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Distressing News from Prussia of a Missing Industrialist


((what you can read once the Berlin Post of June 5, 188_ makes its way to New Babbage))

((Page One Headline, above the fold:))

Famous Industrialist Disappears, Apparently Taking Jobs, Innovation Elsewhere

Berlin’s business and political community was in an uproar as it was announced famous industrialist and steam communications pioneer Pere Pelham has closed his 600,000-square-foot factory in Berchestrad.

“Pelham Industries must seek a more innovative area with less government regulation, less corruption, and less stifling interference from environmentalists, labor interests, the Prussian military and laundrywomen,” said Mr Pelham in a prepared statement posted on the wall of his factory, which has become one of the primary gathering spots in all of Berlin.

“This is terrible news. Pelham Industries, with its promise of new jobs for eight years now and its production of remarkable, innovative items of great need has been the centerpiece of High SteamTech Berlin and a communications revolution with implications for betterment across the world,” said Hans Fitgenstrasser, chairman of the Berlin Chamber of Commerce and co-chairman of the High SteamTech Will Solve All Our Problems Community Business Task Force.

“We have instructed the military to find Mr Pelham and convince him to stay,” said Mayor Gerkin Fenderbassen. “An entire tech community has grown around his factory, and the loss of Mr Pelham would be a significant setback to our redevelopment efforts. We have rolled back taxes, removed export and import restrictions, provided loans so generous that the city pays interest to Pelham Industries, and allowed the dumping of raw sewage into our waters in order to help Pelham Industries. And so this is particularly galling.”

Even before the press statement, weeping urchins of Berlin were harbingers of the news, crying as they were engaged in their last day of employment. Mr Pelham had employed large numbers of urchins as messengers in a new form of communication which he called “Beeping.” Urchins were sent out with small strips of paper, with no more than 139 characters and spaces of type, with news and inspirational sayings from Mr Pelham and others. The urchins were instructed to fire off a bicycle horn into the ear of individuals and press upon them the slips of paper. People were then expected to read the items and then share them with other Berliners as part of what Mr Pelham called ‘the communications revolution heralding a new era of citizen engagement and liberty.”

Citizens had grown to prize the slips of paper, which contained such sayings as

“You are the key to your own empowerment” – Jesus Christ

“In the new steam economy will be freedom and joy” – Peregrine Pelham

Other sayings found on Beepings pressed by urchins into the hands of adults were such sayings as “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” “Shoot for the moon, and even if you miss, you will land in the stars,” and “we’re now in an age when only those who engage customers will succeed” as well as “six keys to going viral, unless you lock them up and expose yourself to sulfer fumes”

Unfortunately, the final day, the urchins were sent out with small Beepings that only said
““F__ you, Berlin” – Peregrine Pelham.”

The children were quite upset to the loss of their jobs.

“Dah isth nisht zehr gerfushten mit der gechenstrasshen oder Herr Pelham can ger-shucken my gronken-meyer,” said one urchin, who otherwise was incomprehensible.

This was a dramatic change from eight years ago, when Pelham arrived in Berlin promising jobs and a clean industrial economy. Politicians and businesspeople posed with him in countless etching and news opportunities as his factory continued to emit all sorts of things, and Mr Pelham said production was building a new economy. Many citizens when asked were not clear what the factory was making. When asked, Mr Pelhem would respond that the new economy was about opening a world and not about the old ways at all. As extensive loans were made and laws changed to make the factory more productive, several political figures said they surely must have met some of the many people Mr Pelham had indicated he had employed, and felt they brought a lot to the community.

Many people assumed it was Pelham employees who made the walls of Pelham Industries so famous with bulletin boards that Mr Pelham called “Faceboard.” Citizens were encouraged to post humiliating and trival daguerreotypes of themselves for people to come by and see, and Mr Pelham began a craze by writing under each photo inspirational words such as “You are the key to your own empowerment,” “you bring me and our world such blessings and joy, good for you” and “In the new steam economy will be freedom and joy” Citizens in turn wrote sayings encouraging each other. There are now many thousands of photographs on the Pelham Faceboard walls including daguerreotypes of women displaying their ankles, men waxing their moustaches and surely every baby in Berlin.

It was unclear what would happen to Mr Pelham’s building, just as it’s unclear where he is taking his “job-producing, clean-energy dynamic economic engine of potential,” as he liked to call it.

As the Post goes to Press, hundreds of people have posted on the Faceboard wall daguerreotypes of themselves crying, with inscriptions such as “Come back Mr Pelham, we need you for our economic revolution that will give power to the masses” and “Please return, we welcome your jobs and industry and how you helped us to think independently and for ourselves.”

Helmut Erickson, analyst with Brudder & Sons Brokers, speculated that Mr Pelham was frustrated that some citizens had not adopted his latest business practice. He had taken to insisting that anyone who put their image on his Faceboard had to provide their entire work history, names and addresses and contact information of all friends, and in the case of men, intimate etchings or photographs of their wives and daughters.


“I know Pere was quite upset that people did not understand that it was only by sharing information could we be liberated as every known fact would be shared with all, and thus save the world from all of its problems which he cared so deeply about,” Erickson said. “He frequently said to me, ‘Helmut, can you just randomly stop and write down what you are doing every hour or so, who you are with, and what you think of everyone you know, and then give that to me in writing?”

“And when I told him, “Pere, that’s kind of a lot to ask” he would just stare at me and then say “You just don’t get the future, do you?””


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