July 14, 2006

Of Geeks, Nerds and Terrorists

Posted in Current Affairs, Links at 11:51 pm by falstaff

Just a few links from my Inbox:

“What I tell you three times is true”

– Lewis Carroll

Now that I’ve been told three times that I should read the Writers Against Terrorism blog, I figured I’d do what one always does with good advice – pass it on.

Go read. Some exquisite writing. Some excellent points. And a LOT of incoherent ranting. I’m told that people deal with trauma / grief in three stages – first they experience numbness and shock. Then they undergo emotional upheaval – including feelings of anger, loneliness, disbelief or denial. Finally they reach acceptance. Writers Against Terrorism is fascinating because it offers you a superb opportunity to observe all three phases in play – all at the same time.

It’s also a wonderful demonstration of just why terrorism is so difficult to respond to. Everyone has a different idea about what the appropriate response should be (ranging from hawkish bluster to saintly resignation), everyone tries to apply analogies from completely different contexts – wars, natural disasters, etc. [1] and the end result is that we end up fighting each other more than anyone else. And that, surprisingly enough, is probably a good thing. Because it means we’re still opinionated, stubborn and pedantic – in other words human – and haven’t turned into the kind of brainwashed zombies that we’re trying to fight.

So – a noble effort. Though I’m curious to see how long the enthusiasm lasts.


In other news, meanwhile, a reader writes in to ask me what the ‘m++++’ in my Geek Code stands for, seeing as it’s not standard Geek Syntax. Finally, someone who noticed.

m is my own addition to the Geek Code. It stands for music. The categories are (roughly):


I’ve stopped talking to people because surgically removing my iPod from my ears is too painful


I spent more money on my stereo system than I did on my car / I don’t own a car because with all that music in the house who wants to go anywhere?


I have a CD collection that’s colour coded by genre / Sometimes I just sit around running my fingers along the spines of my CDs and feel happy.


I listen to music all the time in the car on my way to work / I have a subscription to Yahoo Music


I don’t listen to music much, though sometimes I’ll leave the radio playing in the background


The only kind of music I listen to is the kind they play in elevators


I am a Britney Spears fan


I am a doorknob


I am Yanni


And finally, the Falstaff Award for best book title of the month goes to:

Far From the Madding Gerund

The new book from the folks over at Language Log (Go UPenn!) that argues, if Slate is to be believed (I haven’t read the book, though I have read the blog) that ‘correct’ language is language as it’s generally used. We yam what we yam, and why bother with all this grammar-shammer.


[1] Let’s get one thing straight people – ‘War against terror’ is just a catch phrase. Terrorism is not war, any more than it’s a flood or an earthquake or a riot or cancer. You can’t apply the same methods of engagement to terrorism as you would to a war. That’s how you end up bombing innocent civilians in Baghdad, or invading Lebanon.



  1. Tabula Rasa said,

    tsk tsk. real audiophiles only think of ipods as a necessary evil, you know.

  2. Falstaff said,

    tr: :-). Remember, this is the GEEK code. Technology is what we live for.

    Plus, well, the operative word is necessary. How else can you listen to music while you’re taking out the trash or going down to your mailslot to check mail? And how else do you carry weeks worth of music in your pocket?

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  4. Tabula Rasa said,

    ahh, my bad, my bad.

    as to your questions –
    1. the volume control
    2. the remote control (i mean, how far could you want to go? 🙂

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