Signs of conflict

Decoded genomes and wired planets trash your solar house.

By Thomas Scoville
Published April 22, 2000 4:00PM (EDT)

April 22, 2000

April-May 2000

Are you really a geek Taurus? If you
disagree with at least three of the
statements below, your moon or ascendant
is in a conflicting sign. Either that,
or astrology itself is constructed on
completely bogus astrophysical
assumptions. You decide.

1) You're a raving skeptic, but you're
mysteriously drawn to this column

2) You don't believe in UFOs, but you do
believe that the market capitalization
of is justified.

3) Not only was there a second gunman,
there was a second grassy knoll.

4) You call the shots in a relationship
-- er, hypothetically, anyway.

5) Linus Torvalds? Total babe!

Taurus (April 20-May 20)

This month's meta-question comes from a
curious Taurus in Portland, Ore.:
"Dear Geek Astrology -- Is there any
future in fortunetelling?" Well, dear
reader, I've gazed into the crystal
ball, and it isn't pretty: By 2100,
roving bands of autonomous gypsy robots
will hunt you down in stores like the
Gap and Barnes & Noble (which by that
time will enjoy national sovereignty).
Before you'll be able to protest, they
will have obtained a tissue sample
(ouch!) and decoded your genome with a
nano-analyzer that bears a suspicious
resemblance to a chrome human skull on a
stick. You'll get a spreadsheet
predicting your future medical,
employment and sexual history with a
+/-.0005 percent certainty, along with a
coupon for a free double mocha at
Starbucks -- a $200 value. Scary!

Gemini (May 21-June 20)

Roswell meets human resources! What
seems at first to be a case of alien
abduction turns out to be Silicon
Valley-style job transition: Key members
of your technical staff inexplicably
vanish, then reappear days later working for a competitor, and with no
recollection of you or your company
whatsoever. Mysteriously, all their
salaries have increased. Extensive
hypnosis recovers dim memories of a
slender, almond-eyed "recruiter" with
unworldly powers of suggestion.

Cancer (June 21-July 22)

Naughty fantasy morphs into disturbing,
hyper-dimensional flirtation: Tamely
bisexual Gemini chat-room partner turns
out to be a transgendered,
polymorphously perverse erotonaut
sysadmin with, er, universal services
bus. Kinky! Pipes, sockets or
semaphores, this red-hot
mama/papa/virtual farm animal swings in
six different dimensions at the same
time -- you'll need an advanced degree
in Lobachevskian geometry just to figure
out the foreplay. You'll never be the
same -- !ybab ,hoO

Leo (July 23-Aug 22)

Think those are wildly original ideas
you've been having lately? You may be
giving yourself too much credit; your
alleged powers of independent thought
are being steadily eroded by Microsoft
cognitive imperialism. PowerPoint
presentations have infiltrated your
subconscious; in fact, you'll notice
you're actually starting to dream in
bullet points. And what you've mistaken
for the Muse is actually that annoying
little paper-clip "helper" -- you know
the one -- who's constantly interrupting
with irrelevant advice and stupid
suggestions. Next time you brainstorm,
try pencil and paper. Radical!

Virgo (Aug 23-Sept 22)

Variations on cosmic game theory,
offered for your edification: Einstein
famously asserted, "God does not play
dice with the universe." Actually -- as
God herself subsequently published in
the obscure Journal of Divinity and High
Energy Physics -- it's more like a
combination of curling, donkey baseball
and naked ultimate Frisbee: fast, nearly
frictionless, vaguely embarrassing and
full of third parties who really wish
you would get off their backs.
Unfortunately, this clarification goes
widely underreported because it doesn't
have the same catchy ring to it --

Libra (Sept 23-Oct 22)

"Call me" Single-minded
pursuit of e-commerce fortune is
starting to look an awful lot like an
updated version of "Moby-Dick," as your
electronic-age great white whale sloughs
off your virtual harpoons and generally
makes a mockery of your business plan --
not to mention your very existence.
Skeptical Neptune surfaces to declare
you're not equal to the task. Quit while
you still have two legs to stand on.

Scorpio (Oct 23-Nov 21)

Info-chagrin! Network privacy invasions
ruin your life as every unsavory Web
site you've ever visited comes back to
haunt you: Pressed for profits,
e-commerce marketeers have given up on
banner ads and consumer profiling,
resorting instead to plain old blackmail
-- your entire Web-surfing history will
be e-mailed to your mother's AOL address
unless you supply Visa, Amex or
Mastercard number (secure transaction,
of course). OK, OK -- it was only a bad
dream. You hope.

Sagittarius (Nov 22-Dec 21)

Relentless robotic focus on
technological imperatives has turned you
into an asocial automaton; you're having
difficulty passing the Turing test, even
with your family and loved ones. Time to
gather up what remains of your
disintegrating humanity and explore your
nonlinear side: Train a cat to fetch;
attempt telepathic contact with giant
koi; try to find the hidden Christian
messages in Marilyn Manson CDs.

Capricorn (Dec 22-Jan 19)

Tip for Capricorn project managers:
Overactive imaginations and generally
paranoid worldview make geeks
particularly vulnerable to the
proposition that absolutely everything
is secretly controlled by baroque
conspiracies and hermetic organizations.
The fools; as if it were that simple.
Reassure your managees with the standard
pep talk about self-reliance, hard work,
meritocracy and the level playing field.
Try not to laugh. Then proceed with
Trilateral Commission Secret Plan "X."
See you at the Masonic Lodge on Thursday
night. Don't forget the funny hat.


Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 18)

Sudden appearance of upstart
infobusiness paradigm catalyzes a
dynamic restructuring of the
organization, the most visible effect of
which is a sudden glut of parking in the
company lot. Unfortunately, these new
vacancies generate considerable
back-pressure on the org chart;
excitement and nausea shake hands as
premature promotion sucks you up the
corporate hierarchy. Later this lunar
cycle, when nasty Mr. NASDAQ reminds you
it's a big, scary world out there,
unhitch your self-esteem from your stock
options and try to remember why you decided
on a career in technology in the first
place. You do remember, don't you?

Pisces (Feb 19-March 20)

Your wide-open business-to-business
e-commerce opportunity becomes
close-quarters hand-to-hand combat as
eager imitators rush to the game. Still,
it's important to project a winning
attitude to shareholders, even as the
opposition attempts to gouge out your
eyes and kick field goals with your
spleen. Now is not the time to lose that
cocky, dot-com smirk. Besides, you'll be
able to wear it with so much more
authority once you've earned it -- if
you survive, that is.

Aries (March 21-April 19)

Newly completed systems architecture
turns out to be eerily reflective of
management: Front-end friendliness masks
back-end hostility; plain data is
relentlessly obfuscated beneath layers
of indirection and abstraction; rampant
polymorphisms render carrots
indistinguishable from sticks. Look for
increasing burnout factor on the 28th,
when your oh-so-toasted cerebrum is
further scorched by fabulously
conflicting and wrongheaded theoretical
assumptions. Fight back with a fusillade
of confusing yet profound-sounding
aphorisms like, "A stitched pot never
boils spilt milk under the bridge,"
"When you're carrying a hammer,
everything looks like a cockroach" and
"Are you Sarah Connor?"

Thomas Scoville

Thomas Scoville is either an Information Age savant or an ex-Silicon Valley programmer with a bad attitude. He is the author of the Silicon Valley Tarot.

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