Received from an anonymous contributor, possibly located in Illinois.

Once upon a time in the land of Far-Far-Away in the State of Insolvent there were some chiefs from Bewildered County. They had an old-fashioned stupid plain vanilla analog radio system that worked perfectly two thirds of the time, but the other third of the time their radios had a little static. Even though it almost never-ever failed completely it just wasn’t rosy and perfect. They could still talk to all their neighbors (who had old-fashioned stupid plain vanilla analog radio systems too), but not directly to the Big Department in Crooked County hundreds of miles away, or to the Inspectors from the State of Insolvent or the Men from Far-Far-Away. And most importantly, it just wasn’t shiny and NEW.

The Big Chief in Bewildered County had been envious of the shiny new super-duper radio system Crooked County was using. Those NEW magical radios just had to be BETTER and work super-duper everywhere. He wanted ALL of his Indians to be able to talk to ALL of the Big Department Indians or to ALL of the Inspectors from the State of Insolvent or to ALL of the Men from Far-Far-Away anytime they wanted, even though they probably wouldn’t ever need to. So he got a bid from the same vendor that Crooked County and the State of Insolvent used.

“Crooked County and the State of Insolvent buy from them,” he told the other Chiefs. ‘the Super-Salesman even showed me a fancy parchment from his vendor that says they exceed the Far-Far-Away Department of Kingdom Security Everything Must Work Together Standards. Their price was only two million walnuts and the Super-Salesman promised it was a bargain for the newest bestest thing. I don’t even need to get another bid because everything is on the Insolvent State Contract. Besides, Super-Salesmen are never wrong and he confirmed that New is Always Better.”

Old Chief Fuddyduddy said, “Wait just a minute. The Big Department’s system is designed for high-rise castles or flat wide open fields. It won’t work well here in Bewildered County because all we have is scenic forested hills and charming little cabins nestled down in deep valleys. We already use all the stupid plain vanilla analog interoperability channels at big parties. If we changed we couldn’t talk to the neighbors over in Big Mountain County or to all our other neighbors like we can now. If we pick one hundred thousand walnuts and fix up our old-fashioned stupid plain vanilla analog radio system it will work just fine.  Why should we pick a whole two million walnuts to get a shiny new system?”

“Because our radios are scratched up and all dusty. Their shiny new super-duper radios are better because they are super-duper and shiny and new. Crooked County and State of Insolvent use them and we can be just like them. New is Always Better,” the Big Chief cheered.

The Chiefs invited the Super-Salesman to a party where the Super-Salesman led some of the Bewildered Chiefs singing “New is Always Better” songs. But old Chief Fuddyduddy didn’t sing along. He asked the Super-Salesman “Everyone thinks your radios are Far-Far-Awayian-made, so just where do you make these shiny new radios?” The Super-Salesman told the Chiefs that there were lots and lots of tiny little extra parts inside the shiny new radios, and that they were made in a distant kingdom in the East where there were lots and lots of elves with tiny little fingers. That way they could afford to put in all those tiny little extra parts.

The silly old Chief frowned and his crew-cut bristled. “He must not like elves with tiny fingers,” one of the other Chiefs whispered.

“So,” Chief Fuddyduddy asked, “when one of those tiny little extra parts break, can we send them to your castle here in Far-Far-Away to get them all fixed up?”

“Our radios never break because they’re shiny and new and perfect and special. But just in case a troll chews on one or a dragon breathes fire on it, we have fixer-upper elves standing by.” The Super-Salesman suddenly had a sneezing fit, but Chief Fuddyduddy was sure he heard something about all the fixer-upper elves working in a distant southern kingdom.

That Arbor Day many of the Chiefs, the Bewildered Council Members, and Hizzonner the Mayor’s PAC all got wonderful walnut gifts from the Super-Salesman’s cousin. Accepting baskets of plain old walnuts wouldn’t be nice, but they all agreed that accepting other walnut products was okey-dokey, so it was.

During the sales demo, all the Chiefs had to agree that the shiny new system didn’t have even an itsy-bitsy hint of static, although the voices sounded … funny. Almost everyone started singing “New is Always Better songs”. Old Chief Fuddyduddy didn’t laugh at the funny voices and argued about the change, but the Bewildered Big Chief held his breath and stomped his feet and pouted until got his way.

Halfway through the project, the Super-Salesman came to the Bewildered Chiefs and told them that there were itsy-bitsy problems with their initial design. If they gave him another million walnuts they could make it even more-better and only delay the project a little, just a year or two. They had already spent two million walnuts and the Super-Salesman said it could be called an addition to an existing contract. So remembering their wonderful walnut gifts they agreed to the additions to make the shiny new system even more-better.

Just before the shiny new system was finished, the Super-Salesman came to the Chiefs and told them about a super-shiny new-new radio that had just been introduced. It was even more-newer and more-shinier and more-better than the radio already on the contract and it let the Bewildered Dispatchers know how much battery life the new-new radios had remaining. The new-new radios weren’t exactly on the Insolvent State Contract, but the Super-Salesman crossed his heart and hoped to die and promised that the price was right because they were the vendor Crooked County and the State of Insolvent always used.

Old Chief Fuddyduddy asked the Super-Salesman who else was using the new-new radios. The Super-Salesman mumbled something about the elves not building the new-new super-shiny radios quite yet. But them his face brightened and he told the Chiefs that everyone was getting them and the super-smart engineers had all the bugs worked out and they were new-new and more-better. Since the radios were new-new and more-better and everyone was buying them and super-smart engineers are never wrong, the Chiefs agreed. Besides, it was really only a million walnut addition to the existing contract and More-New is Always More-Better.

Only thirteen moons later the new-new radios arrived. During testing, they found that the extra data (knowing about battery life was new and therefore must be important) overloaded the channels and made the batteries run down quicker. The Super-Salesman said that they needed new channels and bigger batteries to support the new, very important battery life data. New channels and bigger toys are always better and besides, it was really only a million walnut addition to the existing contract and New is Always Better.

Many, many, many moons later, the big day arrived and the shiny new-new radios were given to the Indians for the first time, and they marched out into the forest to arrest trolls and squirt water on dragons. Their shiny radios were brand new and simply had to be better. But there were some itsy-bitsy problems and the central magical thingamabob crashed so often nobody could talk. So, until the super-smart engineers could fix the itsy-bitsy problem the Chiefs and Indians went back to their stupid plain vanilla analog radio system that worked perfectly two thirds of the time but had a little static the other third.

Just to get by, the Chiefs picked three hundred thousand walnuts from their emergency tree to fix up their old-fashioned stupid plain vanilla analog radio system to make the nasty static go away and sound just like the shiny new radios would.  Old Chief Fuddyduddy just shook his head, took early retirement, and moved to a state with low taxes and a balanced budget.

Six moons later the Super-Salesman said that new super-duper firmware was ready and would only cost a few hundred thousand extra walnuts to install. The Super-Salesman told the Chiefs that the vendor had super-smart engineers and that new firmware was always better and always fixed everything. When the radios were updated the Indians could talk to each other with no static. But sometimes their radios only played a beautiful bonking song or stayed blissfully quiet, and they had trouble recognizing the other Indian’s voices. The Dispatchers had more trouble understanding Mumbles the Brave, especially when his faithful K-9 companion was barking.

The Super-Salesman said that the super-smart engineers were almost done re-re-re-revising the perfect AN-TEEK codec. The new re-re-re-revision would magically make Mumbles the Brave sound like a rock star (as long as he always remembered to turn away so his radio didn’t pick up his dog singing chorus, or other places, situations or conditions as determined by the vendor at any later date as allowed in the itsy-bitsy print incorporated by reference into Appendix Q-7013 of the initial contract).

The Indians still insisted on finding places where the shiny new radios only worked when they stood on their left foot during rush hour or on their right foot between midnight and 3AM, and to other places where they only played the pretty bonking song or stayed blissfully quiet. The Super-Salesman said that the Indians were just being silly and they should stop finding those nasty places, but maybe if the Chiefs put up one or two shiny new towers the Indians wouldn’t need to stand on one foot to talk. Each new tower would only be a quarter million walnut addition to the original contract. “But,” the Super-Salesman added, “New is Always Better.”

Many, many moons later, six shiny new towers were built (more new is always more better that fewer new) and when it worked the new system was almost as good as their stupid plain vanilla analog radio system and didn’t have any static, ever.

But the silly Indians kept going to the places where the shiny new radios only played the pretty bonking song or stayed blissfully quiet. Lots of the Indians wanted to keep their stupid plain vanilla analog radios handy too just in case, because they all new how to make sense of static-y voices. The Chiefs said that were just being silly, because New is Always Better and the shiny super-duper re-re-re-revised AN-TEEK codec would do that for them.

One day Bewildered County had a big y’all come party. They didn’t even plan it, it just happened and got super-big super-fast. Their silly neighbors didn’t have shiny new radios but came over to party and dance anyway. Since Bewildered County didn’t have enough walnuts left to buy extra shiny new radios, the neighbors and Bewildered Chiefs couldn’t talk to each other across the crowded dance floor. The Insolvent Ministry of Magical Communications had plenty of extra shiny new radios, and said they would be happy to bring them to the party. Their Magicians would work at government-break-neck-speed and be there sometime the next day. So in the mean time, the Chiefs had to run home and find their old stupid plain vanilla analog radios so they could talk to all the silly neighbors who came to the party from miles around.

It was so sad. One of the Insolvent Inspectors was driving through Bewildered County while the Big Party was going on, but he couldn’t hear about it. He even had a wagon full of Party Inspectors and extra instruments. But since the Insolvent Ministry of Magical Communications didn’t let his shiny new radio hear the wonderful new Bewildered channel (listening to too many channels might damage their ears), and had thoughtfully taken out his old-fashioned stupid plain vanilla analog radio to make room in his horse-drawn wagon for a spare parachute (you can’t be too safe!), the Insolvent Inspectors didn’t learn about the big Bewildered dance until they were at a far away Inn watching the 11:00 Town Crier.

The next day, the Super-Salesman told the Bewildered Chiefs that if their silly neighbors got shiny new radios too, they could invite them over and talk to them at big parties. The Big Chief and the Super-Salesman jumped in their carriage and drove over the river and through the woods to see the old-fashioned Chief of Prudent County. They told the old-fashioned Prudent Chief that their shiny new radios were the latest thing, and that he needed shiny new radios too so they could all party and dance together. “New is Always Better” they chanted in chorus, as the Super-Salesman slid his proposal across the old-fashioned Chief’s desk with a grin, dreams of sugar-plumbs dancing in his head.

The Super-Salesman told the Prudent Chief the shiny new radios only cost 5,000 walnuts apiece. “New is Always Better and everyone is doing it,” repeated the Super-Salesman, ‘so it has to be right! We’ll write a grant for everyone in Prudent County so you can give us someone else’s walnuts. They grow on trees, you know.”

The Prudent Chief exclaimed, ‘that’s a lot of walnuts! But since most vendors can do the Far-Far-Away Department of Kingdom Security Everything Must Work Together Standard I think I’ll ask a second vendor to bid on shiny new radios also.”

“Oh, No!” exclaimed the Super-Salesman. “You can’t do that because our shiny new super-duper system handles super important battery life data in a special way that is so special we don’t let anyone else’s radios do it. We have more super-smart lawyers and squinty-eyed accountants than we have super-smart engineers and they all say the same thing. Besides, everyone knows that the other vendor’s elves all have big fingers and can’t build radios properly!”

When the Prudent Chief found out that the new super-duper system was so “special”, he offered to spend 10,000 walnuts to put a dim-witted gizmo in his old-fashioned system so he could bridge his stupid plain vanilla analog radios to the shiny new system in Bewildered County. The Super-Salesman said that wouldn’t work either because the squinty-eyed accounts feared his stupid plain vanilla analog radio traffic might hurt the ears of the Indians using the super-duper shiny new system. “Besides,” the Big Chief added, “our Bewildered Dispatchers wouldn’t be able to see how much battery life your stupid plain vanilla analog radios have left.”

The old-fashioned Prudent Chief politely showed the Super-Salesman and Bewildered Big Chief to the door and kept on using his stupid plain vanilla analog radio system that worked perfectly two thirds of the time but had a little static the other third. The old-fashioned Prudent Chief decided to have his Medicine Man re-program his stupid old radios with all of the stupid plain vanilla analog interoperable channels, got his Indians new antennas to reduce the static, and spent the 10,000 walnuts on twenty shiny-new stupid plain vanilla analog radios with extra batteries that he could loan to the Bewildered Chiefs and Indians when they came over to party in Prudent County.

The Prudent Chief did accept an offer from the Insolvent Ministry of Magical Communications for one shiny new super-duper radio so his Dispatchers could talk to Bewildered County, the Big Department in Crooked County, the State of Insolvent, and the Men from Far-Far-Away, just in case his Prudent County fan ever started to turn brown.

After six moons of itsy-bitsy adjustments the shiny new system in Bewildered County worked perfectly 80% of the time, played that pretty bonking song 10% of the time and stayed blissfully quiet the last 10% of the time. The bonks and silence always happened in the silliest of places like down in a dungeon fighting dragons or when chasing trolls through the forest or when everyone got all bothered and excited. The Super-Salesman said that 80% perfect was better that 66% perfect. They would learn to like the beautiful bonking music or perfect silence instead of having to listen to imperfect voices with that nasty static. Everything was all perfectly fine and normal with the Bewildered System because New is Always Better and all the other shiny super-duper systems did the same thing. The Super-Salesman crossed his heart and promised that the vendor’s super-smart engineers were working on it.

A few weeks later, one of the Bewildered Indians got a bad boo-boo because too many of the itsy-bitsy magical pieces got all jumbled up bouncing through the trees and over the hills on the way to his shiny new radio and it stayed blissfully quiet. The silly union sued the Chiefs because they thought the shiny new system was hazardous to the Indian’s health. The Chiefs counter-sued because New is Always Better and the perfect re-re-re-revised AN-TEEK codec used the latest magical frog DNA to fill in any missing pieces. The ridiculous old judge made the Chiefs switch back to the stupid plain vanilla analog radio system that worked perfectly two thirds of the time but had a little static the other third until the case was settled.

The Super-Salesman told the Chiefs not to worry “cause his super-super-smart engineers were working on a super-new-new system that let two sets of Indians talk on the same channel at the same time, and because it was so super-new-new it would be even more-more-better because everything in their rosy perfect world always worked perfectly. The shiny super-new-new radios would also talk to the stupid plain vanilla analog radios that the silly old-fashioned Chiefs over in Prudent and Big Mountain Counties insisted on keeping. Each super-new-new radio only cost 7,500 walnuts, but the Super-Salesman promised to give them a deal from the Insolvent State Contract.

Four years and seven million walnuts poorer, some of the Bewildered Chiefs looked at their bare walnut trees and the boxes of shiny new radios getting all dusty in the warehouse. They began to wonder if that stupid plain vanilla analog radio system that worked perfectly two thirds of the time but had a little static the other third, and let them talk to all their silly neighbors wasn’t so bad after all.

Disclaimer

This is a work of fiction and any references, direct, inferred or assumed, to your favorite vendor and/or equipment, real person, Super-Salesman, troll, elf, and/or other imaginary creature, living or dead, is not intended to be specific however intentional it may appear. If you wish to complain that I am singling out vendor “X”, county “Y” and state “Z”, I will cite the same situation with vendors “A” & “O” in counties “Q” & “R” in states “E” and “F”. That being said, if you believe that there are not multiple instances that could be construed to be the subject of this work, you had better keep your rosy-colored glasses handy and watch out for marauding trolls and fire-breathing dragons as you march blissfully through your local forest.

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