The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Computer-Induced Tourette’s Syndrome: Concise Definition and Long Explanation

Posted on | March 13, 2011 | 30 Comments

Spontaneous outbursts of profane, vulgar and obscene epithets caused by a computer malfunction.

“Save early, save often” is a maxim I was taught when I first started writing on computers as a new-minted reporter a quarter-century ago. Improvements in technology, however, have made it increasingly easy to ignore that adage — at peril of that rare occasion when the technology decides to ruin my life.

You know the software that auto-updates to save your writing while you’re writing it? Pray that it never goes glitchy when you are three hours into the most penetrating essay you’ve ever written.

Because you will at that moment cuss your way into Hell, and the computer will just sit there, silently mocking your impotent rage.

That was 2,000 words of pure genius, I tell you, and just 200 words short of being published — to the universal applause of a grateful blog-reading world — when this damned computer ate it. No sin of commission on my part caused this, and the improved technology was supposed to protect me from paying the penalty for my sin of omission in not obeying the ancient commandment: Thou Shalt Save Early, and Often.

Either my computer has been possessed by a demon from Hell, or else God Himself did not want me to publish that post.

It is therefore with pious humility that I refuse to start over and attempt to re-create the Legendary Lost Post That Might Have Saved Humanity.

“Too good!” God must have said to Himself. “This McCain fellow is about to reveal to mankind such profound truths, in such brilliantly persuasive arguments, that they will repent their evil ways, seek the path of truth and justice, and thus forestall the apocalyptic doom of my righteous vengeance that their sinful wickedness deserves.”


Gone forever — verily, in the twinkle of an eye! — that finely crafted essay of astonishing genius was destroyed by the Divine Wrath. This is a sign, I tell you, an omen and a portent of cosmic purpose.

Repent! The Day of Judgment is at hand, and I will submit myself to God’s will, by abandoning that too-good-to-be-published post which, like the Tower of Babel, was a monument to human folly. Here I leave merely a notice, my testimony of this revelation of the insuperable sovereignty of the Infinite God.

Three hours of my life He required for this demonstration of His ominscience and omnipotence.

“Go ahead, start writing,” came the command, and so I did. And then, just as my sinful heart became secretly covetous of the enthusiastic praise that this esssay would soon have elicited — you have no idea how good it was, nor will you ever, for God did not want you to see it — the Divine Hand snatched it away.


Please, feel free to laugh at me. My humiliation was clearly part of God’s purpose, too. Whereas I meant to bask in the world’s admiration, God decided to make me an object of the world’s mockery and scorn.

Mea culpa. Mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa.

Oh, divine irony, that a proud Protestant should be made to do Lenten penance — digital ashes on the blogospheric forehead, as it were — so that his Catholic friends may join the infidels in scoffing at his injury.

Scoff not, ye papist dogs!

And hit my tip jar, because I tell you that the scars of chastisement on this sinner’s back were meant also as a warning to you.

If God put me to labor so long, only to deprive me of the glory my labor would have attained, still will I be recompensed for my toil and suffering, or else there is no justice in the universe.

Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
Romans 12:19 (KJV)

Tremble ye sinners, and hit my tip jar with righteous blessings, for God is in the glitches, too.

UPDATE: In the comments below, lots of “helpful advice” from well-meaning friends, as if the devastation of my essay resulted from a shortage of advice, and as if remedying that defict could compensate the three hours snatched away by the hand of the Almighty.

Of course, I would respond in the comments, except that I am blocked from commenting on my own blog, because of all these really nifty “technological improvements.” And next I’ll get “helpful advice” about that problem — advice which will not, however, fix the problem.

That brilliant essay? Ironically enough, one of the topics it addressed was the futility of self-pity.

When God decides to humliate a man, you can be sure He will do a thorough job of it.


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