Digital Dystopia

Back in the ’90s, when I was the captain of my own cubicle in the depths of corporate America, it was mandatory that my away message on the telephone answering system announced my status and direction so as to avoid any confusion my business comrades might encounter. If memory serves, my standard message was a delaying tactic that assured many fun hours of telephone tag to flatten the productivity curve. It went something like:

You have reached the office of [me]. I’ve just stepped out on a special assignment but can be expected to return momentarily. Please leave a clear message stating your full name, date, time, call-back number, and the detailed purpose of this contact. I will immediately respond when I return. Your call is very important to me.

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Dino’s Address Was Not 77 Sunset Strip

It is a common structural element in classical detective stories to gather all the persons involved in the narrative in a strategic room where the detective (Charlie Chan comes to mind, despite the ethnic controversy) and meticulously recreates the crime, often trapping the perpetrator who attempts to subvert the final solution, even if the final solution was not fully resolved by the detective’s recreation.

Then there was the Ellery Queen structure where the reader (or viewer) was invited to solve the mystery based on a clue Ellery hinted at but wouldn’t specify until the criminal was revealed (following the “suspects gathered in a room” formula).

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The More I Read, the More I Want To Read

When I was an unformed youth I revelled in reading novels dealing with war and heroism, the more jingoistic the better. Vietnam cured me of this aberration. Prison stories about hardened criminals carving Swiss Army knives out of a bar of Lava soap once held my interest. A dime at Q cured me of this fascination .. wait .. was it Folsom or maybe just a bad dream? Shoot, I even wasted a year or two reading Science Fiction.

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