First, the good news: We have a coupla language nerds and a cosmologist coming to help you fulfill your resolution to drink more and learn more! Start sharpening your shibboleths and prove you belong; contemplate the mysteries of dark energy; and be reminded why Eero Saarinen is every crossword lover’s favorite designer. Scientist-cum-food-carter Grilled Cheese Guy‘ll be here, too, to feed our maws!

Now the great news: Happy Nerd Year, for this is the year of the first annual Nerd Nite Global Festival! In NYC in mid-August (oh joy!), you can rub shoulders and get day-drunk with nerds from all over the world while guzzling greatest-hits presos and much more. Getcher tickets here. (And move fast, supply is very limited.)

Be there and there and be square!

Wednesday, 1/16
Doors at 7 pm, show at 8
Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St @Van Ness
$8 (advance tix available here)
All ages

FB event


“Shibboleths, or How Not to Get Killed for Saying the Wrong Thing” by Luke Swartz

If you didn’t have any paperwork, how could you prove your nationality? Recite the state capitals? Spout arcane baseball rules? How about just talk? What do you call the highway between SF and LA: “5” or “the 5?” (Or is it a “freeway?” And what do you call SF and LA, anyway?) We’ll examine the many ways we divide ourselves by how we talk, and why people have been literally killed for saying something the wrong way. Bonus: Learn how to tell whether an Italian restaurant is legit!

Luke “use the” Swartz was born and raised in the City (go SI Wildcats!) and studied symbolic systems (what’s that?) and computer science down on the Farm (Stanford). A lifelong language nerd, he drove nuclear submarines for 7 years and now works as a product manager for i18n (Internationalization) engineering at Google.


“Dark Energy and the Fate of the Universe” by Debbie Bard

Ever gazed up into space and wondered what’s out there? Well, cosmologists do this for a living and there’s an easy answer: We don’t know. Sure, everyone has a theory. But 15 years ago we found out that some kind of mysterious dark energy makes up 70% of the universe, and we simply don’t know what it is. In this talk we’ll discuss the evidence for dark energy, what it might be, and how we can study it. We’ll also attempt to get our heads around what this means for the future of our universe!

Dr. Debbie Bard is a reformed particle physicist who now studies cosmology at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. She’s trying to figure out the structure of the universe and how this has evolved over time, and is therefore accustomed to feeling very, very insignificant.


“Get Across and Get Down! The Art and Science of Crossword Puzzles” by Steve “Ringo” Riley

Like music and poetry, crosswords must work on both technical and aesthetic levels. This talk will explore all things black and white and square all over, from AALTO to ZZTOP. Learn about what makes a cunning clue, a pithy entry, and a shrewd theme–and more importantly, learn how to get a puzzle rejected because you decided to fill it with dick jokes. (ed: Please tell me this included a Will “Shorty” Shortz clue.)

Steve “Ringo” Riley obviously has too much time on his hands. Always looking for his next nerdy obsession, Ringo is an intellectual dilettante with a degree in mathematics and a background in computer science and psychology. His puzzles have been published in The New York Times and The Harvard Crimson.


DJ Alpha Bravo mans the decks, spinning vinyl and tweeting along to the presentations’ themes. Find out what you’re listening to by following @djalphabravo.