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Observing Editor

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Subscriptions continue to pour into The Glob Universal School of Knowledge for our correspondence courses on computing and the computational lifestyle. However, questions are being raised as to whether the curriculum goes far enough for the needs of the modern parent. Daily we are receiving pleas from distraught fathers and mothers such as the following:

Dean, The Glob Universal School of Knowledge:-

Kind sir, I hope that this appeal will find a sympathetic ear in you. I carefully monitor my son’s usage of the family computer, and thanks to your Correspondence Course I know how to review all of his cleartext emails, as well as being able to turn the machine on and off by myself.

However, I was recently snooping on my son’s IRC traffic, and I found it much less straightforward to decipher than his email. One ominous exchange revealed a burning ambition to become one of the ‘w0rri0r 3733t of the MCP.’ Needless to say, I am worried, moreso because I have absolutely no idea what he means. Has my son joined a cult? Please help!

			Yours sincerely, in distress,
			Proxima Frock (not my real name)

In response to this and other inquiries, we have conducted a thorough review of our course offerings, and we admit that we perhaps erred too much on the side of imparting practical knowledge. The current correspondence courses focus on fact, application, and implementation to the exclusion of more humanitarian disciplines such as art and poetry. Yet the domain of computation has a rich tradition of story and song, and allusions to remarkable figures from this canon are common in discourse. As a result, a thorough familiarity with the legends of computing is required in order to understand many intercepted person-to-person communications.

The Glob School of Universal Knowledge has therefore formulated a new set of reading courses in the classic literature of computation. All students are strongly advised to begin with the three-course sequence in Ancient Geek, which closely follows the pioneering work of Prof. Darmok. This noted scholar has spent his life surveying the breadth and depths of speculative fiction, febric fantasy, and the collected lore of Mellonheads and MITniks alike to seek the wellsprings of geek culture. From these various sources, he has applied the comparative method of Parry and Lord to reconstruct the original versions of the great heroic lays, once chanted by master technicians in the caverns of ENIAC by the light of a bank of triodes. These urtexts, restored to the meter of their native hexadecimal, represent the first flowering of culture amidst computer science, and commend themselves to special study.

In Ancient Geek I course, the student will quickly proceed from a basic introduction to Ancient Geek syntax and semantics to the translation of selections from the Biphiad. This work tells story of the violent flamewarrior Biphyas, called the Magnavox or ‘great voice,’ and his wanderings on the tides of news on the nets, bereft of thread or clue. It contains many famous episodes that have passed into general currency, such as


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This episode is usually referred to as ‘Biphyas and the Boxen of the Sun,’ and it has been rendered into English by Prof. Darmok as follows:

For Biphyas looked out upon the deeps and saw another domain, not his own

And in this domain there were kine of no kind he new,

For they had neither heads nor horns, and abode in racks,

And he cried out ‘WUT’S THAT, D00D!’ and was astonished while 1.

They panicked together, such that Lia the admin was

Hard-pressed to restrain them, return them to function.

While they panicked, he had no peace, and he cried out

To the lord of the Sun that made them,

And this lord sent out his packets upon the nets

And pinged Biphyas and cursed him, for the love of his boxen,

And he hurled upon him an exploit, barbed and perilous,

Which woke Biphyas from his astonishment, as in horror

He saw the buffers overflowing the firewalls

And called out to the host to close the sockets…

The advanced course in Ancient Geek will also cover later developments in computational literary theory, particularly the theories of Rensselaer. In a series of responses to Darmok, Rensselaer has disputed the existence of any heroic lays in period, pointing out that there is very little evidence of actual lays in all of computer science. He argues that the native verse form is properly elegaic, a ‘lament for the lay’ that desires to evoke a vigorous, heroic past that in fact never existed. Students will proceed in directed reading of Rensselaer’s classic ‘Lie of the Great Lay,’ which explicates the undercurrents of sadness and frustration that inform much of later computational literature.

To learn more about any of these exciting and rewarding courses, please inquire for a prospectus care of this column, including $15 for handling and freight. The Ancient Geek prospectus will be sent to you within a week on a choice of media, including 8” floppy, 15” tape, or punched cards.