Iraqi Ghosts, Puritans, and Geeks

Just a few interesting things I’ve stumbled across recently:

  • Baghdad Journal Part 10: Yet another installment in Steve Mumford’s excellent series. As always, it’s an eye-opening look on the ground in Iraq. Great if you’re looking for a different perspective. If you like it, check out all of Mumford’s other articles. This time around, Mumford describes more of the interactions between American commanders and Iraqi leaders and people. This is, as always, fascinating reading. He even finds time to mention some ghost stories:

    You can still walk through the long empty corridors between companies and feel like there’s not a soul around. Except ghosts. One evening, Lt. Jack Nothstine takes me up to the second floor to poke around with flashlights. The miles of burned rooms and corridors are empty of anything other than broken glass, plaster and the hulks of old medical equipment. Wires are dangling from the ceilings.

    “One night I was coming up the stairs to take over guard duty on the roof. Just when I was passing the second floor I clearly heard children’s voices, speaking in Arabic, like they were playing. It was completely distinct. This base is in the middle of nowhere — there are no kids around for miles. I just ran!

    “A lot of guys have seen ghosts here. The medics have seen some of their patients that died on them.”

    Spooky. Read the whole thing.

  • Neal Stephenson Interview in Salon: A long and detailed interview with Neal Stephenson about his new book, The Confusion (the second in the Baroque Cycle, the first being Quicksilver). It’s at Salon, so you’ll need to sit through a commercial to get it, but it’s worth it… A short excerpt about Stephenson’s sympathetic treatment of the puritans in his novels:

    I have a perverse weakness for past generations that are universally reviled today. The Victorians have a real bad name, and the word “Puritan” is never used except in a highly pejorative way, despite the fact that there are very strong Victorian and Puritan threads in our society today, and despite the fact that the Victorians and Puritans built the countries that we live in.

  • I usually hate internet quiz type things, but I took the Polygeek quiz and the resulting paragraph described my life much more accurately than these things normally do:

    You are a geek liaison, which means you go both ways. You can hang out with normal people or you can hang out with geeks which means you often have geeks as friends and/or have a job where you have to mediate between geeks and normal people. This is an important role and one of which you should be proud. In fact, you can make a good deal of money as a translator.

    Normal: Tell our geek we need him to work this weekend.

    You [to Geek]: We need more than that, Scotty. You’ll have to stay until you can squeeze more outta them engines!

    Geek [to You]: I’m givin’ her all she’s got, Captain, but we need more dilithium crystals!

    You [to Normal]: He wants to know if he gets overtime.

    Wow. I was 32% geek, which sounds awfully low to me, but that paragraph is dead on:P

  • As you may have noticed, the random best entries picture is up (over there on the right). I’m still working on making images for several entries, but there are enough there for now… I’ve also updated my Links section of the website. It’s not perfect and I’m still missing lots of stuff, but it’s a start and it’s much better than what was there before.

That’s all for now, stay tuned for the unglamorous technology post (it’s coming, I swear!)

5 thoughts on “Iraqi Ghosts, Puritans, and Geeks”

  1. I got the same as you, tallman. 34%, which seems a tad low, but I am also a geek liason. That part makes a lot of sense, though. Most of my friends are into geek stuff like I am, and the guys I work with are very much not.

    If you ever want a weird look, tell a non-geek friend how excited you are at your new found mastery of operator overloading in C++.

    Come to think of it, even my geek friends gave me a weird look for that one.

  2. My boyfriend is an electrical engineering major, and I thought I was a geek. Whenever I go to the Engineering Science building, which is where most of his classes are, I’m surrounded by geeks. Oh boy, there was a guy in the IEEE (electrical engineering professional organization) room yesterday with khaki shorts, bright-colored striped shirt tucked into his shorts, green fanny pack, socks pulled up to mid-calf, glasses, and he had a very nerdy voice. Not that the other EE and CE guys aren’t geeks…they sit at the computers in IEEE playing games, they have an NES in there, and they’re in the middle of a big game of Diplomacy.

    But I think the computer and electrical engineers are cute. I snagged me a big ol’ geek. More girls need to look for boyfriends over there.

  3. That thing was uncannily accurate in my case. My boss read it and laughed out loud. Part of my job is literally to take requirements from the Business team and translate them into something our programmers can use.

    foucault: Your use of “operator overloading” has brought back a flood of memories from college programming. Thanks a lot.

    Spencer: I was a CE, and I was in IEEE, but I wasn’t THAT geeky:P Hence my capacity to function with the normals.

  4. I got the same results on the polygeek quiz. I’m sure I fit the geek liason category as well. Don’t know about the 32% part. Actually, maybe that does fit. I kinda stopped being so geeky, about computer stuff at least, once I assembled my current system over a year ago. A few weekends ago I forgot there even were GeForce4s, much less that I’ve had one for over a year.

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