Monday, September 15, 2008

R.I.P Richard Wright

The Pink Floyd keyboardist has gone to that great gig in the sky.

Thing Incorporated


First, thanks for taking the time for this interview…
No, it is I who must thank you. We appreciate any interest.

You may activate your recording device.

OK. (beat) What is your goal at Thing Incorporated?
Here at Thing Incorporated, we strive, not only, for 100% customer satisfaction but total customer delight.

Do you meet expectations?
We exceed expectations.

What kind of business are you?
A family-owned business.

What sets you apart from other businesses?
We are aliens.

Apart from that.
Our total commitment to quality and service.

What kind of quality?

What kind of service?
Customer service.

Could you be more specific?
Friendly customer service.

What’s your relationship to the Sarasota market?
We have strong roots in the community. Sarasota is our home.

Why did you make it your home?
Thing Incorporated has studied your species for many years. According to our scientists, Sarasota is the greatest city on the face of planet Earth. Sarasota is paradise. It contains superior beaches, natural beauty and many opportunities for art appreciation. Above all, the people. The humans of your city were our key motivation for resettling in these coordinates. The people of Sarasota are superior to other humans. It is a privilege to serve you.

How would you define your line of business?
Serving our customers.

Why did you choose this line of business?
A desire to please our customers. Not only a desire, a passion. We love our customers. Our customers are like family to us. When our customers are happy, we’re happy. For this reason, we strive to keep our customers happy. That keeps them coming back.

Hmm. That sounds like you’ve developed strong customer loyalty.
Yes. We have a proven track record. But loyalty works both ways. You earn loyalty by giving loyalty. That is our philosophy at Thing Incorporated. It is a customer-first philosophy. We are service oriented. We are results oriented. We do not take our customers for granted. Here at Thing incorporated, it is all about creating relationships with our customers. Going the extra mile. Giving 110%.

And you do.
Yes. As a result, we’ve cultivated many relationships over the years. With our customers.

How would you describe your typical customer?
Thing Incorporated has no typical customer. Young, old, rich, poor, white, black and humans of all intelligence levels. We serve them all.

Come on, you must have a target market.

A niche?

Bottom line, who is your customer?

Retail, wholesale, upscale?

What’s your specialty?
Our specialty is everything.

What do you sell your customers?

What do you do for your customers?
Everything. No job is too large or too small. There are no limits to what we can create for you at Thing Incorporated. The only limit is your imagination, which is limitless. If you can dream it, we can build it.

How is that possible?
Because of our hand-selected team of in-house experts. Carpenters, musicians, electricians, zoo keepers, donkey washers. The list is endless. All are highly qualified and rigorously trained.

What’s your management style?
I sweat the details. The buck stops here.

What about your in-house team?
Our in-house team takes a team approach. There are no egos here. There are no prima donnas. We work together. We are one. We exist to serve our customers.

What about products?
We have everything under one roof. Why go anywhere else? Whatever it is, at Thing Incorporated, you can find what you are looking for.

In general terms, what are your customers looking for?
Everything. I have previously stated this information.

But what if they don’t find what they’re looking for?
No. That is impossible. Our massive showroom does not exist in three-dimensional space as you understand it. We have everything. Everything! There is nothing our customers cannot find!

But what if they don’t?
Then we will find it ourselves or create it. We do it right the first time. We turn solutions into problems. Nothing can stop us.

But what if your customers don’t like what you create?
No. No. That is impossible. Our customers always like what we create. No. The term "like" is insufficient. It is the emotion you humans call "love."

How do you do it?
There are no surprises at Thing Incorporated. Before work ever begins, we get to know you. We ask many questions.

What kind of questions?
Smart questions. It is a stochastic method. Your brain is too primitive to understand. But asking questions is not enough. We must listen to your answers. Listening is key.

Why is that?
As a result of our superior listening skills, we find out what you want. What you want is what we want. Exactly what we want. Your dream is our dream. Logically, how can we create your dream if we don’t know exactly what it is? We will not stop until we know. You yourself may not know your dream. It may be buried, deep in your subconscious, but that will not stop us. We have many techniques. We will discover your secret dream and turn it into reality. Serving our customers is our prime directive. You are helpless to prevent it.

What happens next?
Our dream team designs your dream. There are no surprises. You always see it first, thanks to cutting-edge, state-of-the-art, high-tech computer visualization software from our homeworld. If it isn’t absolutely perfect, we will change it. If you say jump, we will ask how high. We go to any extreme no matter how ridiculous or degrading to create our customers’ dreams. That is the reason for our existence.

Then the relationship ends?
No. The customer relationship does not end with the sale. You are more than that to us. It’s not about money. It’s about relationships. The relationship lasts a lifetime. We are here for you. We are a phone call or mouse click away. We will answer any question, offer free consultation and show up at your home at any hour of the day to fix any problem, even if it isn’t our fault.

That’s a very high standard.
It is the truth. We back it up. At Thing Incorporated, we talk the talk and walk the walk. We dare to compare. We invite you to come in and see for yourself. Experience the Thing Incorporated difference. We exist to serve our customers. Others say it. We mean it.

That’s an amazing management philosophy.
It is the holy truth.

Just out of curiosity … Where’d you come up with this philosophy?
Our civilization was in ruins. We had lost our way. In year 276-A by our calendar, a human space probe crashed on our home world containing digital records of many business publications. We obeyed their commands. We have built our lives around that philosophy. It has given us hope.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Galveston, oh Galveston

Here's Bruce Sterling, the SF writer who's consistently played the Jeremiah regarding global warming, long before it became fashionable. Wrote Heavy Weather, a prophetic book about tornado chasers in a planet with a ruined climate; started the Veridian Design movement to make green design cool as opposed to a form of do-gooder self-flagellation. Judging by the quantity of hair, this picture was probably taken in the late 80s or early 90s.

Anyway, here he is at the historical marker in Galveston, Texas, commemorating the storm of 1900. Sterling has taken a sheet of paper with a hole cut in it and covered most of the sign, revealing only the words: FUTURE STORMS. As if to say: Listen up people; there will be future storms, and they'll be bad.

Now, Hurricane Ike is slamming Galveston. Sterling, out of good taste, has removed this pic from — as far as I can tell — all his various blogs. To avoid the petty, snotty I-told-you-so connotation, no doubt.

Here, in the interests of bad taste, is the pic.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Loop

“Motherfucker, motherfucker … ”

He remembered a dream or a movie he saw once where he or the character said “Motherfucker, motherfucker …” when the impossible thing popped up on the flatscreen TV. Déjà vu. A memory of a dream (or a movie) with the memory of a dream inside it. And another inside that, etc. Infinite recursion. Déjà vu all over again. And again and again …

She said, like he knew she was going to say, like she’d said a million times:

“What’s your problem?”

“That guy … ”

He sputtered, pointing at the Bob Dylan imitator. The classic early 60s Dylan with the Wayfarer sunglasses under the folky logo for the tribute concert: BOB DYLAN: 1945-1966.

“Bob Dylan isn’t dead …"

She looked at him like he was bug-eyed crazy. A head turn. A million heads, again and again and again.

“Yeah, he is,” she said. “He died in that motorcycle accident. Right before he became rilly popular. It’s like, so ironic. Everybody like knows that?”

A fat middle aged Elvis appeared on screen.

He brushed back his hair.

“How d’ya like my hair? Well. At my age, keeping it ain’t easy. That’s where the folks at Hair Restoration Center really came through for me, man.”

    

The solar wind spaceships resembled delicate, translucent sea creatures, sails blown back from a central main body of the ships like the petals of a flower, folded back now. There were four ships, arranged around the hub of a space station. The captain of one ship was up to no good and systematically killing everyone who was aware of it. This was particularly difficult as this was the post-privacy era and everyone was almost entirely aware of everything everyone else was doing. But he did his best.
The ships had a hollow core where gravity could be turned on or off as needed. A woman who (ironically) resembled June Lockhart was working in the core. Her face was peeking up over the edge like Killroy. The gravity was off. Kyle turned it on, then dropped a trash-can sized molybdenum coated cylinder on top of her.

“Catch,” he said.

She looked up. The thing came crashing down on her.

Kyle and Roger stood there looking at her. Watched the thing hit. Watched her quickly go down. Five levels down. Exaggerated smashing sounds, coolant escaping, liquid flying up. A mess to clean up, no doubt.

“She’s dead,” said Kyle, which was meant to be funny. One of those obvious things that didn’t need to be said, but he said it anyway. Ha-ha.

    

“An interactive map. You see the problem, right?”

“Of course I see the fucking problem. The map knows I’m looking at it.”

“It creates itself for me when I look at it.”

“It knows what I’m looking for.”

“It maps you.”

“Yeah. I guess you see the problem.”

    

“SimCity on steroids.”

“Say what?”

“A city has certain basic parameters. Bars, restaurants, government, housing, transportation system ...”

“Blah blah.”

“It’s a whole system. But the system is constantly mutating.”

“So what?”

“The records of the past—which are usually incomplete -- deal with pieces of the system, not the whole system. So, say, London of 1966 was an environment, a nexus of linked sites to move around in.”

“Physical sites.”

“No shit. The shops on Carnaby Row, all that mod shit. I don’t know specifically—all I know is what I saw in Austin Powers.”

“Which is basically fucking LA, you know.”

“I know. The point is, if I wanted to do a historical recreation of that environment –”

“As a gaming environment?”

“Maybe. There’s no one place to go for information about historical environments because there’s the data isn’t stored on that basis. There’s no place to put it.”

“Nobody’s looking to do a recreation of London in 1966.”

“No, it’s taxes, advertising, promotion. Every lens is distorted.”

“There’s guides and shit –”

“But that’s totally distorted. Anything that’s selling you something is distorted.”

“Then everything’s distorted.”

“Yeah. The guide books leave out the slums. Crime reporting makes it all look like shit. The point is: the parameters of a city are fairly simple.”

“SimCity on steroids.”

“SimCity on steroids. Yeah. I plug in the data. After that, the city becomes a self-generating. A self-generating environment. Mod London, Ratpack Vegas, whatever.”

“But it’d – You make it a recursive loop?”

“Yeah. Recursive loop. 1966 folds back in on itself.”

“Or 1999. Like the fucking Matrix.”

“The point being: you own the environments? The virtual environments based on the real ones?”

“Yeah. And license ‘em to gaming developers. Or some asshole selling virtual time machine nostalgia vacations. Or whatever.”

“It’s not your data.”

“It’s my expression of the data. According to the new laws –”

“You could own the fucking past.”