Total Drek

Or, the thoughts of several frustrated intellectuals on Sociology, Gaming, Science, Politics, Science Fiction, Religion, and whatever the hell else strikes their fancy. There is absolutely no reason why you should read this blog. None. Seriously. Go hit your back button. It's up in the upper left-hand corner of your browser... it says "Back." Don't say we didn't warn you.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Absolutely perfect.

Something that a lot of y'all probably don't realize about me is that, for a long time, I wanted to be an engineer. No, seriously, I did! Because of this misguided desire I actually attended a magnet high school that was designed as a sort of pre-engineering prep school. That was the theory anyway, in practice it was the biggest assortment of geeks and misfits you could have hoped to gather in one place. Despite this, most of us did not go on to become engineers. In fact, from my immediate set of friends I can think of a lawyer or two, a doctor or two, a science writer, a budding sociologist* and a whole slew of computer programmers. Whether or not this would allow the program's designers to claim success I have no idea.

In any case, back during high school I had the opportunity to get to know quite a few of those nascent computer programmers. This was an interesting experience for a number of reasons. First, I learned a lot about computers, which has proven to be useful over the years. In perfect honesty, I think part of the reason my father-in-law accepted me so readily is that I can troubleshoot his wireless LAN. Hey, you gotta start somewhere, right? Secondly, however, I learned a lot about the sort of people who program computers. They're nice people, by and large, but also not infrequently are a little eccentric. They may have odd habits, develop peculiar obsessions, and generally posture about quite random things. Some of them also have a disturbing fondness for porn, but we'll leave that aside for the time being.**

My acquaintence with actual programmers, however, has really deprived me of my enjoyment of certain elements of pop culture. Take, for example, the movie Hackers. This film would have you believe that computer programmers are hip dressing, smart talking, attractive young men and women. Right. Sure they are. Likewise, Swordfish****** gives you the impression that computer programmers are some weird cross between a rock star and a private detective. Certainly it would lead you to believe that programming is an exciting action-packed activity. Then we come to books like Neuromancer that became sci-fi classics while, nevertheless, displaying a titanic lack of understanding about how computers actually work. In combination, the disjoint between the way programmers often are, and how they are represented, makes my head spin.

So, it was with considerable pleasure that I noticed that the kids at Something Awful decided to do something about this disjoint. Specifically, they have produced an absolutely superb parody of Neuromancer and the entire hacker genre. Seriously:

The yellow LED-array of the traffic signal flared in the city night like the last ejection of a dying star. Case depressed the gas pedal of the '04 Daimler-Chrysler Town & Country. The engine rumbled and vented its hydrocarbons into the sickly-hot air of Neo-Milwaukee. Gas was up to five dollars a gallon and joyrides were getting expensive. As he guided the car with one hand he used the other to deftly unfold the polymer stay-hot wrapping of his Baja Gordita. It was two-handed work, but Case had a lot of practice.

By the time he was nearly done with the meal Case felt full. The fullness brought with it a sense of guilt. Case knew the nachos were an extravagance he could ill-afford. It had been a while since work had come Case's way. He finished the last bite of his food just as he reached his apartment building.

With the nacho cheese still pumping through his carotid he surveyed the parking situation. There was a space open right out front, but he lacked the confidence to successfully parallel park the Town & Country. After three attempts he aborted the maneuver and parked two blocks away.

When he entered his basement studio apartment he noticed an episode of Family Guy was left on pause on the TV screen. He briefly considered the possibility that a team of the MPAA's jackbooted thugs had stormed his apartment to verify that his DVDs were legit. Then he remembered he had been watching it before he left.

Lucky for him, the video wasn't a DVD at all. He was streaming it from his media PC.

"You'll have to try a little harder than that to tighten the noose around me, Glickman," Case said aloud to his half-painted Tau army.

It's the perfect counterpoint to the tide of literary bilge written about "hackers" and "data cowboys" and "digipimps" or whatever the hell hip term we're using nowadays for doughy, pasty white man-children who subsist on cheetos and Mountain Dew.******* Take a look and see if it doesn't make you laugh.

And then, if you really want to laugh, imagine someone trying to make what I do for a living sound exciting:

Drek took a long swig of his coffee and watched the statistics burning on the old CRT display. Standard errors, coefficients, r-squared... it was all there staring him in the face. His long, supple fingers raced across the keyboard: he needed an interaction term and he needed it NOW.

Bloody hell.

* That is, assuming that my day job doesn't pan out.

** I will, however, remark that during my tenture in high school one of these porn addled young geeks encountered an image so horrifying that I believe it scared him off of the stuff for at least a year. Even I do not know what this image was*** but his horrified remark on gazing upon it was, "OH MY GOD! That's a BIRD!!!"

*** This will no doubt come as a surprise to some of my friends who seem to think that the internet holds no perversion of which I am not already aware.****

**** No, not because I'm some kind of sexual deviant. I just worked with a guy before grad school whose idea of fun was to take over my desktop and open browser windows full of amputee fetish porn or something similar.*****

***** Yes, amputee fetish porn actually exists. No, you don't want to see it. I think a lot of websites could be rated with a "Cthulu Factor" which is to say a scale indicating how likely the horror is to make you lose your sanity.

****** Which contains possibly the least necessary topless scene ever in the history of motion pictures. Seriously, if they'd invested the money they spent on Halle Berry's topless scene on the script, it would have been a much better movie.

******* Don't get me wrong, some of these folks are good friends of mine. In fairness, most of them don't resemble the stereotype very much. And yet, at the same time, they really do.

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Blogger Marf said...

Wow, I share a lot of traits with computer programmers. In fact, I really wouldn't mind being one. And I love Mountain Dew...

And I don't think there's anything on the Internet that could scare me away. I've seen amputee porn that involved a disconnected toilet seat. I've seen the popular "shock" sites... Doesn't phase me.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008 10:56:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

i think you should write all of your posts in this new "blog-noir" bastardized style!

w00t!!1! Neo-Milwaukee FTW!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008 5:56:00 PM  
Blogger kristina b said...

It's really amazing to me that I'm trying to switch careers away from the tech world, and yet I keep finding all these people in sociology who love sci-fi, read xkcd, and just generally speak geek. It's kinda neat.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008 8:50:00 PM  

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