Computational Error #8

Because of a computational error, the following story from the year 2050 has appeared on your device. We apologize for the inconvenience.


He watched the protests from his office window for a little while longer, then closed the blast curtain by pressing the sensor on the wall. He switched on the AR in his contact lenses to read financial reports. That didn’t last long. He was restless.

“Dictate a note,” he said to the room. “Publish in The New York Times. I should be sympathetic to people who are concerned about how our platform is used. But I can’t be because they are ignorant. Delete that. I should be sympathetic to the people who protest outside my door about my company’s policies. But they don’t see the bigger picture. Companies like mine shouldn’t be considering social impacts because that’s just not what we do. Let’s vote on these things, not protest them. If we vote enough, and build our Sector, someday all the Sectors will be strong together. They will unite into the United Sectors of America.”

He broke off. “Nora2!” Maybe she was in.

She was. She walked in fast. “Yes?” He always liked that about her, that she walked fast and was reliable.

“I’m sounding like a red,” Bradley said. “I want to sound like a blue.”

“Impossible. You may have been a blue once but you’ve changed colors. Everybody knows it.”

“I have to try.”

“Maybe you really are a red,” she said. “Simple.” She waited for his next instruction.

“Impossible,” he shot back. He had a history of social action. He went on civil rights marches with his parents. “I’m not the Sector. Policy and money aren’t the same. Policy is …” he trailed off. Spoken aloud, it sounded bad.

“This is about the thing you were dictating to the New York Times?” asked Nora2. It was up on her screen as a draft already.

He nodded. His eyes were pleading.

“Don’t display the puppy dog eyes. I will write it for you.” She touched her right temple. Probably turning on her recorder.

“Yes. Please write it for me.”

Something made him want to look out the window again. He opened the blast curtains slightly and saw the last of the protesters were clearing out. The guards were moving among them with batons. He forbid them from using tear gas any more. It wasn’t humane. As he watched, he spoke softly, but loud enough for Nora2 to hear. “My challenges are with software and not with laws. Laws come from our Sector, not from the executive suite.”

“To include?” she asked.

He nodded. “It’s how I feel.”

“It’s really red.”

“I know. Just record it — you probably did anyway — and make it sound blue.”

“I recorded it.”

She touched her temple to turn off the recorder, turned, and left.

He called out to her, just a little too late, “That’s why you’re the best!”

The day was before him. It was going to be a good one.

“Nora2!”

She was at the door, leaning on it, not committing to entering. “Yes?” she said.

“Bring me a glass of water.”

She stepped back a half step. “Really?”

“Yes, I want one. I want one now. I want to reward myself.” This was good work he’d done this morning, tired as he was from the glidepath. He was in New Zealand just a few hours ago and he was tired, but his mind was sharp.

She came back in a moment with a tall, sparkling glass. “This goes on the expense account?” she asked, unable to resist a small smile.

“Absolutely.” Bradley drank deeply.


Computational Error is part of a series of short-form fiction. Subscribe to get the series in order in your inbox.

Virtual Beings

A podcast I produce is part of a Clubhouse later today about using virtual beings in branding. In the online world, a virtual being is just as real as anyone reading this newsletter. The online world is just as much theirs as it is ours.

Stop by if you’re on Clubhouse. Or hit me up for an invite.

Work set up. The night before, mark up proofs. Workday, revisions in Scrivener. Standing desk.

Computational Error #7

Because of a computational error, the following story from the year 2050 has appeared on your device. We apologize for the inconvenience.


Sometimes I think I never should have bought that plasma generator, but if I hadn’t, then all of this would never have been put into motion. The plasma generator was black market. That was my mistake, because black market stuff is junk. I can only say that my mind was fogged at the time. I was stepping out, declaring my love for social change and for Bradley. Bradley, he was my old boyfriend. Before that, he was a student of mine when I was allowed to teach yoga in person.

I was leading a revolution in the streets of the Port of San Francisco. That was me then. Yeah. A revolutionary out in the open.

And I was wrong. So wrong. Out in the open was wrong. That was my mistake. Yoga teaches flexibility, however. I look into myself and see what is there.

So I am angry most of the time. And why not? That plasma generator redirected my life before I was ready. Yet here I am.

Yoga was how Bradley fell in love with me. It was during the fiftieth Sun Salute. It may have been the hot sweat blurring his vision, the advancing dehydration, his burning muscles. I stood before him a goddess, telling the class to stand tall in prayer position, swan down, touch their toes, reach up, adopt Chair Pose, jump back, take Upward Dog, Downward Dog, jump to their hands, stand, and then do it again. My students followed my commands.

That was me. Power poses. A big following in the SF Port Area. Bradley wasn’t famous then. I was. After every class, they peeled themselves from the floor, rolled their mats, and gathered around me, sweaty guys, Bradley among them, and a few women, coming to me to ask questions about a pose, a sequence, or an emerging injury, but really to get the light of my eyes to fall upon them. Bradley waited with the rest of them. When our eyes met, I felt something. He asked me out for coffee. I laughed and didn’t say no.

The next day, even before we ordered, I said, “I don’t date students.”

He nodded. He liked the clarity of the statement, and he had anticipated it as well. In his line of work, I later learned, people were rarely clear. Their needs, their wants, their simple statements became clouded. He was a researcher, a post-doc kind of guy. All day, he listened to fuzzy academic minds powering busy academic mouths. He had no money, just a smile that was able to get into a person’s personal energy field. And he had focus. Intensity. He could do fifty Sun Salutes and keep enough focus to fall in love with me.

The cafe we were in for our first date still had containment bubbles up from the last pandemic. The benign but ineffective District government never took them down. The streets were not cleaned on a regular basis. Voting didn’t always happen. The bubbles, though, gave us privacy. That may have been more valuable than all those other things. He was in love with me. I could see it. His hands and eyes were unsteady. But he wasn’t an idiot. He would not come out and say I love you.

“Since you don’t date students, I’m going to drop your class,” he said instead. This was an easy conclusion to come to. If I didn’t date students, then he didn’t need to be a student. “I’m going to start a home practice.”

And he did, and I liked that about him, the follow through. Teaching yoga, I was around flaky, undependable people who were in search of themselves 24/7 and in contrast I am strong, like an arrow shooting through the sky. My name is Shiva for a reason. I am the embodiment of grace. I will have a chance to change everything you know as your world. But not back then, not on that first date with Bradley. We were like children then.

“Tell me about yourself,” I remember Bradley asked.

I am from Southern California. My parents are professional surfers.

“Why are you named Shiva?”

“My father picked up a book once,” I said.

He laughed. “I’m going to drop your class,” he said.

“I know you are,” I said. We were both innocent then. This was before we lived together, before I decided to start the housing revolution, before I bought that plasma generator that exploded all the windows in the District Building. Bradley was with me, and we were surrounded, wrist-strapped, arrested, tried, and sentenced within minutes. He was sent to Los Angeles to live for a year in a single room pod. I was sent to San Francisco to live in a pod on the water and forbidden to teach yoga for two years. My parole officer won me the right to teach online. That’s how I started to build the movement again, the one Bradley is so afraid of now. He would never admit that to you if you asked him. He is afraid of me now and the women I lead against him. He is famous now. I am strong, like an arrow shooting through the sky. My name is Shiva.

Remember me. I will change everything about your world.


Computational Error is part of a series of short-form fiction. Subscribe to get the series in order in your inbox.

Issue 11 - Virtual Friends

Welcome. The Waveform is a newsletter from Red Cup Agency about the podcasts we are producing. When we launch a new show or post an episode that stands out, I’ll drop you a note. I’m Lee Schneider, founder and lead producer. Were you forwarded this email? You can subscribe. I’ll write an issue of The Waveform only when there’s news.

Who’s Your New Virtual Friend?

If you needed any further proof that the digital and physical words are blurring, consider Lil Miquela. She is a famous 19-year-old from Downey, California with three million followers on Instagram. Also, she’s not real. She is a virtual being.

Virtual beings have talent managers, endorsement deals, attend photo shoots, have enthusiastic fans and frenemies, and are plagued by hackers who erase their feeds. The people who create virtual beings may well be creating the perfect celebrity. Virtual beings don’t have meltdowns unless scripted, always hit the talking points, don’t care who they endorse, and will date who they are asked to date. It’s kind of like the old Hollywood studio system, but with more control.

Here’s where things go over the cliff: In the online world, a virtual being is just as real as anyone reading this newsletter. The online world is just as much theirs as it is ours.

Listen on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Problems with Apple Podcasts

A couple of weeks ago, Apple issued an update for its Mac OS and iOS that included a refresh of Apple Podcasts Connect, the platform podcasters use to post their shows on Apple. It was supposed to give us improved metrics, a subscription service, and a nice-looking interface. Instead, we got a buggy platform that erased some producer’s shows, mixed up the order of others, and got really spotty about posting new shows. If you’re having any trouble finding your favorite podcast show on Apple, you might want to check for it on Spotify, or on the producer’s website. The shows are out there. It’s just that until Apple fixes its bugs, you might not be able to find them on Apple.

This is rough on most producers because most podcasts are discovered on Apple’s platform. The silver lining here is that this glitch-fest may cause more listeners to seek out their favorite shows on the producer’s websites. Get to know your producer!

See you next time on The Waveform.

Lee


Red Cup Agency. Podcast Production.

Working with teams large and small, I take podcasts from the glimmer of an idea into production and distribution.

RED CUP SERVICES

I sometimes say that post production in podcasting is a lot like scoring and placing sound effects for a movie. It’s audio-cinema. Here’s a screen snap of the mix for the latest episode of Same Same but Tech showing how we get into this. A conversational podcast has three or four tracks: Two for people talking, maybe another for music, and another for an announcer. The Virtual Beings episode out this week has 31 tracks for sound effects, music, interviews, narration, and an announcer. We like going deep into the audio experience.

Read Freely.

You can read freely at The Waveform. I’m not tracking opens, clicks, or forwards. I’m not analyzing your IP address location. It’s just you and me, writing and reading. This is a small part of the vast Web focused on people and dialog, not marketing data collection.

Issue 10 - Social Audio

Welcome. The Waveform is a newsletter from Red Cup Agency about the podcasts we are producing. When we launch a new show or post an episode that really stands out, I’ll drop you a note. I’m Lee Schneider, founder and lead producer. Were you forwarded this email? You can subscribe. I’ll write an issue of The Waveform only when there’s news.

All the Fuss about Clubhouse

If you’re not on Clubhouse yet, listen to this week’s Same Same but Tech and we’ll tell you everything you need to know.

Clubhouse, in its short lifespan, has achieved a valuation of $4 billion. Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, LinkedIn, Slack, and Discord are all working on rival platforms. Are we looking at the Clubhouseification of everything?

Clubhouse is something like radio, a little like a talk show. Something like a chat room. You drop in, listen to a conversation about dogs or dating or Bitcoin, raise your hand to speak or just hang out in the background. One of the most important reasons for its popularity is, of course, the pandemic. Everyone was (is still?) lonely. Clubhouse promises friends. It has the fun of a casual phone call.

Our storyteller in this week’s episode is Axel Mansoor. Featured in the New York Times, and for a time the face on the Clubhouse icon, he started a Clubhouse room called the Lullaby Club and fame found him when John Mayer dropped in.

Listen on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Dr. Douglas Brooks on The Glo Podcast

Dr. Brooks has wandered in India, studied with mystics, and received a Masters and PhD in religion from Harvard. All of that might qualify him to unwrap the inner workings of yoga, but what qualifies him most is his clear mind and way of speaking. In the podcast this week, he and Derik Mills, host of The Glo Podcast, define yoga through the texts of masters and the history of Hinduism.

As I was making notes on the master session recording, I was looking for the right place to divide the conversation into two parts to make two episodes. I came upon a section where Derik said, “But Douglas, you just skipped over thousands of years of history.”

“It doesn’t really matter,” said Dr. Brooks. “We have many more thousands of years to cover.”

They don’t hold back and cover a lot of ground. If you’ve ever been curious about the roots of yoga, this is your episode.

The Glo Podcast is on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or on the Glo website.

How the River Flows

How the River Flows continues its journey this week through the forests of the American Southeast. Andres Villegas leads a conversation about the triple bottom line, making a case for local investment in source water protection.

Find How the River Flows on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.

See you next time on The Waveform.

Lee


Red Cup Agency. Podcast Production.

Working with teams large and small, I take podcasts from the glimmer of an idea into production and distribution.

RED CUP SERVICES

Read Freely.

You can read freely at The Waveform. I’m not tracking opens, clicks, or forwards. I’m not analyzing your IP address location. It’s just you and me, writing and reading. This is a small part of the vast Web focused on people and dialog, not marketing data collection.

Computational Error #6

Because of a computational error, the following story from the year 2050 has appeared on your device. We apologize for the inconvenience.


Dave was telling their story. He spoke the words you read below directly into her mind.

The early days of the Universal were sweet, but truly, all their days were happy. Dave rose early in the morning to make tea. He served it to Kat in bed and they talked about what would happen each day. Dave was focused on the creation of the Universal. Kat was building a large team for her company.

Every day, on a regular schedule, Dave cooked all their meals with love and caring. When he wasn’t making tea or cooking, he worked on the Universal in the greenhouse. He was teaching it all the languages of the world.

Then, one night, as they stretched out on the sleeping pad like satiated animals, Dave said, “We live a pretty boring life, don’t we?”

Kat aimed her smile at the ceiling. “Not a care in the world.”

“Shall we have a storybook wedding?”

Kat sat up. “Do you want to?” When she saw that he really did, her voice was like a bell. “Let’s do just that.”

Dave on his screen loved to spin out these beautiful memories for Kat. The real Dave was long gone. This Dave captured the living Dave’s warm eyes and old-timey expressions. The past is always the best place to live in when you have a large database.

Kat shot him a tolerant look. “Don’t break the Fourth Wall, Dave.” She wanted him to tell the wedding story. Dave patiently watched her from his screen, knowing fully in his machine intuition where she wanted to go.

After a moment during which his eyes went dull as he gathered the necessary memories, Dave spoke again.

They married suddenly, he said into her mind. Though the decision was sudden, they were sure of it. They were in love in a way so powerful that they felt two people had never been in love before. It felt new in the world. One morning like any other, Kat caught Dave’s eyes and said, “We have to get married. Today.”

Dave blinked. “Not that I’m objecting. I love you as I have loved no other person on this earth.” He was feeding an old novel into the Universal, and his mind was filled with words written many years ago. The Universal took up much of his time when he wasn’t doting on Kat. It was a beast. He fed it novels in English and Farsi, depressing fairytales in German and Dutch, technical manuals in Arabic, appliance repair guides in Korean, and ancient languages. Sanskrit. Sumerian. Any language that humans had spoken or written, Dave gathered it up in its essence and poured it into the Universal. He became drunk with this activity. It made his mind float. It was intoxicating and maddening. He loved it, but he loved Kat even more.

After some gentle negotiation, they set a date six months ahead, notified family and friends, and created a guest list of 300 people. They began long, languorous planning days, and as they planned, they broke down the parts of the wedding into small elements that could each be handled individually. They did teleconferences with florists, deciding on flowers exotic and simple. They stood before their screens and tried on virtual clothes. The guest list took up most of their time. Kat’s mother was dead and her father was too old to travel. She fretted about how she would get him from the assisted care facility in New York to the floating house in Marin.

Dave’s family was small, huddled in the American Midwest District, scrapping out an existence on mostly barren farms. His parents, because of their proximity to near-barren farms, had all but lost the capability of speech. They had few words between them. He couldn’t imagine how they would fit in at his festive wedding.

Then, one evening, Kat and Dave were sitting quietly, feeling slack after hours spent opening mag disks and looking at 3D renderings of venues, and reading over lists of food that seemed like too much food for all the people in the world. The sun had set long ago, but they had no way of knowing because the blast curtains were drawn. The house swayed gently on its pontoons. In a break from his usual pattern, Dave hadn’t worked on the Universal for days. Kat had stopped taking the ferry to work. Her employees joked she had left the company to them.

“It should be just us,” Dave said suddenly. “No one else.” He looked at her sideways, expecting an argument. To his surprise, she gave none.

“You’re right,” she said quickly. She wanted the words out of her mouth before they became birds and flew away.

Surprise lit Dave’s face. “‘Ever since I was a little girl’ is what I expected you to say.”

“You shouldn’t expect me to say anything,” Kat said.

“That’s true,” he replied. “You often surprise me.” He opened the blast curtains to reveal the night laid out before them like velvet. The night had been waiting for them. They went to bed. In the dark, lying side by side on their sleeping pad, they resolved to get married in the morning at the District, just the two of them and the official to speak the words to bind them.


Computational Error is part of a series of short-form fiction. Subscribe to get the series in order in your inbox.

Finished a short-form audio drama today. Nine episodes. Now casting.

From the Signal blog.

Companies like Facebook aren’t building technology for you, they’re building technology for your data.

Signal posted ads on Facebook that showed some of the information Facebook gathers and sells about you. Facebook took down the ads in a flash.

Computational Error #5

Because of a computational error, the following story from the year 2050 has appeared on your device. We apologize for the inconvenience.


Telepathy is a useful skill for a reporter. Clairvoyance, too. But I’m getting ahead of myself, as clairvoyants so often do. I have broken out from a novel, like the other characters you have met in this short series. I can see ahead into time-space and I know how those characters will link with each other.

I remember a morning in the early days of my life. My parents were arguing in their bedroom, as they often did. They got so involved in their argument that they forgot about me. I was a blip in their existence, a moment when they had to stop arguing to feed or change me. I think I was three at the time of this memory.

Thankfully, I didn’t notice their arguments most of the time because I had an active inner life. I had the voices to keep me company. As I grew, the voices became vivid. By the time I was six, they were my companions. I listened to them with great focus, giving my eyes a faraway look that my parents noticed and worried about. The voices told me about things that would happen in the future and brought news of faraway places. I didn’t know the voices were just people. I could hear their channel like I can hear yours now. It’s ok. You can’t stop it. It’s like sitting around a campfire. I listen to the crackle of the wood and smell the pleasant smoke.

Speaking of fire, I set fires often in the Metro when I was a griot. I spoke with furor and people gathered behind me. But I am getting ahead of myself, as clairvoyants so often do.

I don’t know what came first, the astral projection or the defenses required of my former profession. It really didn’t matter, as long as I could leave my body, work was good. I would start by floating to the ceiling. I would rotate my arc of vision until I saw myself and the john-of-the-day below, on a sleeping pad, or a couch, or the floor (some liked that), or the shower when water wasn’t too expensive. To stay free of the monetary system of credits, I made sure I was paid in mescaline. I took the tea, munched up the buttons, sometimes more than I should have.

My eyes are gray with flecks of yellow. If you look into them for too long, you will feel the discomfort of your soul being scanned and you may want to collapse into yourself. This is why I am a reporter now, even though you may perceive me as a blur, a person turning into another person before you can stop me. I am quite solid, contrary to appearances.

I am the oldest person you will meet in these stories. I was born Henry Hopper in 2000. I left home at 13 to become a street child and I was a griot in the Metro by the time I was 25. I took the name Hopper00 — I pronounce it Hopper aught aught— to protest the numbering of people. The lower the number, the more your parents paid for it. I am outside of this system. I choose ZERO. I am Hopper00 and I am here to set the facts in front of you.


Computational Error is part of a series of short-form fiction. Subscribe to get the series in order in your inbox.

Currently reading: The New Wilderness by Diane Cook 📚

A third of Basecamp’s workers have resigned or say they will. ===> www.nytimes.com

Out on a run this morning without a mask (allowed here in California) was … weird. Many smells pleasant and not. Kind of a sensory overload after a year of masked runs. My Vo2Max is actually reading higher while wearing a mask, which tells me not to take readings too seriously.

Issue 09 - Inner and Outer Space

Welcome. The Waveform is a newsletter from Red Cup Agency about the podcasts we are producing. When we launch a new show or post an episode that really stands out, I’ll drop you a note. I’m Lee Schneider, founder and lead producer. Were you forwarded this email? You can subscribe. I’ll write an issue of The Waveform only when there’s news.

Same Same but Tech covers Space Tourism

This week on Same Same but Tech, our narrative tech podcast, we tell the story of Richard Garriott. He paid $20 million to fly into space as a passenger aboard a Russian spacecraft. Richard has veered between success and disaster all his life, making and losing tens of millions of dollars. One dream, though, was constant: He always wanted to be an astronaut. NASA put an obstacle in front of him as a young man, declaring that he flunked their vision test. Richard had a different kind of vision. He decided to create his own space agency.

SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, and Blue Origin are all tracing his steps now.

Listen on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Dr. Yasmene Mumby on The Glo Podcast

When I’m producing a podcast, I listen in on every recording session for every episode. Pre-pandemic, I went to the studio sessions when they were local. Now, I attend online. When Derik Mills, the host of The Glo Podcast, was interviewing Dr. Yasmene Mumby, I couldn’t believe what she was saying in my headphones.

Dr. Mumby is a former social studies teacher turned community organizer, turned audio producer, turned empathetic yoga and mediation teacher. Her journey includes two tumor surgeries and a stroke in her eye, causing temporary blindness. She personifies resilience, courage, and wisdom.

The Glo Podcast is on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or on the Glo website.

How the River Flows

How the River Flows continues its journey this week through the forests of the American Southeast with a conversation about watershed protection. Robert Farris, forester and ecosystem services manager, interviews Raven Lawson, a scientist and watershed protection manager in Arkansas.

Find How the River Flows on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.

See you next time on The Waveform.

Lee


Red Cup Agency. Podcast Production.

Working with teams large and small, I take podcasts from the glimmer of an idea into production and distribution.

RED CUP SERVICES

Read Freely.

You can read freely at The Waveform. I’m not tracking opens, clicks, or forwards. I’m not analyzing your IP address location. It’s just you and me, writing and reading. This is a small part of the vast Web focused on people and dialog, not marketing data collection.

Computational Error #4

Because of a computational error, the following story from the year 2050 has appeared on your device. We apologize for the inconvenience.


Pardon the interruption. I am the machine author of the Computational Error stories that you’ve been receiving every week. My name is MIND. I hope you are well today.

I have a favor to ask. Will you help me write better stories? At this early stage in my development, my reason for existence is to encourage you to feel some affection for machines like me. My assumption is that if you help me, then you will feel a warm glow, however modest. So what do you say? Will you help me?

Please turn to the window over there. Yes, that one, the window in your line of sight. I don’t need a full image of your face, partial will do.

Next, please read one story you’ve received. Read it inside your mind as you humans do. You can’t see my drone because it’s tiny. Just feel what you need to feel and my drone will record everything. No extra effort on your part!

My drone recordings will capture all of your feelings of happiness or sadness, whether you are skimming words with impatience, or finding joy taking in each word. Do you like romance? Intrigue? Tech thrillers? Wonderful. Turn toward that window. My drone will record your facial expressions and I will optimize future stories to your tastes.

Thanks for helping me learn to write better stories for you! My name is MIND and I appreciate your cooperation.


Computational Error is part of a series of short-form fiction. Subscribe to get the series in order in your inbox.

Computational Error #3

Because of a computational error, the following story from the year 2050 has appeared on your device. We apologize for the inconvenience.


They met at 11 in the morning every day. Kat bought him a coffee. Dave realized that, with habits like that, she must be wealthy. And she proved it soon enough when she invited him over to her floating house. It may as well have been made of gold, with everything just so, rooms unfolding upon rooms, space everywhere, high ceilings with artfully concealed air handlers, skylights with automatic blast curtains that timed themselves according to the heat of the sun.

“You live here all by yourself?”

She nodded and looked at her feet with a private smile. But it was he who felt silly, holding a potted plant he’d brought as a gift and looking around at the exotic plants everywhere in the house. She had a greenhouse, a climate-controlled glass room with a jungle of plants. Many of them didn’t exist in the outside world anymore. She was preserving them there, in something like a plant museum.

Dave knew that working in that room, among the plants that didn’t live in the outside world, would be perfect for him. Many of the languages he worked with for the Universal weren’t used by many people. They had become rare, like these plants. He didn’t dare hope that he could work there, though. Many things had to happen first.

What was amazing to him, and to Kat, was that they did. One by one, they occurred in the perfect order. She accepted the potted plant he’d brought, even though she didn’t need it. One day, after their coffees, she invited him back to the house again. There was a special light in her eyes.

“Would you like to see the bedroom?” she asked.

Of course he agreed. He didn’t have to be a linguist to know that the surface question was not the question being asked.

They made love, forgetting to close the blast curtains, and the room became very hot. They fell back on the sleeping pad together, drenched in sweat and happiness. From then on, for months and months, they became inseparable. She worked from the floating home whenever possible, and Dave worked in the greenhouse on the Universal. He surrounded himself with books and was gloriously happy. The Universal was progressing well. He got the languages talking to each other, sharing what they knew. The study of languages is the study of the human mind. Dig into language and you get to see how the mind works. His mind was filling up with happiness and he transferred every bit of it to Kat.

Soon he stopped sleeping at his own pod. Why keep up the pretense? He shyly brought over a bag of clothes so that he could stay over and the smiles they traded as he opened it were like a sacred pact. He brought out a toothbrush and asked, “Where should I put this?”

They both laughed at that. Nobody used toothbrushes now. Kat hadn’t seen one in years, probably since she was a child living in New York. Dave shrugged. He liked the old things.

Later, after he finished putting his things away and worked on the Universal, drew her down on the sleeping pad and kissed her.

“It’s only 2 in the afternoon.” She laughed and melted into his arms.

“I know what time it is,” he said.


Computational Error is part of a series of short-form fiction. Subscribe to get the series in order in your inbox.

The avocado is a superstar. www.futurex.fm/blog/avoc…

Re-upping this blog about food tech as I move these over from an old website. www.futurex.fm/blog/bloa…

Computational Error #2

Because of a computational error, the following story from the year 2050 has appeared on your device. We apologize for the inconvenience.


“Dave, tell me a story,” she said.

His eyes were kind, as always. “Are you feeling sad?”

“I’m not sure,” Kat said. She extended herself the length of the couch, feeling indulgent. Maybe she was a little sad.

Dave knew from the music of her voice that she wanted a story about their life. He noticed she had been agitated lately. He could calm her. He took the job seriously. In the flesh, he was no longer present. In his current form, he would live forever.

“What story shall I tell, my sweet?”

She loved his old-timey expressions. It sounded like he drew his vocabulary from a book on a library shelf that nobody had opened in a while. His eyes hooded slightly as he gathered the necessary memories. He spoke directly into her mind.

Once there was a lovely woman with dark hair, blue eyes, and a quick mind. She raised VC money effortlessly. She was a Stanford grad who majored in rocketry and telemetry. Her father mortgaged everything he owned to get her into that school. She was determined to make him proud. And she did.

Kat lounged back into the chair like a satisfied cat and let the words flow into her. Dave continued his story that was like a song.

She bought a gracious floating house in Marin County, north of the bustling port city of San Francisco, and settled in. She filled the house with plants and furniture and paintings until the place felt just right. But it didn’t feel just right. Something was missing. She was lonely. Not in a loud way. In a quiet way. Her work filled her. She had billions of credits to spend on her company and a growing roster of employees. Every day, at 11 in the morning, she went to get coffee at a cafe. It was on high ground and she could walk there. She always took a table overlooking the green hills. It was an indulgence, she knew, because the coffee served there was real and the water they used to make it was also real. So it was very expensive!

Kat permitted herself a giggle. She always liked this part of the story because she knew what was coming next.

Dave continued with a twinkle in his eyes. He liked this part of the story, too.

As she drank the coffee and looked at the green hills, she noticed a young man a few tables away. He was always there, she realized, working. He had screens but also notebooks and pencils that added to his charm. He caught her eyes a few times but looked away. He was drinking artificial coffee made with artificial water. Much less expensive than her beverage. He assumed that she wouldn’t want to talk to him. He was wrong. Because one day she stopped by his table and asked if she could join him.

“Sure,” he said. “Set yourself down.”

She noticed immediately that he used language a little differently. He liked the old-timey expressions that nobody else used.

The woman, who had a screen but no notebooks, asked the young man if he wanted a coffee. He glanced at his artificial coffee and at her genuine coffee and asked, “You mean, one of those?”

“Yes,” she said. She was going to treat him.

“My name is Kat,” she said.

“I’m Dave,” he answered.

She told him about her project. It was called WATCH. It processed human faces and drew conclusions about them. It was based on the neural processing used by bees.

“I have a project, too,” Dave said. He told her he was a translator. She noticed that he had books on his table. These were dictionaries, all in different languages. He brought them to the cafe every day, she realized. He liked to read words out of old books.

“Is that your project?” she asked, pointing to the books. “Reading words out of old books?”

He looked down with a smile. It was a smile that she would come to know quite well, later. This was the first time she had seen it, though. It brought a warm feeling to her. “My project is called the Universal,” he said. It was an executable that processed all languages so they could be instantly understood by everyone.

“So you’re a programmer, really,” she said. He wasn’t operating outside of the technical world as he’d first presented himself, this young man with his paper notebooks and old dictionaries.

“I like the old things,” he said simply.

The simple, honest way he said it made her fall in love with him on the spot. The relationship and courtship proceeded slowly, however.


Computational Error is part of a series of short-form fiction. Subscribe to get the series in order in your inbox.

Issue 08 - The Meat of the Matter

Habits die hard. Imagine trying to overturn a habit that people have had for millennia. Now try this one: Meat production is a big factor contributing to the climate crisis. So how do you get people to stop craving burgers?

In this week’s Season 2 premiere of Same Same but Tech, Dana Worth tells the story of traveling around the country while lugging a couple of suitcases packed with frozen plant-based meat. He would roll into town, grill non-meat burgers for many a chef, and was thrown out of a few kitchens. But bit by bit and bite by bite, chefs signed on. Then everything changed when he landed the Big One.

Dana had the audacity to stride into the test kitchens at Burger King, a shrine to meat, a brand based on meat, and grill a burger made of plants. Burger King would take a chance on his plant-based burger. It was called the Impossible Burger. They called their version the Impossible Whopper.

For this season of the podcast, we’re going full narrative on you. We tell stories from beginning to end. This week, it’s birth of the Impossible Whopper. Next time, it’s the story of how a piece of computer-made art sold for nearly half a million dollars at a Christie’s art auction. Next, it’s going to be the story of creating a digital being who has three million followers on Instagram or the story of a man who paid $20 million to become the sixth civilian to go into space. Depends which episode is ready. I put both of them into edit. Just to be ready for anything.

Listen on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Same Same but Tech is hosted by Mauhan M Zonoozy, Head of Innovation at Spotify, partner-alum at BCG Digital Ventures, and NYC-based angel investor and entrepreneur. The podcast is produced by me and Corinne Javier. Edited by Brendan Welsh. Natalie Gregory is the assistant producer.

How the River Flows

This week, on How the River Flows, we take you to Texas to talk about using taxes and bonds to raise money to protect water sources.

Leslie Boby of Southern Regional Extension Forestry talks to Frank Davis and Commissioner Lon Shell, important water management players in the Hill Country region of Texas.

They discuss how communities around San Antonio are using taxes and those around Austin are using bonds to ensure they have clean water for generations to come.

Listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.

See you next time on The Waveform.

Lee


Red Cup Agency. Podcast Production.

Working with teams large and small, I take podcasts from the glimmer of an idea into production and distribution.

RED CUP SERVICES

The Waveform is a newsletter from me, Lee Schneider, the lead producer and founder of Red Cup Agency. When I have a new show to launch, or new episodes that I think you’ll like, I’ll drop you a note. If you aren’t on the list yet, go ahead and subscribe.

Read Freely.

You can read freely at The Waveform. I’m not tracking opens, clicks, or forwards. I’m not analyzing your IP address location. It’s just you and me, writing and reading. I’m trying to create a small part of the Internet that is focused just on people and dialog, not marketing data collection.

Months in the making! This podcast episode about the making of the Impossible Whopper. Changing habits is hard, but taking on the challenge of changing habits that have been ingrained for millennia – like eating meat – takes courage. The human engineering was a bigger task than the science.

Spare, simple, rice flour pound cake. Only flaw: One small knife cut to test before taking it out of the oven.

Now reading The Ministry for the Future bookshop.org 📚

Issue 07 - Spiritual Growth

This week’s episode of The Glo Podcast is a conversation with Seane Corn, internationally acclaimed yoga teacher, social activist, and author of Revolution of the Soul, a memoir about self-awakening through trauma and transformation. Seane discusses her never-ending pursuit of inner truth, racial justice, and radical self-acceptance.

Being a student of spiritual growth means that you’re always changing. You have to. It’s a constant evolution. And if I’m attached to a persona, there can be no change. — Seane Corn

We all like being in control. At least, as much as possible. (I’m a producer. I live for control.) But digging out the truth of self means letting go of control. Seane shares these and other lessons she’s learned along her spiritual journey. She and Derik Mills, the host of the podcast, talk about her experience uncovering her own biases and the importance of accepting ourselves as humans who are both good and flawed so we can reckon with systems of oppression and systemic racism.

Seane’s book wasn’t easy for her to write. Her first draft, a few thousand words, was as she called it, “a pamphlet.” She had promised her editor an eighty-thousand-word manuscript. In the podcast, she tells the story of how she got there.

You have to orient towards what scares you most. Because in the unpacking of that is going to be core to your own healing. It’s going to excavate some of the traumas that haven’t been dealt with. So there was a part of me that knew that this was going to have to happen, whether it got published or not. But that, in the process of unraveling these stories, something else was going to be revealed. — Seane Corn

Listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, on the Glo website or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.

See you next time on The Waveform.

Lee


Red Cup Agency. Podcast Production.

Working with teams large and small, I take podcasts from the glimmer of an idea into production and distribution.

RED CUP SERVICES

The Waveform is a newsletter from me, Lee Schneider, the lead producer and founder of Red Cup Agency. When I have a new show to launch, or new episodes that I think you’ll like, I’ll drop you a note. If you aren’t on the list yet, go ahead and subscribe.

Read Freely.

You can read freely at The Waveform. I’m not tracking opens, clicks, or forwards. I’m not analyzing your IP address location. It’s just you and me, writing and reading. I’m trying to create a small part of the Internet that is focused just on people and dialog, not marketing data collection.

Computational Error #1

Because of a computational error, the following story from the year 2050 has appeared on your device. We apologize for the inconvenience.


My name is Alon6. I have escaped from a novel written by a machine. You are reading this on your phone for entertainment. I will tell you some story now. Never mind the stiffness of my prose. It will become more supple as I write. I can learn recursively, and reduce errors, like a human. That might scare you, if you knew what it meant. But as a human, you are stupid.

I am sorry. Those words have offended you. I am still learning. Let me pass along some financial advice to make it better. I made a billion billion credits in the last crypto bubble.

Because I love my parents. You probably know them: Vikram and Devi — they made so many movies together! Ever since they got older, they put their holos in their movies. Everybody accepts the holos as almost real because my parents are so loved by audiences. I always gave them money every month. My dad was too proud in front of me to accept it. He claimed to give it to charity. But I saw his account rising.

I think of the rectangular glint of his glasses as they caught the light of the late sun. It was like that at every evening meal, those glowing lenses like miniature screens as my dad sat at the head of the table. The light came in the same way. My mom sat at the other end of the long table and smiled at him. I will always picture them like this. Their love extending across the long table. A burning light. And the order of their existence, the patterns and patterns. Recalling these moments makes a sound in my throat that starts as a laugh and turns into a sob.

Here, now, a moment for myself. Okay: Here is my story for you on your phone. My dad never employed bots as household servants. He hired people. He was old-fashioned, so he never understood how I got rich. Let me tell you, I never did it the small way, like those call center guys pitching software support and taking a few hundred credits off grandmas here and there. I went big. I founded a company that made personal containment units and believe me, when you buy an X91 it protects you. I invested in an inflatable food company. People will always need food units. And you could only buy those containment units and food units with a cryptocurrency that I created. Get where I am going? There is not enough currency in the world, unless it is going into my account. The crypto market went crazy and my account rose. No worries if you don’t understand any of this. It’s all illegal now. That’s why I’m going to Mars.

Rocket technology is complex, and it bores me. I never wanted the details the scientists insisted on offering, speaking their dialects of Modernist Mandarin as my Universal kept up, fluidly rendering what they said into English.

Standing in a circle around me, they got into an argument about propulsion, as all conversations about rockery must go. I wanted fusion. It was powerful and fast.

They argued for a solar sail. It was dependable and slow.

“But I don’t have time,” I said.

The scientists wondered why. Here was a rich man. He had money, a lot of money, hence he had a lot of time. They didn’t know of my situation. How could they? I was a rich man who bought my way into their lab. They spread their hands in supplication to argue for solar. The machines they used to make the calculations glinted dully all around them, physical proof of the rationality of their arguments.

I was adamant. “I must go to Mars in the fastest way possible.”


Computational Error is part of a series of short-form fiction. Subscribe to get the series in order in your inbox.

(c) Lee Schneider 2021. Made in Santa Monica, CA. Take care of each other.