Thought Crimes Episode 2 – Dissonance

When trying for a role in a criminal enterprise, and with the right connections, it doesn’t take much for an outsider to see results. The question is whether the results are the ones you want. Ask the right questions, and exert the right (lower-case-L) leverage, and your life is liable to change very quickly. Sometimes that puts you on a task force to change the world for the better. More often, it puts you in an unmarked hole in the ground.

Sometimes, it puts you and your buddies in charge of a small warehouse, watching your bank account rising faster than normal, while waiting for your life to end faster than normal. That is, unless the bosses above you never stop perceiving you as more valuable than the people below and beside you. We all move in different routes and at different speeds, but save for the lucky few, even in hidden pieces of society, those above see us as tools for the generation of value.

After all.

It’s Only Business.

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Thought Crimes Episode 3 – Underworld

The legalization and proliferation of an commercially-offered implanted brain chip, especially one that interfaced with the notoriously vital hypothalamus, was met with public outcry and legislative difficulty, to the surprise of no one. However, the surprise over the speed with which that public outcry and legislative difficulty drained away was more than enough to fill the void. First came the reports of the surgery’s success rate. Near perfect under robotic surgery, with complications occuring fast enough that the procedure could easily be abandoned. Relatively cheap to produce, even given the billions that went into its design. A high-end and a low-end version, offering options to the destitute as long as they could tolerate the fatigue that the more expensive option eliminated. A bit of political lower-case-L leverage, and workforces were offering free surgeries to new hires. The medical industry briefly soared, and sleep was all but eliminated in the American workforce, with other industrialized countries soon to come. It seems extreme for the worker, but you can’t honestly expect an employer to hire someone willing to sacrifice an entire shift of extra productivity over a bit of personal discomfort, can you?

After all.

It’s Only Business.

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Thought Crimes Episode 4 – Triage

The system had never specialized in long-term investment for the future. Or at least not the future of humanity. How would you justify it to the board of investors when all of the other companies are part of humanity too? What the system DID specialize in was finding a need and offering an affordable, market-valued solution. So when the sun began to beat down in the city squares, light-mitigating plastic-glass shells for public spaces became the new standard. When sea levels rose against coastal cities, damming projects arose in turn, earning self-congratulation from the corporate media for employing thousands as they put them to work to save their own cities.

Of course, not every city had the pure wealth to establish these projects, so there was a period where quite a lot of people moved to the already overpopulated large cities. But that brought more opportunities and challenges for which the corporations were happy to provide market solutions. The funny thing about death spirals is that they sometimes look like a cycle of rebirth from a distance. Especially to PR representatives and marketing teams.

After all.

It’s only business.

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Thought Crimes Episode 5 – Showtime (Part 1)

The conditions were perfect. Or at the very least, in the very particular setting of this tube, they were perfectly designed to accomplish what the bosses wanted. Restful, continuous, and above all, predictable sleep. It was dark. Sixty-four degrees Fahrenheit on the dot, he’d heard them say, with continuous modifications to account for his changing body heat. Not a single sound, but for his heart, his breath, and a gentle, rising and falling tone that apparently got a sleep scientist named Kostya some award. Not a Nobel, but something in that direction. Everything was perfectly calming.

Except for the millimeter-thick electrode spike that skewered his bolted-down skull to regulate his hypothalamus.

Still, he went over a few old airman tricks, ones crafted to get someone asleep in minutes in case that would make the difference between a failed and a successful operation. And who knew, maybe this was one of those times. He breathed in, tightening everything from the waist down before letting it go on the exhale. Then, everything between his waist and his neck. Then everything above the nec- Ouch. Then, he imagined sitting on a black velvet hammock beneath a dark sky, telling himself calmly and nonjudgmentally not to think. And as he drifted away, the first oneironaut to pierce the human psyche, he wondered how much it cost to train him to do something that had never been done. He hoped it was a lot. Because all that stood between him and whatever dangers laid beyond was PolyCorp.

After all.

It’s Only Business.

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Thought Crimes Episode 6 – Showtime (Part 2)

Since time immemorial, the powers that be have valued entertainment. It doesn’t only pacify the masses, leaving them blind to the injustice and the exploitation of the system that contains them. They pay for it too. This leaves the powerful to search for the most potent, resonant messages, and when those messages are revolutionary in nature, a peculiar sort of dance begins. The powers that maintain the status quo monetize the writings of those that attempt to upend it, granting a platform to forces that wish to destroy them. In their efforts to appeal to a growing societal powder keg, they sell tickets for fire-breathers. But any company with enough wealth is certainly practiced in the art of risk management.

After All,

It’s Only Business.

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