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Week of December 16, 2002
Nothing much ever happened in Plus Park - in either of them.
Once upon a time there was a nice pleasant community known as Plus Park. Their town had a big pretty boulevard running down the middle. They loved country music, and used to sit out in the sunshine and play it on their melodic guitars all day long.
Three people were leaders in Plus Park, and they were known affectionately as the Corn Hustler, the Village Person, and the Careless Pedantic. Together they controlled most of the revenue flow in the little metropolis. And Plus Park had a real park in their city centre too, and it was called Plus Park as well, and it was fashioned after the famous Hyde Park in London, and every morning the townspeople would assemble in different parts of the park and listen to people speak, and after a while the different speaking locations became synonymous with the categories of subjects discussed there. And the three leaders encouraged this, as they knew it would generate huge revenues for them and also for their Gray Eminence, known affectionately as the Gray Eminence.
Nothing much ever happened in Plus Park - in either of them. What the townspeople talked about all day long in the park in the city centre was of no consequence and they knew it; the only thing of any consequence that happened in Plus Park was that their constant milling about and prattling nonsense somehow got local corporations to invest huge amounts in projects run by the Gray Eminence. And at least the Eminence and his three leaders were well. They were affluent beyond their dreams - and as for the rest of the people of Plus Park - well the discussions made them feel like they were important, and talented, and educated, and full of opinions others wanted to hear - which was of course as far from the truth as any other thing in Plus Park.
One day someone in Plus Park began noticing an influx of strangers who wandered the streets trying to sell cheap worthless rip-off junk to decent townspeople. The people of Plus Park found this very irritating, and sensing an important public reaction, the Gray Eminence gathered his three leaders at Castello Dell'Amico.
'We need to do something fast,' said the Gray Eminence.
'I can write a computer program,' said the Careless Pedantic.
'Oh please not that,' said the Corn Hustler. 'Your programs always crash.'
'It doesn't matter,' said the Village Person. 'We can still sell it. People are dumb.'
The Gray Eminence nodded at the Village Person. 'Quite right, quite right.'
So it was decided that the Village Person, a rabble rouser of considerable merit, would stir the pot to create public opinion and encourage people to come forward with suggestions of their own, and would thereafter officially turn over the suggestions to the Careless Pedantic, and the Careless Pedantic would program it. But what would the Corn Hustler do? The Corn Hustler would go on just cheating people with cheap corn, and also mentioning any chance he got that a New Project was underway in Plus Park.
Many months went by, and although the Village Person managed to get a massive collection of good suggestions, and although he turned them all over to the Careless Pedantic, nothing much ever happened. Mind you, some people were relieved, for the Careless Pedantic was notorious as the Worst Programmer In The World, but people were also upset that their town leadership had let them down yet again.
There had been a scam scare perpetrated by the Village Person years earlier: He had warned of a coming epidemic; he spoke of an impending 'Christmas of Death', with a deadly virus known only as 'XP' approaching their countryside in its purest, rawest form. People spent a lot of money trying to protect themselves against this touted plague, but nothing much ever happened - unless you could spy on the Village Person, the Corn Hustler, and the Careless Pedantic sitting with the Gray Eminence in his Castello Dell'Amico, counting through their coffers all through the night.
So naturally people suspected this might be a new scam. Perhaps their leaders hired the bad people to come and harass them? But if so, where was the solution? How did the leaders intend to steal even more money? As no one knew, or could come up with a plausible answer, people gradually began to believe the story was real, and that the Careless Pedantic, the Worst Programmer In The World, was indeed Worst Programmer In The World. And this was correct of them, as he (the Careless Pedantic) was indeed that - the Worst Programmer In The World that is. Beyond the shadow of a doubt. The first runner up was a five year old swamp lizard from Calcutta India with one eye, no hearing, no tail, and an official IQ of 52 - and he was still a lot better than the Careless Pedantic.
Many more months went by, and finally the townspeople grew tired. 'They're never going to write that new program,' they said in despair. 'The Worst Programmer In The World is truly the Worst Programmer In The World!' And in attempt to bolster public support of the scam, the Village Person made a public promise to help in the coding of the program.
'Uh-oh! Now it's going to be even worse!' the townspeople reacted. 'The Village Person hasn't written a non-trivial program in ten years, and that's good, because his programs are so much hokey!' And so things seemed to be getting really, really bad in Plus Park.
And so, following a pattern often used before, the townspeople stopped waiting for their phony leaders and started doing things on their own. Small groups banded together and met in the night and discussed how they themselves would write the program to keep the bad people out of Plus Park.
Several more months went by, and although there was still no program, there were now results of a sort, which was a lot more than the idiots in Castello Dell'Amico had been capable of.
And all the while the Gray Eminence, the Corn Hustler, the Village Person, and the Careless Pedantic sat and looked out over their kingdom, counting their gold coins and grinning and joking a lot with each other.
'They're actually making progress,' said the Gray Eminence.
'I wouldn't put too much into it,' said the Corn Hustler.
'We can always steal the code later,' offered the Village Person.
'Good idea,' said the Careless Pedantic.