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IHTFP: 'H' Is for Hack, Right?

Jennifer Chung

It occurred to me recently that I've completed about three-quarters of my very first year at MIT. Several thoughts popped into my head:

1. Ihadn't seen or heard of anything artificially put on the Great Dome yet.

2. Actually, Ihaven't seen or heard of much of anything hack-ish yet.

3. Well, I admit that the gargoyles were pretty cool.

4. But this is MIT!There should be much more of them:big hacks, little hacks, purple hacks, green hacks, baby hacks, and mommy and daddy hacks. These things are the breakfast of the nerd, the manna of the soul, and the underlying, intrinsic bond that keeps students of the Institute from attacking their fellow sibling in the Sloan School of Management(Course XV).

5. I should complain now, while I still have two months of youth andimmaturity to hide behind(that means I can't be taken too seriously, nor chided too roughly).

"But Jennifer," a friend of mine protested to me the other day, "hacks are supposed to be timely and inspired, and gifts from God."

But I protested back: "Iwant more haaaaacks"

My friend at Caltech, for example, is always telling me about the pranks he and his housemates play on the other houses. If I'm to believe what he tells me, he spends all of his time plotting evils to visit upon the unwitting residents of Fleming House. Am I supposed to take this to mean that Caltrekkies are more inspired than we are?Perhaps my Bexleyness accounts for the lack of group unity which may produce hacks. But it's not like my housemates must be unwilling to torment Baker.

Someone told on to me that hacks have apparently been getting less techy and more artsy. She hastened to point out that this didn't mean that the more recent hacks weren't good some of the hacks described by the Athena dialups (ten-thousand-dollar-bill and no-knife for example) can be considered paragons of hackness, even though they required less technical skill and prowess.

However, where are the grumpy-fuzzball and the Hahvahd-Yale football disturbances? Managing to blow up a large balloon in the midst of a football game is far more technically challenging than convincing an announcer to read a message. Is this supposed to be a scary indication of how the institute's ability to transfer technical knowledge to students is in decline? I thought this was the Institute of Hacks, Tomfoolery, and Pranks.

Whenfinals rolled around last December, I eagerly kept my eyes opened, hoping for a legendary hack. I'd been told hacks are good ways to relieve the pressure and stress caused by studying too much. Alas, I saw nothing.

WhenIAProlled around, I thought, "Well, maybe now that there's more time, students will be able to engage in hackish activities."No such luck.

Plus, I have to take a required course only offered during IAP. This isn't the MITI wanted to attend, nor is this the MIT that crusty old alumni/ae have told me it used to be. Someone must have lied to me. What a disillusioning six months this has been. I better have an epiphany soon.

But until then, give me a pi for March 14, color Building 54 for St. Patrick's Day,or publish a reamer, and make fun of my column, please!

Now, I'm going to open letters@the-tech only to discover that the inbox is flooded with mail. There will be 400 e-mails from the five people actually reading this, the gist of the letters being that I'm being a holier-than-thou brat, and if Iwant a hack so much, why don't I instigate one?

Good question. Ican now save face by turning this column into a obtuse commentary on how my attitude represents the passiveness of the current student body: We are willing to say but not willing to do, and the administration can and already has overpowered us because of our uncaring apathy.

Then again, I'm not unwilling to implement a hack; I'm just not capable of implementing one by my own short, lonely self. Also, Ihaven't seen an example for me to have learned from. I know, I'm not supposed to know how a hack is implemented; that's part of its mystique.

Still, do Ihave any helpers out there? Please A hack for a hack writer.