Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Geeks, Nerds, & Dorks

Geek. Nerd. Dork.

Somewhat permissible four-letter words. The Holy Trinity of playground epithets.

In my early 80's childhood, these were synonyms. The Tri-Lambdas were nerds, but they could have just as easily been geeks or dorks.

With the dawn of the NerdASDAQ, the spectacled set became awkward social overlords. Alex Rodriguez may make a lot of money playing baseball -- $25 million per year at the time of this writing -- but he'd have to make that salary for 192 years to have as much money as Bill Gates has right now.

As the keys to the kingdom now come in a nerdy box, people now use the terms geek, nerd, & dork with a greater degree of linguistic accuracy.

Geek now conveys a high degree of interest in a geeky topic. What's a geeky topic? Observe The Geek Hierarchy, grasshopper. (via Ann Maria Bell)

Being called a geek is no longer that bad, unless the term is used by others to describe you to someone you're interested in dating.

However strange it sounds, it appears that Nerd was a term coined by Dr. Seuss. Quite the schoolyard bully, that Seuss.

Nerd still retains some of its grade school nastiness; however, I've found that adults almost exclusively say it in a loving way, with a smile. The most frequent usage of the term is in the phrase, "You are such a nerd!" after you've betrayed a truly geeky personal interest. (Again, refer to The Geek Hierarchy to understand an activity's level of geekiness. You can examine the Frequently Paraprased Questions if you're still baffled.)

Dork is still bad, almost meaner than it was back in the day.

I don't buy Webster's definition, placing dork between nerd and jerk. Show me these jerk nerds. Besides, nerk or jerd would work perfectly well to describe these people.

In the linguistic circles I run in, dork is rapidly becoming the new jerk.

Anyway, none of this may interest you. That is, unless you're a nerdy geek like me.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

What's in a Name? Cash.

Having tolerated a decade of 3Com Park, Bay Area sports fans were just getting used to the 49ers playing in Candlestick Park when the team decided to lease naming rights to Monster Cable Products, resulting in... ahem, Monster Park.

California Geology & Geography

I was tempted to blog today's quake the moment I felt it, but I resisted.

I cannot resist, however, blogging this quote from the first story on the event: "In nearby Redwood City, the quake delayed the murder trial of Scott Peterson after a juror reported feeling the tremors." (emphasis mine)

The earthquake was in Parkfield. As Yahoo! maps will tell you, Redwood City is 193 miles from Parkfield.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Why Phone Keypads and Calculator Keypads Differ

I won't say I've often wondered, but I've sometimes had occasion to wonder why touch-tone phones and calculator have different number layouts. Both devices have digits 0-9, laid out in three rows... yet, "1" is on the top of the phone keypad and on the bottom of the calculator keypad.

The Calculator Reference has 3 pundits weigh in regarding why these everyday devices differ in this subtle (and nerdy) way.

In a nutshell: The calculator was laid out first. There are many reasons why the phone's layout is different. Perhaps the strongest rationale for placing "1" at the top of a touch-tone phone was to make its layout akin to the number layout of the rotary phone.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

If Bush Wins...

Silbakor points to various theorists pondering a world in which Bush gets reelected.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Something Amiss in the AdSense Algorithm


I don't mind sharing in the ad revenue from the Google AdSense program along the top of this page.

So far, I've made $.60 off of people clicking the ads (Please click 'em!). Apparently, they'll send me a check when I get to $100. I guess I'll see that check sometime in 2025.

Anyway, the ad they've put up there now is the first one to turn my stomach. Gotta adjust the settings so that doesn't appear again.

Special Licenses for Drivers of Giant SUVs

Navistar International apparently missed the memo on climate change and has started selling an SUV built from the same platform as the heavy truck maker's typical tow truck or cement mixer. Of course, in releasing an irresponsible vehicle that irresponsible consumers will buy, Navistar's just following the lead of Mercedes Benz's Unimog and the rolling diagnosis that is the Hummer.

It's time for urban & suburban environments to start treating SUV owners like smokers. It's time to force big SUV owners to get commercial drivers licenses.

I'd like to see anyone operating a vehicle with a GVW greater than 5,000 lbs having to go through an extra hoop at the DMV. Such a hoop would 1) potentially lead to more adequately trained SUV drivers and 2) inform these drivers that society is actively discouraging these embarassingly overmassive vehicles.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Who Doesn't Like to Read About Goat Medicine?

Captured by election fever, Sauntering has been a largely humorless place of late; therefore, I feel especially obligated to post the following:

Nonsensical, mocking Amazon book reviews bring a lot of joy. I really enjoy this reviewer's comments regarding the Goat Medicine book.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

My Wife Wants 3 Kids & Just Threw This in My Face

Having been raised in an Ehrlich-influenced, 2.0 child household, I was surprised to read this article, Why we're not having enough babies.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Broad Global Sentiment vs. "Damn the Torpedoes" Republicans

Even Matt Drudge is promoting a University of Maryland survey that shows broad and uniform global support for a Kerry Presidency. 34,330 people were polled in 35 countries, including China, Indonesia, Japan, India, Thailand, France, Germany, Norway, Italy, the Netherlands, Britain, the Czech Republic, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, and Mexico.

Respondents in 32 of the 35 countries prefer Kerry to Bush. The only countries that preferred Bush to Kerry were Nigeria, Poland, and the Philippines.

So, what does this poll mean for November? For that matter, what does broad international discontent with US foreign policy mean for November?

Not much, I suspect.

In response to the global survey, I doubt that the Bush campaign will deny these numbers. They will say that the interests of the world do not necessarily line up with the interests of the United States. Ponder this answer, for it's an important one. Who gains when the world's most powerful country goes it alone? No one.

A handful of Americans don't agree with me on this last point. I'll call this group the "Damn the Torpedoes" Republicans. These are the 5% of the respondents to a poll said that Bush's top priority should be Values. The other choices were The War in Iraq, National security, and The economy -- and these people chose Values.

The din of NO BUSH will increase in the next 60 days, and I think Kerry will win in November -- but I don't think he'll win by convincing a single one of these hardened Bush supporters. They're in too deep.

Though each passing day brings more and more information to bear that suggests this Bush World is a dystopian fantasy, I doubt there's a shred of evidence indicting the Bush presidency that could sway Bush's torpedo core from its position.

For you budding social psychologists out there, torpedo support for the Bush campaign is approaching a study in intransigence.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Fear: Why This Election is So Meanspirited

People frequently quote or paraphrase FDR's inauguration address, but they choose to look at only one line. If they quoted a longer section, we'd be familiar with how the quoted line ends.

And we'd have a clue as to why the run-up to this election is so cantankerous.

I am certain that my fellow Americans expect that on my induction into the Presidency I will address them with a candor and a decision which the present situation of our people impel. This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory.

-- Franklin D. Roosevelt
To watch or listen to the RNC was to receive detailed instruction in fear: Fear the terrorists. Fear weakness. Fear the passive Democrats.

To watch or listen to the DNC was to receive detailed instruction in fear: Fear the reelection of this administration. Fear our further decline. Fear the Republicistas.

Sometimes moments of fear elevate one's character and sharpen the clarity of one's resolve. ...but that's momentary fear, the fear of fight or flight that arrives and departs in barely a moment.

When people are subjected to the kind of fear that has gripped our political parties during this election cycle, their sensibilities change, their judgment is impaired, their ability to change their attitudes is restricted.

I'm mortified at the prospect of Bush's reelection, but I'm much more afraid of what fear is doing to us all. When I watch Zell Miller completely flip his lid on air, when I hear of Republicans booing an ailing Bill Clinton, I feel as if fear is contributing to a radical breakdown in the machinery of social discourse.

The sooner this nation starts diagnosing its own fear, the sooner it will begin developing strategies to deal with this fear.