Archive for October, 2008

Zombies
October 31, 2008

Ask a group of geeks to go protest in the streets in favor of human rights, peace, or even privacy issues, and they’ll decline. For them, the best form of organized protest is an ineffective and totally made-up boycott. However, ask the same people to show up somewhere dressed like zombies and they’ll not only heed this urgent call but make sure they put nothing less than 100% effort into it. They will call their friends to participate, get the word out, take photos, and provide a lot of coverage and commentary on the event. Nothing provides a bigger amusement than shocking and making fun of the mundanes by all coming out and dressing up like zombies at the same time in a coordinated effort. Things that could make a difference? Less so.

While zombies were once an element for biting social commentary against consumerism and blind acceptance, they have evolved into the poster monsters for consumerism and blind acceptance. In the comic book world, Marvel comics addressed the issue of its most die-hard fans being referred to as “Marvel zombies” by releasing Marvel Zombies, a comic series in which the standard superheroes are now animated maggot-ridden half-decayed corpses. Surprising nobody, the fans have eagerly purchased the original comics (there is now a third series in the making) as well as the vast array of associated merchandise. You might think that nobody in their right mind would want a $100 statue of zombie versions of Spider-Man and Mary Jane, but you would be wrong.

In fact, the comics world is absolutely flooded with zombie-related comics, with the premiere title being Image Comics’ The Walking Dead, in which it’s been revealed that “the zombies…they’re us!” for over fifty issues now. Every month a new zombie-related comic comes out to fill the seemingly insatiable desire by geeks to read about shuffling corpses that can’t speak. The zombie-fascinated geek can read these, play any of the dozens of zombie-themed boardgames, and watch any of several recent zombie movies. It’s only a matter of time before the TV networks begin a serial drama about a zombie plague.

While other classic monsters have engaging and often multiple background stories and versions, zombies are refreshingly simple: they are animated corpses that wish to feed on the flesh of the living. The reasons for the animation and the motivation for the specific diet are seldom explained. Just about any attempt to change zombies in any way (such as making them move quickly instead of shambling around) is seen as a heretical deviation. It’s not surprising geeks have affection for zombies; these creatures are arrested in their existence, unable to change or grow. Geeks feel a oneness with them. And although zombies are frightening to look at, they don’t seem on the surface to be a serious threat, but their numbers and sheer tenacity make them possibly the most sinister killers of all. This is another thing geeks like to think they feel a oneness with; the underestimated lethal threat. Also, zombies desire, above all else, brains.

The truth is, zombies are just about the easiest monsters in the world to “do”. As noted above, one can happily ignore their origins and motivations. they just “are”, which supposedly makes them more scary. A zombie “costume” is pretty much just your standard “hobo” costume, only with fake blood added. For a zombie game you simply throw humans in a town with some guns, and then have zombies run at them until a player does something that makes them “win”. Sometimes in a zombie movie a “cure” is found for the zombies, but usually even if the hero gets away the message is that the zombies will win. Like zombies, the stuff creates itself.

Through zombies, geeks can band together and collectively show their disdain for the “hive mind” and “establishment”, and this is why geeks LOVE zombies.

Hot Food
October 28, 2008

In Cory Doctorow’s young adult geek-indoctrination novel, Little Brother, one of the ways the female geek lead charms the male geek lead is by carrying around her own aerosol mister of super-hot hot sauce. Doctorow, one of the editors of the BoingBoing linkblog and geek icon, knows geeks.

One of the two molecules that geeks adore even above water and oxygen is capsaicin, the substance that gives spicy food its flavor. This is one of the few food-related loves geeks have, because even though they’re extremely picky about things like action figures and videogames, they’ll shove any old junk down their throats.

Hotness is measured in Scoville units, which is great for geeks because it allows them to keep a score when eating, turning any meal into a contest. Not only do Scoville Units give geeks a list of numbers they know even better than the Star Wars timeline, but since an average jalapeƱo pepper has a rating of about 2,500 Scoville Units and a habanero pepper around 100,000 units, it lets them throw around absurdly high numbers to describe their spicy food. Geeks are under the impression that eating a “loco caliente” pepper is the exact equivalent of bench-pressing 400 pounds, and should impress others to the same extent. They will loudly order their Indian food “extra hot” and complain when it’s brought out that it “hardly has any flavor”.

As is so often the case when dealing with geeks, it’s all about quantity and not quality. The amount of heat geeks demand ensures that the heat is the only thing they’re tasting, so it makes no difference if the hot sauce is on chicken, rice, or dog turds. The goal isn’t flavor, it’s making sure everyone else at the table knows you like things really really spicy. They’ll spend an eternity deciding which exotic sushi rolls to order and then smother them in enough wasabi to make the choice utterly meaningless.

While there are also plenty of non-geek hot pepper enthusiasts out there, it’s worth noting that they share the delight in eating food as a physical challenge instead of actual physical exertion.

Hot food is a vector for both pushing more garbage into their gullets and giving everyone around them a chance to be wowed by their eating, so you better believe geeks LOVE hot food.

Libertarianism
October 24, 2008

The Dream City of the Libertarians

The Dream City of the Libertarians

Libertarianism is a political belief that government leaves dirty fingerprints on everything it touches and is best when it does the absolute least. Libertarians oppose all taxes, and have a deep abiding belief in the power of the Free Market and guns. About the only thing they’re interested in having the government do is have an army. By now you should be wondering what the difference is between a Libertarian and a Conservative, and the answer is: Libertarians enjoy smoking pot.

Geeks enjoy being Libertarians for two reasons. First, it allows them to be Conservative without having to belong to one of the two mainstream parties that the regular sheep are part of. Second, it gives them a political party that is just as self-absorbed as they are. Conservatives don’t care if you think they’re selfish pricks. Libertarians wonder why you don’t admire them for it.

Since many geeks are unable to care about or even imagine the existence of the feelings of anyone other than themselves, the fact that Libertarianism ignores the unpleasant reality that we live in a society that requires certain things to function is not a problem to them. As far as geeks are concerned, society is lost anyway since it refuses to respect the geeks as the superior members. (The collapse of society is perfectly fine with the geek since it would allow him to act out his post-apocalyptic fantasies in which he would be a dune-buggy driving, grenade launching warlord, in defiance of all the evidence that demonstrates a more probable outcome.)

Libertarianism assures the white male upper-middle-class geek that he has gotten where he is solely because of his big brain and amazing talent for knowing the entire history of Middle-Earth. It assures him that he is the master of his destiny, the only force responsible for his fate. He owes no favors nor allegiance to anyone else. He is his own ideal. Most geeks reading that paragraph are now re-reading it slower and will soon achieve orgasm.

Of course, the other benefit to Libertarianism is that it doesn’t come with all that religious baggage that the Republicans come with. Geeks love not being Christians (Spoiler!) so the Libertarian Party is a better fit for them. It also doesn’t hurt that since the Libertarians never win anything, they can be an actually reviled minority instead of a pretend one like the Conservatives.

Some famous Libertarians are Penn Jilette, Matt Stone, Trey Parker, Robert Heinlein, Ayn Rand, Matt Drudge, and Howard Stern. Possibly related is the fact that all of the above are also assholes.

A political affiliation where they are the smartest people on Earth and everyone else can go screw themselves? No wonder geeks LOVE Libertarianism!

Sex
October 21, 2008

The stereotype of geeks as lifelong virgins is not entirely accurate. Although there are many geeks who will never know the touch of another person unless they require CPR in the Burger King some day, most geeks are able to find romance and sex, usually with the same hit ratio as everyone else. The romantic prospects of a geek are not limited by his geekdom, they’re limited by the usual factors of attractiveness, personality, and hygiene.

The population of geeks is no longer all-male; great strides have been made towards introducing women to the stock, even if the geek world still largely hates and fears women. Fortunately for geeks there are enough women with either low enough — or high enough — self-esteem to bravely walk among and mate with them, the former in leather and lingerie, which is somehow empowering.

When geeks have sex, they do it loudly, which is not to say that they make a lot of noise during the process, but that they make a lot of noise after the process. A geek that has had sexual congress must make sure the world is aware of this fact and will therefore mention his or her sexual adventures often. It seems that nobody believes the myth of geek chastity more than geeks themselves and thus they feel they must demonstrate to others how that certainly doesn’t apply to them.

For geek men, advertising their prowess in making it to third starbase and beyond comes in both the usual form of just plain not shutting up about it and the geek-specific form of wearing a t-shirt about it. In addition to “crazy” and “evil” geeks will advertise their “perversity” through obligatory black t-shirts with white writing on them. Those geek women wishing to prove that they “do it” also have some t-shirt options, as well as dressing like prostitutes/comics characters at conventions.

As indicated above, geeks never are content to declare that they merely have sex. Since they must always remain outsiders, ever freaking the mundanes, their sex must be advertised as being preternaturally kinky. Whips and chains are often referenced, as well as animals. What this all means is that at some point in the bedroom one of them was maybe blindfolded or perhaps had their wrists tied with an old cub scout neckerchief.

Despite its prevalence among geeks, having sex is one way they can prove themselves to be alpha geeks, much closer to being one of the normal people that they supposedly resent. And that’s why geeks LOVE sex.

Canceled TV Shows
October 17, 2008

Geeks will watch just about anything if it’s on television, no matter how awful it may be. And they’ll happily buy whatever merchandise for the show you’d like to sell, they’ll happily quote lines from it, they’ll call it “the best show on television” and they’ll happily write fan fiction about it. But if you really want them to show their interest in and devotion to a show, all you have to do is cancel it. That’s when the geek truly shines.

Sure, they’ll moan and complain and create petitions and mail food to TV companies, but deep in their hearts they are delighted and proud that their beloved show is canceled. This is because geek programs are only canceled for one reason: they were too good for TV. Having his show be canceled validates the geek’s idea that his tastes are far above that of the ignorant, sheep-like masses.

Having a show canceled also has another upside for the geek. If it’s no longer in production, all those meddling writers, producers, actors, and studios can’t “mess it up” for him by having things happen on the show that blatantly contradict the obvious “right way” things would happen, were the geek in charge. It saves him the later trouble of having to declare he’s going to boycott the show (he won’t) because someone on the show did something that was “totally out of character”. It puts the show into a little snowglobe the geek can cradle and protect from the cruel outside world. The geek and his friends now own and control it and it is finally where it belongs, in the hands of the “true fans”.

So there are two main reasons why geeks LOVE canceled TV shows.

Myers-Briggs Personality Tests
October 14, 2008

Geeks love taking tests and quizzes to find out which Stargate character they are, which Dungeons and Dragons alignment they are, or which anime girl is their perfect soul mate. They can’t get enough of the Beliefnet Belief-o-Matic quiz or the Political compass test. For people who pride themselves on not following the herd, they are second only to teenaged girls in wanting to classify themselves and declare the results to others.

The Myers-Briggs Test, though, is their greatest love. First published in 1962, it is a method of creating a psychological profile by finding where the subject lies on four different pairs of traits. This results in sixteen possible outcomes, four more than the signs of the Zodiac, making the Myers-Briggs test four more scientific than Astrology.

This all plays into the geek’s love of quizzes, science, and “science”, but to really understand the appeal of the Myers-Briggs test to geeks you need to look at one of the sixteen categories in particular. It is referred to as “INTJ”, which means “Introversion, iNtuition, Thinking, Judging”. This is the category that most geeks fall into, even though it supposedly makes up only 2.1% of the population.

Geeks absolutely adore being INTJ, and who wouldn’t? Famous (supposedly) INTJs listed on Wikipedia are Dwight D. Eisenhower, John Maynard Keynes, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Ayn Rand, which is about as representative of geeks as you’re going to get. Also, the description of the INTJ type speaks to geeks on many different levels:

INTJs are strong individualists who seek new angles or novel ways of looking at things. They enjoy coming to new understandings. They tend to be insightful and mentally quick; however, this mental quickness may not always be outwardly apparent to others since they keep a great deal to themselves. They are very determined people who trust their vision of the possibilities, regardless of what others think. They may even be considered the most independent of all of the sixteen personality types. INTJs are at their best in quietly and firmly developing their ideas, theories, and principles.

They’re smart, they’re special, they get things done, and they don’t need you.

Which is all fine and would certainly be enough to endear INTJ-ness to geeks in itself, but there’s one more thing about being INTJ that geeks love.

This type is commonly referred to as the “Rational Mastermind“.

A science quiz that lets them call themselves “Rational Mastermind”? This is the pinnacle of hotness for geeks.

And that’s why geeks LOVE Myers-Briggs Personality Tests.

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