Revenge Of The Phony Nerds
Posted on 07.30.14 by Danny Glover @ 8:38 pm

I remember the ancient time — back in my high school years — when nerds became the heroes of Hollywood plot lines. Movies and television shows celebrated the geeks who were scorned by the jocks, cheerleaders and other cool kids.

This helps explain why so many people embrace the “nerd” label these days. But as Charles Cooke explains at National Review Online, today’s nerd are pretenders. They have corrupted the word for political purposes, and they are the anti-type of Hollywood’s heroic dweebs, plagued by the very air of superiority the nerds in cinema resisted.

And who are the targets of their bigotry? Rednecks, of course. As Cooke says:

“Nerd” has become a calling a card — a means of conveying membership of one group and denying affiliation with another. The movement’s king, Neil deGrasse Tyson, has formal scientific training, certainly, as do the handful of others who have become celebrated by the crowd. He is a smart man who has done some important work in popularizing science. But this is not why he is useful. Instead, he is useful because he can be deployed as a cudgel and an emblem in political argument — pointed to as the sort of person who wouldn’t vote for Ted Cruz.

“Ignorance,” a popular Tyson meme holds, “is a virus. Once it starts spreading, it can only be cured by reason. For the sake of humanity, we must be that cure.” This rather unspecific message is a call to arms, aimed at those who believe wholeheartedly they are included in the elect “we.” Thus do we see unexceptional liberal-arts students lecturing other people about things they don’t understand themselves and terming the dissenters “flat-earthers.” Thus do we see people who have never in their lives read a single academic paper clinging to the mantle of “science” as might Albert Einstein. Thus do we see residents of Brooklyn who are unable to tell you at what temperature water boils rolling their eyes at Bjørn Lomborg or Roger Pielke Jr. because he disagrees with Harry Reid on climate change.

Really, the only thing in these people’s lives that is peer-reviewed are their opinions. Don’t have a Reddit account? Believe in God? Skeptical about the threat of overpopulation? Who are you, Sarah Palin?

I was fortunate to find a happy medium in my youth. I was a “band baby” for two of my four years at Paden City High School and a “football animal” for one. I was never quite talented enough to get much playing time in any of the official school sports I tried, but I also wasn’t among the last people picked when I joined my peers for backyard football, pickup basketball and the like. I ranked among the top 10 percent of my small class but also opted to study to be an electrician at a vocational school rather than take college prep classes my junior and senior years.

I was part nerd and part jock. I enjoyed intellectual pursuits yet also appreciated the folksy wisdom of those who were educated at the University of Hard Knocks. In other words, I was — and am — an enlightened redneck. And that’s the worst nightmare of the Neil deGrasse Tysons of the world.


Filed under: Culture and Education and Entertainment and Hatin' On Rednecks and Movies and People and Rednecks and Sports and West Virginia
Comments: 1 Comment

The Sistersville Ferry
Posted on 07.07.14 by Danny Glover @ 8:21 pm

As a Paden City Wildcat from the glorious 1980s, I’ll be the first to tell you that the next stop south of my hometown along the West Virginia side of the Ohio River isn’t good for much.

Sure, Sistersville bred an entire generation of talented small-school athletes in its sports heyday. It also has a storied industrial history. Sistersville was an oil boom town in the late 18th century, a development that made the Wells Inn famous to this day.

But other than that …

OK, Sistersville has more going for it historically than I’ll ever be able to admit in light of the rivalry that divided our towns during my youth. It’s even making national news these days for one feature that has been there for nearly two centuries — the Sistersville Ferry that carries people, cars and even semi-tractors across the river to Fly, Ohio.

The ferry has fallen on hard times of late, losing passengers and struggling to meet its annual budget, but it’s still running. The Parkersburg News and Sentinel originally published the story in West Virginia, but the Associated Press distributed it nationally last week:

Tyler is the only county in West Virginia on the Ohio River where there is no bridge spanning the river. Besides the ferry, drivers have the option of a 36-mile round trip to cross the Hi Carpenter Bridge linking St. Marys and Newport or a 28-mile trek to cross at New Martinsville, Peters said.

Bill Schleier, who is captain of the ferry along with Herman Hause, said vehicle usage has ranged from 58 to 100 a day.

In years past, “those would be considered pretty poor days,” said Schleier, who’s worked on the ferry four years, two as a deckhand and two as a captain. “One hundred fifty, 200 was not unusual.”

The takeaway for me: It’s time for us to introduce our children to the Sistersville Ferry before it disappears altogether. We usually cross at the St. Mary’s bridge when we’re at my parents’ house and head south to visit friends in Marietta, Ohio. Next time we’ll pay $5 to ride the Ohio’s waves.


Filed under: History and News & Politics and West Virginia
Comments: None

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