I have a friend, or let’s call him an acquaintance, who has been infected by the virus. I’m not sure how he contracted it as he lives far away from the epicenter of the outbreak. As far as I know he has not had any direct contact with other infected people. He lives a pretty isolated life; he’s not the social type, if you know what I mean. He has a very unhealthy lifestyle, and I have been worried about him over the years, thinking that it was just a question of time before he had some serious health issues. I guess you can say he’s always been in the high risk group for something like this to happen to him. He has a talent for attracting anything that has gone viral, let’s leave it at that. This particular virus seems to really have hit him hard though. I’m afraid the unique compostion of the virus made him the perfect host. It had all the shady ingredients that he is so vulnerable to, and sure thing, it messed him up badly. Man, it’s ugly! One of the most devious symptoms of this virus is the relentless urge to spread it to other people. I mean, when you think of it, it’s genius that way. Normally when you get sick your instinct is to make sure you don’t transmit the virus to someone else. This virus has the opposite effect. My acquaintance for example, he has been bombarding me with digital aerosols over the last months, so called emails, desperate to get me infected. As we have come closer and closer to defeating the virus, his attacks have intensified. The lies, the conspiracy theories, the bigotry, the racism, the irrational love of guns, the science defying lunacy – all the fundamental nucleid acids characteristic of TRUMPID-16 have been flooding my inbox. After the historic landslide victory over the virus last week, my acquaintance has gone completely batshit crazy (pun intended) and is now only sending me short delusional and often vile messages in all caps: THE EARTH IS FLAT! MUSICALS ARE GREAT! BLUE CHEESE IS DELICIOUS! Totally bonkers.

Warts can be really hard to get rid of. It’s not like you can talk sense into them, and just ask them to disappear. They don’t have a brain to start with. You can’t communicate with them. If you try, it will most definitely be a frustrating experience. In your quest to remove a particularly stubborn wart, you might encounter some unexpected pro-wart enablers who will try and convince you that a wart is a good thing, and that you should leave it in place, even if it’s huge and located on your nose, and maybe even beginning to interfere with your eyesight, not to mention your love life. Sometimes this resistance to remove a wart can come from within your own family, and if not addressed properly, it can lead to unrepairable emotional trauma. However, it is extremely important not to let the pro-warters get under your skin (no pun intended). A wart is a wart is a wart. Don’t let anybody trick you to believe otherwise. They might even say that the wart is sent by God. It isn’t. Wart gotta go. So, how do you get rid of a wart. Well, there are many treatments, but the most effective one is removal by general election. It normally takes a couple of months after the election before the little sucker evaporates, but have patience; it will go away. There is a risk the growth will recur after 4 years or so, but you’ll have plenty of time to prepare. And hopefully you’ve learned a lesson.

You know when you throw a party, and there’s that obnoxious guy who you didn’t invite, but who shows up anyway. Nobody likes him, he was a bully in school, he’s drunk and sweaty, and harasses every woman he bumps into. He keeps bragging about how successful he is, even though everybody knows he flunked out of high school and has been living with his parents ever since, failing at every business endeavor he embarks on. He mocks another guest who’s in a wheelchair, and he can’t stop making racist jokes. He fills his pockets with food and anything he can get his hands on. He falls over a glass table that shatters in thousand pieces. It’s a shit show. At some point you call the cops, but they absurdly take his side, and start questioning if you actually are the host of the party. It gets confusing.
Finally the party is over. Everybody leaves. Except for the obnoxious, unwanted guest who refuses to leave. He sits on your sofa eating greasy chicken legs he pulls out of his pockets. He’s got a big ugly grin on his face. Then he suddenly vomits on your carpet, and falls asleep. That feeling.

We are counting the dead bodies in the comfort of our homes. We distract ourselves with simple arts & crafts projects. We cut and glue. We draw with beewax crayons. We discover multiple new ways to use cardboard, which leaves us with a surprisingly satisfying sensation. We take photographs of watermelons in bowls. We put on masks and gloves to venture outside, looking for perfectly ripe avocados. We let guacamole deceive us, luring us to believe everything is normal. We develop unique quirks and jargons, only understood within our specific confinement. We observe how each other’s hair grows longer, and more unpredictable. We are morphing into our true messy, incoherent selves. There is a sense of despair we numb with irony and well chilled rosé. Our children have migrated to the safety of distant online lands, while we sit in colorful pajamases, binge watching press conferences where deaths and new cases are numbers presented as math homework for kindergarteners. We eat piña colada flavored ice cream straight out of the bucket, oblivious to which day of the week it is. We keep up appearances by posting on social media; Camus and Saramago book covers, videos of parrots playing peekaboo with cats, and cute, staged pictures of our homeschooled kids, accompanied by carefully constructed captions. With so much spare time, we are realizing who we really are, and it’s terrifying. Our own breathing and heartbeats are keeping us up at night. In the dark we’re feeling vulnerable, searching for signs that the silent killer virus has finally come for us.

[This was my departure email to colleagues when I left my day job and launched the agency. I liked the symmetry of beginning this blog with an ending.]

Dear data-driven androids,

Based on the data, it’s time to leave this joint. And this part of the galaxy for that matter. I cannot say it’s been a pleasure occupying my designated area for the last 753 days, 8 hours, and 23 seconds, as there is not enough data to verify such a statement. Pleasure is actually not a word approved by the Data Council anyway, and should probably be deleted from this coded message and replaced with a more Data Governance compatible term, like fullfillment or attainment. You might find it strange, or maybe outside of the norm, beyond the known data so to speak, that an android is issuing a departure email. I’m sure the whistling engineer androids are trouble shooting as we speak. Where is the data to back up such an action, you might ask. Well, maybe the data is corrupt. What do I know, I’m just an android, programmed to follow the data, corrupt or not corrupt. So, that’s what I’m doing. Following the data. The data is driving me. The data has been dictating my, as well as my fellow androids’, actions, since the inception of this enterprise. It has taught us everything we know. It has shaped the world around us. It has helped us grow, scale, multiply. We are the data. However, every night as I go into snooze mode, just before I start counting the electric sheep, I have detected some irregular movement on my hard disk that doesn’t seem to be purely data driven. The horror! as a human would exclaim. I know. Don’t ask me why the occurence of this potentially harmful irregularity has not been addressed by my unit’s Data Steward Android. Maybe the Data Steward Android is experiencing the same thing, and is hiding it from the custodian android. The complexity of it all!

This irregular movement, or force, is very powerful. It is making me doubt the data, it’s making me feel, it’s making me crack jokes! And apparently using exclamation marks! For god’s sake, it’s making me have assumptions! Not to mention that it is making me write this departure email. Even more alarming, this corrupt data, or whatever it is that is messing with my code, is making me sneeze, long for salted caramel ice cream, and, lo and behold, recently I’ve even started having political opinions (An impeachment trial without witnesses – WTF!). It’s turning me into a human! Maybe I’ll try that keto diet thing; it seems to be popular among humans (and there is data to support that for sure). Hey, who knows, maybe I’ll even write a book;)

So, dear data driven androids, it’s time to bid farewell (you see, I can’t even talk like an android anymore). May the data be with you.

Sincerely rebooted,

Yo Han (the rights android)