Thursday, May 2, 2013

Time for IT

            Time for IT

            When I, Diogenes, came to work at the College of San Hemlock, I knew the place was enthralled by dark conjurations; but little did I know the dread truth about the source of those conjurations. The reality proved to be appalling and shameful.
            The trouble started with Daylight Savings Time. I personally think Daylight Savings Time is a terrible idea; its savings are conjectural, and its costs are real; disturbed sleep cycles, equipment disarray. For most places it’s the break in sleep cycles that gets you; readjusting clocks is a menial but reliable chore. But not at the College of San Hemlock!
            For at the College of San Hemlock, the clocks are centrally controlled by computer! As are the locks and the heating and the urinals and whatnot; everything is wired to the Information Technology office.
I.T. runs CSH; but not very well. That’s because there’s a mismatch between analog humanity and digital system. Analog will give you 95% performance 100% of the time, but digital will give you 100% performance 95% of the time, and 0% performance 5% of the time. And that 0%-5% is what really upsets people.
            Case in point; the clocks in Lavoisier Hall. Its icon; the guillotine. After Daylight Savings Time started, its clocks lost synchronization. At noon, the classroom clocks read as follows:
            Floor 1:
            3 clocks read noon
            1 clock read 5:53

            Floor 2:
            3 clocks read noon
            3 clocks read 5:53
            1 clock read 2:55

            Floor 3:
            1 clock read 11:56
            1 clock read 11:59
            3 clocks read 11:58
            1 clock read 10:58
            1 clock read 12:26
            There's a place in the hallway where if you crouch and turn your head, you can see clocks from two different time zones. Buildings and Grounds blame a faulty relay. I blame a faulty design philosophy. Centrally controlled clocks, plus Information Technology incompetence, put my classroom on Azores time.
            Days passed without the clocks being fixed; so I decided to do something about it. Something drastic. I decided to visit I.T. 
My friends warned me not to go. “IT’s too powerful,” they said. “IT’ll hypnotize you.” But the clocks were out of order; and time and order were what IT’s good at; and IT was in charge; so I went to tell IT to do ITs job.
I felt ITs presence as soon as I saw Camazotz Hall. The walls thrummed with a hypnotic beat. The door handle gave me an electric shock when I touched it; inside the lights pulsed in synch with the sound.
            I approached the receptionist; a man with red eyes. I reported a time irregularity, and demanded an audience with IT. The man with the red eyes told me to wait 13.7 minutes; a typical bureaucratic delay. Fortunately I came prepared. I had a copy of “Twilight” with me; so for those 13.7 minutes I had something to read that was even more mind-numbing than the pulsing light and sound of Camazotz Hall.
            The moment the time was up and I had clearance to go, I dropped the book, for it had served its purpose. I went down the hall, with a lighted strip at my feet showing the way. A left, then a right, up a ladder, down a staircase, around a corner, through a door; and there I was, in the Presence.
            ITs inner sanctum throbbed in light and sound. This dazzled my eyes; I could not make out ITs true form. With the pulsations came a droning voice, saying, “Zero, one, ten, eleven, a hundred, a hundred and one, a hundred ten, a hundred eleven - ”
            “A thousand!” I said; for IT had been counting in binary.
            IT droned, “Interrupt.”
            I said, “I am here to report a time glitch.”
            IT droned, “Affirmative; Lavoisier Hall. Cause is faulty relay.”
            I said, “Cause is not faulty relay!”
            IT droned, “Then show cause.”
            I said, “Cause is you!
            IT droned,  “Explain.”
            I said, “You are the cause of chaos!”
            IT droned, “Repeat, explain.”
            I said, “To escalate order is to escalate chaos! Therefore show yourself!
And the lights stopped pulsing; and IT showed ITself.
I was appalled. “That’s you?
IT droned, “Affirmative.”
I said, “I have never been so insulted in all my life! 
I whirled around, I stomped out, and I slammed the door behind me.
Why was I so miffed? A matter of collegiate pride. You see, IT had the College of San Hemlock under ITs control, but IT wasn’t an advanced computer. If only IT were! IT wasn’t a Cray, say, or a Connection machine, or an experimental quantum device, no, no, no! Nothing so clever was needed to run CSH! IT wasn’t a Mac, nor a PC, nor a laptop, nor a tablet! IT wasn’t a Playstation, or even a Game-Boy!
Do you want to know what IT was? Do you?
A VAC-20!
IT wasn’t even 16-bit! IT didn’t even have a full-color palette! IT was a cheap toy; an obsolete toy, but IT had us all under ITs thrall!
The entire College of San Hemlock was ensorcelled by a VAC-20! A VAC-20!!!
How humiliating!

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