Could God create a computer he couldn’t figure out?

This is the author's first computer, an IBM PS-1, along with an Okidata dot-matrix printer and, inexplicably, a Caffeine-Free Diet Coke. Image courtesy of Del Stone Jr.

Lately I have been shopping for a new computer, which is like saying, “Lately I have been trying to answer the question: If God is omnipotent, could he create a rock he couldn’t lift?”

All computer questions are paradoxes. Paradox! Whatever. They all have the same answer. The answer is: “He could but he wouldn’t want to.”

If you’re going to co-opt this entire column by answering the easy questions I’ll change the subject to something even more metaphysically baffling, like: “Why did Hillary Clinton wear THAT hat to the inauguration?”

Computers are revenge. It’s seventh grade. I see a buck-toothed pencil-neck with glasses so thick you could burn ants with them. Skag McKill, the school bully, is dunking this kid head-first into the toilet, and the kid is yelping, “I’ll get you!”

That kid grows up, gets a job at IBM and finishes the rest of us. He is laughing now. Evil, evil laughter.

Where is Skag McKill when you need him?

You may not need a computer but feel compelled to own one; I actually need one of the soul-suckers and take no pleasure in spending perfectly good liposuction money for what I consider to be the instrument of my spiritual doom. I said the same thing about the buggy whip. I defy you to claim the world is a better place since cars arrived.

Step 1 in buying a computer is deciding whether to buy a prepackaged computer or one that has been “frankensteined” from different components. My advice is you consult all the various experts – every single one of whom will tell you, “He could but he wouldn’t want to” – then rush out on the spur of the moment and buy that sectional sofa you saw in Tuesday’s sale flier.

Next decide which brand to buy. Not all brands are created equal. In fact, no two computers – even of the same brand – are created equal, so just buy any brand and pray to God it isn’t the one they built on the Monday after the company picnic at the Old Granddad Distillery.

Now choose which features it will have. The computer wig-wags will blabber about hard drives, CD-ROMs, modems – pay no attention to that. Here’s what you look for:

Ergonomics – Does it have a flat surface you can set lots of stuff on, like all those computer manuals written in Mandarin Ebonics?

Aesthetics – What color is it? Gray computers are down a lot because they’re depressing. Think camo. Or totally transparent so you can see the actual circuits frying as the lightning bolt zooms through.

Fashion – Has it been on Oprah?

Portability – How far can you throw it when it locks up as you’re finishing the last chapter of your thousand-page doctoral thesis titled, “Metabolic Energy-Conservation Mechanisms in Ascaris lumbricoides.”

My brain swoons at all this, which is how they break you. Numbers, acronyms, and more bells and whistles than Obedience School for Sparky the Fire Dog. In the eyes of that pencil-neck who was dunked in the toilet, we are all Manchurian Candidates and he’s in permanent flashback. Do you hear the evil laughter?

They could make it easy but they won’t.

This comes from my Virginia Connection: Words that should exist.

The word for this week is “accordionated,” as in: being able to drive and refold a road map at the same time.

This column was published in the January 29, 1997 edition of the Northwest Florida Daily News and is used with permission.

About the author:

Del Stone Jr. is a professional fiction writer. He is known primarily for his work in the contemporary dark fiction field, but has also published science fiction and contemporary fantasy. Stone’s stories, poetry and scripts have appeared in publications such as Amazing Stories, Eldritch Tales, and Bantam-Spectra’s Full Spectrum. His short fiction has been published in The Year’s Best Horror Stories XXII; Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine; the Pocket Books anthology More Phobias; the Barnes & Noble anthologies 100 Wicked Little Witch Stories, Horrors! 365 Scary Stories, and 100 Astounding Little Alien Stories; the HWA anthology Psychos; and other short fiction venues, like Blood Muse, Live Without a Net, Zombiesque and Sex Macabre. Stone’s comic book debut was in the Clive Barker series of books, Hellraiser, published by Marvel/Epic and reprinted in The Best of Hellraiser anthology. He has also published stories in Penthouse Comix, and worked with artist Dave Dorman on many projects, including the illustrated novella “Roadkill,” a short story for the Andrew Vachss anthology Underground from Dark Horse, an ashcan titled “December” for Hero Illustrated, and several of Dorman’s Wasted Lands novellas and comics, such as Rail from Image and “The Uninvited.” Stone’s novel, Dead Heat, won the 1996 International Horror Guild’s award for best first novel and was a runner-up for the Bram Stoker Award. Stone has also been a finalist for the IHG award for short fiction, the British Fantasy Award for best novella, and a semifinalist for the Nebula and Writers of the Future awards. His stories have appeared in anthologies that have won the Bram Stoker Award and the World Fantasy Award. Two of his works were optioned for film, the novella “Black Tide” and short story “Crisis Line.”

Stone recently retired after a 41-year career in journalism. He won numerous awards for his work, and in 1986 was named Florida’s best columnist in his circulation division by the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors. In 2001 he received an honorable mention from the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association for his essay “When Freedom of Speech Ends” and in 2003 he was voted Best of the Best in the category of columnists by Emerald Coast Magazine. He participated in book signings and awareness campaigns, and was a guest on local television and radio programs.

As an addendum, Stone is single, kills tomatoes and morning glories with ruthless efficiency, once tied the stem of a cocktail cherry in a knot with his tongue, and carries a permanent scar on his chest after having been shot with a paintball gun. He’s in his 60s as of this writing but doesn’t look a day over 94.

Contact Del at [email protected]. He is also on Facebook, twitter, Pinterest, tumblr, TikTok, and Instagram. Visit his website at .


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