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They compete for his attention, bickering and rudely waving in front of the scenery.A couple of punks – maybe local, but more likely drifters lured to Amsterdam by the magnetic field of tolerance the Dutch beam across Europe like a pulsar – are laughing and chatting by a couple of battered mopeds in the far corner.
The windmill is a machine for lifting water, turning wind power into dry land: trading energy for space, sixteenth-century style. Interpreters are ideologically suspect, mostly have capitalist semiotics and pay-per-use APIs. " Manfred drains his beer glass, sets it down, stands up, and begins to walk along the main road, phone glued to the side of his head.This is getting weird enough to trip his weird-out meter, and that takes some doing.Manfred's whole life is lived on the bleeding edge of strangeness, fifteen minutes into everyone else's future, and he's normally in complete control – but at times like this he gets a frisson of fear, a sense that he might just have missed the correct turn on reality's approach road. Let me get this straight, you claim to be some kind of AI, working for KGB dot RU, and you're afraid of a copyright infringement lawsuit over your translator semiotics?The bandwidth is good here, he realizes; and it's not just the bandwidth, it's the whole scene.Amsterdam is making him feel wanted already, even though he's fresh off the train from Schiphol: He's infected with the dynamic optimism of another time zone, another city."Fucking Cold War hangover losers," he swears under his breath, quite angry, partly at himself for losing his cool and partly at the harassing entity behind the anonymous phone call.
" capitalist spooks." Russia has been back under the thumb of the apparatchiks for fifteen years now, its brief flirtation with anarchocapitalism replaced by Brezhnevite dirigisme and Putinesque puritanism, and it's no surprise that the wall's crumbling – but it looks like they haven't learned anything from the current woes afflicting the United States.The square smells of water and dirt and hot metal and the fart-laden exhaust fumes of cold catalytic converters; the bells of trams ding in the background, and birds flock overhead.He glances up and grabs a pigeon, crops the shot, and squirts it at his weblog to show he's arrived.Manfred is waiting for an invite to a party where he's going to meet a man he can talk to about trading energy for space, twenty-first-century style, and forget about his personal problems. He wraps his throat mike around the cheap black plastic casing, pipes the input to a simple listener process.He's ignoring the instant messenger boxes, enjoying some low-bandwidth, high-sensation time with his beer and the pigeons, when a woman walks up to him, and says his name: "Manfred Macx? The courier is an Effective Cyclist, all wind-burned smooth-running muscles clad in a paean to polymer technology: electric blue lycra and wasp yellow carbonate with a light speckling of anti collision LEDs and tight-packed air bags. He pauses a moment, struck by the degree to which she resembles Pam, his ex-fiance. She dumps the box in his lap, then she's back over the low wall and onto her bicycle with her phone already chirping, disappearing in a cloud of spread-spectrum emissions. "Are you saying you taught yourself the language just so you could talk to me?Dijkstra Manfred's on the road again, making strangers rich.