Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The curse of The Nerds, whether left-liberal, Yankee smug or any other kind. But never underestimate them - ever

What is it with nerds? We've all met them - passionate committee members, rule sticklers when playing any sort of game, often humourless and, as I know to my cost, inveterate and self-important Wikipedia editors. I have made one or two contributions to Wikipedia over the years, although not very many. Initially, they were additions to the entry on my old school, the Oratory School, which had an interesting section on school slang. I added to it, informing the world, for example, of a small tuck shop we used to visit outside Checkendon called Blossom's and run by a Mrs Cox (ring a bell, Barry?). This entry marked my first run-in with a Wikipedia nerd, this one based, as it turned out, in deepest Arizona. Did I mean 'Blossom's', 'Blossoms' or Blossoms' ' he demanded to know (I assume he was a he, as curiously nerds are invariably male) because if you can't get it exactly right, the entry would have to be deleted. I asked him when he had attended the OS and which house he had been in, and that was the last I heard from him.
Later, I had a run-in over my additions - qualifications, really - to a hostile Wikepedia entry on St Paul Dacre. Now, I cannot claim to 'know' him, but I see him almost every day I come to work, I have spoken to him quite a few times and, despite his ferocious reputation and a tendency which Private Eye refers to as a 'vagina monologue' (very true, I must admit), in my small way rather like him. He is, however, a bete noir of the British left-liberal - make that the self-regarding, smug British left-liberal - and my edit was very unwelcome.
I said, broadly, that Dacre was a tall man and that like many tall men was, in fact, quite shy, and that like many shy men in positions of power, his man-management skills were pitiful and that he often overcompensated for his shyness and social discomfort with a rather forced laddish bonhomie. I didn't actually say it in those ways, but you get the drift. I wanted to redress the balance a little from the general tone of the entry which more or less suggestion Dacre was a rapid right-winger for whom burning alive would be too charitable.
(Sounds, exaggerated, I know, and in this instance it is, rather, but just a perusal of any left-of-centre forum - the Guardian, for example, will furnish proof in abundance that your average caring left-liberal is not about a bit of thuggery, all in the interests of progress, of course). I also added to my edit that Dacre's recreation was gardening (and in my experience, gardeners are never wholly bad. Could you see J. Stalin or A. Hitler with a trowel? No, not can I. QED.)
Anyway, my Wikepedia entry on Dacre was along those lines, suggesting that quite possibly he didn't necessarily eat three young children for breakfast every day. Well, left-liberal Brit was having none of it: Dacre not a complete and utter bastard? No way, the man must burn in hell. So my edit was removed on - annoyingly - technical grounds, and despite my reinstating it and trying to satisfy 'the rules' - nerds just adore 'rules' - several times, I finally admitted defeat. Most recently, my addition to the Wikepedia entry on the Spanish-American War is annoying the nerds, tho' now it is not the left-liberal nerds, but those who feel that we who were not born on a white picket fence with an appe pie stuck up our arse and whistling the Stars And Stripes are somehow sub-human.
My edit, well-sourced this time, to comply with 'the rules' pointed out that several respected US historians do not agree with the party line that the Spanish-American War was started to help the Cuban independence fighters throw of the Spanish yoke but was fully intended to find new markets for American goods.
(Incidentally, just as civilian casualties in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan have been extremely high while the US fights the good fight - to introduce or preserve democracy, apparently - more than a quarter of a million Filipinos met their maker because of American action.) Well, several Yankee nerds were having none of this and removed my edit wholesale. Last night I re-instated it and shall now see how long it remains as part of the entry. I am not holding my breath. For reference you can find it here ( and as of 10.05am on October 7, 2009, it was still there.
Beware nerds. And never underestimate them.

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