By Gonz Blinko
“Hello, “I said as I picked up the telephone’s receiver.
“I haven’t figured out how to decode it yet,” said Clebsch Molotovski,
a blind Polish immigrant, MIT graduate student and hacker
“Huh?” I had answered the phone and recognized Molotovski’s voice but
I had no idea what he was talking about.
The subliminable messages, of course,” he replied.
“Of course? What subliminable messages might you be talking about?”
“The ones in that spooky, science fictiony tune that it plays at
start-up.” Stated Molotovski as if this statement had been self
“When what starts up?” I responded curiously.
“RIM, RAM, SAM, all of the stuff from SerenityTech.”
“What?” I asked somewhat exasperated with Molotovski’s assumption
that I should know what the hell he was talking about.
“How quickly can you get to Cambridge?”
“Clebsch, why do I need to go up to Cambridge,” I said sitting on my
sofa in my condo on Joey Ramone Place in the Village.
“BC, his dog and wife are already here,” he stated as if my joining
them up north might have some value.
“We’ve got to get working to crack the code in the subliminable messages.”
“Will you please explain what the hell you’re talking about?”
After finishing the call with Molotovski, I called Samhara to tell her
to meet me at LaGuardia near the USAirways counter. I told her we
would fly to Boston for a project and that I would most definitely
need a lot of legal advice.
“There’s a code we need to crack,” I told Samhara as our plane left the ground.
“What sort of code and when did you become an expert in cryptography?”
“Molotovski seems to believe that subliminable messages hidden in the
start-up tune that plays when Any SerenityTech product launches. He
says it takes control of people’s minds and that some of our friends
have turned into pod people.”
“Like in the Invasion of the Body Snatchers. They seem to have lost
control of their will and have handed it over to Mickey Bald.”
“Ok, let me get this straight, Mickey Bald and Soupy Campbell have
devised a subliminable algorithm that takes control of the minds of
their users? Sounds pretty pretty damned unlikely. I want to go back
to New York; Allie is tossing a party tomorrow for just us girls.”
“Let’s see what Molotovski has to say and decide whether we want to
fly back tonight or actually work on solving this problem.”
Molotovski’s subterranean office sat off of MIT’s infinite corridor.
Samhara, the X-Dog and I had to walk the equivalent of 20 city blocks
through the bowels of the great university. Upon arriving at
Molotovski’s space, we walked right in as he had left his door open
and we assumed he expected visitors to enter without knocking.
“Hey Clebsch,” said Samhara announcing our presence.
He either didn’t hear her or chose to ignore the greeting so I said,
“Molotovski, wake up, you summoned us here and we want to know why.”
He remained silent.
Samhara slapped the hacker on his back and Clebsch Molotovski jumped
out of his chair. “What the fuck do you think you are doing?” He
yelled loudly. “Oh… Hi guys, I was lost in thought, trying to get to
the bottom of the subliminable messages. I’m also trying to find a
way to immunize other blinks from the intense draw of the hypnotic
tune that, if they hear it enough, they lose control of their minds.”
Samhara asked the obvious question, “What evidence do you have that
leads you to believe that RIM, RAM and SAM can take control of a
user’s mind and turn their will over to Mickey Bald?
“A few months back, I noticed that some of our friends had started
behaving strangely.” Stated Clebsch in a matter of fact manner.
“In what way?” I asked.
“Well, it seemed to start with BC,” added Molotovski.
“What started with BC?” Asked Samhara.
“Well, you guys know how BC loved JAWS. You guys must remember how he
would write articles and tell people that, if he only had one screen
reader to use he would always choose JAWS.”
“Right, so what?” I inquired.
“Well, a few months back, he started making public statements about
how much he loves SAM.”
“Sam who?” Asked Samhara.
“Not a who,” explained Molotovski, “more like a what.”
“A what what? I interjected.
“SAM, Serenity Adaptation Module, the program Bald insists will
conquer the world of people with vision impairment,” he explained.
“He and Soupy seem to do much more than innovate, they take control of
their user’s computers and, over time, their minds. So, people who
once would advocate on behalf of JAWS or Window-Eyes now sing praise
“How do you know that BC doesn’t think the software is really great?”
“At first I thought that might be possible but then I noticed this
“Continue,” I said.
“Captain Capcha fell prey to the tune shortly after BC,” stated
Clebsch in a matter of fact tune, “He started kissing The Cardinal’s
toes under the dark Desert Skies. Soon, the Cardinal gave up his knee
jerk support for Window-Eyes and also started singing the praises of
Mickey Bald and the SerenityTech software.”
“Again, how do you know that they all had lost control of their will
and didn’t just actually like the software,” I asked.
“They don’t just like or even love SAM, they evangelize for it, they
tell everyone they can about it, they are acting like a bunch of
junkies on a serious run. So, I started investigating and found the
subliminable messages in the SerenityTech science fiction tune.”
“What do the messages say? I asked.
“Eat Campbell’s soup, Mickey Bald loves you, embrace change, come into
the world of serenity, JAWS will eat you alive, Geoffray Giraffe is
dangerous and one or two others.”
“I’ve heard the tune and never heard any words in it,” I said.
“That’s the trick, they speed up the phrases to a point that they
sound like they are part of the tune and the subliminable messages
slowly infect the user’s mind and the next thing you know, they are
wandering around with a vacant look on their face giving SerenityTech
as much free advertising as they possibly can.”
“How did you find the messages?” Asked Samhara.
“First, I inspected the wave form of the tune when played backwards,
kind of looking for a Paul is dead statement embedded in the sound.
That didn’t give me anything useful so I generated a wave form from
the beginning and sped it up, still nothing. Next, I took a guess and
tried slowing it down and I found some anomalies in the curve. I
clipped these out and slowed them down even more and found that they
contained the messages.”
“Shit,” I added, “What can we do to stop the madness?”
“We need to figure out how to get the messages out of the tune,” said
Clebsch. “They have embedded some kind of scheme that causes one’s
system to download a fresh copy of the tune if they detect it has been
“So, why exactly did you need a journalist and lawyer to help you?”
Asked Samhara somewhat miffed.
“I thought you were a doctor,” said Clebsch.
“Yes, a doctor of journalism, not a medical doctor or psychologist,” I
“Close enough!” Proclaimed Molotovski.
Samhara and I checked into the Charles hotel in Harvard Square and
walked to a Starbucks as our caffeine levels seemed to be dropping.
Our task was to find as many blinks infected with the SerenityTech
mind control virus.
“How can we find them all?” I wondered aloud.
“Let’s start with BC,” answered Samhara.
“Do you know where he might be hiding out?”
“Yes, I do,” added Samhara confidently. “He’s sitting a couple of
tables away from us pounding shots of espresso as fast as he can get
his hands on them.”
“Hey BC,” I shouted.
“Yes,” he responded. And then, “Hi Gonz, what brings you to town?”
He sounded as if he was talking in his sleep. I cannot recall ever
hearing BC sound so dream-like without opiates involved.
Samhara went to his table and asked him to join us. As soon as he sat
down at our table he started talking. “Have you tried Freeman Crate
Serenity Adaptation yet?”
“Once,” I responded.
“Don’t you think that it is the greatest screen access program ever?”
“I didn’t really spend much time with it.”
“Why not?” Asked BC as if I told him I had decided to be celibate for
the rest of my life. “It is incredibly innovative, easy to use and
crashes less frequently than most any other screen reader.”
“I’m pretty happy with orca these days.”
“Linux? Have you gone mad? What would entice you to even try such a
thing? Linux people are like those damned pod people from that old
science fiction movie. They walk around praising Stallman and Linus
as if they would provide answers to all of their prayers. They are
worse than the weirdo Macintosh freaks.”
“I think it works great,” I added.
“See, you have fallen into their trap. Let me take a guess, you are
“Yes,” I replied, “How did you know?”
“I’ve been doing some research into its start up tune. I’ve found
that it contains subliminable messages.”
“If you really slow it down it repeats phrases like, eat corn at every
meal, Mike Pedestrian loves you, Sun will always shine, Mickey Bald is
the devil and so on. I advise you to get as far away from Linux as
possible lest you turn into another pod person.
“We’re here to save you from a similar fate.”
“I haven’t been infected with the Linux mind control virus.”
“No, you’ve been taken over by the SerenityTech mind control virus.”
“No such thing!” Shouted BC as he jumped from his chair.
Samhara picked up BC’s chair from the floor and suggested, in the sort
of tone one reserves for small children, elders suffering from
dementia and those with downs syndrome. BC obeyed. Samhara then said
in her soft tone, “You have been acting strangely lately.”
“What do you mean?” Asked BC.
“In a blog post you wrote recently you pronounced that you believed
that Soupy Campbell had eclipsed Gore Glendon as the premier screen
reader hacker out there these days.” She said softly.
“Well, that’s the truth,” responded BC.
“Maybe so, but, you have also announced that you absolutely love SAM.”