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The Trouble with Hairy

David Gerrold


AFTERWARD, THEY ALL agreed it had been a bad idea.

After all the allegations, all the excuses and explanations, all the accusations and apologies, all the recriminations, back and forth—there was enough blame for everyone—and especially after all the indictments, after all of that and more, everyone agreed it had been a very, very bad idea. 

But it had seemed like a good idea at the time. 

It had begun innocently enough at the 33rd Annual Convention of Convention-Committees. While the panel on Dealing with Difficult People was headed for overtime, because several people on the panel were being difficult, the husband of one of the panelists joined the wife of one of the other panelists in the hotel bar for a circumstance that was as far removed from hanky-panky as is possible for two human beings to achieve. 

He was Doctor Verne ("Vernie" for short) Vellum, of the Newport Vellums (third cousin, twice removed), a graduate of the Pepperdine Programming Initiative, sponsored by the Pepperdine Business School. 

She was Doctor Janine Pershing, a graduate of the UCLA Department of Medicine, specializing in cardio-pulmonary research and the clotting abilities of blood. 

He was presently consulting for Cal-Trans, the California Transit Authority, on ways to manage traffic flow along the city's main arteries. 

She was creating a model of the blood flow throughout the human body as a way to predict blood clots, aneurisms, strokes, and other hemolytic disasters. 

What happened next was inevitable. 

By the time they had finished their third round of Hairy Nilssons—

A Hairy Nilsson is rum and Coke, except it's made with Malibu coconut rum and a twist of lime. You put the lime in the coconut, you drink it all up. If you use diet Coke, it's a half-Nilsson. 

—by the time they had finished their third round of Hairy Nilssons, they were both giddy enough to recognize that they were working on the same problem—how do you keep a fluid flowing? 

Sometime after the fourth or fifth round of Hairy Nilssons, the light bulb didn't just light up—it exploded in a dazzling shower of sparks. The impossible idea flashed into being like Athena springing full-blown from the forehead of Zeus, and switching metaphors in the middle of the sentence, Pandora's box fell open with an ear-piercing clang. While their respective spouses were vehemently arguing with each other about ways to create peace, Vellum and Pershing were suddenly and drunkenly committing to a collaboration that would have left the average mad scientist weeping with envy. A Bond super-villain could not have dreamt up a better plan. 

Now, ordinarily nothing much would have happened after that alcohol-infused conversation—normally, they would have exchanged business cards and forgotten they'd even discussed anything at all until a few days later, when they each got home and unpacked and—upon discovering the business card, would have frowned, trying to remember whose it was and why it had been proffered, might have vaguely remembered, "oh, that"—and then tossing the card aside, would have turned to a much more important question: "What's for dinner?" 

Except this time, no. 

Before they had gotten to the mandatory exchange of business cards and the necessary false promises—"We should get together soon"—they were joined by a fellow named Gonder O'Conner, an elemental of greed, a seducer of the unwary, an unfrocked Irishman who had made a career out of drinking various naïve American celebrities under the table and then convincing them to endorse whatever enterprise he was currently peddling to the unwary—whether it was a failed reboot of a cancelled TV series or an internet portal for dot-com investors. He was not so much a businessman as a wannabe-entrepreneur with either a terrible toupee or a very bad touch-up of his comb-over, no one was ever certain which. 

Gonder said the magic words. "This could be worth a lot of money." And with that single phrase, the genie was popped out of the bottle and what followed after was inevitable. Gonder took both their business cards, formed an LLC in Nevada the following Monday, created a logo and printed stationery on Tuesday, and issued a press release on Thursday. (Wednesday he went painting in the Louvre?)

Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time. That's the trouble with Hairy Nilssons. Everything seems like a good idea at the time.

Sometimes the ideas are good.

Like, for instance—

Why don't you put some of your peanut butter in my chocolate? Why don't you put some of your chocolate in my peanut butter? That worked out okay. 

But sometimes the ideas aren't good. New Coke. Windows Vista. Jar Jar Binks. 

Gonder O'Conner went to the Los Angeles City Hall with his proposal. He stood up before the City Council and explained that there was a scientific answer to the city's traffic problems and that—

Okay, to be fair—there were a few people who were skeptical of the proposal. 

But Gonder, to his credit, was a skilled talker, if nothing else. Rumor had it that he was the illegitimate grandson of the man who sold refrigerators to Eskimos—as a way to keep their food warm against subzero Arctic temperatures. 

After his proposal to the City Council, Gonder O'Conner held a press conference on the steps of the Los Angeles City Hall. "Imagine that the city of Los Angeles is a vast living organism. Her highways are her arteries, bringing nourishment from the farthest reaches of the globe. Her streets and avenues are the capillaries that feed the tissues of the city. Her institutions are organs providing services, water, electricity, police, and fire. All the stores, all the services, every park and museum and library, every bank and barber shop—every business, every dwelling, all of the separate entities—each and every one is a living cell that needs access to the nourishment that flows on the city's roads."

The few reporters who showed up stifled their yawns, collected the official press releases, and returned to their various newspapers, weeklies, magazines, television and radio stations, filed their stories and promptly forgot about Los Angeles as a living organism. 

Yes. In theory, it sounded good. 

In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is. 

The Mayor of Los Angeles, a tall black woman named Violet Kopanski, wasn't just smart, she was politically astute enough to know how to bury a good idea before it became a dangerous one. She convinced the city council to form a study group, a commission, a scientific advisory board. Call it what you will—the quickest way to kill any idea is to turn it over to a committee. The smarter the members of the committee, the more certain it is that the idea will be picked apart in a feeding frenzy of intellectual vultures, leaving only a few scattered bones for the conspiracy theorists to sniff and gnaw. 

Sidebar: conspiracy theorists are like paleontologists who find a fossilized tooth and construct a whole dinosaur skeleton based on that tooth—never pausing to consider that it might very well have come from a creature that would have benefited from a skilled application of Jurassic orthodonture. (Never mind, the metaphor has gotten way out of control and is now stomping through the downtown paragraph, terrifying all the various nouns to go screaming like little verbs into panicky flight, one fraught with dangerous adjectives.)

But getting back to the primary narrative, Mayor Kopanski was right—unfortunately, her timing was awful. Three days later, just enough time for the news cycle to turn its attention to the latest ill-considered remark from a politician who had never realized that her fifteen minutes had ended several years previously, the thing happened. 




A terrorist attack—a pattern of deliberate disruptions, specifically designed to create such unprecedented interruptions in the flow of traffic that the entire city was brought to an absolute standstill. More than six million cars idling in place, from the grapevine to the Orange crush, with additional backups stretching all the way to the border-crossing south of San Diego, each and every one of them farting ever more noxious pollutants into an already overloaded atmosphere. 

LA residents reading that sentence will not shudder—that's a normal business day in the region. (Readers unfamiliar with the terrain will have to google a map.) But this was worse than they imagined. Indeed—it was worse than they could imagine.

Because it wasn't accidental. 

A group of anti-socialist, libertarian free-marketers, who refused to recognize the federal government's authority to build an interstate highway system had decided to shut it down. Actually, that was their Plan B. 

Plan A had been to seize control of the 405 and liberate it in the name of the people. 

The leader of the group was Hammond Brody, a USC dropout who began by idolizing Che Guevara and ended up arguing that Charles Manson had been denied his civil rights and railroaded by a kangaroo court. Brody styled himself a modern cowboy—he had the hat and the boots to match and a pearl-handled pistol stuck into his belt in such a way that if he hadn't kept the safety on, the hair-trigger would have removed that part of his body he liked almost as much as his gun.

But after he and his two sons, and a couple of his hench-thugs, were caught in a six-hour traffic jam between LAX and the Getty Center off-ramp, it occurred to him that a massive traffic jam was a far more potent weapon for shutting down the viability of the federal infrastructure. And also a lot easier to maintain than a seizure of forty miles of superslab. 

Brody's group had originally been called the Conscientious Revolution of Angry Patriots—and under that name they had gathered nearly three hundred followers, but when it came time to design a logo, someone reluctantly pointed out that the resulting acronym was probably not the best. After several weeks of arguing about the goals and direction of their cause (a process that would have made a great case study for the panel on Dealing With Difficult People, if they could have had access to the process), Brody's followers reformed as a network of study groups and changed their name to Revolutionary American Patriots, the Institute of Social Theory and Structure. 

Well, not really study groups. 

Independent cells. 

You know, like the Communist Party, the John Birch Society, and the Science Fiction (and Fantasy) Writers of America—the primary purpose of a cellular institutional structure is to keep every member of the conspiracy from knowing who else was in the conspiracy or what they were up to, thus making it impossible for any authority to roll up the entire organization. 

Brody's group operated in almost total secrecy—well, except for the three undercover FBI agents who had infiltrated the group, a reporter from the LA Weekly, several Scientologists looking for suppressives, and two recovering alcoholics who'd wandered into the wrong meeting and stayed for the doughnuts, not to mention the gay stalker who had fixated on one of Brody's sons—

Anyway, somehow they developed a plan. 

Or maybe they were enticed into a plan. 

Leaping ahead to a point several years after the event, the rest of the story came out when a government report was leaked to the internet by a dissident group of disgruntled hackers who'd been expelled from Anonymous. This group, known as Pseudonymous, dumped a cascade of classified documents onto the World Wide Web. Most of the documents were so boring as to barely cause a flicker in the needle of public outrage—but the reports dealing with the Gridblock Event suggested that two of the FBI agents had been involved not only in the brainstorming process, but had actively aided in the design, the development, the preparation, and the scheduling of the entire operation. 

That leak resulted in a series of publicly embarrassing congressional investigations and the resignations of several high-ranking government officials. Fortunately, this focused all of their attentions so tightly they had no time left for creating larger and more substantial problems for the nation. 

The documents also revealed exactly how the Gridblock Event occurred. 

The plan was simple. It required only a few dozen disposable second-hand vehicles, capable of just enough mobility to get up a carefully selected on-ramp—and a few dozen naïfs to pilot them. 

Think about it. 

A single accident is enough to cause a five mile backup on any Los Angeles freeway. If you could arrange thirty or forty or fifty well-placed accidents at key bottlenecks and chokepoints, all of them occurring simultaneously, you could shut down the entire traffic system. You could block 527 miles of freeway in Los Angeles County and another 382 miles of conventional highway—not to mention most of the alternate routes and surface streets. You would paralyze the entire region. 

Thirty million gallons of gasoline would be burned by six million idling cars, SUVs, vans, buses, trucks, and Priuses that had exhausted their batteries. Ten million tons of pollutants would be pumped into the atmosphere. 

Millions of people would be late for work, late for meetings, late for dinner. Millions of people would soil themselves because they couldn't get to a bathroom. Fistfights would break out. Some people would have heart attacks. Other people would have babies. Even more would have panic attacks, seizures, and a few would even go into diabetic comas. People would die. 

Genius. Sheer genius. 

Start a car fire in the Orange Crush. Get a flat tire and block the transition lanes from the 405 to the 101. Do the same at the downtown interchange. Blow up an engine at the top of the Sepulveda pass. Crash two SUVs together at the Century Boulevard off-ramp, blocking access to LAX. Do the same where the 5 branches off to the Glendale Freeway. Paralyze the 134 where it feeds into the 170 and the 101.  Paralyze the other end of the 134 where it feeds into the 5. Add a few accidents to the Hollywood Freeway, a couple more to the 10, the 110, the 710, and the 605—and don't forget the 60 and the 105 either. The 90…? Piece of apple strudel.

What fun.

Hammond Brody, one of his sons, the gay stalker, and one of the FBI agents spent a week and a half driving the highways and byways of Los Angeles County, everything from Long Beach to Chatsworth, from Azusa to Agoura, marking choke points and bottlenecks on the pages of an old Rand McNally roadmap. (Exhibit 42 in the government's case.)

They almost blew it. 

They were pulled over three times by the California Highway Patrol. Once for a busted left tail light, once because the FBI agent tossed a Taco Bell wrapper out the passenger side window, and the third time for an expired registration. The first time they got a fix-it ticket and assorted failure to wear seatbelt tickets, the second time they got a littering ticket and assorted failure to wear seatbelt tickets, and the third time they nearly had the car impounded—except that Hammond Brody had the paperwork for the renewed registration in the glove compartment, he'd just forgotten to install the colored registration tab on the upper right corner of the license plate, so they had to settle for a third set of failure to wear seatbelt tickets. (And those are expensive, too.)

If any of the three ticketing officers had aspired to become detectives, they would have paid closer attention to the hurried shuffling of papers in the back seat of the vehicle. But one was three weeks short of retirement (in any other story, that would have been a death sentence), a second was thinking about his upcoming wedding, and the third was thinking about his upcoming divorce. 

After that, the rest of the implementation of the grand plan proceeded without interruption. Each study group—each cell—was presented with a specific task. Procure a vehicle. When you are given the go-ahead signal, you will crash it or set it on fire, or otherwise disable it at this precise location at this specific time on the given day. 

No cell was aware that any other cell had been given the same instructions, albeit a different target location. Each operative was led to believe that their accident was a targeted bit of revenge against a local jurisdiction. Or maybe a loyalty test. Or something. Stop asking questions, just do what you're told. You don't need to know what you don't need to know. 


And it worked. 

Now, to be fair—the FBI had planned to apprehend Hammond Brody and his sons, and the various cells they had identified (which was most of them) on the day before the go-ahead signal was to be sent out. 


Due to a scheduling conflict with a major sporting event, CBS had moved Hammond Brody's favorite television show, The Golden Girls: The Next Generation, to a different night—and because Hammond Brody wanted to be home in time to catch the season finale, he moved the plan up two days without telling anyone and sent out the go-ahead signal at two in the morning while almost everybody was tucked away safe in their beds.

At 3:37 P.M., Pacific Daylight Time…Gridblock began. 

It went off better than Hammond Brody could have wished for—not just because of his somewhat inelegant planning, but also because there were so many volunteers who joined in the fun, inadvertently adding their own stalled, disabled, and crashed vehicles to the resultant urbanicide. 

Among the volunteers were several motorcyclists who made the mistake of believing that they were immune to the gridlock, because of the ease with which their lanesplitting allowed them to zip through lines of stopped automobiles. They discovered the hard way that they were not as immune as they believed, when stalled motorists inadvertently opened their driver-side doors at the wrong moment, bringing those motorcyclists to very unfortunate sudden stops.

The Fire and Emergency Medivac helicopters were kept busy for the first several hours—at least until most of the cell phone batteries among the affected drivers stopped producing a flow of usable electrons. After that, passengers and drivers began abandoning their vehicles where they were and hiked to the nearest off-ramp. Local restaurants and motels appreciated the influx of new business, at least while there were still rooms to rent and burgers to fry. Without resupply, they quickly ran out of perishables. 

Local grocery stores fared somewhat better. Their supplies of perishables lasted for two or three days before the shelves began to look thin. 

Some of the worst problems occurred at Los Angeles International Airport. That had been targeted with six separate chokepoint incidents. With no way for departing passengers to arrive and arriving passengers to depart, very quickly the terminals began to look like a crowded refugee camp. The smarter arrivals booked themselves onto departing planes for San Diego, Santa Barbara, Ontario, and other nearby venues in the hopes of finding ground transportation to their desired destinations. Or they just collected their baggage—if possible—and flew home.  

The worst of the traffic jams lasted six days—partly because emergency vehicles could not reach the affected areas. Military helicopters had to lift out many of the crashed and burned vehicles. 

Normalcy never returned. Ridership on buses, trains, and the—really? LA has a subway?—increased by nearly four hundred percent, overloading the capacity of those systems almost to the breaking point.

And in the uproar that followed, the City Council had to demonstrate it was on top of the situation—they had to come up with a plan to prevent future shutdowns of the city's arteries. 

Unfortunately, they had what looked like a plan.

And yes, it did seem like a good idea at the time.

Even though the Vellum-Pershing algorithms had not yet been fully tested, the surviving drivers of Los Angeles were impatient enough to demand immediate action. The City Council, never known for either its courage or its speed, in the face of such pressure, managed to demonstrate at least one of these attributes—unfortunately, the wrong one. 

The city's traffic control computers were shortly reprogrammed with Doctors Vellum and Pershing's algorithms to regulate traffic flow as an organic process. The system went live at midnight of August 13th—a Friday.

The first test of the system occurred almost immediately—at 12:13 A.M., two street racers, a souped-up 2012 Honda CRX and a 1994 Chevy Corvette collided with a large truck at the Balboa off-ramp of the 101 in Encino. Despite the late hour, or perhaps because of it—various local events were just concluding—traffic began backing up almost immediately. By the time cars were slowing down on the 405 north and south connector ramps, as well as on the 101 as far east as Van Nuys Boulevard, the traffic control system flagged the event as equivalent to a blood clot in a major artery and sent in the white blood cells to repair the damage. 


That was the part of the algorithm that hadn't been…um, what's a polite euphemism…fully vetted. 

See, on the second day of the Gridblock, United States Army General Daisy Cutler transferred control of four dozen military drones to the Los Angeles Traffic Control system for monitoring purposes. It had seemed like a good idea at the time, really, but General Cutler did not even have the mitigating circumstance of four Hairy Nilssons to motivate her decision. 

Control of those drones had not been returned to the army. 

The Vellum-Pershing algorithm saw those drones as white blood cells. 

The white blood cells rushed to the site of the blood clot. 

And—well, you see…in the rush to get eyes in the sky, only a few of those drones had been disarmed—they promptly targeted the offending vehicles and with the precision only a finely tuned military drone can achieve, initiated a surgical strike and blew the offending vehicles off the road, drivers and all. 

In the aftermath, there was some official tongue-clucking about the death of the truck driver as unfortunate collateral damage, but most observers felt that the two young street racers had received what they rightfully deserved. 


Two things happened:


Because subsequent traffic jams were treated as blood clots and as public concern began to grow, traffic suddenly became a lot safer. The incidence of reckless driving decreased significantly, enough so that the city of Los Angeles actually experienced two consecutive rush hours without a single fender bender or bumper jumper. The possibility of flaming death from the sky, without the interference of judge, jury, or predatory lawyers, had so terrified tailgaters, speeders, weavers, racers, chasers, and assorted drunks, that driving in Los Angeles actually became occasionally—well, not pleasant, but tolerable. 

But second…

When accidents did happen, as soon as it became obvious that passing automobiles were slowing, as soon as it became apparent that traffic was going to back up—which was an inevitable phenomenon in Los Angeles, due to the high percentage of drivers who'd never seen an accident before and had to slow down to get a better look—the drivers of the affected cars would grab their belongings, their purses, bags of groceries, cell phones, dogs, and children, and start running, hoping to put as much distance as possible between themselves and the accident before the drones arrived. 

Some were lucky, others not. 

Collateral damage.

Too bad. 

They shouldn't have had that accident in the first place. 

At first, there were some grumblings. There are always people who are resistant to change, but most Angelenos adapted very quickly to the new normal—for one very simple reason: the number of traffic deaths had fallen dramatically. From an actuarial point of view, the system worked.

The insurance companies loved the new reality. Fewer accidents meant fewer claims—the infrequent claim for the total destruction of a vehicle was less than a few dozen claims for the minor damage of the average collision. 

There were side effects, of course. There are always side effects. The families of the deceased were quick to file lawsuits against the city, but the Gordian tangle of nested paperwork and filings, all the various forms of red tape, the concentric layers of impacted bureaucracy, not to mention all the interconnected holding companies and shell corporations constructed by Gonder O'Conner and two of his purchased allies on the City Council's newly created board to manage the Regulated Autonomous Traffic System, meant that very few of the lawsuits would ever be resolved within the lifespan of the plaintiffs. Besides, the lawyers loved the sinecure of a steady income.

So, all in all—unless you were one of those unfortunates who got removed from the gene pool, and in that case you were in no position to offer an opinion anyway—what had seemed like a good idea in theory had actually worked out to be a good idea in practice. Unless, of course, well…you know. But collateral damage and all that. 


Two events. 

The first was a stalled school bus. Not one of those big yellow ones that carry fifty or sixty students at a time—this was one of those short yellow ones that carry less than a dozen children. The special ones. 

Afterward, a large crowd of enraged parents descended on City Hall demanding the resignations of the Mayor, the entire City Council, Doctors Vellum and Pershing, Gonder O'Conner, and everyone else they blamed for the tragedy. Speakers representing the Asian community, the Latino community, and the African-American community all demanded a federal investigation—and indictments. 

It was ugly.

It got even uglier when one of the defenders of the Regulated Autonomous Traffic System said, "If we weren't going to outlaw guns after the Sandy Hook shooting—and that was the deaths of twenty children—then why the hell do you think we're going to do anything after the deaths of only eleven?"

That's when the first chair was thrown.

Additional protests were scheduled against the weekend's presidential fund-raiser. An even larger group of enraged parents, many from more affluent areas of the city, suddenly concerned about the safety of their own children, were now demanding federal intervention.

That was when the second incident occurred. 

A presidential motorcade requires the hosting city to create a bubble in the traffic flow. There's the presidential limousine. Then there are the limos of all the various attendants and aides and others invited to ride along. Then there are the secret service vehicles ahead and behind. And then there are the police escorts ahead and behind. And no other traffic is allowed anywhere near. 

The system, the program, the bloody algorithm saw this as an air bubble in an artery. 

Air bubbles are potentially fatal. 

At the center of the air bubble was the presidential limo. 

Not having an option for dealing with air bubbles, the traffic algorithm decided instead that it was observing a moving blood clot, one that seemed to be heading for the heart of the city.

Three drones, patrolling the eastbound 10 between the 405 and downtown, headed directly for the motorcade, triggering alarms everywhere. Two of them were shot down by the stealth helicopters that patrolled the airspace above the presidential motorcade. The third was able to launch two Hellfire missiles, which—due to significant tracking errors, as the Hellfire algorithms had not been written for moving targets—missed the presidential motorcade and hit a Pepsi-Cola truck instead on the westbound side of the freeway, just past the Crenshaw Boulevard off-ramp.

trouble with Hairy

That the Los Angeles traffic control system was not shut down immediately was another comedy of errors. (Comedy of errors is the polite way of saying "clusterfuck.")

Several technicians charged with monitoring the drones had been watching the whole incident unfold in real time. As soon as they realized that an attack on the presidential motorcade was impending, they tried to override the drones' controls and abort the strike—but the drones had limited autonomy, just enough to reject unauthorized overrides. 

As soon as the horrorstruck monitors of the system realized what had happened, they panicked. Several fled the building. One even fled the country, fearing reprisals and the inevitable accusation of terrorism because of his Muslim faith. 

The fire department had to shut down power to the entire building and then disable two emergency generators before the system went down and the drones obediently returned to base.

Threatening the President of the United States is a Class E felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison, a $250,000 maximum fine, a $100 special assessment, and 3 years of supervised release. Actually shooting a president is a capital offense—unless you miss. Then it's just a really, really, really bad felony. The kind that gets you put away for life. Unless the judge is lenient. Then you only get sentenced to a few hundred years in prison. 

The Attorney General of the United States filed over a hundred and fifty-three separate indictments, citing the entire City Council as defendants for "creating a conspiracy of collective stupidity." 

In particular, Doctors Vellum and Pershing, Gonder O'Conner, Mayor Violet Kopanski, all of the programmers, and everyone else who had collected a RATS paycheck, were brought up on charges. Additionally, just to be thorough, anyone who'd come anywhere near the project was indicted as an involuntary accomplice, although charges were eventually dropped for most of the lower-level technicians—except for the monitors on duty at the time. 

"But I was only following orders," was not accepted as a defense plea. 

The primary architects of the debacle were tried and convicted and sentenced to the maximum the law would allow. 

Hammond Brody and family were charged as senior conspirators, in league with Doctors Vellum and Pershing—despite the total lack of evidence proving that any such link existed. Life sentences without parole. 

Doctors Vellum and Pershing were likewise sentenced, with the additional restriction that neither of them were ever to be allowed access to any electronic device more complicated than a light switch. 

Gonder O'Conner disappeared mysteriously, and although rumor had it he had been spotted living in Argentina, a more credible theory had him buried somewhere beneath the recently repaved parking lot of the new sports stadium in Inglewood. 

Mayor Kopanski died of a heart attack while awaiting trial. Due to a paperwork error, her body was cremated before an autopsy could be performed. 

General Daisy Cutler was not indicted—although she was court-martialed for unauthorized transfer of army property for civilian use. She was allowed to resign at rank. Elsewhere, certain military engineers and programmers were quietly assigned to study the failure of the missiles to hit their targets. One hundred and thirty-seven million dollars were allocated to find and fix the cause of the errors, so that next time, if there was a next time, the accuracy of the nation's defense technology would not become a public embarrassment. 

The Bloody Algorithm, as it came to be known, was wiped from the Los Angeles Traffic Control Computers and the Regulated Autonomous Traffic System was consigned to the trash heap of history, along with 8-track tapes, floppy disks, Instamatic cameras, and folding maps.

Within a week, traffic in Los Angeles returned to normal—that is, the previous normal.

A trip from the northwest end of the San Fernando Valley to anywhere south of Anaheim was once again a four hour drive. Regardless of which freeway you took. And that was on a good day.

One more thing—bartenders throughout the state were quietly advised to discourage customers from ordering Hairy Nilssons. 

And that was a very good idea.

David Gerrold has been writing science fiction for half a century. His novels include When Harlie Was One, The Man Who Folded Himself, the Dingilliad series for young adults, and the Star Wolf series. He's currently editing book five of his seven-book War Against the Chtorrtrilogy. David Gerrold has written for many different television series, including Twilight Zone, Land of the Lost, Babylon 5, Tales from the Darkside, Sliders and The Real Ghostbusters. He also wrote scripts for Star Trek Animated and Star Trek: The Original Series.

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