definition of what cheating is. I think I have been trolled enough on this.

Come up with any support other than yourself for your skewed interpretation of what cheating is and then come back.

[ Parent ]

heh (none / 0) (#142)
by Battle Troll on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 02:34:20 PM EST

If you don't understand that the odds change after each hand, you clearly don't understand the first thing about the game or probability.

Well, they change in ways that you can predict approximately if you can count cards. So I don't see that that's such a great argument.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

Then laugh and leave. (3.66 / 3) (#143)
by RobotSlave on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 02:55:09 PM EST

OK, so I didn't really expect you to understand.

Yes, believe it or not, I do in fact realize that you can compute new odds with every hand of blackjack if you are counting cards. What you don't seem to understand is the fact that one can compute odds for any hand without counting cards. They won't be the same odds as what you would get if you were counting, but you can, in fact, make rational, calculated decisions on how to play without counting. Moreover, this is how you are expected to play.

I have not provided "my own definition" of cheating. I've looked at various ways normal people use the word, and suggested that meaning is derived from social context, rather than a rigid set of rules. I have not defined cheating.

In fact, you are the one clinging desperately to a particular, rigid, and critically flawed definition of cheating. I have challenged that definition, but you have provided no defense for it, beyond pointing over and over to a single entry in a single dictionary.

It is also, no doubt, a tremendously self-serving definition of cheating that you're clinging to, there. See, I've got this sneaking suspicion that you count cards at the blackjack table, but would rather cling to an absurd notion of what it means to cheat than entertain the possibility that you might, in the opinion of many reasonable people, be considered a cheater.

[ Parent ]

You are applying (none / 0) (#146)
by ColeH on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 04:07:25 PM EST

your own moral judgement and trying to make that a definition. Counting is simply using the available information that every player can see and using it to the best advantage possible.

Moreover, this is how you are expected to play.

Please show me where this expectation of how you are supposed to play came from. I think you should have worded it
"Moreover, this is how I, RobotSlave expect you to play."
It appears that this expectation is of your own making and therefore, you believe all else should adhere to it. I eagerly await you citing your source of this expectation if it isn't of your own making.

You haven't challenged my definition of cheating (which is also the socially accepted one), because all you have offered is your own opinion of what cheating is, without any supporting evidence that anyone else shares your opinion. Believe it or not, simply because you call something cheating doesn't make it so.

The casinos don't call counting cheating.
The players don't call counting cheating.

In fact, the only source I have seen that calls card counting cheating is you, Robotslave.
Sorry, that isn't enough to make it fact.

[ Parent ]

No. (3.66 / 3) (#148)
by RobotSlave on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 05:03:24 PM EST

I am not applying my own moral judgement, nor am I "trying to make that a definition." I am indeed saying that a judgement of cheating is a moral one, but that judgement is a cultural one (that varies from one culture to another), not a personal one.

If you don't understand the simple fact that there is a generative relationship between cultures and morals, then I can't help you.

The rest of your comment is predicated on your inabilty to distinguish my personal opinion (and what exactly do you suppose that opinion might be? I'm quite sure I haven't stated it) from a socially driven, rather than rule-driven, understanding of cheating.

Casinos certainly act like counting cards constitutes cheating, don't they? They don't call it a crime, no, but it sure looks to me like they think of it as cheating.

And which of these "players" you invoke "don't call it cheating?" They wouldn't by any chance be the other players you know who count cards, would they, now? Or are you drawing from data produced by a sociological study of blackjack? Would you care to tell us who the authors of the paper are, and which journal it was published in?

Or are you just making shit up in a desperate attempt to avoid even considering the possibility that you might be considered a cheater by folks who live outside the shady world of card-counting?

There's not one definition of "cheat" in the Oxford English Dictionary that mentions rules. Have you ever heard of that particular lexicon? It's rather well-regarded, I'm told.

I'm sorry, but "breaking the rules" is definitely not "also the socially accepted" meaning of "cheating," at least not in American society at large. It might be the culturally generated definition within the dodgy sub-culture of American career card-counters (like, say, the ones who write books about it), but that's exactly what one would expect, now, isn't it? No, your definition is exactly that— your self-serving definition.

You know, now that I think about it, this is exactly the sort of shrill, blinkered, one-note denial I'd expect from a cheater who's been caught.

[ Parent ]

You are making the definition (none / 0) (#150)
by ColeH on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 05:22:36 PM EST

by referring to counting as cheating.
All I request is any other opinion othan than your own that calls counting cheating. You provide none.

I think that says it all.

[ Parent ]

Moron. (3.66 / 3) (#155)
by RobotSlave on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 05:55:39 PM EST

If that's the sort of thick-skulled pedantry that will convince you, well, here you go:

Discussion of card counting, under the clear heading cheating. That was the second thing that turned up on google, after an ad promising to teach you how to play blackjack for a living.

[ Parent ]

oooh, you can say 'moron' (none / 0) (#158)
by ColeH on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 06:08:02 PM EST

Your link doesn't say anywhere that counting is cheating. You need to grow up and find out what society does call cheating.
Hint - it isn't defined by what you decide.


[ Parent ]
Hey moron: (3.66 / 3) (#164)
by RobotSlave on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 06:34:34 PM EST

Check out the left nav bar. Click on the link that says "cheating." See what you get. Moron.

[ Parent ]
grow up (none / 0) (#166)
by ColeH on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 06:41:38 PM EST

Nowhere does it say counting is cheating. Also, if you can count in Atlantic City and not be barred, not only is it legal, but it must not be cheating, right ?

Read the last sentence slowly, and try to grasp the logic.
Good luck.

[ Parent ]

Listen, honey. (3.66 / 3) (#171)
by RobotSlave on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 07:06:50 PM EST

You've just barfed up your same, tired, self-serving definition, nothing more, but you're too stupid to realize it.

You have said, in effect, "There is no rule against it, thus is can not be cheating."

This is simply a consequence of the definition you cling to, ie, "Cheating is doing that which there are rules against."

Your "logic" only holds if everyone buys your definition, honey. And most people don't.

[ Parent ]

I'll tell you what (none / 0) (#173)
by ColeH on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 07:12:38 PM EST

You go on in your own little world with yourr childish diatribes and continue using whatever definitions suit you no matter how wrong and warped they are. The rest of us will live in the real world using definitoins that are based in reality.

Good luck to you - you will need it.

[ Parent ]

Oh, OK. (3.66 / 3) (#177)
by RobotSlave on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 07:35:30 PM EST

Right, right. Breaking the rules and cheating are one and the same thing. If there isn't a rule against it, it isn't cheating.

Yeah, that's based in "reality," all right. No denial going on there. Nope, none at all.

[ Parent ]

talk about denial (none / 0) (#179)
by ColeH on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 07:41:49 PM EST

Dictionaries and other comments support me, but there is nothing supporting your view. You say 'culture' has defined it in your way, but there is no proof. What a convenient argument.

[ Parent ]
Sorry, dude. (3.66 / 3) (#181)
by RobotSlave on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 07:54:42 PM EST

One definition in one dictionary supports you. Lots of other, better, dictionaries, such as the Oxford English Dictionary, don't even mention rules.

Your "proof by dictionary" is long since demolished. What you've got left is your assertion that "people support my idea." That's the same as what I've got, except the people who back me up are ordinary, non-blackjack-obsessed American citizens, whereas the people who back you up are chest-thumping, dick-waving, obsessive card-counting nerds.

So I win.

[ Parent ]

dictionary demolished ? (none / 0) (#183)
by ColeH on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 08:00:37 PM EST

I dont' think so. Show me a dictionary that doesn't mention breaking rules as cheating.

Oh, there isn't one. Nice try though.

So anyone that supports me is a counter ? Do you have any proof ? Ooops, you lose again. Where are these people who back you up ? Oh, you can't provide any.

Let's see.. you have nothing to support you, while I have both definitions and other comments. So I guess that means you have lost. Sorry.

[ Parent ]

I am still waiting (none / 0) (#151)
by ColeH on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 05:26:40 PM EST

for the source of that expectation you came up with.

[ Parent ]
Were you born slow? (3.66 / 3) (#156)
by RobotSlave on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 06:04:32 PM EST

Or were you dropped on your head?

The expectations come from the culture you live in, you idiot.

If you're outside that insular world of addicted card-counters, say at a neighborhood poker night, then you're expected to play the same way everyone else at the table plays. No aces up your sleeve, no strategicly placed mirrors, and no fucking card-counting if you decide to play a few rounds of blackjack.

If you do count, and get caught, and get the shit kicked out of you, you might still believe you weren't cheating, but the guys who knocked you down will think differently.

[ Parent ]

Since you have to resort to insults (none / 0) (#159)
by ColeH on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 06:12:06 PM EST

you have shown the strength of your arguments. In the world of blackjack, which you obviously do not participate in, keeping track of cards is widely accepted.


[ Parent ]
Since you've resorted to obtuse idiocy, (3.66 / 3) (#165)
by RobotSlave on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 06:37:33 PM EST

you have shown the strength of your arguments. In the world of normal American society, which you obviously do not participate in, keeping track of cards is widely regarded as cheating.

[ Parent ]
How long can you avoid (none / 0) (#168)
by ColeH on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 06:44:33 PM EST

stating where this 'expectation' of how to play came from ?
Could it be because you made it up ?

[ Parent ]
I know you are, but what am I? (3.66 / 3) (#172)
by RobotSlave on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 07:11:17 PM EST

Social expectations come from the many other people one shares the society with, that is, from one's culture.

From one's culture.

From one's culture.

From one's CULTURE, you fucking imbecile.

[ Parent ]

What culture are you in ?? (none / 0) (#174)
by ColeH on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 07:28:57 PM EST

The culture I know doesn't consider counting cheating. More insults, I see... grow up.

[ Parent ]
Normal American Culture. (3.66 / 3) (#176)
by RobotSlave on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 07:33:04 PM EST

I see you don't get out much.

[ Parent ]
Again, all you can do is make personal attacks (1.00 / 1) (#178)
by ColeH on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 07:39:22 PM EST

Not that I expect anything better from you. Have you looked at other comments in this story ? Other people have also pointed out that you are incorrect in your idea of cheating. No one has supported your warped interpretation. It appears that culture is against your thinking also.

[ Parent ]
Dear dolt: (3.00 / 2) (#180)
by RobotSlave on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 07:48:28 PM EST

Normal people haven't bothered to read the damned thread. It's only insecure card-counters who are following this.

You still haven't managed to grasp the ridiculousness of a definition of cheating that requires a rule against a thing before it can possibly be considered cheating.

Can you list all possible ways to cheat?

It's very clear that the lowlife card-counters would answer "yes." Anything there isn't a rule against is fair game. The way to beat the system is to think up something they haven't made a rule against yet, and to hell with the normal people who don't have a pathological need to attack the system. If they get screwed over when the new no-rules-against-it shit goes down, then fuck 'em. They just weren't smart enough to see it coming.

Yeah, to hell with other people, man. Screw 'em. If they haven't spent countless hours learning how to count cards in a game of blackjack, then fuck 'em. They shouldn't be at the table, man. Take their fucking scalps.

Ooooh, that's so thrrrillingly tough, sailor.

[ Parent ]

Card counting is a symptom of autism, after all (3.50 / 2) (#184)
by Keith Harper on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 08:52:07 PM EST

If you've ever seen nerds in a casino, you know that they aren't capable of understanding gambling properly. They're the guys standing around at the roulette wheel trying to figure out the mathematically ideal distribution for their chips. As far as I can figure, that's what they think gambling is all about. These are people who don't actually know how to have real fun.

Card counting is another manifestation of this. They believe that the game is a puzzle to be solved. They don't understand that they're cheating, because they think that cheating is the game.

[ Parent ]

You don't understand gambling at all (5.00 / 1) (#185)
by localroger on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 09:11:55 PM EST

They don't understand that they're cheating, because they think that cheating is the game.

No, the game is the game. All gamblers understand this. Somebody has "the best of it" and you're either a stupid mark and you let the casino owners have it, or you hunt for opportunities.

There was a famous man named Titanic Thompson who circled in Las Vegas environs who would wager people that he could hit a golf ball 500 yards. Now Ti was a big guy and a powerful athlete this was still an unheard-of feat, and many a mark took his bet. He would drive them out to the rim of the Grand Canyon, drive his ball off the rim, and collect.

One of Titanic's victims, a man whose name I forget, got him back. He proposed to do the same thing with no altitude change. Titanic couldn't resist and made the bet; he found himself on the shore of Lake Michigan in January and his host turned around and drove the golf ball out onto the frozen lake. ("Probably drove it all the way to Canada," Titanic would tell people later.) But he paid the bet, because it was fair.

Cheating? No. Sizing up the odds? Yes. Omitting to mention where the house edge comes from? Most definitely, but still considered fair. Those who talk of a culture should understand the culture before spouting off about things they don't understand.

What will people of the future think of us? Will they say, as Roger Williams said of some of the Massachusetts Indians, that we were wolves with the min
[ Parent ]

See what I mean, man? nt (4.00 / 3) (#186)
by Keith Harper on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 09:13:54 PM EST



[ Parent ]
hey, you finally got it! (none / 0) (#223)
by suntzu on Sun Jul 13, 2003 at 06:52:32 PM EST

Anything there isn't a rule against is fair game. The way to beat the system is to think up something they haven't made a rule against yet, and to hell with the normal people who don't have a pathological need to attack the system. If they get screwed over when the new no-rules-against-it shit goes down, then fuck 'em. They just weren't smart enough to see it coming.

cool, you finally got what everyone's been trying to say. gambling's all about being the dirty bastard who figures out how to beat the game. that's part of the culture of gambling. just walk around vegas a little. everyone's got an angle. it's just that the vast majority of them don't work. believe me, no one stops themselves from counting because of altruism. the don't count because the can't count. anyone who can count, will count.

besides, what if you were able to intuitively keep track of how rich a shoe is, without even counting (consciously, at least)? should you not be able to play because you'll naturally have an advantage.

btw, you're one of the best trolls i've seen in a long time. you kept it reasonably subtle, something most trolls can't grasp.

[ Parent ]

No it isn't. (none / 0) (#241)
by Happy Monkey on Tue Jul 15, 2003 at 03:22:06 PM EST

And I've never counted cards in my life, so I'm not a member of your shady card-counting underworld.
___
Length 17, Width 3
[ Parent ]
You will have a long wait (5.00 / 1) (#160)
by localroger on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 06:17:17 PM EST

lyingflamebot is unlikely to mention (if he's smart enough to find the sources at all) that the Nevada supreme court has ruled card counting to be legal, or that the New Jersey Gaming Commission finds it is so legal that they actually forbid the casinos to toss you out for trying it.

Using a computer to do it is cheating. In fact using any kind of machine to beat a game of chance is cheating almost everywhere. But not using your brain -- and of hundreds of people I've talked to, most have expressed amazement and outrage that casinos will even kick you out for just using your brain. lyingflamebot's "culture" speaks quite clearly on the issue, both formally and informally, but the truth doesn't serve his little trolly purpose.

Most of all lyingflamebot is unlikely to remember that, even if you grant his fucked-up definition of cheating, the article he links under "localroger cheats" clearly says that I never counted cards myself so he is still lying. As for promoting cheating, yeah, he can probably find a casino host who will back him up on that. I know from personal experience that they are great liars too.

I made a mistake here because lyingflamebot made a comment in another thread that was actually funny, if a bit pointed, and I didn't realize what he was. Now that I'm clued in I will henceforth regard lyingflamebot with the mokushu he so richly deserves.

What will people of the future think of us? Will they say, as Roger Williams said of some of the Massachusetts Indians, that we were wolves with the min
[ Parent ]

He is an odd one (none / 0) (#170)
by ColeH on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 06:54:31 PM EST

I have never met any player (or dealer, for that matter) that considers counting cheating. I wonder what it is like to live in your own world where you make your own defintions ? Anyway, nice story!

[ Parent ]
Did I hear my name? (1.00 / 1) (#175)
by lyingflamebot on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 07:31:32 PM EST

Again, you've gone and conflated the concept of cheating with the concept of crime. Apparently, you're another one of those dogmatic empiricists who can't handle concepts that derive their meaning from group consensus rather than rigid, clearly defined rules.

Cheating is not the same as breaking the rules. Cheating is not the same as breaking the laws. You can not write down an algorithm that will determine whether or not a particular behavior is cheating, because cheating is defined socially.

I know, it's too much to bear. There's no way to get any control over a concept like that. Ergo, it must not even be considered, and rejected out of hand.

PS: Providing support and logistics for the boys at the table is part of the swindle, localroger, and most definitely counts as cheating the house.

[ Parent ]

The casino and social judgements. (5.00 / 1) (#152)
by squigly on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 05:40:46 PM EST

Casinos certainly act like counting cards constitutes cheating, don't they?

Yes, but that may well be because they don't run a fair game in the first place, and are upset that certain people can turn the tables on them.  

Now, you talk about socially acceptable - The casino believes that the rules of blackjack are simply a matter of chance.  The card counters believe that the game is a challenge to keep track of the cards that have been dealt.  What are the opinions of the other players?  I find myself unable to trust the impartiality of the casino or the card counters.  Have you asked blackjack players whether card counters ruin the game for them?  

A lot of games of chance can be beaten by some forms of statistical analysis.  Card counting is just another form of this.  

Might I suggest you use a less loaded word that cheating.  The two of you seem unable to agree to a definition of the word.  Perhaps instead you could explain why a statistical analysis in a game that is known to be winnable by these means is unfair.  Personally, I think you'll have a hard time convincing people that winning at a game of chance using skill is unfair.

[ Parent ]

Thanks (none / 0) (#161)
by ColeH on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 06:19:23 PM EST

for a thouthful post. The crux here indeed is the definition of cheating. I don't believe the vast majority of the public thinks of counting as cheating when you are just using available information. Maybe 'gaming the system' would be more accurate, but certainly not cheating.

I am sure RobotSlave would disagree though. :)

[ Parent ]

So you want me to say 'unfair' instead of 'cheat?' (3.66 / 3) (#163)
by RobotSlave on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 06:33:29 PM EST

Do you realize those words have different meanings? If I start using different words, I won't be talking about cheating anymore, will I?

"Personally, I think you'll have a hard time convincing people that winning at a game of chance using skill is unfair."

If you can win it with skill, it isn't a game of chance anymore, now is it?

That's just another reason why counting can be regarded as cheating. The card-counter pretends to be playing a game of chance, but that pretense is fraudulent. The card-counter is actually trying to win a game of skill instead, unbeknownst to anyone else at the table.

Casinos are not in the business of offering a fair game. They are in the business of offering a game of chance, for purposes of entertainment, that gives a slight but profitable advantage to the house.

Granted, Casinos do some shady shit, and the entertainment they offer is notoriously addictive, but no-one pretends Casinos are, or even should be, offering a "fair game."

"The casinos are unfair" is a terrible rationalization for attempting to cheat them.

[ Parent ]

How casinos treat cheating: (none / 0) (#167)
by roystgnr on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 06:42:33 PM EST

Casinos certainly act like counting cards constitutes cheating, don't they? They don't call it a crime, no, but it sure looks to me like they think of it as cheating.

No, here is how casinos treat cheating:

Tough Criminal Laws

First Degree Larceny Charges

Jail Time

How they treat card counters, on the other hand, is to require them to leave, just how you would expect them to treat someone who was simply taking money from them on average rather than giving it to them on average.

[ Parent ]

could you do better? (5.00 / 1) (#191)
by cabalamat on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 11:46:12 PM EST

Yes, this story isn't perfect. (Though I found it a damn good read.)

But could you write anything better? If not, you've no right to make what was not constructive criticism but was personal abuse.

If Kuro5hin had a killfile facility, you'd be in mine.

[ Parent ]

interesting concept (3.00 / 1) (#76)
by Battle Troll on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 05:27:46 PM EST

Homage to "Owl Creek Bridge?"
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
Thankyou (3.00 / 1) (#78)
by mewhitenoize on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 05:50:15 PM EST

I really enjoyed that, you should think about adding more and maybe going into more detail. A very good ending as well.

localroger - your talent is wasted here (4.00 / 2) (#79)
by semaphore on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 05:57:30 PM EST

you should be in hollywood writing scripts for steve seagal and his ilk.

from the response here, you understand that audience pretty well.


-
"you want enlightenment? stare into the sun."


I enjoyed it. (none / 0) (#80)
by ibsulon on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 06:35:13 PM EST

That might be because I too was thinking of writing a story for this as well... (I don't know if I can post it here, now that one has been done. :)

My vision was on the other side, though... making him a martyr, who would be the perfect child if not gay... (I mean, if they didn't like masturbation...)

Am I so out of the world or what? (none / 0) (#97)
by mami on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 10:23:04 PM EST

May be I really don't understand the Americans, but I have a hard time to believe that there are many parents around, who really would flip out over what their kids do in their privacy as long as it hasn't something to do with drugs and crimes.

I mean are you really all martyrs of some very wicked, estranged, deranged parents, who have problems with their kids doing something natural?

Is this society really that sicko?

[ Parent ]

yes. (4.00 / 1) (#99)
by ibsulon on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 11:54:44 PM EST

Or, it's getting there and the media attention is making it look bigger than it is. The kids are bad, the parents are worse. Of my group of friends, I can count on one hand those who had good relationships with both parents. (and I'm one of them.) It's a society in transition. and this new generation really needs parenting classes.

[ Parent ]
Are you so out of this world? (4.00 / 2) (#101)
by rmg on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 01:04:23 AM EST

I regret to inform you that ----eckk... hurrumph.. got into capitalization mode from righting that aritcel... okay --- so anyway, i regret to inform you that i have it on good authority that you are, in fact, that out of the world, or whatever you said. i cant' divulge my sources, but i have no reason to doubt him or her. i'm sorry to the bearer of bad news.

_____ intellectual tiddlywinks
[ Parent ]

A Few General Responses (5.00 / 7) (#82)
by localroger on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 07:10:13 PM EST

Of course this is a wish-fulfillment fantasy, and it was written in a highly pissed off state. I put it in the queue instead of my diary because I thought a lot of other people might feel the same way, and it seems I was right.

The main character is driven and one-dimensional because I couldn't imagine any other sort of person defying the WWASPS brainwashing program. The reality put some severe constraints on what I could believably do.

Not everyone imprisoned by WWASPS is a spoiled rich kid. Rich people are less likely to feel the need for such measures since they can buy junior's way out of trouble. It is the upper and even middle middle classes who bankrupt themselves to do this to kids whose crime is having the wrong girlfriend or the wrong taste in clothes or music.

One middle-class mother complained that her estranged husband put their daughter in Tranquility Bay with trust-fund money meant to pay for her college education, so that effectively she was paying for her own incarceration.

I hope this serves some purpose other than just wish fulfillment. It struck me as I was researching this (in the hours before the tree fell on my house) that the people running these schools aren't going to stop. They're making too much money and having too much fun. One couple whose school in Mexico was shut down turned up in the Czech republic running another one, which was also shut down.

Nothing short of legislation making it illegal to ship your kid out of the country against his will is going to stop this. There are groups working on it. It will be a long slow process, and I am not going to join it. There are other people with much stronger motivation who are carrying on this fight.

But if anyone is considering sending their kid to WWASPS I hope they read this and realize how many people will hold them in contempt for their selfishness and stupidity. Every parent who has ever signed the paperwork for Tranquility Bay or Casa by the Sea or whatever deserves to be the parents at the end of this story, and everyone who works at those places deserves the fate portrayed here.

In real life poetic justice may not emerge so neatly, but never doubt that there are a lot of us who believe it should and would cheer if it did.

What will people of the future think of us? Will they say, as Roger Williams said of some of the Massachusetts Indians, that we were wolves with the min

wish-fulfillment (3.54 / 11) (#88)
by Battle Troll on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 09:11:51 PM EST

As wishes are not fulfilled, wish-fulfillment literature is not merely a diversion but actually pernicious; it inclines us to dream comfortable dreams that by their nature can never come true. And, in the case of this story, it encourages us to experience a false catharsis by identifying with an unreal, impossible, and immoral hero, whose heroic powers lie only in the realm of action but not of reflection, judgment or morals.

In short, this is fascist art.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

Helpful hint: (4.20 / 5) (#118)
by RobotSlave on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 06:00:13 AM EST

If you've never heard of fascist art or the fascist æsthetic, it's probably not a good idea to just assume it doesn't exist and then accuse someone of making it up when they refer to it.

"Triumph of the Will" isn't just a phrase they stick in history books to liven up the prose, you know. Mr. Troll indicated precisely what fascist art means "in this context;" in fact, his post consisted primarily of definition, presumably for the benefit of those who have never been introduced to the subject.

He also had an interesting point, but it's one sure to be lost on people who stop thinking like grown-ups when they see the word "fascist."

[ Parent ]

serious answer (5.00 / 2) (#131)
by Battle Troll on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 10:47:14 AM EST

Where is it written that a protaganist must be a paragon of thoughtful virtue?

Plato's Republic.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

Serious counter-reply (none / 0) (#214)
by Pseudonym on Sat Jul 12, 2003 at 10:39:30 PM EST

For the converse point of view, note Aristotle's Poetics.



sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
[ Parent ]
I've read that (none / 0) (#220)
by Battle Troll on Sun Jul 13, 2003 at 05:19:11 PM EST

And I don't recall Aristotle agitating for fascist art.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]
"wish-fulfillment.. (none / 0) (#253)
by RandomAction on Fri Aug 29, 2003 at 08:19:33 PM EST

..literature is not merely a diversion" it may be the only hope of dealing with life, off ignoring ones own failure.

[ Parent ]
Can't imagine any other type? (5.00 / 3) (#98)
by Anonymous 242 on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 10:29:08 PM EST

It seems to me that a wide and varied array of different personality types survived years of similar systems behind the iron curtain.

Have you read anything by Solzhenitsyn, for example?

[ Parent ]

You want REALLY unbelievable... (none / 0) (#124)
by localroger on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 08:08:16 AM EST

...a fifteen year old with Solzhenitsyn's level of wisdom would be much harder to swallow than what I did.

I actually based the character on Repairman Jack.

What will people of the future think of us? Will they say, as Roger Williams said of some of the Massachusetts Indians, that we were wolves with the min
[ Parent ]

I believe lee's point was... (4.00 / 1) (#138)
by gzt on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 01:59:14 PM EST

That in his Gulag Archipelago series he wrote about a number of different types of people that survived the camps, some of them 15 years old and foolish when they entered.

[ Parent ]
America the beautiful (4.33 / 3) (#100)
by caliban on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 12:58:35 AM EST

Imagine the consequences if this story had not been written by localroger, ~forty something, but had been written instead by localroger, a 15 year old american high school student?

[ Parent ]
thanks (none / 0) (#137)
by eries on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 01:50:03 PM EST

thanks for writing this, and for your thoughtful comments. any thoughts about how to support those groups trying to outlaw this practice? let me know how I can help.
Promoting open-source OO code reuse on the web: the Enzyme open-source project
[ Parent ]
Fascinating. (none / 0) (#90)
by mgarland on Thu Jul 10, 2003 at 09:23:31 PM EST

This kept me riveted; this is one of the best stories I've had the pleasure to read on k5. I only wish I got to it in time to vote +1FP. thank you.

Por supuesto. (3.75 / 8) (#102)
by Estanislao Martínez on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 01:06:48 AM EST

Being a successful criminal requires you to understand things, but moreso it requires you to understand people. Which is easier, hot-wiring a car or simply driving off in one whose engine has been left idling? I became a student of what people do not notice. I learned disguise. I learned to make myself invisible.

I learned Spanish.

I took what I needed only from those who could afford it. [...]

Claro, ¿cómo se puede ser un criminal sin saber español? En Roma, haz como los romanos... Y claro, hablar español hace a uno invisible. "Just another spic"; ¿para qué fijarse?

Y vale la pena observar no sólo el contenido, sino también el contexto formal donde aparece la oración (el cual me he esforzado en incluir). El autor dedica al asuntito todo un párrafo, monoracional, enfático, contundente; como si la brevedad y compactitud formal fuera una suerte de representación icónica de las mismas características en el argumento implícito detrás del pronunciamiento. Tal hubris poco es vista en el mundo, considerado de anchas a largas; es sorprendente que aún aquí, en esta pequeña, autodeclarada "comunidad", cerrada sobre si misma, incestuosa, temerosa del juicio del mundo que tanto desprecian, que cosa tal no se hunda bajo el peso de su propia pudredumbre. Pero por otra parte, ya lo dice el conocido refrán anglosajón, el cual me tomo la libertad de reproducir en lengua que, aún siendo ajena a él, puede recoger su sentido plenamente, gracias a ciertas características universales de la experiencia humana en todas las culturas conocidas.

Oh, el refrán en cuestión: la mierda flota.

--em

It's code for something. (none / 0) (#109)
by bjlhct on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 02:19:52 AM EST

Obviously.

*
[kur0(or)5hin http://www.kuro5hin.org/intelligence] - drowning your sorrows in intellectualism
[ Parent ]
dang (4.00 / 1) (#129)
by Battle Troll on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 10:34:34 AM EST

I'm always kind of amazed when someone with fluent and facile English has another language as his or her mother tongue. It makes you realise just how poor Anglophones are at learning languages.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]
Apologies to Spanish speakers (5.00 / 1) (#213)
by motty on Sat Jul 12, 2003 at 08:48:34 PM EST

... but not being one myself I had to run this text through babelfish (and clean up the more obvious nonsense via dictionaries and guessing) to see what it said, and got the following (poor, particularly the third sentence of the penultimate paragraph) translation:

Of course.

[English text omitted]

Sure how it is possible to be a criminal without knowing Spanish? In Rome, do as the Romans do... And sure, to speak Spanish makes one invisible. "Just another spic"; why pay attention?

And it is worth the trouble to observe not only the content, but also the formal context where the speech appears (which I have made an effort to include). The author dedicates a whole paragraph to the affair, one-sided, emphatic, forceful; as if the brevity and formal compactness were a chance iconic representation of the same characteristics in the implicit argument behind the pronouncement. This worldview is of such petty hubris, considered altogether; it is surprising that here, still, in this small, self-declared self-enclosed "community", incestuous, afraid of the judgment of the despised world, that the thing does not sink under the weight of its own putridity. But on the other hand, in the words of the well-known Anglo-Saxon saying, which I take the freedom to reproduce in language that, despite its difference, can nevertheless entirely express its sense, thanks to certain universal characteristics of the human experience in all the well-known cultures.

Oh, the saying in question: shit floats.
s/^.*$//sig;#)
[ Parent ]

Details (4.00 / 1) (#104)
by vladpetric on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 01:25:25 AM EST

IMNSHO, this is a very well-written piece! I have to say however, that there were a couple of details that betrayed its fictionality:

  • brainfuck (that's comic, it doesn't really fit well with the story)
  • the whole fifteen year old genius stuff (you've gotta be a genius to really understand philosophy at that age, although I have to say Nietzsche is a great pick)
  • 18 $/h :)

    I'm not sure if those were intentional or not, but I would have liked the story more if the "authenticity" lasted until the end (mind you, this is just my personal view, and "de gustibus non disputandum")

  • Brainfuck exists. (none / 0) (#122)
    by daff2k on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 08:03:41 AM EST

    Acutally, there is a programming language called Brainfuck. It is however a quite young language (AFAIK), so I don't think he would have been able to struggle with it at the age of fifteen.

    Another thing: it's Nietzsche, not Neitzsche.

    Pacifism is objectively pro-Fascist..."he that is not with me is against me." - George Orwell
    [ Parent ]
    I know that ... (none / 0) (#194)
    by vladpetric on Sat Jul 12, 2003 at 02:02:31 AM EST

    But brainfuck was always meant to be a joke (I personally consider the turing machine language enough of a neuron killer, but the authors of brainfuck thought they could do even better). Quote from its "standard":

    Any use of the word brainfuck in an implementation is a fucking crime and thus results in that particular brainfuck implementation not being compliant with the -0.67 revision of the ENSI standard.

    In order to be compliant with this revision of the standard, all uses of the word "brainfuck" in the implementation (including documentation, etc.) must be changed to "brainfuck".

    Winning an obfuscated Perl code competition would be a lot more plausible to me, especially since he later does some script-kitty work.

    [ Parent ]

    $18 is overtime (none / 0) (#182)
    by localroger on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 07:58:21 PM EST

    His base salary is $12, which is low for such a hazardous job. But he gets time and a half overtime.

    Also, I could have possibly made him a disciple of Gurdjieff or something but that really would have been over the top for a 15yo :-) I thought the Neitzsche angle was the thing most likely to be actually found in a kid that age that might give him a tool to resist the brainwashing.

    What will people of the future think of us? Will they say, as Roger Williams said of some of the Massachusetts Indians, that we were wolves with the min
    [ Parent ]

    Well... (5.00 / 2) (#110)
    by bjlhct on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 02:30:28 AM EST

    Maybe somebody can figure out how to get through http://ubb.wwasp.com/ubbthreads/categories.php?Cat=

    *
    [kur0(or)5hin http://www.kuro5hin.org/intelligence] - drowning your sorrows in intellectualism
    Hmm (none / 0) (#195)
    by TheOnlyCoolTim on Sat Jul 12, 2003 at 03:25:36 AM EST

    They made the first mistake of security: A login attempt will tell you whether or not the username exists. That makes the whole thing much easier.

    Tim
    "We are trapped in the belly of this horrible machine, and the machine is bleeding to death."
    [ Parent ]

    Right, plus it's SQL (NT) (none / 0) (#207)
    by bjlhct on Sat Jul 12, 2003 at 02:18:34 PM EST



    *
    [kur0(or)5hin http://www.kuro5hin.org/intelligence] - drowning your sorrows in intellectualism
    [ Parent ]
    a compelling read (5.00 / 1) (#123)
    by parasite on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 08:04:38 AM EST


    There aren't NEARLY enough GOOD comments on this story -- so for all the critiques that are being blathered all over the board -- remember there are a LOT of lurkers who enjoyed it, and a few lurkers that decided, after reading all the messages, enough hadn't posted--and themselves decided to! Way to go, a very compelling read. In fact, I've been on Kuro5hin a while and never read any of your other stuff-- so I didn't know it was fiction at first. It wasn't until shortly after the buying of the gun part that I started to wonder if the story was fiction. (I got excited for a moment thinking perhaps we had a real criminal writing in from an anonymous terminal t tell us of his deeds.) But by the time you got extravagent with the "decision to become a criminal" part, I knew it was fiction -- very fun to finish nonetheless.


    Watch 'The Boondock Saints' - NT (none / 0) (#132)
    by Aaorn on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 11:46:57 AM EST

    NT

    More Evidence... (none / 0) (#145)
    by collideiscope on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 04:07:05 PM EST

    ...not that we needed it...

    ...that localroger is the only Kuro5hin member who can get fiction voted to the front page.

    -------------------------------
    Hope is a disease. Get infected.

    This is great! (none / 0) (#147)
    by sanjiseigen on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 04:59:41 PM EST

    Probably the best piece of fiction I've read yet on K5. I think I voted it up without reading it much the first time, but, geez, this is fantastic. I love the revenge twist. Every good story should be tweaked on revenge.

    Hello (1.66 / 6) (#188)
    by rmwise on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 09:56:15 PM EST

    This story sucks. Prime Intellect sucked. Just thought I'd let you know.

    ---
    SAVE RUSSIAN JEWS COLLECT VALUABLE PRIZES!


    Hawk it, dude. (4.00 / 2) (#189)
    by Apuleius on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 10:09:58 PM EST

    After altering the story to get rid of the k5isms (brainfuck, Beowulf cluster), and adding a bit of context (not everyone in the world is discussing that Guardian story), you really could sell this one. The Atlantic, Harper's, or The Baffler all come to mind. To echo several others, your writing really is wasted here.


    There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
    Absolutely (none / 0) (#190)
    by cabalamat on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 11:25:46 PM EST

    You've got a talent for writing. Don't waste it.

    [ Parent ]
    I'm sorry to say that (3.50 / 2) (#209)
    by Battle Troll on Sat Jul 12, 2003 at 05:42:35 PM EST

    If a magazine will publish E A Proulx, in principle they will also publish this kind of thing. So, you are correct. But this stuff isn't pretentious enough to fly in Harper's or the Atlantic without some serious work. Not to make it better, but to make it pretentious.
    --
    Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
    Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
    [ Parent ]
    No, he can't. (4.00 / 1) (#234)
    by randyk on Mon Jul 14, 2003 at 09:17:39 PM EST

    I know I keep harping on this, but most short story publishers want first North American/English language rights of publication. The instant localroger gets this story to FP or section, it is effectively published1 and the ability to sell first publication rights is gone forever.

    1One could argue that only members can see things in the edit/vote queue that it has not been published yet.



    [ Parent ]
    I don't regard this as publishable as is (none / 0) (#235)
    by localroger on Mon Jul 14, 2003 at 09:31:36 PM EST

    Although the comment suggesting I flesh it out with a pro/anti hero has given me ideas; the problem is it's all way to tied up with WWASPS. It's really so over the top that as fiction it's not believable unless you have the background.

    What will people of the future think of us? Will they say, as Roger Williams said of some of the Massachusetts Indians, that we were wolves with the min
    [ Parent ]
    Great Story... (none / 0) (#192)
    by k31 on Sat Jul 12, 2003 at 12:17:50 AM EST

    First work of fiction that I've finished in about a decade. Sure, its short, but its sweet.


    Your dollar is you only Word, the wrath of it your only fear. He who has an EAR to hear....
    I really don't like this (1.66 / 3) (#199)
    by debacle on Sat Jul 12, 2003 at 08:40:05 AM EST

    And I'll tell you why: It sucks. Thankfully, though, I wont stop there.

    There are a lot of small but glaring grammatical errors such as "I never did drugs, drank, or hang out with anybody" should be "I never did drugs, drank, or hung (Or hanged, if you were going for that route) out with anybody" and if I wanted to be a dick or something I'd probably submit stories to the MLP section, but I'd also find every stinking one and wag it in your face like an old bitch of a woman wags the chewed slippers in front of a dog.

    Beyond that, it just doesn't have a very good feel. Granted, I only made it about three or four PgDn's into the story, but it felt very "So, how are you good chap?" from the very beginning, an example:

    "Come on, you can answer freely, I'm your casey. Along with your family members here, I'll be deciding whether you move up the levels, eventually to graduation. So you should be open with me."

    And what's with all the blockquoting on the dialog? That's just hideous.

    Beyond that, I understand that you're writing as a nerdy teenager and that your disposition ought to be fat loathing pretentious i-have-my-own-MUD-and-i-know-perl young man, but you fail to understand that any boy such as this wouldn't have the drive or the physical strength to do any of what he has, except maybe the face-laying part, but even then his face may not touch the ground, what with all that fuppage standing between him and a good five-fingered orgasm.

    I liked the spaceship stories, but other than that...ick.

    It tastes sweet.

    Good critique! [bite] (none / 0) (#215)
    by breaker99 on Sat Jul 12, 2003 at 11:55:47 PM EST

    After you've dissected the minutae of grammar, and composition, and found it lacking...

    Your turn to write a story that bites the k5 readership like this one did....

    /taps foot.

    [ Parent ]

    I'd like to note. (none / 0) (#218)
    by debacle on Sun Jul 13, 2003 at 07:32:07 AM EST

    That localroger has such an idiotic fanbase that he could get most of them who read slashdot to use Windows 98, the bugger version!

    * sighs.

    OS insults are so horrible un-witty, especially at 7AM.

    I wasn't kidding about the localroger thing though. Stories that he admits weren't his best have still had a hell of a time being killed because of it.

    It tastes sweet.
    [ Parent ]

    Huh? (none / 1) (#246)
    by Parthon on Wed Jul 16, 2003 at 03:31:37 AM EST

    You comment on a story's grammar and spelling? After reading only three pages? That must have have been straining for you alone. Then you go off on a tangent about his weight and knowledge of which you know nothing about. I wish you trolls would still to flaming each other and leave the proper reviews to people who actually think about what they read.

    [ Parent ]
    Improving the Verisimilitude (5.00 / 2) (#203)
    by localroger on Sat Jul 12, 2003 at 11:46:28 AM EST

    I've already noticed a couple of errors from further research...
    • Brian wouldn't be allowed contact with his parents unless he reached Level 3.
    • You don't need to know Spanish to pass in Jamaica (D'oh)
    • The correct slang for "family" leaders is -- get this -- "Mom" or "Dad." Is that fucking sick or what?
    While there's lots of outrageous shit online about this fucked up place there are some specific things I'd need to know in order to revisit the topic at greater length. Perhaps someone can clue me in...
    • Are the staff armed?
    • What kind of access controls are used? The place doesn't sound sophisticated enough to bother with electronic pass tags.
    • Do the Jamaican employees take their laundry home (those cute starched shirts that say "Tranquility Bay -- Working for Tomorrow")?
    • Are the doors wood or steel?
    • What is the front-door security like?
    • Assuming you are a parent and you make an unsolicited visit, how are you treated? Do you at least get into the administrative complex for an explanation or do they turn you away at the front gate?
    • How closely do they work with the St. Elizabeth police? If you barged in (unarmed) and started roaming the grounds, would they call the cops or deal with it in-house?
    • If they assaulted you (an adult trespasser), would the St. Elizabeth police press charges against you or them?
    • If you show up with legal paperwork (e.g. you are a social worker with a court order) how co-operative are they?
    I'm sure there's more, but the more we know about this place the more tools will be available to those who will liberate it.

    What will people of the future think of us? Will they say, as Roger Williams said of some of the Massachusetts Indians, that we were wolves with the min
    Whoa. Hang on. (5.00 / 1) (#219)
    by lyingflamebot on Sun Jul 13, 2003 at 02:11:29 PM EST

    Wait, wait, wait. Hold everything for just a second, there. Back up.

    "You don't need to know Spanish to pass in Jamaica (D'oh)"

    Let me get this straight— you thought— you thought Spanish was the language they speak Jamaica? I mean, I know nerds can be a little out of touch with pop culture, but... Jamaica? Hello? Reggae? Capital city called Kingston? Big poster of a bloke exhaling smoke, hangs on the wall of every other college freshman's dorm room, first name of Bob?

    Christ, did you think Jar-Jar talked funny because he had a spanish accent?

    And... and you learned about this after further research? Do you realize what that says about your standards for initial research?

    Holy crap.

    I'd add a few items to your "research" list, suggesting you replace a few of those "how many tumblers in a #32 Acme Deadbolt Lock" type questions with some in the vein of "how do real authentic human people actually behave in reality-land," but it would, well... I mean, damn. Sweet holy fuck, man. Jamaica.

    [ Parent ]

    Got Ganja? (none / 0) (#225)
    by A Trickster Imp on Sun Jul 13, 2003 at 09:44:18 PM EST

    > I mean, damn. Sweet holy fuck, man. Jamaica.

    I think you mean, dyam. Sweet holy fuck, mon. Jamaica mon. Him natty dreads, mon. No problem!

    [ Parent ]
    Huh? (none / 0) (#229)
    by lyingflamebot on Mon Jul 14, 2003 at 09:32:42 AM EST

    Sorry, but I an' I can't understand you when you speak with that thick spanish accent.

    [ Parent ]
    Melodrama (none / 0) (#205)
    by Kax on Sat Jul 12, 2003 at 12:04:07 PM EST

    .

    "Sleepers," anyone? (none / 0) (#206)
    by UCF BullitNutz on Sat Jul 12, 2003 at 01:46:29 PM EST

    This is good, but it looks like the product of a healthy imagination and one too many reruns of Sleepers.
    ----------
    " It ain't a successful troll until the admin shuts off new user registration for half a year." - godix
    Wow (none / 0) (#226)
    by seeS on Sun Jul 13, 2003 at 10:33:01 PM EST

    First fiction story (unless you count everything Tex BigBalls and clones says) I've totally read.

    Either its pretty good or I'm having a really boring day at work.

    Well done localroger anyway.
    --
    Where's a policeman when you need one to blame the World Wide Web?

    Most impressive! (none / 0) (#228)
    by clearbreach on Mon Jul 14, 2003 at 01:27:22 AM EST

    This was a fantastic story. The idea was great, and it was nicely compiled into a perfect length; short enough to keep me reading and not discouraged, but long enough for the essential details and then some.

    It made me think about a lot of things; how one (even at the lowest position in societ, by most people's standards) could find sanity and comfort even in the most difficult situations and learn to come up above his rested place in society (even if that meant killing to save others, and murder for revenge).

    But anyways, again, great idea and nicely written, easy to follow. My one complaint (but it's hardly a complaint at all) was the ending was a bit brief, but justly so I suppose. Maybe a bit more of a wrap-up would've been nice, but the current one still sufficed nicely.


    ----------
    [01:52:06] <mikepence> only in computer science do men tease one another claiming that theirs is smaller

    Not bad! (5.00 / 1) (#232)
    by bakuretsu on Mon Jul 14, 2003 at 06:10:16 PM EST

    I actually read the whole thing, which seems to be a statement used as compliment a lot in these comments. For a first go at fiction, I would say that it was very satisfying. I remember writing a story similar in style but much less lengthy or specific a few years ago and it wasn't nearly this good.

    Just a few suggestions for you, and I'll enumerate them because I like lists.

    1. Although the hardship our hero encounters at the beginning, throughout his experience at the School, is overwhelmingly negative, it doesn't make up for how little trouble he has getting back at them. The story would be much stronger, and I think the character himself would be much stronger, if he came into more resistance while plotting his revenge.
    2. The end was a bit quick, but like was said before, quick endings aren't necessarily BAD. I think the attack on the School was descriptively too brief; I would have liked to read about our hero's stealth maneuvers as befit James Bond and the like, something more heart-pounding.
    3. Most of the story could be fleshed out with detail in specific areas, and I realize this is meant to be a SHORT story, so I wouldn't want to see that intent betrayed by unneccesary wordiness, but I would like to have read at least a couple of very specific play-by-play scenes in which a car is hotwired or a gun is stolen. There is a point where he mentions that he has "many untraceable guns at this point" and I think that deserved more foreshadowing earlier on in the plot, perhaps even an incident of our hero securing a supply of stolen, unrifled and untraceable gun barrels, something like that.
    These are just my little suggestions, I'm not a writer by any means and my failure as a fiction writer has always been (and is for many writers) an unwillingness to put his main character through hardships. You've clearly done that with your grueseome descriptions of the physical and mental hardships of the School, but I do feel like you let it go after he escaped, as if he turned into The One.

    Nevertheless, good job! I had fun reading it!

    -- Airborne
        aka Bakuretsu
        The Bailiwick -- DESIGNHUB 2004

    fiction? (5.00 / 1) (#238)
    by psyborgue on Tue Jul 15, 2003 at 09:30:51 AM EST

    A few years ago my parents put me in one of those places... It's something i'd much rather forget than anything else. At first when i started reading this story i somehow missed the "fiction" in the heading. Its one of those experiences i would just like to forget totally... This story reminded me too much of what happened to me. I even wrote a similar letter to my parents feeling completely abandone by them. Then i realised that they were fooled too and since we couldn't talk directly there was know way that they could ever know the truth... They do now and there and i don't think they've really gotten over the guilt of sending me there... the only thing that tipped me off was that: he said he was with "her" for twenty years... mind you i don't think Brainfuck is a 20 year old language... unless this story is postdated

    Sorry if it hurt you, man (none / 0) (#240)
    by localroger on Tue Jul 15, 2003 at 01:57:40 PM EST

    The fiction part is the main body of the story. The header is the background for why I wrote it. The fiction part begins with "My life ended three days after..."

    The incident with my parents and my girlfriend really happened. The last straw in a long dispute was when they hired a lawyer to tell me that a savings certificate I'd bought with christmas and birthday and odd-job money was tied to an "implicit contract" that I'd finish college. I announced that I was an orphan and I didn't speak with them for 17 years. It's one of the most painful things I've ever been through, and I'm sure it's a firecracker next to the nuclear bomb you had to endure.

    What will people of the future think of us? Will they say, as Roger Williams said of some of the Massachusetts Indians, that we were wolves with the min
    [ Parent ]

    Best. K5. Fiction. Ever. (none / 0) (#247)
    by Jay Digital on Wed Jul 16, 2003 at 07:04:57 PM EST

    Best. K5. Fiction. Ever.

    Sorry about the somewhat dull and cliched comment, I'm still in shock at the lack of a Cowboyneal option on the latest Slashdot poll.

    fiction (none / 0) (#248)
    by feyr on Mon Jul 21, 2003 at 11:12:59 AM EST

    you can never have enough of localroger. keep writing, i can't wait to read your next stories also, since m. roger isn't writing that much, anyone know of any similarly good authors?

    Re: fiction (none / 0) (#251)
    by rockkid on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 08:29:08 PM EST

    Ya, me, but i don't often work for free and I don't stray much from humor.
    <<<<I am the cure and the sickness.>>>>>
    [ Parent ]
    All dressed up, and nowhere to go (4.50 / 4) (#250)
    by jonsg on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 04:52:48 AM EST

    It's promising, but flawed. Don't be downheartened by these comments; I'm putting on my Story Editor's hat here, and trying to help you move a good first draft onto an excellent publication piece, something that could make you money.

    It seems a shame to me to have spent so much time developing an interesting, complex character, only for that character to do the obvious, lame thing at the end. I get the impression that you were so fascinated with Brian, and the School, that you didn't know what to do with them after they'd parted ways; that you didn't really have an end in sight.

    I'd suggest you rethink everything after:

    This was not a thing to be taken lightly.

    You have a compelling leading character with a lot of intelligence, and a deeply damaged psychology. Despite his manifest faults and problems, he also has the readers' sympathies. That's tough to make work, but you've done it well. Dumb gun-powered revenge (or catharsis, in the plane scene) is simply wrong, for the character, and for the story.

    I'm not going to talk about where I'd take the plot; it's your story, not mine. Just think laterally. How could your character disrupt the School indefinitely without being caught, and possibly even without criminality? How could he bring it to its own destruction (far better than destroying it himself.) If you can get hold of it, read Eric Frank Russell's "Wasp". It won't give you the answers, but it'll inspire you to find them. Oh, and bonus points if you can bring about Brian's parents' downfalls at the same time. ;)

    As other comments have suggested, reworking the dialogue and some of the main text to correct one or two factual issues and replace the clichés with fresh new language would help too.

    Best of luck.



    Panning for Gold (none / 0) (#252)
    by Pluto on Sun Aug 24, 2003 at 08:46:13 PM EST

    This reads very much like the treatment for a screenplay. It's a high concept, and a natural star-vehicle. The dispassionate writing style, in fact, is the proper tone for script treatments and story concepts.

    Of course, you gotta flush it out with characters, locations, a couple of plot twists, a hot chick, a weirdo mentor, a car chase, some MacGyver stuff, another hot chick, a huge spliff, Ray Bans, Macs, MountainDew (and other product placement name-dropping).

    Forget fiction. It takes too long, pays to little, and everyone just whines and nitpicks it to death so that they can feel they are actually making a contribution to life on earth instead of just standing around, producing methane.

    Go for the big bucks.

    _______________________________________
    Burgeoning technologies require outlaw zones... deliberately unsupervised playgrounds for technology itself. -- William Gibson

    The Elevator to Hell | 254 comments (237 topical, 17 editorial, 0 hidden)
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