Pluralistic: 07 Dec 2021

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Give Me Slack

My parental worries, ca. 2021.

I was a mere lad of fifteen when I first encountered the Church of the Subgenius, a joke religion started by a group of prankster surrealists out of Austin and parts elsewhere. The faith is represented by J.R. “Bob” Dobbs, a grinning, square-jawed salesman with a pipe clenched in his square, white teeth, who promises “slack” to all who profess the faith.

Slack was — and is — an enticing concept. I always interpreted “slack” as a synonym for “forgiveness,” that is, the idea that our systems would have graceful failure modes, in which errors and failings were never terminal, and could always be redone. A philosophy for an age of “Save Game” and ⌘-Z.

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