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Friday Five: Pussyvans, PRISM and the Queen

Elliot Bentley

In this week’s collection of off-topic links, we celebrate the return of a classic band and learn the difference between geeks and nerds.

Time for JAXenter’s weekly roundup of off-topic links! Have a great weekend, everyone.

1. Through a PRISM darkly

In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past 24 hours, the biggest news story of the day – and possibly the year – is the so-called “PRISM” program.

According to British newspaper The Guardian, PRISM allows the US government “direct access” to the servers of Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and Skype.

This is said to include “email, video and voice chat, videos, photos, voice-over-IP (Skype, for example) chats, file transfers, social networking details, and more”, though all companies named have denied knowledge of any such “back door”.

The director of US national security has said that such measures are important and contain “numerous safeguards that protect privacy and civil liberties” – but many have spoken out in opposition, including Senator Rand Paul and the EFF.

The best part of it all, though? As with any major event, the parody Twitter accounts.

2. Geeks vs nerds

What’s the difference between a geek and a nerd? The age-old question has finally been answered by data scientist Burr Settles, who analysed 2.6 million tweets in order to find which words occurred most often alongside ‘nerd’ and ‘geek’ respectively.

Extremely geeky words included ‘culture’, ‘ipod’ and ‘webcomic’, while nerdy words included ‘celist’, ‘biochemistry’ and ‘studymode’. Words considered both geeky and nerdy included ‘gamer’, ‘starwars’ and ‘glasses’. Settles concluded:

In broad strokes, it seems to me that geeky words are more about stuff (e.g., “#stuff”), while nerdy words are more about ideas (e.g., “hypothesis”).

3. One for spermologers

Speaking of definitions, Death and Taxes have put together an excellent list of obsolete words due a comeback.

A few of our favourites:

  • Groak: To silently watch someone while they are eating, hoping to be invited to join them

  • Jirble: To pour out (a liquid) with an unsteady hand: as, he jirbles out a dram

  • Pussyvan: A flurry, temper

4. New Nine Inch Nails

So much for “wave goodbye”, eh? Industrial rock pioneers Nine Inch Nails – a band which primarily consists of Trent Reznor – have released their first new song in five years, with an album coming in early September.


Reznor has hardly been AWOL in the intervening time, scoring The Social Network and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and releasing several records as part of How To Destroy Angels. However, ‘Came Back Haunted’ sees a return to a more classic NIN sound – big choruses and angsty lyrics intact. Worth a listen.

5. Look ma’am, I’m on TV!

And finally… In British news, this morning saw H.R.H. Queen Elizabeth II grace the BBC Television Center with her regal presence. The visit, which saw Queen Liz being given a tour of the new building (and a performance by The Script), culminated in a surreal ‘photobombing’ live on BBC News.

Reflected the broadcast commentator: “That is one of the most bizarre bits of television that the BBC has produced for some time”.

photo by sburke2478.

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