A collection of findings, feelings, and favorite things.

A book of the bookish

Anita : May 18, 2010 12:35 pm : blog, news

Reviewed by A.J. Jacobs, Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)

When I was assigned this review, the editor wrote me a note: “I hope you don’t take offense at this, but your name sprang to mind as a reviewer for a book on nerds.”

I probably qualify as a nerd because, among other things, I wrote a book about reading the encyclopedia — an activity that’s up there on the dorkiness scale with speaking Elvish over ham radio.

But take offense? Not at all.

Perhaps in high schools where quarterbacks still sit atop the social hierarchy, the word “nerd” continues to damage egos. But in adulthood, it’s lost much of its sting. In fact, we live in a golden age of nerd-dom. As David Brooks pointed out in the New York Times last month, self-confident nerds are taking over culture: the Google founders, even Barack Obama, who can be seen as the nerdy alternative to President Bush’s swaggering jock.

And now, as with any movement, the geek crowd has gotten its own cultural history, in Benjamin Nugent’s entertaining and intelligent American Nerd. Nugent begins with his definition of the nerd. Nerds, he writes, are people who remind others of machines. They aren’t quite robots, but they aren’t quite human either. They are passionate about a technical topic, they speak in formal English, they favor logic over emotion, and they avoid confrontation.

The word “nerd” was coined by Dr. Seuss in his 1950 book If I Ran the Zoo, in which he wrote “I’ll sail to Ka-Troo, and bring back an IT-KUTCH, a PREEP, and a PROO, a NERKLE, a NERD, and a SEERSUCKER, too!” The word seeped into the culture, first popping up on college campuses, then via TV shows such as “Happy Days” and “Saturday Night Live.” But the nerd archetype has been around since at least the 19th century, long before any human uttered the N-word. The roots, says Nugent, can be traced to the rise of industrialism and the “romantic reaction against science/machinery.” Culture began to embrace a “perceived split between sensuality and reason.” Smart and sexy drifted apart. more »

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Flirting for Nerds 101

Anita : May 5, 2010 3:06 pm : blog, events, news


Rebecca Steinmetz is a woman after my own heart.  She’s a sex educator in Chicago and has been leading Flirting for Nerds workshops since 2004.  I actually attended a workshop at Early to Bed back when I lived in Chicago and found it very useful.  She’s a nerd herself, so she knows how we elusive creatures think.

What you can expect to learn during the workshop:

  1. How to make that special person feel special.
  2. Your passion is attractive.  Own your nerdiness.
  3. How to start a conversation, keep it going, and end it so that you can pick it up again.
  4. How to read body language.
  5. And a whole section on “How Not To Be That Creepy Guy.”  —  Thank you, Rebecca, for performing this very important public service.

Sign up to attend if you’re in the area or just have a listen to the interview by Chicago Public Radio’s Eight Forty-Eight for some remote advice.

And, Rebecca, if you’re listening, I think I’m ready for Flirting for Nerds 102.

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Stick it to me!

Anita : January 30, 2010 10:00 am : blog, events, the arts

Our new stickers will arrive just in time for ChicMeetsGeek!  Get yours while supplies last.

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ChicMeetsGeek San Francisco

Anita : January 30, 2010 9:55 am : blog, events

chic meets geek

ChicMeetsGeek is back and better than before!  Join us at the ultra-chic geek Automattic Lounge at Pier 38 in San Francisco on Thursday, February 4, 2010, to recognize BUILD, a nonprofit social venture, based in Palo Alto, that empowers underprivileged and under-resourced high school students with an education in entrepreneurship.

Indoor boys will be looking to recruit! recruit! recruit!  Know any geeky guys who will be attending?  Send them to me!

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ThinkGeek 8-bit Tie: Trés Chic, C’est Magnifique!

Anita : January 29, 2010 9:20 pm : blog, fashion

I just couldn’t resist posting this. And I think I need one. You can get yours (or send me mine) at ThinkGeek. Each tie is handmade down to the very last 8-bit detail and polyester means it’s stain-resistant. Oh, and it’s a clip-on. What’s not to love?

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I’m loco for Coco!

Anita : January 21, 2010 2:14 pm : blog, honorary indoor boys

Conan O'Brien

Conan O’Brien says he has an abacus at home, but more than that, I bet he actually knows how to use it.  He’s smart, sassy, and classy, but don’t take my word for it.  Read his letter.

People of Earth:

In the last few days, I’ve been getting a lot of sympathy calls, and I want to start by making it clear that no one should waste a second feeling sorry for me. For 17 years, I’ve been getting paid to do what I love most and, in a world with real problems, I’ve been absurdly lucky. That said, I’ve been suddenly put in a very public predicament and my bosses are demanding an immediate decision.

Six years ago, I signed a contract with NBC to take over The Tonight Show in June of 2009. Like a lot of us, I grew up watching Johnny Carson every night and the chance to one day sit in that chair has meant everything to me. I worked long and hard to get that opportunity, passed up far more lucrative offers, and since 2004 I have spent literally hundreds of hours thinking of ways to extend the franchise long into the future. It was my mistaken belief that, like my predecessor, I would have the benefit of some time and, just as important, some degree of ratings support from the prime-time schedule. Building a lasting audience at 11:30 is impossible without both.

But sadly, we were never given that chance. After only seven months, with my Tonight Show in its infancy, NBC has decided to react to their terrible difficulties in prime-time by making a change in their long-established late night schedule.

Last Thursday, NBC executives told me they intended to move the Tonight Show to 12:05 to accommodate the Jay Leno Show at 11:35. For 60 years the Tonight Show has aired immediately following the late local news. I sincerely believe that delaying the Tonight Show into the next day to accommodate another comedy program will seriously damage what I consider to be the greatest franchise in the history of broadcasting. The Tonight Show at 12:05 simply isn’t the Tonight Show. Also, if I accept this move I will be knocking the Late Night show, which I inherited from David Letterman and passed on to Jimmy Fallon, out of its long-held time slot. That would hurt the other NBC franchise that I love, and it would be unfair to Jimmy.

So it has come to this: I cannot express in words how much I enjoy hosting this program and what an enormous personal disappointment it is for me to consider losing it. My staff and I have worked unbelievably hard and we are very proud of our contribution to the legacy of The Tonight Show. But I cannot participate in what I honestly believe is its destruction. Some people will make the argument that with DVRs and the Internet a time slot doesn’t matter. But with the Tonight Show, I believe nothing could matter more.

There has been speculation about my going to another network but, to set the record straight, I currently have no other offer and honestly have no idea what happens next. My hope is that NBC and I can resolve this quickly so that my staff, crew, and I can do a show we can be proud of, for a company that values our work.

Have a great day and, for the record, I am truly sorry about my hair; it’s always been that way.



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Oh, Jon-y boy…

Anita : January 21, 2010 12:09 pm : blog, honorary indoor boys

John Stewart of "The Daily Show"

Be still my heart.  Who knew politics could get my blood a-boiling [in a good way]?  Thank you, Jon Stewart, for turning the heat up and leaving the lights on.

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Stephen Colbert

Anita : January 20, 2010 11:52 am : blog, honorary indoor boys

Stephen Colbert

I Am Crushing on Stephen Colbert and So Can You.

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A Love Poem to Your Brain

Anita : January 19, 2010 2:08 pm : blog, the arts

by Nina Schuyler

I love the deeply layered glial cells lacing together your frontal cortex,
your finely honed axons, dendrites and synapses so you can speak and hear.
The way your amygdala responds so quickly to external stimuli so you, too,
can emote and empathize with your fellow man.
The links between your hypothalamus and somatosensory cortex are so thick,
so numerous, the messages sent so clear.

I could kiss the amount of testosterone flowing through your blood stream,
the estrogen, the progesterone, so you can think like a woman
and hold me like a man.

The lovely rivers of your mind, the dopamine, serotonin and
nonadrenaline, just the right amount for anyone,
I could kiss, kiss them all, all three.

If I made an incision through the hard bone of your skull,
I’m certain I would find a larger than normal inferior parietal lobe
right above the level of your ear,
just like Albert Einstein’s or Galileo’s.

Your brain, your neurotransmitters, your hormonal excretes,
My love, I could not have found a more perfect trio for me.

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