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Learning at its Best

The Curve (II)

9

When the Teacher mentioned the @o_0Phil0_os, the Compliance Officer experienced a brief chill and had a slight involuntary shiver. Making a mental note to give this bodily manifestation further thought later on, the CO acted as if nothing had happened and the hearing continued to run its course.

The Teacher received all the process that had been due, which wasn’t much. Each of the so-called hearings conducted weren’t as much a matter of giving real consideration to what was or was not said as it was of making it appear fair to those excluded from attending the hearing. It had been determined long ago that if enough individuals, both those who were potentially affected and those who were complete outsiders, thought the matter was handled “fairly”, any outcome would be accepted and thought to be “just”. This model had, barring the Teacher’s flaming out or completely loosing it at the hearing, made the predetermined outcome inevitable.

Because the Teachers and Staff mustn’t be allowed to see the pattern, extreme determinations were periodically rendered to maintain the illusion that exceptions and outliers were at the Curve’s peripheries. The Teacher had benefited from calculations that required the CO to formulate an “exception”. Had the matter come to the CO’s attention and been fed into the system either one day earlier or later, the Teacher would have been fired outright…

With the hearing’s outcome predetermined, the CO remained on autopilot, feigning interest and expressing the slightest amount of sympathy toward the Teacher’s good-natured naivety.

10

Later, while reviewing the digital AV recording and compiling the official report, it was clear that nearly everyone in attendance had performed within the boundaries of standard expectations. When the Teacher referenced “The World Surveillance Game”, everyone’s heart rate and body temperatures had risen appropriately – they all remembered how close the Teacher had come to “the truth” about social facts, and how a student insurrection had nearly occurred.

After the World Surveillance stunt, the library techs had worked for hours to assure students could not access the works of Durkheim and Plato. Orwell and other such ilk had, of course, long ago been put onto the ever-expanding list that led to flashing messages of “That work is currently unavailable” and “Please try your request again at a latter time”. No matter their scholarly merit, it would be a terribly cold day when students would be able to access those works…

Just as the CO monitored all of the school’s employees, the CO knew someone was out there monitoring all of the COs. Those “watchers” were certain to pick up on that damned shiver, recognizing it as being well “out of Curve”. Would it be best to mention having periodic chills during the next visit with the doctor who was monitoring the hyperhydrosis, or would telling others that a brief feeling of revulsion had been experienced provide the best cover? The medical condition was a perfectly good story, but since it might draw a little too much attention to physicality, the CO decided to make an overt declaration of having adverse feelings toward the Teacher and the Teacher’s story – it would be a good way to show the CO’s loyalty to corporate policy.

While absently gazing toward the ceiling, and with a nod of the head, as if satisfied with the report, the CO pressed “Enter” and turned off the terminal for the day.

11

The CO’s salary provided a great excuse for having only one TV in the house, and while carrying out evening ablutions, was finally able to sigh. The bathroom and bedroom were two of the few truly private areas left these days, and even those last bastions of unmonitored solitude were soon to be encroached upon. There had been prefatory talk of additional communication devices being provided as a “perk” of the CO’s position. Having read any number of the “unavailable” works, the CO was not fooled – the position was “sensitive”, requiring a high security clearance and tight monitoring because one never knew when, whether purposefully or innocently, a corporate secret might be divulged.

There were all sorts of monitoring devices in the public areas. Those devices had been welcomed due to concerns about terrorism and safety. Still, once upon a time, everyone had been safe from prying eyes in their own homes.Although it had only been ten years since corporate interests horned into every room that contained the aptly-named “monitor”, the gold-old-days of privacy seemed like ancient history since monitoring had become part of the Curve.

The whole monitoring mess had seemed innocent at first – built-in cameras and microphones were conveniences, “user friendly devices” that would “enhance the viewing/entertainment/interaction experience”. After all, everyone communicated with everybody in the age of globalization, and making it possible to “connect” while sitting in one’s living room or lying in the bedroom made the connection easier! The CO even knew a few people who were unable to break away from “being connected” for even an instant, and would communicate with the world while sitting on the commode… just the smiling face, please…

12

The CO had good reason to sigh. Officially listed as half “European” and half “East Asian”, the CO’s recorded IQ neatly fit Rushton‘s “Big Brain Theory”. Aside from being within the general “racial norms” of brain form and function, however, the CO’s intellect had been the result of being raised in a healthful environment by parents who were highly educated, verbal as all get-out, and who had assured that the CO received adequate nutrition and healthcare and was properly inducted into the world of “how to take tests”.

The CO’s parents had gone a few extra miles, delving into the worlds of “What If?”, “Why Not?” and “What exists in-between?”. Those worlds of continuous semantic and conceptual inquiry had never gone away, not even after years of schooling that made it clear every question had only one right answer. When the CO finally articulated a matter that had niggled in the recesses of thought, that it wasn’t the organizations and institutions that held societies together, but the aggregate of individuals who lived in places between the here-and-there of identity politics, the CO’s parents had given one another a rather sad look and then said, “It’s time we had a talk”…

13

The CO knew the parents were “shooters” at the academic research institute, but aside from their areas of specialization, knew little about their work. As it turned out, they were stellar in their respective fields – one was a physician leading in molecular biology and genetics, and the other was the rock star of statistics and computer programming. They were rebels, and while they had some sort of cause their administrators could not quite grasp, they made it rain money, applying for and receiving grant after grant, and they published prodigiously, making them untouchable sacred cows.

The CO’s parents were given wide latitude to conduct research and experiments. Through their combined areas of expertise, they had been able to keep some of their work entirely off the institution’s books. How the CO came to exist was their greatest coup. How the CO came to exist was their greatest secret.

The parents had grown up in the Ayn Randian environment of objectivism – humans would eventually become űbermench, and so they had worked toward the creation of űbermunchins of their very own, children who would carry the chromosomal SNPs and alleles of superior intellect and only the best and strongest combinations of DNA to assure bodily health, strength, and longevity.

Had they paused even for a moment, they might have been aware of a rather Biblical reference – “two and two” – they had carefully selected two ova and two spermatozoa which through careful manipulation had became a pair of cellular masses, one male and one female, that were loaded into the mother-as-ark. After one of the cellular masses had been absorbed by the other, the parents began to have some doubts about the technical aspects of their experiment. Later, when it became clear the CO was not going to be born “perfect”, they discovered that the “junk” DNA they had removed was not quite as junky as they had thought…

14

The parents’ experiment had led to their child being born alive, and entirely loveable. As it turned out, their exceptional child had outstripped all of their expectations except for physical beauty. The fact that one of the zygomatic twins had devoured the other en utero caused their child to be a chimera that carried two wildly divergent sets of DNA. One set of DNA was blood based and had become part of the “official” birth and identification records. The other set was carried within internal organs – although the parents had examined that particular DNA, they had never logged the results – their child had been gifted an entirely unidentifiable and alternate set of identity markers. Their child could, should the need to do so ever arise, simply disappear.

The CO’s physicality was both boon and bane. Albinism had caused the existence of preternaturally white skin, white hair, and a pair of disturbingly deep-red eyes. Although a physical oddity, the risks posed by UV radiation gave the CO a great excuse to stay indoors to spend untold hours scouring various databases for information. Because many were profoundly disturbed by the red eyes, the CO was licensed to wear contact lenses that would otherwise be prohibited as a “terrorist disguise” – as it happened, the contacts provided an absolute bar to the monitoring of involuntary dilation and contraction of the irises.

Although some considered the physical anomalies to be disabilities, “The Talk”, when it had come, made it perfectly clear to the CO that they were nearly perfect as a defense. This bodily suit of armor, together with a superior intelligence and the double-DNA identity, would enable the CO to simultaneously live within and outside of a world bound to, and by, The Curve.

15

There is a Curve for every set of circumstances, and the Teacher’s situation was no exception. After a few days, most in the Teacher’s shoes would sheepishly laugh at what they had done and then get with the program and find someplace to fit in within the range of Normal. A handful would either become rabid proponents of the system or would completely derail. The first group was encouraged every step of the way. The second group was tolerated. All others were fired, cast out, ruined, banished…

Time and again, the “corrective action curve” had been proved to exist. Despite this, the CO had become aware of a fourth group that seemed to dodge all the projections and expectations. The CO had an affinity with this Fourth Group because each of its members were as anomalous as the CO.

When the IT dweebs thought a data error had occurred, the CO was tasked with tracking down an input error because human errors were the most likely cause of any aberrancy. The CO had quickly tracked down the Teacher’s existence. It had not been the Teacher’s tinkering with information on ethnicity – that was not enough to merit attention because no one important cared about that stuff – the Teacher’s mere existence within the system was the aberration.

Through knowledge of systems and data flows, the CO had been able to divert attention away from the Teacher onto the Teacher’s violation of policy. This had not been the first time this had occurred – the CO had become quite adept at diverting attention away from Fourth Group teachers after the first one. The CO had initially thought to evaluate the data further and track that first one to see if the teacher was dangerous or carried the potential to infect others. Nothing overt occurred for three months, and then a different teacher had popped up on the radar – the same type of anomalous presence, the same type of encouragement toward student individuality, and the same type of naivety. Quite separate and distinct, quite different, and yet of equal character, student outcomes and personal successes…

16

Before falling asleep, the CO reviewed the number of anomalies detected, and the when-and-where of their locations. It would soon be time to again take low-tech/hi-tech action that only someone like the CO could pull off – no one expected the CO to be fully “normal”, and so a trip to the antique book store, one that sold physical, solid books of paper and ink, would be unremarkable.

The CO would pull out the old crystal radio, capture the radiation of the next solar flare, and then burn a set of single-use encoding sticks. Chain reactions could be started by a catalyst. The űbermunchins were about to enlist the aid of the world’s @o_0Phil0_os…

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About Brent Snavely

A construct of upbringing and society, holder of a BS and JD and most recently an MA, I have practiced law for about 20 years. It has been said "The Truth shall set you free" -- I believe it will, but only if it is Your Personal Truth. Parrhesia may be humankind's only hope.

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