Guy Smith has had many careers – salesman, baker, realtor, builder and speculator. But the most enduring was his love of computers – their innovation and challenge.
From early days, way before the portable computer became so omni-present, he soaked up the many computer languages which proliferated and the many hardware platforms, each becoming the best thing since sliced bread until they too were superseded.
In short, he has witnessed firsthand the astonishing progress made in this field, both in terms of hardware and software, and how it has affected our everyday lives, achieving feats never imagined possible and which are today taken for granted.
A computer playing chess and beating Grand Masters? Neural networks? Maybe predicting the lottery?
Old programmers never die – they write novels.
The odds of picking a winner in a field of twelve horses is only twelve to one, even better if two or more horses are coupled for a win. The odds of picking red or black on the roulette table is even. Why is it that over time, most gamblers still lose their shirts? The simple answer is that man will willingly worsen his chance of winning if the returns are greater.
Greed will seduce the gambler to back the outsider, which limps up to the starting post, if it promises to pay him handsomely should it win. Greed will empower the gambler to keep his money riding on red when it has already caught the little white ball nine times in a row.
But even when the deceitful nature of ‘greed’ has been uncovered, its disgraceful promises of reward ripping the guts out of the misguided gambler with burning fingers of shame and remorse, there is always ‘hope’ waiting in the wings. Hope has a more subtle ploy. It relies on the gambler who is willing to risk a little to win a small fortune, regardless of the odds, to instil in him a measure of optimism, however fleeting, that a win would change his circumstances. If ‘hope’ sounds very similar to ‘greed’, it’s because hope is greed’s mentally challenged first cousin. Here’s an example of how ‘hope’ can turn human intellect to mush.
Consider the odds of winning the state lottery.
One has more chance of being hit by lightning than winning the lotto in a
This is not an exaggeration!
So if you live in a built-up area, you have a one in 666,667 chance of being struck by lightning. Pity the outdoorsman who has one chance in a mere 113,636 of being par-grilled. Not likely, you say! See! Common sense prevails in this case!
Now let’s consider your chances of picking six out of only 49 numbers to win the lotto in a single entry. You have a one in 13,983,816 shot.
Simply stated, you have a 123-times more chance of being struck by lightning
while you’re knocking back that Black Label and idly watching your fishing line
on the banks of the
Ironically, if it were not for the lottery and man’s weakness for being suckered, I’d probably never have come to befriend Alex McCabe. Humankind would not be on the cusp of new understanding and my faith in a ‘grand order’ would not be as unshakeable as it is today.
Alex (not his real name, for reasons which I will explain) and I met in a pub around the turn of the century. We were both half-sloshed by the time we stood together, by chance, at the bar-counter in the Southern Oaks Sports Bar. Alex had spilled half his beer, which splattered onto me. I tipsily threatened to clock his dial but he grabbed my hand in his big paw and shook it.
“Alex. Alex McCabe,” he introduced himself. “Heck! I’m sorry, bru. Bloody glass slipped out of my hand.”
The barman was eyeing me speculatively, no doubt girding his loins to see me off if I made trouble. And I mean ‘eyeing’. His left eye drooped, three-quarters closed, making the other one seem as if it was staring. I thought of Popeye and I mentally dubbed him so. Considering Alex’s imposing bulk, I decided to smile and introduced myself in return.
“Jan van Eck.”
Popeye relaxed and Alex called to him for another round for his new buddy and himself.
Since this formal introduction, Alex and I have become firm friends. I am his self-appointed chronicler. His story needs to be told. We know that the discovery which is about to unfold is an important one, probably one that will plot a new course for mankind. We do not know how to progress from this point, so we want to open it to the field because we know that it would be wrong to keep this to ourselves.
History is littered with discoveries, such as genetics and calculus, which were almost simultaneously being made by people in different parts of the world who had no knowledge of each other. So we suspect that there are others out there for whom this narrative may be a key element for some mission that they have embarked on.
There is no doubt that man continues to evolve and that there are those who walk among us who are different in such subtle ways that even they may be unaware of it, but they and their progeny will plot the course for this planet’s future.
It is almost as if mankind becomes ready for certain discoveries to be unveiled and those who are able to receive the knowledge do so at the same time. So we are hoping that one of you, after you have read Alex’s story, will know how to proceed. We have had contact with some rather arcane organisations, which we found on the Internet, but we feel that they may have mercenary motives and may smother knowledge that should be in the public domain.
There is no intention on our behalf to make more money from this discovery…and that brings me to the reason why Alex’s identity must remain unknown. Alex is now a very wealthy man, a direct result of his discovery. He has the ability, although little inclination at this point, to win the National Lottery almost at will. Some nefarious folk learnt this fact and used it to Alex’s detriment, and we fear a repeat incidence.
It is also necessary to relate all the events leading to this discovery, for one may well ask whether any of these events were purely random and coincidental or if they conspired together to culminate in Alex’s discovery. So, although you may think some of this narrative impertinent to the main theme, namely predicting the winning lottery numbers, please bear with me. I believe that many of the events, if not all, had to occur in order to produce the final outcome. I have stopped questioning the processes involved in cause and effect. The karma factory has mysterious ways, which I am incapable of fathoming.
I guess it’s always difficult to find an appropriate starting point when one relates such an important event in man’s history, but it is probably essential to understand Alex, the man. He was born in 1958, the son of a civil engineer father and a homemaker mother. He acquired an enduring passion for numerology and all things mathematical from his father and an inquiring and philosophical leaning from his mother, who soaked up all things metaphysical, sometimes delving into the occult.
I suspect that it was this combination of childhood influences that led Alex to question whether life is a series of random occurrences or whether they were predestined or predictable events. He started with his knowledge of numerology in the early years, applying its principles to the extent to which they satisfied a level of personal acceptance, discarding conclusions which started to border on superstition.
The responsibility of a career (he had followed in his father’s footsteps into engineering, but mechanical rather than civil) and later, marriage, cut short his metaphysical ramblings, but the seed had been sown already. It had been planted and fertilised in his psyche, although it was not destined to germinate for over two decades.
After 21 years in a loveless and childless marriage, Alex’s true destiny was ready to divulge itself. Alex was the first to recognise that there are no heroes, only conduits who are used for the good of humanity.
As often happens in keeping with these major events, Alex had to be reborn. Everything that he had worked for, even the knowledge that he had studied so hard to acquire, had to be destroyed or rendered useless. The cocoon of hopelessness that bound him and cast him into the depths of despair caused a metamorphosis that lesser men may not have withstood. His emergence from that chrysalis would reveal a changed being, one whose flap of the wing will create a chain reaction in Man’s future.
It turned out that Alex was drowning his sorrows that day. He is not normally a heavy or a frequent drinker, unlike myself, who will sacrifice liver and kidneys to share in the sorrow-drowning ceremony of anyone who’s prepared to foot the tab.
“Twenty-one years,” he slurred. “Twenty-one bloody years. Just like that! Finished!” He snapped his fingers.
“Job? Wife? Wine Club membership?” I quizzed helpfully.
“Wife! Cow!” he said bitterly.
Just three weeks previously, Alex had come home a day early from a two-day Indaba at which succession planning was being addressed by Wheeton Engineering, his employers. It was late and his flat was in darkness. He had hoped to surprise his wife and slip in, but someone had already done that and hadn’t quite slipped out yet – none other than his closest friend, Myles Patterson.
Now, I have always put wives in one of two categories. There are the captains and then there are the balloonists.
The captains are those whose marriage vows actually have any meaning for them. They manage the ship assiduously, mostly in the background, and will stick with the ship come hell or high seas.
Then there are the balloonists. They’re constantly on the lookout for bumpy landings and if the hot air is not enough to keep everything afloat, they think nothing of jettisoning not only the ballast, but anything else that threatens their trip into the heavens, including hubby. What’s more, they seem ever vigilant for the updraughts that may offer more chance than hubby. The updraughts usually come in the guise of gold-chain bedecked men with paunches and lustful eyes.
Linda was a balloonist and Myles happened to be the updraught she had been looking for.
“It’s just not fair,” Alex mumbled, shaking his head.
I let the reins hang loose.
“I tell you,” he assured me, “I was 23 when I married the bitch. I was so high on hormones that I only got a good look at her face a month after we were married.”
I considered this. The four brandies that I had consumed so far had already had the desired effect of making my mind as sharp as the prow of an icebreaker. I felt that I could have really nailed those ‘okes’ from MENSA. My tongue stuck out of the side of my mouth; a sure sign that I was deep in thought.
“My dad always said, ‘Why buy the cow when you only want the milk.’” I offered philosophically.
“I was hoping that I’d be the only one to have the bloody milk,” he returned irritably.
My turn, but the scrambled eggs inside my head battled to make connections. Finally, as if inspired, I said, “Maybe it’s better to stick to powdered milk.”
I remember the admiring silence as Alex regarded me with an open-mouthed stare that turned to a painful frown.
“I don’t know,” I admitted stupidly. “But all this talk about milk is making me thirsty.”
“You’re drunk already,” he observed.
“I am not!” I retorted indignantly and jumped off my barstool to demonstrate how steady I was on my feet.
Events are unclear after that, but it was really good of Alex and Popeye to carry me to the cot bed that Popeye kept in the back room and the icepack helped the bump on my head enormously.
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