Top 5 insane nerd arguments (settled by governments)

Nerds. They kick ass. Also, in that one movie, they committed a disturbingly high number of sex crimes. But above all, they like to argue with each other. They absolutely love it. They love it the way Robert Carradine and Anthony Edwards loved committing sex crimes. Still, the central problem remains: how do we settle all this madness? Sure, George Lucas can wear a t-shirt that says “Han Shot First”, but that doesn’t really solve anything. The big questions remain.

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And sometimes those questions are so important, and so central to the survival of nerds as a species, that governments have to get involved. Real governments that own like, tanks and stuff have stepped in to answer the cries of nerds, dweebs, and even geeks everywhere across the globe. Questions like:

5. Where was Captain Kirk born?

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that within a year, upwards of 85% of all television will be devoted entirely to Star Trek. James Tiberius Kirk was the most famous (and easily fourth best) captain of the Starship Enterprise. Despite three years on TV, two years of cartoons, and seven movies, not a lot of backstory is given on Captain Kirk. We don’t even learn his middle name until the second episode of the second season of the animated show. We also find out a little bit about his family here and there. It’s not until Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, however,that we find out Kirk is from Iowa.

But that only narrows it down to 56,000 square miles. Geeks, real geeks, wanted to know: Where exactly was Jim Kirk born?

Luckily, on March 25, 1985, a small town council unanimously passed a resolution naming Riverside, Iowa the official birthplace of James T. Kirk. They eventually went further and narrowed it down to exactly 51 W. 1st Street. Then they built an actual monument. And a museum. And held a festival.

A real government spent taxpayer money on this.

And don’t talk to me about alternate timelines. Even if Jennifer Morrison was in labor when her shuttle launched, there’s no reason she couldn’t have already landed in Riverside before giving birth. You don’t know how fast shuttles can land. Now, why they got Kirk’s birthday wrong by five years is a whole different question.

4. What do we do when the zombies attack?

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that upwards of 85% of all entertainment is now devoted to exactly how to survive the zombie apocalypse. As apocalypses go, it’s by far the leading one. Sure, alien invasion is still a pretty big deal, but it’s nothing compared to zombies. Besides, we already have our best guy working on the alien angle.

Here’s a handy countdown clock until the next election. I watch it for about two hours a night.

But regardless of whatever words Trump says in whatever order he happens to say them, it’s not government policy. It’s just not. It’s probably not even his policy, or at least, it may not be half an hour from now. But when the actual United States of America gets involved, they do it for zombies.

On April 30, 2011, the United States Strategic Command released a thirty-one page report titled CONPLAN 8888-11 “Counter-Zombie Dominance”. You can read the entire document right here. Not only does it detail the US military’s planned response to zombies, but it theorizes eight different types. These include: Pathogenic Zombies; Evil Magic Zombies; Symbiant-Induced Zombies; and (of course) Chicken Zombies.

The plan also contains this amazing language:

This plan was not actually designed as a joke.

Now according to StratCom, the plan was designed merely as an exercise for training purposes. According to StratCom, they used “zombies” because naming an actual country as an enemy might prove diplomatically problematic. But I think we all know a cover-up when we see one.

I, for one, welcome our new weather balloon overlords.

3. Is Wonder Woman empowering or demeaning?

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that upwards of 85% of all my future plans in some way involve Wonder Woman. But ever since she first appeared in 1941, Wonder Woman has been the subject of controversy. Her creator, William Moulton Marston, was a firm believer in feminism. In fact, he generally believed women were better than men and that only feminization could save humanity. In 1943, he wrote about how poorly women were treated by society. “[O]ur feminine archetype lacks force, strength, and power.”

And yet Wonder Woman was always problematic. Marston was a devoted fanatic of BDSM, which he described as “a respectable and noble practice.” And he kitted her out with some serious bondage gear: shackles and an unbreakable rope. Her main weakness was having her hands tied by a man, which robbed her of all her power.

So, um, this happened.

After Moulton died, though, things got really weird.

And then this.

And that’s not counting the hypersexuality:

“Should we kill her?”
“Nah. Let’s just… look at her for a while.”

All of this has been debated endlessly. There are entire books about it. So which is she: an amazing feminist icon, or a disturbing masturbatory fantasy?

Luckily, the world only had to wait seventy-five years for an answer. In 2016, the issue was finally put to rest by the United Goddamned Nations.

On October 21, 2016, the UN appointed Wonder Woman as the Honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Women and Girls. The UN Under-Secretary General for Communications explained, “Wonder Woman is an icon. She has been known for justice, peace and equality and we are very pleased that this character will help us reach new audiences with essential messages about empowerment and equality.” And then they held a ceremony in New York attended by both Gal Gadot and Lynda Carter.

Caption Contest! My entry: “Are U NSane?”

Sure, this choice wasn’t free of controversy. Several UN workers silently boycotted the event. Most were upset that the Secretary General was unable to find a single real empowered woman among, you know, all 3.5 billion of them on earth. I’d like to think that at least a couple were angry that Adrianne Palicki’s costume looked stupid.

Less than two months later, the UN did actually rescind the appointment. However, they never rescinded their declaration that Wonder Woman was a symbol of female empowerment. Instead, they doubled down while still somehow admitting defeat. A UN spokesperson said, “The objective was to reach out to Wonder Woman fans to raise awareness of UN Sustainable Development Goal No. 5. We did that. We are very happy.” Goal 5 seeks to achieve gender equality by 2030. So the UN accomplished this mission just about as well as it does everything else.

The spokesperson didn’t add anything else, but I like to imagine he would have said that Adrianne Palicki was the victim of NBC corporate tinkering and that her show would have been really good if given a fair chance. “I mean,” he would add, “it couldn’t be worse than The Orville.”

2. Are the X-Men human?

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that upwards of 85% of all entertainment is devoted entirely to the mutant crisis. There are currently something like seventeen shows and fifty movie franchises obsessed with the problem, none of which are at all consistent, or really, even self-consistent. They all share one central theme, though: regular humans are pretty sure mutants are a different species and therefore should either be: cured; hunted; jailed; murdered; or murdered by robot.

Also, sometimes one of them is allowed to be an Avenger.

Whether the X-Men deserve civil rights hasn’t just been debated in-universe. Actual people have gotten angry about this. One decidedly anti-mutant writer decried:

Leftist politics seem to run abound in the X-Men Gold series…. [Artist Matt] Battaglia notes that a previous issue featured “a Quran verse antagonistic towards Jews and Christians.” He also writes that “this is after the publisher said Marvel was going to move away from politics.” Clearly, this has not been the case and is another example of why Donald Trump won the election in November.

Read it as many times as you want; this author is saying that pro-mutant comic books were one of the reasons right-thinking people voted for Donald Trump.

Summers/Grey 2020. Wolverine can be Prime Minister of Canada.

Seeing as this is all very fertile ground for imaginative storytelling, one would expect the question of mutant rights to go on unanswered forever. One would be wrong.

On July 30, 2002, the US Court of International Trade had the opportunity to rule on this issue. Toy Biz, Inc. sued the United States to determine the status of the X-Men and all other mutants. If the X-Men were human, then Toy Biz was making dolls subject to a 12% tariff. If they weren’t, then they were only subject to a 6.8% tax.

Once again: Toy Biz sued over this, the Department of Justice answered, and after nine years of litigation, a federal court issued a thirty-two page ruling. After carefully examining all the X-Men (as well as Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four), Judge Judith Barzily found:

A “mutant” is an “individual (or, formerly, a species or form) which has arisen by or undergone mutation, or which carries a mutant gene (in Science Fiction, usu[ally] an individual with freak or grossly abnormal anatomy, abilities, etc.).” 10 OED at 145… Thus, a “mutant” is someone (possibly originally belonging to human species) who has undergone change and become something other than human.

And the footnotes get even weirder. She goes into detail about claws, the X gene, Storm’s hair, and the size of the Kingpin’s head. It culminates with the Court reciting the origin story of Longshot:

Once a slave to the extradimensional tyrant Mojo, Longshot eventually escaped, came to Earth and joined forces with the X-Men. Armed with razor-sharp throwing knives, his combined abilities of amazing agility and incredible luck allow him to take on the fiercest foes.

So there you have it: mutants are not human. Toy Biz, Inc. v. United States, 219 F. Supp. 2d 1289 (2002) says so. As expected, Marvel fans were a little displeased.

But at least they found each other.

1. Is Captain America a real captain?

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that upwards of 85% of all movies are now devoted to, and only to, the Avengers. Among their number, they count an African prince, a god, at least two super-spies. and two nuclear physicists. They also count a guy who dresses up in red, white, and blue and calls himself Captain America.

Spoiler alert for Endgame: Chris Evans has a bunch of non-Marvel projects lined up for 2020.

Steve Rogers’ backstory is chronicled in Captain America: The First Avenger. He enlists in the army as a buck private and takes part in a failed super-soldier project. After that, he sells war bonds as “Captain America”. At some point, he decides to just fight Nazis without waiting for permission. He gets so good at it that he starts commanding people like a captain, and they all just listen to him. Eventually, even his superiors just give up and consider him a captain as well.

All of this is true despite the fact that he neither possessed a college degree nor went through Officer Candidate School. He also skipped about eight ranks, including seven non-comm ranks and two different types of Lieutenant.

Master Sergeant America just doesn’t have the same ring.

It’s not just by the time Nick Fury unfreezes him, either. Way back in WWII, they were dressing and treating him like a Captain.

Strictly speaking, Rogers’ rank was probably even higher. He had full operational authority and battlefield generals followed his orders. Still, the question remains: Is Steve Rogers an actual army captain?

It was a fun thought experiment, and there was no reason to go further than that. And then the US Army got involved. Army Spokesperson Wayne Hall confirmed that Rogers would have earned the captain paygrade (O-3). He then went into even more detail, calculating Cap’s overtime and hazard pay for the 66 years he spent missing in action. He figured that the final number was hard to say, but Rogers’ total backpay would exceed $3 million.

And that’s the official word on the subject from the actual United States Army. I assume the Russians will be along any minute now with a tally of what they owe Bucky Barnes. My guess: two bottles of vodka and an arm.

Jordon Davis

B.A. Political Science, SUNY Albany - 1991
Master of Public Administration, University of Georgia - 1993
Juris Doctorate, Emory University - 1996

Admitted:
State of Georgia - 1996
State of New York - 1997

Winner:
Fields Medal (with Laurent Lafforgue and Vladimir Voevodsky) - 1998

Follow Jordon at @LossLeader on Twitter.

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  • Thomas Stockel

    Wonder Woman is no more hypersexualized than Batman, Superman, Thor, Bishop or any other idealized male seen in comics.

    And Kirk is the best, hands down.

    • Jordon Davis

      Honestly, I thought that anyone commenting would be taking umbrage at the fact that I declared Black Panther to be an Avenger.

  • ppi23

    “Captain Kirk. We don’t even learn his middle name until the second episode of the second season of the animated show.”
    I am like 99% positive that his middle initial is shown in the original series in text, but it wasn’t ‘T’ so it’s been swept under the rug and never mentioned. I will see if I can dig it up later.

    • Jordon Davis

      The first time his middle initial is shown, it’s wrong. Then, on the series, he is usually referred to as Jime Kirk. His middle initial is first correctly shown in the episode “Mudd’s Women” when harry Mudd says, ‘This will be the end of James T….” and then he gets cut off.

      Popular culture had Kirk’s middle name as Tyberius, and Roddenberry endorsed that. Roddenberry also endorsed the idea that Kirk was from a small town in Iowa. These didn’t make it into canon, though, until long after the original series ended.

    • ppi23

      James R. Kirk — from the 2nd pilot episode, “Where No Man has Gone Before.”

      Cmdr Mitchel ascends to quasi-god power and makes a tombstone for Kirk with the name styled: James R. Kirk

      • Jerry Fritschle

        Though I don’t recall the particulars, I believe that Trek lore has some tortured rationalization for that–rather like how some Star Wars fans can’t admit that George Lucas, in 1977, had no clue what a parsec was :-)

        • Toby Clark

          He did know what it was. The original script made it clear that Han was trying to bluff them with technobabble and that it wasn’t working, at least on Obi-Wan.

          • Jerry Fritschle

            I was 19 when the movie came out. My buddies and I saw it many times. We were scratching our head about that (I know the look that Obi-wan gives Han, to which you refer.) But when that explanation came out, back in the day, I didn’t buy it and I don’t now. Even David Gerrold wrote about, saying “George, it’s okay to admit you goofed. You’re among friends.” That quote is from a 40+ year old memory, but should be close.

            Since then I understand that it’s been retconned to mean that Han found a shortcut. I might eventually catch “Solo” to see how they handle it :-)

          • Jordon Davis

            Han caught a shortcut. There, now there is absolutely no reason to see that movie.

  • ppi23

    “Toy Biz, Inc. sued the United States to determine the status of the X-Men.”
    Ha! Take that, Sovereign Immunity!! Now answer my FOIA Star Trek questions!!

    • Jordon Davis

      The US has waived sovereign immunity in trade disputes. In fact, the first case ever tried in the first federal court ever established was a customs dispute. Most recently, the US submitted to jurisdiction via the Customs Court Act of 1980 which you can read but you shouldn’t because I’m a lawyer and I can guarantee you that it is 100% completely and utterly incomprehensible.

      • ppi23

        That’s a nice bit of trivia. I remember an old economics & public policy professor of mine saying the first act passed by the first US Congress was passing a tax on imported trade.

        [Note:His talk later shifted to GeorgeWashington & the Whiskey Rebellion, so he may have been specifically talking about Congress under the Articles of Confederation]

  • Toby Clark

    I’ve seen half a dozen episodes of the Orville, and it’s not even close to atrocious as that Wonder Woman pilot.

  • The_Shadow_Knows

    Captain America could have been made an “honorary” captain at some point in the same sense that military physicians are (some doctors actually start as majors). Physicians don’t even have to go through basic training, although they do attend some officer classes.

  • Greenhornet

    My Entry: President Theodore Roosevelt OKed the FORWARD PASS in football!
    ALSO:
    What the #3// was the Royal Australian Air Force doing in New Mexico?

    • Jordon Davis

      Roswell Army Air Field. However, I understand your confusion. I myself am a Female Body Inspector.

      • Greenhornet

        Thanks, that clears it up.
        WAIT A MINUTE! Do they mean that THE WHOLE AIRFIELD PERSONEL captured the flying saucer?!!
        Me am confusicated…

    • ppi23

      That’s the problem I had with Roswell Alien Autopsy videos…Not enough Australians!

      • ppi23

        Oh…that got dark
        once I reddit