star-trek“Babe, there’s something I need to tell you,” I said to Kate as we sat down for lunch. “Mmmhhhhmm?” she said, her eyes looking over the menu. “Anything important?” she inquired, paying more attention on trying to figure out what to order than what I was saying. “A little,” I said, adding: “you might get mad at me.” At that, she looked up at me. I saw her mind began to put it together. Asking her to go lunch in a public place, where we could “talk,” so she wouldn’t create a scene. “Wha…what do you need to tell me?” she asked. I took a deep breath. “Kate,” I said. “I’m a Star Trek nerd.”

Kate’s mouth dropped open and her eyes widened as tears began to form. “I knew it!” She yelled, slamming her fist down on the table—rattling the place settings and silverware. Obviously, the girl had no qualms about making a scene. People began to turn and watch. Kate bent down low and spoke in a harsh whisper. “I told you when we got together that I could only handle dating a man obsessed with one science fiction franchise,” she hissed. “You said that it was Star Wars. I wore that Princess Leia gold bikini for you!

“I like Star Wars too,” I replied. That seemed to make things worse. “You lied to me!” She moaned before burying her head into her hands. “I didn’t mean to,” I said. “I used to be into it as kid. My parents took me to see Voyage Home (the one with Whales) in the theater and I watched TNG with my Dad. But I thought I grew out of it.”

“Wait…” said Kate, “what’s ‘TNG’?” I paused, knowing that she wouldn’t like the answer. “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” I said. “Dear God,” she muttered, “you’re already speaking in anagrams.” After a few minutes of staring at our drinks in silence, Kate spoke again: “So how did you realize that you didn’t outgrow it?”

“The trailer for the new J.J. Abram’s reboot,” I said. “It looks so amazingly awesome. I can’t wait to see it.”

“Who’s J.J. Abrams?” she asked.

“He’s the creator of the TV shows Alias and Lost. He also directed Mission Impossible: III and created Cloverfield—that Godzilla like monster movie that…”

“Shut-up, nerd!” Kate screamed.

It seems that one of the worst thing you can call someone is a Star Trek (or Star Wars) nerd. The connotation is simple: you dress up in as character as you wait in line to see horrible movies created just to make you pay to see them (Star Wars) or go to conventions to pay money for cheap crap as “memorabilia.” These people deserved to be pointed out and mocked. As such.

How did this happen? Both franchises were meant to inspire and get people to imagine the possibilities of the future—to see what adventures science can eventually take us (humanity) on. It used to be that if you were a Star Trek fan that meant you ended up working for NASA as a rocket scientist or that you wanted to be an astronaut. Instead, losers and outsiders adopted the mythology and hero worship of a fictional universe to create common ground amongst themselves and thus form their own sense of community. The hardcore Star Trek fans who wear Vulcan ears, learn to speak Klingon, and get into raging debates about the childhood of Captain Picard, betray everything the franchise stands for. They’re not real Star Trek nerds. They’re posers

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octupletsLast week, when it first broke that a woman in California had given birth to Octuplets, I didn’t give it much attention. Such matters are the hard-hitting news to be reported by major network morning shows (in between segments in which the “newscasters” gossip about last night’s episode of the latest reality show). But then certain facts about the mother began to leak out to the press and I couldn’t help but take an interest. Within just a few days after the January 26th birth, reports were coming out that not only was she an unemployed single mother living with her parents who had gotten pregnant through in vitro fertilization, but that she had previously given birth to six other children, who were all also conceived via in vitro fertilization. Her own mother described the woman to the Associated Press as being “obsessed with kids” and said that “instead of becoming a kindergarten teacher or something, she started having them.”

My own personal theory: she wants to break her kids into two basketball teams, including one on each side to be designated a coach, and play one another in a yearly best of seven match up. They can also be a baseball team with three pitchers and a designated hitter. Now, we know the real reason for all this madness—it’s the same reason that most people seem to do anything in this country—fame.

I don’t blame her. It’s pretty well known that if you cross that point of sanity in regards to the number children you have, for a non-Mormon at least, the reward is your own TV show on TLC (Exhibit A and Exhibit B) or at least a lifetime supply of free diapers from Huggies. Usually, I don’t like to judge people on how the raise their kids, just like I wouldn’t want to be judged on how I raise mine. But I have to say, even though she’s in the process of getting her masters degree, this woman is an idiot. Which brings up my most recent observation: stupid people are breeding too much.

You ever notice how the people who argue that professional wrestling is entertaining, i.e. morons, are more likely have a whole troop of children and the smartest person you’ve ever met, e.g. a Nobel winning physicist, will generally only have two at the most? I’m not saying that everyone is as smart as their parents. My mother’s a genius who graduated from an Ivy League and is a Jeopardy champion, whereas I think the new live action G.I. Joe movie looks like it’ll be awesome (Did you see my man Snake-Eyes in the commercial?!). It’s just that if you’re raised by people who have no intellectual curiosity and vote on the presidential candidate they’d most like to have a beer with, well then you’re more likely to have the same standards both for your self-education and electoral decisions.

My big fear is that Mike Judge’s movie Idiocracy was right about us having reached this point in our society where survival of the fittest no longer prevents morons from out numbering everyone else and thus gaining control. It’s all evolution (which if you refer to as a “theory,” guess what you are?). And with intelligent people having fewer children and dumb-asses having more and more, it’s only a matter of time before the entire country is filled the sort of people who not only think they hear Muslim proselytizing in a video game’s baby mumbling, but take it away from their children because of it (I remember when I was 12 and converted to Sufism because I thought I heard “Sufism is the way” in Super Mario 64—but it then it turned out to be “It’s a me, Mario!”).

Luckily I have a two part solution: Step 1) Massive orgies of unprotected (though thoroughly screened for STD’s) sex amongst nerds and geeks. NASA, I’m looking your way. Step 2) The introduction of natural predators into the moronic underbelly of America. Tigers let loose at NASCAR events. Chimpanzees, armed with knives, released in theatres showing Vin Diesel movies. Or, you know, people could start reading more…or something.

So yesterday, I was involved in a conversation which led to the other person reciting a rather long winded explanation of the biological purpose for the padding on dogs’ feet (don’t ask me how we got to it, it just sort of happened). To which I responded in my usual sarcastic tone, “Gee, thanks Mr. Wizard.” It wasn’t a particularly good burn (in fact the person I was talking to was a woman and even pointed out that “shouldn’t it be Mrs. Wizard?”) but it cracked open something inside me.

It was a perfect Proustian moment. You know, when you see or smell something that reminds brings up a flood of memories. Suddenly, I was eight-years-old, sitting on the floor in front of the television with a bowl of cereal in my lap, watching “Mr. Wizard’s World” just before school.

If you’re  unfamiliar with it, the concept of show was simple—Don Herbert, that’s Mr. Wizard, would demonstrate basic scientific principles through cool experiments that you could do at home, very often with a young assistant ohhh-ing and ahhh-ing next to him. And although not too a lot of episodes were produced (all of them in the early 1980’s), Nickelodeon ran them ad nauseam for years afterwards. Here’s a promo to help you get an idea:

And as I was running the show through my head, I came to the realization that it was a bit inappropriate. To make the show seem, I assume, more personal or prove that the kids really could do the experiments on their own—it was set in what appears to be Mr. Wizard’s house. He would show Little Bobby, in his basement lab without any other adult supervision, how to light a match directly under a balloon without popping it. I try to imagine what my father would say if I’d come home one day and told him that a nice old man who lived down the block was showing me “science experiments” in his basement—I’m pretty sure that there would be an eyebrow or two raised, followed by a call to the police.

Now, I’m not saying that Mr. Wizard was a pedophile, by all accounts he was just a nice guy who liked teaching science to kids, but his method does seem odd. It’s probably why his successors, Beakman’s World and Bill Nye the Science Guy, did their shows in elaborate studios. You also have to wonder about the precedent that the show set in the minds of its viewers: how many children got into windowless vans because they actually wanted to learn how to get a hardboiled egg into a bottle without touching either one?

Maybe I’m just imagining it. It seems that we’re automatically suspicious of all males, specifically their sexual intentions, now. Maybe a by-product of an over-sexed culture is that we believe all men think about is sex, that even the nicest guy has the ulterior motive of “getting laid.” It’s a shame that we can’t give people the benefit of a doubt, but of course it’s in that doubt that real pedophiles hide. Maybe it’s a good thing that I we’re suspicious of men like Mr. Wizard—it keeps us vigilant for real child molesters. Now, that Mr. Rogers was a strange one too. What kind of grown man keeps a whole room filled with puppets and a train set that goes through the wall?