It's Gon' Rain

It is so rainy in NYC right now. I can't remember the last time I spent a July weekend cooped up inside. Lucky you, I was able to make a lot of progress on things like our panel for PAX, my photo project, some videos, and this newsletter you are reading now. Not only that, but I'm working on fixing the official GeekNights web site. I'm using my large amounts of free time at work for that, so let's keep that between you and me. My co-workers don't read this, right?

Binary Grapevine

I guess my last newsletter was too real for some peoples, so I didn't get many replies. I did want to address this one thing, though. I assume it is from anonymous since the only identifying information in the response was a very generic e-mail address.


As to people not caring what you have to say, I can only speak for myself, but the thing I respect more than anything in this world is intelligence, both you and Rym have more of it than me. Either that or you're both really confident and are really good at faking it when you don't know shit, but based on the content of the podcast itself and just the amount of shit you say that I have to google, I'm gonna go with the former. One day, I imagine I won't have to google as much and I won't give a shit what you have to say, but that day is not today.

It's actually not uncommon that I hear from people respecting our intelligence. This is a problem. Ok, I can't lie. We aren't stupid. We had the luck of being white dudes growing up in relatively affluent suburban US communities where the public schools did not suck as much. We were able to afford very expensive college educations, though Rym just barely managed to pay for it. The result of all this is that we turned out smarter than the average person. 

Regardless, we are by no means as smart as people make us out to be. We are dwarfed by humanity's true intellectuals. Did you know I failed Calculus III at least twice in college? I ended up passing it in the summer with a C. I think it was a pity C because I still wasn't able to understand the material even after taking the class so many times. 

There is also a very strong bias effect if you listen to GeekNights or hear us talk at conventions. We self-select topics to talk about. We don't talk about something we don't know about. I'm sure every single person reading this is an expert on at least a nice handful of things. Imagine someone talking about their favorite TV show for thirty minutes. Of course they will sound like a genius with all the knowledge bombs they are dropping on the audience. You can always sound smart if you only ever talk about things you are an expert on.

We must also never forget that Rym is the king of bullshit. He will talk about any topic, even if he knows nothing about it. Using common sense and fundamental knowledge combined with deductive and/or inductive reasoning, anyone can make educated guesses very close to the truth. Everyone does this all the time. However, when I do it, I am self aware enough to recognize it. I don't let myself believe something is true just because it's an excellent guess that makes a ton of sense. I also actively prevent myself from stating even my best guesses as if they are facts.

Rym does not do this. If something has a high probability of being true, Rym will confidently state it as fact. He will then try to put the burden of proof on the audience to prove him wrong. He's right as often as I am, he just lacks any self doubt. Even when he is wrong, it is rare that someone will call him out on it. On the occasion he does get challenged he will attempt to rewrite history. He will claim he didn't say what he did say, so he was never wrong in the first place.

His second trick is to very carefully craft his statements, so he can alter the meaning after the fact. Rewriting your own history is easy when nobody records what you say. Even if a recording does exist, people are too lazy to check the tape. On the extremely rare case he gets owned, he just shrugs it off and moves conversation along. There are no serious consequences for saying a false thing in a conversation.

Rym's last ploy is to always steer the conversation to a safe zone. If it goes into waters he can't navigate, he will try to steer it back into familiar territory so he can exhibit smartness again. In the worst case scenario he will simply stay quiet or carefully exit before someone can pose him with a question he can't answer.

I could use all these same exact techniques, but I'm not El Diablo.

Lastly, the reason we appear much smarter than we actually are is because we Google. I actually Google much better and faster than Rym, but that doesn't make much difference. If you just read lots and lots of Internet, and develop an automatic reflex to Google anything you do not know, you will end up knowing a lot of things. I'd say most of the appearance of my intellect is really just me reading the web out loud. My memory is not so good, so without some external digital memory, I would be in big trouble.

The only difference between myself and our anonymous reader is that I Google before I talk while they Google after they listen.

That is All

You know, I actually wrote a few drafts for this newsletter, but I didn't like any of them. I deleted them all. I figure it's better to send something small on time rather than send something crappy that is late. Also, it takes longer than you think to write these things since I edit them like ten times over. I just don't have time for that right now. Too much life enjoying going on in the summer. 

The next newsletter will definitely be late because PAX, but I'll definitely have a lot more to say, because PAX. 

Let me just tell you quickly. There are two philosophies of life. On the one hand is the fact that you only live once. As silly as YOLO! is, it's true. You need to live it up. Even if you live to be 200, what's the point if you spent it being lame and boring? Rym loves Meatloaf's version "A wasted youth is better by far than a wise and productive old age." It's hard for me to argue against this.

On the other hand, WTF. Your life is all you've got. Don't waste it doing stupid shit just for enjoyment. Make something of yourself. Make a mark on the world. Do something meaningful. Don't do stupid reckless shit and die early. It's hard for me to argue against this as well.

Both philosophies of life are correct, but adhering to either one exclusively is the worst. The only way to win is to somehow balance the two of these. Can you live a life that is long, productive, and also full of awesomeness? Can we have our cake and eat it too? I don't know about you, but I'm at least trying. A good start would be not wasting too much time reading newsletters like this one.