On the geek badge of honour: I’m thinking of this less like the square & compass, more like the classic doctor’s stethoscope; an always-present useful tool which the travelling geek can both be identified with and called on to use. (I want a samurai sword with which to help ease the plight of bandit-plagued villagers.) Anyone can carry one, but you have to know how to use it. (For the tool itself: My wireless VT100 dream.)
On real Simcity cities: When I was driving around the West Coast in 1999 with Quinn, I realised that Portland, Oregon is one of the demo cities you get with Simcity: It’s all working okay, no major traffic or pollution problems, people seem quite happy, there’s a working public transport system and the whole city only takes up a quarter of the map. Los Angeles, on the other hand, is the first city you ever build: It ends up a huge sprawling mess with terrible pollution problems and you keep knocking down buildings to widen your ever-clogged freeways and it’s only when the map’s nearly full that you find the “rail” button.
On Shemite death-fantasy restrictions: Obviously I can’t speak on behalf of our Muslim cousins, but for my lot, you’ve got me imagining Manischewitz powdered people soup (parev). People aren’t kosher for many reasons, one of which is that we don’t have cloven hooves or chew the cud. Another is that even kosher animals (apart from fish and certain insects) have to be properly shechted to be edible, and this would be murder. Another is oh for god’s sake. However, it’s (vaguely, occasionally) interesting to note that breast milk is one of the two exceptions to the rule that food products coming from non-kosher animals are themselves non-kosher. (I know what you’re thinking, and that is not a “food product” so the laws of kashrut don’t apply. You filthy wretches.) The other one (according to the old riddle) is bee honey, though there’s some argument about whether it counts as a “product” or not.
UPDATE: Matt backatme. “The Last Query” made me giggle. (The original story still has quite a hold on me after all these years.)