The 20 Nerd Commandments

By Rob Bricken in Daily Lists, Nerdery
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 at 8:02 am
I think all the rules people suggested were marvelous, and narrowing down 20 was nearly impossible for me. But there was one law that struck me as so true, and was so well written and explained that I knew instantly I had the winner. Ladies and gentlemen, our final Commandment comes from chapka:

20) Thou must obey the Law of the Golden Mean. What is it? Glad you asked:
• Any thing that can be purchased, achieved or obtained that consists of a discrete number of individual parts, issues, episodes, or location; such as issues of a comic book, trading cards in a set, or action figures in a line is subject to the Law of the Golden Mean.
• Any nerd in possession of more than 61.8% of the individual items in such a series must, if at all possible, either proceed to acquire each of the remaining items so as to complete the set, or sell one or more items on eBay until the nerd again owns less than 61.8% of the total series.
• If the items owned make up a complete set of a more specific series, the law is satisfied.
Example 1:
Peter owns seasons one, two, three and four of Babylon 5 on DVD. Peter owns 4 of 5 (80%) of Babylon 5 on DVD, and so must also purchase Season 5 to complete the set, even though it kind of sucked.

Example 2:
Clark owns the first nine of sixteen collected volumes of Dave Sim's "Cerebus the Aardvark." Clark owns only 56.25% of the Cerebus books, and therefore may stop purchasing them without violating this Law once he realizes that they've gotten longwinded, incomprehensible, and obnoxious.

Example 3:
Logan owns all of issues 27 through 860 of Detective Comics except for Issue #449 ("Midnight Rustler of Gotham City"). Logan owns 96.7% of all Detective Comics issues and would ordinarily be required to complete the set. However, by buying Issue #449, Logan can complete the more specific set of all Detective Comics issues published since the introduction of Batman, after which he does not need to purchase issues 1 through 27.

Example 4:
Reed has photographs of himself with William Shatner, Majel Barrett, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, and Walter Koenig. His photographs comprise only 55.6% of the original nine-member regular cast of Star Trek: The Original Series, and it is unnecessary for him to stalk either Michelle Nichelle Nichols or Grace Lee Whitney, although I bet that won't stop him.

Example 5:
Bruce has 300 issues of Fantastic Four from the 1960s through the 1980s in plastic storage tubs under his bed. Because Bruce owns less than 61.8% of the 500-plus Fantastic Four issues, he is not required to purchase the entire set. However, Bruce's collection likely includes more than 61.8% of those Fantastic Four issues inked by Joe Sinnott, and if Bruce is aware of this, he will be required to complete that subset.

For most nerds, failure to abide by the Law of the Golden Mean will result in madness, obsession, and eventually a drunken late-night sale of the entire remaining collection on eBay.
I suppose there's some nerds out there reading this that don't have that completionist compulsion, but I do not know them. I am absolutely this way, and all my enrd friends are the same -- I even think Chapka got the percentages of when it goes from fun collection to MUST-BE-COMPLETE correct. Well done, sir.

But that's not all! You know, the Bible certainly has its commandments, particularly in the Old Testament. But in the New Testament, Jesus explains how people should live through parables. I didn't ask for any parables, but long-time commenter Zortt1 took it upon himself to write one which is feel is too long to be a Commandment, but certainly has a lot to teach us. I like to call it "The Parable of the Nerd Bastard and the Fox:"
"And from the high mountains of the realm known as internet came a traveler. He was a normal man, but one of great size and mainly of gerth. This man was a prophet of Nerd Law, and he went by the name of Bricken. In his hands he carried great tools. In his left hand, a device known as a laptop, which he claimed he had direct contact with all of his people, even if his grammar wasn't exactly correct.

Walking through a nearby village, he stumbled upon several children gather around a viewing screen that was called, television. Bricken stopped to watch what the children were viewing. On the screen a show, was a wondrous show that appealed to all the aspects and laws contained in the book of Nerd Law. It had vibrant characters and interesting stories. However, a Fox was sitting in wait a few paces behind the television.

Bricken intrigued, turned to a boy near the front, 'Boy, how long has this show been running?'

The boy smiled and said, 'Why, Master Bricken! This show is first run! Would you enjoy it with us?"

Bricken was overjoyed! 'Yes! I shall!' Sitting, Bricken watched the show with the children and found himself entranced with the show.

Three episodes in, a Fox slipped into the crowd and began to count those in the audience. Bricken was puzzled, but ignored the Fox. When Fox was done, it slipped behind the television and pulled the plug. The children were horrified and Bricken howled at the Fox, 'Fox! Why have thee killed our show?'

The Fox, cackled with laughter, 'This show was creative and slowly gaining an audience. However, not quickly enough. Therefore, I shall replace it with this!' Lights flickered on the television and the creative, interesting, well thought out story that appealed to every aspect of Nerd Law was gone. In its place was a show that only a heathen would like.

The children ran away to their homes, hiding their televisions from the dreaded Fox. Bricken stayed behind and spoke to the Fox, 'That was a cruel, cruel thing to do Fox. Was not your audience large enough.'

The Fox smiled, 'It was, it was. However, I have decided to go another direction. Another dancing program where people are judged. What are you going to do about it Bricken?'

Picking up his mighty laptop he began to write to his people. Posting after posting, he warned his people of the cruelty of the Fox. The Fox's powers grew weaker, but they didn't go away entirely. 'Bricken, you have weakened me, but I can never truly go away.'

Bricken nodded, 'This is true, for there is even a place for you in this book of Nerd Law, and I, only lowly prophet Bricken, can do nothing to defeat you entirely. Even with the threat of skull fucking. It would take the entirety of the following of the Book of Nerd Law. However, I can do this!'

From this story, the Nerd Law was written, "Thou shall never fully trust a program presented by Fox, no matter how closely it follows the rules within the book of Nerd Law, for it could go away without warning. Even with the threat of a skull fucking."
Zortt1 gets a shirt for this wonderful and thought-provoking fable. Now, my children, go, and spread the word of the 20 Nerd Commandments. For I believe if we are righteous and follow them, the nerd race will grow, proud, strong, less obnoxious and generally less creepy than ever before.

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