Cynics at Large How The Cynic Got His Name

How The Cynic Got His Name

Well, all right, if you really want to know...

Once upon a time, a young student lived in the Austrian city of Vienna. He was rather fond of science fiction, which in those days meant reading it in the local language, German.

Across the border, in Germany, there was a weekly science fiction serial called Perry Rhodan. It was an odd format, a bit like the detective fiction serials of long ago, but science fiction. He loved it, and spent years hunting down the eight hundred-odd volumes in existence back then, collecting and reading them.

When our student began to attend University in Vienna, the computer center's main computer was still operating in batch mode. You submitted a computing job on punch cards and picked up the print-out a while later. The first card of the job contained a job name of no more than five characters, which got printed in very big letters on the printouts so you could find yours easily. There were lots of students called Peter around, but no Perry, so our student thought fondly of Perry Rhodan and named all his jobs "Perry." When he later wheedled an electronic mail account from a friendly administrator, it only seemed natural to name it "perry" too.

Years later, our student moved to the United States of America. Naturally his accounts remained "perry" where ever possible, yet somehow this name wasn't quite as unique as back in German-speaking Austria. Obviously it needed enhancement, elaboration, to make a simple yet snappily memorable handle for online use. The student, now a budding software engineer, considered how many people had recently called him, not kindly, a Cynic. Why not adopt the epithet with pride? So was born Perry The Cynic.

Over time, more and more people got to know me online before meeting me in meatspace. At this point, the people who know me as Perry probably outnumber those who think of me by my driver's license name, Peter. And I'm still a Cynic at heart...


About This Site 22 Jun 2008 14:40