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The Geeks' Guide to World Domination: Be Afraid, Beautiful People Paperback – Mar 10 2009

4 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Three Rivers Press; Original edition (March 10 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307450341
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307450340
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 1.5 x 20.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 249 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #218,267 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

About the Author

GARTH SUNDEM is the bestselling author of Geek Logik: 50 Foolproof Equations for Everyday Life. He and his wife live in California with their two kids and a large Labrador.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Welcome to my GEEK brain.

It has exactly 314.15 information slots. While I wish there were more slots, alas, there are not. And while I wish these slots were packed with things like mathematical proofs of Millennium Prize problems, the mechanics of teleportation using Einstein- Podolsky- Rosen entanglement, and the physics behind NASA’s new plasma propulsion engine, this is not the case either. Instead, elbowing out useful, enriching, or scientific facts are folding instructions for a jumping origami frog, lists of English words you can spell on a basic calculator, and haikus written in praise of SPAM (the pork product of questionable lineage), all of which threaten at any second to burst through my facade of normalcy like parasitic aliens from John Hurt’s chest. Geek attack: Picture it. It’s not pretty.

And, for better or for worse, I’m not alone.

Today’s ubiquitous geek is like a massive musical mixing board, with
various geeks turning up or turning down different dials, boosting–for
example–80s pop arcana or programming languages or fantasy football
Stats or behavioral economics or quotes from This Is Spinal Tap (the last
Of which have the relevant dial turned up to 11). We don’t all boost the
same dials and we certainly don’t appreciate being defined; however,
there is one constant that applies to all brands of geek–in all of us, these
dials are turned way up.
In fact, our geek informational dials are turned
up to the point that they sometimes drown out our ability to function
smoothly in the social world; in other words, with our geek specialty of
choice thumping away inside our brains at maximum decibels, things
like social niceties, our wardrobes, our anniversaries, and our ability to
contribute to dinner conversation without injecting weird factoids from
The mating strategies of clownfish can be effectively silenced.

Take heart, dear geek: With the world evolving toward ever- higher
Levels of required specialization, more and more people are turning up
Their information dials to the point of usurping their ability to function
Normally. In short, more people are becoming geeks.

To illustrate this geekification of modern society, imagine–if you
will–a middle- school rocket club. One kid follows the directions, carefully
penciling in exact fin placement and then, after allowing the required
drying time, painstakingly sanding, painting, and applying decals
until the finished rocket is a mere blip in a wind tunnel. All another kid
wants to do is send a live payload as high as possible–into the clear
plastic cockpit of a three- stage D- engine rocket, he packs intrepid (and
potentially ill- fated) caterpillars, each with a name like Buzz or Chuck
or Neil. A third kid has a vision: a center fuselage flanked by auxiliary
tubes, each with a separate nose cone, the whole contraption having the
potential to arc gracefully skyward or, three feet off the launch pole, to
start spinning wildly, explode spectacularly, and negatively affect hearing
in the faculty adviser’s left ear.

Yes, I knew these kids. (Today, the first is in the Stats department
at Oxford, the second is an entomologist specializing in system change
due to catastrophic events, and the third is an environmental architect.)
OK, I was one of them–I oscillated between keeping a meticulous flight
log and pirating the rocket engine gunpowder for use in more terrestrial
pyrotechnic experiments. Thanks in part to genetics–my dad is a former
president of the American Accounting Association–I also programmed
choose- your- own- adventure stories in BASIC, circa 1987, eagerly anticipated the logic puzzles in the next installment of Games magazine, and
designed multilevel dungeons on graph paper. In an especially cruel
twist, my mother is a psychoanalyst, so I was especially aware how
these pursuits were likely to affect my social and emotional development

Back to geekification:

In the sepia tones of yesteryear, we rocketeers remained geek kings
and queens of only the rocket club (and–in the spirit of full disclosure–
later the jazz band and the math and chess clubs. Wow, this is actually
rather cathartic). Today, with highly specialized knowledge of all sorts
driving the world, it is as if more and more people are clamoring for
inclusion in these clubs. Everyone now wants and needs information,
leading to a much wider pool of adoration for the alpha geeks in each

It may be no revelation that yesterday’s geeks rule today’s world.
A quote widely misattributed to Bill Gates: “Don’t make fun of geeks
because one day you will end up working for one.” But with most of
society now acting as phytoplankton at the base of the ecosystems in
which geeks are alpha predators, we are not only driving the traditional
geek fields, but we’re starting to drive cool as well.

For example, imagine a twenty- four- year- old dude with an uneven
peach- fuzz beard, wearing a green foam E = mc2 hat, a red Che Guevara
shirt, and Converse All Stars, and listening to an iPod while riding a longboard to his job as a Web designer. By any definition, this person is a
geek. This person is also very, very cool. He probably owns an island in
Second Life and has an algorithmic tattoo, too. Women want him, and
men want to be him. (We assume he dates a girl with piercings.) And with
this shift in cool, we see that instead of struggling to join society at large
as we have always done in the past, now society at large is joining us.

OK, now that you are versed in hypothetical, external geekification,
it’s time for a bit of self- examination (no, you needn’t undress). Does
what you know affect how you act? In light conversation, do you unintentionally inject your personal geekery? Does this make things a little
awkward? Last Friday, instead of trudging through another of these
awkward conversations, did you decide to order Chinese again (and eat
it while watching Red Dwarf reruns and/or blogging about it)? Do your
friends and family buy you books with “geek” in the title?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you’re a geek. Go
ahead and skip to this book’s first entry. Go on, you know you want to.

But maybe you thought, Oh shit! After reflection I’m not a geek and will thus be relegated to a lifetime of groveling at the feet of my great geek overlords. Oh how I wish I could be a geek too! Or you might’ve answered, Oh shit! I used to be a geek but have spent the last f fifteen years perfecting a veneer of social competence in order to pimp real estate and have thus let my geek credentials lapse. Whatever shall I do?

Never fear: you hold in your hands the secrets you need to function–
again or for the first time–as a geek. In fact, if you read and enjoy this
book, you will necessarily be transformed into a geek by the simple act
of partaking in the geekiest of geek activities: the enjoyment of knowledge
for its own sake (Descartes: “I think, therefore I am [a geek]”). With
this book, you, too, can gain the cultural knowledge necessary to peek
behind the Wizard’s curtain–to glimpse the Matrix–and can thus join
in the experience of total world domination. Think of this book like a benevolent werewolf, ready to give you a friendly nip in the jugular; come
next full moon, you’ll be howling too.

And then, during the geek uprising, when your IT guy rediscovers
his Klingon spirit and the Web- widgets girl down the hall goes Xena:
Warrior Princess,
you will be able, when the pogrom reaches your cubicle, to demonstrate complex handmade shadow puppets against the
whiteboard and recite pi to at least the fifth digit, thus proving your allegiance and claiming your rightful spot in the coming Geek World Order.
(Which, you have to admit, is worth the price of a book.)

Inside This Book

(Learn More)
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've bought a couple books that give random if not information. This one is probable the best, fun to flip through and actually has some puzzles, if you're looking for a book on strategy- this is not it, it has nothing to do with world domination. The cover and title make it a great gift. 4/5 stars as random fact books go.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xb71dade0) out of 5 stars 35 reviews
29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xb6876d14) out of 5 stars A Must-Have for Every Geek March 12 2009
By E. N. Russikoff - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Garth Sundem has done it again--he's written a witty, intelligent, and fun book that will get readers thinking. Here are just a handful of some of the delightful finds you'll get to peruse in this new book: Five Thought Experiments You Can Do Without Getting Out of Bed, World Leaders Who Also Happen to Be Hot, Spam Haiku, Futurama Quotes, and How to Ask Where the Bathroom is in Twelve Different Languages. There is a lot of variety in this book, which is great for geeks who get bored easily. There are also a ton of puzzles in this book, so for all of you logic puzzle fans--this book is for you. There is definitely something in it for every kind of geek, male or female, age 18 to grandparent. Sundem clearly has a gift for making people laugh while also plugging in real facts (that won't put you to sleep!). If Stephen Colbert, Alton Brown, Bill Nye, Matt Groening, and Steven Levitt all wrote one book together, this is what you'd get.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xb6888798) out of 5 stars As its title suggests, a profoundly silly book Dec 12 2010
By Thomas E. Davis - Published on
Format: Paperback
Alas, nothing in this intermittently amusing book will enable world domination. It's rather what is already in the reader that will or will not permit him or her to demonstrate superiority to the rest of humankind. Which is principally the sheer hubris required to call oneself a geek, to buy a tome like this one, and to imagine that an obsessive interest in and tenacious grasp of arcane and highly-specialized knowledge will lead to the highly-paid and slavishly-worshipped position of Master of the Universe (or, more likely, to madness, obesity, and sitting in your underwear at a computer in your mother's basement).

Take a look inside before you decide that this is the kind of book for you. After wasting 23 pages on a table of contents, it kicks off the remaining 250 densely-packed pages with references to Dada art and Douglas Adams, the hoary algebraic "proof" that 2=1 (no, you can't divide by 0), martial arts moves for comic-book geeks, Jeopardy categories, silly calculator tricks, a smattering of parasites, game theory, secret societies, constellations, thought experiments, chess openings, basic economics, and Asimov's three laws of robotics. And that's just the first dozen pages. Get the idea?

Most magazines use sidebars to take readers on tangents, but this book contains nothing but sidebars. Everything is trivial, from bar bets to math tricks to Yoda quotes to obscure Australian animals to the basic rules of logic, Scrabble, spelling, and tic-tac-toe (and there you have the next dozen pages). While much of it is undeniably entertaining, very little of this information is really useful, though I suppose knowing how to ask for the restroom in 12 languages, how to brew your own beer, and how to patent your invention might come in handy for certain kinds of geek.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xb6880348) out of 5 stars The Geek Couldn't Put It Down! May 2 2009
By R. Durot - Published on
Format: Paperback
Purchased this as part of a college graduation present for my son's friend. Both are chest pounding proud geeks! My son couldn't put it down (neither could his wife). I think it's going to be a big hit and I'm betting that once the graduate is done reading it, my son will borrow the book and read it too.
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xb6886960) out of 5 stars LOL you'll have a great time reading this book March 28 2009
By Jens Sundem - Published on
Format: Paperback
Well this confirms it... I am officially a geek. There are so many fun and weird things strung throughout this book, you find yourself addicted to finding out what is on the next page. Just don't put it by the toilet or you will never leave the bathroom.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xb6895054) out of 5 stars Mixed Bag for an Ageing Geek April 11 2012
By Timothy Haugh - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There is no doubt that when I was in school, I was a geek. As the years have gone by since the glory days of my geekdom, however, I have been feeling that I have lost some of my geek credentials. So, when I came across this title, I thought I'd check it out and see how I stack up. As it turns out, I'm a bit of a mixed bag. Or, rather, I am or this book is.

Some of this stuff absolutely spoke to me: the "proof" that 2 = 1 (which I "teach" in my math classes), the 10 geekiest writers (of whom I've read nine), the quotable Kung Fu (the time I've spent with that young grasshopper), the basics of golden age geek britcom (of which I've seen it all, over and over), to name a few examples. On the other hand, though I could appreciate the bulk of it at some level, there was a lot that I felt pushed geekdom to the extreme (semaphore, really?) or stepped outside what I would consider pure geekdom (thanksgiving dinner in 30 minutes or less?).

Still, in the end, this is a generally fun, easy to read in bits and pieces, peek inside the geek's brain. A nice diversion for ageing geeks and the people who love them.