Updates for Friday, December 23rd [2005]

From the Halls of Montezuma (Part 1)

12/23/2005

Dear WWW Dot (as Daniel says this computer realm is preferably called),

I do not have much time, so I hope to let the situation speak for itself. Julius and I have agreed upon a plan of action today,

Julius: Thomas, I must speak to you. Alone. Is Daniel here?

Me: Daniel won't be back for at least twenty minutes.

Julius: I think we can agree that we can't get anywhere until we stop the agent following me.

Me: Well, how do we do that?

Julius: He'll find me eventually, he is obsessive with seemingly endless resources. I was able to find him and trace him before... I don't know how deep this goes, I don't want to get you involved.

Me: Trust me, young man, I already am.

Julius: Young man? I'm 36, I'm probably older than you.

Me: So you'd think.

Julius: Listen, the last two years of my life have been crazy. I'm just a scientist, I'm not a super-spy. I spent all my years when I was young fascinated with every topic but science: history, commerce, politics, culture, society, you name it... I wanted to become something with my life. Never knew what for sure, a firefighter maybe, an entrepreneur, a policeman, or hell, even join the military... I lingered as a boy with these dreams. As I grew up I saw their impracticality and when I first became a man, I knew my dream - the American dream - was just figment of my own imagination. I saw how people were around one another, I saw where society was going, and I knew that I couldn't become the things I truly wanted to be. Just look at history, we're making all the same mistakes those before us have made, only on a bigger scale and a greater degree of ignorance. There hasn't been an Enlightenment age since the late 1700's. All the people who inspired me where long since dead, and tomorrow, that's so far off... I could be dead by the time things change, if they ever do. When I came to the realization that I was simply born at the wrong time… my fascination with time began. I thought that maybe if I could unlock its secrets, I could do the things I always wanted to, in the future or the past. I started in science labs reading textbooks from the community college and the local library. Next thing you know it, I was working on a major in quantum mechanics through Stanford. That was when I met Ludwig. He was several years my senior but together we created the cascade reaction that functions our temporal agitator, presumably it creates a wormhole through time, although it has only ever worked a few times. The EMP it created destroyed everything, making it fairly difficult to even prove the research had merit.

Chronotech actually came into being in the dot-com boom, it was smart and used its initial investments to get out of the internet and into government contracting, before the dot-com collapse happened. It then became a research agency for government experiments of all sorts, of which studies of heavy particle physics and quantum mechanics were necessary, although only the few Defense department officials who hired our agencies ever knew what we did, and they didn't care or understand much. Such is the way of the bureaucracy... our department was almost cut, but then 9/11 hit. The government expanded its military research contracts which kept us in jobs, even though the peer journals scoffed at us. I admit, I got excited for what must've been the first time in my otherwise mediocre life when I realized the device had potential, and could function as a practical time machine. That fell apart when the device fired a couple of years ago and took out most of our research with its EMP.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that my life is already messed up and this is my pursuit. All in all, you have nothing to gain. Even if you are involved, it is best if you just stayed out of it... I'm probably just making the problem worse by being here. So, I was planning to leave to settle this once and for all. The times I ran into him, I know some of the fake names he uses, and a few calls, I could narrow down his flight plans using the same techniques he originally used on me. I can find him and get him to stop following me, to leave me alone... I just don't know if that is the right thing to do. Maybe it will just provoke him more.


Me: Do not despair my friend, altho' distant, the hopes of many ride on your success, and I will do my utmost to stay by your side, whether you request my aid or not. For, young man, I recollect what my life was as a boy too, although it seems like a distant memory now. That at 14 years of age, the whole care and direction of my self was thrown on my self entirely, without a relation or friend qualified to advise or guide me, and recollect the various sorts of bad company with which I associated from time to time, I am astonished I did not turn off with some of them, and become as worthless to society as they were. I had the good fortune to become acquainted very early with some characters of very high standing, and to feel the incessant wish that I could even become what they were. Under temptations and difficulties, I could ask myself what would Dr. Small, Mr. Wythe, Peyton Randolph do in this situation? What course in it will ensure me their approbation? I am certain that this mode of deciding on my conduct tended more to it's correctness than any reasoning powers I possessed. Knowing the even and dignified line they pursued, I could never doubt for a moment which of two courses would be in character for them. Whereas seeking the same object through a process of moral reasoning, and with the jaundiced eye of youth, I should often have erred. From the circumstances of my position I was often thrown into the society of horseracers, cardplayers, Foxhunters, scientific and professional men, and of dignified men; and many a time have I asked myself, in the enthusiastic moment of the death of a fox, the victory of a favorite horse, the issue of a question eloquently argued at the bar or in the great Council of the nation, well, which of these kinds of reputation should I prefer? That of a horse jockey? A foxhunter? An Orator? Or the honest advocate of my country's rights?

Be assured my dear Julius, that these little returns into ourselves, this self-cathechising habit, is not trifling, nor useless, but leads to the prudent selection and steady pursuits of what is right. Our lives are in danger from forces unseen that unravel the very fabric of time. History itself is in danger, that much is certain. We must occupy ourselves while Ludwig finishes his experiments, but we cannot spend all this time in hiding learning nothing about the situation, we don't need a time machine to know that this an imprudent course of action. We must identify the attacker, seek him out, and either confound him or demoralize his pursuit, so that we can liberate ourselves to be again free to act and solve the crisis laid before us. You cannot do this on your own, so do not encourage failure in this important endeavor by refusing aid where it is present. Before we begin we must collect together what we know, what have you learned about this man who pursues you?


Julius: To be honest, not much. The man has a laundry list of fake names and ID's, I have no way to know what is real and what isn't, with him. In our first encounter, he chased me with a gun, and when he captured me, he demanded my research and demanded to know what was changed about history. He held me hostage for a day, but I managed to escape when he went to sleep, it was more or less my luck that I was tied close to a space heater that had been broken. I learned about the bugging and surveillance a month later, the point is, I don't know exactly what he wants.

Me: Then how do we know he's not on our side?

Julius: Besides the fact that he kidnapped me and held a gun to my head, then stalked me for a year? Nothing.

Me: We can never judge even our worst of foes by convictions unknown. So how do we find this man?

Julius: I've been exploiting some of the tricks from manuals of his that I found, which describe ways to trick various companies, like travel agencies, airlines, phone companies to give them more information than one should get about someone. It was how I followed him when I decided to pursue him. I didn't learn anything then because I couldn't corner him, he kept running from me, a stark contrast to him capturing me the first time. I mean, if he wanted to kill me, we've been at this cat and mouse game for over a year... he must think I'm needed or something.

Me: I've had my fair share of conflict in my lifetime, and I think I know a thing or two about waging a battle. The enemy will not destroy what he needs to win. If this fight is over a time machine, what good is the machine if you kill the man who drives it? That makes about as much sense as a pirate hijacking a boat that he does not know how to steer. Without the captain, he is lost at sea.

Julius: Exactly! I hadn't thought of it like that.

Me: Let us not be foolish and think this gives us freedom of action, he is still a threat to us.

Julius: Well, if we're really going to do this, and do more than surveillance, you are going to have to do a lot of the legwork. He's seen me and seen my face before, he knows to look for me. You, however, he hasn't met yet.

Me: I'm not exactly the character that could blend in to a group, I don't know how good I would be in reconnaissance.

Julius: Where can we get someone who he can run into without being suspicious of? Someone who seems like an average person? Someone who appears too blissfully ignorant of the situation to possibly be a threat to him?

Me: Who indeed... ?

Daniel: Heya dogs, what's happening? It is motherfuckin' cold outside, but at least I got some beer. I saw this commercial for the new Wedding Crashers DVD, and I went to the website and learned how to make a purple heart, and I was thinking maybe we... uh, guys? Why are you staring at me?

So we informed Daniel of the situation and headed out to initiate the plan that is already in motion, I will fill in more details later, of which there is many. This is my update from Julius' laptop, which has the ability to tap into the enternet from "wireless hot spots", whatever that means, we are on the move and this is but a brief stop.

I wish to yourself a long life of honors, health and happiness.

- TH. Jefferson

Editor's Notes:

I quoted a part of Jefferson's own recollections of his childhood to serve a part of providing for a moment of insight in this story, but perhaps it is best read from Jefferson's own context, so I include the following original letter written to his grandson Thomas Jefferson Randolph on Nov. 24th, 1808.

MY DEAR JEFFERSON,

I have just recieved the inclosed letter under cover from Mr. Bankhead which I presume is from Anne and will inform you she is well. Mr. Bankhead has consented to go and pursue his studies at Monticello, and live with us till his pursuits or circumstances may require a separate establishment. Your situation, thrown at such a distance from us and alone, cannot but give us all, great anxieties for you. As much has been secured for you, by your particular position and the acquaintance to which you have been recommended, as could be done towards shielding you from the dangers which surround you. But thrown on a wide world, among entire strangers without a friend or guardian to advise so young too and with so little experience of mankind, your dangers are great, and still your safety must rest on yourself. A determination never to do what is wrong, prudence, and good humor, will go far towards securing to you the estimation of the world. When I recollect that at 14. years of age, the whole care and direction of my self was thrown on my self entirely, without a relation or friend qualified to advise or guide me, and recollect the various sorts of bad company with which I associated from time to time, I am astonished I did not turn off with some of them, and become as worthless to society as they were. I had the good fortune to become acquainted very early with some characters of very high standing, and to feel the incessant wish that I could even become what they were. Under temptations and difficulties, I could ask myself what would Dr. Small, Mr. Wythe, Peyton Randolph do in this situation? What course in it will ensure me their approbation? I am certain that this mode of deciding on my conduct tended more to it's correctness than any reasoning powers I possessed. Knowing the even and dignified line they pursued, I could never doubt for a moment which of two courses would be in character for them. Whereas seeking the same object through a process of moral reasoning, and with the jaundiced eye of youth, I should often have erred. From the circumstances of my position I was often thrown into the society of horseracers, cardplayers, Foxhunters, scientific and professional men, and of dignified men; and many a time have I asked myself, in the enthusiastic moment of the death of a fox, the victory of a favorite horse, the issue of a question eloquently argued at the bar or in the great Council of the nation, well, which of these kinds of reputation should I prefer? That of a horse jockey? A foxhunter? An Orator? Or the honest advocate of my country's rights? Be assured my dear Jefferson, that these little returns into ourselves, this self-cathechising habit, is not trifling, nor useless, but leads to the prudent selection and steady pursuits of what is right? I have mentioned good humor as one of the preservatives of our peace and tranquillity. It is among the most effectual, and it's effect is so well imitated and aided artificially by politeness, that this also becomes an acquisition of first rate value. In truth, politeness is artificial good humor, it covers the natural want of it, and ends by rendering habitual a substitute nearly equivalent to the real virtue. It is the practice of sacrificing to those whom we meet in society all the little conveniences and preferences which will gratify them, and deprive us of nothing worth a moment's consideration; it is the giving a pleasing and flattering turn to our expressions which will conciliate others, and make them pleased with us as well as themselves. How cheap a price for the good will of another! When this is in return for a rude thing said by another, it brings him to his senses, it mortifies and corrects him in the most salutary way, and places him at the feet of your good nature in the eyes of the company. But in stating prudential rules for our government in society I must not omit the important one of never entering into dispute or argument with another. I never yet saw an instance of one of two disputants convincing the other by argument. I have seen many on their getting warm, becoming rude, and shooting one another. Conviction is the effect of our own dispassionate reasoning, either in solitude, or weighing within ourselves dispassionately what we hear from others standing uncommitted in argument ourselves. It was one of the rules which above all others made Doctr. Franklin the most amiable of men in society, 'never to contradict any body.' If he was urged to anounce an opinion, he did it rather by asking questions, as if for information, or by suggesting doubts. When I hear another express an opinion, which is not mine, I say to myself, "He has a right to his opinion, as I to mine; why should I question it." His error does me no injury, and shall I become a Don Quixot to bring all men by force of argument, to one opinion? If a fact be misstated, it is probable he is gratified by a belief of it, and I have no right to deprive him of the gratification. If he wants information he will ask it, and then I will give it in measured terms; but if he still believes his own story, and shows a desire to dispute the fact with me, I hear him and say nothing. It is his affair, not mine, if he prefers error. There are two classes of disputants most frequently to be met with among us. The first is of young students just entered the threshold of science, with a first view of it's outlines, not yet filled up with the details and modifications which a further progress would bring to their knoledge. The other consists of the ill-tempered and rude men in society who have taken up a passion for politics. (Good humor and politeness never introduce into mixed society a question on which they foresee there will be a difference of opinion.) From both of these classes of disputants, my dear Jefferson, keep aloof, as you would from the infected subjects of yellow fever or pestilence. Consider yourself, when with them, as among the patients of Bedlam needing medical more than moral counsel. Be a listener only, keep within yourself, and endeavor to establish with yourself the habit of silence, especially in politics. In the fevered state of our country, no good can ever result from any attempt to set one of these fiery zealots to rights either in fact or principle. They are determined as to the facts they will believe, and the opinions on which they will act. Get by them, therefore as you would by an angry bull: it is not for a man of sense to dispute the road with such an animal. You will be more exposed than others to have these animals shaking their horns at you, because of the relation in which you stand with me and to hate me as a chief in the antagonist party your presence will be to them what the vomit-grass is to the sick dog a nostrum for producing an ejaculation. Look upon them exactly with that eye, and pity them as objects to whom you can administer only occasional ease. My character is not within their power. It is in the hands of my fellow citizens at large, and will be consigned to honor or infamy by the verdict of the republican mass of our country, according to what themselves will have seen, not what their enemies and mine shall have said. Never therefore consider these puppies in politics as requiring any notice from you, and always shew that you are not afraid to leave my character to the umpirage of public opinion. Look steadily to the pursuits which have carried you to Philadelphia, be very select in the society you attach yourself to; avoid taverns, drinkers, smoakers, and idlers and dissipated persons generally; for it is with such that broils and contentions arise, and you will find your path more easy and tranquil.

The limits of my paper warn me that it is time for me to close with my affectionate Adieux.

- TH. Jefferson

P. S. Present me affectionately to Mr. Ogilvie, and in doing the same to Mr. Peale tell him I am writing with his polygraph and shall send him mine the first moment I have leisure enough to pack it.


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