Saturday, March 14, 2009

Geek Cred: Old Guys Don't Get It, Or Got It

So it seems that the senior citizens are circling the proverbial wagons, just as the early settlers did during these guys' long ago childhoods. William A. Jacobson, an Associate Clinical Professor of Law at Cornell Law School, has entered the fray between myself and the other McC:

There has been a little on-line spat brewing between Robert Stacy (the other) McCain, and one James B. Webb, which resulted in my memorable post Sitemeterenfreude ("deriving pleasure from the failure of other bloggers to generate traffic") based on this McCain post mocking Webb's failure to produce:

When you're through doing that, go to a Castro Street glory hole, offering up your rump to complete strangers, while bragging that you've got more than 25,000 hits on your blog in the past 13 months.

Losers. They're born that way.

I don't know how this dispute started (I think it was over a woman), but it doesn't really matter at this point.

In the latest spit-spat, Webb takes aim at this McCain comment (stay with me on this, there is a point here eventually):
A Jedi must study the Force to grow strong, my young Padwan. I am your father, Luke.
To which Webb responded (this is the key, stay awake):
By misspelling "Padawan" you relinquish whatever little geek cred you may have once possessed....
OK, fight on. Webb has accused the Other of not knowing how to spell a Star Wars term for a Jedi in training (which apparently is the measure of geek cred). But Webb used the Wikipedia spelling "Padawan":
Jedi Padawan: A Youngling that successfully completes their respective level of training undergoes Padawan apprectice [sic] training under the tutelage of a Jedi Knight or Jedi Master. In a rite of passage, Padawans must build their own lightsabers as a final test. Darth Vader told Luke Skywalker that his skills were complete upon building a new lightsaber, which is the final test before the trials to Knighthood.
But there is no single spelling of "padawan" in relation to Star Wars (see Anakin's Padwan episode as part of Star Wars: The Clone Wars). Regardless, "padawan" is not just a Star Wars term. The term "young padwan" is part of urban phraseology and means:
a newbie; rookie {derived from the hit film Star Wars, but losing one syllable}

"Patience, young padwan. You aren't as good as a pro like me yet."

So, young padwan Webb, you erred by taking a shot at the Other based on the definition of a word ("padwan") rather than the actual phrase the Other used ("young padwan").
Well of course there was a woman, how do most epic disputes start? All right, let's do this: not knowing how to spell a Star Wars term for a Jedi in training is but one of many measures of geek cred, (others of note being: knowing not to call Watchmen The Watchmen, what the significance of the number 42 is and that a parsec is a measure of distance and not time; how are you doing so far?) all of which can cause you to relinquish said cred, particularly if you're already over 50 Earth years old.

And yes, Wikipedia spells "padawan" with the vaunted third "a" but that doesn't make it the "Wikipedia spelling", it just means that Wikipedia spells it correctly. But if Jacobson wants to go to the source then let's go. His citing in the Urban Dictionary produces one result with 27 up or down votes (votes and hits are still how we're measuring our cocks, right?), whereas the term "padawan" produces seven results with 498 up or down votes.

Jacobson's other source is a DVD for sale of the movie that "was almost universally panned by film critics" and created primarily "to act as an introduction to the television series of the same name". Compare that with what we find at Star Wars.com, the official Star Wars blog. Searching the site for both terms reveals 9030 results for "padawan" and 227 results for "padwan", a difference of almost 40: 1.

And finally consider this: Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor are both critically acclaimed, award winning British actors. Have you ever seen The Phantom Menace? Are you telling me that the word "padawan" from that movie didn't have three syllables? Or that both of these guys were just plain saying it wrong?

What it all boils down to is this: I never said that there were not multiple spellings of the word "padawan" on the Interwebs, just that one spelling is correct and that its use has sufficient geek cred while anothers is and does not, and that not using the appropriate spelling forces one to relinquish said cred (if it even existed at all, which in this case I highly doubt). If a guy who's half a century old wants to try to make the case that a bad movie made to promote a cartoon and going by the Urban Dictionary imparts more geek cred than the actual movies themselves and going by the official Star Wars blog he's more than welcome, but true geeks and sci-fi fanboys can smell the liniment and know the difference.

Pop culture is a challenging subject to master and it only becomes more so the closer you are to your inevitable death. Stick to the law Jacobson, and leave matters of hipness and geek cred to the people who actually grew up watching this stuff. I'll call you and McCain when I have a question about American Graffiti.

[Update: Jacobson puts down his walker to type the following:
UPDATE: He needs to study his film history better:

In what purports to be a retort to the above post, he asserts that I should focus on American Graffiti (my generation) not Star Wars (his generation):
Pop culture is a challenging subject to master and it only becomes more so the closer you are to your inevitable death. Stick to the law Jacobson, and leave matters of hipness and geek cred to the people who actually grew up watching this stuff. I'll call you and McCain when I have a question about American Graffiti.
Here's some history. Both American Graffiti (1973) and Star Wars (1977) were my generation. It's all in Wikipedia. If you are not going to consult with me before your posts, at least read Wikipedia (like you did to get the spelling of Padawan).

And you didn't grow up watching Star Wars. You grew up reading about people like me and the Other who actually watched Star Wars when we were growing up. You watched re-runs and marketing sequels, when you didn't have your head strapped to the television watching The Real World and Punked.
Is it just me or can you hear the gnashing of false teeth as well? Here's some history: according to his Wikipedia page, McCain was born in 1959. I can't find a definite birth date for Jacobson but according to his Cornell bio page he completed his undergraduate degree in 1981. If we assume a standard matriculation period of four years that would also put his date of birth in 1959 as well. I was born in 1974. That means that when Star Wars came out in 1977 McCain and Jacobson were both legally classified as adults, and I was three years old.

I grew up watching this movie. I even wrote a post last Christmas reminiscing about my own youth as I watched my three-year-old nephew going apeshit over the new generation of toys he had received. There are boxes full of action figures, an AT-AT imperial walker, several TIE fighters and many other toys I haven't seen for years in a storage facility back in Texas with my name all over them. I had Star Wars curtains in my room as a kid, for Christ's sake. And out of the over 2 million pages on the Internet including the word "padawan", Jacobson apparently possesses the magical ability to just know that I went to Wikipedia to find out how to spell it. What kind of shyster lawyer are you?

And I didn't assert that you should focus on American Grafitti, I said that I'd give you a call if I have a question about it because pretty much only old people have seen that steaming pile of garbage. I told you to focus on law because that's (purportedly) what you know. I know Star Wars. Ok, pick up your walker again...]

[Update II: Catch the 2nd update in the new post"Geek Cred: Pwning The Elderly, Ctd.".]


Anonymous said...

I take it Jacobson teaches at the cow college part of Cornell, and not the elite section where Coulter attended.

JBW said...

DLB, you're only calling it a cow college because they were founded by a cow...

repsac3 said...

At 44, I cannot claim all that much geek cred, myself...

But according to the very same dickometer that these guys are using to judge their own sites (and perhaps their worth on the planet, as well), the hits are in your favor, both on urban dictionary, and the official star wars site.

Also noted was Mr Jaccobson's continued admonition to his readers to stay awake and with him. One would thing that, if it was interesting enough for him to post about, it would be interesting enough to keep his many scrupulously counted fans and foes awake and engaged, but not even he seemed to think it was... Of course, maybe that age thing was a factor there, as well...

While I confess to having very little clue in the padawan / padwan debate, I did manage to score a fairly respectable 76% in the Sci-Fi/Comic section of The Nerd Test, Version 2.0, and turned out to be a "Cool High Nerd" overall, according to my total scores. That's gotta count for some kinda geek cred, right?

(Come one... Tell me my geek dick is big enough... I don't have time to put the lipless one's master plan into place. I need it now. Validate me, for God's sake!!)

JBW said...

Not trying to trump you Reps but I just posted a 93 in that same category. And I'm sure your geek dick is a nice size but mine is now worried that I may be scaring away all of the geek trim.

repsac3 said...

Yeah, I expected as much... ...but I'm gettin' old, and for my age, I did ok, I think... (That was the point, in fact...)

So trump away, but please clean the sheets afterwards, and holster that thing when you're not using it...

JoeBama "Truth 101" Kelly said...

I'm always thanking Repsac for American Nihilist membership but I'm not doing that anymore. Screw him and his big geek dick. To hell with you and your even bigger geek dick and all your hits. I may have a little geek dick and a measly 70 hits a day, but I have my self respect. And Ann Landers said that's what women really want.

repsac3 said...

Screw him and his big geek dick.

That's right, screw that Repsac gu... ...huh?

Hey, wait a minute...

What'd I do?

Sure, I needed a tiny bit o' "dick validation," and I didn't have time to put "Lipless McCain's master plan for big dickedness" into place to get it, but these things happen...

I'm still pretty sure Ann Landers will respect me in the morning...

So screw me? No... screw you... I know where my bread is buttered, and that's why I've vowed never eat breakfast a Webb's house, no matter how dry he claims the toast is.

If you don't want to see my big geek dick, you best look elsewhere, 101... I can't help who I am...

JoeBama "Truth 101" Kelly said...

Depends on what he's using to butter his toast General Repsac.

Oh go ahead and show it off. It will give the Nutty Professor a subject he can go balls and all after.