Michael Benson on 19 Jan 2001 21:16:47 -0000

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Re: <nettime> Re: Deeply boring age

In the mid-seventies I was a diplomatic brat in the outer imperial zone. 
The gravity level was only two-thirds Earth, even at maximum rpm, so 
later when I took the long slide down, I had to go through 14 months of 
conditioning, and even with the implants and that ridiculous pump-up 
device I to this day feel like the proverbial cripple in a G-tank (plus 
I haven't had a good night's sleep in the last three decades, except for 
when I went off-Earth again, of course. I don't care what they say about 
those zero-G mattresses. They don't work). We were experimenting with 
different brews of a strange reddish-yellow psychoactive drink made by 
shoveling some organoplasm into a metal canister and sending it into a 
slowly tumbling orbit around Eros-141237, which was then being mined to 
within an inch of its life, for about two deep-Earth years. The trick 
was to put a beacon on the thing and release one every two months, then 
just go get 'em with a shuttle when the time was ripe. The alternating 
subzero and broiling temperatures and the non-stop mixing action 
produced something unique, not to mention so high-test that I swear we 
risked vacuum diving between wings of the station a couple times on that 
shit -- you _don't_ want to try that, take it from me. They're marketing 
a dumbed-down version of the stuff in Neuva York these days with special 
tricked-up labels and those stupid fiber-light things that go blink wink 
blink, and of course it all costs more credits than it would be worth 
even if it wasn't one fifth the original strength. (There's a text-ram 
in there somewhere about how annoying it is to see the Outer Zones 
down-flipping into a marketing gimmick, but not today.) Still, that was 
damn good swill, especially if you're seventeen, bored, tired of the 
simulator and looking for trouble on a 7th night, and I'm proud to be 
one of the originators of the first quality off-Earth alcohol.

We used to do all kind of crazy things, of course. I'll always remember 
the time we stole a web-crawler, replaced the ten-erg batteries with the 
200-erg kind they use only for high-security specialized mining 
applications -- now there's an up-crank, to put it mildly -- and crashed 
the whole outernet, all the way out to the Cassini Station. But not 
before we'd loaded the whole damn thing in a replicated mainstation, 
every single encrypted node security didn't have the good sense not to 
leave hanging. (Not to mention lifting the code for every single 
WoodWork film then in post-production, I mean all the studios, which 
would have brought a nice profit in the outer colonies -- which could 
never afford even second run rates for those things, let alone a 
premiere -- if we'd been in it for the lucre, which we weren't.) The 
reason, of course, I can even talk about this is that we also loaded so 
much deep background infotainment about Politburo members from a cracked 
high security locker that none of those immortal sucker-programs could 
risk so much as raising a virtual governor's eyebrow at this particular 
caper, let alone sending out planetpol. But all this was well covered in 
the Neuva York Nanosecond -- I think it's still at their website -- so 
it ain't exactly new news, even apart from being three decades old by 

How did we know which locker, among all the decoys? Because some 
InnerSecurity newbie left a big fat slugline reading "Blackmail" 
dangling from the lower left subject line, just like the fucking manual 
says! We should all be so lucky, I know, but it changed my life, got me 
a real good upgrade and led directly to my ongoing immortals-level 
credit rating into the bargain. Sometimes crime pays! But first you have 
to survive the vacuum dives.

Were we bored? All the time pal. But when I look back on it now, I 
remember the great stuff. Like, you know, attack ships on fire off the 
shoulder of Orion. Synth-sushi and raves at the Tannhauser Gate. Stuff 
like that.

Michael Benson    

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