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<   No. 1439   2007-01-04   >

Comic #1439

1 Minnesota Jones: When I was in Troy on Schliemann's dig, a carnival sideshow passed through. One act was these two men, covered head to toe in tattoos.
2 Minnestoa Jones: One had Egyptian hieroglyphs, the other Mayan symbols, which was interesting. They ate live bugs and goldfish. It was quite amazing.
3 Minnesota Jones: It was only after the show that we discovered their fellow performers had raided our camp for valuables.
4 Monty: Oh?
4 Minnesota Jones: Beware of geeks bearing glyphs.

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If you fully get this gag, you probably don't need this annotation.

  1. The word geek has changed meaning considerably over the past century or so. In the 1950s and 60s it referred to circus sideshow freaks, who performed strange acts such as eating goldfish and biting the heads off chickens. (ewww...) I've found some reports that the word was used in that context as early as 1919, but the Oxford English Dictionary gives the first recorded usage as 1954, although it existed as a word to decribe fools and simpletons since the 16th century.
  2. A glyph is a graphical element representing one or more characters or other symbols in a typographic representation of a language. Pretty much the canonical examples are Egyptian hieroglpyhs and Mayan symbols.
  3. And of course, beware of Greeks bearing gifts.

2016-08-23 Rerun commentary: Some people like to stick to the sideshow freak definition of "geek", preferring not to overload the word with newer meanings. Some people like to embrace the modern day usage of "geek" to refer to people, sometimes socially awkward, with intellectual niche hobbies, somewhat similar to "nerds".

Personally, it's all geek to me.

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