The Reset Manifesto
CopyrightÂ© 2016 by Lazlo Zalezac
“Did you have a good marriage with Peter?”
“Yes. It was everything that I dreamed it would be.”
“I never thought Peter would be capable of a real relationship.”
“Patricia, why did your marriage end?”
“Ed was a pretentious arrogant asshole who had more in common with a leach than a human being. I got fed up with his big talk and small results. I kicked him to the curb.”
“Peter was my source of strength. I felt that I could do anything with him around. I was his sanctuary. I was needed. You have no idea how empowering it is to be needed.”
“Ed needed my paycheck.”
“I’m not talking about that.
“Peter would come home from some of his trips exhausted. I’d rub his back, talk to him, and just listen. He couldn’t tell me much, but I understood the pressure he was under. It was the worst in the years before the time of riots.”
“Those were strange times.”
Ann Randal’s book, An Anger Rising, was an overnight success. People were already angry by all of the corruption that kept being exposed. It was like no one in any kind of official position could be trusted.
There were little protests popping up all over the country. A release of videos about a Congressman breaking the law and a crowd would gather in front of his campaign headquarters with signs demanding his resignation. At any one time, a third of the elected officials in Washington were subjects of increasingly vocal protests. As was common practice, there would be an ethics hearing, a slap on the wrist, and nothing else. Each time it happened, the anger grew.
The press remained aligned with the politicians, big business, and banks. The news stories the press presented were about how fictions manufactured by conspiracy nutcases were being passed as if it was fact on the Internet. The press wasn’t investigating any of these charges, just denying that there was anything to investigate. Yet the videos kept coming out and the evidence for all of those ‘conspiracies’ was building.
When that strategy didn’t work, another strategy was brought into play. Racism. It was a masterful stroke as a strategy to turn attention away from the misdeeds of the power elite. The basic idea was to tear apart all of coalitions that were targeting the power elite. Turn attention to other races as the source of all problems. The press played it with a level of skill that it hadn’t demonstrated in decades. It looked like a real news story.
A chat window appeared on his screen. Ansel stared at it. He had never used a chat program like the one that popped up. He closed it. It opened again. He disconnected from the Internet by unplugging the Ethernet cable from the computer. He closed the chat program. It stayed closed.
He started his virus checker program to do a complete scan of his computer. He stared at the screen watching the number of files scanned slowly increase. Nothing was as irritating as watching a virus checker program do a complete scan.
Ansel was a geek. All of his friends were geeks. He knew that because they all met in a game chat room to discuss matters of importance to geeks. It wasn’t a text-based kind of chat like that of the window that had popped up on his screen but a room in a virtual world on Second Life.
He had his own avatar that looked nothing like him. His avatar was a nerdy looking white guy with dorky black rimmed glasses, white shirt with a pocket protector, and black pants. Ansel was about as black as they came and wore blue jeans and tee shirts. He didn’t wear glasses. His name, which definitely sounded white, was a result of his father’s occupation as a photographer who admired the work of Ansel Adams.
His friends had avatars that had no correlation to their real appearance. There was Sam who had a beefcake avatar of exaggerated proportions, but she was a girl. She wasn’t lesbian or even bisexual. She had just liked the picture and figured that most guys would treat her like an equal on first meeting.
Chang, an American-born Chinese living in Atlanta, had a green Martian avatar. He was tired of all of those comments that began, ‘Those Asians all... ‘ It irritated him because the reason he got good grades was because he was smart not because he was Asian. He didn’t have a mother and father standing over him demanding that he study all of the time to make good grades. He was just as active in extracurricular activities as any other kid in school.
Clark’s avatar was a Buddha and he claimed to be as lily white as they came. He had no real reason for picking that avatar other than he thought it was cool looking. He had an amused irreverent view of the world. He wasn’t a particularly good student until something caught his attention, then it was “get out of my way or get run over.”
The group was about as mixed a collective as could be. They covered every race and religion. They lived in every state of the union. They ranged in age from an advanced 14 to 19. None of them felt particularly left out of society. It was kind of hard to feel that way when with a click of a mouse you could visit a place where there were hundreds of kids just like you.
They met online to talk about things of importance to them. Initially, their discussions were about computers and movies and music. Lately, the conversations were taking a darker turn. They were not stupid kids, unaware of the world around them. They saw the news stories on television. They heard adults talking about the problems. What they heard scared them.
Hearing about these problems was all well and good, except they didn’t see it. None of them had seen some White kid getting jumped by a gang of angry Blacks. None of them had seen a Black kid getting jumped by a gang of angry Whites. Supposedly these things were happening in schools all over the country on a daily basis. None of them had seen it and they covered a lot of different schools. None of the people they knew had seen it. Things were getting tense in the schools, but nothing had happened yet.
At the moment, Ansel’s irritation was increasing to outright anger. That damned virus was keeping him from meeting his friends and he had something interesting to tell them. He went off to get a soda. His mother had him do some little chore in the house. After everything was done, he returned to the computer to see that it was still scanning, although the indicator said that it was doing a heuristic analysis. That meant it was almost done.
He frowned on seeing the result – 0 threats found. He didn’t know what to make of that result. The chat window had appeared all by itself. He’d never seen it before. Something was wrong. He plugged in the Ethernet cable. The chat window popped up. He swore.
AngryMan: Hello Ansel.
Ansel stared at the text. Whoever was doing this knew his name. That made him a little nervous.
Ansel: Who are you?
AngryMan: I’m AngryMan.
Ansel: What are you doing on my machine?
AngryMan: I’m using a feature provided by the operating system company that allows them to hijack your computer. I need to talk to you.
Ansel: Get out of here.
Ansel: I’m going to unplug you.
AngryMan: I’ll come back every time you go online.
Ansel: I want you to leave me alone.
AngryMan: I’ll leave after you ask me the right question.
Ansel stared at that last line. This was some kind of game. What question hadn’t he asked? He read through the chat history. He had asked the who and the what questions. The where was pretty obvious. That left the why.
Ansel: Why are you doing this?
AngryMan: You finally asked the right question. I need your help.
Ansel: I’m not helping you. You’re probably a child molester
AngryMan: I need your help, not sex.
Ansel: Tell me what you need so that I can tell you to f•©k off
Ansel felt pretty daring using the f-word. He didn’t really like to use it, but it seemed appropriate in this situation.
AngryMan: Tell everyone in GAU Paradise that I’m coming for a visit Friday.
Ansel: Just show up if you know where it is
AngryMan: I want everyone there.
Ansel: Go to hell
The chat window disappeared. He stared at the screen of his computer. The guy — he assumed it was a guy — had mentioned using a backdoor provided by the operating system company that would allow them to take over his machine. That sounded weird. He typed in a query to a search engine. He stared at the result. There were zero results. He went to a different search engine and typed in a query. Again, there were zero results. Now he was bugged. You could type in a dozen random characters and get results. Nothing ever got zero results.
He opened up Second Life and used the short-cut to get to GAU Paradise. It was quickly obvious that he wasn’t the only one who had had a visit from AngryGuy. Two other people were there talking about the strange chat window that appeared. For the next hour, people showed up with a number of them talking about AngryGuy.
The conversation petered out. It was interesting, but there wasn’t all that much that could be said about it without becoming repetitious.
After a while, Ansel was able to relate his weird tale to the rest of the group. Earlier that day, he had gone off to an empty classroom to eat his lunch alone. Unfortunately, the room wasn’t empty. There was another kid in it, a White kid.
The White kid looked terrified upon seeing him. Ansel thought that was rather odd. Nobody was terrified of a geek and he was a well-known geek. Ansel had asked the kid why he was afraid. The kid explained that one of the teachers had told him that the Black kids were going to jump him during lunch.
This was really odd. Ansel was Black. He knew most of the Black kids in school, just like he knew most of the White kids in school. He had been in school with most of them since first grade. He had heard nothing about them planning on jumping a White kid.
Another Black kid entered the room. Now the White kid was freaking out, sure that he was going to be jumped. The reaction of the other Black kid was strange because he was worried. The three of the stood in the room looking at each other.
It took some time, but the three kids stopped staring suspiciously at each other and started talking. They found that the same teacher — a somewhat disliked substitute teacher in fact — was telling different kids that a group of a different race was going to jump them during lunch.
Ansel was viewed as harmless in his school. He was just good old Ansel, a kid who marched to a different drummer. He went out and brought more kids to the classroom. It wasn’t easy, despite his reputation, because everyone was nervous that day. They talked.
The same story emerged. White students were being told Blacks were going to jump them. Black students were being told Whites were going to jump them. Hispanics were being told that everyone was jump them for being dirty Mexicans. All of the warnings about threats had originated from the same teacher.
One of the Hispanic kids at school had said that it sounded like what happened at a cock fight. Handlers would kind of shove the birds at each other to rile them up and get them in a fighting mood. A number of them questioned the Hispanic kid about being at a cock fight. He explained that he saw it in a movie. So had everyone else, so that line of questioning was dropped. However, they all agreed that it was a reasonable analogy for what was happening.
After school was over, another odd thing happened. A reporter was standing outside the school when the kids were released. He kept trying to get someone to tell him about the attack that had happened during lunch at the school. The reporter kept insisting that he had a good source who had told him about a racially motivated attack that had happened during lunch.
Ansel had walked away from school that day pretty disturbed that someone was trying to create racial incident at his school. It was a pure fiction.
Martin Phillips and Franklin Jones stood at the window of the apartment overlooking the front steps of the church. Attendance at the church had been falling off for a while and Reverend Hill was getting desperate. Now it appeared that something odd was happening at the church.
When something strange started happening in the neighborhood, the locals called Martin so that he could deal with it. They usually called him rather than the police. Martin dealt with a lot of problems in the area and his solutions were often quite harsh, but effective and permanent.
“What are six White guys doing in this neighborhood?”
“I don’t know. You know that someone is going to bust them up and chase them out of here.”
“There are two news trucks pulling up.”
“That’s real weird.”
“There’s Reverend Hill. Do you recognize the Black kid with him?”
“I’ve never seen him before.”
“Me neither. Go door to door and tell everyone in the building to get their cell phones out and record what’s going on down there. Something is fishy.”
Martin got out his cell phone and started recording what was happening. There was a big meeting of the White guys, Reverend Hill, the Black kid, and the news crews at the foot of the steps leading up to the church. After a bit, the Black kid and the White guys walked off a ways to where they’d be out of the way. They were laughing and joking as they walked along. The news people set up cameras around Reverend Hill.
The news people started asking Reverend Hill questions. The Reverend, in predictable fashion, was loud and waving his arms about while speaking about the white devils and how racism was tearing his beloved neighborhood apart. As one, the cameras and reporters turned to watch the Black kid come running down the street being chased by the White guys. In what had to be the worst trip and fall in the history of acting, the Black kid went down to the ground. The White guys surrounded him and started kicking. They weren’t making contact, although from a distance it was impossible to tell that.
One of the reporters shouted something and everyone stopped. The Black kid and the White guys walked back down the street. They went through the action again. The fall to the ground was even less believable this time. It appeared that the Black kid didn’t want to get hurt falling on the street. He wanted something softer to fall on. There was more discussion before the group headed off back down the street.
“Tell some of the people to start uploading the videos to YouTube. I think the world ought to see how a riot is started.”
“Sure thing, Martin.”
“One more thing. Who’s the deacon of that church?”
“Tell Mr. Cotton that I’d like him to deliver a message to Reverend Hill.”
“He’s a dead man. There’s nowhere he can run. There’s nowhere he can hide. I’m going to kill him.”
“You can’t be serious, Martin.”
“I’m very serious. Tell Mr. Cotton to deliver the message.”
The third time through the chase, the Black kid didn’t fall down until he reached a grassy spot. The White guys swarmed around him. They were kicking and shoving. It all looked pretty realistic. In what came across as a heroic act by such an elderly man, Reverend Hill shouted and ran towards the Whites. They took off running for about fifty yards. They came to a stop as soon as they were out of camera frame. They stood around waiting to see if they needed to do it again.
Martin stopped recording. He dialed a number and waited for an answer.
“Sergeant O’Malley, this is Martin Phillips.”
There was a chill in the voice that replied. “What are you doing calling me, Martin?”
“I’m sending you a video of a supposed beating that took place just now.”
“I’ll use it to hang you. You know that, don’t you Martin?”
“I don’t think so in this case. I’m not involved in the supposed beating.”
“Why are you sending it to me?”
“You’re the most honest cop I know.”
“Don’t bullshit me.”
“Sergeant O’Malley, you and I are on opposite sides, but we’re fighting for the same thing. This is one of those times when working together helps both of us.”
“Martin, one of these days I’m going to catch you.”
“I’m hanging up now. Call me when you get it.”
Martin sent off the video. He stood at the window watching the action below. He was furious. Reverend Hill was destroying years of work. The White guys and the Black kid climbed into a van. They were gone before the police arrived. The cameramen disappeared into the news vans. They emerged after a few minutes with disks in hand.
The police were busy questioning Reverend Hill and the reporters about the beating. Martin smiled when a police car showed up with cherries flashing and siren blaring. Sergeant O’Malley came storming out of the car looking like he was ready to chew nails. The officers on the scene made their report to him. Much to their shock, he ordered that the Reverend, the reporters and the cameramen be arrested. After a lot of arguing among the police officers, they were all cuffed and taken away.
“What happened? They arrested the reporters.”
“It appears that Officer O’Malley got a recording of what really happened. I imagine that he’s going to throw the book at them. Incitement to riot, falsifying evidence, perjury, and who knows what else.”
“O’Malley has a hard-on for you.”
“I know. He’s an honest cop. He actually cares about this neighborhood.”
“Doesn’t he usually carry his cell phone in his shirt pocket with the camera peeking out of his pocket?”
“I think so.”
“I’ve got an idea.”
Martin pulled out his cell phone and made a call. He talked for five minutes with Peter and then hung up. He was laughing about something. Much to Franklin’s chagrin, he wasn’t sharing the joke with him.
With the attempt to incite a racial riot over and done with, Martin went to lunch. With gusto, he bit into his burger. He swore that the Hamburger Hut made the best hamburgers in the entire city. The french fries sucked, but the burgers were amazing. This was not a fast-food burger, but a real burger cooked on a grill.
He had just swallowed the first bite when his cell phone went off. Cursing, he put down his burger and wiped his hands on several napkins. The burgers here were really juicy.
“This is Martin.”
“Martin, I’m down here at the church. I want to meet.”
“Sergeant O’Malley, I’m happy to hear from you. I’m in the Hamburger Hut. Come on down here, I’ll buy you a burger.”
A few minutes later, Sergeant O’Malley entered the Hamburger Hut. He was quite familiar with the place. He was surprised to see a burger and a soda on the table across from Martin.
“Have a seat. Your burger is getting cold.”
The policeman sat down. He took a good bite from his burger. It was obvious that he enjoyed it. He swallowed and took a sip of the soda that was next to the burger. He said, “They do make a good burger here, don’t they?”
“I think it’s the best in the city.”
“I’m not sure about that.”
“Do you prefer to be called Patrick or Pat?”
“I prefer that you call me Sergeant O’Malley.”
Martin laughed. “Okay, Sergeant O’Malley. I guess you came down here to tell me that everyone was released without charges.”
Patrick looked up from his burger. That was exactly why he was there. In fact, the whole thing smelled bad to him. He felt duty bound to warn the people here that something bad was headed their way. The only one he felt he could trust was Martin. That kind of bothered him, but based on recent events it was clear that Reverend Hill did not have the interests of the community at heart.
“Yes. I was told that it was all a misunderstanding. I was informed that I was interfering with freedom of the press, that I had arrested a well-respected religious leader in the community, and that I was overstepping my authority as a police officer. I was warned that I should keep my mouth shut about the whole episode if I knew what was good for me.”
“I’d like you to do something for me.”
“Get out your cell phone.”
The Sergeant looked at Martin curious about the request. He got out his cell phone.
“Look at the videos on your telephone.”
Sergeant O’Malley opened up the video gallery app. The most recent video added to the gallery always appeared slightly larger than the others. He found he was looking at the face of his Captain. He looked up at Martin wondering how he knew.
“Go ahead and play it.”
Sergeant O’Malley played the video. It captured every word spoken along with the expression on the Captain’s face. His arguments about what really happened were just as clear. It was obvious that the fix was in.
“What do you know about this?”
“I called a friend who knows a guy who knows a guy that knows all about computers and cell phones and stuff. He activated your camera remotely. Not only is the video on your phone, it is also on a server somewhere.”
“No you’re not. I’m not releasing it.”
“You’re blackmailing me.”
“No. You’ve got the video. It’s up to you to decide what to do about it. Consider that the copy I can get as being insurance ... that’s not the right word ... It’s something you have that will convict your murderers in case you’re ever murdered.”
“It’s a life insurance policy.”
“I was sure it was called something different.”
“No. It’s a life insurance policy. It pays off after you’re dead.”
“Anyway, I’m holding your life insurance policy. Doesn’t that make you feel all warm and fuzzy?”
“Our burgers are getting cold. Let’s eat.”
Martin having started well before Sergeant O’Malley finished his burger first. He sat back and watched the policeman enjoy his burger. He waited for him to finish eating.
“Sergeant O’Malley, I’d like to discuss crime with you.”
“I’m willing to hear anything that you confess to.”
Martin laughed. “When was the last time you busted someone 14, 15, 16, 17, or 18 years of age for drugs?”
“I meant in this neighborhood.”
“I don’t know. It’s been a while.”
“It’s been three years.”
“Really? I’d have to look it up.”
“When was the last time you arrested someone in this neighborhood for armed robbery?”
“A couple weeks ago.”
“Was he from this neighborhood?”
“I can tell you for a fact that he wasn’t.”
“Franklin, bring me the binder.”
Franklin came over with a binder. He put it down in front of Martin. Martin opened it to the first page and turned it to where Sergeant O’Malley could see it.
“I started this notebook a couple years back after meeting a kid who understood my Honors Thesis from when I received my Bachelors Degree.”
Sergeant O’Malley’s eyebrows climbed to his hairline on hearing that.
“We talked about it. The first thing we decided was that I was going to clean up this neighborhood. As you flip through the pages, you’ll see dates, names, crimes, and arrests. There are notes there about sentences. Start flipping through, but take note of the dates.
Sergeant O’Malley flipped through the book. It was a disgusting history of crime in the neighborhood. He remembered a number of those characters. Most of them were in prison or dead now. The first three quarters of the folder covered just the first year. The last quarter of it had far fewer crimes in it. In fact, there were only a couple of pages filled in and those were primarily domestic disputes. The rest of the pages in the binder were still blank.
He closed the binder and looked at Martin suspiciously. He knew that Martin was the big drug dealer in this part of the city. He had a reputation as being exceptionally tough.
“I’m positioning myself to get into the marijuana business when it becomes legal. I’m planning on opening two stores.”
“It’s never going to happen.”
“Sure it will. I have a friend who says it will.”
“I have friends that tell me all kinds of shit that never comes true.”
“My friend knows things.”
“Okay, so your friend knows things. Big deal.”
“Let’s not argue about this. Let’s just keep working to make this neighborhood safe.”
Martin’s attention was drawn to the front door of the Hamburger Hut.
“Here comes Mr. Cotton. I’m sure that he has good news for us.”