Frequently Asked Questions

Mar 17, 2016

Portrait of a technomage.

Who are you?
What do you want?

Never ask that question. Who are you?
My name is Bryce Alexander Lynch. Most call me The Doctor.

Are you the same Doctor Who that was interviewed in Phrack Magazine all those years ago?
No, I'm not him. The one you're thinking of was in the LOD (the Legion of Doom) in the heyday of the HPAC/V scene in the 1980's. I've spoken to him a few times, though, and think he's a pretty cool guy. I'm not pretending to be him, I just happened to pick the same handle independently. To differentiate us, he asked me to use standard BBS notation, hence, the list of area codes after my name.

You're not a web designer, are you?
No, I'm not. My original website's design was very simple, and in fact hit the absolute upper limit of my web design skills. I've since migrated my website to weblogging software called PivotX because I'd rather someone who knew what they were doing write the code, which leaves me more time to write content. When I have time, that is.

What do you like to do?
Oh, lots of things, though most of them are solitary in nature. I like to read, I write, I go wandering a great deal, listen to music, program, sometimes I give sketching a try. I enjoy travelling, especially to new places, though I do not get to go very often due to the fact that traveling long distances costs more money than it used to. I once enjoyed driving by since moving to Washington DC (and hence dealing with Beltway traffic all the time) I lost my taste for it.

Why do you always wear black?
I wear black when I wear black. I wear some color when I wear some color. When I feel a need to dress up, I dress up.

What music do you listen to?
My tastes tend to run old-school goth and death rock, synthpop, some industrial, some filk, chiptunes, nerdcore hip-hop, synthwave and whatever else I happen across.

Where can you normally be found?
Nowhere most people can find. I spend most of my time at the office doing sysadmin-type things like pulling CAT-5 cable through crawlspaces, making Linux and Windows systems happy, fighting with Windows networking, dealing with end users and emergencies, stuff like that. If I'm not there then I've crawled back under my rock; maybe I'm jacked in, maybe I'm not. Maybe I'm completely exhausted from the crisis du jour, maybe I'm just tired and trying to catch a few hours of sleep. If it's the weekend it's entirely possible that I've gone on another cross-country jaunt or that I've dropped off the grid to recuperate.

Do you play any games?
I find that I don't have the attention span for video games, but I do enjoy a good tabletop RPG. I'm a little burned out on the old World of Darkness, I don't really like the new one (though Promethean and Changeling are oddly compelling), but I very much enjoy running and playing Eclipse Phase.

What books have you read?
As a general rule I try to read five or six books per week, though in practise it usually works out to be one or two. I prefer science fiction to any other style of fiction; my favourite genre of all time is classic cyberpunk, though there is a soft spot in my heart for pulp sci-fi (ala the Lensmen series or Tom Swift ). I also enjoy modern fantasy, such as The Wizard of Fourth Street or The Dresden Files. Anything else is subject to a case-by-case decision.

What's your favourite book?
Neuromancer by William Gibson.

Blondes, brunettes, or redheads?
Redheads, preferably.

Men? Women?
Either. I am bisexual though I tend to find men more aesthetically pleasing. On the Kinsey Scale I rank myself between a 1.5 and 3.0.

Wanna yiff?
Maybe. My lovely wife and I are polyamorous and have been for a number of years. We have a third lover (who, at the time of this writing, has not explicitly consented to being named) who's been with us for a couple of years, and all of us have secondaries and the occasional friend-with-benefits. All of my stable relationships as far back as the late 1990's have been poly and I find that it's what I need to be happy in life. I don't do monogamy and have no desire to be in an exclusive relationship. I also dislike being a primary, and feel a strong need to be a secondary or FWB to be happy in life.

Are you male or female?
Genetically my body is male, more or less. I identify as no gender and consider myself an androgyne.

How important is your sexuality to you?
On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being the least, 10 being the greatest), it is somewhere around 2.50 to 3.50, depending on my emotional state. In contrast, programming ranks between a 6.0 and 7.5, depending on what kind of week I've had.

What is it with you and stress?
I don't handle stress well and it shows. Catch me at the wrong moment and it could be bad. Cross-the-streams bad.

Coke or Pepsi?
Coffee. As a rule I avoid processed sugars.

Where do you reside right now?
I live somewhere in the vicinity of Washington, DC.

When were you born?
15 February, 1978. Long enough ago that I fondly remember the 1980's but missed the Nixon administration.

When do you plan on dying?
I plan on living forever, or I'll die trying.

What is your favourite song?
Mirrorshades, by Information Society. It's on the album Hack.

Hail Eris?
All hail Discordia.

Do you dance?
I'm told that I can cut a rug.

Do you sing?
I'm no Sharon Apple.

You've obviously a computer junkie - what's your favourite operating system?
My OS of choice is Arch Linux with OpenBSD running a close second. I'll use Windows if I must but I'd much rather have an OS that I can rebuild if I so choose from the source code. The system configuration is very much like that of Solaris, and the initscripts are SYSV-like, which I've actually fallen in love with recently.

What about your favourite text editor?
vi. Use whatever works for you, but I like vi.

Do you play any video games?
Sometimes, yes. I still have my Nintendo 8-bit console and a few dozen games for it, which I bring out occasionally. I also still have a Sega Genesis unit with a handful of games (one day I'll get around to beating Phantasy Star II and III). Most recently I purchased a Playstation (June 2002) and I'm currently chipping away at the second quest of Parasite Eve. I should have it finished by the end of the summer if I keep up my "play it when I've got nothing else to do" pattern. I also have a small number of video games for DOS and Win32, which I'll probably try to play again once I get around to building the necessary system emulators for Linux (because I'm too lazy to build a Windows 95 system just to play Burn:Cycle or Adventures of the Smart Patrol). I have an extensive collection of Infocom games which I've been known to mess around with using Xzip or Frotz (homepage appears to be missing). I also have Quake 3 Arena and Descent 3 for Linux but I rarely play them, as I have no desk space so I can't configure my console conveniently. I've also been known to play Uplink for Linux). I one day hope to start playing nethack, but right now I don't have time. When I really do have time to kill I break out the C-64 or Atari XEGS to play some of the old school 8-bit games.

You're a Thelemite?
Yes. 93.

How long have you been a practitioner?
Approximately twenty-two years. However, I formally accepted the Law of Thelema in 2000 e.v.

I've heard you make references in the past to being a furry. Is this accurate?
It is. For as long as I can remember there has been a strong feline component in my personality, but I'd never really considered it anything but an eccentricity which I'd allow to appear in private sometimes until I happened to meet a number of west-coast furs at a convention (a hacker con, incidentally) who picked up on it immediately and sat me down for a chat. "Lad, you're a fur," they said. I really didn't know what they were talking about until I started looking up definitions of some of the words they were using. Yep, the shoe fit. I guess I'm nominally a member of the furry scene, but I'm really not active. I've got too much going on right now to really do much of anything. Not only that, but I feel like I'm on the fringe of the scene in general: I'm not into plushies, I'm not a fursuiter, I'm not into puppets.. I'm just trying to make sense out of something rather odd with me (even by my standards) and trying to integrate that oddness into my life as best I can.

You're weird.
I'm not rich enough yet to be eccentric.

I have lots and lots of interests and I switch through them from time to time. Sometimes I study this, and sometimes I study that, and sometimes I play around with this other thing... I really don't see why I have to limit myself to being just one thing: Why should I define myself as a magickian and nothing else? That's not my identity, it's just a part of it. Why should I define myself as a computer geek? That's not my identity either, it's just a part of it... all of these things are parts of who I am. I can no more neglect a single part than I can the sum of the parts. I am defined through synergy: The interplay of multiple facets making something more. It could be said that my W/will is defined by figuring out exactly what I am, which will no doubt alter who I am in the process. And someone's opinion of me will not change that. I walk my own path; I stay out of the way of others and if people get in my way I will go over them or around them to continue in my own.

If your life could be made into a movie, who would the production team and actors be?
William Gibson and Masamune Shirow would write the screenplay; the Wachowski siblings would direct; narration would be provided by Hunter S. Thompson (RIP); Val Kilmer (circa Real Genius) or James Spader (circa Crash) would play me. Information Society, the Cruxshadows, and Nyarlathotep would write and perform on the soundtrack.

What single event has made you feel the oldest you've ever felt?
Explaining to someone what a dot matrix printer was.

What are your favourite languages to program in?
Assembly (VAX and MIPS); C; Lambda; Perl; Python. I've also been known to try to do the impossible with shell scripts just because I'm too lazy or too busy to write formal code in C.

Who have you been mistaken for in the past?
Andrew Eldritch (lead singer, Sisters of Mercy); Nick Cave (of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds); William Gibson (author of too many science fiction novels to name here); Tom Baker (who played the fourth Doctor on the BBC television series Doctor Who); Peter Murphy (former lead singer of Bauhaus); Keanu Reeves.

What's your Purity Test score?
On the Ferrett Purity Test v2.0 I am 52.85% pure.

What's your Renn Faire Purity Score?
I am 86.8% pure.

Did you really fail the Turing test?
Yes. I was mistaken for a bot in an undergraduate artificial intelligence class.

What's your average batman factor?
My average batman factor is 3.

Your books are full of highlighter marks and there aren't any margins left because you've scribbled in them. Why did you do that?
Because I'm an academic. I make notes on things. Generally speaking, the interesting bits of the text get highlighted, and insights I get into the facts go into the margins so that they stay in the context of the text. Usually at some point I summarise everything into a notebook (if it's important enough) and put my conclusions there. I don't write notes on the text into notebooks because then it's harder to maintain the association between the text and the notes; this way you can see immediately what's going on. Also, please keep in mind that I don't normally do that to books that aren't informational in nature, like novels and "fun books". They've got to be pretty special to warrant doing that.

Are you really 838 years old?
No. It's just a reference to my namesake. I do it to see if people are actually paying attention or are just smiling and nodding. I tend not to trust people who take that at face value.

What words don't I ever hear you say?
You'll know them when you hear them.

Liberty or safety?

Art Bell or George Noory?
Art Bell.

Give us a pithy quote to remember you by.
"If anything ever happens to me, it won't be an accident." --John Lennon

What political party do you endorse?
I don't back any of them. Not the Democrats, not the Republicans, not the Greens, not the Libertarians. The Democrats and Republicans are locked in a perpetual war where they try to gain control over the government, the Greens and Libertarians can't even make their voices heard. Hell, their candidates were arrested during the debates of the 2004 election because they wanted to participate in the debates... the political parties once represented the will of the people of the United States of America in government. Their representatives kept up with the issues of the people and presented them to the government for the benefit of everyone. Now the parties have only their own agendas firmly in mind, and unless you're a member of one of the parties and toe the party line, to hell with you.

They certainly don't listen to folks like me, who actually are affected adversely by everything going on. The government doesn't listen to folks like me when we have problems; neither do the political parties. Thus, I don't support them at all, but I do respect the power they have over people and their methods of controlling popular opinion.

Uncle Spider? Uncle Al? Uncle Chuck? Uncle Alan?
'Uncle' is a term of respect that the Doctor uses for certain people or characters who are considered (in)famous or influential to certain groups of people of considerable size in general and to the Doctor in particular in a "hee hee, only partially serious" sort of way.

Do you ever speak for your employers?
Hell, no. Dammit Jim, I'm a sysadmin not a PR rep!

Why do you put a string of numbers ([412/724/301/703/415]) after your name when you post to public forums and mailing lists?
Those aren't gematria, those are area codes.

In the days of dialup and BBSes (bulletin board systems), it was inevitable that some people would select the same handle. To differentiate themselves, users would often put the area codes they were from or that they were most active in inside hard brackets after their names (for example, "Bullet Fragment [512]"). The numbers are the area codes I was most active in back in my BBS days, and serve to differentiate me from the other Doctor Who's out there.

Hot anger? Cold anger? Blind rage?
My patience knows no bounds.

Why do you rate restaurants in flare guns?
Rather than use stars or spoons to rate restaurants, I use flare guns. The reason for this is twofold: They rank how ill you feel half an hour after you finish your meal (lower is better) and how much work you had to do to get the attention of your waiter or waitress (again, lower is better). A diner that left you throwing up and/or had lousy service would get four or five flare guns, while a gourmet restaurant where your waiter stopped by every ten minutes to check on you would probably get a rating of one flare gun or less.

What's your Myers-Briggs personality type?
INTJ - Introverted Intuitive Thinking Judging. There's a description of this personality type here. This is pretty much how I roll.

Got a character sheet?
No. How about some tropes?

You have synaesthesia?
Yes, I do, though I don't really go out of my way to publicize the fact. It took me years to learn that not everybody gets visual feedback and distortions from what they hear, nor that people could feel (in a literal proprioceptive sense (and no pun intended) as well as in an emotive sense) music. In hindsight it makes a strange kind of sense; I'm a very visual thinker and remember things most strongly when interacting with or manipulating them. I may not remember a word or where I put something, but I vividly recall the strange feeling in the first and third fingers of my right hand and the olive green/grey blotch a book made when I set it down. My favorite songs are those that manipulate my emotions most strongly. Not in the "I like this song," sort of way, but in the "this song evokes very powerful emotions regardless of the content of the song," which may have nothing at all to do with the subject matter of the song itself. For those who are interested in such strange cortical wiring, my sense of hearing is cross-wired to my senses of (in descending magnitude of degree) sight, touch, proprioception, and inner emotional state.

What's your high score on Space Paranoids?
9,999,920 points. Anybody got a quarter?
Many of your blog posts seem to appear some time after the events have happened, or in a strange order. Why is that?
I habitually use timed posts to automatically put up content according to a schedule. It helps avoid the writing pattern of posting two or three things every day for a solid week followed by weeks of nothing new appearing. Not only does it make it difficult for people to follow my site but it also messes with some RSS feed readers that automatically give up after a couple of weeks of no content. So, I it's to make a smoother experience for readers.

You should be ashamed of yourself!
I'm 838 years old. I give precisely zero fucks.