“And like most of her peers, Barbara Ann has a French postal worker's sense of divine entitlement when it comes to her hours.”
“Now, I’ve never heard a rabid hyena shriek from rectal acid burns. But I’ll bet that sounds a lot like Mllsh-mllsh introducing a guest.”
“I used to think that English-speaking who conveniently look, dress, and act human only turned up in lazy science fiction. But as Carly and Frampton dematerialized, I became grimly aware of how well they'd also fit into a psychotic hallucination.”
“Clippy got that pervert-on-the-playground look again..”
“I have now scoured your Internet, and have identified several ersatz concierges that were created by your own society, and are in current and active use throughout it. I strongly suggest that you allow me to import and implement one of them.” I caught Manda’s eye. She shrugged. “Sure,” I said. “Earth’s most popular ersatz concierge has had hundreds of millions of users—although its usage has declined rather dramatically in recent years. Shall we try that one?” I really, really, really should have asked why the thing was shedding users. Instead I shrugged and said, “Why not?” The dazzling, octodimensional projection instantly transformed into a flat rendering of a paperclip with googly eyes. “That’s an ersatz concierge?” Manda whispered after a shocked silence. “Dear God …” As she said this, the paperclip’s eyes darted cunningly from side to side. Then a cartoon bubble appeared above its head reading, “It looks like you’re writing a letter. Would you like help?” It was Clippy—the despised emcee of Microsoft Office. I knew him well. Because while he had allegedly retired long ago, my firm—like so many others—had clung to the Clippy-infested Windows XP operating system for years beyond its expiration date, staving off the expense and trauma of a Windows upgrade. That process had finally started eighteen months back. But copyright associates are low in the priority queue—and I had been slated to get upgraded “next month” for as long as I could remember. “Okay, go back,” I said. Clippy stared at me impassively. “Stop it. Cut it out. Go back. Use the other interface. Use the gem thing.” As I said this, Clippy’s eyes started darting again as he scribbled on a notepad with an animated pencil. Another cartoon bubble appeared. “It looks like you’re making a list. Should I format it?” I fell into an appalled silence. Then Manda gave it a shot. “We do not want to use this ersatz concierge,” she enunciated clearly. “Please return us to the previous one.” Clippy gazed back with bovine incomprehension. We went on to try every command, plea, and threat that we could think of. But we couldn’t get back to the prior concierge. Luckily, the stereopticon’s projector mode was still working fine (“If you download Windows Media Player, I’m throwing you under a bus,” Manda warned it).”
“I looked at Judy as calmly as I could. "Music and movie piracy..." I slipped into a dramatic pause as I desperately tried to come up with some idea, any idea. I scanned the room for inspiration, briefly glimpsed Randy-- I had my answer. "...are terrorism.”
“And so, October 13, 1977; 8:29 p.m. EST became the dawning moment of Year Zero to the rest of the universe.”
“After listening intently for a few seconds, he turned to me. “North Vietnam?” He shook his head derisively. “Very, very bad.” He listened some more, then denounced Brezhnev.”
“A scouting craft soon entered our solar system. It detected several broadcast signals, and routed the strongest one (WABC-TV in New York) to a distant team of anthropologists—who then found themselves watching a first-run episode of the hit sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter (the one in which Arnold Horshack joins a zany youth cult). Before I get into what happened next, I should mention that music is the most cherished of the forty so-called Noble Arts that Refined beings revere and dedicate their lives to. It is indeed viewed as being many times Nobler than the other thirty-nine Arts combined. And remember—their music sucks. The first alien Kotter watchers initially doubted that we had music at all, because everything about the show screamed that we were cultural and aesthetic dunderheads. Primitive sight gags made them groan. Sloppy editing made them chuckle. Wardrobe choices practically made them wretch. And then, it happened. The show ended. The credits rolled, and the theme music began. And suddenly, the brainless brutes that they’d been pitying were beaming out the greatest creative achievement that the wider universe had ever witnessed. Welcome back, Welcome back, Welcome back.”
“Proving once again that dumbshits with flashlights can look like gods to geniuses, if the geniuses are from the technological past,”
“self-defense—since any society that’s violent and stupid enough to self-destruct on H-bombs might easily destroy the entire universe if it survives long enough to invent something with real firepower.”
“music licensing is an arcane thicket of ambiguity, overlapping jurisdictions, and litigation. This”
“Because we need to enlist the greatest copyright attorney on Earth. If not … the universe.”
“No, we haven’t stopped the spread of pirated music or movies online, nor have we slowed it even slightly. But we do get paid pornographically vast sums for trying our very best.”
“Nick,” Judy said. “Just like blacks can use the N-word with impunity, and queers can use the F-word, and orientals can use the A-word, Mitzi and I are within the bounds of decorum when we joke about other women being sluts. But as a man in a phallocentric society, you cross a bright, red line when you do that—particularly in a professional setting. Is that clear?”
“He’s had some surprising successes (e.g., Amish vs. Aliens—a maddeningly addictive Facebook game). He’s had some awful flops (e.g., Forever 29—a store for older women who liked to dress like trashy youngsters, and lie about their age). And”
“what are called opinions “on the left” and “on the right” in the media represent only a limited spectrum of debate, which reflects the range of needs of private power—but there’s essentially nothing beyond those “acceptable” positions. So what the media do, in effect, is to take the set of assumptions which express the basic ideas of the propaganda system, whether about the Cold War or the economic system or the “national interest” and so on, and then present a range of debate within that framework—so the debate only enhances the strength of the assumptions, ingraining them in people’s minds as the entire possible spectrum of opinion that there is.”
“He was hard lines, chiseled flesh, bronzed skin. I was a marshmallow melting in a cup of cocoa.”
“Moonlight slipped in through the lace curtains, slicing everything with its sliver cracks. That's how I felt right now - cold and cracked and hollow and empty.”
“A well constructed plot should, therefore, be single in its issue, rather than double as some maintain. The change of fortune should be not from bad to good, but, reversely, from good to bad.”
“When we look outside of that on which we depend we ignore our unity; looking outward we see many faces; look inward and all is one head. If a man could but be turned about, he would see at once God and himself and the All.”
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