Monday, March 24, 2008

Fubar or foobar

Last night I watched a great documentary about the war on narcotics in Miami during the 1980s: Cocaine Cowboys. It is the story behind Scarface and the Mariel boatlift. It is also the background for Miami Vice. Coincidently, the music for the documentary was composed by the same composer of the Miami Vice Theme: Jan Hammer. Ever since arriving to the US, my first name has been difficult to pronounce: Jan. More often it is also mistaken for a woman's name -I have gotten samples for female products in the mail-. In my first weeks in the US, I tried various ways, including almost changing my email alias to 'ian', as it was phonetically closer to my name. Then, Jan Hammer came to my rescue. People knew how to pronounce his name, and knew he was a male.

The documentary taught me a new phrase: fubar. Over and over it was mentioned. Being an engineer, I immediately thought of foobar, a common place holder name in programming. It didn't make any sense in the movie. During Frontline tonight, the term fubar came up again. Now I was really intrigued. I had to look it up: fubar - fucked up beyond all recognition/repair.

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