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  • Jen-Luc Piquant sez: "They like us! They really like us!"

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Howsabout Gösta Mittag-Leffler or Sonya Kovalevsky? OK, they were mathematicians, but...

Shhh, Jen!

The first rule of Firefly is DON'T TALK ABOUT FIREFLY!

I should add that if you liked Stephenson's Snow Crash, you might like Cryptonomicon, and the Observer help you if you do, but consider reading the whole Baroque Cycle.

Though I had to let my brain cool down for a month or two between books for that last, though the bits with Newton, the Royal Society, Hooke and Leibnitz were pretty great stuff IMO.

And how could you not like a character called Half-Cocked Jack?

By the way, Lt. Commander Ouellette, I think you'd make one hell of a security officer (re: pic). I know *I'm* going to stay out of your way when you're leading a landing party.

BTW, things don't look so good for Mr. Landis tomorrow. Too much testosterone is one thing, but if I understood correctly for there to be "artificial testosterone" present, though I confess that I didn't see which one was said to have been detected. I also saw something about an 11:1
Testosterone/epitestosterone ratio which sounds, um, really, really manly.


Please excuse the poor sentence construction, I'm typing this while I'm on a phone meeting.

I just might be the Jackson Pollock of the English language.


You're not faking it well enough yet. You wrote: "plus [I own] Seasons 1 through 7 of The X Files (once David Duchovny left the show, the series was dead to me"

To properly convey the geek-level scorn for a show with the temerity to carry on without a character you feel defines the show, your sentence should read: "plus [I own] the entire series of The X Files on DVD -- all seven seasons."

And then wait for some hapless fool to "correct" you, so you can scorn him loudly and publically for his weapons-grade stupidity.

I've received some email about how unseemly it was of me to speak so highly of Miss Funicello's admirable qualities (in a past comment). In rebuttal, let me just state for the record that my admiration can not be seen as substantially different than that of our female contingent's dedication to John Cusack.

So there. Or something.

You forgot Emmy Noether...

Oh, and pine no more. Season 1 of 'The Tick' is coming to DVD this month:

OMG, "The Tick" is finally coming to DVD! That just made my weekend. sadly I could not get through "Cryptonomicon" -- I can barely spell it, and the plot never really grabbed me.

Clearly, I shall have to work on setting traps to heap scorn on other geeky wannabes. And ladies, lay off Matt for his Funicello Fetish! True, women could argue that they love Cusack for his Soul, but then how do they explain their fondness for Brad Pitt? Let s/he who is without sin cast the first stone. :)

Jen, You are most welcome as 'security officer' on my fleet anytime you are footloose and fancy free. We don't encounter many alien lifeforms and our remit is to avoid contact remain 'distant' and not interfere with mortals, but the Captain has asked me to inform you he would sure like to have you close by and on his side in any future engagements.

Well, took the quizzes, ended up as 93% nerdy which wasn't a surprise.

However in the Star Trek Quiz, I ended up with 80% Mr. Scott, 80% Will Riker, and 70% Capt. Kirk.

"You are a fun-loving foreigner with an
amazing ability to get any job done on time.
Often described as a 'Miracle Worker'."

On second thought, that does fit. But I ain't no furriner.


Incidentally, I've heard of Mittag-Leffler, but Sonya Kovalesky is a new name to me. I should probably Google her...

Sorry, but Yggdrasil wasn't ported to the PDP-11 because the kernel that it ran wasn't either.

Watch out!


Having just taken it, I don't think the 'How Nerdy Are You?' test is anywhere near good indicator. Possessing a good amount of knowledge in a variety of areas doesn't necessarily make someone a nerd. And there are a number of unasked questions that I'm sure would disqualify me. I'm not even sure what a nerd/geek would be, other than someone who seems to be oblivious to 'current standards' of social behavior, fashion, or 'style'.

High school is such a variable state of change, and I would have to say that I was definitely considered a nerd. This, I think, was due in large part to my being one of the youngest in my class on top of being a very 'late bloomer'. So I didn't enjoy high school. I did my knowledge thing, but other than that, I didn't like it at all.

But that was many, many moons ago, times changed, and tables have turned...

Hi Jen, I'm not to good at faking this geek thing either, and my greek is not as it ought, but let me hazard a guess that if computers run on maths and light >>> then it follows Odin & Thor were most certainly computer literate. Amazing how much computing power & time is spent on make believe, don't you think. After all even the screens, plasma or not, are a trick of the light.
Here's wishing you a great weekend - and looking forward to news of more Taikuondo sesions, other non-contact sports or non-friction physic(al) activities, and more mental aerobics or gymnastics.
PS I don't find you intimidating, I find you scintillating, and I too would much prefer to have you at (on?) my side at any future engagements.

Matt raises an interesting point. Perhaps we should come up with our own nerd/geek quiz, based on personal criteria. Except, as he said, hard to know what that criteria would be. Does a strong sense of individualism automatically make one a nerd? Considering how many of us would probably fit the "late bloomer" description, that's definitely a criteria. :)

Wow, what a tirade about socks and sandals. Personally I hate foot-covering shoes. I can't imagine wearing Docs--people who wear them must have no feeling in their feet. I began wearng socks with my sandals in cold weather, oh, about twenty-five years ago. And it only took one good sunburn to add them in high summer. I never cared about style-nazis like you--if you care about style, then you obviously have none--it's like being hip--but I'm glad to hear the nerds have picked up mine. I always was a trend-setter.

I must protest: I think it far better for a science writer not to be a nerd, geek, or otherwise as defined by the culture of anime and roleplaying games. Why should you be? And in what circles would you need to pretend that you are if it pertains to science writing? Your layman reader won't appreciate it, and as a scientist, I'd much rather deal with someone with a kernel of real understanding and no symbols to wave around.

It's a slight non-sequitur, but Paul Graham's "Why Nerds are Unpopular" ( seem somehow relevant.

And as for sandals with socks: I've lost the habit because I work in a biohazard level 3 laboratory and we're required to have closed in shoes under the big white suit, but what's wrong with it? Especially if you're on the trail, a light layer of fabric will prevent a lot of contusions and abrasions .

HE, said tirade was very much tongue-in-cheek, although I am delighted to be pegged a "style-nazi", given all those years being derided as a fashion victim. That said, sandals and socks are a definite no-no. Incidentally, it's not enough simply not to care about being hip -- you still have to actually BE hip, you know. :)

As for being on a trail -- sandals are not sensible footwear for a woodland hike. Invest in a decent pair of hiking boots and Smart Wool socks, which wick moisture away to keep feet dry and cool. There are also specially designed mesh "breathable" hiking shoes, if you're looking for even more comfort. Any local REI store would carry these items, and they are well worth the investment.

Jen, I'm so proud of you! You're a bigger nerd than I am AND you kick ass! I only came in at 72%, done in, no doubt by my scorn of gaming and the Apple fetishists. And speaking of fetishes--Squid porn? Direct PZ Myers here:

BTW, I'm all for the calendar.

Once at a technical conference I was standing on the mezzanine balcony overlooking the main action, taking a break. Two female hotel workers were standing 10 or 15 feet away from me, also looking down upon the assembled geek throngs. "Did you see what all the women down there are wearing?" one snickered to the other. "Skirts with Bass sandals! Har har har!" Naturally I was wearing a skirt and Bass sandals. Maybe wearing socks with them would have made things better.

For what it's worth, I scored 94% on the quiz.

Alison, I, too, have been the victim of women's ridicule at my fashion sense, going all the way back to junior high. And not just from strangers. Once, I met a pal at a cafe in NYC's East Village. She looked me up and down and then said, "Can I ask you something? When you left the house this evening... what the hell were you thinking?" She meant well, and because of her, I try to pay attention to little details like, oh, coordinating colors, and appropriate footwear. :)

Okay, my friend was just trying to help. But when strangers do it? They're clearly threatened and insecure....

I didn't hate high school exactly. I was sent to military school, and while it certianly wasn't pleasent in the traditional sense, I did get an immense amount of satisfaction from not fitting in there, and yet still succeeded in besting my classmates in pretty much all measurable indicators.

I have to assume that it indicates a fair amount of nerdiness that I somewhat enjoyed not fitting in.

I've been tempted to wear sandals with socks, especially since I seem to be unable to escape a new pair without getting a blister somewhere on my foot. But there is a happy medium between a patchwork of Band-Aids and full flaunting of nerditude: the foot tube!

Yes, ever since I discovered these stretchy spandex cylinders I have been able to avoid fashion faux pas and still be able to walk home in my sandals at the end of the day. There *is* a third way.

Jen-Luc, I got the same score as you, no faking, but I remember taking a different geek test when I was in school and you had to list the physical constants that you knew by heart (and their values of course), that gave me lots of pleasure...e and pi and h and h-bar while we're at it, electron mass and charge, proton mass, G, it made me very happy to take that one....socks and sandals are fine with me, I think it is cute when people do not care if they look ridiculous. I aspire to be just like that. Once in Vegas I was walking through a casino with my beau, we were both physics grad students at the time, wearing our birkenstocks, and 2 cleaning men leaning against the wall starting humming a Dylan tune as we walked by, can't remember which one, but they were definitely laughing at us, the new hippies, and it made me laugh. I adore not caring what other people think (it's kinda rare).

Ok - RPG - you've got to try Neverwinter Nights, actually a new one is coming out in September so you might want to wait. It is the coolest game and I've never played computer games ever. Once you are a high enough level wizard or soceress (sp??) and if you've chosen your affiliation wisely (i.e. are able to craft armor) you can spend a million gold pieces on turning your awesomely powerful magic robes into string bikinis. Ideally you've chosen the appropriate body type for the gear. Then you can watch yourself running around taking care of business looking totally adorable. It was addicting, even though I haven't played in months I still have fond memories, and times when I'm going about my life and one of my characters lines will come into my head, with her voice (por ejemplo, "my attack did nothing??!" in a breathy low voice) and no matter how crabby I am it makes me laugh...

I am such a poser that I complain about Stephenson not being able to end books without actually having made it to the end of a single Stephenson book. (Sort of a self-fulfilling poser prophecy.) **Cryptonomicon** palled on me; I picked up a friend's copy on an idle summer day perfect for reading, but I never felt compelled to tie up the nonlinearities and finish the gorram thing.

Now, **Gravity's Rainbow**, on the other hand. . . .


I took the test and scored a 92% on the first try without attempting to fake anything, but I can't help but wonder if my honesty on things like cleanliness, my tendency to have a low GPA (largely due to laziness when it comes to homework), and biohazard signs (can't see how a 14-year old's bedroom decoration makes you nerdy) might've hindered my overall performance as a true nerd. My opinion on the matter would be that a true nerd would know the stereotypes and defy them so they could claim their way of doing things was superior and non-conformist since they "obviously" know better than the typical nerd-like masses.

On the subject of sandals: I wouldn't be caught dead wearing them. They're good for taking clothes to the laundry room, but I find myself in the elevator hoping to avoid other people in the building so they can't see me in this vulnerable state. Just in case, I have some excuse ready to defend my appearance and will make sure that they understand this is only the unavoidable result of doing chores.

I suppose this may be why I feel so at home in San Francisco with most of the other "hip geeks" in the nation. Since the nerds are so populous in these parts, there tends to be a lot of competition and not a lot of room for the socially-inept breed to strive. Most of my hipster friends, however, don't seem to know much of anything more advanced than Photoshop, Illustrator, and Flash.

FYI: I bumped into your blog via SEED's Daily Zeitgeist and have found your posts entertaining and far more readable than the ordinary discussions on Boltzmann’s Anthropic Brain and Wikipedia's esoteric entry on black bodies. I believe it's time for me to do some reading on Quantum Cats.

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    Physics Cocktails

    • Heavy G
      The perfect pick-me-up when gravity gets you down.
      2 oz Tequila
      2 oz Triple sec
      2 oz Rose's sweetened lime juice
      7-Up or Sprite
      Mix tequila, triple sec and lime juice in a shaker and pour into a margarita glass. (Salted rim and ice are optional.) Top off with 7-Up/Sprite and let the weight of the world lift off your shoulders.
    • Listening to the Drums of Feynman
      The perfect nightcap after a long day struggling with QED equations.
      1 oz dark rum
      1/2 oz light rum
      1 oz Tia Maria
      2 oz light cream
      Crushed ice
      1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
      In a shaker half-filled with ice, combine the dark and light rum, Tia Maria, and cream. Shake well. Strain into an old fashioned glass almost filled with crushed ice. Dust with the nutmeg, and serve. Bongos optional.
    • Combustible Edison
      Electrify your friends with amazing pyrotechnics!
      2 oz brandy
      1 oz Campari
      1 oz fresh lemon juice
      Combine Campari and lemon juice in shaker filled with cracked ice. Shake and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Heat brandy in chafing dish, then ignite and pour into glass. Cocktail Go BOOM! Plus, Fire = Pretty!
    • Hiroshima Bomber
      Dr. Strangelove's drink of choice.
      3/4 Triple sec
      1/4 oz Bailey's Irish Cream
      2-3 drops Grenadine
      Fill shot glass 3/4 with Triple Sec. Layer Bailey's on top. Drop Grenadine in center of shot; it should billow up like a mushroom cloud. Remember to "duck and cover."
    • Mad Scientist
      Any mad scientist will tell you that flames make drinking more fun. What good is science if no one gets hurt?
      1 oz Midori melon liqueur
      1-1/2 oz sour mix
      1 splash soda water
      151 proof rum
      Mix melon liqueur, sour mix and soda water with ice in shaker. Shake and strain into martini glass. Top with rum and ignite. Try to take over the world.
    • Laser Beam
      Warning: may result in amplified stimulated emission.
      1 oz Southern Comfort
      1/2 oz Amaretto
      1/2 oz sloe gin
      1/2 oz vodka
      1/2 oz Triple sec
      7 oz orange juice
      Combine all liquor in a full glass of ice. Shake well. Garnish with orange and cherry. Serve to attractive target of choice.
    • Quantum Theory
      Guaranteed to collapse your wave function:
      3/4 oz Rum
      1/2 oz Strega
      1/4 oz Grand Marnier
      2 oz Pineapple juice
      Fill with Sweet and sour
      Pour rum, strega and Grand Marnier into a collins glass. Add pineapple and fill with sweet and sour. Sip until all the day's super-positioned states disappear.
    • The Black Hole
      So called because after one of these, you have already passed the event horizon of inebriation.
      1 oz. Kahlua
      1 oz. vodka
      .5 oz. Cointreau or Triple Sec
      .5 oz. dark rum
      .5 oz. Amaretto
      Pour into an old-fashioned glass over (scant) ice. Stir gently. Watch time slow.