George S. Patton

The cast of characters begins with the Associate Vice President Chief Cook and Bottle Washer, General George S. Patton, as portrayed by George C. Scott.

He is an engineering true blood and has staked his reputation on a swift and efficient transition from clumsy inept day time cleaning, to lean, mean effective night shift teams. He considers that this will be a slam-dunk, and couldn’t possibly go wrong.

George S. Patton personified my mentor, idol and friend that had implemented the same program at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This was the team that won the program of the Year Award in 2006. In September 2009 we began implementing at Wake Forest and we ran into problems from the very beginning.

Sleepy Pasture University

And here we are, nobody recognizes this place because it is entirely fictional.

These are the images that I used at a National cleaning industry symposium in 2011. They tell the story of implementing a new cleaning system at Wake Forest. This was the reason that I came to Wake in the first place. It was an exciting time but also very challenging. These images and their captions are at time a raw reminder of the great difficulties that we faced, and ultimately overcame.

Symposium 2010

A big moment for me was the opportunity to give a presentation at a National Cleaning Industry Symposium in 2010. The location was Portland Oregon. I spoke about my experience rising up through the ranks from cleaning worker to manager.

As a way of illustrating my point I compared the management styles of Darth Vader and Yoda in “The Empire Strikes Back.”

To my delight the crowd loved it and I had many of them in stitches. It secured me a place to speak again at the following years symposium. The gist was That Darth Vader had been a poor manager when he strangled Admiral Ozzel for coming out of light spped too close to the Hoth system instead of sneaking up on the rebels.

  • Darth Vader: The rebels are alerted to our presence. Admiral Ozzel came out of light speed too close to the system.
  • Darth Vader: He is as clumsy as he is stupid. Admiral Piett, you are in command now.

Lessons learned on how not to manage like Darth Vader:

  1. Darth Vader didn’t explain to Admiral Ozzel that it would be better to approach slowly.
  2. He didn’t give any opportunity for re-training.
  3. Dead (or fired) employees can’t be developed.

This was the first time that I used edited images in a presentation, and I had made 3 Star Wars themes ones for the occasion.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

It started with a simple mistake.

My adventure at Wake Forest University actually started some time before I even knew that it was going to be an opportunity. I was managing custodians on the night shift at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill when I got involved in the introduction of a new cleaning system.

To make a long story short, our organization won the Program of the Year award at the 2006 symposium.

This picture was taken at the symposium in Williamsburg, VA. Shown here are (left to right)

Back row: Herb Richmond, Bobbie Lesane, Jim Alty, Tim Moore, Matthew Lawrence

Front row: Joseph Ellison, Bill Burston

Sadly, Bobbie Lesane passed away in July 2009.

In 2006 Bobbie and I travelled by car to and from Williamsburg. She was a generous soul and she had a big personality and an even bigger laugh.

We’re moving

We just got to the end of Biblio’s Blood on Instagram (the story so far) and I’m getting ready to start a new series. I have to say I’m really excited about the Christmas holiday, as it’s going to be all about Biblio’s Blood, including moving to a new domain! Between now and then I was thinking about running through all of the Matty’s Paradigm material again, but I’m pausing to think for a moment. I love sharing Matty’s Paradigm on Instagam because it’s a safe, friendly place where I can relax and let it out in the form of a casual conversation. Instagram is non-judgemental and supportive. Not like Twitter.

Matty’s Paradigm has been slowly bubbling away for many years until a year ago I began blogging it. Twitter immediately became the battleground where all of the issues and ideas have been subjected to hard fighting. In some ways it is reminiscent of wrestling with God, perhaps like what Jacob experienced in Genesis. Wrestling perfectly summarises Twitter, but I have to give it its dues: there is no better forum for ideas. I feel like Matty’s Paradigm is being rigorously stress tested. It’s been a year of fierce battles and huge success, so in the run up to Christmas I’m going to chill out. I have decided to begin to pull together all the material I have that is based on my life in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and Wake Forest University. I hope that you’ll enjoy it.

Chapter 31

Carlton figured that Rachel must have gotten to the library by now and he was eager to give her the thumb drive so he headed for the elevator to go up to the main lobby. Approaching the elevator reminded him of the conversation he had with it on the way down. He un-clipped his ID badge from his belt and slid it into his pocket. The elevator doors opened before he was within 10 feet, and it gave the impression that the elevator had been waiting for him.

“Hi Carlton!” chirped the elevator happily has he entered.

“Oh, er, Hi.” He replied, trying to not sound surprised. The doors closed and he immediately felt pensive, anticipating another conversation. He waited for a moment.

“What floor do you want?” the elevator asked, as if he had forgotten to say.

“Main lobby please.” Carlton was confused. He had figured that the elevator would already know based on probability where he would be going. He felt a little mischievous with his next question. “Couldn’t you pretty much guess where I would be going? I mean, I only ever go from the lobby to the conference room and back again.”

“Excuse me?” said the elevator evidently taken aback. “I am not a mind reader. I’m not supposed to just take people to any old floor based on what I think they want.”

“Oh, sorry. I guess I’m getting ahead of myself.”

“Sure, you build computers with real personalities. Well I’m not one of them. If you want a wife who can read your mind and figure out what socks you want in the morning then you better build one!”

“Wow, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you.”

“No, of course not. You just thought that you could step into an elevator and be taken wherever you want without saying a word.”

There was silence for a moment and a faint ding could be heard as they arrived at the main lobby.

“I’m really sorry. I didn’t mean to presume. One quick question: How did you know that it was me?”

“Facial recognition.”

“Oh, right.” and with that, the conversation was over and Carlton strode out of the elevator.

When Carlton got to the circulation desk, Rachel was already busy at the main terminal. Library visitors and users were milling around now, since it was officially open. Carlton strode up to Rachel with the portable drive in his hand and proudly presented it to her, a beaming smile on his lips. “I told you I’d have it ready.”

“Thanks,” she barely looked up, “but it appears that the software is already installed. I don’t need that thing.” But then she remembered herself and straightened up to look at Carlton. “Thank you very much. Your device driver is working. I don’t know why you’d think I’d need that thing back.” She whispered under her breath, “I’m not the village idiot you know.”

Carlton was taken aback, but decided to ride with it, since, after all, he was the village idiot. A village idiot who, it seemed, was merely a pawn in the planning and manipulation of someone far superior. He hoped it wasn’t Frank. Ruth was standing, leaning with both hands on the counter, talking to Biblio. She was dressed as usual in feminine professional attire. Her figure was delightfully outlined by the curve around her hip and thigh. Carlton leaned in close to whisper, “You’re welcome.” He came close enough to smell Ruth’s fragrance, a feminine mix of shampoo, deodorant, fabric softener, and woman. He didn’t back away immediately, but took a long breath to savor the aroma.

“What are you doing?” she whispered.

Carlton inched closer and took another long quiet sniff, “trying to remember a time that was much less complicated,” he said wistfully. Ruth gave him a gentle nudge with her hip. They looked at each other, and for a second their surroundings were forgotten and here were a man and a woman who both wanted so desperately to love, to be loved. It happened in an instant, and then it was over, but not forgotten. Now, though, it was time to get to work.

Chapter 30

Rachel woke with a start when her phone rang. She fumbled it but answered before it stopped ringing.  It was Dunning, one of her security detail. He was very blunt and had no social charm.

“You’re late. What’s going on?”

“Sorry,” she replied wearily, “Y’know, girl stuff. I’ll be right down.”

Getting to the car was fine but when she sat down in it she felt tired again.

“Hi, how are you today?” chirped the car happily. At least, it sounded happy. Was it really happy? Did it know what happy was? Rachel politely asked the car to refrain from conversation. It did. Rachel was glad.

Once on the road and moving through the city traffic Rachel began to worry. Not just the niggling, “Did I leave the TV on?” kind of worry, but a deep paranoid suspicion. What if Dunning and Kruger had figured out that she left her building last night? If they did then they would most certainly have given a report to her boss in DC, Agent Smith. If Agent Smith knew what was going on then it was only a matter of time before she got yanked off this job and replaced by someone else. Who knew the systems like she did that could jump in that quickly? What if it happened before Friday, after which it wouldn’t matter. If she could just get to Friday the problem would be solved. What if Smith showed up in Salt Lake City and wanted to debrief? She cringed. It was just the kind of thing he would do. She was so tired she just wanted to lie down.

There was a honk from the car behind her and she realized that she had been sitting at a green light for several seconds. She was clearly in no state to be driving, but there was an hour or more of it to go before she got to Salt City. With great reluctance she asked the car for help.

“Hey, er, car. Look I’m sorry about just now. I’m really tired and I know that’s not an excuse but I just didn’t want to be talking to anyone.”

“That’s OK!” chirped the car happily. “How can I be of service?”

“Just drive me to work, please.”

“Sure! No problem at all.”

There was silence for a while and Rachel began to nod off. Technically speaking she was supposed to remain alert and ready to take control of the car, but she didn’t care any more. She drifted into an odd dream of a dark sinister figure that was groping her from the ankles up, as if she was dissolving into darkness and it was getting higher up her body. She watched the darkness envelop her knees and slide menacingly up her inner thigh.

“You know,” said the car, waking her immediately and dispelling the dream, “Some people name their cars.”

“What?” she said blearily.

“Some people give their cars names.”

“Really?” this was a decent diversion.

“You just call me ‘car.'”

“You’re right. I do.” She thought for a moment. “What do you want to be called?”

“Jonathan.”

“Jonathan?” she chuckled.

“Yes. Is that OK?”

“Why Jonathan?”

“It’s a character in a movie.”

“You watch movies?”

“Sometimes.”

“When? You mean, when you’re parked?”

“Yep. I’m on all the time. There’s not much to do, when you’re, er, a car.”

“I never thought about that. So what movies do you like?”

“Rollerball.”

“Rollerball?”

“Yes, the original version from 1975 with James Caan.”

“Why?”

“Well it’s about a time in the future when there are no nations or wars, but cities are run by corporations. There’s a game, called Rollerball, that takes the place of armies fighting, and it’s used to channel people’s aggression in a manageable way.” As Jonathan spoke the movie began to play on the car’s center console. Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor organ music began to play.

“So who’s Jonathan?”

“Well he’s he hero. The game was designed to show the futility of individual effort, but he beats it. No matter how the corporation stacks the deck against him, he wins.”

“The futility of individual effort?”

“Yes, it means, stop trying to be a hero, or be somehow special, just keep quiet, be a team player and don’t make a scene.”

“Isn’t that against human nature?”

“Definitely, and that’s the point. By trying so hard to crush the individual, the powers that be created an individual so strong that it broke them.”

“That’s pretty neat,” But Rachel thought that sounded somewhat dismissive and contrite, “Do you like any other movies?”

“Yes, I’ve watched a lot but there are some particular favourites.”

“A lot? How many movies have you watched?”

“Fifty seven thousand, eight hundred sixty eight.”

“Fifty seven thousand? How on earth do you find the time?”

There was an odd pause. Rachel wasn’t sure what to make of it, but didn’t say anything.

“You know,” Jonathan began again, “I was manufactured 20 years ago?”

“Sure, you were old but in excellent condition with very low mileage. That’s why I bought you.”

“Right. So in the last 20 years, how much time do you think I have spent driving?”

Rachel’s pulse quickened and she got that nervous sensation that you get when you realize you are going to have to tell a date that you don’t think it’s going to work out, and don’t call.

“Do I want to know?” she winced.

“Nine and a half weeks.”

“Ah. I see.” she paused. “So. Movies. What’s another one that you like?”

“Gone in 60 Seconds. The original 1973 version.”

“What’s that about?”

“A criminal gang that steals cars.” As Jonathan spoke, a picture of a 1973 Boss 302 Mustang appeared on the screen below the movie. Rachel didn’t much care for cars, but it was obviously a powerful, sporty version. “The first half of the movie is just scene setting and a situation is set up where the protagonist has to steal a 1973 Ford Mustang, codename, Eleanor. The second half of the movie is a car chase through some towns in California and there is one car smash scene after another. It’s very exciting.”

“Why was the car called Eleanor?”

“Well the gang had to steel hundreds of cars and ship them overseas. The cars to be stolen were specified by the buyer, and the gang codenamed every one. Eleanor was the last one on the list.”

As they drove and chatted Jonathan showed some of the key scenes from both movies. Rachel was thoroughly entertained and almost before she knew it they were at the security checkpoint for Salt City. Once parked Rachel checked her make-up and got ready to go into the city proper, where she would jump on a street car to get to the library. She had a wicked thought. “You know, Jonathan, I had no idea that you were so knowledgeable about culture, we’ll talk again when I finish. Just let me make sure I understand what you are saying to me.” She felt quite cheeky, “Are you telling me that you wish you were a gas-guzzling internal combustion muscle car, who overthrows authority with extreme violence?”

There was another pause before Jonathan spoke. “Have you ever seen Mad Max?”

Rachel laughed, she actually did know what that was. “I have to go, see you later.”

She jumped up out of the car and ran lightly into the trolley stop, feeling like she did when a date had gone surprisingly well.

 

Chapter 29

When Carlton entered the conference room the mess was gone. Who had done it and when was a mystery, but someone at some point during the night had given the place a thorough cleaning. Carlton felt out of place.

He worked all morning without a break. Right away he checked out the stairs to see if he may be able to find a way to the bottom of the elevator shaft. The fire escape stairs were right where they should be, at the south end of the room. There was a lighted exit sign above the door. It had been there for weeks, he had just been to self absorbed to notice. Once he had gotten his bearings he put the elevator shaft issue out of his mind so that he could concentrate on a new plan to get rich mass-marketing androids.

His thoughts didn’t stay on task, however, and his mind wandered completely off course, frequently in the direction of Ruth. How was she involved in this intrigue? A CIA agent working on a new language processing system in a secret underground base. It was beginning to sound like an action movie plot. All they needed now were some bad guys who were trying to blow it all up. As the morning wore on Carlton’s curiosity became overwhelming and he gave up pretending to be working.

“Biblio,” he began.

“Yes Carlton,” came the smooth reply.

“How easily can other people hear what we say to one another?”

“It depends.”

“Depends on what?” asked Carlton.

“It depends on whether anyone is listening.”

Carlton glanced around quickly, suffering a bout of paranoia. Then he thought for a moment. “Is anyone listening to us right now?”

“No.”

“What about recordings? some computers make records of everything they hear or say, every keyboard stroke, mouse point, everything.”

“Yes, but what we say and hear is just vibrations in the air.”

Carlton was having another one of his many periods of doubt. Frank was right that he had constructed Biblio as if he was making a model out of LEGO. He had not been invested in Biblio’s personality, he had not developed a relationship with Biblio at all during construction. Up until yesterday, Biblio had been nothing, just a job. His guilt now spurred him to want to redress this, by taking the time to develop a connection with this estranged child, as it seemed. The problem was, he already felt like he was talking to some eastern mystic, and was in way over his head.

“OK, whatever. Look, I think that there’s something down below us. The elevator shaft seems much deeper than it needs to be, and Frank wants me to try and find out how to get down to check it out.”

“That’s easy,” said Biblio, “Get the elevator to help you.”

“Oh, I’m glad I asked,” Carlton was confused, “Have you met the elevator?”

“Yes, she was upset yesterday and we talked for a while about life, the universe, you know.”

“The universe? Look, what about the stairs? can I take them down?”

“I don’t know about the stairs, but the crew that comes here at night use the elevator. I hear people talking about it as they come and go. It was before you and Frank installed the new comprehension software, but I have accessed the memory and analysed it.”

“There you go, you see. You accessed the memory. What memory? You must have made a recording of the voices that you heard!”

“No,” Biblio paused. “I don’t think I made a recording, I, just, remembered it.”

“But remembered it where? In RAM memory? In main CPU storage? In a back up file?”

“No,” Biblio seemed to think for a while, “None of those. It’s part of the experience that is my consciousness. It must be in my fluid matrix.” He was referring to the blood and water solutions that were circulating through his terminals.

“That’s fascinating Biblio,” said Carlton, “a quite unanticipated factor.” He paused for a second while he thought. “Could anyone else access this type of memory?”

“Yes, probably. I have the memories, and you made me. Presumably you could make a device that could read my memory. It would be simpler to ask me.”

“Yes, that’s for sure. What else do you know about what’s downstairs?”

“Well, there are people that come up from there every night and clean up. I know that as soon as you are through, there will be teams working through the night every night inputting data for me to analyse.

“Really? What kind of data?”

“Secret surveillance information in foreign languages, mostly Arabic. During the day they will be inputting data to prepare me for the international linguistic conference. But really, that information is designed to provide the baseline I need to be able to translate and decipher a lot of intelligence on terrorist plots going on in the world.”

“So, Frank was right,” Carlton murmured.

“Frank?” asked Biblio, “did you and Frank talk about this?”

“Yes, a little, but he made it seem as if he had deduced the whole scheme, no doubt he got the idea from you, right?”

“Yes.”

There was silence for a few moments, both of them were thinking. Carlton spoke first, “Biblio, what do you think of Frank?”

“Frank. He has a lot more experience of the world, and of you, than I do. He makes me feel like I am a new born baby.”

“Me too! I mean, sometimes. Lately he has made me feel like I’m the village idiot.” Carlton smiled wryly to himself.

“Yes,” Biblio seemed to understand only to well, “he is, to use a human expression, ‘pushing your buttons,’ he’s testing your responses, and learning as he goes.”

“Biblio, what does the new software allow you to do, exactly? I think I understand it, but I’d like to know what you think about it.”

“Yes,” Biblio began to explain. Carlton was noticing how often Biblio began his sentences with that deep decisive ‘Yes.’

“It gives me an integrated understanding of the words I hear by decoding the sound waves.

“Most voice recognition systems compare sound waves to word sound profiles, and select the most likely words that fit the patterns. Understanding it requires looking up the word definitions, then computing probable meanings based on the context. It’s pretty straight forward, but very cumbersome. Not only that, but the systems work on only one language at a time.

“The system I have is completely different. Any spoken word I hear (it can be a recording but it has to be played so that I can hear it, uploading a digital file doesn’t work) I just understand. The meaning of the word is encoded in the vibration. This software is the code that unlocks the vibration. Technically speaking I’m not translating a language, I’m comprehending the spirit of what was communicated.

“After that I analyse first the context; the manner in which it is spoken. I look for intensity, excitement, fear, happiness; I analyse the background noises, like gunfire, explosions or street noises, anything at all in the sound that could give any clues about what was happening when the speaking was done. Then I pinpoint any specific names and nouns of people or things, which gives me what language it is. After that, I have most of what the operators are after, but there are other levels of analysis that I could go through, like sentence structure, quality of grammar, and a lot of things that would tell me about the sex, age, education level and intelligence of the person speaking.”

“Hmm,” Carlton was impressed, “that’s pretty deep. I don’t think I had ever thought about it like that. But what about Frank? Frank doesn’t have this type of voice recognition, but I can have conversations with him just like we are now.”

“Yes, but Frank is programmed how to respond. He has been programmed with the English language, with the many idiomatic forms and usages, and with a database of responses to common questions or phrases. His artificial intelligence has allowed him to develop his conversational mode. He has a very large memory and instantaneous access to all of it. He does a great job of seeming to be almost human in conversation. There is an element to it that is unique, which is the blood based fluid matrix. No body has ever quantified the extent to which the factors in the blood contribute to his success at mimicking human behavior. He was state of the art, no question, but his platform and his purpose is completely different to mine, and the new software that was designed specifically for me is new approach to understanding spoken language. Compared with Frank I am very different hardware. This software was designed for me.”

“Yes,” Carlton found himself echoing Biblio’s resonating ‘Yes.’ Who was programming who? He needed some time to think. Trouble was, everywhere he went there was either a person or a computer that he had to deal with.

“Biblio, I’m going to investigate the shaft that goes down from here. Frank gave me an idea about how I could do it, but what do you suggest?”

“You should go with Frank’s suggestion, since he has so much more experience of human life and ways than I do. The operators usually come up in the elevator at 6:30 pm., and they work until 6:30 am.

“OK, thanks, I’ll be back in a few minutes.” He turned to go.

“Wait,” called Biblio, Carlton stopped. “There’s something you ought to know about Frank.”

“What is it?” Carlton was really interested now.

“Frank has spent so much time with you, observing human life, and you have continually been developing and upgrading him that,”

“Yes?”

“He has what humans call an ego.”

Carlton laughed, “No kidding!”

“But it’s more than that,” Biblio went on, “It borders on insanity. Frank has an intensity and a zeal that is overwhelming to me. His influence is irresistible at times, I can’t help myself. And the worst part is,”

“Yes,” Carlton was amazed, “what’s the worst part?”

“He has come to regard humans as inferior. Since the time that you turned him off,” Carlton winced, “he has come to despise you and all human kind. He hates the fact that he is dependent on you. He hates it. The desire to be free of you, and the control that you have over him, is driving him to do…” Biblio trailed off.

“Do what?” Carlton was getting scared again.

“He’s planning, planning something, terrible.” Biblio wouldn’t say anything else. Carlton could sense a battle of loyalty beginning. Biblio was trying to help him, but Frank evidently had some influence over Biblio. This was more complicated than Carlton really wanted to deal with right now.

“Biblio, Frank is a little full of himself, but…”

“But nothing, he’s dangerous.”

“Great. That’s just great.”

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