by Terry Hargrove
Stop me if I start rambling. Too late.
Through my long and storied educational career, I’ve only ever failed one class. Oh I’ve come close to failing. I made a D in my Bible as Literature class and was damn lucky to get that, a lapse of mine that I hope will not have eternal consequences. You might go to hell for failing The Bible as Literature. But I only ever really failed once. It was typing. I took this class as an elective when I was a senior in high school. Alas, my typing efforts were hampered by the little finger on my left hand. I broke that finger when I was 13, and it healed back at an odd angle that made typing and guitar playing impossible. I would like to be able to play the guitar. But typing? Typing was for girls. I didn’t need the credit, so it wasn’t much of a surprise when the year ended, and I still owed the typing teacher, Mrs. Hardison, six weeks of work. I boldly backed away from the manual typewriter, looked her square in the eye and said:
“Mrs. Hardison, I’m going to fail this class and I don’t care. It’s 1973. When will a man ever need to know how to type?”
She looked me square in the eye, and her eyes were squarer than mine, and replied:
“Mr. Hargrove. If you never learn to type you will resign yourself to a life in a pencil factory earning minimum wage, and the only hope you will experience, is the hope that your lunch is better than it was the day before.”
Well the joke is on her. Not only have all the pencil factories moved to China, (and they took the other factories with them) but I have discovered the greatest invention ever: voice recognition software. I have it on right now. Since I failed typing in high school, my typing speed had topped out somewhere near 20 words per minute. I know that sounds slow, but I reminded myself that Shakespeare wrote all his plays with a feather quill that he had to stop and sharpen with a small knife, on average, after every seven letters, and look at his output. I’m a little bit faster than that.
But now with my voice recognition software I have doubled, even tripled my typing speed. My only concern is that I don’t start rambling. You see, as a terrible typist, verbal thrift was always my greatest concern. It takes me a long time to type a paragraph, so I have to make sure everything in that paragraph is absolutely necessary.
But no more. You should see how fast these words are appearing on my screen. I am the typist Mrs. Hardison always wanted me to be. The possibilities are endless. I have five complete novels for young adults that I created on a Brother word processor. Sadly, that type of word processor no longer exists, and mine is broken, so the files I saved on floppy disks that are incompatible with my computers are useless. Now I can just read them and save them to my laptop. And I have at last count 70 e-mails that require a reply. No problem. I can knock those out this weekend. Technology is wonderful.
Now the strange thoughts that pop into my head, like timeless quarks having energy but no mass, I can put on the screen. I just say the words and there they are. A miracle. This is a chance for me to share a couple of theories that I have formulated over the previous two weeks. Would I have bothered to type these out the old-fashioned way? Of course not. But now my voice is free. But please, stop me if I start rambling.
Strange theory number one: Okay, I just deleted strange theory number one. In all of your photos. Did you see that? What I said was “It involved UFOs” but what came out was “In all of your photos.” Okay, so voice recognition software isn’t perfect. Or maybe aliens were involved. Either way, I’ve learned something today. Anyway, since I might want another job someday and I don’t wish prospective employers to think I might be daft, I have decided that I will not share strange theory number one, because I must’ve been drunk when I came up with it. Let’s move onto strange theory number two, keeping in mind that when I merge the two theories later in this essay, the one I’m giving you and the one I deleted, you’ll have to take my word for it that the elegance was there when I first thought about it.
Strange theory number two: we are living in a computer simulation. Prof. Nick Bostrom has suggested that what we think of as reality may, in fact, only be a computer simulation. As virtual reality games become more advanced, will the day arrive when a virtual reality world is indistinguishable from the real world? And is it not possible that someone in this hyper realistic game might suppose that he is in fact in a real world? Prof. Bostrom has suggested that not only is this possible, the odds favor that it has already happened. And so the question for us is: ”Am I a player in the game, or a computer construct who has attained consciousness?”
What makes both of these strange ideas, the one I told you about and the one I deleted, appealing to me is how they could mesh here in the end of days. A computer simulation reality would only make sense as long as the players were not aware that they were in a computer simulation. Once enough people realize the deception, the game is over. Now the game developers must have known that the day would come when their secret would be discovered. They prepared us by putting into the program the idea of the end of the world. What I find particularly frightening about this is that the kind of people who would create such a game/simulation are the same kind of nasty nosers who laugh at me when I tell them I don’t know the difference between Firefox and Omega.
So what do these two disparate theories have in common? I think 2012 is real. I think the psycho geeks who invented this reality have something special planned for us as the game ends. It might include but will not be limited to dinosaurs with lasers and aliens dressed as pimps. There might be a gigantic asteroid with a smiley face on it. Perhaps a gamma ray burst from an exploding black hole that we will discover the day before the burst arrives.
I’m not rambling am I? This has a rambling look to it.
I would also like to say that I spent thousands of dollars to attend the Connecticut school of broadcasting, and investment which has to this point resulted in a single job interview that paid 10 bucks an hour, when all I really needed to do stand on the side of the road with a little cardboard sheet that explained how my voice was my only God-given talent. I like to think that everyone’s voice was a God-given talent, and even though my voice is not a rich deep baritone, I have been told I sound like a southern, slightly drunk Kevin Spacey. Some computer game/software developer somewhere is going to have to explain that to me after 2012.
Look at that! Almost 1300 words and I’ve only been here 45 min. This is going to be great, and since I have a whole year until the end, I can get lots of stuff done. I can be, and I shake as I say it, prolific! I just hope I didn’t ramble too much. Does this seem rambling? Tell me tomorrow. I have some e-mails to respond to.