"Everybody I see about me seems bent on
teaching his contemporaries, by precept and example, that what is useful is
never wrong. Will nobody undertake to make them understand how what is right
may be useful?"
-- Alexis de Tocqueville --
It has now been almost sixteen full days since I called the
referendum on the Exon Inspiration site, and someone -- Lee Ward,
presumably -- has become very, very wealthy. Over thirty million people have
voted in this referendum already, and there should be a heavy turnout on the
final weekend. Ever since the casbar problem disappeared, more people have been
able to access the site. Of course, not everybody who voted actually saw the
site for themselves. I'd be willing to wager that the seven million new
vCitizens bussed in by the Slightly Holier Than Thou Coalition did not visit
the site, just merely registered and voted to ban. There's no telling
how much money the Exon Inspiration has made, but I'd be willing to
guess at least $30 million. That's not a bad return on $400,000 worth of VR
design effort. It puts the current efforts of the movie-making business in
clearer perspective, I think. Why pay production costs and payroll costs of $20
million to make $90 million, when one conceivably need only pay out $1.2
million to make $90 million? Of course the actors, screenwriters, and gaffers
of the world may not see it that way.
At these figures, I imagine I'll be besieged with people
begging me to call a referendum upon them, so that they, too, can get rich.
Well, the hell with that. There's got to be a way around that problem, what's
the solution? Where's my Bulls cap?
Oh yes, the vote count. I almost forgot. It's just about
dead-even now. Fifteen and a quarter million (51%) voted no, fourteen
and three-quarters million (49%) voted yes. And we got seven million new
vCitizens of whom perhaps one million might actually stay with the vCity and
learn from it, become part of it, help us chart a better future. That's the
real return -- all the rest is merely transient bullshit.
Friday night services during the summer at a reform Jewish
temple are quickies, what my mother-in-law once summarily dismissed as Sabbath
Lite. Let us come together, to kindle the sabbath lite. You're in, you're out,
As the oneg was winding down, our rabbi came up to
me. She wanted to discuss the virtual city with me, to see if she understood
all the nuances of what was going on. I wasn't really sure if she was against
the ban or in favor of it.
"I think what you're doing is a great service," she said
"Well, it's mostly a business operation, reb," I told her.
"If it didn't make money, I doubt our corporation would be involved with
"True, true," she nodded absently. "But I like the social
activism. And it's worldwide, too! Everybody talking, arguing with each other.
"I'd like to think so."
"Oh, absolutely! If the Internet didn't exist, the Jews
would have had to invent it."
"What?" I laughed.
"No kidding," she laughed in response. "We are still the
Chosen people, you know."
"Chosen to do what?"
"Ah," she replied, no longer smiling. "Now, that is
the question, isn't it? For almost six thousand years we have struggled to
answer that question. Why did God choose Abraham? Moses? Each one of us? What
is the point of being Jewish today?"
"Well. . ." I began.
"Don't stop me, I'm on a roll," she said breathlessly.
"Monotheism? No, that's largely been accomplished. Almost 75% of the world
population now believes in one God. Representative government? Done that too.
70% of all the world's population is republican or democratic now. Social
welfare and social responsibility? Spread those concepts too. So what's
"Return to Eden?" I offered.
"You betcha. See, the Diaspora forced Jews to think
globally and act locally. One planet, one people. We were futurists long before
the word was invented. Shomrei Adamah, you know? Stewards of the Earth.
We are still Chosen to carry out this task. We must make all the world One. And
on that day, God's name will be One, and error shall be no more."
"Amen, reb," I say cheerfully. "I was actually thinking
along more spiritual lines."
"Sure. Did you ever think about the possibility that what
we consider reality is, from God's perspective, only virtual?"
She looked at me with a mysterious twinkle in her eyes.
"Well, suppose that the body is the avatar of the soul. We
move around, we interact, we live our lives here on Earth producing and
consuming, creating and destroying, attending weddings and births and funerals.
Perhaps all of this is merely a very elaborate illusion, however. The reality
is not here at all, but in some other dimension where immortal souls exist.
Perhaps souls assume bodies from time to time, for amusement or for some
greater purpose which I do not profess to understand. The Forest Green that
stands before you is merely a name, a persona -- an alter ego for a soul that
has some other name."
"The Name that is spoken is not the Eternal Name," she
"Right. Perhaps this soul of mine has taken other personas
in the past, or will again in the future. Perhaps Earth is but one small
virtual reality world within the entire Internet that we call the physical
Universe. Perhaps a four dimensional Universe is but one tiny, visible aspect
-- a technology, if you please -- of a much greater reality of God."
"Do you believe in what you're saying?"
"Well, sometimes. It's an interesting theory that would
certainly tie together many of the world's great religions and a few of the
minor ones. Of course, it wouldn't be the first time that technological
metaphor has been used to inspire a new paradigm. The creation of precision
clock-making, for example, inspired many European theologists to think of God
in terms of a watchmaker who designed the Universe to work perfectly without
tinkering. This led many Europeans to search for the underlying order, and to
perceive the world in mechanistic terms."
"Why do you think God created time and space, then?"
"I don't know. That is not information available to mere
avatars. A software program does not question the existence of the Internet, it
merely goes about its business. My soul might know the answer to that question.
If you asked me why did people create the Internet, I'm not sure I could give
you a good answer."
She pursed her lips and paused a few seconds in thought.
"Then you think that the Earth could be like your virtual city?"
"Isn't that a dangerous theology? I mean, if we destroy the
Earth, for example, what difference would it make under your system?"
"To us? Or to God?"
"Well, the avatars would cease to exist, of course, as well
as all scapps, all terrain, everything. But from a soul's point of view, that's
meaningless. You're asking me, what if the simulation itself were shut down? I
guess souls would go somewhere else. God would create a new one and try again.
But perhaps the point is to try to keep ours going rather than let it
degenerate into chaos."
"Sounds like there's a good sermon in there somewhere," she
"Good versus Evil, reb. Always a winner."