Friday, 28 October 2011

Instant diplomat

We got our diplomat from the supermarket, aisle 5.  She was sitting on a low shelf, looking uncomfortable.  She was quite smartly dressed though, and her smartphone was only a few months out of date.  Her laptop was a clunky old thing though, and still required batteries to run.  The mom-bot tutted, did some quick budget calculations, and bought her a state-of-the-art steam powered one.
Dad was really pleased when we arrived home with her.  He sat her down in the kitchen while the mom-bot was putting the groceries away and put the steam-powered laptop in front of her, and tried not to look too disappointed about her phone.
"Right," he said.  "We've got four problems straight away, and I'm expecting a few more over the coming weeks.  The initial ones are essentially sovereignty disputes, but there's going to be some negotiations required I think."
"Ok," said our diplomat, powering the laptop up.  It hissed briefly, and then the hydraulic ram engaged with a thump that shook the kitchen table.  Even Dad looked impressed, and he smiled at the mom-bot for making such a good purchase.  "Sovereignty?" she said, her lips a thin line that was sharp enough to match the crease in her skirt.
"I own this property and the land it stands on outright," said Dad.  This was true, and unique in our neighbourhood, where almost everyone rented the land from one of three landlords and rented their property from a different landlord.  It was quite confusing, from what my friends said, and their parents usually bought a new lawyer every few months or so.  "I have the documents of sovereignty upstairs, if you need to see them–" the diplomat shook her head, "– and I want to exercise that right to put up guard towers on the south-west corner of the property.  However, I'm concerned that doing so might upset the Cornerstone Corporation, who are proxying ownership of the land to both the south and west of mine."
The diplomat nodded, and the mom-bot put a cup of milky tea down next to her.  A few seconds later, two digestive biscuits appeared on a small saucer next to the cup, and Dad helped himself to one of them.  "We could establish a small embassy," she said.  The laptop hissed and a neighbourhood map came up on the screen.  "This," she pointed, "would seem to be an excellent location for an embassy."
"It's by the supermarket," said Dad, his face dropping.  "That's a terrible location."
"But the upper floors of the supermarket building are used as a corporate headquarters by the Cornerstone Corporation," said the diplomat.  "And we'd be renting out the top floor of this building here," she pointed again, "partly because the penthouse is obviously the best place to impress people and hold receptions, and partly because it gives us excellent views into their boardroom."  Dad started looking happier again.  "I'm certainly not suggesting that we conduct espionage, but equally it would be foolish of me to fail to note that this location has certain natural advantages."
"What will the embassy accomplish?" asked Dad, stealing the diplomat's other biscuit.  The mom-bot tutted and two more digestives appeared.
"It will provide us with somewhere to meet the Cornerstone Corporation where we can suggest to them that allowing us to build a guard-tower is mutually beneficial.  In fact, I have a document somewhere..." she tapped on the keys, and the hydraulic ram engaged again as she accessed the subnets, "... which discusses the use of bullets in high-speed surgery situations...."
I stopped listening at that point and ran upstairs to phone my friend Tom who lived on a Cornerstone controlled property.  I figured that he might want to know to avoid scheduling surgery until Dad had got diplomacy out of his system.

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