Richard Pierce

Education, Life

Day 309

I have spent all day moving my office back into the bedroom. I ended up building and unbuilding a set of shelves when it became obvious that there wasn’t really enough space to bring the studio in here with me, too, so I’ll be going back to the old way of broadcasting for the duration (ie using software instead of a manual mixer and a separate broadcast machine. Did a test transmission, and that was a disaster, until, in a classic example of role reversal, A came in here and told me I was using the microphone the wrong way round. And that moment was kind of heartening.

I’ve briefly complained of the lack of NHS dentists previously. Of course, a filling fell out of one of my teeth last night, and I think a bit of the tooth broke off. My NHS dentist is still in Diss, and they don’t do emergency stuff on Saturdays. So I called a surgery just ten minutes’ walk from here. Get this – no emergency appointments until December! It’s madness. All of it. I’m lucky – I can afford to think to myself that if it costs me a hundred pounds to get this tooth fixed, that’s doable (especially with our heating turned down, as it is). There are thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people who are self-medicating wth super glue, booze, blutak, God knows what, because they haven’t got access to a dentist. I am going to try some other dentists tomorrow (even though it’s Sunday), but the office was the priority for today (as will the garage be tomorrow). If the remaining tooth wasn’t ripping my tongue to shreds, I would wait till Monday (but even then I know that the demand at my dentist will be so huge that I’ll probably have to wait another week). Yet another example of how the Tories have run down the National Health Service so they can privatise it. Added to the cost-of-living crisis, almost entirely caused by Brexit and entirely by the Tories, the nation’s health, never mind its economy, is in rapid decline.

I joined Mastodon earlier today – in case you haven’t heard of it, it’s a service similar to twitter, except it’s not owned by any one single person, and is run on a distributed model (in other words, there is no central server, in simple terms – if I wanted, I could start a server, but I’m not about to do so). The entry point isn’t very clear, because it asks you to choose a server without making it clear that whichever server you do choose, you’ll be able to see the whole of Mastodon (the Fediverse as it’s called). It’s actually a better idea to choose a server that doesn’t have many users because they tend to be quicker. I didn’t know that, so, media whore that I am, I chose one with lots of users which is correspondingly slow (also due to the fact that a) it’s just upgrading, and b) that there’s a veritable flood of people setting up Mastodon accounts whilst still keeping their twitter accounts for the time being). On that note, Musk is acting like the right-wing apologist that he is – class action law suits already filed against him by a group of people he just sacked without due process (and this will be replicated globally, I think – the law suits; the sackings already are).



The surprise at what he says disturbs Aggie, but she doesn’t let it show. ‘I don’t think you’d make it that simple,’ she says. They’ve reached the queue for Passport Control by now, and she wonders how the robot will cope with the face recognition technology. She supposes Valentine will have thought of that when he designed these things. She never had him down as a mad inventor, nor as a particularly clever man. A man adept at making the most of himself, yes, of finding his niche in society, of being able to climb those slippery rungs by dint of his Upper Class accent, his clean-cut looks, his well-cut suits, his general knowledge. And now she sees him for what he really is – the mad arch villain of the piece, the almost out of his mind power hungry wannabe tyrant. Well, perhaps not wannabe any more. In some ways, it’s an admirable achievement.

‘Oh, everything I do is simple. It’s the best way. Being complicated just makes it easier for people to track you down. Doing things simply, keeping things simple, means you can do them right under people’s noses without them even noticing. That’s something my grandfather never understood, with all his posturing and boasting and making his greatest enemy his best friend.’

‘You’re the real one, after all, are you?’ Aggie says.

‘Now that would be atking the simplicity a little too far, wouldn’t it? You must think I’m stupid.’

‘The truth is I never thought much of you or about you. You were just there. Sir and Madam. One unit. One thing. I’d have had neither of you down as spies or all-action heroes, or anything of that kind. Just strange secretive people. And kind, I thought, but I was obviously wrong.’ The line shuffles forwards. ‘About both of you.’

‘Oh, now you think neither of us is kind, do you? And there I was thinking you were a massive fan of Cassandra’s.’

‘I’m not really the adoring kind.’ She can think of one exception, and she’s deliberately not been in touch with that one, because she doesn’t want to being Lily anywhere near this thing.

‘You’re such a cagey woman, Aggie.’ The line shuffles forwards again. ‘I could never make you out, never decide what you were really about. And I still don’t know. Especially as you’re about to go against yourself and your principles.’

‘Not until I have that first million.’

‘I’ll sort it out as soon as we’re outside,’ the robot says. ‘I don’t want to do it here in the middle of the crowd.’

‘I can understand that.’

‘Have you never thought of getting yourself a man?’ he says, the robot back, and the real Valentine somehow vanished away from the surface. ‘Talking of doing it.’

‘He really didn’t install a filter, did he?’ she says. ‘Why? Are you offering yourself?’

‘You could do worse?’

Aggie laughs out loudly, and some in the queue turn to look at her. ‘Priceless. Are you suggesting we get a room in the airport hotel?’

‘Why not? Might as well have a bit of fun before the real killing starts.’

‘Let me think about it.’

Don’t think about it too long. He could be back again at any minute.’

‘Where do you go when he takes over?’ she says.

He shrugs. ‘Sort of limbo land. Where I’m aware and not aware. It’s a bit like meditation, I suppose, and most things seem like a dream.’

‘Robots dream?’

‘Robots can do anything,’ he says.

‘Except for stopping their creators from taking them over at any time. How sad.’


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1 Comment

  1. Simone S

    5th November 2022 at 23:35

    What a coincidence, you joined Mastodon precisely when I decided to take a break from it!

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