Code, nerd culture and humor from Greg Knauss.

So I'm 17-years-old and full of belligerence and outrage. It's 1985 and I, somehow, am attending a speech at the Ambassador hotel given by Edward Zwick, the Director of the US Information Agency for the Reagan Administration. My high-school's Model United Nations chapter wrangled the invitation, and then passed it on to us newspaper geeks when they couldn't find enough MUNers nerdy enough to fill the table.

I'm dressed in the standard-issue uniform for 17-year-old outraged belligerents at formal luncheons where government officials will speak: my dad's tie.

Ed's up at the podium, a thick, dark man, stuffed into an unflattering brown suit. He's talking about a seven and a half minute video tape that his agency used to dramatize to the real United Nations the Soviet downing of KAL 007. "It lead that body to almost unanimously condemn this evil, criminal deed," he says. I half expect him to add, "So my salary is justified."

Then they play a video of President Reagan, on these big-screen TVs around the room, congratulating Ed on his accomplishments.

Then they open the floor to questions.

The questions are pretty dull -- technical posers about the Voice of America being scrambled by the Cubans, content puzzlers about the KAL video -- and things seem to be winding down when the moderator says, "We have time for one last question. Anyone?"

I raise my hand. "Yes," the moderator says. I stand. I suck in a breath. I muster as much belligerence and outrage as I can.

"Aren't you being just the least bit hypocritical?" I say. "I mean, did you prepare a seven and a half minute video tape of a ship sinking in the Nicaraguan harbor?" (This was another one of the Reagan Administration mini-scandals -- the CIA had mined the harbor illegally.)

There's a silence. The entire room, near as I can remember, turns and looks at me.

Ed says, "What?"

"Ah," says the moderator. "The young man suggested hypocrisy and asked if a video was produced of a ship sinking in the Nicaraguan harbor."

The room begins mummering; mummer, mummer. Ed flushes for a moment, then squares his shoulders and begins a ten minute diatribe about Soviet strength in South America. His entire answer does not contain the words "Yes" or "No."

Afterwards, a bunch of people gather around where I'm standing. A few slyly congratulate me, others stare angrily. The school advisor with us jokes that he doesn't want to be walking next to me when we leave the building.

One elderly, hunched woman pushes her way through the crowd. She looks up at me, fire alight in her eyes, and says, "I was with the Resistance in France during the War, and snot-nosed kids like you have no idea what you have!"

She nods her head sharply, then turns and pushes off.

Hi there! My name's GREG KNAUSS and I like to make things.

Some of those things are software (like Romantimatic and Buzz Clock), Web sites (like the Webby-nominated Metababy and The American People) and stories (for Web sites like Suck and Fray, print magazines like Worth and Macworld, and books like "Things I Learned About My Dad" and "Rainy Day Fun and Games for Toddler and Total Bastard").

My e-mail address is I'd love to hear from you!

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