We’re All Anguilla Now

Times are interesting, and only bound to get more wooly. While this blog has been on an unofficial hiatus, one part of Douglas Coupland’s piece in the Globe and Mail (“A radical pessimist’s guide to the next 10 years”) caught my eye enough to demand a personal anecdote in support of his conclusions:

7) Retail will start to resemble Mexican drugstores

In Mexico, if one wishes to buy a toothbrush, one goes to a drugstore where one of every item for sale is on display inside a glass display case that circles the store. One selects the toothbrush and one of an obvious surplus of staff runs to the back to fetch the toothbrush. It’s not very efficient, but it does offer otherwise unemployed people something to do during the day.

A couple of years ago, Ashley and I were living in Anguilla, a British protectorate in the Caribbean. It’s a small island with a similarly diminutive population and economy. At one point we had to visit the immigration office to get appropriate documentation added to our passports to allow me to work. At the door, we were greeted by an immigration employee who instructed us to sit in the chairs until we were called. There was no one else in the office, but we did as we were told.

Despite the lack of other patrons, we waited for ten minutes until a second employee called us up to the counter. She asked us a few questions and eventually asked for us to provide our passports. When we surrendered our passports, the second employee handed them to a third employee, who dutifully noted our passport numbers in a large, leatherbound ledger.

Keep in mind that this was, by all accounts, rush hour in the immigration office and we were the only patrons. One couple being served by three separate employees for a single transaction.

At the time, I thought it was a unique incident; however, ever since returning to North America I’ve noticed similar patterns with increasing regularity. Whether it’s the DMV, customs, and even areas of the private sector, the pattern of surplus labour leading to invented jobs and weirdly inefficient processes has become inescapable. In my eyes, we’re all Anguilla now.

Come One, Come Oh

One of my longtime friends, Kevin Cheng, is getting married today to Coley Wopperer on what is quite possibly the nerdiest of days: 10/10/10. It is so nerdy, that it justified a New York Times article:

For those of a geeky bent, the date has another layer of importance – it is made up entirely of ones and zeros, the binary language of computing. Kevin Cheng and Coley Wopperer of San Francisco have been waiting nearly two years for their wedding date to roll around, having realized over dinner with friends in 2008 that, as one suggested, “you could have a binary-themed wedding!” he recalled.

But the nerdiness of this occasion will not end there. In March of 2008, I sent Kevin an email with a GPG-encrypted message:

Hey Kevin,

This is a very important message. Store it in your archive – you will need it at some future time, but for what purpose, I can’t say at this point. The following is plain text encrypted using GPG to a passphrase I will reveal to you at some point in the future, once an important event has come to pass. It’ll be a nice surprise when I do, trust me.

Sorry for the James Bond factor, but it’ll all make sense in the future. Here’s the GPG encrypted text block:

—–BEGIN PGP MESSAGE—–

Version: GnuPG v1.4.8 (Darwin)

jA0EAwMCgjMYeM6sMKdgycCyKEE22UyVt1zel3HuOPAsQvFOUt10gCQar6ivqTDt

q5v9becLtkp00bo0/43zG/X0jKNo0Lhh0TVNEVmmFaeEIizDTlMrqZCRByPGN83q

QIUWs/MgOQ4zmeEllUyzHbbBYWtCMqlNKUY9vy3NNa0KCJGbAQ8NT67suV9wKUXR

p2Z1/+iJwDnOzaJw32CnJhnLc9Edb3BkkOwMivAhQw0kwKMByejw7melXemf75cK

fhjx0+LMFwl1YcdBFkRUJLQArT3KuiUzbXHp8vLtXGKeUgClHqUAOEiPmdjFQHir

CXc8E0Vy20pmgNVfaAPy8GZFekslyM9Nb9InvBWufF63tg3KAOT3E8xl1qPMi4Gs

vgkrkfo2tnQKDg2BS5/VJ+WC6eBZ+wk8FGoU3X5b6oSTADJetDzlM+wsrERbXqyG

k0hV8J1Ijf2MP5s8aMMq7MezYzQS50bH4tW//SehXhCTrLo8/bxGDgfL/KwkhPeo

Ru71Gg==

=0gbj

—–END PGP MESSAGE—–

Brendon

Brendon J. Wilson

www.brendonwilson.com

Now, on the day of his marriage, the time has come to reveal the passphrase for the message to reveal the message. So, my gift to you Kevin and Coley, as small a token as it may be, is the passphrase to that message: itoldyouso.