John "The Gneech" Robey (the_gneech) wrote,
John "The Gneech" Robey

  • Mood:

Random Memories

As you may or may not know, my mother used to be a computer programmer for various gov't agencies. Her favorite project was writing software that interpreted satellite photo images dropped in canisters from satellites and caught in mid-air by jet planes with big nets behind 'em -- a surreal mix of super-high and super-low tech. Nowadays, it seems strangely primitive, but at the time, it was cutting edge stuff -- and she wasn't allowed to tell me about it until 20 years later.

Anyway, she has this bizarre tendency to blank out the very, very obvious at times -- particularly when it comes to psychology. For instance, she always supports any and every program that promises to be goodness, sweetness, and light, and is always shocked -- shocked -- when they turn out to be nothing but cynical power grabs every time. This morning, musing on a comment by a friend of mine who designs weapons for the military, I happened to remember the most extreme incidence of this "see no evil" phenomenon in my mother's psychology.

Specifically, back some time around the Carter/Reagan days, she apparently wrote some kind of target-recognition software for an unspecified government agency. Reading between the lines (and basing it on other stuff she's said) I suspect it was the Navy, but that's speculation at best, and who it was doesn't matter. The point is, it was target-recognition software. The word "target" is important here.

You see, my mother found out later that this code she'd written was used in some military action to kill people -- and she felt horribly betrayed. When she told me this, obviously still emotional about it, I just stood there blinking for several seconds. And while I didn't want to be insensitive to her very evident feelings of anguish and guilt, I couldn't help myself from saying, "Well Mom, what did you think they were going to do with it?" She said that she'd been promised it wouldn't be used for anything like that.

There's a difference between giving people the benefit of the doubt, and being a sucker. :-`

-The Gneech
  • Post a new comment


    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened