Is geek a bad word?

Dateline: Thu 28 Jun 2007

They're out there, taking over a sizable portion of the world, silently, efficiently.

You know -- the geeks, the computer guys (and they are mostly males) who keep everything afloat in the vast network web our world has become.

For the most part, they live lives of quiet fill-in-the-blank, not so much unlike the rest of us save a penchant for buying the latest X-box and a taste for video games. Then along comes one bad apple and sheds a dark new shadow on the whole culture.

The bad apple's tale is in Wired Magazine, told by Joshua Davis; it's the strange saga of Hans Reiser, a god in the world of Linux, an obscure, to most of us, Linux operating system, like Windows or Macintosh. But different in the sense that Linux is free.

Reiser is not making news for the usual geek assaults or triumphs: He's not spun off some multi-million dollar venture, or sold his own company, or piled on a big government contract, altho certainly he's had plenty of financial success. Nope, he's accused of killing his wife, a beautiful, brilliant Russian pediatrician he met overseas and brought back to California.

Here's a tiny excerpt from the story, where writer Davis explains why he's visiting a distraught Reiser in jail: "I'm here because his defense lawyer thinks I will understand Reiser. The accused is a 43-year-old geek, he lives in his own world of computer code, videogames, and science fiction books. He spent his early twenties developing a role-playing game to compete with Dungeons & Dragons while writing a novel about aliens invading Earth."

What is creepy is the challenge to the non-geek heretofore widely-held assumption that all geeks are harmless, a cut above nerds, and everyone knows how innocent a nerd is.

But whether or not Reiser did murder his wife -- and it looks bad -- he's got plenty of other baggage. There is his missionary's zeal for exposing his young son to violent, punitive, warrior video games; his longtime friendship with a guy into sadism and masochism, ecstacy, sex with other men's wives and ultimately a sterile sort of Christianity; Reiser's very own creepy mother, who attends some weird Hopeandfear confab in the desert, where she asks, "What makes you glow?" and "What dangers do you delight in?"

You will, after reading this, want to "weep piss and blood," as a former friend of Reiser's says. You may also feel, tho I doubt it -- we're Hoosiers -- a shred of sympathy for Reiser's contention: "Male geeks are one of the most hated cultural minorities."

Anyhow, the story is morbidly fascinating. I foresee it as a documentary film, however, and not a violent video game.

Check it out:


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