by Mike Reeves-McMillan

“Your grandmother’s been hacked again.” My mother’s voice over the phone held a note of resignation.
I sighed. “What is it this time?”
“Libertarianism. She spent all afternoon going on to me about John Galt.”
“Could be worse. Remember back in May, when she was an unironic Pastafarian?”
“Yes, and in January it was Communism, and before that she was a Men’s Rights Activist.”
“That was a weird one. All right. I’ll call her.”
As soon as my grandmother answered, I hummed the hook to Nicky Minaj’s “Starships.”
“Hello, Gran,” I said. “How’s it going?” I hummed the hook again.
“Andy, good to hear from you,” she said, and in a different voice, “To say ‘I love you’ one must first be able to say the ‘I.’”
“That’s good,” I said. I hummed the hook a third time, which got me admin access.
“Update antimirus and perform a scan,” I said, and hummed the hook.
My grandmother said, “Have you met any nice young men lately?”
“One or two,” I said. “Nobody I want to make a permanent part of my life yet.”
“Well, you’re still young. And how’s work? The ladder of success is best climbed by stepping on the rungs of opportunity, you know.”
“I know, Gran. Work’s going well. I start a new contract next week, in fact.”
“Money is only a tool,” she said.
As we chatted, the antimirus searched out and deleted the memetic intrusion, and the proportion of Gran to Ayn gradually shifted in her favor. After about 20 minutes, I set antimirus updates and scans to occur at 2am daily, for what good it would do. She would only deactivate it again. Claimed it slowed her dreams down.
We chatted for a little longer, and then I called my mother.
“We really need to install something that protects her better,” I said.
“Like what?”
“Well, skepticism works pretty well. She’s got the system specs for it, nothing wrong with her brain, she’s just incautious about what she runs on it.”
“Skepticism? Can’t you at least make her UU?” My parents are Unitarian Universalists. I’m not, but, as UUs, they’re OK with that.
“No offense, but UU isn’t hard-edged enough to protect against most miruses. I mean, I suppose I could install Mennonite, that at least would protect her next time Cousin Louie shares a Second Amendment link. And she already has that nice headscarf you gave her.”
My mother was silent for a few seconds, thinking.
“How about just an enthusiasm for science? Would that be enough?”
“We could try it. It’d keep her from falling for Aunt Darlene’s anti-vax stuff, at least, or Aunt Florence’s natural-health scams. You want me to do it tomorrow?”
“All right. The sooner the better, before she becomes some sort of truther.”

A few days later, my mother called me again. “It’s your gran,” she said.
“What, she’s been banned from Twitter for stalking Neil deGrasse Tyson?”
“If only. No, she’s been watching the Discovery Channel.”
I sighed. “Ancient astronauts?”
“Ancient astronauts.”

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