Thursday, February 03, 2005

 

Nerd porn

Yesterday, my partner B picked up the mail and announced that I had received my January 2005 issue of Chess Life Magazine. The following dialogue ensued:
B (reading the magazine cover): "U.S. Women's Team 2004 Chess Olympiad."
ME: No kidding! I hope there are pictures!
No, I wasn't being facetious. It's something I blurted out before the internal editor had time to kick in. Lest you think I'm a moron, rather than, say, a sexist jerk, please be advised that there are in fact several babes among the nation's top chess players, who by the way captured the first ever medal won by U.S. women at a World Chess Olympiad.

Check out Rusa Goletiani (click on this link and scroll down), a Woman Grand Master whose 2348 rating positions her to crack the list of the 100 top players in the world. To put that rating into some perspective, the top U.S. Chess player is currently rated around 2700, whereas an average tournament player who is probably good enough to kick your ass would be rated 1500-1600.

I wouldn't kick Anna Zatonskih and her 2462 rating out of my chess club for eating crackers. Anna, I'll have you know, kicked some serious butt at the Olympiad by smacking down the Nimzo-Indian defense (classical variation).

I gave up tournament chess playing back when I was sixteen, because I needed to devote my energy to asking out girls and trying to work up the courage to kiss them good night. My membership to the United States Chess Federation, and with it, my subscription to Chess Life and Review (as it was then called) lapsed. I won't tell you how many years passed between my previous issue and my renewed subscription with its kickoff January 2005 issue -- let's just call it a low(ish) two-figure sum.

Gawking geeks

The association of ideas leads me to mention that I experienced my first major spike in blog hits this week. This was due to receiving a link from UserFriendly.org. UserFriendly, which announces that it has been "impairing productivity since 1997," is a comic strip in the Dilbert vein, and the web site is both a platform for the strip and an online community for geeks.

I had about 130 hits the day of the link, which was kind of nice. But apparently the geeks just kind of hit and ran my site, finding little of interest. My average time per hit was driven down from 2:00 to 1:00 minute. And somehow, my number of hits has plateau'd at a lower level than before the spike. Oh, the mysteries of blogging.

Would geeks be interested in "nerd porn"? In fact, are the terms "nerd" and "geek" synonymous? Please help me out with this.

According to the American Heritage online dictionary, "nerd" means:
1. A foolish, inept, or unattractive person. 2. A person who is single-minded or accomplished in scientific or technical pursuits but is felt to be socially inept.
whereas "geek" means:
1a. A person regarded as foolish, inept, or clumsy. b. A person who is single-minded or accomplished in scientific or technical pursuits but is felt to be socially inept. 2. A carnival performer whose show consists of bizarre acts, such as biting the head off a live chicken.
So, according to the dictionary, a "geek" is a "nerd" who bites off the head of live chickens on the side. I'm not sure I buy that. I think we need to hear from the geeks themselves...



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