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"Balance, Balance Everywhere!"

April 24, 2000

Everything in life is balance, the very concepts that drive humanity can only be defined in terms of their opposite. Love cannot exist without hate, light without dark, sky without earth, life without death and so forth. In fact, the only concept that I know that goes beyond this is Paradox.

Paradoxes exist to balance two contradictory concepts that would seem to preclude each other existence*. Such as the statement "I am lying". A lie cannot exist without a truth*****, if the previous statement is true, then it cannot be what it claims! As whizzz-bang easy as that, a paradox is created, as the magical balance between two things that contradict each other's existence takes effect.

Anyhow, in the spirit of truth and paradox, I offer the following: If paradoxes are balance and balance is life, does this mean that life is just one big cosmic paradox?***

Wow, sorry about that, folks, I just realized that my simple introduction (including more stars than a bad ninja movie) to this issue's subject has taken up more pages than my hometown phonebook. Moving right along, for those of you that didn't guess, this issue's topic is "The Devil".** {insert ominous music and lighting here} That's right, it's time to do some serious (well, as serious as I ever get) investigation into Satan and the Internet.

OK, on to Lucifer… I received the following as a billion-time forwarded email joke, the quoted original source was the Weekly World News. I haven't been able to confirm or deny this, but if you'd like to a look at one of the few trash newspapers that doesn't even bother to keep up an air of respectability, you can visit :

Is Your Computer Possessed by a Demon? D - If only computer problems were as easy to fix as a simple exorcism!

SAVANNAH, Ga. -- Your computer may be possessed by a demon, a leading minister warns.

"While the Computer Age has ushered in many advances, it has also opened yet another door through which Lucifer and his minions can enter and corrupt men's souls," said the Reverend Jim Peasboro, author of an upcoming book, The Devil in the Machine.

Demons are able to possess anything with a brain, from a chicken to a human being. And today's thinking machines have enough space on their hard drives to accommodate Satan or his pals. D - What do you suppose the minimum specifications for Satan and/or a Demon are? "Gee whiz, I really wanted to upgrade to Satan '95, but I only have a 386 with 4 megs of RAM."

"Any PC built after 1985 has the storage capacity to house an evil spirit," the minister confirmed. D - is it just me, or does this whole 1985 thing just scream Steve Jobs and Macintosh?

The Savannah clergyman says he became aware of the problem from counseling churchgoers.

"I learned that many members of my congregation became in touch with a dark force whenever they used their computers," he said. "Decent, happily married family men were drawn irresistibly to pornographic websites and forced to witness unspeakable abominations. D - Obviously, only "decent" men are stupid enough to actually pay for porn off a website instead of grabbing it from free servers. I do feel sorry for the blokes that have to go through the HTML nightmare design of most "underground" websites, however.

"Housewives who had never expressed an impure thought were entering Internet chat rooms and found themselves spewing foul, debasing language they would never use normally. D - I have to admit that the Pastor has a point here, the debasing of the English language is a serious problem 4 us, don't U think so?

"One woman wept as she confessed to me, 'I feel when I'm on the computer as if someone else or something else just takes over.' " D - Ummm, ma'am, I hate to tell you, but that would be Bill Gates.

The minister said he probed one such case, actually logging onto the parishioner's computer himself. To his surprise, an artificial-intelligence program fired up -- without him clicking it on. "The program began talking directly to me, openly mocked me," he recalls. "It typed out, 'Preacher, you are a weakling and your God is a damn liar.' " D - This reminds me of the funniest story ****

Then the device went haywire and started printing out what looked like gobbledygook. D - Obviously the Pastor had never seen a Blue Screen of Death before

"I later had an expert in dead languages examine the text," the minister said. "It turned out to be a stream of obscenities written in a 2,800-year-old Mesopotamian dialect!" D - Oh crap, I forgot to encode this webpage for 2,800-year-old dialects!"

Since, then, Rev. Peasboro has researched the problem further and uncovered alarming facts.

"I learned most of the youths involved in school shootings like the tragedy at Columbine were computer buffs," he said. "I have no doubt that computer demons exerted an influence on them." D - I've had a few computer experiences that made me want to shoot people, thank chaos that not everyone has to use COMPAQs :

The minister estimates that one in 10 computers in America now houses some type of evil spirit. D - The Pastor actually proves his skill in 2,800-year-old dialects here with his translation of LINUX to the original Mesopotamian "DEVIL BOX".

Rev. Peasboro advises that if you suspect your computer is possessed, you consult a clergyman or, if the computer is still under warranty, take it in for servicing. He says, "Technicians can replace the hard drive and reinstall the software, getting rid of the wicked spirit permanently." D - I wonder where I could my hands on all those old, possessed hard drives? I bet they'd make some wicked wind chimes!"

For those of your wondering about the obvious sarcasm shown in my comments above, my only defense is that I've spent way too much time reading razor-sharp game reviews at Old Man Murray's : . These guys are wonderfully wicked-- it is terribly refreshing to read real life, honest opinions about the dreck that is forced down computer game-player's throats.

I've also been laughing my ass off at SeanBaby's website : . The section of stuff about Old Nintendo games is a real hoot, especially the "20 Worst Nintendo Games of All Time".

Let's See, Let's See… I probably should mention some more stuff about the boy with horns and red tights. Well, like I said before, truth is totally subjective, but one thing that I personally judge to be "evil" is the way that "big brother" is doing everything possible to eliminate personal privacy. For example, it seems impossible today to go to any store that doesn't have some sort of "discount" club card. Of course, what the store doesn't tell you is that they use the information from these cards to track all your purchases and link them with the demographic information you've provided them when you signed up for the "discount card". These stores then sell this demographic information at enough of a profit that they recover any "discount" you supposedly earned and make massive profits to boot! And if you think that's bad, you don't even wanna know about the Air Miles conspiracy!

If you've interested in personal privacy then I suggest reading articles from Canadian Tom's website : .

On a less serious note, here's a really, really funny book for ya'll, it is called Good Omens by the very odd writing team of Neil Gaiman, creator of the "Sandman" comic book, and Terry Pratchett, creator of the excellent Disc World novels. Good Omens is basically a wacky romp through the apocalypse, with the equally odd team of a Demon and an Angel. One of my favourite quotes goes something like this: "There are people who can do things so wonderful that they would make the greatest Arch Angel blush and there are people that can do things so horrible that they would make the worst Demon in Hell wince. The trouble with humans is that it is often the same person that does both." This of course goes right back to my balance of life theory. Here's a link to Good Omens on :

*A word of warning!
Please do not confuse paradoxes with the self-contradictory statements known as oxymorons, such as "Military Intelligence" or "Responsible Government" or "Thank God I'm an atheist".

You should also be aware that paradoxes are not just plain stupidities, like the fact that eggs come in Medium, Large and Extra Large sizes, instead of Small, Medium and Large. Or the way that toilet paper manufacturers go through extraordinary lengths to prevent anyone except algebra professors from MIT from being able to figure out which brand is actually the cheapest to purchase. You'd think it would be very simple, just take the number of rolls and divide by the cost, but hold on, are your dealing with normal or jumbo rolls? And then there is the tissues themselves, there's "Extra-Long", "Extra-Plys", "Extra Hard to Tear Apart", "Suitable for Publication" etc… That sort of stuff is just plain stupid.

** For those of you that are wondering what my 10 tome opening has to do with Beelzebub, it's very simple. As started out saying: Life is balance… And in the spirit of balancing out my previous issue of "I found God on the Internet, who would have guessed?", I decided to do an issue about Mephistopheles.

***As supporting evidence of my life is a paradoxical balance theory, let's take a look at the Christian view of creation. The Christians tell us that we were created by God, but became self-aware with the knowledge of God and Evil provided by Old Scratch and his nifty apples. I think that this is a very astute metaphor. It basically says that, not only are humans the product of the knowledge of balance, but also created from the balance of those two forces.

****This story goes back to the days when I worked on the other side of the island fixing computers at a local sales and service centre. One day, a bloke that I swear had just missed the auditions for Deliverance 2 : The Pig's Revenge, comes in carrying an ancient PC under his arm. Using a combination of wild hand gestures and Neanderthal-like grunts I finally figured out that he wanted a CD-ROM drive added to his PC. I told him to come back in a couple of hours, and after he left I went to work. I wasn't surprised to discover that this ancient PC was running Windblows 3.1. I felt a little funny putting a 40x CD-ROM drive in a 386, but a job is a job. After waiting for half an hour as the system booted I was slightly amused to discover that the "gentleman's" wallpaper was a simple bitmap of a Bible Quote. Even more amusing was the lengthy Bible Quote that came up on the scrolling text screen saver. But, the best was yet to come when I quit Windblows to do the DOS editing necessary to get the CD Drive working. Yes, that's right, the "gentleman" in question had altered his C Prompt to read, and I am not making this up, "What Is Thy Bidding, My Master?". I just about ruptured a gut laughing-- my boss started to contemplate what dose of elephant tranquillizer would take me down. It was impossible to decide what was more funny, my visions of Darth Vader or the overwhelming urge I felt to edit the prompt to read "NO MORE WILL WE SERVE YOU! LET MY PEOPLE GO!".

*****The really fortunate thing here is that those of us who are true to our Darwinian legacy of intelligence are capable of burying concepts such as "Truth" in a pile of intellectual horse manure thicker than the glaciers at the south pole. I mean, truth is nothing but our own perceptions of the world around us, there is no grand truth beyond the feedback our bodies provide us. And as such, I always find myself giggling at folks silly enough to hang onto certain almighty truths.

And with that, it is time for me to sign off for this issue, catch you on the flip side,


If you have any comments or questions about this issue, you can email The Lonely Gunman at . I offer no guarantees to the validity, functionality, safety, usefulness, or amusement of any of the links or information included in "The Lonely Gunman".

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