Editorial & Letters

 

"Freedom of the Press Belongs to Those Who Own a Search Engine"   
  
  

VI 'R' US 

Netspecially for our cyber-readers, we have decided to turn over our editorial "digi-pulpit" in this issue of Planet Magazine to an extremely urgent e-mail message we received from a number of our e-pals out there in electron-land, who, like us, want to preserve the Internet's grand tradition of freedom and bounty.  

For, without the 'Net, and the World Wide Web in particular, freedom-of-expression-loving individuals (more pointedly, those who adore compound modifiers and dependent clauses) across this global-village-we-call-Earth would never have had such a copious supply of free, easily accessible porno, spam, and vanity Web sites (such as Planet Magazine's).  We think the great importance of the message below, which we "e-reprint" in its entirety, will quickly become evident.  

As If I Knew What I Am Talking About, 
Andrew G. McCann, Editor   
Planet Magazine   
October 1997   
 

To: Planet Magazine 
From: root@cyberpromo.com <The Web-Surfer in the Next Cubicle 

---------- Forwarded message ----------  

This warning went out from IBM (the Interplanetary Bureau of Mail) this morning to everyone who might be using the Interplanetarynet for e-mail -- thought I'd share it with anyone who may not have seen it. 
Peggy 
Marketing Dept. 

"If you receive E-mail entitled either "VIRUS ATTACHED," "TO AUTO-ERASE HARD DRIVE -- CLICK HERE," or "FIRE TASER BOLTS DIRECTLY INTO MY EYES RIGHT NOW," delete them immediately and do not attempt to open them! 

VIRUS ATTACHED contains a dangerous virus propagating across the Interplanetarynet.  Besides destroying all of the data on your drive if you download the message, the virus is self-replicating.  It will automatically forward itself to anyone whose e-mail address is present in your mailbox, thus not only destroying your hard drive but potentially the hard drives of everyone whose mail is in your box.  Moreover, this deucedly clever virus is capable of crawling out of your floppy disk slot, finding your address book, addressing and stamping envelopes, and then snail-mailing copies of itself to anywhere the Galactic Post Office delivers.  In short, by hook or e-crook, this virus will forward itself to all addresses in your electronic or paper-based mailboxes, at a rate that increases exponentially to near-light speed till the universe itself is incrementally erased.  In fact, we may be too late already....  Hold on, let me check....  Yes, we're too late.  Damn.  Oh well.  Might as bloody well go ahead and open it then. 

TO AUTO-ERASE HARD DRIVE -- CLICK THIS, as you might guess, will automatically erase everything on your hard drive if you click on it.  This is a new virus -- the information was received only this morning by IBM from its branch in the Gamma Quadrant -- and many carbon-based life forms do not yet know about it (although whole galaxies of low-intelligence silicon-based LFs have been ravaged).  Please spread the word to anyone who might access the Interplanetarynet -- of course, now that I think about it, then the warning about the virus will become a virus itself, in a way.  Hmm.  Well, on second thought, don't tell anyone about it -- maybe it'll just go away.  Or, on third thought, maybe the latter "virus" is the lesser of two evils and you should warn people anyway.  Or, on fourth thought, maybe this loop of indecision I'm locked into right now is the REAL virus!  Aiieeeeeeeeeee!  A "stealth" virus!  Good Lord <choke! 

FIRE TASER BOLTS DIRECTLY INTO MY EYES RIGHT NOW may transmit a new virus that will attach itself to your computer components and fire a taser gun directly into your eyes, rendering them useless.  Note that this virus requires the user to already have a taser gun hooked up as a PC peripheral, which seems rather unlikely (surely there are better hacker- or home-defense systems available), not to mention foolhardy.  Not to be judgmental, but maybe anyone with such a setup who opens this kind of e-mail message deserves what he, she, or it gets.  So do what you will with this one. 

Signed, 
Commander E. Mayall 
Galactic Virus Patrol/I.B.M. 

---------- End Forwarded message ----------  
 

ACTUAL LETTER TO THE EDITOR   

Dear PlanetZine:  I was sorry to see no link for mail to Spider Robinson.  Lacking that, I felt compelled to at least express my appreciation for his/her(?) work to you.  Do please convey to M? Robinson that I greatly enjoyed (bah! tepid word) the deliberate and incisive vocabulary employed.  What a beautifully clean and stark declaration of passionate, intellectual union.  An overuse of adjectives perhaps... but sincerely meant for all that.  
Was a pleasure reading "Afterglow" [in Issue 11 & 12].    
Matt H. B. Cory    
via e-mail    

  

LETTERS TO THE PANTHEON   

Dear Shiva: Why does everyone at the office call me a complainer?  I don't complain!  I merely offer observations about my life, albeit in a relentless, whining tone.  
Rummaging Through Your Lunch Bag in the Employee Fridge,    
C. "Weed" X. Trakt    

Dear Odin:  This letter is from way, way, way, way in the future, where it's possible for any human to do whatever s/he wants -- we are literally god-like in our powers (although one could be dog-like too, if so desired!).  However, I must warn you mortals of the past that great powers come at a great price.  F'r'instance, in the future it's possible to, say, have a blue, wiggly cartoon body and a regular, traditional human head.  Well, you can just imagine the hilarity that ensues in almost any situation when one has such a body, whether it be the classroom or the boardroom.  Thus, it's been very difficult to maintain any semblance of order in the future.  
Good Luck,   
Cass N. Drah   

Dear Mars:  Hello, I am little Sojourner, a six-wheeled vehicle about the size of a microwave oven that's been snuffling the Red Planet's rocks lo these many months.  I have a two-part question, with one follow-up, two-part query:  May I visit the Face on Mars and crawl up its nose?  And, if so, will I get sneezed out, possibly creating a Martian sandstorm, however briefly?  
Jus' Lookin' Fer Some Action,   
Russ "Ted" Roofe   
(a.k.a. "Soujourner")   

Dear Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn, Jupiter, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, and Chiron: What's all this talk in Washington of installing Internet connections to other planets in our solar system?  For the love of Mike, who would try to string a cable to Mars?  At the very least, you would run the risk of decapitating any solar-wind sailors.  And you'd run the huge risk of the two worlds, as they rotate independently, getting all wound up in the cable, being pulled out of their respective orbits, and colliding!  How'd you like to be cheek-to-cheek with that creepy Face on Mars?  Nikto, indeed!  Personally, I'd also avoid deep-space transponders, as, in my experience, they don't work well at distances of less than a parsec and require a steady near-light-speed velocity.  Not good for local interplanetary traffic.  I think the best bet would be a digital cellular planetary phone network, with network amplifiers located on evenly spaced, well-marked space buoys -- and well away from surfer routes, for gosh sakes!  Such a system, with nary a blip, should allow anyone surfin' the 'Net from anywhere on the surface of either the Red or Blue planet to discuss respective aliens or MicroSauron-vs.-MacinFrodo in the Newsgroups, or perhaps view graphic porno, or even download shareware that they never pay for.  
Here's to the Future!   
B. "Ray" Veneuwerld   

Dear Hadrian:  I'm tired of Planet Magazine and its technolier-than-thou attitude.  It seems the only people you like live in San Francisco, are able to reverse-engineer a UFO, ingest designer drugs in all-night desert raves, are members of The WELL, can program in forgotten versions of UNIX, have insane, unworkable theories about hypertext, design ActiveX components for $15,000 shower-stall Web browsers, still use DOS, installed some of the first router switches for DARPA, believe that humans can became immortal super-beings through "attitude," and basically work at a university or government-funded institution and have never had a real job.  In other words, I'm surprised there's anybody left to edit your rag in the wake of the Heavens Gate Massacre!  Oh, wait a minute.  Hang on.  Sorry, I've made a mistake:  I thought I was writing to Wired Magazine.  
Via Pen and Paper,   
Auntie Jen Eckser   

Dear The Godzz: Once again, I am predicting the Death of the Web.  Admittedly, it's harder now than it ever was to sustain my position, but I'll bull ahead anyway because I want the attention.  As I see it, there are exactly 26 reasons for The Net's Certain Demise, all of them underscoring the simple fact that anything you can do online, I can do better offline.  So, here we go.  Number A: What's all this baloney about e-mail?  Hey, ever heard of using the Post Office?  What's a stamp cost, 32 cents?  Compare that with the cost of even a $1,200 Packard-Bell and a $5 per month e-wimp AOL account.  Letter 2: Chat rooms?  Totally bogus fad.  Teletype's been around for years, but I don't see anyone getting excited about that any more.  In any case, we've already got bars, elevators, lobbies, waiting rooms, etc., that more than fill the bill.  C:  Web pages.  Such malarkey.  Go buy a magazine.  Or even a zine!  D: Virtual communities.  Hello, but you already live in a real neighborhood.  And it's already got stores and people.  E: Mailing lists.  Y'know, last time I checked at the library, there was a wide selection of specialized journals freely available with a library card.  [Editor's Note: Reasons F through Y have been deleted to annoy the author, fictional though he may be.]  And, finally, Z: Free porno.  Excuse me, but as far as I know there's never been a cover charge at Billy's Topless!  
Frank Lee Zainey   
In Line Behind You at Costco   

Dear William Shatner:  My screen name on The Palace is "Betazoid", although I am a guy.  I am 17 and I love Windows95, worship Star Trek (but not DS9!), and wish I had Bill Gates' money!  <GRIN  I also enjoy playing really cool computer games like Quisp and spend a lot of time surfing the Web and watching TV.  I also enjoy jogging (to the kitchen!).  Hey check out my ST:V fan site on Tripod and let me know what you think.  (I forget the exact URL!) <SORRY  C U on IRC (Voyager channel!), I hope.  
Exit,   
"Betazoid"  <LAUGH OUT LOUD   

Dear Ra:  Thank you so very, very much for the heartfelt messages you kindly sent to me via the aether-mail just this morning.  The words contained and encapsulated therein are of a brooding yet noble, albeit pensive cast, indeed, and rather do quite their best to limn the gloaming that, yea, surrounds and enfolds us, like a comforting-but-fearsome cloak, or even a waist-high flood of tear-stained Thank You cards, at this time -- which is verily, mayhap, Albion's darkest hour since a time when things were even blacker.  Soon, one hopes and dreads, Normality itself will alight, alyr, upon Humanity's "nez", as the Gauls say, and amid the breaking, tepid-tea dawn, nonetheless, yet forever changed in our brains and cardiovascular systems will, all of us, be, perhaps, in fact, indeed, one wonders.  And thus, one might spaketh, anon will still our secret souls blat ever outward toward the unfeeling destiny of Occult Mystery that is Everyone's Fate, like a pie on a windowsill, steaming toward Heaven.  
Opaquely,   
Vera Nyce   

Dear Phoenix:  Generally speaking, I don't know why anyone would be upset about someone smoking in a spaceship.  Why, the smoker could easily just stand near an open air lock and blow the smoke out into space through the spaceship's screen door.  
There You Have It,   
Otto "Mo" Beale   

Dear Martha Stewart:  Here's a party idea for you.  Serve a bowl of shiny, fresh-plucked clown noses.  Squeeze them into a drink, or just pop the cherry-colored ball into your mouth for a squishy treat.  
No Charge,   
Hugh Wishe   

Dear Clapton:  What's the big deal about these sheep clones?  Hey, me and my buddies cloned some sheep back in high school while listening to Springsteen. 'Course, it depends on how you define "clone."  And I guess on what you mean by "sheep."  Anyway, I myself (as opposed to I somebody else) was once cloned by a sheep.  
Later On, Jackson,   
Wase "Ted" Bahndwith   

Dear Apu:  I'm afraid I've got the Midas touch.  Everything I touch turns into a muffler.  A repaired one, too.  I've never touched an existing muffler, though; I'm afraid of what might happen.  Will there be a huge matter/antimatter explosion?  Will gold be created?  Will it create the Perfect Muffler -- a sort of Platonic ideal of a muffler?  Who knows?  But I sure as heck ain't gonna find out.  By the way, I assume you know that I'm talking about scarves when I say "muffler."  
Keep On Truckin'   
Chris P. Hihppi   

Dear Steve Jobs:  Today I went to the company cafeteria, and a donut said "Hello" to me.  So I ate it.  Am I crazed by hunger?  Or was that the cafeteria's new interactive sales display?  
Tray Rhetorically,    
Marge A. Rinn    
Secretary to the Administrative Assistant    

Dear Editor:  Hey, look!  I can unscrew my head -- Ow!  
Let Me Get Back to You,    
Ed Turner   *

 


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