Nerdgassing: I Coin This Word In the Name of Humanity

The word: “Nerdgassing”

Definition: The venting nerds emit when some (often minor) detail of a book/movie/TV show/comic book/etc either conflicts with canon and/or handwaves through some some suspect science.

Example One: “In the third show of the second season of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Data clearly says that the Glorithian flagship was constructed in orbit around that planet Norgar, but then in the fifteenth show of the sixth season, it’s said it was constructed in the Buterian space docks! How do you explain that, hmmm?”*

Example Two: “Ringworld is unstable! Ringworld is unstable!”

Secondary definition: What happens after too many Cheetos and Mountain Dew.

I checked in Google — apparently “nerdgassing” appears nowhere on the Internet. Thus: I coin it! I claim it! Me! Bwa ha ha ha ha!

Feel free to share an example of nerdgassing that you’ve experienced — or even one you’ve instigated — in the comment thread below.

* To ward off any ironic nerdgassing, this first example is fictional and meant to merely show the form of nerdgassing. In neither the third show of the second season of ST:TNG nor in the fifteenth show of the sixth season does Data (or any other character) make mention of the Glorithian flagship, nor to the best of my knowledge is there a Glorithian species in any Star Trek series.

123 thoughts on “Nerdgassing: I Coin This Word In the Name of Humanity

  1. I don’t know if this counts but I have a friend who is quite the gun-nut who compulsively identifies whatever model of firearm shown in the hands of a movie villian/hero and compulsively counts the number of rounds expended and than gets ANGRY if it is too many. Odd that.

  2. I think my reaction to the movie I,Robot could be termed “explosive nerdgassing” – I understand the reasons why the movie couldn’t mirror the contents of the book accurately, but it would have been nice if it had any similarity between itself and Asimov’s robot novels. At all. Even a little. Slightly. Somewhere.

    It’s like they hadn’t even read the book. Ooops, there I go….

  3. Chris:

    Oh, that definitely counts. Nerdgassing is not confined to science fiction and fantasy. There are all sorts of nerds.

  4. Every time I see Mr. Spock smile in “The Menagerie,” I find it difficult to ignore that little inner voice inside all of us that says, “Kill! Kill! Kill!”
    -Larry

  5. Does this include when quibbling seems to be primarily a vehicle for making a personal attack on the author/director/etc?

    I assume that when others argue details or hypotheticals about the nerdgassing that just counts as more nerdgassing.

    What about the more irritating related phenomena where a previous nerdgassing has to be brought up every single time anything even distantly connected to it is mentioned?

    (Digressing, can you have PTSD from USENET?) [joke]

  6. We use the term nerdbomber alot, but I don’t think it has a specific meaning. And I was totally going to believe you about the Butterian space docks and all that.

  7. Star Wars fans: No sound in space, “Han shot first,” 80% of the prequels, etc. etc. They are the masters, bless their whiny little hearts. (I love them anyway – I’m such a masochist.)

    The most hilarious I’ve seen is someone freaking out about the LOTR adaptions because they actually gave Arwen something to do other than sit around and look pretty. I could understand if it had been about the third one, but the first? I don’t see why having her sub for Random Elf #1 and rescue Frodo was such a travesty. The last thing that movie needed was more characters.

    I realize as someone who thought the novels read like a travelogue I’m probably not allowed to have an opinion on such things, but in the realm of book adaption screwups, that is nothing.

  8. Question: how can you tell a nerd is an extrovert?
    Answer: (s)he looks at YOUR shoe when talking to you!
    (This mainly is used on IT tech geeks, but I updated it to fit this premise!)

  9. Every single time I watch a kid’s show with my little sister and they have some cute episode where the characters go into space (as in, “outer space”, not just on some planet or something) and there’s not only sound on their spacewalks but, inexplicably, gravity (Wonderpets, I realize your Flyboat is amazing, but unless my crack Doctor Who/Wonderpets crossover theory is actually correct, it probably can’t generate an artificial gravity field) and occasionally air, I end up pausing the television, turning to my five-year-old sister, and pointing out the problem.

    She has learned to laugh at whichever show has committed the offense this time when I say “there is no X in space” (it’s the “appease the insane person” laugh), but she hasn’t yet reached the point where she instigates the nerdgassing herself. I think that’s a good thing….

    It’s so strange; I can accept a supergenius kid who can build rocket ships with his ordinary best friends out of an amusement park, but then have to navigate said rocket ships through an amazingly dense asteroid belt a la Star Wars, and it sets my teeth on edge. And I can keep silent through talking animals helping out other talking animals that call for help using a tin can, and I can even keep silent through egregious abuses of radio waves, electricity, and, lately, DNA abuse of all stripes, but screw up either “what the world would be like without gravity” (seriously: countries breaking apart according to political boundaries and then floating off into space, taking with them enough atmosphere and gravity to keep everyone on them both on them and alive? What the heck?) or “what it’s like in outer space” and I have to grab the remote.

  10. What do you call it when you defend yourself against nerdgassing? AKA, Dunc’s comment (which I completely agree with).

  11. My name is not the result of my birth certificate, but an attempt to induce nerd-gassing. “OMFG! Did you know you’re named after an interim name of Captain Christopher Pike!?!?!”

    Sadly, the nerds disappointed me, but seem to remember the name of the light crew director during Star Trek’s first two seasons.

    OTOH, I’ve never been burdened with anxiety over Starbuck being a woman on the new BG.

  12. Dunc: Glorfindel is NOT Random Elf #1.

    (He’d at least be #2, after Gildor Inglorion, if we’re going chronologically by appearance.)

  13. My personal hobby-horse is energy weapons with projectile actions. WTF are they doing? Manually working the action on a projectile gun moves the first round from the magazine to the chamber, allowing it to make shooty when you pull the trigger. After that some of the energy from the round is used to work the action. On an energy weapon, you don’t need to do that. You’re basically changing out the batteries when you reload. Don’t get me wrong, I like the sound of a pump action as much as the next guy, but hopefully they’re not making mechanical ray guns in the future. (Unless you’re doing a steampunk movie.)

    /rant

  14. I’m guilty as charged of nerdgassing by Chris’ definition. My wife can’t stand to watch movies with me because I pause DVDs to look at the guns, especially blackpowder weapons. I’ve given up watching movies like “The Patriot” or any of the “Pirates of the Carribean” on her presence. I guess I have a variety of the affliction, let’s call it “DVDpauser syndrome”.
    RANT ALERT…
    Why are these movie guys such lousy shots? They bang away and NOBODY GETS HIT!!! I catch myself yelling at the helpless TV.
    Why do bullets, made of copper and lead, spark when they hit anything???
    How many clips do these guys carry anyway?
    Don’t they EVER go to the range and practice?
    Sorry, I need to go sit in a corner for a while.:(

  15. There’s also “nerdfury,” used (but not coined) by Anthony Bourdain and expressing much the same thing.

  16. Nerdgassing is more than half the fun of consuming mass media.

    (Caveat — I’m a copyeditor. We’re odd.)

    I had a friend complain that the noise given to a propeller plane on an animated show was actually a jet noise. I felt kinda dumb. :-D

  17. My wife and I (X-Files nuts and biochemists) used to have loads of fun pointing out the wild improbabilities with some of the experiments Scully used to do. The science advisor to the X-Files came to give a scientific talk while we were in grad school, and a bunch of people cornered her after the talk and asked how Scully could’ve done a certain experiment in such a short time. On the whole, the X-Files was pretty good with science.

    Alias, on the other hand, we had to stop watching because we spent too much time yelling at the TV.

  18. I’ll admit to nerdgassing occasionally. Especially when movies zoom in on computers running what I call “Hollywood OS” that generic operating system with large fonts and commands like “begin hack” or “upload virus”.

    Hmmm. That is nerdy then I expected once I see in on the page. Well, maybe I should call it nerdd-gassing for a double dose of nerdyness…

  19. Gwen @12 I can keep silent through talking animals helping out other talking animals that call for help using a tin can

    I can’t. I can accept aliens, universal translators, FTL/warp drives, and a complete disregard for the time/space continuum, but I draw the line at talking animals.

  20. I think Steph is onto something: perhaps nerdgassing is one of the byproducts of a nerdgasm?

    (other byproducts: nerdsplodging? Ewww, ewww, ewww, forget I said it!!)

  21. So what do you call nerdgassing about nerdgassing. As in, someone’s watching “Galaxy Quest” and pshaws the way that the dealer’s room is set up because “cons don’t set up their dealers’ rooms adjacent to the lobby like that!!”

    Nerdnerdgassinggassing?

  22. Oh oh oh! What about people who fire weapons with bullets in space? That always cracks me up!

    And I agree with the person above about Star Wars. Nerdgassing about inconsistencies in the Star Wars movies might actually need its own word.

  23. Actually, anti-nerdgassing (def. 1) is an entertaining mental exercise.

    Clearly, the Buterian space docks are, in fact, in orbit around planet Norgar.

    There are many possible paths of the Kessel Run, but the shortest paths are the most dangerous. So completing it in under 12 parsecs is an act of great daring.

    The Enterprise’s photorps used to be operated from a ‘torpedo room’, but after they nearly lost the whole torpedo crew to a coolant leak, they installed automatic loaders and firing systems controlled from the Bridge.

    Et cetera, et cetera. It entertains some of us, anyhow.

  24. Not that that all this navel gazing isn’t FUN and all that, but come ON people.

    We have a citation here so who is going to be the first to post the definition to Wikipedia and win that bacon cat guy’s never ending respect?

  25. To meet Wiki guidelines it will need to be used somewhere other than the website of the individual who coined the term. (otherwise anyone could come up with something, and then add it to Wikipedia.)

    Besides…another Wikipedia Standard is that it is an encyclopedia, not a dictionary. Unless you want to add it to Wiktionary. Even then, I think the first issue still applies.

  26. It would be more appropriate to put it in Wiktionary.

    http://www.wiktionary.org/

    No page title matches

    No page with this exact title exists; trying to find similar titles. Perhaps you wanted the Wikipedia article on nerdgassing.

    You can create an entry with that title or put up a request for it or browse nearby pages.

    * Reminder: Do not copy and paste entries from any other sources here!

    * Made-up words do not meet our criteria for inclusion. Please add them only as protologisms.

  27. Oh hell, I was going to remain neutral on this, but my wife and I are both medical laboratory people (me, formerly) and although we both like the TV show “House,” the number of nerdgassing moments takes up more space than the commercials.

    1. Physicians don’t work in the laboratory in a major hospital, minor hospital or pretty much anywhere else. In fact, once they complete their 2-4 week residency rotation (unless they’re pathologists), it would be a miracle if they could even FIND the laboratory.

    2. Physicians don’t run the MRI machines. X-ray technologists do.

    3. No hospital in its right mind would keep House on-staff. Ever. Never. Never. Never. L-I-A-B-I-L-I-T-Y.

    4. These docs are going to the patients’ houses and prowling around, looking for toxins. What? Excuse me? Are you with the CDC? Do you have a warrant?

    5. Can you say, grounds for a sexual harrassment lawsuit?

    6. Surgeons perform surgery. Not diagnosticians.

    Oh… but we do like the show.

  28. In the original Transformers cartoon, the Constructicons have three origin stories.

    No, really, three. Count ‘em.

    And don’t get me started on female Autobots. That way lies madness.

    (This is why I laugh at people who are sticklers for canon in the TF fandom. Dudes, have you seen our canon?)

  29. My one instance of nerdgassing, that I can recall, is during showings of the Steve McQueen film Bullitt that I always point out that five hubcaps fly off the Dodge Charger during the car chase sequence.

  30. Dunc:

    I agree with you 100%! I thought The Two Towers was the biggest waste of good paper in the trilogy but Peter Jackson turned it into a good story; I really enjoyed what he did with the book.

  31. Oh, ghods, you’ve been to Outpost Gallifrey (doctorwhoforum.com), haven’t you? Nowhere else in fandom can a bunch of turbo-geeks write a PAGES-LONG-THREAD on the size of the windows in the new TARDIS vs. the old TARDIS vs. an actual police phone box. (As the crowning cherry on this whole pathetic saga, it generated an in-canon in-joke by a writer who also reads the forum.)

    Right now, the flame war du jour seems to be whether or not a female clone of the Doctor is a) really his daughter, and b) a Time Lady. I predict that this will be another long-running, high-octane one, right up there with “is the Doctor half-human?” and the (non)canonicity of various spin-offs. Also, whether or not “The Last Great Time War” counts as the ultimate canonicity panacea.

  32. I thought Nerdgassing was what happens when the Con Suite only serves home made chili…

    Seriously, last night I had a nerdgassing attack while watching the first episode of the old Battlestar Galactica over on Hulu.com. I choked out a cry when Apollo told his soon-to-be-doomed brother to “reverse flaps” on their Vipers so they can drop behind some pursuing Cylons IN SPACE.

    They then showed the Viper control panel complete with a working Artificial Horizon indicator, ala an airplane.

    Sure there were plenty of other inconsistencies (sounds in space, banking spaceships, etc), but I’ve become accustomed to those stupidities. So I think nerdgassing is a much needed term.

    Well done John!

  33. Every time someone who just discovered Firefly goes into a rant questioning why it was canceled, I experience catastrophic nerdgassing. “Because you didn’t watch it!!!” Except with more rage and exclamation points.

  34. The cool thing about the Ringworld example is that it lead to the very cool sequels. So when combined with good science and smart authors this can be a good thing.

    Granted very few examples turn out well like that.

  35. Firefly was cancelled because it was on Fox. Fox seems to love to cancel good shows. Especially if they’re science fiction shows. We’re lucky if they show the whole season, in order, without preempting for sports.

  36. Honu-girl@47

    Holding in a nerdgassing? That sounds like an oxymoron to me. If you hold it in, it is by definition, not a nerdgassing.

    (I’m just yanking your chain by attempting to nerdgass the definition of nerdgass.)

  37. Or the most recent I’ve been exposed to.
    “Nick Fury isn’t Black!”

    He is now.

    baaahhaaaa

  38. I can’t. I can accept aliens, universal translators, FTL/warp drives, and a complete disregard for the time/space continuum, but I draw the line at talking animals.

    Well, that’s where the Doctor Who crack crossover theory comes in. I mean, Lenny just knows too much to not be a chameleon-arched Time Lord, and the Flyboat is obviously a chameleon-circuited TARDIS, which explains why all the animals can talk to each other in the presence of it. (It’s a little more work getting all of the non-Lenny animals to be intelligent, but this is Doctor Who we’re talking about. It’s within the realm of possibility.)

    Hey, this helps keep me sane. Don’t knock it.

  39. Firefly was canceled because nobody watched it. All the browncoat legend nonsense about Fox’s ulterior motives, and baseball, and every other thing doesn’t account for what are mediocre-at-best, falling ratings. It was a revelation, certainly. But nobody watched it.

  40. I personally love mad for TV sci-fi movies just for the nerd gassing. Why else watch?

  41. I like “mad for TV” better. It makes more sense, regarding these particular films.

  42. 22. Ken S.: Why are these movie guys such lousy shots? They bang away and NOBODY GETS HIT!!!

    I especially love that when they’re shooting at people who are running over open ground, not dodging, and in a straight line …

    39. Randy Johnson: five hubcaps fly off the Dodge Charger during the car chase sequence.

    That fifth one must’ve fallen off the spare!

  43. Brett L, you’ve just reminded me of a happy afternoon spent reading up on piezo-electrics trying to design a working flintlock laser.

    Really must get back to that. Alternatively, must get out more. Either’s good…

  44. My own nerdgassing incident:

    I inexplicably paid money to see the first Mission: Impossible movie in the theatre. At least it was a Wednesday matinee.

    At one point, Ving Rhames refers to the CIA mainframe as having “the 686 RISC processor with artificial intelligence.”

    I screamed at the screen “THOSE ARE THREE COMPLETELY DIFFERENT THINGS THAT HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH MAINFRAMES, YOU IDIOT!!!”

    It then occurred to me that, at the time, I was probably the only person in the theatre who understood that.

    It then occurred to me that I was the only person in the theatre.

    I heard the projectionist behind me laughing.

  45. My favorite example was when I saw some comic blog post an image of NiteOwl from the new Watchmen movie with only a one word caption: “Wrong!” The same site later accused another of plagiarism, then posted links to two entirely dissimilar posts.

    Oh! And one of my own! In Zodiac, Donal Logue (I think it is) asks Jake Gyllenhaal, “What’re you, a boy scout?” To which Gyllenhaal replies “Eagle Scout, first class.” Except “first class” doesn’t apply to Eagle; you can earn palms to decorate post-Eagle, but the Eagle Scout rank is pretty much the highest in Scouts. First class is an entirely different rank, three below Eagle.

  46. The Ringworld stability issue gets approached from the wrong end, I think. Obviously since it is still there, there’s a stabilizing system. The real question is, why build a zoo stocked with Pak, Kzin and other cuddlebunnies so that it can be dumped into its star on short notice? Also, and who did this? The Pak don’t seem like the sort to put their eggs in such a fragile basket.

    I’ve taken runs at the Awesome Orbital Velocty Kinetic Weapons That Heinlein Totally Proved Would Work but I have not even managed to make Standard Wheelchair Bound Grandmother a unit in the metric system.

    And there’s the stealth in space thing…

  47. Bob @ 52: but he is black! In the Ultimate universe anyways, he’s explicitly patterned after Samuel L Jackson.

    … uh. I mean. Hi?

  48. “What do you call it when you defend yourself against nerdgassing? AKA, Dunc’s comment (which I completely agree with).”

    That’s geekfense. “We knew there’d be a lot of nerdgassing about the costumes in Watchmen, so we hired a renowned designer to run geekfense.”

  49. I’m ashamed to admit that I yell during courtroom scenes, too. I object when they should. I make rulings about the evidence. It’s sad.

    I do it with figure skating movies, too. Forget that there are no “mens pairs.” You don’t “sign up” for Nationals!

  50. Mac at #24, copyeditors may, indeed, be more prone to nerdgassing. Continuity problems just seem to jump out at me. Like the Law and Order episode where Julia Roberts and Benjamin Bratt are in a scene and they cut back and forth between the two actors. When Ms. Roberts appears the first time, her collar is down, the next time, the collar is up; down, up, down. Or, in an episode of Bonanza where they are cutting back and forth between a long shot which contains a dead body in the foreground and closeups. First the body is wearing a jacket, then it is not wearing a jacket, and then it is wearing a jacket. Arrrrgh. Or, when a car is barrelling down a dirt road, throwing up a cloud of dust behind it, and the sound track makes it sound as if it is skidding on some sort of pavement! Or,……… I could go on for entirely too long.

    Good neologism, John.

  51. #24 #
    # Macon 03 Jun 2008 at 2:16 pm posted:

    “I had a friend complain that the noise given to a propeller plane on an animated show was actually a jet noise. I felt kinda dumb. :-D”

    Watch Airplane. The exterior shots of the jet all have the drone of a prop. But this time it is intentional.

  52. My wife has refused to watch movies with me due to nerdgassing.
    She has left the room screaming when i point things out.
    It’s kinda like a game for me.

  53. I nerdgas so violently during Star Trek that my family usually exiles me from the room with the television.

    Someone should have told the writers that YOU DON’T FALL OUT OF ORBIT BECAUSE YOUR ENGINES LOSE POWER!!

    In eighth grade I made the yearbook for explaining to people that 2001 was better than Star Wars. (Do you remember when…)

    And even a MacIntosh can’t successfully connect with the single, non-redundant (snicker) computer that controls an alien space craft 400 miles in diameter! (Well, maybe after OS-X, because any advanced civilization will be using some version of UNIX, but certainly not before.)

    And don’t get me started about Godzilla 1998 or Starship Troopers. Just don’t. We’ll be here all night. And someone might get hurt!

  54. Nerdgassing, a useful word.

    I once got a mail from a guy who had read a Young Adult book I wrote, and he nerdgassed. In the book, the heroes need to quickly find out a way to lure a giant monster into a confrontation/trap, and the monster is a kind of insect.

    So the heroes use a chemical-mixing gizmo to create an artificial pheromone which is irresistible to insects: not only does the scent attract the giant bug, countless tiny bugs in the vicinity come crawling amd flying after it as well.

    This guy told me that isn’t credible biology; there is no pheromone that attracts all bugs.

    “Artistic license,” I told him.

  55. While it may be obscure, the bickering over the official setting for the tabletop role-playing game Traveller can get so deep in it boggles the mind.

  56. What’s the antonym of nerdgassing? To describe, f’rexample, the soft croon of pleasure one emits watching Firefly for the first time, as all the space action happens in dead silence? Or seeing Starfuries flying one way, whilst twisting on thrusters around to fire away from their base course?

    What do we call those tears of joy?

  57. Is it nerdgassing if you complain about the different creation stories in the OT?

    Those who came up with the Lillith explanation were responding to nerdgassers, weren’t they?

  58. I love to watch movies where there is a GUI display and the person at the keyboard is typing like mad to get the 3D rotating image of something that no one has ever seen or they only have a picture of.

  59. Is it nerdgassing if you complain about the different creation stories in the OT?

    Does someone have a link to somewhere that carefully explains that argument in detail? I’ve read through the first few chapter of Genesis and can’t spot it.

  60. Regardless of its theatrical merit (or lack thereof), I can’t watch any of the CSI: shows because of the artistic license they take with computer and telephone forensics.

    I particularly remember one episode where they find a fragment of a SIM card (the phone was used to trigger a bomb), and from that get a complete call log and the location of the phone used to place a call to the destroyed cellphone.

    OK, you can get a phone number from a SIM card.

    With a phone number and a subpoena, you can get call logs from the carrier.

    And with a call log and a subpoena, you might be able to get the cell site the caller used (though you might have to subpoena a different carrier, because, you know, there’s more than one cell carrier in Florida…).

    But this stuff isn’t all magically stored — in non-volatile memory, no less — in the SIM card.

    After the second or third time I yell, “I work on this stuff, it doesn’t work that way!” my wife shuts off the TV.

  61. Those who came up with the Lillith explanation were responding to nerdgassers, weren’t they?

    I’ve often wondered how much all of the overanalysis and complication of religion came from the then-time equivalent of nerds.

  62. At last! A word to explain this effect!

    How many volumes could any one of us fill with examples?

    A few off the top of my head:

    1. The code of the Star Gate is javascript? WTF?
    2. Hacking a satellite from a cell phone?
    3. Superchargers do not turn on and off – they are always on! These are not turbos people.

    Also, see this Penny Arcade:

    http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2007/07/16/

  63. Oh, another one that always get me is the “let’s have the computer clean up that picture”. If the information isn’t in the picture, no amount of “cleanup” will somehow make it magically appear.

  64. You can blame Blade Runner for popularising that particular pile of horsepucky, DG. The modern-day repercussion is client saying “well, just get the computer to remove the trees. Use a filter. Don’t you know how to Photoshop?”

    Pardon me, I have to go drink a large amount of alcohol now.

  65. When I read the initial post I thought to myself “yeah it’s annoying when the nerds won’t let it go”

    Now that I’ve read all the examples in the comments I’ve realized I do this all the fucking time.
    court drama objections? check
    CSI lab voodoo? annoying
    Any scene where the word genetic is used? I have to change the channel.

    I would apologize to my husband for having to listen to me, but he mourned the lack of Glorfindel in LOTR. I think we’re even.

  66. My wife is a movie-music nerdgasser. She is very quick to call out any instances where historical dramas use compostions before they were actually written, or instruments before they were alleged to have been invented/introduced to a culture.

    I’m so glad that I now have a shiny new term to apply to her accusations! :)

  67. Correcting a Fondly Held Myth Re Gun Combat

    Combat is not the shooting range. In combat you are hyped, you are scared, you are freaking out. In combat you’ve got a shit load going on, and you’re running the risk of getting overwhelmed. You either focus, and you’ll be sitting there twiddling your dick.

    That’s not the only reason people miss in combat. We’re a soft-hearted, kindly species. We don’t like to hurt each other. Look at homicide rates sometimes. Even in the worst locations it’s usually 9,999.93 out of 10,000 who don’t kill anybody during any single year. Back before Vietnam the U. S. Army figured out how to get almost everybody to fire their weapon. But to this day nobody has ever figured out how to get almost everybody to actually shot somebody.

    Those storm troopers in A New Hope aren’t lousy shots, they just don’t want to hurt anybody.

  68. >>While it may be obscure, the bickering over the official setting for the tabletop role-playing game Traveller can get so deep in it boggles the mind<<

    Amen to that brother. I recall the self-nerdgassing I experienced when I was some item about my planet of choice appeared as canon in print, in print! that conflicted with my house-rules version of same.

    Arguments over traveller history border on the theological.

  69. I experienced some nerdgassing while watching Battlestar Galactica last Friday, as a result of some mexican food and several cervezas earlier that evening.

  70. also, I don’t mind “sound in space” in movies any more than I mind being able to hear the voices of the characters when they are shot from a distance or walking down a city street. I mean, how can I hear those guys, they are so far away. It would be one thing if its meant to be from the perspective of someone in space (see, e.g., Dave Bowman going through the airlock), but when you see wide-shot of a ship going toward Galactica and you hear the radio communication with that ship, that’s narrative license, not the proverbial “bad movie physics”

  71. Captain Button,

    It has to do with the first two chapters of Genesis, and the way the story is related. Here is chapter 1:

    26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our own image, in our likeness, and let them reign over the fish of the sea, and the birds of air, and the cattle, and all the land, 2 and all the creatures that crawl upon the earth.”
    27 So God created man in the image of himself, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them.

    Line 27, man and woman are created together.

    Then read Chapter 2: (shortened for simplicity)

    7 And Yahweh God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being.

    21 So Yahweh God made the man fall into a deep sleep. And while he slept, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed its place with flesh.
    22 Then Yahweh God made a woman from the rib he had taken from the man, and he brought her to the man.
    23 And the man said: “This is now bone from my bone and flesh from my flesh; She shall be called woman, for she was taken from man.

    In the second story, woman is made after man, from his rib.

    So the two stories, one from J and one from E, are in conflict if they are taken literally.

  72. MarkHB: OK, some geekfense here: In Blade Runner, the photo appears to be some kind of hologram, not a normal photo. The amount of zooming-in is kind of unbelievable, but then you notice the change of point-of-view and something is revealed that was hidden behind something else. Only a hologram can do that.

    And in another photo, Rachel as a child, taken on a sunny day, the shadows cast by tree leaves actually move. So that’s not an old-fashioned photo either.

  73. Mark Terry@37 – you’re nerdgassing House, and you don’t mention that it features people TALKING – heck, BREATHING – while on HEART BYPASS?!

    That kinda jumped out at me. Most recently in the season finale… :)

  74. The Andromeda Strain caused some MAJOR nerdgassing for me while I was watching it… I seriously think I was about to explode!!!

    See the IMDB.com discussion board for the nerdgassing of 75 of us that movie drove nuts:

  75. Re: Alan Kellogg in #84

    This reminds me of a story my brother wrote for school, some twenty or so years ago. The idea was that the local milkman enlisted in the army, but didn’t want to actually kill anybody, so he got very very good at shooting enemies in the kneecaps.

    Sadly the milkman died in the line of duty, but his loved ones received a letter from the army saying that he was receiving a posthumous medal for dedication to his duty and single-handedly taking on and disabling a tank. “Strangely, all enemy combatants were found to still be alive, and had been shot in just their kneecaps.”

  76. Will Entrekin,

    I’ve heard rumors.

    Steven Scougall,

    “Preacher, don’t the Bible have some pretty specific things to say about killing?”
    “Quite specific. It is, however, somewhat fuzzier on the subject of kneecaps.”

  77. My #1 nerdgassing complaint- There is snow on the ground and “obviously cold”. No-one’s breath is steaming?? Does that mean that their body temperature is less than 98.6? I realize that I am a Gulf Coast swamp bunny and may see <32 deg. F once or twice in a given winter, but is that normal?

  78. Random Michelle K:

    It seems to be a popular idea.

    And one that leads on to a nerdgassing of my own: Shooting someone in the knees will:

    a) bust up their leg for the rest of their life and is a very *nasty* thing to do them. Admittedly, it’s better than outright killing them, but it’s still nasty.

    b) Possibly kill them anyway. As I understand it it’s very hard to actually shoot someone with the intention of disabling them.

  79. Ken S,

    Seeing breath vapour/condensation depends on more than just the air temperature. I’ve been in 20C weather and seen my own breath and been in -25C and not seen my own breath. Of course there are things human eyes see way differently from a camera.

  80. Thank you, Michelle.

    Ok, I can see the point if we assume a perfect omniscient author. I can also see how you can pull an argument for Lilith out of that too.

    (Actually I’ve seen plenty of nerdgassers who demand omniscient perfection of mortal authors, too.)

  81. Heck, I will nerdgas at commercials. Seriously, have you seen the lack of logic in some of those things? This annoys my husband no end, but he has been known to do the same on rare occasions.

    No examples right now, unfortunately. I haven’t been watching much TV of late, and none of the commercials I’ve seen recently have been particularly memorable.

  82. When I was coming out of the first X-MEN movie, I overheard a guy tell his friends that he was disappointed that Famke Janssen didn’t wear green contacts to play Jean Grey.

  83. For sound in space, I always assume that they have built in sound system that takes radar/visual images, and create the appropriate sound in your ship (for outside ships, I assume you are in a camera ship of some sort and they forgot to turn the sound off….

    My example of nerdgassing (aside from the above) was when watching current children shows (including the wonderpets above). I assume that most of them are set post singularity, and that for example with the wonder pets and their flyboat, if you have uplifted very small animals, quick classroom parts that can create a vehicle that can travel around the earth in less than one song, then artificial gravity is not too small of an effect….

    My wife was bemused one day when a friend and I discussed this.

  84. I hate this. Honestly, I do. But I do catch myself at it sometimes…Though not convulsively.
    One thing that really, REALLY got me going was in that terrible Stephen King Novel, Insomnia…
    The main character has a nightmare about fighting the big baddy, who turned out to have the face of a huge catfish from the MC’s past traumas. He describes stuffing his hand into that great SCALY maw.
    And I said to myself, “Dude, has he ever even SEEN a catfish?”
    The thing that gets me is, this isn’t obscure, it’s not something you need to have a degree in physics to explain…and it has absolutely NO importance whatsoever. It just pissed me off.

    I feel ashamed.

  85. I do this all the time with anything concerning computers. My wife does it when shows deal with medicine or animals.

    I just wanted to point out, though, that the true hilarity here is that Scalzi felt it necessary to point out that he, indeed, knew there were no Glorthinians in Star Trek.

    Good stuff.

  86. Oh oh oh! What about people who fire weapons with bullets in space? That always cracks me up!

    Why? Perfectly possible. Firearm propellants don’t need oxygen to function – they’re explosives, with their own oxidiser included. Assuming that the working parts don’t seize up in a vacuum, you should be able to use a firearm in space, no problem. After all, if explosives needed air to function, depth charges and torpedoes wouldn’t work.

    Putting your gun inside a spacesuit to fire it, now, that’s unnecessary. (Jayne Cobb, I’m looking at you.) Also, tricky to reach the trigger through the fabric.

    The Ringworld stability issue gets approached from the wrong end, I think. Obviously since it is still there, there’s a stabilizing system. The real question is, why build a zoo stocked with Pak, Kzin and other cuddlebunnies so that it can be dumped into its star on short notice? Also, and who did this? The Pak don’t seem like the sort to put their eggs in such a fragile basket.

    Slavers built it, obviously. They’re the only ones a) rich and b) dumb enough. Refugee Pak discovered and settled it, only to have their protectors die out from thallium deficiency. They never got round to exploring the Maps. The Maps were added to the Ringworld before the Pak reached it, but after Pak settled Earth, by another unknown species, for reasons of their own. (Possibly to preserve nuclei of all intelligent species – absent interference, the Ringworld would probably have started moving out of the galaxy of its own accord as soon as its systems detected the Core explosion.)
    That’s my theory and I’m sticking to it.

  87. Mark HB @ #2

    As far as I understand, the entirety of the script for I, Robot was written and accepted and it’d managed to get a producer and maybe a director before someone said “Let’s ask the Asimov estate if we can stick an Asimov name on, some token Asimov names in and release it as an Asimov filmatisation!”

    SO, no, it doesn’t resemble any known Asimov work very much, because it never was one in the first place.

  88. KenS@98: There is snow on the ground and “obviously cold”. No-one’s breath is steaming??

    Reminds me of a quote attributed to Joss Whedon – on being asked how come vampires (who don’t breathe) can clearly be seen producing visible breath mist in a cold graveyard. Apparently (though I can’t find a link) he responded that whilst vampires don’t breathe, it’s real hard to find actors that don’t.

    I don’t know if this counts as geekfencing, or just “it’s TV folks, we can only do so much…”

    On the other hand, I do shout at the TV. A lot.

  89. My brother is a pilot for a major airline and goes ballistic over airplane scenes in movies. I’ve threatened for years to have the “Oh That Could Never Happen” Film Festival in his name featuring such hits as:

    1. Air Force One (because Glenn Close is VP-KIDDING! According to him the rescue of the president at the end has over fifty nerdgassing moments)
    2. Die Hard 2 (highlighted by the trail of flaming fuel that brings down the bad guys’ 747 at the end)
    3. Executive Decision (he can’t even enjoy the part where Steven Segal goes flying out of the Stealth)
    4. Passenger 57 (oddly enough he has seen two people get into a karate scuffle on a plane)
    5. Turbulence (the whole movie, but especially when the wheels of the low-flying 747 smash through a ceiling yet cause no other destruction as the plane flies merrily away)

    The “Airport” movies are banned on general principle.

    Personally, sports movies drive me nuts. Drew Barrymore sitting in a close-to-the-field seat in Fenway Park working on her laptop in Fever Pitch is number one, followed by Cuba Gooding getting up and dancing in the end zone after being seriously injured in Jerry McGuire (someone on the other team would have clocked him in the middle of his two-steppin’), and any play-by-play scene of the action in a sports movie.

    Wow. Long comment. Sorry about that.

  90. the one that killed me was the star trek tng series finale where the time rip thingy was getting bigger as it went backward in time but when grandaddy picard realizes something is up after the 3 converging scans he goes back and there it is! shouldn’t the scan in his time have closed it?

    i tried to explain this to my mother and sister when we watched it together but received only blank stares and had to wonder… am i really that petty?

    yes, yes i am

  91. I can’t watch any of the so-called “police procedurals”, because I’m an IT guy. And a scientist. And apart from all the things said above (image enhancement, because clearly pixel generation is 100% accurate), two things get me: “Computers don’t *do* that!” – especially all the flashy graphics on fingerprint checks that could be spent on actually doing more checks faster (oh, of course, since it only takes 10 seconds to find a unique match in a 1e7 entry, 17-value database, and there always is one, and there always is only one, we don’t need the speedup that not doing the visuals would get us), and handwavy science (especially again concerning speed. Some of those tests take hours, not the length of a phone conversation!)

    It’s not important to Hollywood to be accurate, as long as the story paces properly. To the nerd mind, inaccuracy is so jolting that it destroys the pace. I admit that catching every odd continuity or canon error induced by accident is going over the top (although it’s a fun game to play), but blatant errors, like a prop making a jet noise, or an alien computer taking and reading 3.5″ disks are as bad as the characters switching into Swahili for a sentence for people like me.

    Yeah, nerdgassing. I realize it’s annoying. I’ve just learned to go off and play Master of Orion as safer to my blood pressure and sanity. And 90% of the time, Hollywood is right; it’s only outliers like me who are going to freak, and we’re not worth the effort. But when the target market is people like me, failing to do basic checks like this is as unforgivable as not doing regular continuity.

  92. I love that in Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid the film makes a point of showing everyone reloading their guns time after time, just so we can suspend our disbelief of the final scene, where the heroes fire their guns about thirty times before reloading.
    I still, however, nerdgas about it.

  93. First example of Nerdgassing [early 1960s]

    And my dad and i were watching this show where some photojournalist gets a phone call “if you want the pic of your career, goto this corner at this time”. So he does and he hears a sound, looks up to see someone being pushed off a building, takes the pic of his career and my dad and i look at each other “would probably work better if he took the lens cap off”.

    (re: the name. ya ok, so i seem to be over identifying with my latest MMO toon – so sue me)

  94. I think the complaint about firing guns in space is about the physics involved. A person firing a gun would be flung backwards with force equal to that propelling the bullet forwards. This happens on Earth, of course, too, but in space there is no air or ground (through contact with the feet) to help absorb that force. Thus, the person firing the gun would be propelled backwards with a velocity proportional to the mass difference between the person and the bullet.

  95. OK, here’s my own personal passing of the nerdgas:

    On 03 Jun 2008 at 2:37 pm, MikhailBorgon wrote:

    “There are many possible paths of the Kessel Run, but the shortest paths are the most dangerous. So completing it in under 12 parsecs is an act of great daring.”

    Far from being “daring,” it is in fact devoid of meaning. As any nerd worthy of the name SHOULD know, a parsec is a unit of distance, not of time. This is comparable to saying that some technology is “light-years ahead” of what we have now. In other words, meaningless.

    Now THAT’s what I call a nerdgas attack!

  96. Anti-Nerdgassing, as you call it, Mikhail, is what the original USENET trolling about. It was trolling as in fishing, the fish (who sometimes played with the bait, and in the case of the best nerds, would leap into the boat and filet themselves) were generaly newbs. It was invented in the alt.folklore.urban, where it got so out of control that it was violently repressed by the old guard of that newsgroup. Nonetheless, it was great fun having a gang of co-conspirators who would go on at length about how ATMs print the money they dispense, or that James T. Kirk’s middle name is “Timothy,” while people then, as now, could not bear the thought that someone, somewhere on the internet, was wrong.

    Trolling as she is now know is what was then called Flamebaiting, and this has surprisingly specific origins, which deserve telling: Before USENET, in the NetNews days (in a nutshell, USENET before it was on the internet), articles could take several days to propogate across the country because there was just one backbone and it was based on dial-up, so it dialed at night when the rates were cheaper. It was also said you could read the whole newsfeed in a day, if you desired.

    Bell Labs employed a man named Rich Rosen (see wikipedia) who posted prolifically to netnews groups, much of it inflammatory, inspiring loads upon loads of followups. I have read the rant of a newsadmin who hated Rich Rosen because the Rosen rantings and followups often made up 70% of the traffic sitting on his stunningly huge 80MB hard drive (which cost thousands back then). Other people speculated that Rosen was some sort of primitive AI whose job was to inspire more postings, because more postings = more followup, and more followup = longer backbone phone calls to exchange messages, and longer phone calls = bigger phone bills paid to… Bell. By comparison, modern trolling seems woefully unsophisticated.

    Point being, anti-nerdgassing does have an important place in life, but, well, nerds are but the easiest targets. If someone’s taking something to seriously, sometimes you’ve gotta put a valve on them, and classic trolling/anti-nerdgassing can often do the job. Just don’t back them up too much, or the unreleased gas will cause them to explode.

  97. What a great word! I can see a lot of use for it. I thought a lot of that sort of nitpicking was just people showing off their knowledge on a topic, though I do know some people who actually get stressed about mistakes in films, TV shows, books… just like some people get stessed about misplaced punctuation and the like.

  98. @codswallop:
    “Far from being “daring,” it is in fact devoid of meaning. As any nerd worthy of the name SHOULD know, a parsec is a unit of distance, not of time. This is comparable to saying that some technology is “light-years ahead” of what we have now. In other words, meaningless.”

    Note that the person you were replying to was responding to exactly this criticism and meant ‘shortest’ as short in distance, not time. Nerdgassing is, aside from being occasionally annoying, often also wrong.

  99. Stumbled over this while searching for something else, so don’t know if anyone even comes back to check for new comments. But….
    …this all reminds me of a little-appreciated movie called “Last Action Hero”, which many seem to think was the first chink in the armor of action hero Arnold Schwarzenegger. I thought it was a pitch-perfect nailing of all the over-the-top cliches of the action movie genre, cover many of the things brought up in these comments. (One of my fave moments: the movie villain, having moved to the real world, realizes that cops do NOT show up within a few seconds of gunshots being fired.)

  100. Very late comment…
    My husband and I were watching The Age of Innocence [a movie set in early 1900’s New York City] and in one scene Daniel Day Lewis’s character goes into a flower shop where there are lovely displays of flowers. I hear my husband grumble to himself. Later I asked what the grumbling was about.
    “There was a huge display of star-gazer lilies. They weren’t even developed until the 1950’s!”

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