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John Hodgman Asks Obama, "Are You a Nerd?" 147

Posted by samzenpus
from the gooble-gobble-one-of-us-one-of-us dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Watch a video of comedian John Hodgman speak after Barack Obama at the recent Radio and Television Correspondents Association dinner in DC and discuss the central question of our age: "how we can heal the great and shameful division that has plagued our nation for so long — the age old conflict between jocks and nerds" and ask Obama: Are you now, or have you ever been, a nerd?"

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John Hodgman Asks Obama, "Are You a Nerd?"

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  • by SirGarlon (845873) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @01:10PM (#28442243)

    TFA says Obama would be our (the U.S.'s) "first geek president."

    Hello? Anybody out there ever heard of Thomas Jefferson?

    • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by jollyreaper (513215)

      Hello? Anybody out there ever heard of Thomas Jefferson?

      Geeky he may be, but he'll still be known first and foremost as our first slave-banger President.

      (and incidentally, Idle formatting has been fucked up for how long now and still hasn't been fixed?)

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      Thomas Jefferson was a bit nerdy, true, but he was disqualified from being the first nerd president because it's a well-known fact that he ran his own fantasy football league. And we all know that fantasy football is the territory of jocks, not nerds.
    • by Bigby (659157)

      The Jefferson Bible is the nerdiest/geekiest project in Presidential history

    • by e2d2 (115622)

      George Washington was a bit of a nerd himself being into surveying and map making.

      • by Bigby (659157)

        His more nerdy feats are his obsession with interior decorating and amazing alcohol production

      • You've gotta love a president who proclaimed "Make the most of the hemp seed and sow it everywhere"
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Well we have the actual video. What John actually says is "the First Nerd President of the Modern Era", but I guess you're too much of a jock to fact-check rather than jump to conclusions.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by ckuttruff (1315571)
      I believe Hodgman said the first of this era.
    • by dkleinsc (563838) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @02:46PM (#28443901) Homepage

      And if Jefferson isn't geeky enough for you, there's always Herbert Hoover (degree in geology, worked as a mining engineer, and advocated technocratic solutions). Of course many folks don't like to claim him, for obvious reasons.

    • by hellfire (86129) <deviladv@gmaMONETil.com minus painter> on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @03:08PM (#28444323) Homepage

      ... and the article misquoted John Hodgeman.

      The article stated:
      "also the first geek President"

      Sorry to split definitions but we have to agree on the definition of nerd and geek. I don't consider them quite the same. I consider TJ a nerd but not a geek.

      Secondly to quote John Hodgeman directly:

      "He could be the first nerd president of the modern era."

      I don't consider Obama a geek, but he has many nerd qualities, so I would agree with this.

      • by mcvos (645701)

        I don't consider Obama a geek, but he has many nerd qualities, so I would agree with this.

        Considering he likes Star Trek, I'd say he also has geek qualities. His main nerd quality is that he's smart, but I'm not sure that's enough.

      • ... Sorry to split definitions but we have to agree on the definition of nerd and geek. I don't consider them quite the same.

        Agreed. Geek != Nerd. I basically consider a geek to be a nerd with social skills. Nerds aren't very good at socializing, but are just very good at their technical expertise. Geeks are similar, but know how to socialize as well. I consider myself a geek, but a somewhat shy geek. ;)

      • by BobGregg (89162) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @07:11AM (#28451059) Homepage

        Sorry to split definitions but we have to agree on the definition of nerd and geek.

        I don't consider them quite the same. I consider TJ a nerd but not a geek.

        From Hodgman's speech (paraphrasing):

        "Some of you may take issue with my saying he is a nerd, since at the beginning I mentioned him being a geek.

        You will say, 'there is a difference between a geek and a nerd.' To you I say: Shut up, Nerds!"

    • by $0.02 (618911)

      Abe Lincoln is the only USA president who got granted a patent.

  • by bogaboga (793279) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @01:12PM (#28442277)

    I suggest we first define who a nerd is. Otherwise this being slashdot, we'll end up submitting comments about something that is entirely different depending on who is posting.

    My submission: I agree with this definition [wikipedia.org] and hope that all of you use it as a bench mark as you post your comments.

    In part: "...derogatory connotation or stereotype, that refers to a person who passionately pursues intellectual activities, esoteric knowledge, or other obscure interests..."

    Thank you.

    • or other obscure interests..."

      But I find sports somewhat obscure, does that make jocks nerds to me?

      • by geekoid (135745)

        You may find them obscure, but pretty much no one else does.
        Football is not obscure, baseball is not obscure.

        Now if you obsessed over an obscure sport, then that would be nerd like behavior.

    • Many terms that used to be derogatory are not anymore, some even a badge of honor. Once Bill G. became the richest person in the world, nerds became more accepted.
    • by cephus (1471105) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @01:27PM (#28442503)

      Wow, what a nerd!

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ClosedSource (238333)

      I'd say historically wikipedia's definition is wrong. Nerds were defined by particular interests (e.g. Star Trek, computers, etc) and a particular appearance (e.g. pocket protector, calculator on belt, etc). Being smart or getting good grades wasn't required to be a Nerd.

      Now days it seems to be more of a derogatory classification directed toward anyone who isn't a slacker.

      • by dk90406 (797452)
        Of coursing interests like knowing the player names (and statistics, scores etc) for any sport is not nerdy. The persons who hit the hardest define the legal interests. The nerds learn to shrug it off and are later rewarded with more interesting and better paying jobs. Ah well, I digress and am getting OT.
    • by Itninja (937614)
      In short:
      Nerds=bad
      Geeks=good

      They share similar skillsets and mentalities, but as a wise man once said: "Geeks get it done". I think he mean that a nerd is a geek that has not actually achieved anything noteworthy. Or that a geek is a nerd or has.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dk90406 (797452)
      "that refers to a person who passionately pursues intellectual activities, esoteric knowledge, or other obscure interests"
      So pursuing intellectual activities are obscure? What a sad state the world is in (by wikipedias definition). I'd better get drunk, watch a ballgame and get in a fight like a other proper human being.
      • by geekoid (135745)

        NIce slective bolding.

        "So pursuing intellectual activities are obscure? "
        no.

        "So passionately pursuing intellectual activities "

        Yes.

    • by Stavr0 (35032)

      I suggest we first define who a nerd is.

      Someone who has better things to do than to try to be "popular" in school. [paulgraham.com]

    • I suggest we first define who a nerd is. Otherwise this being slashdot, we'll end up submitting comments about something that is entirely different depending on who is posting.

      My submission: I agree with this definition [wikipedia.org] and hope that all of you use it as a bench mark as you post your comments.

      In part: "...derogatory connotation or stereotype, that refers to a person who passionately pursues intellectual activities, esoteric knowledge, or other obscure interests..."

      Thank you.

      As opposed to a geek which, according to Wikipedia is (in a more recent school of thought)...

      ...simply a description. It is taken to be someone who is an enthusiast, often in things outside of the mainstream spectrum, of note is that in this definition, there is no reference to being socially inept in the slightest.

      Geeks can socialize. Nerds can't... usually. I was a bit of a nerd in high school, but I've transformed into a geek in more recent years. I wear my Geek Badge proudly! :-)

  • by NickyGotz22 (1427691) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @01:27PM (#28442507)
    if Obamas a nerd were gonna be ok. All we need is a catchy music montage, a wise crackin sidekick (Joe Biden = YES), maybe a panty raid or two, and we can fix the world economy in no time.
    • by gmuslera (3436)
      John Hodgman should be careful... according to the same movies, nerds take revenge.
  • As an initial matter: Fire Samzenpus.

    Regardless of whether "nerd" is derogatory, the thing that gives me the most heart about the fact that this question is being asked is that we seem to have gotten over our national obsession with having a president who is "one of us." Whether I agree with his policies, I am delighted that our current president did dramatically better in law school than I did, at a somewhat better law school that the one I went to. He engages intellectually with at least some of the is
    • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by MaskedSlacker (911878)

      Kill Samzenpus.

    • As an initial matter: Fire Samzenpus.

      Priorities, please. Fire kdawson first.

      the thing that gives me the most heart about the fact that this question is being asked is that we seem to have gotten over our national obsession with having a president who is "one of us."

      I suggest you watch the video to the end. Although it's done with humour, he's making a serious point not too dissimilar to this.

  • Obama is a lawyer and a politician.

    If the internet nerds are so needy and desperate for a role model in politics, they should try to elect a scientist or engineer. Even an MD would be a better nerd than a lawyer.

    • by Locke2005 (849178)
      If the internet nerds are so needy and desperate for a role model in politics, they should try to elect a scientist or engineer. You mean like Jimmy Carter?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by brkello (642429)
      He's a constitutional lawyer, which is a whole different breed. And who says a nerd has to be a certain profession?
    • by geekoid (135745)

      You're kidding right? I mean seriously, who qualifies more of a Nerd then a lawyer?
      Nit picky on details, lives in obscure facts, he's a constitution lawyer. The nerdiest of the bunch.

  • He's a jock (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @02:14PM (#28443337)
    The press made a big deal about his basketball playing ability during the campaign, therefore he is disqualified as a nerd. He is the diametric opposite of a nerd, he is a jock.
    • Nerd is a state of mind more than anything else, really.

      Obama has traits that belong to jocks (playing basketball) and nerds (likes books, blackberry etc). However if you look at him as a whole, you will see an outgoing, extroverted, high gifted PUBLIC SPEAKER (all nerds cringe at public speaking) with a magnetic personality that draws other people to him -- this is 180degrees away from what a nerd is inside.
    • Wait, nerds aren't allowed to play sports now? I guess I need to hand in my nerd card, since I play ultimate frisbee every week and have been known to play basketball occasionally. I guess being ranked in the top 2,000 open source contributors by Ohloh and having released over 150K lines of open source code isn't enough these days; you have to also not play any sports.

      On a more serious note, if you define yourself by the things you don't or can't do, rather than the things you are and do, then you are

      • Nerds can play ultimate frisbee (it's almost a nerd sport) and even be good at it. If you play basketball and are good at it, you aren't a nerd--you may be a damn fine programmer, but you aren't a nerd.
        Being good at a mainstream sport (football, basketball, baseball) makes you one of the cool kids. If you are a nerd, you aren't one of the cool kids, thats part of the definition of nerd.
        • by Creepy (93888)

          Ultimate Frisbee is a nerd sport, kinda like adult kickball. Its not that nerds can't play sports, its just they can't play directly competitive sports like basketball, rugby, football (American or non-US soccer - in the US soccer is a nerd sport, which is why it isn't taken seriously).

          Jocks and nerds both play golf. Hippie stoner nerds play disc golf. Yes, that's stereotyping, but hey, isn't that what jock and nerd is all about?

    • WTFV (Score:4, Informative)

      by Burning1 (204959) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @06:03PM (#28446875) Homepage

      You should probably WTFV (Watch the Fucking Video.) :)

      Hodgeman makes this point pretty clear... The last administration wasn't an athletic bunch, but they did have that Jock attitude.

      Obama is in good shape and plays sports, but really does seem more like the nerd type.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        The Bush Administration could be described as confident(arrogant) and self assured and unwilling to give ground to their opponent. The Obama Administration can be described as confident(arrogant) and self assured and unwilling to give ground to their opponent. What's the difference that makes Obama nerd like?
        • Confidence is being able to do something and doing it. One can have humility and confidence. The guy in the back of the room who says "I think I can fix your server" and after much discussion, does it, is confident, but humble. The guy who walks up and says "I got your server fix right here!" but has no idea WTF he's doing, fails at it, but blames someone else is arrogant and confident (he probably really believes this). The main difference being competent.

          Obama's made a career out of refusing to take a

          • You're right that confidence is not arrogance. George W. Bush was confident. Barack Obama is arrogant.
            Whether a person is described as confident or arrogant depends on the person doing the description.
    • Not only did they make a big deal about it, but at one campaign stop when tossed a ball he shot an off the hip Swish from behind the 3 point line, while on camera...
  • Don't be an ass. He's a jock of the "team captain" type.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by geekoid (135745)

      No, he's a nerd.

      In fact he is an Alpha Nerd. He's a constitutional lawyer. That's nerdy by default. Not a lot of jobs are nerdy be default.

      BTW I am A nerd. I also won trophies for fencing, water polo and baseball.

      Next weekend I get to launch rockets with my kids! Assuming we have better weather conditions then last weekend. Stupid Oregon weather.

      • But are you more than just a technology user? This is a joke, based upon the hype from the election cycle about how nerdy Obama is, because he uses a PDA Smartphone. Wow. Who knows, maybe somewhere there is a geek in there, but right now all I see is a tech using lawyer. To put it another way, bits don't lie and can't be spun.

        Above, someone asked if Carter was a nerd/geek President. I would agree that Carter is a nerd (nuclear engineer and all that), and was a good example of why we make such bad politician

  • He's not. A nerd never never NEVER spoken a bad word about videogames.
  • Nerds are not lawyers (that's being part of 'the establishment').

    .

    .

    that is all.

    • by 7Prime (871679)

      And how does being "establishment" disqualify one from being a Nerd? I'd argue that nerd-dom is incredibly "establishment" oriented. The stereotypical nerd comes out of one institution (academics), and right into another (mega corps). How is being the head of Microsoft and the head of the free world any different?

      If anyone tries to tell me that nerds are, by nature, anti-establishment, I'll laugh. Slashvertarians excluded.

  • Obama is far from being anything resembling a nerd. Positions of power, particularly the presidencies, have been filled by people about as non-nerd as you get. The people here saying Obama is a nerd are like most of Obama supporters--projecting their own identity or hopes and dreams into them because they like the man and want him to be like them. If you've seen some of the almost spooky Obama worship going on, this will not at all surprise you.

  • A nerd by definition doesn't do very well socially, since their time is taken up with learning the latest technologies or sciences rather than learning the social interactions that a politician would need to survive.
    • by pohl (872)

      I couldn't disagree more. Erik von Markovik [wikipedia.org] serves as a clear counter-example, as do many of the men who benefit from the fruits of his research.

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