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         As he seated himself, Chess sent up a quick silent prayer to his goddess. The offering he had given to the lovely indigo priestess would mean that, right now, she was burning a pleasing incense to accompany his prayers. He imagined the graceful movements of the priestess, her dark hair spilling down over bare shoulders, the fragrant smoke curling up around her body… He blinked then, and forced himself to focus on the reality before him. May the goddess smile on him during this interview.

         The friendly-seeming guy sitting across the table was still making cryptic motions over his link-phone. For a moment, he appeared to frown at the screen, but he was smiling again as he looked up.
         “Well, Charles,” he began, exuding self-confidence. His suit was dark, and looked perfectly crisp. Chess felt damp. “Now, should I call you Charles? Do you have any nicknames that you prefer?”
         Chess hesitated for a moment, swallowing hard. “No,” he answered quietly, “Charles is fine.” “Great,” the guy answered. “Well, you certainly have all the standard qualifications that we are looking for.” He waved fingertips over his screen again and Chess’s transcript appeared in the air before them, projected by some unseen device. “Everything right there in Records. No problems there…”
         Chess nodded and tried not to look at the excruciatingly large description of his life, on bright-screen display for everyone at the table. “I, um,” he said hesitantly, “I could send this all right into your eye-links directly and then you wouldn’t have to…” He motioned vaguely toward the hologram.
         “Oh, of course,” the interviewer shrugged. “We just do this so everyone’s on the same page, literally,” he chuckled. “Then we can do other things with our own link-phones: look at a different page, make notes… pretend to make notes while we update our personal blogs…” He smirked.
         “It’s a good suggestion, though,” the female interviewer sitting beside him put in. “And your degree is specifically…” Behind her glasses, her mascara-outlined eyes flickered around to a few different positions and then her face relaxed. “Ah, ‘Information Systems Structure and Defense.’ Yes.”
         Chess felt that he should really add something at this point, but what? He sat up straighter in his chair and tried desperately to think. A buzzing, white-noise sound was starting up in his brain.
         But the female interviewer was still speaking. And now she leaned forward in a confidential manner. “But, as I’m sure you know, there are many people who are also perfectly qualified. And you score only about average in both team-building and influence, actually. So we are wondering: what else should we know about you? What added value do you bring?” She settled back in her chair. “What do you enjoy, perhaps in your spare time – ‘off the Records,’ in other words?”
         The question caught Chess completely off-guard. He had come prepared to answer questions about building secure networks and handling cyber attacks. He felt his pulse speeding up and he shifted in his chair. A tiny bead of sweat trickled down the edge of his hairline, and the buzzing in his head grew louder. “Um, I… like to write,” he answered haltingly, honestly.
         “Oh, a budding reporter!” the male interviewer cried jovially, seeming eager to help him out. “What a great hobby! Which Journals do you contribute to? We can take a look at them right now...”
         “Uh, no,” Chess gasped. He pressed his hands tightly together. “Uh, I write fiction.”
         The two interviewers looked at him blankly for a moment, and then the woman smiled knowingly. “Oh, Link-Vid episodes and things like that. Well, there’s certainly a lot of skill involved in making those: setting, action, filming, editing… and team-building and influence, without a doubt.”
         “Yes,” the guy jumped in, “not to mention following media trends, and even copyright law.”
         Chess felt nauseous. They seemed so eager to help him and he was so… lame. He opened his mouth to speak, but the dryness of his throat made him fear that he would start coughing. He thought of his sister, who was always so confident and so encouraging. And then a vision of his mom: smiling, unsteady, forgetful, helpless… flashed across his consciousness.
         Finally, he managed one hoarse, mumbled sentence. “I just kind of write, you know, stories… mostly just for myself.”

Continued next page...


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Knowing What We Don’t Know

Tess McGill: They don't exactly have bouncers at these things, they're a little more subtle than that.

Working Girl (1988)

         So, continuing with the idea that different and possibly opposing perspectives of a current event might have merit, and it’s often difficult to know or decide which viewpoint is the most correct… then this dilemma must be even more impossible regarding subject matter where we cannot - no matter how much research is done – have all the facts. Two major categories that come to mind are history and science. Both are cases where knowledge is hidden from us: one by the passage of time and the other by tools that we do not yet possess. And both problems can be illustrated by going back to look at any encyclopedia or high school textbook from decades past.
         History books once gave us facts in black and white and so did science textbooks. However, many of the scientific facts that I learned in school are now disputed. In grad school, much of the time, we learned two or more possible “models” that each reasonably explained a process. (For example, the transcription and translation of DNA into eventual proteins: so much is now known about the factors involved that we only begin to see the shadows of other components – leading to very long essay exams!)
         In the course of research for my story, however, the first time that I really felt confronted by the idea that facts might be a matter of perspective was in the area of mythology.

Ginny: You read W?
Tess: I read a lot of things. I mean, you never know where the big ideas could come from, you know?
Ginny: I guess you’re right, if dumplings can be considered a big idea.

Working Girl (1988)



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