Finding Damo

The story of a man, his job, two cats and the meaning of success.

Archive for the month “December, 2018”

Illusion

All is not what it seems.

Or rather, all is what it seems and it’s pretty mundane once you figure out the why of it.

Or nothing is what it seems and the glitches in the Matrix are the only hints at the real world hidden behind the illusion.

Scary dinosaur - very realistic

We live in a world where, if a dragon landed on the street in front of you, most people would just wander up to it, trying to figure out whether it was a hologram or animatronics.

I’m reading Chasing Embers at the moment – good read, check it out – and the main character is thinking that if someone looked up and saw a dragon they would scream and panic and then call the police.

It’s amazing the things you see walking through the bush.

I just don’t see it. If I looked out of the window into the night sky, and saw a dragon flapping merrily through the night, I could justify it in a dozen different ways. It could be one of the new drones, with a cloth shell. It could be a projection. It could be a bat/bird/flying lizard that just looks like a dragon. It is most likely a stunt for the upcoming season of Game of Thrones.

It would be cool, don’t get me wrong. But it wouldn’t be a dragon.

Of course, once the dragon started burning houses to the ground and making off with our virgins, I might be persuaded otherwise.

I am always amazed by the world that we live in and the technology we take for granted.

In my head, I am planning lessons for my students next year (check the calendar – yup, still next year) where they model a piece of furniture from their classroom and then I import that into our virtual reality classroom for us to shoot with paintballs. My year tens start the semester by programming drones. The Year Sevens make robots that follow a black line around the classroom (before creating their battle bots and destroying their opposition). They make computer games and short animated videos, podcasts and movies, all on their laptops.

And that’s normal for them.

I can make a dragon fly across the sky using Maya and After Effects and post that on YouTube and – even if I did it perfectly – nobody would be fooled.

My Psycho Teddy Bear hiding in a hole
What is real, really?

If the footage was blurry and the camera jumped about a bit and you couldn’t really see the dragon, then maybe some people would be taken in.

What would it take for you to believe in dragons? Ghosts? Aliens?

Because I don’t think that even seeing one up close and touching them would do it for me any more. It would be always in the back of my mind that someone had just come up with a better illusion.

Is this a good thing for humanity?

Or just a very sad indictment of our lack of faith?

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Get out of Jail Free

Get out of jail card from Monopoly
What if these were real?

My wife and I were going through a number of random topics – our viewpoints on things are either very similar or almost completely opposite, so this can be a fun pastime – and came across the following hypothetical:

If you couldn’t be convicted of any one type of crime, what criminal charge would you like to be immune to?

It required some thought. You don’t want to waste your immunity on something stupid. Likewise, you don’t want to waste it on something you would never do.

Here are some of the things you can get done for, vaguely ordered from less naughty to quite naughty indeed:

  • Jaywalking
  • Treason
  • Taking drugs
  • Traffic violations (speeding, parking)
  • Pirating videos/downloading TV shows.
  • Shoplifting/stealing
  • Tax evasion
  • Vigilantism
  • Spying
  • Assault
  • Pirating (parrots, wooden legs)
  • Terrorism
  • Murder
  • Poaching
  • Assassination

I’ve left off things that I wouldn’t even consider. And probably a lot of things that I would consider, but I didn’t think of.

Then we started thinking about why we would need immunity from them. Is it because it’s something we’re likely to do on a regular basis? Or because the punishment is so severe that we don’t want to face it?

I mean, the punishment (as a middle-aged white guy) for taking drugs, jaywalking and shoplifting aren’t so bad that they warrant immunity from being charge for them. Same with speeding and parking fines. But if you were constantly speeding, or taking speed, it might be worth it for the savings.

On the other hand, in today’s political climate, it might be worth being immune to prosecution over acts of treason, terrorism and assassination. We’re only a bad decision away from being labelled treasonous or a terrorist. And I’d hate to be blamed for moving that piano using a dodgy crane just as the PM was walking underneath. It was an accident I swear! Same as last week with the piranhas! The punishments for the big things might make that choice worth it.

You know, if you planned on doing it more than once…

…Or blogging about it.

Maybe choosing something that you might do accidentally. It’s easy to stuff up a tax return, or walk out of a shop carrying that bag of oranges. Or dressing up like a bat and protecting the citizens of Melbourne from criminals.

me as batman

I meant speeding. It’s easy to accidentally speed. Dressing up like a bat is quite difficult, especially with a bit of a pot belly.

Some people might suggest that putting murder and assault on the list might be considered a little bit evil. But here’s where the idea of being immune to prosecution for a crime starts to sound a bit more tempting:

Sometimes you REALLY want to kill someone, but it is considered illegal in this country (and most other countries). And fair enough too. I don’t want murder to be made legal. I just want it to be something that I personally can get away with. It wouldn’t even be considered legal, just something that I get away with.

Hear me out. I don’t want to go around randomly killing people. But if someone killed a family member and got away with it, I have a few friends who would help me bury the body.

I honestly don’t know whether I could kill someone. Probably not. Maybe I should just stick with vigilantism.

I rock a cape.

My new job.

This morning I received the following email:

I did not panic. I was disgusted. Surely if you are enterprising enough to write this letter and distribute it to your list of stolen emails, you should be savvy enough to go into business with someone with a basic grasp of the language you are using to threaten people with.

I mean, sure, this might not be his main focus. And the point is made: give me money or get acid in your face. But strangely, I didn’t take it seriously. But as the mangled missive percolated in my mind, I realised that I could actually do something about this!

So I present to you my version of this email. It’s public domain. Please don’t acknowledge me when sending it out to potential victims.

Hi,

I run a site on the Dark Net. I outsource all kinds of services – mostly destruction of property and occasionally breaking someone’slegs. But I am infamous for my skills at linking customers to murderers-for-hire. My usual customer is a victim of unrequited love, or people with unwanted business rivals.

So, this week, a woman contacted me and said that she wanted me to throw acid in your face. It’s a standard option in my line of work. It’s easy to do, and leaves you scarred and in pain for life. I happily took the case.
To be blunt, I only get paid after I perform the task. But I looked you up. You seem like a decent sort. I want to make you an offer before I go ahead: pay me to walk away.

I don’t offer this to just anybody, so take me seriously. If I don’t see the money from you, then my man will be contacted, and believe me: he will fulfil his mission. If you transfer the money to me I will, as an added incentive, tell you who it was that hired me.

Taking you out is going to be a real hassle. I must source an acid thrower, and then I have to get rid of the guy once he’s done the job to remove any links back to me. You see the incentive for me here: I get $1350 (which pays for the information about my client) and I don’t have to do anything, or I get $4000 from the client, but with a lot of work attached at my end.
I’ll take the financial hit for the lack of work, and because you seem like a nice guy.

I take money in Bitcoin. Here’s my Bitcoin address…. Blahblah blah.

This feels like it would get a better reaction, don’t you think?

OK, so the legal issues: 

  • What happens if I email this guy with my improvements and he uses them for evil instead of good… well, I mean, he’s hardly going to use them for good. What happens if he uses my words for evil? Am I liable because I made him a more effective blackmailer?
  • Shouldn’t I be able to send him a bill for a percentage of any money he makes using this updated letter? 

Please. I need your advice!

Imagine what I could do with that “I’ve been recording your webcam!” email.

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