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Archive for the ‘Geekery’ Category

Now if only the Elf were wearing a gas mask, we could combine the two scariest elements of Doctor Who in one meme.

H/T: The Common Room

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I’ve read a few reviews of Paradise Lot: Two Plant Geeks, One-Tenth of an Acre, and the Making of an Edible Garden Oasis in the City that were fairly negative, bemoaning the fact that this book is not an exciting memoir to be picked up by the ambivalent masses who grow a potted tomato on their patio and perhaps a little basil in their window-box. I can’t say that my gardening experience has been particularly more involved than that, although I did harvest some particularly tasty lettuce a few years ago, and I’ve found that it’s nigh unto impossible to kill a zuchinni, but despite not being the book’s “target audience,” I did enjoy it.

Here’s the thing – don’t go into it expecting it to be something that it’s not. The subtitle should tell you everything that you need to know: “Two Plants Geeks, One-Tenth of an Acre, and the Making of an Edible Garden Oasis in the City.” Did you catch that third word? Geek. So guess what? They’re going to geek out on you. They’re going to talk about the different plants that they planned to put in, and how this plant didn’t get along with that plant, and how this other plant with a family name that I can’t pronounce was too aggressive, and then there was this pest that killed off three-quarters of the plant they were hoping to harvest, and this one was just too fascinating to not try and grow, and did we mention the tropical theme in the front yard and how we tried to have chickens but then the cops got wind of it–

Yeah. They’re passionate about their plants. They’re passionate about their permaculture. So unless you’re a permaculture enthusiast yourself – or a voracious researcher like myself, who reads plenty but does little – you’re probably not going to like the book. I’ll admit that there were a few portions where I felt my eyes start to glaze over, but you know what I did? I paused, appreciated their passion, and skimmed ahead. You see, I can appreciate that passion. I can appreciate that sometimes, you’re going to make someone’s eyes glaze a bit when you’re really on a roll, because.. well.. I’ve done it myself.

So was reading this book a waste of my time? Goodness, no. I got to read about some rather fascinating plants that deserve to re-enter the limelight after being sent to the corner by industrial agriculture. I got to enjoy seeing someone else be passionate about what they do. And while my climate is even less hospitable to tropical plants than Massachusetts – a point that is driven home quite squarely by the -1 degree Fahrenheit temperature as I write this – I was able to glean a few ideas that I would like to put into practice as I discover what our new home has to offer. After all, a home is not just the house. A home is also the land around it. A home is what you make of it. And I intend to make much of it.

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…what to call an etymology geek, you wouldn’t get much of an answer. Apparently, there isn’t a more concise term than that. However, you would stumble upon the origin of the word geek.

The origin of this sense of the word can be traced back to the late nineteenth century, and comes from the (now obsolete) English dialect word geck (meaning ‘mad or foolish person’), which is related to the Dutch word gek, meaning ‘mad’ or ‘silly’.

Well, I’m no Mad Hatter, but I’ll take it.

Speaking of etymology geeks, have you seen this website? I haven’t had a chance to deeply explore Etymologically Speaking yet, but I did find the legend behind the term assassin to be very interesting:

From the old Arabic word “hashshshin,” which meant, “someone who is addicted to hash,” that is, marijuana. Originally refered to a group of warriors who would smoke up before battle.

Aaron White adds:
You may want to explore the fact that the hashshshins were somewhat of a voodoo-ized grand conspiracy scapegoat cult (the very fact of their existence is impossible to confirm). They supposedly were a secret society (a la the FreeMasons) which was influential in every middle eastern court from Persia to Bangladesh. They were supposedly a brotherhood of assasins, devoted to their caballa and its secrecy, protected by an unlimited number of fanatical followers and unlimited material wealth. Assassination was their favorite method of instituting their power (see the Zoroastrian lore of the eunich priest Arachmenes and his assistance to Darius and Xerxes in their rise to/fall from power). Rumor has it that only the hashshshins were able to survive the hordes of mongol invaders that massacred all people, governments, instituions, etc. in its path, and this only because they were able to infiltrate the asian army’s ranks as it surged east and threaten the lives of many important officers and virtually every general (no small feat for an organization that does not exist from several subjugated countries). Usually their threat of death to anyone who opposed them, no matter how powerful, was enough to ensure anyone’s complicity with their plans, especially when considering their influence and thus the impunity with which they could act. Also cross-reference that Persian was a mystical, legendary form of marijuana/hashish, rumored to be of unparalleled quality. It is so powerful as to become hallucinogenic and surreal and is said to be on of the ways to attain full-blown buddha-like enlightenment. Even Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead had a worhipful reverence/fear for Persian. This substance was used by the hashshshins in their intiation rites as a narcotic to overwhelm and produce complacency in their recruits. Also, having an army of fanatics was even better if they were all addicted to a potent intoxicant of which you are the only source.

Paul Graham adds:
The assassins were a sect of warriors who controlled a number of fortified towns in Persia for about 200 years. On 19 Nov 1256 their leader, Rukn ad-Din, negotiated a surrender with the besieging Mongols. (He was killed soon after.) I know of no evidence that the Assassins infiltrated the Mongol armies and intimidated the commanders. In fact it is hard to see how it would work to threaten a commander of an army in the field. The Mongols did not stay that much longer in Persia anyway.

I mean, really. Is that not interesting? I found that website while trying to look up the Latin word for humor , and… well.. the internet is such a Black Hole sometimes.

Or perhaps I just like to collect meaningless trivia. wellum

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Don’t blink.

Don’t blink. Blink, and you’re dead.

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