Geek Championship

Brad Goins Friday, September 2, 2016 Comments Off on Geek Championship
Geek Championship

I’m a couple of decades too old to know what the word on the street is. But I have an army of young fans who keep me completely up to date on developments as they happen. And here’s what they tell me.

Things have changed. There’s no longer a stigma against being a geek or nerd. These days the kind of people who get called “geek” or “nerd” are considered hip, with it, cool, fresh, bodacious and all those other terms that indicate that a thing is spiffy, wiggy and now.

But even popular people can get lonely. If you consider yourself a geek but you’ve longed for some geek companionship, the Louisiana Technology Park in Baton Rouge may be what you’re looking for.

Among the park’s many offerings is its Tech Tuesdays. Although each Tech Tuesday is about a particular topic (such as health care technology), they’re also meant as opportunities for networking. On the same day of the week, there’s Seafood Tuesdays at Club Raggs (starting at 8 pm), which I would assume is another networking opportunity.

One event that should function as a giant geek magnet is the Women In Computer Science Game Jam, which will be held Sept. 23-25 at LSU’s Digital Media Center.

Participants will team together to create the best game of the bunch in 48 hours. Although the event is hosted by Women in Computer Science, any college or high school student can participate — even males. If you’re younger than 18, you’ll need a chaperone.

You don’t need game development experience. Knowledge of coding, art or music is a plus. Use of GameMaker is suggested; you can get a tutorial if you need one. For more info, visit

Learn more about the park at

Could I Get Some News With A Side Of News?

Of course I was sorry to learn that there’d been a shooting of police in Baton Rouge. And I certainly believe that a story of that scope deserves plenty of serious media coverage.

But one aspect of the matter did make me a little uneasy. I knew that the media coverage of all the different stories that stemmed from the shooting would turn into a media event that would entirely take over state news for two weeks.

I was right.  And at just about the time the coverage of shooting-related stories started to taper off, Louisiana news was hijacked by a newer and bigger media event. Football. Story after story after story after story about Louisiana football ran each day of the week.

Now, I realize there are plenty of people in SWLA who are quite happy to read as many stories about college — and even high school — football as they can find. But I’m guessing that at this point, some sports fans are getting a little tired of hearing about PokemonGO. Am I right?

What exacerbates the dearth of local news in Louisiana these days is yet another media event — this one made up of a glut of absolutely unnecessary stories about every imaginable aspect of the Olympics and Rio. (It seems to me that few of the stories actually have something to do with athletics.)

A recent Harris poll showed that Americans’ interest in the Olympics is at an all-time low. Could somebody please pass that story on to the media outlets that are supposed to be reporting it?

I never imagined that such a disparate group of media organizations would feel the need to figure out some convoluted angle that would enable them to drum up coverage of the Olympics. I pulled a staffer at the 538 polling organization from my Twitter feed when he posted something about “really important olympic [sic] prep.” I’m sorry, but I don’t care and I don’t think it’s news.

Here’s an example of the sort of story that gets buried when media events take over. In an 18-day stretch leading up to Aug. 6, New Orleans had its highest concentration of murders in the last seven years. Maybe we could get a couple of stories about that when state correspondents get around to it?

Want To Get Your Music On?

If you want to get your music on and you have a little foldin’ money, you might consider attending the Music Innovation Hackathon that’s taking place Aug. 26-27 at the Launch Pad at 444 St. Charles Ave. in New Orleans.

Experts will discuss such topics as music business, entertainment law, film financing, tax credits, music streaming apps and a bunch more. As far as I can tell, ticket prices range from $35 to $400.

The event is put on by a non-profit — the N.O. Music Business Institute, which I would guess means this is not primarily a money-making enterprise. Of course (as any musician can tell you) there are times when musical equipment can get pricey.

Need to know more about the Hackathon? Visit and search for “Music Innovation Hackathon.”

What To Do About Duke?

In his new “Tuesday Tracker” column, Louisiana political guru and Lagniappe Magazine columnist Jeremy Alford wrote, “Even his mildest critics would argue that David Duke is only as relevant as the mainstream press makes him. Every inch of newsprint, every second of television time and every syllable of radio chatter gives the former Klansman a chance to build on his current candidacy in the U.S. Senate race. But the fact remains that he is a candidate, one with universal name recognition in Louisiana. Ignoring Duke will not make him go away.”

Alford reported that the GOP command structure in the state is trying to figure out ways to exclude Duke from the Louisiana GOP — for example, to keep him from getting funding or endorsements or from participating in debates.  As of early August, these plans didn’t appear to be jelling. Of course, there’s still some time; but at this point, not gobs and gobs of it.

Stranger Things Haven’t Happened

Just as surely as cats sleep, Louisiana has the wildest politics of any place in the U.S. Do research on any period in the past, and you’re sure to find something freaky.

For instance, I recently learned from The Twitter that way back in 1991, famed Civil Rights leader James Meredith appeared in a TV commercial in which he expressed support for David Duke.

Apparently, it’s true. In the commercial (reported the Associated Press at the time) Meredith said, “Duke has always said out loud and up front what he believes … Whatever he said in years past, he didn’t say it behind our backs.  And what he says today, we need to hear it.”

Meredith also said that “liberals” would be “surprised” by how many black votes Duke would get. (In ‘91, Duke was also running for governor of Louisiana. Cornell’s Roper Center reported at the time that 4 percent of Louisiana’s black voters did in fact cast a ballot for Duke.)

When I was young, everyone who followed the news knew the name “James Meredith.” When he became the first black student to enter a university in Mississippi in October, 1962, the Kennedy administration nationalized the Mississippi National Guard and sent 500 U.S. Marshalls to quell a riot and protect Meredith. (In defiance of a Supreme Court decision, everyone from the state’s governor on down had said the admission would be forbidden.)

After this heavily publicized event, Meredith decided to make a solo Civil Rights march — the “March Against Fear” — from Memphis to Jackson. As one might imagine, this enterprise was extremely dangerous; on the second day, Meredith was shot several times on the road. As he recuperated in the hospital, Civil Rights groups joined to finish his march.

Meredith’s nod to Duke in the 1990s wasn’t his first political act to raise questions among blacks. After unsuccessful attempts to be elected to Congress, Meredith became an advisor to Sen. Jesse Helms. When blacks questioned his choice to work for the life-long segregationist, Meredith said he had applied to every member of the House and Senate, but Helms was the only person to respond. (For what it’s worth, Meredith was a Republican throughout his political career — a very unusual choice for a black at the time.)

As for Duke, as far as I know, he is still playing on the same old string and asserting that he is doing nothing more than advocating for the rights for whites of European descent. I never got it. Why advocate for the people who already have the power?

I Wanna Learn!

In a recent interview on the Fox News program Hannity, presidential candidate Donald Trump stated that correspondents at the New York Times “don’t write good. [The Times] have people over there, like Maggie Haberman, others, they don’t — they don’t write good. They don’t know how to write good.”

This came as a disappointment to me. The newspaper my father worked for was owned by the New York Times. It used the New York Times style manual and wire. My father always told me that when I needed to refer to a newspaper, I should make it the Times.

Imagine my dismay after learning, after all these years, that people at the Times just don’t write good. The up side, though, is that our future president does critique good; does analyze good; and maybe even theorizes good. Sometimes a little literary theory can make for a nice break.

Now, as the Up Fronter reminds readers from time to time, there’s always going to be one smart-aleck who ignores the positive. In this case, the culprit was the perpetually snarky liberal blog Wonkette, whose Evan Hurst ran this headline: “Prolific, Articulate Donald Trump Says New York Times No Write Words Good — or do other stuff good too.”

Hurst then added insult to injury by quoting the name of Ben Stiller’s school in the movie Zoolander: the “Derek Zoolander Center For Kids Who Can’t Read Good And Who Wanna Learn To Do Other Stuff Good Too.” Well, as far as I’m concerned, that name, which is pulled straight out of a Hollywood movie, is just one more proof that the Democrats have been a disaster for U.S. education.

The News

“The ‘Suicide Squad’ reviews are pretty terrible”— Boston Globe headline, Aug. 3

“Happy Chocolate Chip Cookie Day!”— Associated Press headline, Aug. 5

The Funnies

Ricky Bobby (Will Ferrell): You say you’re French?

Jean Girard (Sasha Baron Cohen): Oui.

Bobby: We? No, we are not French. We’re American, because you’re in America, OK? Greatest country on the planet.

Girard: Well, what have you given the world apart from George Bush, Cheerios and the ThighMaster?

Bobby: Chinese food.

Girard: That’s from China.

Bobby: Pizza.

Girard: Italy.

Cal Naughton, Jr. (John C. Reilly): Chimichanga.

Girard: Mexico.

Bobby: Really, smarty pants? What did French land give us?

Girard: We invented democracy, existentialism and the ménage à trois.

Naughton, Jr.: Well, that last one’s pretty cool.

— Talladega Nights: The Ballad Of Ricky Bobby, 2006.

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