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Geeks and towels - who knew they had a special day?
The word “geek” is maybe not the best description for someone who is cleverer than us.
But it’s out there, so why not celebrate it because geekdom is not for the faint-hearted. It is embraced by those who know more about technology and understand more about how it works than just about anyone else. So what if their mums still buy their T-shirts?
There are various definitions.
Wikipedia goes with: “The word geek is a slang term originally used to describe eccentric or non-mainstream people; in current use, the word typically connotes an expert or enthusiast or a person obsessed with a hobby or intellectual pursuit, with a general pejorative meaning of a “peculiar person, especially one who is perceived to be overly intellectual, unfashionable, boring, or socially awkward”.
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Urban dictionary is not as accommodating: “Not to be confused with Nerd. A geek does not have to be smart, a Geek is someone who is generally not athletic, and enjoys Video Games; Comic Books; being on the internet, and etc.
“Only a geek would waste their time on the internet, defining geek on urbandictionary.com”
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Thanks for that.
Collins English Dictionary online, meanwhile, takes no prisoners: “If you call someone, usually a man or boy, a geek, you are saying in an unkind way that they are stupid, awkward, or weak.
And, as a second definintion, it adds: “You can refer to someone who is skilled with computers, and who seems more interested in them than in people, as a geek.”
It sounds as if a geek might need a day of his or her own, just to offset the pain of the soubriquet.
But let us not forget geek chic.
When my husband was a boy in the early 60s, he collected Superman and Batman comics and, virtually every edition would have a little cartoon of a bloke on the beach having sand kicked in his face or similar, followed by a drawing of the same guy after he had completed the Charles Atlas body-building course - rippling muscles, bulging thighs, neck like a tree trunk and a six-pack. No one messed with him any more.
“Hey, skinny!... yer ribs are showing,” says the ad before showing a cartoon strip of the poor chap being bested by a beach bully. But fear not because Charles Atlas “can make you a new man... in only 15 minutes a day.”
For men who took up Atlas’s offer, it must have been immensely galling when we hit the 70s and desirable men were pale, with concave chests and no apparent musculature. Although, for all I know, the likes of the Rolling Stones and David Bowie might have been super-fit but lean and wiry.
Fashions were aimed at slender figures, curvy was out. Where, I wonder, were the geeks then? Developing the new age of technology, I expect.
Geek Pride Day, which originated in Spain in 2006, is on May 25. It won’t surprise you to learn that from there, the occasion spread around the world via the internet although it has been a cause for celebration from as early as 1998.
What happened in 2006? Three hundred geeks gathered in Madrid and formed a human Pac-Man.
A manifesto was drawn up including a list of the basic rights and responsibilities of geeks. By 2009 the Science Channel aired special programmes to mark the day and in 2013 a parade was held in Gothenburg, Sweden.
Website wired.com offers a handful of reasons to be proud on Geek Pride Day, one of which is that geeks have a long history, and it name-checks Pythagoras and Isaac Newton (geeky to the core). By coincidence (or maybe not) May 25 is also Towel Day and it probably takes a geek to know that this is held in honour of the late Douglas Adams, writer of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. His army of fans is encouraged to carry around a conspicuous towel for the day. And if you wondered why it is on May 25, the Towel Day website tells us: “If you add the hexadecimal numbers 25 and 5, and convert the result to decimal, you get 42,” which as everyone hitchhiking the galaxy knows, is the answer to life, the universe and everything. According to the Guide, “a towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have.”
If you are not a geek but find yourself irresistibly drawn to the idea of wearing a towel, loosely slung
around your shoulders, wrapped round your head or threaded through like a nappy you may wish to reassess your geek status.
Learning from Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
n There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened.
n Many were increasingly of the opinion that they’d all made a big mistake in coming down from the trees in the first place. And some said that even the trees had been a bad move, and that no one should ever have left the oceans.
n The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don’t.
n Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?
n A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.
n It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problems just with potatoes.