Ross M. Miller
Posted August 16, 2004
I asked Dmitri to drive me into town. In a way, Muir got what he wanted.
It’s just that he lost the game before a single card was dealt. And if
we had played, I was confident that I would have quickly dispatched him.
He was a man who talked too much and who let his subconscious bubble up
to the surface.
Even if my initial hunch turned out to
be wrong, the mere knowledge that Muir had a solution to my problem was
valuable information. All mathematicians face the predicament that just
because a problem is expressible in mathematical terms doesn’t mean
that it has a solution. Mathematicians viewed their field as a giant
problem that with enough effort could be solved completely—an idea
that picked up steam when Albert North Whitehead and Bertrand Russell
published their Principia Mathematica.
The title was a shortened form of Newton’s great work in which he set
forth the laws of the physical world. Einstein would explode Newton’s Principia
and his Princeton colleague, Kurt Gödel, would do the same to Whitehead
Gödel showed that not all math
problems could be solved. In particular, he demonstrated how there could
be theorems that were true but for which no proof of their truth could
ever be found. Furthermore, one could not always tell that a theorem was
unprovable just by looking at it. Gödel’s result was not limited to
the mathematics of Whitehead and Russell. Any formal symbolic system
sufficiently complex to make statements about itself—something like
“self-awareness” in people—must have logical holes.
Depending on one’s viewpoint, Gödel’s
work was either bad news or good news. The bad news was that one could
dedicate one’s life to trying to prove the unprovable or solve the
insoluble. The good news was that mathematicians would never run out of
things to do.
In a universe crammed with unknowable
stuff, the information that someone has the solution to a problem
can be very helpful. Knowing who that someone is even better. Knowing
who that someone is provides even more help. If Muir Konin could figure
what was going on with Ken’s fund, I knew that the answer did not
involve fancy mathematics and might not even have anything to do with
math. On the other hand, Muir’s willingness to exchange the solution
for a victory at the poker table told me he thought that it had little
value. I hoped that he was wrong.
Once we were back on the island’s
main road, I said to Dmitri, “You know that coffeehouse in town that
we passed on the way here. Go there as fast as you can.”
On the way to the coffeehouse, I took
the computer from my bag, powered it up, and was ready to network in
when he dropped me off. The coffeehouse had a wireless access point and
I was able to get a good connection almost immediately. I tunneled
through an encrypted connection to GFF’s network, entered their
messaging center, and hoped that Randy would be there. I also sent
e-mails to Tara and Zero in case I needed their help hunting him down.
While I was waiting, I ordered something to eat and started to download
pages from the website of every company in the vicinity of the black
hole. Randy arrived soon after my food. While I ate, we messaged back
Me: any progress?
Randy: not really
Me: still looking at
something to try
Randy: im game
Me: stop feeding in
numbers and try words
Randy: such as?
Me: annual reports,
sec disclosures, press releases, news stories
Randy: what am i
Me: ur virus
Me: not quite
Randy: when do u
Me: asap, flight
leaves soon, stay online and dont leave the suite
Randy: i get the
feeling that you already no the answer
Me: dont let that
stop u. hurry
Me: and tell Tara the
donut was truly transcendental and send my regards to 0
Randy: one question?
Randy: does it have
anything to do with the penguins?
Me: now that you
mention it, it does
Randy: ur such a
Me: anything else?
Randy: bring back my
Aside from security considerations, I did not clue Randy in on my hunch
so that he could reach his own conclusions. Were there an alternative
explanation for what was going on, Randy was the one to find it. The
more I read, however, the less likely I thought that was.
Before I got up to head back to the
airport with Dmitri, I checked in with Randy.
Me: find anything?
Randy: still working
Me: will be in touch
either from the airport or the plane
On the ride back to the airport, I continued looking through the
documents that I had just downloaded. The airport was coming into view
when Dmitri’s cell phone chimed the Sesame Street theme. He had a
short conversation in Russian and then turned to me and said, “Ve
goink other place.”
“What other place?”
“Other place. Ve go. Not far.”
Visions of being taken to Moscow and
forced to train pre-school Russian poker players flashed through my
cranium, but I quickly dismissed them. At least we were still heading
toward the airport. We went passed a construction site and stopped in
front of a sunshine-yellow building that was adjacent to a runway. Were
I to go to Moscow, at least it won’t be on Aeroflot. Not for the first
I walked into the terminal and a pilot
said, “Your plane is waiting for you.”
“That’s nice,” I said.
“What’s goin’ on?”
“Didn’t they tell you?
Hartsfield’s a mess, so you’ve got your own jet direct to
Westchester. We should be able to keep you on schedule.”
“Mind if I make a call first?”
“There’s a phone on board. You can
call in flight.”
The pilot appeared eager to go and so I
followed him out to the tarmac and up into the plane. It was a typical
executive jet—some type of Gulfstream. The twin engines looked like
GFF models that I had once seen tested, which left little doubt that if
we flew into a flock of frozen turkeys we'd be safe. The interior was one step up
from a fancy RV, but I wasn’t about to complain.
“Can I use this?” I asked, showing
the pilot my computer.
“Go right ahead. If it screws up the
avionics, I’ll let you know.” With those reassuring words, he walked
into the cockpit and closed the door behind him. I sat in one of the
eight plush seats and considered my situation.
Given that I was not a GFF senior
executive, there was no way that I rated my own jet and from past
experience at the old lab I knew that the only way that Roland could get
me aboard one was as his travel companion. There was only one person in
the company powerful enough to summon me a private plane.
Once we were in flight, I picked up the
phone and called the hotel. Randy picked up immediately.
“Where are you?”
“I think I’m flying over the
Okefeenoke Swamp. I’m calling from a private jet so we should watch
“Lucky you. Wave to Albert and Pogo
“Speaking of animals, did you make
the penguin connection?”
“Mira Sorvino, right?”
I was initially puzzled until I
adjusted to the Randy mind-set. “Right. Mighty good clue.”
Randy chuckled and then asked, “What
“Hang tight. I’ve placed most of
the cards, now I have to figure out how to play my hand without getting
burned at the stake.”
Copyright 2004 by Ross M. Miller. Permission
granted to forward by electronic means and to excerpt or broadcast 250
words or less provided a citation is made to RiggedOnline.com.