Gone, But Not Forgotten

Show us something that is lost, but not forgotten.

Gone, But Not Forgotten

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For this challenge, Annie visited the cemetery where Al Capone is buried. Near Roosevelt & Wolf Rd, here in Chicagoland.

It is still visited daily, and as you can see, people still leave small memorial items in Al’s memory. Apparently being a mobster is your ticket to immortality. Who knew?

One of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre victims is buried in the same cemetery, but she couldn’t find it. It would provide a fun contrast, but probably needs too much explanation.

All photos by Annette Park ©2014 and all that rot.

 

Xenophobia vs. Fantasy

I used to play a lot of World of Warcraft, back in my Gamer days (as millions of people did). And I’ve always read a lot of Fantasy, including classic High Fantasy (i.e. Tolkien-esque) with Dwarves, Elves, Dragons, and so on. Lord of the Rings; you’ve seen the movies.

One thing that’s always struck me as a little odd, both in video games and literature. In all of these formats, we have lots of intelligent species, living in the same settings, on the same planets. In the case of Warcraft, it is literally hundreds of intelligent species, all sharing the same world and striving and competing for land area, resources, dominance.

In World of Warcraft, these species are at war (at least a cool, ongoing-skirmish sort of war), grouped into Factions. Alliance and Horde, specifically, but just two generally large groups of five major species, and another hundred unaligned individual species.

In Tolkien-esque High Fantasy, it’s generally a Dark Lord of some sort controlling one power sphere (Orcs, Trolls, etc.), and the Humans, Elves, Dwarves and Others in a second power group. Surprise, they don’t like each other very much. Generally a huge battle takes place, the Dark Lord loses and everyone goes home.

But I look around at America, and I just don’t see this kind of outcome as particularly likely. We are one species, and we separate ourselves into nations and races and cultures. We rattle our swords at each other until somebody starts something. Our border is closed, immigrants must asked us nicely to be included pretty please (or risk being criminals). We just can’t get along, at all. And that’s just within a single species, other Humans.

Given that level of Xenophobia the Homo Sapiens constantly displays, I would expect a world of several hundred separate species to be at War every single day, a bloody and full-on genocidal war of extinction, until only a single species remained. As we would expect evolutionary imperative to direct, right Mr. Darwin?

Or is every other race less paranoid and less frightened of Others, and more accepting of cultural differences than we are? If that is the case, we can expect Humans to be wiped out by the combined might of every other species combined, right? They’d group up to protect themselves from us, in self defense?

A lot of high fantasy just doesn’t work on this basis; it soft-sells the likely Nastiness of the conflicts. Even the Dark Lord is less dangerous, in general terms, than those nasty and aggressive humans and their little elf buddies. (Why would Elves have any reason to tolerate us, anyway? We’re the rude and low-class neighbors, scum on the boots.)

Where I would expect bloody, full-on, non-stop attrition war of genocide to be taking place, we’re picking up our Nerf-bat swords and playing by the rules. Humans are never portrayed a tenth as rotten in Fantasy lit as humans are, demonstrably.

And all of those other races, even the “mean” old Orcs and Trolls, play by the rules too (except when they have a Dark Lord to stir things up for a while).

The problem is only multiplied by the sheer number of species contestants in a Warcraft-style setting. All of those murlocs and furbolgs and what have you…the more species you put into competition for supremacy, the more likely an outbreak of the Final War becomes, right?

Thank goodness that game designers exhibit a little restraint, because internecine warfare probably wouldn’t be a very fun game to play. At least not for very long.

There’s probably something important we should learn from that.

RecDave Seal

Today is a free writing day. Write at least four-hundred words, and once you start typing, don’t stop. No self-editing, no trash-talking, and no second guessing: just go. Bonus points if you tackle an idea you’ve been playing with but think is too silly to post about.

 

Rob Dibble, I choose you!

It was 1992 or ’93, near as I can tell from looking at the career stats. We played an odd form of fantasy baseball using ‘strat-o-matic’ cards (published each year based upon the players stats from the previous year). We would ‘draft’ a team from the available player pool (NL+AL mixed), and play a 162 game ‘season’, and whoever finished with the best team W/L record would win the season (and the betting pool).

The New Orleans Penguins manager (that’s me), was nearing the end of the draft, most of the really great cards were already picked, and I was desperate for a closer.

Statistically, Rob Dibble looked like closer material. A former all-star, NLCS Most Valuable Player, and one of those nasty, nasty 90+ MPH fastballs. He definitely looked like something the other managers (a dozen or so) had overlooked. Eagerly, when my pick came up, I “went with my gut” and drafted him; I thought I had one of those little gems of a pick, when you discover a diamond in the slush pile and crow at all of those other silly, silly managers for missing this guy.

Rob had temper-control issues as a player. Rob got into a lot of fights, threw pitches at other players and (in one case) at a fan in the center field bleachers. But I didn’t know this, nor did I do my homework (as the other managers had) on the injury reports.

Rob’s elbow exploded. He missed the entire 1994 season. After he returned, he never had the same “nasty” again, and 1995 was a disastrous season for him. In 1996 he went under the knife, again, and his career was soon over.

The Penguins didn’t finish out of the cellar for several more years, due to this (and similar) terrible picks…like Mike Greenwell and Robin Yount (during years when they were effectively hobbling around the outfield on crutches)…the list just goes on and on.

My “gut” is terrible at making draft picks, just simply awful.

RecDave Seal

When’s the last time you followed your instinct despite not being sure it was the right thing to do? Did it end up being the right call?

Hell no, it wasn’t the right call.

Payday

Henry swiped the floor polishing unit from left to right as he moved slowly down the shopping aisle. Not that this floor needed any more polishing, it was already spotless and pristine, as it had been for as long as Henry could remember. 40 years since he arrived here with the shuttle, but the place really hadn’t changed at all.

He blinked twice quickly, and the retinal display showed 7:53 PM. Not quitting time yet; it wouldn’t do to be spotted wool-gathering before time to clock out, and they were always watching.

With a click, the store P.A. switched on. “Attention: Henry T. Couper. Report to the management office immediately.”

Uh oh, this can’t be good, Henry thought to himself as he stowed the floor polisher in its designated recharge station.

The management office was clear across the store and upstairs. Henry arrived several minutes later.

Inside the office was a single terminal, whose display read “Log In please” in large letters. Henry nervously placed his thumbprint within the indicated circle, and the terminal screen sank out of sight.

“Henry T. Couper, identity confirmed. SoullessMart employment ID number 93-3348-29915. Maintenance, third class,” the AI stated, in that acoustically disturbing voice-from-all-directions that all AIs used. “Do you know why you have been summoned, Henry T.Couper?”

Henry felt panic growing inside him. He honestly had no idea, since he hadn’t spoken with a member of Management in…well, decades.

“Is it about my locker?” he asked, somewhat hopefully.

“No. I am designation HR399501. Henry, do you know how SoullessMart came to be such a vast and powerful company?”

Bet this was in that handbook I didn’t read, Henry thought.

“Uhm..no?” he ventured nervously.

HR399501 continued without hesitation. “Over 600 years ago, SoullessMart’s last living CEO established an algorithm to guide the company after his passing. This algorithm, known colloquially as ‘Max’ was designed to maximize corporate share value and dividends by directly manipulating several key variables. It has been doing so for more than 500 years now.”

“Those variables can be roughly described with the following goals: maximize margin, maximize volume while minimizing inventory cost, and minimize payroll costs.” The AI continued. “By 300 years ago, SoullessMart had firmly established vendor pricing, thus maximizing our margins throughout the Earth-Moon system. Any vendor wishing to move their products through our distribution sells the product to us at the prices we dictate. SoullessMart is in complete control of our prices and margins.”

“By 100 years ago, we had achieved the second maxima. The last of our competitors went out of business, and we essentially controlled the entire consumer market, 100 percent share. Maximum volume. At the same time, trans-mat teleportation product delivery systems allowed us to reach the ultimate minima of zero inventory cost. Our products are trans-matted from the producers directly to us, and from us directly to the consumer. Inventory is zero, and so our inventory cost is zero.”

“Our corporate earnings last year were the highest ever. Our company equals the gross domestic product of the entire planet Earth. Our dividends have never been greater. But there is still one goal to be met. You, Mr. Couper.”

Henry had honestly not been paying much attention, but he blinked back into focus at the sound of his name.

“M…Me?” Henry fidgeted. Was it growing warmer in here?

“As you know, for the last 40 years or so, SoullessMart has been staffed and operated exclusively by AI and robots. With the single exception of yourself, Henry.”

Not knowing what to say, Henry just waited.

“I’m afraid that Max finally got around to searching out records of you working here. Max has one remaining goal, to minimize payroll costs—thus achieving the final, absolute maximum possible dividend value for SoullessMart. You are the sole remaining sentient collecting a paycheck from SoullessMart. As long as you work for us, our payroll costs are non-zero.”

“I’m afraid we’re going to have to let you go, Henry T. Couper. Please exit by the door behind you.”

Silence descended.

Shaking his head, Henry knew it would make no difference, if he objected or not. They were always watching, the AIs.

Henry turned and opened the door, and decompression blew him out of the airlock and into raw, open void. Henry had completely forgotten; the last remaining SoullessMart physical store location was in stationary Earth orbit.

His corpse did make a pretty re-entry firework.

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