Friday, June 24, 2011

It's dumb and you're dumb for liking it.

Fellow nerds, I need your attention.

Actually, I need everyone's attention. But for reasons I'll lay out, you're my main audience.

I need you to tell you something important, something that you should in turn teach others. It's a great lesson in being a cool person, and it goes like this: "Let people have their stupid thing."

Now let me explain what I mean.

If someone you know likes to play video games, board games, live action role playing games, fantasy football, actual football, collect clothespins, shoot guns (at targets), watch Doctor Who/Firefly/professional sports/reality TV . . . in short, if someone you know likes doing something that's not harming them or anyone else, let them have it. Don't crap all over it just because you don't happen to like that thing. Accept that their amusement is not the result of some vile corruption inside them, but just a preference.

Nerds, here's why this is especially important to you. As a natural enthusiast, you've probably been highly subject to negativity from people (by which I mean *ssholes) who don't understand the objects of your obsession. If you've had time to get well clear of high school, you know by now that those people were wrong, and too boring to understand you. If you're not free of school yet, memorize the previous sentence and bind it to your heart.*

But if you've known that burden, you need to be especially sensitive toward it. What you don't need to do is repeat the mistakes of others, calling out fellow nerds for being ever so slightly nerdier than you. If you don't get it, aren't into it, or can't see what's so great about it, then just let it go. Everybody's got some stupid thing they like. Just let them have it. Support their right to enjoy their leisure time.

*With a sonic screwdriver.

Friday, June 17, 2011

I bite my thumb.

I can't watch Hamlet anymore.

It's good, I like it. It's got sword fighting, political and social intrigue, a ghost-all sorts of hooks. And the writing ain't bad either. And as I said, I like Hamlet.

I liked it when I read it in high school, and in freshman English during college. After I read it each year of college thereafter, though, I was getting a little tired of it. And now I'm done. No more. The man wrote other plays, let's move on. The only way I'd watch Hamlet again is if you do something completely crazy with it.

Generally speaking, I think it's weird whenever someone decides to do Shakespeare with a clever spin, like setting it in modern times. Those plays are remembered for their dialog, so either you drop the best part completely, or you leave it sticking out like an anachronistic sore thumb.

But with Hamlet, I'll give some leeway. Go nuts.* Same story, but Hamlet's played as a woman, all the actors are over 75, and the whole thing is set on Mars. Have at it. How about all the characters are superheros, and Hamlet's dad appears in the form of a giant spider? And it's underwater.

*Oh wait, someone already did.

Friday, June 10, 2011

I just wanted to watch a movie

Years ago, I thought that home theaters were the one gadget-y thing I'd never understand. Wrapping my head around different combinations of TV, receiver, and device settings gave the pit of my stomach the same feeling it gets when I try to learn a foreign language or musical instrument—both vast depths of tedium that give me cognitive vertigo.

Then the time came when I actually needed a receiver, and after working with it for a while I realized something: It's not that home theater setup is complex, it's that a particular rig only really makes sense to the person who set it up. Someone else could learn the basics, like how to switch between the PS3 and Wii, but trying to explain the intricacies (like, for instance, how you can hook up a PC to my home theater by setting the TV to HDMI2 and the receiver to VIDEO 3, then uncoiling the spare HDMI cable and attaching the DVI con . . . see I've already lost you.) is a fools errand. Running someone else's home theater is like trying to use someone else's brain, which as we know always ends with "dude, can't handle it."

But although I now have a much better grasp of A\V equipment, one mystery persists*: why do receivers have to be so hot? What, exactly, about the process of routing video and audio signals requires a device that operates at three thousand degrees, on average? You may not realize, but the #2 most popular reason people buy new receivers, right behind "still don't have enough inputs, somehow," is currently listed as "Old receiver got so hot that it glowed red, melted through my floor, then through the earth below, and continued down until it hit groundwater. A plume of steam shot out of the new hole in my living room, which according to the manual's troubleshooting guide means that my old receiver is gone forever."

*Actually two, if you count "Why does the Nintendo Wii have to be 5 times louder than any other device?"

Friday, June 3, 2011


Conflicts are a natural part of daily life, and often arise even when different parties are working toward the same goal. Though the following exercise, you'll learn techniques to resolve conflicts in the most efficient manner possible, while still getting exactly what you wanted without compromising at all. Simply follow the steps below to begin working through your differences.

1-Find a Mediator

Not all conflict resolutions require a mediator, but they can be useful tools. A good mediator is someone who's already on your side, or who has a close personal attachment to you that will sway his or her judgement.

2-Choose a time

You can begin a conflict resolution session at almost any time, but the best choices are when the other person will be caught off guard.* Think about how the other person is feeling, and try to pick a time when he or she will be stressed, hungry, or sleepy.

3-Voice Your Feelings

Take a moment to determine the nature of your conflict. You will find that most disagreements can be summarized as one person (Person A) wanting a certain thing, and another person (Person B) not wanting that thing. Once you've determined which person is which, proceed with the following steps

Person A: Turn to person B, and say "yuh-huh."

Person B: Consider person A's point, and reply with "nuh-uh."

Continue in this way, going back and forth, until one person gets tired and gives up. The person who does not give up is declared the "winner," and gets to have his or her way.

With the conflict resolved, you may now proceed to enjoy your temporary sense of superiority. The winning party should keep in mind that losing parties are free to pursue conflicts further, usually by going ahead and doing whatever it was they wanted to do anyway.

*"Can't this at least wait until I'm washing my hands?"