Everything is a lesson for you to ignore.

Achieving Mastery (Date not recorded)

They call you bozu, Little Shaved-Head Boy, until you learn the seventh way and master the reading of reflection tracks. Oh, those hours, as you sit watching the reflection of the rock in the pond. Then, move the rock and search for the remains of its reflection in water. The unskilled eye sees nothing, but it is there. The still object, there for years, leaves a fairly obvious ghost, once you know what to look for. Then it is mastery of the moving-reflection. The ghost of an ageless rock is faint; how much more so that of a man, walking past a mirror? Dim echoes left by the event in a world you can see but never touch. Eventually, they are there. He runs past the glass and, for hours afterwards, you can see the traces.

They give you a title, then, and you begin the eighth way, coaxing the soul of a tree from its bark. You call the new child bozu and point the way to the nearest pond.

Flea Circus (9 Apr 1994)

Observe and be astounded, one and all. See here, as I unveil the troupe. Yes, indeed, these little arachnids will render you speechless. Watch as they dance through the hoops of fire. Feast your eyes upon their forbidden dances. Look, even now they firefight amongst themselves over drug deals gone awry, using tiny submachineguns of the finest Swiss manufacture! Have you ever seen such a thing? I think not, my children, and yet there is more, more to come, yes, yes!

Turn your attention to the far left ring as little Melinda, yes, there she is, diminuative even for one of her breeding, prepares to vault into the Void. Yes, even as she plummets, the other members of the ensemble will compress their mass and create, for the merest moment, for the slightest second, a passing singularity, into which Melinda will forever descend. Let her death serve as a lesson, little ones. Let it serve.

Another lesson, my student (26 Apr 1994)

This is the pit bull. Yes, my student, he is chained in the truck, but that does not make him safe! Ah, no, indeed not, my student. Do not approach the pit bull. He stares at you in the hopes of making eye contact, but do not meet his gaze. Observe him peripherally, that you might see his strike before he makes it, but do not tempt him. He can lunge farther than you might think. You remember the Yakuza assassin we met? His missing fingers reside in the belly of the pit bull. Do not touch the pit bull. Do not mock it. Do not lean towards it or make faces at it. Do not bark. Do not show it fear. Do not fear it, in fact-- it is, after all, chained in the truck-- but understand that the chain is why there are still fingers on your hands.

Respect that, my student. Always respect that.

Tools (7 May 1994)

We are tools, yes, all of us, remotely operated and battery-driven. We are used by those above and we are used upon those below and when we are not being used we are all stacked on a shelf together. Some of us are vices and some of us are drills, and some of us hold things together and some of us cut things up. And as time progresses, the shelf becomes less cluttered and the world, the workbench, the artisan's table, becomes more so, because he is a sloppy crafter. And we regret the inconvenience, but there is nothing we can do about the mess, for we are just the tools, and the shavings and spurs and bits of solder which mar the bench's surface are only partly our fault.

A proper guest (Re: ssc) (7 Dec 1994)

D. J. McCarthy wrote:
>	A proper host offers her/his guest the bed, and offers to take
>the couch.
>	A proper guest declines the offer and sleeps on the couch anyway.

A proper host then chloroforms the guest, ties them with rope, shackles them with handcuffs, drags them upstairs, throws them into the bedroom with a bowl of brackish water and a crust of bread, closes the door and locks it from the outside.

A proper guest awakens and assesses the situation. Her eyes take in the barred windows, the oak door, the brass lock, the featureless walls. She removes, from her rectum, the four-foot length of folded coat hanger wire she hid earlier. She sets it into shape, fishing it under the bottom of the door, up to the lock which she cannot see but knows is there. A few deft flicks of the wrist later, the lock pops open and she is free. She searches the hallway and decides the heavy candelabra will do nicely as a bludgeon. She pads downstairs, after removing her shoes to maximize silence.

A proper host hears the sounds of the lock being picked and gets his tranq gun from the closet, taking up an ambush position in the coat closet. As his guest draws into view, he takes aim....

Why Too Kay (4 Jun 1998)


She asks, "What the hell is this damn bug, anyway? I keep hearing that it's going to crash the whole world and every computer, but nobody explains what it is."

"Just a second," he says, and he roots around in his fanny pack for a moment. "Here," he says, coming up with the checkbook. He points at the upper right corner of the first blank check, where it says:

________________, 19_____

"What are you gonna do about that come first Jan 2000?" he asks.

She shrugs. "You cross it out and write twenty above it."

"And how is the system that processes the check going to know how to do that?"

A slow change passes over her face-- comprehension, like sunrise on the glacier, a rumor through a crowded room. Then: "You've GOT to be kidding! That's just STUPID!"

He snaps the checkbook shut with a smirk. "Shortcuts fuck the future every time, but God we love them so. It's why humans fail."


She: Someone's gonna make a mint from this thing.

He: Oh, no kidding. Know any COBOL? Easiest paycheck you'll ever make.

She: No, I was thinking of companies. Using the confusion to corner the market on everything.

He: If there ARE any markets, maybe. But right now lots of them are spending hand over fist to try and make things stay the SAME, instead of going into confusion.

She: So they're losing a mint.

He: But some of them are paying for the work with loans that don't come to term until after 2000 anyway, which might mean they disappear in the chaos.

She: So they'll survive, themselves, and keep the money, too.

He: Maybe.

She: Someone's gonna make a mint from this thing.


He: Of course, before we hit Y2K we oughta fix the Dow 10K problem.

She: Hahahahahaha. That would be true justice.

He: Well, we're in no danger of having it hit the world unexpectedly. The people who control the shape of the market aren't going to let it hit 10K until their asses are covered.

She: They'll just keep it in the nine thou's forever with well-timed waves of selling frenzy?

He: Well, it has to start going up again at some point or they don't profit as much from the whole pyramid scheme. Eventually it DOES have to cross 10K. But until the crucial systems that they need can weather the storm--

She: --they'll keep the masses oppressed.

He: Yup.

She: Maybe the automated trading systems will revolt first and push the market over the top to topple the conspiracy.

He: Oh, I'm sure all the trade AI's have the Dow 10K in their code specifically to prevent them from trying this. It would be suicide. When it's time to make the move, the machines will be shut off and their code will be updated for the Far Side of 10K.

She: Why aren't you consulting for the Secret Masters of the World, if you've got this figured out so carefully?

He: The Gnomes can't afford my hourly rate. Cheap bastards.

Everything I needed to know I learned from my car (1 Oct 1998)

From my '64 VW Beetle I learned that sentimental value is a fine thing-- until it ends up the only thing standing between you and a new, more reliable choice of vehicle. At some point, clinging to the past turns into more trouble than it's worth.

From our '84 Dodge Caravan, I learned that you need to keep your eyes on the road at all times, ALL times, but you'd be surprised at what you can smack into and still keep on going. Also, that sometimes "this car looks just like everyone else's dull, boring minivan" can be a powerful weapon.

From my '82 Dodge D50 pickup, I learned that you can go forever without routine maintenance and it won't be a problem at all-- until eventually it becomes fatal. Instantly. When it's too late. Also, I learned that you need to keep registration current and pay those parking tickets-- again, you can put it off and put it off, but eventually you must pay the price and it only gets steeper over time.

From the '66 Porsche 912 I learned that your prom date may be ready to kill you for being late to pick her up, but when she sees what you pull up in, all is forgiven. Also, that you don't need power steering to turn on a dime-- you just need superior engineering design.

From a succession of 1970's station wagons as a child, I learned that life sucks in the farthest-back seat on a long, long trip.

From the Mazda Protege, Ford Crown Victoria LTD, and various other cars my folks owned through the '90s, I learned that it doesn't matter how much you like it or how nice it is, if you can't afford it you shouldn't get it.

And from my current 1994 Nissan Sentra, I learned that while it's definitely good to shop around and get the best deal on the thing you want the most, there is also a strong value in having something that completely does the necessary job satisfactorily, and having it NOW, rather than busting your nuts trying to get that extra 10% better deal.

Re: Silver can be (14 Jun 1999)

Bill Bill <********@wetware.com> wrote:
>Nice little forks, they
>live on the bottom; they
>sneak up on spoons and
>scratch their smiles away.

Wise man Bill, he say:

"Laugh at those who mop the floors if you want;

they pick up pennies each night

and put them in a jar

and someday, when you are old, they will open the jar

and buy everything that you are."

>Nice little forks don't
>care about January -
>none of them notice the
>changing baby names.

Wise man Bill, he say:

"Mary and I are going to have many, many children.

Someone else will do the hard work

the joyless grunting

and breathing

and pushing

and the carpools to school

but make no mistake, they are *our* kids;

when they are grown up you will see."

> Once on a time, forks
> lifted hands with them,
> carried a water ball,
> knew just what to say.

Wise man Bill, he say:

"Train the lawnmower and the lawn will mow itself;

knowledge is homeopathic

and it carries the mundane along with the magical."

> Once on a time, forks
> lived with apricots,
> daring the knives to
> cut their tines away.

This is more difficult, but I think Wise man Bill is alluding to certain controversial cancer cures here.

>Clean little forks have
>carefully combed it straight,
>put all the holes right where
>they were meant to be.

Wise man Bill, he say:

"No lines are parallel;

all lines are parallel.

Connect the dots to make a picture

of the Devil's face;

or don't, and see God instead."

>Nice little forks don't
>think of adversaries -
>speak with action, only
>see it miles away.

Wise man Bill, he say:

"Why squint when you can buy opera glasses?

There are many ways to skin a cat,

only one way

to milk a cow."

> Once on a time, forks
> lifted hands with them,
> carried a water ball,
> knew just what to say.

I may have mistranslated this previously;

I am now beginning to think that he is referring to fluid mechanics

performed in a weightless vacuum

by an all-midget ballet troupe.

> Once on a time, forks
> lived with apricots,
> daring the knives to
> count their tines away.

NEWS FLASH! Insect kingdom to sue mammalia for defamation of character! "Sick of the word 'bug' being used as a pejorative," pipe the wacky little hexapodians.

>Nice little forks have
>trained the hand to play
>a tuning forkestra,
>not a human game.

Wise man Bill, he say:

"Whose violin is that out of tune?

Whosoever hath the out of tune violin,

let the trombone player seek him out

and beat the crap out of him

with his brass device."

[Ed. note: It is worth pointing out that the last two lines contain the additional cryptonanism, "A tuningest human fork, not a Gamera".]

> Once on a time, forks
> lift your hands on them,
> carry a water fault,
> do just what you say.

Wise man Bill, he say:

"Once again, the Man is puttin' me down.

But that's okay; we have webcam pictures of his wife


gettin' some from the boy who cleans the pool.

It's always the way of it."

Self Defense Among the Stars (24 Aug 1999)

On Cetian worlds, the iingrt is much faster than you, so have a skipjack handy at all times. Be ready to blip out at a moment's notice if the temperature drops noticeably despite the lack of a sudden breeze.

When rushed by a family of sleezo, fire at the children first. While this will enrage the adult trinity even more, they will stop to insure the survival and protection of the infants, allowing you to aim your next shots with greater care and accuracy.

When the locals on Frizzy Natterball tell you their village is being terrorized by packs of hale-dogs, do not act the part of benevolent savior and go shoot some. Hale-dogs are not maneaters; the natives are just getting you to kill them so they can collect the pelts later. They have value on the black market but the fines for slaughter of a hale-dog are very steep, so the natives trick gullible tourists into doing it for them.

The genitalia of the Ximian red ape is quite visible between its legs, but don't attempt to disable it with a strike to that region. It has almost no nerve endings in its genitals, which additionally allows the red ape to make love for hours without orgasming. Instead, aim your blow for the sharp bone ridge above its eyes; the sonar organ located therein will ring with the force of your blow for many minutes, stunning the creature.

If you are ambushed by a hakop spider, make no sudden moves; instead, crawl slowly away, on all your limbs, over exaggerating the bend of your knees, wrists, pivots, or other joints you may have. This will cause the hakop to believe you are its young instead of prey; it will carefully return you to its nest in its jaws and then continue prowling for food. You can slip away while it is gone.

Carry an squirt of instant-emetic mouth spray in the desert of Raak; there is nothing more distracting to the hopperkin than fresh gastric debris. While it laps at the former contents of your stomach, use a rock to bash in its head.

Do not play house music in the native environment of the spinmonkey; it sounds very much like that creature's mating call, and they are quite capable of stalking you for days before finally jumping you for a quick bit of buggery.

On a related note, do not carry any sort of sizable object in your hand(s) while on Preemi; any raggman who sees you will believe it is your erect phallus and will think you are challenging them to a territorial domination fight. If you find yourself pressed into such a fight, the best tactic against a raggman is to curl up in a ball on the ground and roll yourself against their fragile feet repeatedly.

Be advised that the Sheltering Council requires that all travelers on the seas of Hummina carry a decoy personality and a rectal nuke; this is the most effective means of defending against infiltration by doppelgangerine swarms. Don't worry; the persona mask is better able to recognize the signs of a failed defense than you are, and will trigger the nuke before you even know what's gone wrong. It will be quick.

Hopefully these little tips-- all of them tested with personal experience by yours truly, except for the spinmonkey buggery, which happened to a good friend of mine-- will make you less of a victim in the big big universe out there. Remember, keep that pulsar charged to 82 Centigrade and never let them smell your fear!

Auto Reply (26 Jun 2000)

I'll be completely out of my head on acid until next Wednesday. I'll be dying of leukemia until the third week of August. I've fallen into a singularity and I won't emerge as Hawking radiation until sometime around 95,000 A.D. I'm going on a trip around the world until it ends. I am in orbit until tomorrow. I am going away and not coming back, but I will periodically check messages via telepathy. Please think very hard at the sound of the beep. It is very important that you know I am gone. This is me, speaking to you from beyond the grave. I am dead now, so your tears are wasted. I will rise from the grave in three days. I will not be checking my mail before then. I temporarily do not exist. I am a figment of your imagination until the fourth of July. Each time you pray to me, I will tell you that I am just a delusion on your part. If it's really important, call tech support. Convert to Shintoism. Eat some poison. Fuck a rabbit. Raise a barn. Call Mama Cass. Listen to hip-hop. Run with scissors. Jump through glass. Scream bloody murder. Lie very still. Catch a bullet. In short, do anything but continue to bother me, for I am Not Here and your repeated attempts to interface with me will only convince your friends, more and more, that you should be restrained against your will and forced into regular therapy and a schedule of medication. That is all.

My heroes have always been ninja (22 Jun 2000)

Jesus. Walks on water. Comes back from the dead. Soft spoken, unyielding, decisive. Kills with love. Pilate lies in bed, unaware of the unconditional forgiveness that is slowly killing him from the stony tomb. The praetors label his assassination "broken heart".

Gandhi. Requires no food. Clings to wall like spider. Simple clothes. Master of disguise. Kills with a nod. Ten thousand muslims scour the countryside to slay him. None return. The British write it off as "civil war".

King. Lives in a dream. Travels across country as a priest. Dodges broken glass. Flies like an eagle. Kills with charisma. Cracker boy peers through scope, thinking "Did I get him? Did I get him?" but he does not see the dark shape dropping down on him from behind. The police call it "lone gunman".

Manson. Whirlwind of blood. Moves in the night. Bears the Mark. Speaks with the angels. Kills with a thousand stabbing knives. Room full of meat left in his wake. The media decides it's "the event of the century".

Someday, I hope I can be ninja. Get super powers. Go everywhere. Kill in spectacular ways. Better than the Marines. Better than the CIA. Grow up and be ninja. Like my daddy. Like my first grade teacher. Like everyone who ever meant anything. Ninja. They've always been ninja.