63 thoughts on “For “Nerd Day” at Her School, Athena Recreates a Classic of the Form

  1. Last year, the local high school had nerd day for homecoming. I have several high school students in my College Algebra class. They were so bad at dressing as nerds that I had to give a lecture on how to do it. I made “Legend of Zelda” cosplay the highest form of nerd dress-up.

  2. I am so ooooold that I can’t imagine a nerd without a pocket protector and a slide rule. I think that soon nerds will be defined by the apps on their personal digital device, and will then be invisible.

  3. @ John Barnes:

    Did you really mean to lump nerds in with habitual drug users and people with mental health problems? When the featured nerd of the post is our host’s child? Impressive.

    (Also, maybe it’s just me, but I’m having a hard time figuring out how a clique of psychotic loners would form.)

  4. Is this part of “cultural awareness week”?

    And after “nerd day” can we have “libertarian nerd day” or “Ayn Rand day”?

  5. D. Paul Angel.

    Ayn Rand day is when they quit grading on a “curve” and every student gets what he or she earned.

  6. Mr. Scalzi
    I can’t quite tell whether you have scarred her or tempered her into a lethal weapon mentally. If nothing else it will be fun to watch……from a distance!

    Love the pic though!

  7. Yay for Nerd Day! I remember we did that one year, but I don’t remember what I wore. I might’ve refused to wear anything different just on GPs. I do recall a lot of plaid shirts and taped glasses.

    I had a meeting at the high school yesterday, and they were doing 80s day. *shudder*

  8. I recall nerd day, jock day, pajamas day, ’50s day, and ’80s day. I don’t recall an Ayn Rand day or any other sort of political movement day. How does one dress recognizably as an individualist so that others even realize that you are participating in Objectivist dress-up day? I’m trying to remember if there was a ’60s day; that probably would have involved some protest garb.

    I never took part, so I suppose the only one where I may have fit by default was nerd day, but I didn’t wear glasses back then, taped or otherwise.

    I really like John Barne’s idea of defining a day for every recognizable high school clique.

  9. I *loved* Kate Milford’s BONESHAKER and had no idea there was a related book out! Thank you, thank you!! (squee! squee! off to find out where I can get it…)

  10. I recall 50’s day at her age. I was not ABOUT to go poodle skirt and all, so I threw on some fatigues and a helmet and told everyone I was “the Korean War, like MASH!”

  11. @Scorpius That was every day at my High School, though I have no idea if that was normal or not. Each assignment was worth so many points, and at the end of the semester they were tallied to see what your grade was. YMMV…

  12. @ Bearpaw

    Did you really mean to lump nerds in with habitual drug users and people with mental health problems?

    The stoners would protest your lumping them in with hard drug addicts, but that’s just what the Man wants.

  13. Also:
    (Also, maybe it’s just me, but I’m having a hard time figuring out how a clique of psychotic loners would form.)

    What, you didn’t have a gamer / anime geek club? Jeez. Some kids are just deprived of a sufficiently normally diverse upbringing…

  14. Our school would do things like “Punk Rock day” and “Cowboys and Indians day” (and to give you an idea of the different culture only 30 years ago, I wore a .22 on my hip – unloaded, of course – to school for Cowboys & Indians day and only the math teacher got upset about it…), “Weird-o day” … we were pretty uncreative in our school. One year we did “Reverse gender” day, but that didn’t go over very well with many of the boys for some reason… *scratches head*

  15. This made me die of laughter. So tell Athena she has killed me, for I am now dead of laughter and speaking from beyond the grave. By the way, GERD says hello. :)

  16. Aha! Now I get it. No, I was wrong, I don’t. What great-grandparent ever gets their great-grandchild’s delights? Too many generations from the sliderule and Islandia. She looks tremendously pleased, which is the important part.

  17. Interestingly, the Southern Poverty Law Center, in the current issue of “Teaching Tolerance”, decries Nerd Day as yet another form of othering and bullying people who aren’t mainstream.

    I dunno. I’m a nerd, and I kind of feel like owning it is a better approach. But I’m saying that from a position of adulthood and safety, in a profession where everyone’s kind of expected to be a nerd about something.

  18. Lila, as a nerd I felt like very day was nerd day at school – in that the “cool, popular, jock (take your pick) kids could be counted on to recognize me and treat me with the disdain, humiliation and abuse kids who are smart but socially limited and probably unathletic so richly deserve. T

    As an adult I can revel in my nerdness, I have overcome my social issues and athletics don’t really count for crap any more. As a kid the impact was devastating so I’m with the SPLC on this one

  19. Frankly, I see your point and theirs. I had so many strikes against me in school (socially awkward, a year younger, smaller, glasses, acne, wrong church, both parents were teachers, no relatives in the community) that being a nerd was pretty far down the list. But I know whereof you speak; people who ordinarily wouldn’t speak to me nevertheless expected me to help them cheat on tests. WTF, popular kids?

    Thank God, school isn’t life.

  20. This raises the question, is there a cultural divide on how we define nerds?

    I made a joke once about the nerds being in the AV Club and was told that now the cool kids were in the AV Club so they could get use of things like turntables and sound systems. Modern nerds might be curious about slide rules, but they wouldn’t have much use for them outside of amusement. Modern titanium frames don’t break as easily as old school plastic frames.

    Maybe only the pocket protector is nerd eternal.

  21. “, as a nerd I felt like very day was nerd day at school – in that the “cool, popular, jock (take your pick) kids could be counted on to recognize me and treat me with the disdain, humiliation and abuse kids who are smart but socially limited and probably unathletic so richly deserve.”

    I was a nerd too — but I was in a unique subset of nerd, the “band nerd.” I wasn’t technically in the band, mind you, but the jocks lumped anyone in band, choir, or the drama club into the “band” subset. So yeah, one-on-one I knew I was a nerd.

    Fortunately, I was rarely alone; for some reason the music program in my school was huge (about HALF of my graduating class was in band/choir/drama club at least once), and often at least a couple of other band nerds were always in the room with me so we could all collectively roll our eyes at the popular kids. We were nerds, but we always had reinforcements around reminding us that THEY were the lame ones. It was actually kind of fantastic.

    MInd you, the INTERNAL cliques in the drama club were their OWN politcal minefield, but that’s a whole other story. (No real backstabbing or abuse, as such; imagine a cross between GLEE and GIRL, INTERRUPTED.)

  22. So, if books are ‘berks’, then what’s ‘beer’? ‘Ber’? ‘Burr’? And what does that make a bear? And, I’m not even talking about a Chicago bear. That’s from another country.

  23. When did ermahgerd enter the lexicon? I don’t think I heard it before last week, and now I can’t get away from it :)

  24. to the language questions raised:
    Probably :”berrr” but the language is fairly free form so YMMV
    This first appeared earlier this year – the girl in the picture posted it herself on reddit (there is a nerd who overcame her origins!)

    http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/ermahgerd

    Like all memes it was the property of us hip & cool kats in the know right up until the time it really explodes on the internet & is beaten to death (usually by people how don’t get the premise or misunderstand the whole idea). Like LOLcats or other memes that are now so overexposed your mom is using them 8-{D

  25. @Dana:

    I assume that “ermahgerd” meme is simply using a “Stereotypical American Nerd Girl” accent–pretty much unchanged since Gilda Radner played Lisa Loopner in a series of Saturday Night Live sketches in the late 1970s.

  26. The books obscure her shirt, but I’ll assume it contained an appropriate logo, graphic, or phrase.

    “I <3 l33t$p3@|<" or perhaps "Osculate Posterior P" come readily to mind.

  27. @leanr @Frankly I clicked the meme link, but I think “Ermahgerd” originally came from a South Park episode. People were coming from the future and willing to work for far less, so the resounding cry was, “Ermahgerd they’re takin our jerbs.”

    That being said, Athen’s awesome picture clearly comes from the more recent meme.

  28. Re: “beer” and “bear”
    From looking at KnowYourMeme, the /i/ sound doesn’t change, nor does it change the consonants around it: cf. “read/reed.” [bɪər] has similar vowel phonemes (/ɪ/ is front/high, as is /i/). Thus, I posit that “beer” remains “beer.”

    For “bear,” the only similar example in the KYM ‘canon’ is scary –> scurreh ([ˈskɛəri] –> ['skʌrε]). I suggest that [bair] –> [bɜr] (“bear” –> “burr”).

    I started to break down when the R is added, but realized it was getting off-topic (although I could argue that I was dressing as a nerd in text?), so I’ll just sterp now.

  29. At the risk of raining on everybody’s squee, might I offer a Transatlantic perspective? “Berk” is a (now) little-used perjorative, generally denoting someone whose conduct or conversation leads to the conclusion that they are not exactly the sharpest knife in the box. “Muppet” might be a more contemporary synonym.

    However, few people are aware of the term’s origins in Cockney rhyming slang: “Berkeley Hunt”.

    Two cultures separated by a common language indeed!

    Sorry ’bout that.

    PM.

  30. Love her poster, John!

    I have to admit, geeky grandma that I am, I just don’t see changing “o” and “oo” to “er” as a “lisp.” But I do know enough not to expect logic from an internet meme!

  31. A minor “statistical” correction for those Objectivists following this dialog: Grading on the curve corrects for bias in the test, not for lack of competence among the students, unless the class is vastly different from the population.

  32. Phillip – cool, thats pretty interesting – have I introduced you to my friend Randy? :)
    Terry – I assumed it was more because she has all that hardware in her mouth along with the excitment, not a lisp

  33. Frankly,
    Thanks for your nod. Being a geek, I went and looked up (or tried to) the roots of this meme and repeatedly, it was referred to as “a lisp.” I do not think that word means what they think it means. ;^>

  34. Just so you guys know, you made the writer Karin Tidbeck’s day. That’s her Jagannath in the middle.

  35. Lest there be any confusion, I was referring to an age difference, there is no family or genetic — or these days other — connection.

  36. The book on the left is Anyway* (*A Story About Me with 138 Footnotes, 27 Exaggerations, and 1 Plate of Spaghetti) by Arthur Salm. A title which gives me utter title envy. Also, thank you, Athena–you made my day, too.

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