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Revenge of the Nerds

September 10, 2015


a foolish or contemptible person who lacks social skills or is boringly studious.

“one of those nerds who never asked a girl to dance”

– a single-minded expert in a particular technical field

“a computer nerd”

  1. What is the Prime Directive? 
  2. What is the inherent contradiction in the phrase, “the ship that made the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs”? 
  3. What is the air speed velocity of a sparrow?

What do these questions have in common? 

They all common lore in nerd-culture. Nerd is a funny word. In many ways it is similar to the term Redneck. If you call someone a Redneck their likelihood of being offended is directly related to whether they actually consider themselves a Redneck. In other words, call a non-Redneck that label and they’ll be offended. Tell a true Redneck that he’s a Redneck and he’ll thank you. Nerds are the same way. True nerds don’t mind the label. In fact, it’s a badge of honor. Being a nerd requires a certain level of competence in two areas: technical and cultural. 

The technical aspects of being a nerd are evident when they interact with non-nerds. The IT guy who shows up to fix your computer is very likely a computer nerd. The programmers that seem to live in their office surviving on pizza and Mt Dew and shunning sunlight are very likely nerds. (Don’t bother them, they’re working.) 

Your nephew that built your website? Yup. Likely a nerd. (BTW, the website is technically strong, but you shouldn’t let him do the design work. Get your niece the art-major to do that part.) 

The cultural aspects of being are nerd are evident when they interact with each other. Cosplay, comic-con, comic books, shouting out technical flaws while watching movies; these are nerd-dom activities.

Nerds don’t really appreciate it when you attempt to “fix” your own computers.

The error said it had a problem with the NTLDR file so I deleted it, but that didn’t seem to help.

It just makes the IT guy’s job harder. Oh, and the nerds reading this know that #1 You can’t delete the NTLDR file while your system is running and #2 if you could, it would destroy your installation of Windows so badly, you’d have to reinstall. 

 But, most nerds are just as resistant to non-nerds trying to talk to them at a culture level. You might think you are “bonding” with your IT guy by mentioning that you watched Monty Python. You’ll never understand it at the level he does. He’ll nod, mumble and then mock you when he’s back at his cubicle. Well, he won’t actually mock you, but you will become an example of people who just don’t get nerd culture. 

Just realize that your IT-nerds have a unique culture and like the appeal of vegemite, nerd-culture is something you will probably never really understand. But, the IT guy will fix your computer anyway. 

The answers to the above questions;

  1. The Prime Directive is the rule that prohibits Star Fleet personal from interfering with the development of alien civiliations. Oh, and the crew of the Enterprise ignore it on a regular basis.  
  2. The inherent contradiction in the idea that a ship made the Kessel run in under 12 parsecs, is the fact that parsecs is a description of distance, not time. Most people would assume that either Harrison Fdrk got the line wrong, or George Lucas wrote it wrong. Nerds understand that Han Solo knew exactly what he was saying and somehow he managed to cut the 18 parsec distance down to less than 12. This most likely involved some manner of time travel, but that’s simply speculation at this point. 
  3. The air-speed velocity of a sparrow is a trick question, of course. You cannot answer this without first establishing whether it’s an African sparrow or a European sparrow. But, if you are guarding the bridge of death, you need to know this before the King Arthur shows up. 

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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(c) 2015 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

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