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A Man of Few Words - by Swan Morrison

Lost in Cyberspace

There have been calls today for a public inquiry following revelations that the National-Universal Bank has lost nearly a million pounds of investors’ money. A spokesperson for the bank apologised but explained that the nature of modern currency management made such accidents inevitable. Reserves, and even bank notes in circulation, no longer represented the major basis of a currency. Most capital existed as digital information within computers. This, according to the National-Universal, was the root cause of the problem.

It appears that an employee at a branch in Edinburgh altered the position of a satellite dish on the roof of the bank in an attempt to improve the reception quality of The Simpsons on the television in the employees’ staff room. The same dish was used to transfer funds to other financial centres via satellite, and the repositioning of the dish caused a one million pound transfer to miss the satellite.

Around fifty-thousand pounds hit the moon and were recovered due to reflection. The remaining funds, however, are continuing at the speed of light towards Andromeda with no means of retrieval.

There has been anger among the investors affected. Archibald Morris, an eighty-five year old war veteran, vented his frustration. ‘I’ll be damned if I’ve saved all me working life,’ he told reporters, ‘just to have me money cashed-in by some green alien with five eyes and nine legs on Epsilon Bootes.’

There have been such accidents in the past, but never with satellite transfers. In 1998 there was a rupture in the transatlantic data cable that led to over one hundred thousand digital pounds being strewn across the sea floor. This occurred close to shore, however, and divers were able to recover most of the funds using large magnets. The remainder were washed ashore, fortunately having little impact on the local ecology.

Due to the curvature of space-time, the Bank has reassured customers that the missing funds should return to earth eventually. This was likely to take several billion years, however, although the interest accrued by that time would have exceeded the number of atoms in the universe.

Action is being considered to avoid a repetition of this incident. One possibility would be to beam data to satellites more slowly such that, if it failed to reach its target, it would fall back to Earth. This already occurs with satellite television broadcasts. Within the last month, for example, an episode of Eastenders has fallen into the North Sea, and part of a BBC early evening news programme narrowly missed a community centre in Wigan, causing minor damage to vehicles in the car park.

Investors have reacted by moving their savings from conventional to ‘New Age’ banks. The latter refuse to use digital technology and keep all investments in cash in cardboard boxes. Each box has the investor’s name on it to aid withdrawal. This is surely a warning to financial institutions that, following this scandal, work must be done to restore investor confidence.