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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Why Sub Specie Æternitatis?

In order to indulge my vanitysatisfy the insatiable curiosity of the clamoring masses, let me briefly explain why I chose this particular pseudonym. (The reason this blog is weakly pseudonymous was given below.) The author would like to say that it was his profound engagement with the thought of Aquinas, Spinoza, and Wittgenstein which inspired him to pick this particular nom de cyber. Sadly that would be a lie.

One day, when the Internet was yet young,1 the author found himself in need of a suitable nom de guerre to use in empire. Empire was what today would be called a multi-player Internet Real-Time Strategy game (or RTS). In contrast to modern RTSs, empire (a) was text and character map based (apart from the lucky few who handcrafted their own X windows interfaces), (b) had dozens or hundreds of simultaneous players, and (c) would continue around the clock for months or even years. In some regards it was more like what today are called Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (or MMORPG) except the content was a grand strategy, rather than individual adventuring.

I picked Æternitatis (or AEternitatis) for two reasons: (1) it would appear near the top of alphabetical listings conferring a tiny tactical advantage; (2) it allowed the author to name his in-game propaganda sheet with the cheap pun Sub Specie Æternitatis. Faute de mieux, the name has stuck.

1 No, really. If the Internet had been a person then, it would not have been able to get served a drink in any bar in the United States. This was before the web was even a gleam in the eye of Al GoreTim Berners-Lee.