Re: Announcing A New Weekly Contest: Guess Why This Annoys Me.

1

Alas, only lesbians and straight boys can play.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 7:21 PM
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My guess would be something like "the sexist assumption that girls can't be nerds", though that sounds to me like the sexist assumption that women can't be serial killers.


Posted by: kth | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 7:23 PM
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Also, there should be a branch leading off to my alma mater, where if you weren't a D&D/SF/Fantasy/Adult-Baby-Fetishist/Cosplay nerd, you had to sit sexlessly in your dorm room while the orgy of pent-up nerdlust next door bounced all the books off your shelves onto your bed and you cried for your sunlight-bestrewn path of choices.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 7:24 PM
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The low resolution of the graphic?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 7:26 PM
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though that sounds to me like the sexist assumption that women can't be serial killers

Such a great line. There was a movie recently about a female serial killer, though. (I'm not sexist enough to name it.)


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 7:27 PM
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Wasn't it called.... wait for it.... Monster?


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 7:29 PM
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There was a movie recently about a female serial killer, though.

Coming soon to a lesbian whisper campaign near you.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 7:29 PM
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Yeah, I've been playing with it to see if I can make it both legible and not run off the edge of the column. Survey says, no.

But honestly -- a giant chart purporting to be everything nerdy, including the entire fucking internet, and girls are present only as a theoretical award for eschewing nerdiness and getting out in the sunshine? (or in costume at conventions.) Every so often I forget, and think I'm people.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 7:30 PM
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Take comfort, oh androgyne--you wound up at blogging about diagrams. That at least makes you an honorary person.


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 7:31 PM
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5-6: I believe the joke was already obvious enough in Tim's comment. I need to retire.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 7:33 PM
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Can't you upload the full image and then link the partial image in the post to the full one?


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 7:33 PM
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Every so often I forget, and think I'm people.

On the positive side: no worries about Soylent Green.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 7:35 PM
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Um ... because Girls ≠ Hot Pockets ≠ Hit Points ≠ Google Page Rank?


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 7:39 PM
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The flowchart don't flow.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 7:46 PM
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Come on! Girls = Hot Pockets!


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 7:47 PM
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I thought it was called "Hillary".


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 7:48 PM
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No, that was a movie about an ambitious mountaineer with a sherpa named Barack.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 7:50 PM
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Link


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 7:56 PM
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When I first looked at this post, I couldn't make out the "Girls" circle, and yet the genre of nerd jokes is so predictable that I knew what would annoy LB about it.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 7:58 PM
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I want a hot pocket now.


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:00 PM
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8: Thinking about it a bit (a really little bit), one of the defining characteristics of male nerds is the absence of women. Maybe there need to be two charts. I'm not sure a gender neutral one wouldn't be neutered in an important way.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:01 PM
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21: I dunno. Maybe in high school, but in my adulthood I've dated plenty of nerdy-ass guys who yet had a series of relationships.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:02 PM
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23

The female one could be about shopping at the mall. To get to Men you go through the food court.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:03 PM
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The chart is also biased towards those of a certain age.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:03 PM
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22: Faux-nerds. Former nerds. New nerds. But not just plain nerds, they used to be known.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:04 PM
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girls are present only as a theoretical award for eschewing nerdiness and getting out in the sunshine?

I don't see "award." Being easily annoyed is overrated! Otherwise it's kind of amusing.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:04 PM
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This was in the New York Times? Christ.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:05 PM
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Yeah, I wonder if our generation of women might have participated in far higher numbers in nerd culture, MLB, to the point that all the nerdy guys I've ever known get laid semi-constantly.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:05 PM
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3 is so well written, so full of perfect images, that I've read it four times. And now I'll read it again. Yep, still really good. Not to break character or anything, but there are times that I really like this blog.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:05 PM
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27: Yeah, any such chart as created by actual internet nerds for an internet audience would be a lot funnier and make tons more sense. This one neither flows nor matches much of my sense of the Nerd's Progress.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:07 PM
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I love you too, Ari.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:07 PM
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Yeah, I wonder if our generation of women might have participated in far higher numbers in nerd culture, MLB, to the point that all the nerdy guys I've ever known get laid semi-constantly.

Well sure they do, ten years out of high school.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:08 PM
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Atari? Seriously? Come on. Real geeks were programming Vic 20s & Commodor 64s.


Posted by: me | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:11 PM
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31: I didn't say anything about you; I was talking about the blog. Ah, back in character. Such a relief.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:12 PM
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Actually, it kinds of reminds me of Achewood's relentlessly (and uncharacteristically) un-funny flowcharts. Is this an Onstad creation?


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:12 PM
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What jumped out at me about the op-ed was this:

(like when I suggest to my wife this summer that we should see "Iron Man" instead of "The Dark Knight")

which to me just screamed editorial interference (We Must Show That You Are Now Safely Married!). It was an off note in an otherwise whimsical and kind of affectionate essay.

If I'd looked more closely at the chart I think I probably would have felt less kindly towards the piece, however unfair that is to the author.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:12 PM
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Being easily annoyed is overrated!

I'm gently telling you that this is a problematic statement, and gently easing into the fact that LB was using the phrase "this annoys me" to point out deep misogyny, and hence trivializing her complaint is in itself, gently, misogynistic.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:13 PM
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35 is so disappointingly wrong. Onstad's flowcharts kick ass.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:13 PM
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39

Maybe there need to be two charts.

I'm thinking that the female nerd chart would be at least a little different--a box for Yaoi, maybe, or ... I'm sure any of my guesses will be wildly off. But I can't help thinking that the path of the female nerdling is different than the male's.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:14 PM
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I didn't say anything about you; I was talking about the blog.

I think he means me!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:14 PM
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40: Duh.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:15 PM
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Ari's just trying to get laid. That's the whole reason he started blogging -- he heard stories like M. Leblanc's and figured that could be him.

I only wish I'd thought of the idea myself.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:18 PM
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43

You can think about trying to get laid, Adam, there's no dibs on the idea.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:20 PM
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44

I want to argue with you, AWB, but today's is actually kind of funny. Dammit.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:21 PM
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45

25: I dunno, dude. My current boyfriend still engages in some seriously nerdy activities.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:22 PM
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43: But that would be committing plagiarism in one's heart.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:22 PM
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The problem is, only a certain number of people in the world can access the idea of getting laid at once, which is why some people can't get in the mood. It's best to take your turn in the afternoon.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:22 PM
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44 should, of course, end with "Dammit, woman!"


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:23 PM
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42: Bogging gets you laid? What makes you say that? Blogging has made me hunched (more than I used to be), myopic (more than I used to be), and disengaged (more than I used to be). Where, pray tell, does hunched, myopic, and disengaged = hott! Only in the Times Style section.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:24 PM
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"Bogging" s/b "blogging." I hate myself. More than I used to.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:25 PM
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Though bogging used to be something the really preppy kids did in high school. They had jeeps before jeeps were cool. And knew that environmental degradation was cool before the rest of us. This flow chart did not apply to them.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:26 PM
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In other words, both gaydar and nerdar have to be generationally calibrated. Even a 40-year old's dar will be all wrong when dealing with 20 year olds. Much less mine.

In fact, in our fast-moving new millenium, so different than the antiquated Aquarian Age, even a ten year gap may entail total incomprehension.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:27 PM
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While I'm linking to comics, xkcd has, I think, the definitive Gygax memorial.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:28 PM
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37: Huh? I just meant that it's stupid and not worth getting annoyed over. I didn't realize there's an actual article that goes along with it. In any event, of course I recognize the misogyny, and I am not willing to be annoyed over every instance of such that I witness, else I shall be annoyed all the time.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:28 PM
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Blogging has definitely killed my sex life. I used to be so blissfully free of coherent introspection!


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:28 PM
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else I shall be annoyed all the time.

I am. It's exhausting. But virtuous.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:29 PM
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so different than the antiquated Aquarian Age

This is the sunset of the Age of Aquarius, the Age of Aquarius, AQQQQQUAAAAARIUUUSSSSS.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:30 PM
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58

I might be drinking again. It's possible.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:30 PM
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I might be DOMINANT at commenting! It's more than possible.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:31 PM
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STEP UP, WHO'LL HAVE ME?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:31 PM
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Not like that. Rhetorically have me.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:32 PM
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I miss the other commenters. AWB and lil Stinky.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:33 PM
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45: And he has, I'm sure, a certain boyish charm, but that doesn't make you a pedophile.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:33 PM
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I am always here for you, Heebie.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:33 PM
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65

Huis Clos . . .
"There is a well-known television interview of a medical examiner in Los Angeles who had the horrendous job of autopsying gang members. He bemoaned the necessity of the work, said it didn't really make much difference what he found, a "dead amigo was a dead amigo." When he was berated for his callousness he replied: "Look, I'm just trying to be a little more respectful of these people's families. They come to my table so damned full of holes I sometimes have six, seven bullets from six, seven different guns. I got to cut them up into little biddy pieces to get the bullets out. The city doesn't have enough resources to work on real mysterious killings, much less try to trace all them bullets from stolen guns. We know they just killed each other. It's all just a sad exercise in futility." He exited the cameras but someone forgot to take the microphone off of his lapel and the whole world heard him say: "What to do? Ship the mother fuckers back to Mikeeko."

Huis Clos -
The Beatitudes
www.beatitudesinneworleans.blogpsot.com


Posted by: Lyn LeJeune | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:34 PM
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Look at McManus, Farber and me. Annoyed constantly for 40+ years, but....

Perhaps you shouldn't look.

OT: My sister just called me over to listen to an Iron Butterfly reunion performance.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:36 PM
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No, I think nerd != sexless boy. There is a vast subculture in which nerdy people are getting it on, for serious, all the time. But! This only happens for nerdy boys who give up using their female friends as pillows to cry on because Gorgeous McBooberstein doesn't seem to know they exist. That phase seems to end in high school or college, though.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:37 PM
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What's the movie ...

- "Wait, didn't you read The Lord of the Rings in high school?"

- "Dude, I got laid in high school."


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:40 PM
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Ok. Now I've found the editorial attached to this picture and it's a lot more annoying than the chart. Rogers' embarrassment at having played a game he now needs to describe as "demented and sad" is itself a little sad and his need to declare in The New York Times that he is now "on top of the world" sounds just like the sort of thing a really annoying nerd would fantasize over.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:42 PM
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I read Lord of the Nuva Rings, bam!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:43 PM
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Nerds have evolved, and the stereotype hasn't. It may be hard to believe, but there are people who use the Internet who aren't nerds! There are nerds who get laid! There are nerds who still roleplay and go to cons and are happily married! There are people who use the Internet or play console games that have absolutely none of the classic nerd markers.

Honestly, was it like this when they invented the printing press? Did the generations after Gutenberg marvel at all the 'reading' and wonder why so many young people were getting interested in illuminating manuscripts (obviously, the only people that read.)


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:43 PM
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Did "Lyn LeJeune" somehow find their way over here from apo's Antichrist thread, or something?


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:45 PM
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Why there is a police helicopter over my house I have no idea.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:46 PM
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I am annoyed because I am grading at the Times marking the death of a major shaper of our culture with such weak, derivative work. This is how you make a flow-chart illustrating geekdom. Also, if you are recycling Charlie Stross's conceit, you might at least give him credit, without at the same time going to such lengths to say how you're a normal non-nerd these days, really.

67: There is a vast subculture in which nerdy people are getting it on, for serious, all the time. If true, the world has moved on since I was young — and for the better for once.


Posted by: Cosma | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:46 PM
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I think he or she actually got here from the New York Times.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:46 PM
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68: Not movie: Episode of Friends


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:49 PM
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71: Not the same, but reminiscent.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:51 PM
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So all the Times link brought was Rapture-mongering. How dreadful.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:53 PM
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Cala is absolutely right, of course. The problem is that it often doesn't make sense to call adults "nerds," most of the time. What "nerd" is, really, tended to be a social status of being unpopular in junior high and high school, and also engaging in nerd-culture activities like D&D or playing magic or whatever. But you have to actually have both in order to satisfy the requirements of the nerd archetype. Once you grow up, of course, you get to choose your social environments and so it becomes a lot harder to meet the requirement of being socially unpopular (i.e. not getting laid) if you are engaging in nerd-type activities. Assuming, of course, that you actually want to get laid.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:53 PM
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There is a vast subculture in which nerdy people are getting it on, for serious, all the time. If true, the world has moved on since I was young -- and for the better for once.

While I am sure that this is true, I am a nerd and all my friends are nerds and they are lucky to date every 5 years or so.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:54 PM
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While it's vaguely tempting to get into why the nerddom stereotype involves something like (male) impotence, I'll just ask where the damn linked NYT article is.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:55 PM
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There are nerds who still roleplay and go to cons and are happily married!

It's still hard letting go of the stereotype, though. One of the guys my boyfriend games with is crazy into gaming, and is also pretty hot. Then I met his wife, who is also really hot. The two of them do boggle the mind.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:55 PM
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80: Have you and your friends tried dating other nerds?


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:56 PM
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81: here


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:57 PM
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The other possibility is that nerd culture has leaked out, and non-nerds do nerd things.

But leblanc's right: it's hard to be an adult nerd. Not impossible, but hard.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:59 PM
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We are computer geeks. There actually aren't that many women computer geeks. The ones that I have met have been smart enough not to date other computer geeks.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:59 PM
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82: Ohh, one of my bfs was really into gaming, and he kept taking me over to this apartment in a tony part of town where the two most gorgeous people evar would play nerdy games with us. They were seriously intensely gorgeous and flirty and really into gaming and stuff, so I figured my bf (or the couple themselves, or both) was trying to arrange some kind of group-sex thing. I should have pressed the couple on this issue instead of my bf, who stopped wanting to go play with them.

What's the point of getting all nerdy about games with super-hot people if there's no potential sexiness going on? Deep disappointment. I should have gotten their number before breaking up with the bf.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:01 PM
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That said, I did once go out on a date with someone from Craigslist who, like, went to Magic: The Gathering tournaments and stuff. He made money doing it. I think he was an economics grad student. Nice guy, and reasonably decent-looking, but it was immediately apparent to the both of us that it Wasn't Happening. It was like, he was a Nerd, and I was Nerd-Cool.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:02 PM
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Regarding 8, antialiasing would help. Not sure of the easiest way to do that if running Windows, however.


Posted by: Anon | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:03 PM
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87: Word. Unforunately for me, I find gaming (as in, role-playing games) to be earth-shatteringly dull, as well as those games they play with miniatures or whatever the fuck. I prefer to sit at home at read the internet all day long.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:04 PM
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67 seems right, the thing to complain about is 'girls' is being restricted to 'hot girls'


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:04 PM
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92

Nerds out and about.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:05 PM
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So the article is here. And Populuxe is wrong about the "demented and sad" comment, which is clearly tongue-in-cheek and affectionate. The actual point of the article ("We're all living in Gary's world now") is a bit of a stretch, and the ripoff of the Geek Flowchart really is lame.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:06 PM
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Another important part about being an actual "nerd" according to the archetype that we try to translate from high school is that you have to be not only socially unpopular, but also socially awkward and inept. As people age, go to college, and move into the working world, they tend to figure out how to make conversation, and be polite. And once they start getting laid and making friends, they become more confident. And thus less nerdy. It's not really nerd-dom if you don't give a shit what other people think of you for playing the Firefly role-playing game of whatever.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:07 PM
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"architect of the now" also makes me want to punch Rogers.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:08 PM
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Maybe there's been a precession of terminology. Nerds are cool now, and the uncool are called geeks.

Evidence: about 8 years ago I had a lovely 24-year-old co-worker who was happy to be called a nerd, but drew the line at being called a geek. She went into oceanography, which is nerdy enough for anyone. She was attractive enough that she was always being hit on, and had developed a system for weeding out the "players" and other inappropriate guys.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:10 PM
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95: I thought the jocks were supposed to take care of that sort of thing.

Also: the idea that everyone is role-playing in life originates with Shakespeare, playwright of the now. Duh.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:10 PM
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Well, Cory Doctorow seemed to like it: "Flowchart: How D&D is a gateway drug to every flavor of nerdiness"...

In actuality, the ratio of idiosyncratic, non-mainstream "nerdish" pursuits to stereotypes is too big. I give you Avalon-Hill wargamers, shortwave radio fans, builders of ships in a bottle, model railroaders (not all of them escaped like their MIT brethren), collectors of every fucking thing you could possibly ever even dream of etc.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:10 PM
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I am going to disagree with the rapidly-developing new consensus that "nerds" are just as likely to get laid in high school as "non-nerds". And this has nothing to do with this issue:

No, I think nerd != sexless boy. There is a vast subculture in which nerdy people are getting it on, for serious, all the time. But! This only happens for nerdy boys who give up using their female friends as pillows to cry on because Gorgeous McBooberstein doesn't seem to know they exist. That phase seems to end in high school or college, though.

Nerdy boys are not just boys who share a certain subculture. They tend to be in that subculture because of being uncomfortable with spontaneity, uncomfortable with unpredictable and illogical situations, and prone to overanalyzing things. This is less true now than in the pre-Internet era, but still correlates. It describes the group of high school friends that I stayed in touch with after high school - which ended a mere 8 years ago!

Then in college all of us got a chance to start anew and stopped being sexless, mostly.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:11 PM
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100

What Ned said. (Which rhymes.)


Posted by: Dr. Zeuss | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:15 PM
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Ineptness and unattractiveness aside, the misogyny in male nerd and tech communities is pretty intense. And the anti-physicalism. And the competitiveness -- guys don't respect anyone who can be beaten, but are humiliated if being beaten by a girl.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:16 PM
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92: In high school, on the way to the mountains for my troop's boy scout camp, we stopped for lunch at a place that was a combination restaurant and arcade. The arcade had some of those video games with guns on a cord so you could shoot at the screen. No one wanted to play the games and the cords happened to be pretty long, so we grabbed the guns and began pretending to shoot at each other, hiding behind various objects or rolling on the floor to avoid being shot.

We were asked to leave.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:17 PM
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101: I was wondering when this would come up.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:17 PM
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"nerds" are just as likely to get laid in high school

I think the consensus was that plenty of "nerds" get laid after high school. Obviously, in high school, which social group you identify as a part of has a huge impact or how you're perceived and whether you get laid or not.

The type of high school you go to is important, too. At my school, which was smaller than the American mega-school (120 students in my graduating class), social groups weren't as rigid and being academically successful or into things like Theatre were no barrier to you being "cool", well-liked, or being sexually active. There was a guy at my HS who's slightly famous now, who was attractive, extremely smart and outspoken, and also did all kinds of nerd-culture activities (D&D, Magic, etc), and he had multiple girlfriends (including me). LeBear is very similar to this guy in having the aforementioned traits (except for the famous part), but went to a huge American high school and had much less success with girls.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:18 PM
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Ineptness and unattractiveness aside, the misogyny in male nerd and tech communities is pretty intense.

tech communities yes. nerd communities no.

In my experience the guys likely to be in "tech communities" are not likely to be also into role-playing games, and are much, much, much more likely to be libertarians/anti-tax Republicans.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:18 PM
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96: The correct term for the people on the bottom of the social ladder is "loser," I think. Having nerdy preoccupations wouldn't necessarily land you at the bottom, but in most cases prohibited rising to the top. I'd be surprised if it works much differently today.

99: I am going to disagree with the rapidly-developing new consensus that "nerds" are just as likely to get laid in high school as "non-nerds".

What new consensus? But you're right -- chances of getting laid in high school do dramatically increase when you have fewer openly nerdy habits and inclinations.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:18 PM
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As people age, go to college, and move into the working world, they tend to figure out how to make conversation, and be polite. And once they start getting laid and making friends, they become more confident. And thus less nerdy.

This makes it crystal-clear you don't work in tech.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:18 PM
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105: nerd communities no.

Nerd communities YES. Emphatically.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:19 PM
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misogyny in male nerd and tech communities is pretty intense

Honestly, I'm not sure there are many communities that are less misogynistic. Jocks? Theater kids? Band-geeks? Snooty intellectuals? Car-maintenance dudes? Druggies? At least, at my high school, there simply wasn't a community one could join to find boys who weren't deathly afraid of and hypercompetitive with girls. D&D nerds are just one kind of misogynist in-group, and not, AFAICT, worse than any other.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:20 PM
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Sorry, I forgot that I don't know what "misogyny" means.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:20 PM
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109: The theatre boys at my school weren't too bad, misogyny-wise. They were still bad, but not as bad at the jocks, druggies, and foreigners.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:22 PM
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110: What "misogyny" means is "hates women." I think if we're looking at nerd communities honestly, the amount of passive-aggressive resentment and outright fear of girls that tends to be native to them generates a fair amount of actual misogyny.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:22 PM
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107: Yeah, of course my sample is skewed. Most of the nerds I currently know are people who ended up going to law school. Actually I was surprised to find that a lot of the "popular" and hot law school guys would spend a lot of time playing World of Warcraft and Axis & Allies. It was weird, 'cause they were sleeping with chicks who were hot, rich, and super-high-status. I never could figure those guys out.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:24 PM
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(Of course how they compare with other communities will vary with the setting.)


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:24 PM
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At any rate, I'm really wary of the A-Beautiful-Mind-style typology of the smart-crazy types as against the "normal" kids, who are, of course, all models of emotional health and spontaneity.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:25 PM
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At least, at my high school, there simply wasn't a community one could join to find boys who weren't deathly afraid of and hypercompetitive with girls.

High school hippies often are rather sweet and non-competitive, including the boys.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:25 PM
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Populuxe is wrong about the "demented and sad" comment, which is clearly tongue-in-cheek and affectionate

It isn't "clearly" tongue-in-cheek and affectionate to me. To me he sounds like a nerd, a nerd trying to semi-humorously disavow his youthful nerdiness before a crowd of people he thinks are cool, unaware that this very desire to disavow his nerdiness is exactly what always already makes him so uncool. But I concede that reasonable people can disagree on that point.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:26 PM
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101: Only if you're using the old definition of "nerd."


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:27 PM
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I tried to get the D&D nerds in High School to teach me how to play. They were stand-offish about it.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:28 PM
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Speaking of A Beautiful Mind (and other films) do people intensely interested in math really often use mirrors and windows to do their calculations?


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:28 PM
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117: If the rest of the article were about disavowing his youthful nerdiness or at least subtly drifting in that direction, I'd find that a stronger interpretation, is all.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:29 PM
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I wonder sometimes if the main feature of "nerd" is that it's a community that defines itself against some imagined community of happy dumb squares.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:29 PM
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Eh, misogyny as such rarely stops men from getting laid. Inability to socialize effectively or inability to judge who might want to sex you and who will be completely uninterested are much bigger obstacles.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:30 PM
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I tried to get the D&D nerds in High School to teach me how to play. They were stand-offish about it.

I was actually talking about this a few days ago. I had a number of friends in middle school who were into D&D and I tried to join them in their enthusiasm, but games would break down in arguments - which I stayed out of, due to excessive not caring - over hit points, the correct dice to use, the order of attack in battles, etc. We gradually drifted apart during high school, although that had a lot to do with being in different districts at that point.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:31 PM
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94: And once they start getting laid and making friends, they become more confident. And thus less nerdy.

Some do , some do not. Your life trajectory may vary. Most of the existing tropes around nerdom as expressed in the article and in this thread are the results of the standard pop-culture process of usurping and stereotyping actual life narratives by relatively successful escapees from those particular swamps of insecurity. The drift of the connotations of the word "nerd" reflects this.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:31 PM
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120: They repeat that motif on Numb3rs, which my mother watches. Irritates the crap out of me. All the mathy people I know use whiteboards. I'm sure it's some kind of cinematographic trope meant to keep us from actually caring about what equations are being written.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:31 PM
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I use windows and mirrors all the time, especially when I'm driving. Not so much when I'm doing calculations.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:32 PM
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120, 126: Yeah, that's stupid. I've never seen anyone do this. I always used whiteboards or chalkboards, whichever was available. Or just, you know, some fucking paper. Which was dispreferred if there was a chalkboard available, but still fine.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:33 PM
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I wish I could tell you that the druggies were a welcoming, non-misogynist lot, but I was too busy showing those fucking pussies that I'd be the last one standing at the end of the night to notice.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:33 PM
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123 gets it exactly right.

I think the consensus was that plenty of "nerds" get laid after high school. Obviously, in high school, which social group you identify as a part of has a huge impact or how you're perceived and whether you get laid or not.

My point was that even though girls exist who share the interests of these nerds and are friendly with them, they are still likely to not be romantically successful until three or four years later than their peers, because of their own insecurities that lead them into being comfortable with the historically male-associated (and yet not dominant but subjugated) subcultures.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:33 PM
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I use windows

If you were a real nerd, you'd use Linux.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:33 PM
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God, I love Sundays. Speaking of nerdiness, I got up at 11, went to the bodega to get breakfast-taco supplies, made and ate the tacos with my boy, and have spent the rest of the entire day in bed napping and reading the internet. I think now I will finally get out of bed and take a shower and do the dishes.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:35 PM
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130 sounds about right to me.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:35 PM
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The thing that really annoys me about the article is that the author badmouths Risk.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:36 PM
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Speaking of nerdiness childfreeness,

There ya go.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:36 PM
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134: Good for him. Risk blows.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:37 PM
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I think there's a level of misogyny that makes guys not want to get laid if it can't be done in some sort of slave girl context.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:37 PM
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If you were a real nerd, you'd use Linux.

I do use Linux when I'm driving. On the Information Superhighway.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:38 PM
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136: You fail to appreciate its simplicity.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:38 PM
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Risk blows.

See, nerds get action.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:38 PM
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I think there's a level of misogyny that makes guys not want to get laid if it can't be done in some sort of slave girl context.

Pizza-vendors of Gor!


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:39 PM
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136: Sure, to a Canadian. You just get subsumed into (IIRC) North America.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:39 PM
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138: zing! That made me actually snort. Thanks for the snort.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:39 PM
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97: Also: the idea that everyone is role-playing in life originates with Shakespeare, playwright of the now. Duh.

Yeah. This would be the relevant portion of the article:

This diverse evolution from Mr. Gygax's 1970s dungeon goes much further. Every Gmail login, every instant-messaging screen name, every public photo collection on Flickr, every blog-commenting alias is a newly manifested identity, a character playing the real world.

I want to say this is a difference in degree, but not in kind, from the sort of role-playing we always already (ha!) engage in. But I could argue against myself there.

I believe that Daylight Saving Time is catching up to me.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:40 PM
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139: "Simplicity"? Out of Nerdtopia with you!


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:40 PM
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I think Unix is the system most associated with male impotence.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:40 PM
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They repeat that motif on Numb3rs, which my mother watches. Irritates the crap out of me. All the mathy people I know use whiteboards.

Lord help us if you and leblanc start directing. 30 minutes of a dude and his whiteboard.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:43 PM
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I think there's a level of misogyny that makes guys not want to get laid if it can't be done in some sort of slave girl context.

Maybe. I haven't run into that, but I have frequently run into the "The hot girl should see past the unattractive and awkward outside and recognize me for how awesome I truly am, even while I ignore this girl who is trying to talk to me because I find her unattractive and awkward."


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:45 PM
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147: Eh, I'm pretty sure both of us can achieve orgasm faster than that.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:45 PM
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The discussion on Risk serves to illustrate my point. D&D nerds looking down on nerds from a simpler time. You want irretrievable nerd? Is it possible to recover from sitting around with your friends playing Risk singing "Hold, Kamchatka!" to the tune of "On, Wisconsin!"? Huh? HUH? Or the time you "bombed yourself in" in Stratego by putting all the bombs in the front row?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:47 PM
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Diplomacy > Risk = still a pretty good game, although it never ends with more than two players.

Misogyny does seem to correlate at least a little with not getting laid, but I've always assumed it's (at least mostly) the not-getting-laid that causes the misogyny.


Posted by: Dr. Zeuss | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:49 PM
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I agree with 148 insofar as the biggest problem with nerdsex is that the nerd isn't thinking about the girl enough to even care whether she's a slave type or not. He's just thinking about himself, and wondering what she thinks about him, etc.

The jock mentality might be more like, "That girl is not perfect enough for me! She should have a flatter stomach and better clothes and be properly submissive!" The nerd is thinking, "That girl looked at me! What is she thinking about me? Does she like me? I wonder what I look like to her?" Neither of them knows how to invest himself in the possibility that she has a consciousness independent of his existence. Sometimes, this comes with maturity.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:49 PM
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Ah! Stratego! I want to play Stratego so bad right now.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:50 PM
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Obligatory nerd-thread link. That shit still cracks me up every. single. time.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:50 PM
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D&D nerds looking down on nerds from a simpler time.

And a tad further up the ladder were those of us looking down on the D&D nerds as we headed off to play Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:51 PM
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151: oo, Diplomacy! I haven't thought about that in ages. So much better than any game involving dice.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:53 PM
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150: Is it possible to recover from sitting around with your friends playing Risk singing "Hold, Kamchatka!" to the tune of "On, Wisconsin!"?

Okay... probably not. And that actually sounds pretty great.

But I maintain that Risk is not essentially nerdy in the same way that D&D is.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:54 PM
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Risk is not essentially nerdy in the same way that D&D is

See the nerd hierarchy chart.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:55 PM
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151: it's (at least mostly) the not-getting-laid that causes the misogyny.

In a lot of cases, sure, absolutely.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:56 PM
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I'm pleased to say, then, that I was never a proper nerd, never played Risk (or Stratego), though I did play that 3-dimensional checkers game, worked in a library, and, uh, I did paint my D&D dice, with red fingernail polish (pretty, shiny); BUT! I also wore cowboy boots and hung with the theater crowd, YET did not get laid until just after high school.

So really it's all a mess, and there's no telling.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:58 PM
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154: Crazy.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:59 PM
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I was never able to be a proper nerd because at the end of the day, I hate all other men. I won't claim to have been free of misogyny, but my misandry definitely outweighed it.

Ironically, of course, I'm being very misogynistic by reinforcing the hurtful stereotype that girls can't be part of a hurtful stereotype. But no one's hands can be totally clean.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 9:59 PM
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151: it's (at least mostly) the not-getting-laid that causes the misogyny.

Right, whereas in the case of the jocks, the misogyny is caused by the fact that they get laid all the time and so don't feel the need to respect the girls.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 10:00 PM
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152 is right in what's going on - jocks judging women, nerds worrying about how women are judging them - but I'm not sure how worrying excessively about what other people think counts as misogyny. Although maybe 152 wasn't even calling it misogyny.

My friends and I stopped playing Stratego when we realized that perfect play leads to a draw. The person who goes on the attack has a pretty big disadvantage, due to not knowing where the defender's bombs are and the fact that if their troops are on your side, you can choose who to attack their troops with.


Posted by: Dr. Zeuss | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 10:00 PM
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Oh, and in terms of timing with getting laid -- being a nerd is a disadvantage, but God is the ultimate cockblock.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 10:01 PM
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I never made a claim that Risk is essentially nerdy, or that Risk is more nerdy than D&D. I said that the author of the piece badmouthed Risk and that said badmouthing annoyed me.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 10:01 PM
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164: It is misogyny to the extent it disregards the agency/consciousness/humanity of the woman entirely subordinating the totality of her being to the basic function of "how she responds to me." I.e., to the extent that the whole of a woman is defined by her relationship to a man.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 10:04 PM
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161: That's hilarious, AWB.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 10:04 PM
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I'm not sure how worrying excessively about what other people think counts as misogyny.

I didn't mean it constitutes misogyny, but I do think it's a kind of self-absorption that masks itself as an interest in her.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 10:06 PM
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My friends and I stopped playing Stratego when we realized that perfect play leads to a draw. The person who goes on the attack has a pretty big disadvantage, due to not knowing where the defender's bombs are and the fact that if their troops are on your side, you can choose who to attack their troops with.

You mean... the only winning move is not to play?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 10:07 PM
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Haven't read the thread yet, but is it because you're a humorless feminist?


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 10:07 PM
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Would you like a nice game of Chess?


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 10:08 PM
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FUCK! HOW ABOUT A NICE GAME OF CHESS. FUCK.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 10:08 PM
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An oldie for the computer branch of this conversation. (Easily updated to replace DOS with Windows and Linux as the "one".)

Two versions of OS/2
so the small machines can fly.
Three versions of DOS
for the clueless in their homes.
Nine versions of UNIX
for the hackers late at night.
One version of Windows
for the Dark Lord on his throne.

In the land of Redmond, where the shadows lie.
One OS to rule them all, one OS to find them.
One OS to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them
In the land of Redmond, where the shadows lie.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 10:08 PM
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You know what is really nerdy? Donating to WFMU.org (I greatly apologize for this begging, but they need money, and the station is the greatest. 91.1 if you are in NYC)


Posted by: Willy Voet | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 10:08 PM
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AWBnerdcred == 0


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 10:09 PM
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FMU is so great. I pledged yesterday.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 10:09 PM
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160: I did paint my D&D dice, with red fingernail polish

This is most excellent.

Never heard of the 3-dimensional checkers game, though.

165: I thought God was a first-class aid to guilty, self-recriminating sex.

Oddly enough, I was at a hip-hop show last night and saw a woman there who I'm pretty sure came as close as anyone ever did to converting me in high school, on the strength of her amazing gorgeousness. (I think it was the same woman.) Part of her charm was the prospect not just of having sex with her, but the sheer amount of guilt and cognitive dissonance that would go with it. Which in retrospect is a little weird, I guess, but I am culturally Catholic.

166: No, 'twas I who was attempting to cast Risk out of the dominions of Nerddonia, not your issue at all.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 10:13 PM
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91.1 if you are in NYC

Semi-related: does anyone know why all the public-radio-type/college/independent-ish stations tend to be in the lower frequency bands? I like that I can roll into any town and just start tuning up from 88.7 till I hear the sweet, sweet tones of Carl Kasell's baritone. But why is that?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 10:15 PM
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Part of her charm was the prospect not just of having sex with her, but the sheer amount of guilt and cognitive dissonance that would go with it.

Arg! I know! Obviously, people who will have crazy guilt issues about sex are not sexually desirable, BUT THEY ARE. They are.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 10:15 PM
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180: They were to me for a time, but not anymore.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 10:19 PM
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LB, will this graphic be annoying you for a different reason every week? Otherwise this game is gonna get old.


Posted by: felix | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 10:19 PM
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179: They are reserved for non-profits. Google is your friend.


Posted by: ABC | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 10:20 PM
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164: I'm not sure how worrying excessively about what other people think counts as misogyny.

I think it's wrong that worrying excessively about what other people think is usually the problem, when there's a nerd-misogyny problem. What's more often at issue is simply a sense of entitlement; if I listen to you, treat you in reasonably friendly fashion and refrain from physically attacking you, you should obviously be fucking me regardless of my lack of social skills or physical attractiveness. It's basically just the "nice guy" phenomenon.

170 : the only winning move is not to play?

There you go. The perfect wargame.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 10:21 PM
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181: Oh, I've learned my lesson too, enough not to act on it anymore. The impulse is still there though.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 10:21 PM
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170: I know that 88.1-91.9 is reserved for non-commercial. A bit of googling turns up that this was set up in 1938 per legislation from 1934. So one of those holdover productivity-chilling restraints on freedom from hte New Deal.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 10:21 PM
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184: There you go. The perfect wargame.

Joshua? is that you?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 10:22 PM
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I never did act on the impulse, which I sort of regret a little even though I know I shouldn't. It would make more sense if I hadn't chosen the even more masochistic path, in early college, of nursing fruitless crushes on lesbians.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 10:24 PM
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179: They are reserved for non-profits. Google is your friend.

Well, sure, I could do that, but why go to google when the hivemindipedia is at your fingertips? Might learn something more from these nerds, after all.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 10:25 PM
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I'd just like to reassure everyone that I am not, in fact, currently in control of the country's entire thermonuclear arsenal.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 10:25 PM
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Sigh. As 180 giveth, 181 and 185 taketh away...


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 10:25 PM
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185: I'd like to fuck a good Nazarene girl once, just to say I did. But I think the ship has kind of sailed on that -- the only way to bring it about would be to start moving in Nazarene social circles again, which I could not bear to do.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 10:25 PM
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191: If you'll pretend you're a defilable good girl, Di...


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 10:28 PM
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193: Just the kind of horizon-opening a young divorcee needs. The internet really does help people.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 10:29 PM
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Actually, I think that was half of the thrill of dating a recently-divorced guy. I was the first since, which resulted in delicious "OMG I can't believe I'm doing this"/"OMG this is so incredibly awesome" tensions for him. The more this could be simulated in other relationships, the more badass the concept of sex would be.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 10:33 PM
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I was the first since, which resulted in delicious "OMG I can't believe I'm doing this"/"OMG this is so incredibly awesome" tensions for him.

That was indeed the way the first post-divorce (or technically, post-separation) sex was for me. And, actually, the first crazy-guilt-issue-free sex ever. Which itself was probably a little bizarre. "Wow, you know, that was really great and I feel like I really should be totally ashamed of my slutty self but in fact I just want to jump the shit out of you!" "Um, okay." Not that such a conversation ever took place outside of my head or anything. But, yeah, post-divorce sex, it turns out, is a crazy and delightful thing. Especially for those who are still totally defilable good girls.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 10:41 PM
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Maybe the thing is that when someone you're sleeping with is letting themselves go in a totally new way, they tend to really go all out with it, being suddenly unrepressed about something previously repressed, which is sure to result in fun. However, once the fun itself has come to an end, there are still almost always emotional repercussions I've never known how to handle. Someone should write a guide for uninhibited people about how to deal with partners wrestling with their inhibitions so we can all make more sense to one another. I usually end up feeling guilty for taking away the security provided by those inhibitions.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 10:48 PM
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187: Weirdly enough, WarGames is on TV right now.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 10:50 PM
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Iz in yer ctrl room, launchin yer nooks.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 10:54 PM
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120: I spent a couple of years working at a place where the windows looking into the central courtyard did, in fact, come equipped with dry-erase markers (and erasers!), which we would use when arguing in the hallways. But everyone knew we were a bunch of big flakes.


Posted by: Cosma | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 10:55 PM
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I usually end up feeling guilty for taking away the security provided by those inhibitions.

Really? I rather enjoyed my brief dalliance with living uninhibited and didn't miss the security at all. The return to prudent and responsible, though surely the prudent and responsible thing to do, has proven rather anticlimactic.

But yes, if someone could write that guide, they'd make a fortune.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 10:56 PM
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Iz in yer ctrl room, launchin yer nooks.

Is that in regard to the WarGames comments, or the post-divorce sex ones?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 10:58 PM
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Is that in regard to the WarGames comments, or the post-divorce sex ones?

Is there really a difference?

(Sorry. will bought me dinner tonight (no really! BR is hilarious.) , and I'm required to shill for divorces for the next 48 hours. Fucking lawyers.)


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 11:07 PM
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Fucking lawyers.

I think that's what they're talking about above, yes.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 11:08 PM
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199: has anyone ever run across any context for this fragment?

"We've got a green light on the launch codes... Turn the key, Piglet, turn the key!" snarled Pooh.

It's stuck in my head for years.


Posted by: Cosma | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 11:10 PM
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I rather enjoyed my brief dalliance with living uninhibited and didn't miss the security at all.

It's best to keep it brief, I guess. But even then, I end up feeling guilty for not being ashamed of myself. It's sort of a vicious circle.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 11:11 PM
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It's best to keep it brief, I guess.

Yeah, I imagine uninhibited gets old, too, after awhile.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 11:18 PM
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207: No, that part stays rad.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 11:19 PM
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God is the ultimate cockblock

He needs that sexual energy for His own purposes.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 11:23 PM
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Okay, then I imagine uninhibited gets exhausting after awhile.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 11:24 PM
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210 to 208, but it's sort of interesting to 209 as well.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 11:26 PM
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210: Sort of, but you get all these new muscles! MUSCLES!

I, for one, would like to complain that one loses all those cool muscles pretty damn fast and then when you need them, they're not there.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 11:30 PM
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It is misogyny to the extent it disregards the agency/consciousness/humanity of the woman entirely subordinating the totality of her being to the basic function of "how she responds to me." I.e., to the extent that the whole of a woman is defined by her relationship to a man.

But people are naturally selfish this way. The nerd's problem is that he doesn't have the minimal skills to work with what the other person needs and use it to get her to gratify him. It's not that he's unusually selfish or misogynistic, it's that he's not observant or skilled.

Not that people can't be genuinely other-regarding, but it's difficult and rare and takes years and is a whole spiritual discipline.

Related but I couldn't work it in: sexual desire is not exactly about respecting the autonomy or agency of others, because in sex we set aside our autonomy and transcend our individuality. (Or go beneath it -- animal or divine or both). True, that can be so scary that one wants advance assurance that the other person will respect your humanity again the next morning.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 11:34 PM
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Maybe there's no contradiction though, because mutual manipulation, even for selfish purposes, is a natural school for unselfishness. The way that trading in the market makes us serve each other even if our major aim is getting rich. You have to observe the needs of the other. As the urgency of our selfish needs fades a bit, we discover we've picked up a whole set of skills for unselfishly pleasing each other.

But attractive people are often thought to be unselfish, simply because they please others without even really trying to. Which is one of life's unfairnesses.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 11:42 PM
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The fact that it's not a proper flow chart?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 11:43 PM
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208, 210: yeah, breaking through inhibitions can only be done so often. But skillful+uninhibited is always good. Energy-renewing, not exhausting.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 11:45 PM
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Not only is it not a proper flowchart. It's not a proper flowchart, and it's "ironically self-aware" about not being a proper flowchart in a way that accuses you of being a true nerd if you notice its flaws, even though the joke would be about 1000 times funnier if it were a proper fucking flowchart. Morons.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 11:45 PM
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Who in the hell calls someone's cell phone at 130am and hangs up? This number isn't listed. If someone called the wrong number, wouldn't they say something, so as to give the impression that they're not stalking/about-to-murder you? God, I hate people so much sometimes.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 11:49 PM
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How ironic that I was out socializing for the entire time this thread has been active thus far.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 11:54 PM
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You people must not actually know real nerds. I'm probably technically a nerd, but my best friend blows all of you out of the water. I told him the other day, "My dad lost 20 pounds in like a month", to which he replied, "Wow, he must have a really efficient heat sink."


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 11:59 PM
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my best friend blows all of you

I can't wait. Do we have to sign up, or does it come in the mail, as it were?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 12:03 AM
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Is anybody else having a really fucking hard time with daylight savings time? I was balanced on the edge of sustainable sleep patterns already.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 12:08 AM
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220: I'm not getting the heat-sink joke. Am I just being dense?

222: Yes, the time change is fucking me up. But I'm also sick as a dog this weekend (the flu, maybe?), which might be the real reason.

(Why sick "as a dog", anyway?)


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 12:16 AM
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And Google tells me "sick as a dog" refers usually to vomiting, in which case I am not sick as a dog. Sick as something with lots of aches and a fever and a head cold.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 12:20 AM
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Now we're going to have a thousand comments trying to one-up 220 in nerdishness. Which w-lfs-n will win, but it won't stop everyone else from trying.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 12:39 AM
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Is anybody else having a really fucking hard time with daylight savings time?

At the moment it sucks ass, but I console myself with thoughts of summer fishing.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 12:40 AM
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Speaking of nerdishness, I made the mistake of seeing a movie based on the recommendation of one of the LGM posters: There Will Be Blood. It would have been better if they had hired a guy off the street, handed him a pair of scissors and a reel from the middle, and told me where to cut, and declared that the end of the movie.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 12:47 AM
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You live on the street, Walt?


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 12:50 AM
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Opposition to Calif. tailpipe limits comes from a surprising corner: Republicans!

Who'da thunk it?


Posted by: feldspar | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 12:51 AM
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"Guess Why This Annoys Me."

Because the truth, rather then anger one, can sometimes annoy one?


Posted by: PresidenToor | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 12:52 AM
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Banned.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 12:53 AM
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229: yeah, the real surprise was the opposition from the EPA. Or not, since everyone there except the director apparently supported the stronger CA limits. And I'm sure Johnson's decision had nothing at all to do with last-minute appeals to Dick Cheney from auto manufacturers....


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 1:00 AM
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232: I am just annoyed by the title of the article, as if "Republicans oppose Calif. tailpipe limits" is an unacceptable title.


Posted by: feldspar | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 1:14 AM
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233: agreed.

On the bright side, even Southern Baptist leaders are now at least paying lip service to the idea of doing something about climate change. This gives me a little bit of hope.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 1:29 AM
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205: "We've got a green light on the launch codes... Turn the key, Piglet, turn the key!" snarled Pooh.

Had not heard it before. Some searching did turn it up as the tag line in a few Usenet posts from 1999 and 2000, but nothing with context.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 4:28 AM
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235: It appears that there was a period when Pooh taglines were common on the 'net, a lot of them along the lines of: "Bother!" said Pooh and called in an air strike.

It may just have been a variant of that genre with no other referent.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 4:47 AM
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....because in sex we set aside our autonomy and transcend our individuality. (Or go beneath it -- animal or divine or both).

D.H. Lawrence alert.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 5:27 AM
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227: Yes. Yes I do.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 7:11 AM
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No time o read this thread before I leave for work, but has this been linked yet? Because it's on topic.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 7:27 AM
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I'm incredibly happy about Day Light Savings Time. Going on Standard Time in the fall nearly kills me every year.

I have not had more than 3 hours of uninterrupted sleep in 2 weeks, and I can't get back to sleep after 4:30 or 5. That is kicking my butt.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 7:45 AM
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239: How great is that? Fighting the good fight.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 7:46 AM
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Is anybody else having a really fucking hard time with daylight savings time?

I love daylight savings time. Not having to drive home in the dark again until some time in late October? Sweetness. OK, this morning was a little tough, but mostly because I needed to get to the tire store at 7:30 to get them to replace the tire they sold me Saturday that went flat by Sunday morning (a bar code was left on, evidently, and that messed with it somehow--I didn't really car about the explanation, just that they changed the thing and let me go.) So getting up at 6:30, which my body thought of as 5:30, wasn't great. But that's one day. Sunlight in the evening = good.


Posted by: JL | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 8:06 AM
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239: My god, that second video? That chick is really nerdy, and really hot, and fucking hilarious.

What's even more hilarious is how all the guys in comments are like "whatever."

Anyway, that chick should get discovered. Lest Christopher Hitchens continue to maintain that women aren't funny.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 8:07 AM
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the orgy of pent-up nerdlust next door bounced

Once again, AWB is commenting from some dark part of my psyche.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 8:07 AM
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has time switched to the spring time now?
i did not know


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 8:09 AM
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Ha! 239 is awesome.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 8:12 AM
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My god, that second video? That chick is really nerdy, and really hot, and fucking hilarious.

Zomg. Agreed. That said, it is incredibly notable that she is nerdy and hot and hilarious. She is, erm, sort of an outlier. A token, if you will.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 8:22 AM
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245: Spring forward, fall back

Every year we get fewer and fewer reminders of it, living in a society with fweer and fewer connections to a truly mass media.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 8:25 AM
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Watching her other videos, one of which is a slideshow of some party from like five years ago, reminds me that "orgy of pent-up nerdlust" is exactly right. I went to a party a few months ago full of gamer dudes and the chicks they hung out with, and those people really were having a lot more "party" fun than your average jaded "professional" twenty-somethings I am usually around. They were drinking harder, and flirting more, and generally being crazier.

Of course, I was too inhibited to really participate, which was funny. Grown-up nerds are crazy, man.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 8:29 AM
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247: I don't think she's an outlier at all. Although I agree with the view that I've heard kicking around that nerd culture has allowed more women in during the past decade or two than ever in the past.

Star Trek nerdom, for instance, was almost all male until the arrival of Next Generation.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 8:31 AM
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I take back 247. There are always excruciatingly hot nerds in every group. I keep imagining someone will crown them their kings and queens, but they never do. I actually do buy this woman's complaint that she doesn't get much nerd love.

At Nerd U, one of my best friends was this tall, gorgeous dame with curly brown hair, big eyes, a cupid's-bow smile, and a perfect figure. She was a drummer in the orchestra and danced ballet. Every guy on campus referred to her as "Hot Math Babe," because she was so intimidatingly genius in class. Big nerd. Liked to fight. Had to practically beg the nerdy guys she liked to date her. It was seriously absurd. Finally, during her senior year, she met a freshman fraternity pledge and basically told him they were going out. Now they're married.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 8:31 AM
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248 yeah, my sister called through skype and said i was not home at the usual time, so now i know thanks


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 8:33 AM
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None of this makes nerdiness, or sex, sound particularly pleasant.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 8:35 AM
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you young people are trying to get us to discard our comfortable but outmoded prejudices, but fuck that. We have these prejudices because we like them. We're not going to try to follow the changing fads of reality.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 8:37 AM
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"You're the hottest girl with Down Syndrome ever."


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 8:42 AM
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It's not that he's unusually selfish or misogynistic, it's that he's not observant or skilled.

This is right. Nerd misogyny isn't worse, but it does stem from expecting that getting with the girl should be like successfully navigating an adventure. If you've succeeded at both the Initiative and Will checks, shouldn't you be getting Booty?

It's a version of the nice guy phenomenon.

Most of my friends did not get laid in high school, but they did in college, and they didn't really get more socially adept. They just were able to pick their social circle. They grew up, but they didn't really stop being nerds.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 8:45 AM
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That chick is [...] really hot

She is a redhead, after all. Rrrrowr.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 8:49 AM
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It's not that he's unusually selfish or misogynistic, it's that he's not observant or skilled.

I used to say things like that, but it really doesn't work. If you weren't so selfish, you would naturally spend the time it takes to develop the necessary skills.

I'm actually going through this with Caroline right now. She keeps doing things that hurt her brother and saying it was an accident. Sometimes it is an accident, but I point out to her that this really isn't an excuse, because a nice person would be aware of other people and know not to hurt them.

Selfishness through being non-observant is a case of culpable ignorance.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 8:53 AM
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Nerd misogyny isn't worse, but it does stem from expecting that getting with the girl should be like successfully navigating an adventure.

Unfortunately, I still sort of actually seem to believe this, but that it's a really difficult and fickle game.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 8:55 AM
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Selfishness through being non-observant is a case of culpable ignorance.

Rob speaks truth.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 8:58 AM
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258: Right, but they're no worse than anyone else in high school at this age. It's not like the nerds aren't the only ones fucking up relationships and sex. It's not a nerd problem, just a maturity one.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 9:00 AM
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Right, but they're no worse than anyone else in high school at this age.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 9:05 AM
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I used to say things like that, but it really doesn't work. If you weren't so selfish, you would naturally spend the time it takes to develop the necessary skills.

And these are people who, by definition, find it much harder to "develop the necessary skills" to empathize with others who are very unlike us. So, it takes a while before we can actually employ generosity and friendliness in real life rather than just in theory.

related:
I used to go around all the time saying "I'm a good listener, but nobody ever confides in me." I tried to make people feel better by being open-minded and nonjudgmental, but did not know the correct words to say to make people feel reassured. Still don't, actually. It's a skill that takes different amounts of practice for different people.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 9:07 AM
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261: It's a combination of
A) the maturity problem of most high-schoolers
and
B) the reluctance to behave in a mainstream fashion, inability to see the point of conformity or social niceties, et cetera.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 9:13 AM
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I used to go around all the time saying "I'm a good listener, but nobody ever confides in me." I tried to make people feel better by being open-minded and nonjudgmental, but did not know the correct words to say to make people feel reassured. Still don't, actually. It's a skill that takes different amounts of practice for different people.

I've been called a great listener many a time, and I think the real secret is not so much in saying the correct thing to reassure people but in not saying much at all. People will often mistake keeping your mouth shut for paying attention. (Occasionally saying something that reflects that you have in fact been paying attention is even better.)


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 9:14 AM
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Right, I'm not denying that youthful nerd misogyny has its own markers, just that nerds are more selfish than (say) the captain of the football team.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 9:15 AM
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The Nerd Girl video really is so best. I admit to owning a copy of The Languages of Middle-Earth, too.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 9:15 AM
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"I'm a good listener, but nobody ever confides in me."

My best friend and I just had this whole conversation about how people have always just told us things. Like, on a plane, my seatmate is tempted to tell me the most horrible and private secret of his life. Or in coffeeshops or restaurants, if I strike up a conversation, or if someone else does, it's five minutes before I hear about the time he beat up his girlfriend because she had an abortion without telling him and how he's so sorry now. Students come to my office and say, "No one on earth knows this but I'm an alcoholic." Neither my girlfriend nor I can figure out why people react this way to us. These people have no evidence of our being good listeners.

I think it might have a lot to do with being (a) women, who (b) show an emotionally distant curiosity for things. That is, because we have no investment in knowing people's secrets, they can't help themselves.

I've given up trying to meet people to date in public because all flirtations turn into Confessional Hour within minutes.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 9:16 AM
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People will often mistake keeping your mouth shut and looking them in the eye for paying attention.

I'm very uncomfortable with looking people in the eye. I think I realized this at around age 24. It would have made a lot of early relationships go more smoothly if I'd been told this by someone other than the dad I was trying to rebel against.

Sorry, whining wistfully again. It's this spring weather.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 9:17 AM
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And these are people who, by definition, find it much harder to "develop the necessary skills" to empathize with others who are very unlike us. So, it takes a while before we can actually employ generosity and friendliness in real life rather than just in theory.

Right. I'm hard pressed to believe that the incentives to stay a pale friendless virgin are all that strong. If someone's behaving in a way that is destructive both to others and themselves--in a way that keeps them lonely--I suspect that they don't know any better, and not for lack of trying.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 9:19 AM
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Ah, the eye contact thing will do it.

When I was little, my dad thought I had shifty eyes, so he taught me an interviewing technique he learned where, if you're having trouble making full eye contact with someone for a long time, you focus just on one of their eyes. Gives you a steadier-looking gaze and is easier to keep up when you're nervous.

Basically, I was raised by Baldassare Castiglione.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 9:21 AM
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...and looking them in the eye...

Good point. So few people realize how easy it actually is to space out completely while still looking someone in the eye. Nod and say, "Mm hmm," a couple of times and you still get credit for being a good listener.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 9:22 AM
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My experience is closer to m. leblanc's than it is to Cryptic Ned's. For example, I know a woman who goes to SF conventions for the sole purpose of getting laid -- she doesn't go to any panels. She goes to parties, and has sex.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 9:23 AM
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I wish I'd posted the second sentence of #267 right after #268.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 9:23 AM
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being (a) women, who (b) show an emotionally distant curiosity for things

Yr so smart, AWB. I've tried to figure out for a long time why it is that people really do seem to want to tell me all their secrets, immediately, and this seems to hit it right on the nose.

I'm definitely curious, but not particularly invested. It's like, oh, you're secretly gay? Huh. Right on. I also seem to be able to make facial expressions that are just enough: surprised without being appalled, slightly sympathetic without being overly concerned, etc. It really is quite weird.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 9:27 AM
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I suspect that they don't know any better, and not for lack of trying.

At the risk of joining Ned in "whining wistfully," I suspect that it comes down to a distinction between trying, and trying to try. By which I mean that people often continue to behave in destructive ways, despite recognizing that it's left them pale and friendless, for fear that actively attempting to exercise more productive skills could lead to even more disastrous results. A fear of failure kind of thing. I suspect the most engaging people are the ones who are least concerned with self-protection. Bastards.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 9:28 AM
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I know a woman who goes to SF conventions for the sole purpose of getting laid

When I was going to conventions, I knew a few people who went for just those reasons. And lately, (or so I've heard) conventions have become even friendlier to the poly/pro-kink/fetish crowd so I expect that there's even more of that.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 9:33 AM
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275: I always hoped people confided in me because they found me attractive or thought I must have even more exciting and dangerous secrets, but longterm observations prove otherwise. In fact, a great huge number of my internet dating experiences ended with me learning every terrible creepy thing about the gentleman in question and then him either not being capable of physical attraction anymore or just never seeing me again. Spread that out over three hours or six months and you have the past seven years of my dating life.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 9:37 AM
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Best Simpsons line: "I can't promise I'll try, but I'll try to try."

240: ME TOO. "Falling back," combined with the holidays, drives me to the brink of despair.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 9:40 AM
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I hate to test AWB's theory, but I got this all the time when I was younger, and I'm sure I wasn't a woman, nor, alas, did hoards of people find me particularly attractive. I suspect I suffered from being prematurely avuncular.

The good news is, it goes away a bit as you get older.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 9:42 AM
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276: Fear of success is more common than fear of failure, I think. Lonesome or not, nerdiness comes with twin consolations of moral and intellectual superiority (whether real or imaginary) that are pretty hard to beat. Learning how to interact outside that context means leaving those familiar consolations behind. There's a reason why many nerdy kids today are obsessive, even almost gleeful, about self-diagnosing with autism or Asperger's Syndrome and describing themselves as essentially computers in fleshy prisons.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 9:45 AM
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Fear of success

Bingo. I've aggressively pursued a couple nerds who were clearly attracted to me, but seemed horrified at the idea of actually having to emerge from their activity prison and, you know, date, talk about stuff, and have sex.

Luckily, I usually gave up after a while. But it was maddening.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 9:52 AM
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Essentially computers in fleshy prisons.

Neoplatonism or Cartesianism becomes a diagnosis, and the diagnosis becomes an identity, aspergy computer nerds construct aspergy computer minds, transhumanists worship them, when will it all stop?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 9:54 AM
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What I was talking about above was "fear of success" misogyny, which I suppose wouldn't have to be especially misogynist except re: The Flesh. (E.G., some such guy could have many non-dating female friends).

Scoring and humiliating misogyny would be something quite different.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 9:57 AM
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There's a reason why many nerdy kids today are obsessive, even almost gleeful, about self-diagnosing with autism or Asperger's Syndrome and describing themselves as essentially computers in fleshy prisons

I've always gone with the more likely reason of I am kind of a loser.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 9:57 AM
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did not know the correct words to say to make people feel reassured

To build on what Di said in 265, you can rarely guess what words will reassure someone, and people rarely want reassurance. They want to be able to share what's going on with someone.

If you want people to confide in and trust you (as opposed to being a magnet for random confessions), it comes down to two things IME:

1) Starting with "Damn, I'm sorry that happened," "That's great," or "How are you feeling about it?" as appropriate. Do not say, "It'll be all right."*

2) Asking questions. If the person wants to do all the talking, great, let them go. If not, ask, ask, ask. It's how you show the person you're interested and willing to share the burden with them, in a way. I'm not saying that quite right. It may also help them work through whatever it is. If you're prying, the person will generally let you know tacitly or explicitly.

*The absolute best reaction I got -- from the new boss I'd had for maybe a week -- when I started telling people my mom had cancer was "That sucks." So much better than "Oh, I hope everything will be all right," however well intentioned.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 9:59 AM
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285: Well, it could be worse. You could have just written a post that un-ironically used the words "kids today."


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 9:59 AM
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when will it all stop?

With the Singularity, John. The Nerd Rapture.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 10:01 AM
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271: But which eye? Do you switch? What about aiming for the midpoint between the two? Will other people notice that you're creepily staring at only one of their eyes? I know I wouldn't, but I never look at people's eyes. I suspect I'm an outlier.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 10:01 AM
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I am sympathetic with the desire to self-diagnose, in that what it's demonstrating is a desire for people to stop moralizing about their social behavior and stop trying to "fix" them. If they're either happy being themselves or too depressed by their past attempts to change, people should be allowed to be left alone. In some ways, it would be really upsetting to find out that I just am the way I am and I'm unlikely to be able to reset myself, but in others, it would be a giant relief and I could construct a language for explaining to people how I do and don't function.

There is a difference between those moments where someone is saying, "I need advice, because I want to get along better with people" and when they say, "This is how I am and you need to recognize that not everyone is like you."


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 10:03 AM
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Sir Kraab is so right about this. Reassurance really isn't what's needed, especially from someone you're not super close to. Most people just want acknowledgement that they're dealing with something shitty. "It'll be all right" or similar is just really annoying, because that's really not something you can truthfully say without knowing a lot more information.

Also, it's best not to assume how people are feeling, which is why "how are you feeling about it?" is a good question. I find it weird when I still get people giving a standard "I'm really sorry to hear that" upon hearing of my mother's death when I was a kid. It's like, dude, it happened almost twenty years ago. I'm over it.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 10:05 AM
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289: Pick one eye and stick with it, and it's virtually undetectable. This is not advice for situations in which warm, natural eye contact feels good and possible, as it's always better, but picking one eye is better than looking at the floor or at your interlocutor's nose or hairline.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 10:06 AM
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Asking questions.

Oh, God yes! A guy I knew once came to the conclusion that he needed to become a "better listener." (Actually, I believe his wife and their marriage therapist came to this conclusion and so informed him, but I digress.) He told me this, told me he was going to be a better listener from now on, and then his entire strategy boiled down to: "Okay, you talk now." Made me crazy.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 10:09 AM
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291 - I get the same thing. Whenever I have to tell someone that my mom died twenty years ago, and they say "I'm sorry", it's hard to resist making my eyes go real wide and say ing "I knew it! It was you!"


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 10:22 AM
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That's funny, Walt.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 10:27 AM
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I desperately need to learn how to ask questions. Even my recent teaching evaluation was all about how I lead discussions without ever really asking questions; instead, I make provocative, ridiculous statements and say "Eh?" (Basically, attending one of my classes is a lot like reading my blog.) Most of my conversations with friends are the same. We trade stories or ideas, or respond to one another with almost no questions, only statements in response to other statements. We tend to build ideas together, or bat around an idea, rather than forcing one another to play a specific move.

Part of that comes from my own queasiness about answering questions. I never liked it in school or in social environments, and in dating it often feels confrontational to me, especially if my interlocutor is looking for a specific kind of answer. I have a perverse reaction to questioning wherein I respond with something particularly unexpected and then ask them the same question back. I even dislike questions like, "What kind of music do you like?" and "What movies have you seen recently?" I keep wondering when we can go back to regular conversation, as questions seem to signal, to me, some kind of boredom or stasis in my conversational partner.

But also, I've never gotten thorough or interesting responses from questions. I've tried asking questions on dates ("Do you have any siblings?" "What do you want out of dating?" etc.) in the hopes of spurring more regular conversation, but it's just not a mode I work in well, and people seem to sense this.

I do ask questions like about how people are doing, how certain things are going, how people feel about things. But I really hate prying into people's emotional and personal lives, almost as much as I hate mine being pried into. I'll volunteer almost anything, as long as I'm not asked to. I already feel like I get a huge amount of voluntary personal information from people, and that I give plenty myself.

Yes, I realize this is a serious personality flaw. I'm working on it.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 10:31 AM
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296: I think most comfortable friend-conversations are like that, AWB. Small talk and questioning are really just the ways we deal with people who we don't know that well. It's just a polite way of probing, trying to shed some light on their interests and personality in hopes of finding common ground where conversation will become more comfortable and free-flowing.

Some people are a hell of a lot better at it than others. It's certainly more natural if you're somewhere where things are going on, as metacommentary will often flow more freely than questions, and give some great insights into how someone thinks.

I almost can't even imagine one-on-one dating with someone I didn't already know well. Those first several minutes (and sometimes the whole conversation) can feel like pulling teeth with the wrong person, and there are just too many wrong people out there to find dinner-long shots in the dark very appealing.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 10:49 AM
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his entire strategy boiled down to: "Okay, you talk now."

Exactly. Usually combined with the "Even after we've talked about something in your life, I won't ever ask you how it's going, because if you want me to know, you'll tell me."

Also, let me preempt any possible spiral down into a Mars/Venus thread by saying this is not limited to the male of the species. More common, because of the way most men are socialized, but not at all exclusive.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 10:52 AM
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297: Yeah, I think I have gotten used to getting people to talk through less question-centric means from teaching and from various work environments, so I use these even with strangers on dates, and it tends to work pretty well, keeping conversation going. But I'm sure that many of them go home and say, "She never asked me a single question about myself!" and feel the way Kraab and Di do, that I must not be that interested in them.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 10:57 AM
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I'm sorry to have missed most of this thread.

For what it's worth, in my experience one reason for the "nerdiness = no sex" equation is that nerdiness involves a large amount of sublimation, for lack of a better word.

It's difficult to be a hard-core nerd unless, on some level, you have nothing better to do with your time. Most of my nerd friends in high school were much less nerdy when they were having sex, in part because being in a relationship just filled up a lot of the spare time that had been spent on nerdy pursuits.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 11:18 AM
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299: If you've got a genuine two-sided conversation going, your partner is probably not complaining that you are not asking enough questions. The point of questions are to signal genuine interest, and if the other person is talking, chances are you've sent an effective signal. If you are doing all of the talking, and find yourself saying things like, "You never say anything," then chances are you need to figure out whether you actually are interested* in the person you are talking to.

*Just interested, that is. Not interested interested.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 11:30 AM
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I missed most of the thread, but:

That said, I did once go out on a date with someone from Craigslist who, like, went to Magic: The Gathering tournaments and stuff. He made money doing it. I think he was an economics grad student.

I know a guy who 1) posts personals on Craiglist, 2) makes thousands of dollars playing Magic: The Gathering and 3) is a grad student in economics.

Where did I meet him? My online simulated baseball league for sabermetric nerds, of course.


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 11:36 AM
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I believe I've linked "Fear of Girls" here before, but it seems obligatory.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 11:40 AM
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Where did I meet him? My online simulated baseball league for sabermetric nerds, of course.

Have I mentioned XOHoops here before? A very geeky basketball simulation that is based, as much as possible, on all of the APBRMetrics work. It's a work in progress, but I've corresponded quite a bit with the person developing it and he's doing good work.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 11:41 AM
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I am sympathetic with the desire to self-diagnose, in that what it's demonstrating is a desire for people to stop moralizing about their social behavior and stop trying to "fix" them.

I'm not necessarily that sympathetic, because often I have the suspicion that many of those who like to self-diagnose do, in fact, have the capacity to learn how to socialize in different contexts and are using the self-diagnosis as something of an excuse. Which on one level is their call, obviously, but on another has the unwelcome effect of trivializing actual mental illnesses. I'd rather people just said "I prefer being this way."

(Also, let's be real, there are even some who need someone to moralize at them about their social behaviour, because the awkwardness they come to prize actually does lead them to act like assholes.)


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 11:42 AM
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Haven't read the thread neither, but 305 is great, especially the last part.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 11:48 AM
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I am not sure if I agree with him, but this guy hates geeks in an amusing way:

http://www.udolpho.com/weblog/?id=00596&title=Why-do-geeks-have-such-bad-taste


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 11:49 AM
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jwz has an inner nerd, too?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 12:00 PM
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It's difficult to be a hard-core nerd unless, on some level, you have nothing better to do with your time. Most of my nerd friends in high school were much less nerdy when they were having sex, in part because being in a relationship just filled up a lot of the spare time that had been spent on nerdy pursuits.

NickS raises a good point here.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 12:03 PM
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activity prison

This sums up nerd culture better than any phrase ever.


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 12:05 PM
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Who are these people who had sex in high school?


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 12:24 PM
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Lonesome or not, nerdiness comes with twin consolations of moral and intellectual superiority

All over geek dialogue on the web. "Beating with a clue stick" is a terrific metaphor for the classic nerd tactic of sublimating physical aggression and hostility into intellectual competition.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 12:47 PM
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Part of that comes from my own queasiness about answering questions. I never liked it in school or in social environments...

Clearly, you are Stephen Maturin (or possibly Clarissa Oakes):

From some context he could not recall Stephen had mentioned his dislike of being questioned: "Question and answer is not a civilized form of conversation." "Oh how I agree," she cried. "A convict is no doubt more sensitive on the point but quite apart from that I always used to find that perpetual inquisition quite odious: even casual acquaintances expect you to account for yourself." "It is extremely ill-bred, extremely usual, and extremely difficult to turn aside gracefully or indeed without offence."


Posted by: emir | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 12:49 PM
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i always look at people's eyes straight, in japan they found it pretty intimidating
then i have lazy eyes so people think i do not look at them and tend to follow my wandering eye where i'm looking
very convenient to read one's face


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 2:44 PM
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Alas, I can follow a line from the upper left to the lower right.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 4:11 PM
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how people have always just told us things

What I want to know is why people keep asking me for directions. At least three times on Sunday (in two subway stations, and I think on the street as well, but that might not have been Sunday).


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 7:58 PM
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why people keep asking me for directions
me too, everywhere i go people ask me directions
the problem is i don't know either the place or the language
i think it's because i do not avoid eye contact people tend to ask one who looks at them may be
not the people trying to avoid them


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 8:13 PM
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Wait, wasn't 317 published in the poetry section of the New Republic last week?


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 8:14 AM
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I get this, too -- which is sadly ironic, as I am about the most geographically challenged person on earth. (Like, not 100% sure of street names on the way to my own damn house challenged. Something about looking non-threatening, I think.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-11-08 8:54 AM
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