Coded green.

Sunday 31 December 2000


Pic of the day: Fireworks in the distance. New millenium, old folly.

Geek millenium

New Year is one occasion that you're not likely to ignore, if you live anywhere near other people. And I do. It may not look like it, what with my serene view of forested hills and the blue meandering river far below. But behind the hills and behind the house are the fringes of the suburbs, with probably a few hundred families taken together. And barely has darkness begun to fall - slowly, like needles from a Christmas tree, like boredom on a Sunday afternoon, like clouds filling the sky - barely has darkness begun to fall, before silence is splintered. At random times, from random directions, in random sounds and colors. All of them loud, screaming, chaotic. There is no organizing, no pattern, only the raw lust for loud sounds and lights. Each house for itself.

As the evening wears on, the barrage increases. First rather randomly, but gradually it takes on a kind of pattern. If only one of increasing intensity. And as midnight approaches, the horizon is aflame with bright colors and the air is vibrating from the beating of a dozen explosions at any one time. An orgy in gunpowder, a debauchery of sight and sound; even the smell of burning powder is on the air, streamers of smoke like fog, illuminated by random flashes of color.

I have heard that originally, the intention of the sharp lights and sounds was to scare away the evil spirits, at the beginning of a new year. Tell you what: Wouldn't it be easier to not buy the spirits in the first place? Here in Norway at least, New Year is associated with heavy drinking. Adding explosives to the mix does nothing to improve things, in my opinion.


While most people were focused on 01-01-2000, the true geeks know that the millenium will start tonight. (Actually, even this is a rather random point in time, as our chronology is several years off from the start.) Luckily the topic of the True Millenium won't be aired again for quite a while. I doubt we'll be around for the rematch.

I've been placidly celebrating with a new round of "Mars Now!", the Mars colonization scenario for Civilization II (Fantastic Worlds). Very enjoyable, and a thorough rework of the original Civ2. In reality, of course, even a manned voyage to Mars is beyond us. It is hard enough to get a small unmanned probe to touch down on Mars without being destroyed - the latest two from America went the way of all dust - and a human crew has some additional requirements. Like food and water for a couple years (we assume they are to return). Protection from solar flares and the occasional meterorite. The chances of actually surviving a trip to Mars and back are really small. I'm sure many young heroes would volunteer anyway, but the public is not likely to applaud a risky project like that.

There were lots of things I expected to see in the year 2000, when it was 1970 and I was just a boy. People on Mars was just one of them. But the future, as always, came as a surprise. I've never been to the moon or even to a space station, but I've been to many fantastic worlds, alone or with friends, thanks to the virtual reality of modern computers. I wonder, if we ever get the technology to travel to other planets with reasonable safety: Will people go? Is there anything they can't get better in the 5-senses virtual reality of the year 2030? Will anyone even be sure what's real and not, by then?


I use the word "geek" with the best conscience. Once upon a time, it was considered a bad thing, to be a geek. But now, there are geeks everywhere you look, and they are not ashamed of it. There are computer geeks, of course, but also Star Trek geeks, even math and history geeks. There is an elaborate geek code which some of the most hard-nosed geeks use to describe themselves in a compact and cryptic format. Soon we'll have business geeks, if they are not already out there.

I guess it's like the word "gay", which was until recently an insult, but was reclaimed by the homo community, more or less. (Work is still in progress, I think.) I understand it is still worse when someone else uses the word. Heh. Well, in the case of the geeks I am not someone else, I think you can agree with that. Though I could not bother less about the millenium. 01-01-00 or 01-01-01? Who cares? The main difference to me is that I don't have to put in several hours of work on new years day - just a quarter of an hour or so, plus commute. Now that's progress.


OK, this is a little out of the blue, but while we're on the topic of geeky stuff ... I hang out on a message board related to a furry comic (one of the few decent, family friendly ones) and one of my fellow fantasy geeks has written a story. It's not unlike something I could have written myself, but unlike me this guy knows how to wrap up things. Anyway, if you still have time to while away, I recommend a look at the world of Erath, by TimberBram.

And now it's yet another millenium. Good night everyone!

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