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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review May 2, 2012/ 10 Iyar, 5772

The false modesty of 'nerds'

By Jonah Goldberg




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Washington is full of nerds. I know. I speak nerd, not fluently mind you, at least not anymore. But I certainly know more than a few phrases memorized from a Berlitz nerd-to-English phrase book. I can talk Dungeons & Dragons (both D&D and AD&D). I know about the Golden Age of Comics (as in comic books -- if you thought that was a reference to Bob Newhart's heyday, subtract 20 nerd points right there).

Anyway, if you spend any time in Washington you'll find nerds. What happens is most of them sublimate their fixations with comics, or baseball cards, or 1960s British comedies to policy minutiae and political arcana. But, like Christians in ancient Rome, you can still spot them if you know the signals.

Some are quite successful. I once spent a half-hour with one of the most respected (liberal) political analysts in Washington talking about "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." It was like discovering he was from my homeland. Or consider Paul Krugman; I strongly suspect that the Nobel Prize winner and New York Times columnist is a nerd. He says he was inspired to become an economist, by the "psychohistorians" in Isaac Asimov's "Foundation" novels. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) is a Batman fanatic.

But these and other examples notwithstanding, nerds tend not to be "front of the store" types. In "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," Steve Carell spent most of his career working the back room because it's understood that's where people like him belong.

The same goes in Washington. The vast majority of the nerds crunch the numbers for the politicians and news anchors. They explain why the stats are important to people like, say, NBC's David Gregory, who seems to be biding his time until he can achieve his real dream of hosting "Entertainment Tonight."

Many of the beautiful women you see on TV aren't nerds. That doesn't mean they're not smart. But even if they were study geeks in high school, that doesn't mean they were nerds. In the movie "Election," Reese Witherspoon plays an earnest, dorky, driven young woman, but she's not a nerd. Holly Hunter in "Broadcast News" isn't one either -- she's a maniacally self-serious bore. Tina Fey in "30 Rock"? All nerd, baby.

So why am I telling you this? Because, suddenly, we're supposed to call the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner the "nerd prom." Hundreds of media outlets have recycled that description.

And, frankly, I find it offensive. George Clooney doesn't go to "nerd proms." Nor do Kim Kardashian and Lindsay Lohan. I've been to a half-dozen correspondents' dinners, and nerds were far less well-represented than rent-seeking K-street sleazeballs, social-climbing poseurs and power-hungry pols of all parties.

Look, everything is relative, and social distinctions tend to matter only at your own level and above. If you're the prom queen or the captain of the football team, everyone outside your clique is a nerd. And if you're the czar, everyone outside the royal court is a peasant. For good reasons and bad, Washington is a magnet for sports stars, war heroes and businessmen. That doesn't make them nerds.

We have never had a nerd president. All of them tend to have a mixture of resentment, admiration and contempt for the nerds. And that goes especially for Barack Obama, who, more than most, seems to care deeply about seeming cool.

The elite D.C. press corps calls its annual gala the "nerd prom" because it sounds self-deprecating around the Hollywood stars and New York bigwigs (while actually playing on their insecurities) and the politicians. They admire the former for being more famous than them, and resent the latter for being more famous than them.

It's vanity-as-branding. What they're really trying to say is: "The only difference between this and the Oscars is we're really smart." It's of a piece with the seemingly self-deprecating, but really self-serving, slogan "Washington is Hollywood for ugly people." No, it's really not.

Now don't get me wrong. I also have contempt for the people who flock to the dinner in order to cozy up to power for the sake of bragging about cozying up to power. In his mixed performance at this year's "nerd prom," late-night host Jimmy Kimmel said, "Everything that is wrong with America is here in this room." He was right. He wasn't talking about the nerds.

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