Thursday, February 12, 2015


Bjorn finished his ham sandwich and poured himself another cup of coffee. "So this woman would argue against me," he thought, bringing the coffee to his lips. "So what? Who does she think she is anyway."

Bjorn felt the weight of the automatic pistol on his lap, and he put his free hand on it to feel its cold metal. "She has no authority," he thought, smiling to himself as that word authority appeared in his mind. For was it not the case that she was in fact arguing against herself. Her argument implied that she herself had no authority. She could argue as much as she wanted, but who would come to arrest him?

"The Blacklist is a joke," Bjorn thought. "I can't believe that I'm taking this seriously. After all, it takes a great deal more to establish a legal system than setting up a website." But Bjorn could not escape the fact that quite a few people, including Jan and Pedro, were in fact taking the Blacklist seriously, so if he were to get blacklisted, it could make it difficult, if not impossible, to enter the village without being harassed or otherwise inconvenienced.

But it was not like Bjorn was going to shoot anyone. The pistol on his lap was a defensive weapon, meant for his protection only. If he spotted someone trying to escape the village by foot, he was simply to report this, and the escapees would be picked up by the police in Neiden. Similarly, if some desperado was to ram a truck through the barrier, it too would be reported to Neiden where the truck would be stopped.

However, now that he had been promoted to the status of customs officer, Bjorn would from time to time have to stop smugglers and confiscate their wares. And Bjorn suspected that such confiscations would qualify as theft in Maria's eyes. The smugglers might in other words try to get back at him by blacklisting him, burdening him with the inconvenience of a mock trial. Bjorn did not think that such a trial would come to anything. He was after all warning people of the change in rules, so it was not like things were happening out of the blue. Maria might in fact end up agreeing with him, saying that the smugglers were forewarned, and that they had no case. But even the vague prospect of a conflict felt uncomfortable.

Bjorn suddenly regretted having registered himself with the Blacklist. Having registered with it, he had in a way lent it legitimacy, and now that his contact details were known, he was suddenly an easy target. Bjorn pulled up his profile, looking for a way to delete his profile, but there did not seem to be any way to delete it. "Well, that's definitely illegal," Bjorn thought to himself, feeling trapped by the system. Then he tried to blank out the fields, but that was not allowed either.

Bjorn changed his name and hit return, and to his relief, the Blacklist accepted the change. Then he proceeded to change his contact details. He hit return again, but to his shock he saw that the changes could not be made. He was presented with a popup informing him that the changes he had made required his confirmation. He had to go to his e-mail and respond to the automatic message found there. Similarly, he had to respond to the automatic message sent to his phone to make the new phone number permanent. But both the e-mail and the phone number he had typed in were phony. He had no access to them, if they even existed at all.

Then his mobile suddenly vibrated in his pocket, and for a moment Bjorn thought that he might have misunderstood, and that the confirmation had to be done on his existing phone rather than the phony one he had entered. But his hopes were soon dashed. The message was from the Blacklist, but it was simply informing him that his account was experiencing suspicious behavior. Then his phone vibrated again. This time he was asked to confirm his change of name. To make his change official, the message read, he had to respond with OK. If he did nothing, the name would appear on his list of nicknames. Else, he had to respond with NO, or alternatively log in and remove the nickname in the profile editor.

And sure enough, looking over his profile once more, Bjorn saw that his real name was not removed. It was still there, marked as his real name. And the phony name he had typed in was marked as his nickname. Bjorn put his mobile back in his pocket. Then he deleted his phony name from his profile. And Bjorn realized to his quiet horror that his profile at the Blacklist was completely unchanged. Once registered with the Blacklist, there was simply no way to un-register, or even blank out the essential fields.

No comments:

Post a Comment