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In New York City, an out of work jazz drummer named Ed was thinking of throwing himself off a bridge. But then he ran into a former booking agent who told him about the fantastic opportunities for drummers in Iraq. The agent said “If you can find your way over there, just take my card and look up the bandleader named Faisal–he’s the large guy with the beard wearing gold pajamas and shoes that curl up at the toes.” Ed hit up everyone he knew and borrowed enough to buy transport to Iraq. It took several days to arrange for passport, visas, transportation into Iraq and the shipping of his equipment, but he was finally on his way.

Ed arrived in Baghdad and immediately started searching for Faisal. He found guys in pajamas of every color but gold. Finally, in a small coffeehouse, he saw a huge man with a beard–wearing gold pajamas and shoes that curled up at the toes! Ed approached him and asked if he was Faisal. He was. Ed gave him the agent’s card and Faisal’s face brightened into a huge smile. “You’re just in time–I need you for a gig tonight. Meet me at the market near the mosque at 7:30 with your equipment.” “But,” gasped Ed, “what about a rehearsal?” “No time–don’t worry.” And with that, Faisal disappeared.

Ed arrived in the market at 7:00 to set up his gear. He introduced himself to the other musicians, who were all playing instruments he had never seen in his life. At 7:30 sharp, Faisal appeared and hopped on the bandstand, his gold pajamas glittering in the twilight. Without a word to the musicians, he lifted his arm for the downbeat. “Wait.” shouted Ed. “What are we playing?” Faisal shot him a look of frustration and shouted back, “Fake it! Just give me heavy after beats on 7 and 13.”

Average Iraqi: Has visited the convergence of the Tigris and Euphrates, cradle of the ancient civilization founded by his ancestors

Average American: Once got really sick on the Wild Mouse ride at Six Flags theme park

Average Iraqi: Willing to participate in Holy War for his nation

Average American: Willing to participate in People’s Choice Awards

Average Iraqi: Lines up by the thousands to die for country

Average American: Will go to any extreme to avoid jury duty

Average Iraqi: Has endured many food shortages during wars with Iran and embargo by West

Average American: Shoves McDonalds cashier if their Happy Meal doesn’t include McCookies

Average Iraqi: Believes if he dies in battle, he will go straight to Paradise

Average American: Believes if, in a dream, you don’t wake up before hitting the ground, you die

Average Iraqi: Has friend or relative wounded in ruthless wars of conquest

Average American: Has beer guzzling uncle who shot self in foot on hunting trip

Average Iraqi: Thinks Saddam Hussein is a political genius

Average American: Thinks Saddam Hussein makes Dan Quayle seem like Einstein

Q. What does an economist do?
A. A lot in the short run, which amounts to nothing in the long run.

Scon is short for Student Consultant. Scons are people hired to help users learn and work with the university’s machinery. A pod is a UNM term for a place where such machinery is made available.

El Explicito “I tried the thing, ya know, and it worked, ya know, but now it doesn’t, ya know?”
Advantages Provides interesting communication challanges.
Disadvantages So do chimps.
Symptoms Complete inability to use proper nouns
Real Case One user walked up to a certain Armenian pod manager and said, “I can’t get what I want!” The pod manager leaned back, put his hands on his belt-buckle, and said, “Well, ma’am, you’ve come to the right place.”

Mad Bomber “Well, I hit ALT-F6, SHIFT-F8, CTRL-F10, F4, and F9, and now it looks all weird.”
Advantages Will try to find own solution to problems.
Disadvantages User might have translated document to Navajo without meaning to.
Symptoms More than six stopped jobs in UNIX, a 2:1 code-to-letter ratio in WordPerfect
Real Case One user came in complaining that his WordPerfect document was underlined. When I used reveal codes on it, I found that he’d set and unset underline more than fifty times in his document.

Frying Pan/Fire Tactician “It didn’t work with the data set we had, so I fed in my aunt’s recipe for key lime pie.”
Advantages Will usually fix error.
Disadvantages “Fix” is defined very loosely here.
Symptoms A tendancy to delete lines that get errors instead of fixing them.
Real Case One user complained that their program executed, but didn’t do anything. The scon looked at it for twenty minutes before realizing that they’d commented out every line. The user said, “Well, that was the only way I could get it to compile.”

Shaman “Last week, when the moon was full, the clouds were thick, and Formahaut was above the horizon, I typed f77, and lo, it did compile.”
Advantages Gives insight into primative mythology.
Disadvantages Few scons are anthropology majors.
Symptoms Frequent questions about irrelavent objects.
Real Case One user complained that all information on one of their disks got erased (as Norton Utilities showed nothing but empty sectors, I suspect nothing had ever been on it). Reasoning that the deleted information went *somewhere*, they wouldn’t shut up until the scon checked four different disks for the missing information.

X-user “Will you look at those…um, that resolution, quite impressive, really.”
Advantages Using the cutting-edge in graphics technology.
Disadvantages Has little or no idea how to use the cutting-edge in graphics technology.
Symptoms Fuzzy hands, blindness
Real Case When I was off duty, two users sat down in front of me at DEC station 5000/200s that systems was reconfiguring. I suppressed my laughter while, for twenty minutes, they sat down and did their best to act like they were doing exectly what they wanted to do, even though they couldn’t log in.

Miracle Worker “But it read a file from it yesterday!”
“Sir, at a guess, this disk has been swallowed and regurgitated.”
“But I did that a month ago, and it read a file from it yesterday!”
Advantages Apparently has remarkable luck when you aren’t around.
Disadvantages People complain when scons actually use the word “horse-puckey.”
Symptoms Loses all ability to do impossible when you’re around. Must be the kryptonite in your pocket.
Real Case At least three users have claimed that they’ve loaded IBM WordPerfect from Macintosh disks.

Taskmaster “Well, this is a file in MacWrite. Do you know how I can upload it to MUSIC, transfer it over to UNIX from there, download it onto an IBM, convert it to WordPerfect, and put it in three-column format?”
Advantages Bold new challanges.
Disadvantages Makes one wish to be a garbage collector.
Symptoms An inability to keep quiet. Strong tendancies to make machines do things they don’t want to do.
Real Case One user tried to get a scon to find out what another person’s E-mail address was even though the user didn’t know his target’s home system, account name, or real name.

Maestro “Well, first I sat down, like this. Then I logged on, like this, and after that, I typed in my password, like this, and after that I edited my file, like this, and after that I went to this line here, like this, and after that I picked my nose, like this. . .”
Advantages Willing to show you exactly what they did to get an error.
Disadvantages For as long as five or six hours.
Symptoms Selective deafness to the phrase, “Right, right, okay, but what was the error?”, and a strong fondness for the phrase, “Well, I’m getting to that.”
Real Case I once had to spend half an hour looking over a user’s shoulder while they continuously retrieved a document into itself and denied that they did it (the user was complaining that their document was 87 copies of the same thing).

(unfair, perhaps, as these tend, overwhelmingly, to be males) “I need a Mac, and someone’s got the one I like reserved, would you please garrote him and put him in the paper recycling bin?”
Advantages Flatters you with their high standards for your service.
Disadvantages Impresses you with their obliviousness to other people on this planet.
Symptoms Inability to communicate except by complaining.
Real Case One asked a scon to remove the message of the day because he (the user) didn’t like it.

The May Day parade in Moscow is the largest, most important military parade of the year. For 1992′s parade, Yeltsin and Gorbachev invited Bill Clinton to come watch it with them. The parade commenced with a battalion of tanks, followed by a division of infantry, followed by armored personnel carriers and mobile artillery. They had mobile ballistic missile launchers, electronic jamming vehicles, and throughout the entire time the formations were overflown by squadrons of the most advanced interceptors, fighters, and long-range tactical and strategic bombers.

Clinton, who had never been this close to war in his life, was suitably impressed. Then he noticed that, way back at the end of the parade, there was a disorganized, messy bunch of men in rumpled suits tagging along behind the last artillery pieces. “Who are they?” he asked.

“Ah,” said Yeltsin, “those are our economists!”

“But I thought this parade was military…” said Clinton, confused.

“Mr. Clinton,” said Gorbachev, “have you SEEN the damage those men can do?”

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