P. H. Cordner

Your Mileage May Vary

In Nonsense on October 28, 2009 at 21:49

Indie rockers and Wes Anderson have indirectly made nerds a group of some not insignificant veneration. While no one would contend that indie rockers or Max Fischer are nerds per se, they have some commonality to the nerd that has certainly transfered. Nerds are often quiet, soft-spoken, and insightful, like so many Shins songs. So are we to assume that nerd society is a utopian social order, operating on enlightened principles?

Short answer: Not really. There is, for example, a method by which nerds establish a pecking order, and while not the physical brutality of the less-brained castes, it can be just as vicious. We will often value our nerdiness by how much we pay attention to the X-per-Y values of our nerd stuff, gigabytes per disk, lumens per watt, gallons per flush. Consider, for example, the manner in which I described a recent car trip to my associate A. Zaglaras: “I had an average speed of 64 miles per hour, and thanks to some aerodynamic assistance from our nation’s tractor trailer fleet, made over 34 miles per gallon.” Never mind that this drive was along I-65 from Merrillville to West Lafayette, quite possibly the most boring hour and a half you could spend driving.

When you get into the world of computers, though, is when the nerds start to resemble an antisocial Darwinist landscape. Take for example, the discussion of computer operating systems. The 3 camps are rife for conflict. Windows users are games-addicted dorks, Mac users are rich, snob dorks, and Linux users are simply mega-dorks of the highest dorkitude. A cursory glance at slashdot discussions will show the ruthlessness these OS camps show as they battle for dork supremacy. However, the broad strokes of OS choice are simply not the end of this divisive tribalism.

Witness, for example, the GNOME vs. KDE rivalry. For the initiate, GNOME and KDE are graphical frontends for the Linux operating system, the programs responsible for things like windows, taskbars, the desktop, and a whole host of other graphical things. The main differences: GNOME is all about simplicity, and KDE delivers a more modern, polished environment. Each has a separate suite of default applications, as well. To the casual observer, they are different operating systems. This rivalry really only gets bitter between those mega-nerds, and especially those under the age of 18. I must admit though, any 16-year-old who uses Linux seems pretty cool in my book. So what if he calls my KDE desktop “a bloated, shiny, slow, pale imitation of Aqua for morons, with a shitty web browser (Konqueror)” at least he knows his business. The rivalry also produces this, the number one Google hit for “GNOME vs. KDE,” a nigh-unreadable feature in the style of a boxing match or Slow-Mo Sports. As a Linux  user myself, I will weigh in with this point: I think the Penguin mascot is pretty lame.

So  you see then, nerds are just as nasty as everyone else. We’re just smarter and have bad luck with the girls.

  1. I tried to read that link, and made it 30 seconds. Also, here is this: http://www.skybound.ca/

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