Archive for mayor

Feedback Loop

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Conceptual Art, Sacred Geometry with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 9, 2012 by javedbabar

The mayor seemed angry and not in a good way. There were times when his ire was productive, like when he stood up for local citizens, local issues and local foods. Lucerne’s citizens admired him then. That’s why they had elected him thrice, despite his style of politics being known as B&B: Bullying and Boring.

“Just coming,” said Sami, opening the door to the 3D Unit at the Transfer Station. He had seen the mayor’s truck pull in, and the way he had stalked towards the container and banged the door. He was angry about something.

“Those models you made for me, they’re not the same. They’re all different!”

How could they all be different? Sami wondered. He hadn’t checked every one as it came off the printer, but he had checked each batch. The mayor was accurately depicted, looking handsome and strong.

Sami said, “I’m not sure what you mean. I thought they turned out okay.”

“Look!” said the mayor, handing him a pair of small blue busts. Sami examined them carefully. The colour was consistent, so was their size and texture. The shape was the same.

Upon close examination, he realized it was true. They were different. Not in a dramatic way, but a series of small differences accumulated, creating a big difference. Thick hair became wiry, bright eyes became beady, a slim nose became thin, and the strong jawline became clunky. All in all he became a different person, not the one people were voting for.

“I am really sorry about that,” said Sami. “Can you please leave these with me today, and I‘ll look into the matter?”

“Well, you’d better hurry. Today is Monday and the election is next Monday. I need to get them all out by the weekend.”

When the mayor left, Sami tested the printer. It was fine mechanically but he noticed a quirk in information transfer. There seemed to be an extra factor, a hidden one, causing replication variations.   Sami had produced them in ten batches of a hundred. He needed to examine some more models, so called the mayor and asked him to bring one from each box. He checked and then rescanned each sample bust.

He detected qualitative and quantitative components. There was confirmation, correction, explanation, diagnostics, and elaboration of information involved. He detected gaps between actual and reference levels of system parameters, and dynamic data exchanges. He realized there was a feedback loop, a chain of cause and effect.

Sami analysed the mayor’s nose, which had gradually become thinner. This shouldn’t happen with digital reproduction, where every replication is exact. There was evidence of informational feedback, dependent on the context of the gap. Like the mayor’s nostrils, or his vote margins, there was widening or narrowing.

Sami examined the mayor’s jawline, which had become clunkier during the production run. He found traces of motivational feedback, dependent upon the context of action. The mayor used words as awards or weapons, and they were returned in kind. There was a tense dance of reward and punishment.

“So?” the mayor said that afternoon on the phone. “Are you making some other ones?”

“I don’t think they’ll turn out any different. The 3D Unit is a self-regulating system, and recognizes the local democracy process as its analogue counterpart. Your features are affected by your behaviour. It is modelling this over time.”

Ear-Wiggy

Posted in Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 31, 2012 by javedbabar

I have always felt alone in Lucerne, thought Shama. It is my own doing mainly. I have kept to myself. I wanted to get away from the city, all those people making noise and trouble, and I haven’t wanted to re-engage with people, even in this small place.

But I don’t feel alone now. I guess it had to be someone special, an outsider like me. Who is more of an exile than Zadam? He is a disfigured being hidden within a green, hooded coat. His facial features are reversed. A man ignored, who ignores. Like me, he seems weak but is strong.

Shama was protective of Zadam. He thought of him as a kid brother who needed help to make his way in the world. He also provided a way for his self-appointed “big brother” to escape self-imposed exile. The flipside of integrating Zadam into everyday life was that Shama too must engage with the local community.

He thought it would be good for them to attend a local election meeting. They could smell the hot potatoes, spot elephants in the room, complain about white elephants, and enjoy hearing politicians getting abused, which was always quality entertainment.

Shama and Zadam came in late and sat at the back of the hall. Some people stared but then turned away. Whether they became ashamed of their rudeness in a temple of political correctness, or they didn’t want to miss anything going on up front, was unclear.

The mayor was a local business man. He owned the airport, the bottle shop and the grocery store, leading to claims that he used his assets to unbalance the local economy. How he did this was never explained, but there was a history of accusations. His style at gatherings was called B&B, a mixture of bullying and boring people into acquiescence, and in private there was further B&B: bribery and beating. He was a political player par excellence.

The mayor was asked questions about the very high levels of village taxation, its unbalanced budgets and non-existent plans, impossible building regulations, vicious personal arguments and crippling legal disputes. Some of these questions received stock answers, but most received no answers at all.

Zadam began talking to himself.

“Please be quiet,” said Shama. “You are disturbing people.”

Zadam said, “He can’t answer. He can’t answer.”

“Shhhh!”

“I know the answer. I know the answer.”

Zadam’s upside-down head caused his senses to be reversed. He could see both points of view of every situation, smell what things would become, and also hear true answers, rather than the false, unclear or irrelevant ones that most people spouted out, and usually preferred to hear. He liked that film where the general said, “You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth!”

Zadam couldn’t stop talking and people around him became annoyed. Shama asked him again to be quiet, but instead he got louder and eventually stood up, chanting.

The mayor tried B&B but it didn’t work. The chairman of the meeting also failed to silence the heckler. Eventually they just let him speak. No one was willing to publicly mishandle a disabled person.

Zadam said, “Why should I be quiet? You are not saying anything. You say you don’t know the answers. I know the answers.” He told the audience everything. He told them about the mayor’s personal 5% cut of taxation, crooked accountants, deliberate lack of planning so project funds could be hidden, the corrupt Building Control Officer, veiled threats, and lies told in court.

Following the meeting, the mayor and incumbent councillors withdrew their names from the ballot for the forthcoming elections. There was a motion for Zadam to stand for election but he declined, saying that the only poll he liked was a “pollipop”.

This confused people enough to not pursue the motion.

Vote Night

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Lucerne Village with tags , , , , on February 27, 2012 by javedbabar

The Election Officer addressed the assembly. “Here are the results for all candidates standing for Mayor of Lucerne.” Excited murmuring ran throughout the Great Hall. To people passing, the Transparent Temple seemed like an aquarium with larvae wriggling within, one of whom would gobble up all others and become the Big Fish.

The Election Officer continued, “I shall announce them in alphabetical order by surname, with their stated affiliations.” The room hushed.

“Samir Bungawalla, Ethnic People’s Alliance: 200 votes.” People whispered that the Doctor’s son should really have done much better than this; the party founded by his father was on the wane.

“Davy Choo, Sustainable Fuels Forum: 50 votes.” Davy was a popular guy, but everyone knew that he was simply a front man for failing logging companies.

“Pinky Dada, Ethnic People’s Gay Alliance: 150 votes.” People congratulated Pinky, who blew kisses to everyone. Her breakaway group had done quite well.

“Simonique Jahanara, Ethnic People’s Gay Disabled Alliance: 120 votes.” People said that Simonique shouldn’t have stood, for she had split the ethnic and gay votes. Her response to this was, “Kick a queer black girl in a wheelchair, sugar, why don’t you?”

“Breda Mopa, Ethnic People’s Gay Disabled Autistic Alliance: 60 votes.” There was a time when the EPA was a rising star in local multi-cultural politics – but it had split into ineffective shards that continued to break further.

“Simon Palmer, Lucerne Valley First: 499 votes.” There was a general cheer. The current mayor had done very well, as hoped for and expected. It was almost a given that he would make his second term.

“Gracious Trabant-Berliner, Equestrian Horizons: 110 votes.” There was a time when horsey people were very popular, but people had, frankly, just got bored with their endless whinnying.

Di@ne W@tkins, Future Focus: 499 votes.” People gasped around the room. Di@ne W@tkins had a clear space around her, in which she stood surprised. Lucerne’s first-ever robot candidate had done very well and matched the incumbent!

The Election Officer asked for quiet; she had yet to finish announcing the results. “Toni Wicca, Ethnic People’s Gay Disabled Autistic Psychic Alliance: 12 votes.” This was clearly one split too far.

“And finally, Bongo Zephaniah, Ganga Potty Party: 160 votes.” A respectable showing from someone who had been treated by the press as a clown. Pot was no laughing matter in BC. Well it was – when smoking it in your yard with friends – but not in municipal elections.

“So there is a tie between Simon Palmer and Di@ne W@tkins. I will consult with my colleagues and shortly make further comment.”

A din of voices, like spring insects buzzing, rose around the Great Hall. There were jovial conversations and hidden whispers. The hottest topic was the robot candidate, Di@ne W@tkins. She was a petite woman with long dark hair, who had lived in the Village quietly for five years. Last year she’d announced that she no longer wished to live as a closet-robot; she publically declared that she had undergone the HST – Homo Sapiens Technology – Program, and was proud to represent this new branch of humanity.

Local people were shocked. There was a robot living right amongst them, undetected for years! They felt for some reason that robots existed only in the City – near factories, technicians, and charging stations. How could they exist out here? Their information however was out of date. Yes people over 50% android must exist near technical facilities, but the 50% boundary was rarely approached.

Most robots were under 20% android. Some were just cosmetic conversions, but most were medical enhancements of various degrees – a nose enlargement to assist breathing; a new heart for one that was failing; new lungs for those about to collapse; a new penis for erectile dysfunction; new legs for paraplegics; a new voice box for those with throat cancer. Robotics was the marvel of the age.

Having electrodes, polymers, and metals in bodies, however, frightened people who didn’t have them. “Are these people less human than we are?” they wondered. In truth many of these people were more human – because they had suffered and faced their mortality. Their alien structures made them whole, and they were compassionate to others who seemed weak or afraid. Test cases had challenged their legal status, but the Supreme Court had declared them equal and deserving of all rights, though the question of robots with extra powers was yet to be resolved.

The crowd hushed as the Election Officer returned. She said, “As you know, the most accurate and efficient form of assessing the electorates’ wishes is electronic voting. However, mistakes are occasionally made. Under advice from Legal Counsel, we will have a recount for the two leading candidates. This simply involves myself pressing a button, and the computer re-running the vote counting program. I will do this right now.” She pushed a button and the Great Hall remained hushed. Then she announced the recounted results. “Simon Palmer: 498 votes. Di@ne W@tkins: 500 votes.”

Most people cheered, as Di@ne was popular in Lucerne. She was hoisted onto shoulders amid flashing cameras. However others in the room stared at the petite, dark-haired robot suspiciously, thinking, “How did she do that?” and, “Is she connected to that computer?” and “Is this the first step towards Overmind?”