(Title gratefully stolen from Charles Stross, in Accelerando.)


The zipper’s stuck.  I’m just trying to put my goddamn boot back on, and the zipper’s stuck.  If I was a superstitious asshole, I’d take that as a sign.  Instead, it just means the boy who’s supposed to clean them has been getting lazy, the last couple of years.

Once upon a time, I’d’ve kicked his ass into next month for that.  But there comes a point where I just don’t blame him, because he’s just following my example.

They tell you conquering the world is the best thing ever.  Supreme power, ultimate authority, no one to answer, everything can run perfectly, because everybody will have to listen to you.  At least, that’s what they told me.

Here’s a hint.  Anybody trying to convince you to do something that they probably could do themselves is probably selling you something.  Just a note.

Yeah, it was good, for a while.  My very own little jackboot walkabout.  Start out with a small number of men on your side and a good message to chant, make sure everybody knows you’re the rescuers, and not the conquerors.  Pretty soon it gets so they throw open the city gates when you come close, hoping you’ll stop by to take over on their way.  With a good enough lie, enough of the people will beg you to come that it would be rude not to overthrow their current government while you’re in the neighborhood.

And we kept it going good, all the way across the ocean and into places most of us had never heard of.  Keep your kit clean and your army in order to a standard they know how to meet, and want to meet so you’ll give them a nod.  It’s not all that hard, anyway anyone looks at it.

Here’s the problem.  Once you’ve saved the world from its own chaos, what do you do with it?  I mean, you’ve got a world, right?  And you establish all these rules, iron hand of the intelligent despot, all that good stuff.

Then, the fifth or seventh or tweflth or ninetieth time you’re called upon to remind them why they asked for you in the first place, and maybe put boot to ass in the process, to make a point, your zipper sticks.

So here’s my question, sitting here fighting with this damn zipper.  Is having the whole world worth having to buy another pair of boots?

I don’t know.  I just don’t.  But I do know who lives in this rabbit-maze with me, all clean tile floors and tunnels and a million places to go to ground.  I remember the voices that convinced me this was a good idea, and I think I know better the why behind the what.

The world may not be worth boots, but there are a lot of things that are done better with bare hands and feet.