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vCity 1.0
by Dr. Adam L. Gruen

20 days in the life of a 21st century virtual city simulation.

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vCity 1.0
Chapter 18

"By whatever political laws men are governed in the age of equality,

it may be foreseen that faith in public opinion will become a species of religion there, and the majority its ministering prophet."

-- Alexis de Tocqueville --

There are few pleasures in life more enjoyable for me than getting up before dawn on a Saturday morning, putting up a pot of coffee, fetching the newspaper, and enjoying the cool, damp breezes of the quiet night air out on the veranda before the memory of them is erased under the fascism of another hot summer day in Washington, D.C. Oh, I know I could sleep late, have the coffee maker start itself, and read fresher news on the PC -- but what would that achieve? Where's the gestalt of working against time rather than with it? If the tempo of life cannot occasionally be slowed down, we'd all be breakdancing, not waltzing.

Plett, our other cat, comes to join me. She is a small, skittish orange-beige creature about half the size and half the age of good old Londolozi. She is all mixed up genetically; I could not identify her breed if I had a textbook in one hand and a magnifying glass in the other. There has got to be a little bit of Siamese in Plett. She has this thing about catnip toys. Whenever she deigns to interfere in human events, her idea of a good time is to drag a little catnip bag over, and drop it at one's feet as if handing one a business card. Then she mewls for attention, or respect, or something. She especially likes doing this in the middle of the night.

I finally figured Plett out a few years ago. It's not that she has no understanding of time; it's just that she has a superb understanding of her own time. She is the center of her very own universe. Plett takes no real interest in the affairs of others. Newspapers, for example, exist to sit upon. People exist in order to pay attention to cats. It is all very simple. I used to think that cats could not speak. I learned, eventually, that they did. It was just that they did not use human language. But they communicate very well, if one has the time to observe and understand their language and their worldview. And this was a lesson that came in enormously handy when dealing with humans, too.

I still don't appreciate being awakened at 3:30 AM, however, to find Plett standing on my rib cage testing it for structural integrity. So we cut a deal, she and I. If she can hold off with her impromptu arias until 5:30 AM, then I get up, change out the litter box, put food in the dish and fresh water in the bowl, and pay attention to her. Having performed my plantation duties, I am free to do as I wish. All very ante-bellum Old Dominion, I guess. Republican democracy is just not a feline thing.

Headline: Religious Coalition Attacks Virtual Smut; Banned in Cyberspace?

A front page item, no less. The Coalition for Preservation of Family and Society intends to fight back, lobby, support legislation, blah, blah, blah.

We fought this issue seven years ago. Are people getting senile? Maybe the problem is lack of institutional memory. It's not that people are stupid; it's that institutions are ignorant of their own history. Oh well.

I find one good piece of news in this article, although the second half containing the key point is buried back on page A23 next to an article on the "war-torn" Balkans. Smorgjasbordenia vs. Vomitslavia in the semi-finals. No wonder I have been experiencing more deja vu than usual -- we're beginning to recycle entire topics. It's a curiosity, isn't it, that on one side of the globe Christians and Moslems can band together to decry obscenity, while on the other side of the globe they create obscenity. Their endurance is impressive, I'll admit that. Of course, the definition of a fanatic is that, having lost sight of his objective, he doubles his efforts.

Anyway, to the point at hand. Executive Director Wallach has instructed the membership of the CPFS to enter the fray. "We intend to spread the word of the five books of Moses, the New Testament, the Koran, the Works of the Latter-Day Saints, and other great works of God and God-inspired literature on the Internet," she intoned in a press conference. "We believe in the democratic ideals of the founding mothers and fathers of these United States. Cyberspace is the new frontier. We have a responsibility to do missionary work there, too. We will take back the virtual streets of the virtual cities and virtual worlds."

Hoo-boy. New customers.

("Bugs, Mr. Rico! Zillions of 'em!")

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