A Few

a few of us live

life on a ledge

thinking we might fly

if we had wings

and the will to try

 

 

 

Monday’s Theme Music

“Back in the U.S.S.R” by the Beatles (1968) is today’s theme music. I thought it was appropriate to give a nod to a nation that no longer exists, one who built walls to keep their nation safe while building up a huge military and cutting their social safety nets and education, a nation whose primary concern became driven by the ruling party, who did everything they could to remain in power, control and intimidate their citizens.

It’s a pretty good song.

Razors & Computer Security

Remember back when razors came as a single blade? Then we advanced to twin blades and multiple blades. My current razor has three blades. It’s all in the pursuit of the closest shave possible.

And that was a good thing. It used to be so hazardous walking on the street as a man. You’d be going along, minding your own business, when, suddenly, a car screeches to a halt beside you, lights flashing. Uniformed people would leap out and surround you. “Let us feel your shave,” they would order, “to ensure it’s the closest that it can be.”

You had no choice but to comply, or risk getting sent to a barber for a shave. Our nation had no tolerance for any but the cleanest shaved man.

That’s how it seemed, at least from the commercials and advertisements.

I’ve always been amused by that approach, that more blades mean a closer shave, and more particularly, that a close shave is critical to civilization’s continued existence. We seem to be going down a similar path with computer security. If one layer of authentication is good, two is better. Hence, they’ve launched double-layered and two-step authentication. Naturally, it’s doomed to fall. Experts don’t seriously believe an absolutely secure computer is possible, if it’s accessing the web.

But I see a day in the future when companies and websites will tell you, “We’re more secure, because we have three layers of security.” Then someone else will announced, “Our security is better because we have four layers,” and the security race will be on.

Razors and computer security weren’t the first to think that if some was good, more was better. Remember American car ads, touting lower, longer, wider?

1949 Hudson Ad-02

Ford probably took the idea of more is better to an unusual but clever conclusion. They speculated that if some was good, then more is better with its front-end dive on braking. If some dive indicated your car’s brakes were doing their job and stopping you, then more dive would indicate better braking, right? They saved a lot of money and gained sales by gaming people into the perception their brakes were better because of that impressive front-end dive when you slammed on the brakes, when nothing had been changed.

Of course, we’ve always had the cubic inch and horsepower race. Still do, actually. Because, as they say, if some is good, more is better.

Probably why we have so many nukes in the United States. At least it feeds the perception that we’re safer.

Like with computers.

General Dream

“This is General Hamilton.”

Sure, I believed that. I was in the military again in this dream. My cell phone had rung. I’d answered. The other end had asked for Sergeant Seidel. I told them that was me. That’s when they identified themself.

Their voice was a pleasant tenor. Yeah, right, I thought, hearing that, and disconnected. I didn’t know a General Hamilton, and why would he be calling me? I was in the middle of some large, busy military complex. It was indoors and very modern. Everyone was in U.S. Air Force uniforms. I believe the location was in Florida.

I told someone else that a person had called and said they were General Hamilton. I didn’t know who that was. “It’s the commander,” they replied. “A five-star.”

A five-star? Seriously, a five-star calling me on my cell phone? Right.

The cell phone rang again. I answered. “This is General Hamilton.”

I answered with who I was and explained that we must have been disconnected. I remained dubious about who I was talking to.

“No problem,” he answered. “How do I get to the hospital?”

Was this a joke? I looked around. A large base directory, like in a mall, was mounted to a wall. “Where are you, General?”

“I’m in my office.”

“Where’s that?”

He told me. I traced it on the map. He seemed like he was two minutes away by car. The conversation continued, with me trying to understand why he was calling me, what his question meant, and what sort of help he was looking for.

“You’re the one responsible for coordinating activities, aren’t you?” he said.

Yes, that was one of my duties. As I was talking, I was walking and looking around, assessing where I was, trying to think through the issue and looking for anyone or anything that might be of help. His question completely baffled me. A five-star doesn’t have problems getting from one part of the base to another.

He had to hang up. He promised to call me back in a few minutes. “Thank you, sir,” I answered, and starting moving and thinking with more focused purpose. I’d made my way to the area he was trying to reach as I’d been talking to him. I’d realized he was going there to attend a ceremony taking place. I further knew who the organizers were, so I was heading there to talk to them. Most of the walls were glass. Although security was tight and I was often challenged, my security passes allowed me complete access.

Reaching the location of the ceremony, I entered and looked around. Although in a glass building, rolling, lush green grass dominated. Birds were singing, and it was sunny, with a warm breeze.

I saw the officer I sought. She was just concluding a speech. I hurried toward her. As I did, two heavily-armed security officers stepped up to her. They started talking. Thinking they were about to give her some problems, I hastened to them, because I knew that although she outranked me, I had a special position, and I could intercede.

I arrived at the end of their conversation. They were telling her, “We just wanted you to know that your story moved us, and we’re here to help you in any way that we can. We’re all here to help you.”

The officer was wiping off tears and sniffing. “Thank you.”

The security officers nodded and left. I gathered that her speech had been a moving one about loss, and they’d been moved. I just had that as an insight as I looked at her.

I started adding my condolences but was aware that time was short. She cut me off anyway, complaining about being emotional. I then began explaining my issue. I struggled to get the words out. As I did, I inadvertently called General Hamilton, General Mood.

I was correcting myself when she replied, “I know who you mean. That’s a good name for him. He’s really particular about how he travels. He has a phobia. That’s why he’s asking you for help. He wants to come here but he wants to walk.”

The explanation stunned me but as soon as I heard her, I knew what to do. It was just in time. The cell phone rang. I answered.

“This is General Hamilton,” they said from the other end.

I identified myself, and then began explaining what he needed to do. In the course of that, I realized that I called him General Mood. I immediately heard the mistake, apologized and corrected myself. He laughed. “That’s not a problem.”

Others came up to the officer I’d been talking to. They were concerned that General Hamilton hadn’t arrived. “I’m on the phone with him,” I replied, which impressed everyone. Then, as I resumed explaining how he was to reach our part, I looked up and saw him arriving.

The end.

***

I’ve typed the dream out to remember it so I forget as little as possible. In remembering it, some clues about what it’s about spoke to me, but overall, I need time to process it.

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