It’s that time of the year again. The stockings are hung by the children with care and the chimney is nestled all snug in its bed… wait, no. Strike that and reverse it. Anyway, Old St. Nick is nearly here and as anyone who has ever watched a Hallmark Original movie knows, he is keeping a list of people who have been naughty and nice, and he is checking it… at least twice.

Yet, what does it mean to be naughty or nice? How are we defining these vague terms of morality? Because as you may soon discover, morality is a lot more complicated then that jolly old elf makes it out to be.

Milk and Cookies Foundations Theory
We here at The NYRD have talked a lot about morality before, but today we want to focus on a theory of morality called the Moral Foundations Theory. This theory, first proposed by Jesse Graham and Jonathon Haidt, -who is a moral psychologist and professor of ethics at NYU- uses six metrics to determine what different people prioritize when it comes to their ethical beliefs and actions.

  1. Care/Harm: The value of cherishing and protecting others.
  2. Fairness/Cheating: The value of enforcing justice according to shared rule sets.
  3. Loyalty/Betrayal: The value of standing with a group/family/nation.
  4. Authority/Subversion: The value of tradition and legitimate authority.
  5. Sanctity/Degradation: The value of abhorring culturally taboo objects or actions.
  6. Liberty/Oppression: The value of abhorring dominating power and bullies.

In our society we talk about morality in a lot of different contexts: behavior, justice, reindeer games, etc, but Haidt was focusing on a much different context… “Christmas?”… No, its politics, because of course it is. In today’s fractured and divided world it is perhaps more important than ever to try and determine why two just and moral people can look at the same situation -or orange-faced President- and come to two different conclusions. It may not be because one is naughty and the other is nice. It may just be because they value different metrics on the above scale, but let us explain.

Making a Voter Roll and Checking it Twice
You see, Haidt and his colleagues used this theory to test people of different political ideologies, and like a little boy pulling on Santa’s beard at the mall on Route 78, they discovered a few interesting truths:

  • Liberals (Left Leaning) tend to score highest on the Care and Fairness metrics. They often value the protection and safekeeping of individual people over larger establishments, traditions, and governments. They believe in fair treatment and despise discrimination, and see government as a safeguard for helping the most vulnerable.
  • Conservatives (Right Leaning) tend to score fairly equally across all the metrics, but they do tend to be higher in the Authority, Loyalty, and Sanctity metrics, often seeing themselves as the defenders of tradition, culture, and nation. However, they only trust government to take care of defense and believe that it is best left out of economics.
  • Libertarians tend to score higher in Liberty and Fairness. They believe in both economic and personal freedoms and are more skeptical of Authority and Purity. They believe strongly in self-reliance, autonomy, and independence from oversight.

Now, this can also be applied culturally as well. Researchers at Rutgers University have observed that college students from Asian cultures tend to score higher on the Sanctity, Loyalty, and Authority metrics, while American college students tend to score higher on the Care and Fairness metrics. This can account for the contrast often found between American and Asian ways of life, specifically those found in Japan, China, and Korea, where people are more prone to group-think and are more culturally shame-prone than their Western counterparts, but the researchers also admit that their testing has been limited, as it is hard hit every house in the world in one night..

On Dasher, On Democrat, On Libertarian, and Conservative
None of this may be surprising to you -or an omniscient fat man sitting at the North Pole- but there is some interesting implications to the Moral Foundations Theory as it pertains to our own cultural divide. The most important of those is something we have suspected for a while, Democrats and Republicans just look at the world different… shocking… Each group values different things and thus when they look at the same situation they view it through different lens.

Again, this is not surprising, but it is worth trying to quantify. So when a Liberal looks the Trump Migrant Separation Policy, they think: that is terrible because they are doing Harm to those children and it is not
Fair that they are being punished and detained for crimes they did not even commit. Whereas Conservatives might look at the same issue an think: Those people knew what the penalty would be for crossing the border and yet they came anyway. This policy is only enforcing the Sanctity of our borders, and is safeguarding the Authority of our country and its Loyalty to the American people above all others.

Now that does not mean that neither side cannot see the merits of the other. After all, just because one political ideology scores lower on a particular metric, that does not mean that they are unaware of its benefits. Liberals score lowest of Sanctity and Loyalty, but they still score in the 25% range. Conservatives score lowest on Care and Fairness, but as we said before they stay pretty consistent across most metrics. No one here is being Naughty or Nice, they are just approaching the situation from different understandings based on their own morality.

Moral Self on the Shelf
This is the real idea that we need to take away. One side of the argument is not bad and one side is not good. We are just different, and the key to putting aside this fig-pudding-political-fighting over the holiday season is not about passing arbitrary judgements on one another. We are not Santa Claus and his big list of names. We are just people doing our best to understand and interpret the world, and get through Christmas dinner with our conservative uncle who thinks colored is still an appropriate word.

However, our constant fighting often has an adverse effect on our opinions. Arguing with your aunt over child detainment on Christmas Eve is only going to serve to drive her backward into clinging to her beliefs. It will only serve to make those relevant metrics more hard-line. People’s morality is affected by moral arguments, but not always in the ways we expect. That is why this holiday season we need to consider the values of those whom we find ourselves talking politics with. We need to try and see the world from their side and find a way to bring about compromise and agreement. A big part of that is learning our own moral values first, and about the beliefs and deficiencies in our own moral self

A new year is dawning, and it is a time for resolutions. So let’s all take a good hard look at ourselves and how we can relate to those around us, not how we are different. After all, for this holiday season we need to be looking in a mirror, not at some magical list of arbitrary moral judgement… because when you really think about it, what kind of person keeps a damn list anyway?


Well, 2016 has come and gone and it has been filled with some ups, and a lot of downs.

Here at The NYRD we have been hearing a lot about this “social media” thing that has been sweeping the world wide web, and decided, “Golly gee, maybe we should check that out.” So we thought it would be fun to post this year’s events as a typical Facebook feed, and quite frankly we are amazed no one has ever thought of doing this before… ever.

In doing so, we have to come to realize that this “Facebook” thing is truly the wave of the future. Unfortunately, we also quickly realized that we created one of the most depressing thing to appear on your Facebook feed since your Uncle Elliot started his vlog. Yet, without further adieu, we give you 2016, in Facebook form.


Happy New Year, everybody. We will be back in 2017.



It’s that time of the year. A time when we start to hear Jingle Bells in the air, when our dreams turn toward family and friends, and when John McClane once again has to retake Nakatomi Plaza. That’s right it is the holiday season and the malls are packed with people getting in their last minute shopping. Yet, here at The NYRD we believe in shopping smarter, shopping like a NYRD. That is why we believe in the power of the Internet. So below we have assembled some of the finest places to pick up all your gear, games, and knerd-knacks for this holiday season.

Lightsaber Candlestick
First and foremost on the list is Think Geek. It is premier geek shopping site on the web. It’s like a Wal-Mart for all things nerdy… except cleaner. Whether you are buying for a Techno-Geek, a Sci-Fi-Freak, or even that weird kids that sits in the corner and eats glue there will be something here for you. Make sure to check their Sales section as they are always offering sales and promotions on even some of their top-brand merchandise. Other notable sections include the Home and Office, Geek Kids, Caffeine & Edibles, and… really everything. One of it’s few drawbacks is the high price tag you find on many of the items, but -fear not- there are deals to be had as well. Either way, we promise you can’t go wrong shopping at this site.


Power Up Pins – Hero
Next is a lesser known site, Fangamer. It does not have the same extensive selection as Think Geek, but if you are a gamer, or if you know a gamer, or if you want to pretend to be a gamer, there are some pretty cool stuff to be found here. They mostly specialize in t-shirts, pins, and poster, but don’t let that fool you. All their creations are visually stimulating, and there are a few really cool goodies hidden among their smaller sections that will make any gamer jump up and down like a child on Christmas morning. The only drawback of shopping here is a smaller selection than other sites, but what you find tends to be quality.

Transformer USB Drive
This one is not so much a shopping site as it is a collection of really cool things that can be bought across the Internet. If you are a nerd and have a few extra hundred-thousand to spend then this is the place for you -especially if you are looking for anything from a Tron cycle to full Mass Effect armor to a working mechwarrior. However, don’t let the higher end items fool you. Be sure to check out the Under $20 section for some more moderately priced items. Everything here tends to range from whimsical to nerdy to downright weird, but it is certainly a site that lives up to its name. The only drawback here is that you may find yourself lost among multiple outside sites.

Funny Side Up Cat Mold
Have you ever felt like maybe adulthood wasn’t for you? Well you’re in luck this holiday season because you can visit Perpetual Kid. It is a website dedicated to adults shopping like children. You can purchase adult coloring books, fun things for your pets, your kitchen, your office, and a lot more. Check out the Stocking Stuffers section to find great and inexpensive items for your family grab bag or even that questionably sane coworker you never seem to know what to buy for. This site is full of great and cheap items. This site’ the biggest drawback is its rampant use of fart and poop jokes.

Shirts range from
$15.00 to $25.00

C’mon, you didn’t think we would actually give you a shopping list and not take the chance to plug our own wears? What do we look like, honest people? So, in all fairness, there is no lack of places on the Internet to buy creative and geeky t-shirts,,,, etc, but for our money we prefer The NYRD Shop. It is a great place to find unique and creative shirts for gamers, geeks, and people who like off-beat yet quirky humor. The site offers a smaller selection than others, but each item is quality and crafted with love… and manufacturing machines.

Kingdom Builder

Do you love boardgames? We’re not talking about your standard Clue/Monopoly/Candyland, here. No we’re talking obscure, challenging, interesting, and possibly European boardgames. Well if you do, than Boardgame Geek has you covered. The biggest drawback of this site is noticeable immediately. It does not have a clean sleek interface like some sites. Instead, it can be a little unwieldy to navigate, but once you master it you can find literally any type of game you are craving. Like This is Why I am Broke, it is a third party site and will link you to places where you can purchase the items. However, Boardgame Geek also gives recommendations for the hottest and most current boardgames out there, so you know you can find that right game for that special dungeon master in your life.

Panda Trooper
Do you like art? Do you like being a geek? Well, than let’s talk abut Society 6. When doing your holiday shopping this site is worth vising. With many similarities to, Society 6 is a fully functioning, art purchasing, ass-kicking, place to buy original artwork by artists from all over the Internet. Prices range by size and style, but you can get more than just prints. Almost any art you find can be put on everything from tote bags to coffee mugs to iPhone cases. The biggest drawback is that the site can be a bit pricey, depending on the artist, but there is a lot of cool and cheap things to be found if you take the time to search a little. So, if you have an art-geek, or just a geek-geek in your family this is definitely worth a pop over.

In conclusion, Santa Claus is a nerd. We mean, think about it. He is overweight, kind of scraggly in the facial hair department, and even wears glasses. He has an addiction to junk food, and a borderline obsession with toys. Also, he only works one day out of the year. So you have to ask yourself, “What does ol’ St. Nick do the rest of the time?” We can’t know for sure, but if you are ever on World of Warcraft and meet a Level 90 Orc warlock in red armor, by the name of Kringle Khan, you better watch out, and you better not cry, because Kringle Khan will burn you down… So, Happy Holidays everyone, and happy shopping from all of us here at The NYRD.

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through The NYRD
Not a person was typing, not even a word.
The stockings were posted on Facebook with flair,
In hopes of getting Comments, Likes, or a Share.

One writer was nestled all snug in his cube,
While fighting with permissions on fraking Youtube.
How that man fretted and why he was bitter,
Because all were now gone and he was on Twitter.

When out in the hallway there arose such a bam,
Todd left from his seat and a half done Instagram.
Away to the door he flew like a stumbler,
When he realized he’d forgotten to post on Tumblr.

The moon through the window on the new-fallen Todd
Gave the hall a strange light where so often he’d trod.
Then, what to his wondering eyes should appear,
But an old janitor, standing uncomfortably near.

With a little old nametag, so faded and slick,
It took Todd a moment to read it said “Nick.”
Like Gandalf the Grey he frowned with a wink,
And put down his mop in the nearby sink.

“Stop dashing, and dancing, and prancing. I waxed.
No comments, you’re stupid and dimmer and laxed!
To top it all off! And on top of it all!
Your face is just ugly like you ran into a wall!”

“That’s hurtful,” said Todd as he stood from the ground,
“I was working alone when I heard a great sound.
I thought it might be a man, both jolly and fat,
But I see I was wrong. I guess it’s back to SnapChat.”

“Wait,” he said, with a twinkling in his eye
Then he rubbed his face hard, muttering, “stupid fly.”
“I did not mean to cause you that slight,”
“I’m just cranky, having to work on Christmas night.”

He was dressed in coveralls, with a body not fit,
And his clothes were all tarnished from ashes and… stuff.
A bundle of rags he had flung in his cart,
And he looked like a hobo, you’d see in Central Park.

His eyes were all wrinkled! His dimples were jello!
He might have had jaundice, his nose was very yellow!
His droll little smile appeared like a thief,
And through the gap Todd could see his missing teeth.

The stump of a cigar still lit with a shine,
In blatant disregard of the “no smoking” sign.
He had a blunt face and a little round mole,
With a single little hair, that was darker than coal!

He looked underfed, a right twig of a man,
And Todd pitied him, as much anyone can.
A wink of his left eye, it might have been glass,
Soon let Todd know that it was time to haul ass.

As he turned to go, he stopped his flight,
And offered his hand, with a half-eaten delight.
And using stubby fingers to rub both of his eyes,
And giving a nod, the janitor snatched up the prize!

He sprang to his cart, with the sandwich of cheese,
And away he walked with the jingling of keys.
But Todd heard him exclaim, ‘Merry Christmas to you,”
“Thanks,” Todd replied, “But I’m actually a Jew!”

Todd and the rest of the NYRD crew will be off for the next week. We will see you all in 2016. Remember to stay NYRDy and have a great holiday season.

Once upon a midday dream, while we pondered Halloween,
Over many a quaint and curious website of digital lore,
While we searched, nearly napping, on the keyboard, always tapping,
And then some one gently rapping, dropping beats and rhymes galore.
“‘Stop this poetic bore,” twas muttered, “and write your journalist’s chore-
Only prose, and nothing more!”

Edgar Allan Poe’s classic, The Raven, is the right kind of story to set the mood for the coming holiday, especially if read by Homer Simpson. -It is unfortunate that our boss threw a flaming jack-o-lantern through the idea of doing an entire article in that style- However, old Edgar was not the first nor the last to give us the creeps, because being scared is part of being human. It gets our adrenaline pumping and helps us feel alive. Heck we have a whole holiday dedicated to it, but the origins of Halloween are not as straightforward or even as scary as you might think.

A Nightmare Before Christ
Most historians seem to agree that the origins of modern day Halloween can be traced back to the festival of Samhain, pronounced “sah-win”. This pre-Christian pagan ritual took place on November 1st in Celtic tribes and communities. Literally translated, the Gaelic word means: “Summer’s end.” The full traditions and practices of the festival are not fully detailed in any written historic records, but we do know a few things about the ancient autumnal holiday. It was communal, and it was a time when the Celtic people gathered to commemorate the end of summer and -like Ned Stark- prepare for the coming winter. The ancient Irish and Scottish literally celebrated it like summer’s funeral.

To them winter was a time when the land was dead. Samhain was the beginning of that death. So to the ancient Celts the night before, October 31st, was a time when the veil between life and death was at its thinnest, as the world transitioned from one state to the next. It was believed that during the night ghosts and spirits would walk the world. The people left out offerings for those spirits on their doorsteps. If anyone stepped outside their door they had to go masked, disguised a ghost so that none of the real ghosts would recognize them or make fun of them, presumably. Samhain also celebrated by bonfires and other activities.

The Catholic church at the time was always in the game of supplanting pagan holidays with their own -which is why Christmas takes place in December and not the spring. So under the direction of Pope Gregory III the church declared that November 1st was All Saints Day, or All Hallows Day. That meant October 31st became All Saints Eve, or more popularly known as All Hallows Eve. Because the human tongue is lazier than Garfield on a Monday, over time we shortened the name -like OMG, what do you mean? WTF. So the festival became known as Hallowe’en. The holiday was a hit throughout all of England and Ireland, but it would take a while to make its way to the New World.

Frankenstein’s Holiday
The original colonies were founded by the stoically overworked Puritans, who weren’t really into all this pagan nonsense about ghosts and spirits. Yet, as more and more people came over to the colonies the holiday become celebrated sporadically, but only through plays, dancing, or fortune telling. It wasn’t until the late 19th century when the potato famine drove thousands of Irish immigrants to the shores of the United States that the holiday really began to take hold in American culture.

The Irish, longing for the traditions of home, celebrated Halloween as a way of reconnecting with their Celtic roots. Traditions became modified in the melting pot of America and changed for practicality sake. For example, a lot of Halloween symbols we know today, such as spiders, black cats, and bats came from American ideas about witches and pagans. The Celtic bonfires of old became contained to single candles within pumpkins. In fact, the carving of jack-o-lanterns also changed. In Ireland people carved potatoes or turnips. Pumpkins don’t exist in the British Isles, but thanks to the Pilgrims they are the squash of choice for the American fall season -just ask any barista at Starbucks.

The figure of Jack O’Lantern himself also entered into American lore and become a big part of the holiday, mostly through retold tales, superstitions, and Tim Burton movies. As the story goes, a figure named Stingy Jack tricked the devil several times and made him promise not to claim his soul for hell after he died. However, old Lucifer got the last laugh, because Jack wasn’t allowed into heaven and the devil wouldn’t take him to hell so he was banished to wander the Earth. The Irish began referring to the figure as Jack of the Lanterns, and -again because the human tongue is an orange lasagna loving cat- it became Jack O’Lantern. The Irish and Scottish created turnip jack-o-lanterns to put in their windows on All Hallows Eve in order to scare away Stingy Jack  from entering their house, and rifling through their silverware drawer.

Trick or treating became a combination of pagan and Catholic traditions. “Guising” or “souling,” was where people would go around on All Souls Day, on November 2nd, from house to house offering to pray for the residences’ deceased loved ones. In exchange the homeowners would offer food or bread. However, for the Irish immigrant in the 19th century trick or treating was a lot more about the “tricking” than the “treating.” Quite frankly, we can understand that, we’ve seen Gangs of New York. If you were treated the way many Irish immigrants were treated you would probably want to egg a few houses too. Still Irish hi-jinks can only last for so long before the 1% wants in on the show, and that’s exactly what happened.

The Great Gatsby Pumpkin
It all started back in the roaring 20’s when Halloween parties became all the rage in high society. People with names like Rockefeller and Vanderbilt would dress up for a night of debauchery -which we can only assume included fast cars, loads of booze, and the secretly tortured soul of a a young millionaire just longing to be loved by a single woman. Unfortunately, on the lower rent side the cities, Halloween vandalism and property damage became a real problem. Cities like Los Angeles had to hire thousands of extra cops just to try and catch holiday pranksters. The situation only got more dire during World War II when Halloween tricks were no longer seen as kids being kids. Because of the scarcity of wartime resources, the property damage became known as an un-American affront to the war effort.

Towns did almost everything they could to downplay and discourage Halloween. Truman even tried declaring October 31st to be “Youth Honor Day,” but it didn’t fly with Congress -because even back then Congress was still Congress. Towns literally abolished the holiday, and national pleas were made to keep kids home on Halloween. Cities handed out free movie tickets, donuts, popcorn, and anything they could think of to keep kids from engaging in pranks, but it didn’t work. Kids still soaped windows, let air out of tires, rang doorbells at all hours of the night, and engaged in pretty much any classic prank you can think of and more. Even after the war ended and America was ready to return to festivities, Halloween still took a while to move nuisance to celebration.

In the late 1940’s the media and local governments decided to try and change Halloween by putting more emphasis on the “treat” instead of the “tricks.” However, many residents were still appalled at the fact that kids now came begging for candy or money. There were even reports of hostile residents, with one woman in Miami in 1950 handing out red-hot coins to children -because even back then Florida was still Florida. Police in North Carolina tried handing out 5,000 packages of cookies to kids to dissuade them from knocking on homeowner’s doors. However, those early attitudes would soon change thanks -in no small part- to a massive advertising campaign by the Mars Candy Company and other corporate outlets including television and cartoons. By the late 1950’s Halloween was no longer seen as kids begging, but as a fun holiday that every child deserved to take part in.

The Treehouse of Hornswoggling
By 1958 Halloween was a booming industry, quite literally. The baby boomers were growing and the new middle class -with their new disposable income- embraced the holiday. Parents started spending big bucks on candy, costumes, and parties. Food companies did not fail to notice the growing popularity of trick or treating and the potential it had for profits. Comapnies like Borden, National Biscuit Company, and even Philip Morris –smoke– began capitalizing on the new popular holiday. Companies made an estimated $300 million dollars on Halloween in 1965. It is a trend that has only been growing since, and is showing no signs of stopping.

Currently, Halloween is the second-most commercially profitable holiday behind Christmas. Americans spend an estimated $6 billion dollars each year including decorations, costumes, and candy. In fact, the candy industry rakes in an average of $2 billion alone during October. That is roughly 90 million pounds of chocolate. Somewhere along the line America made the transition from a quaint Irish tradition to a corporate money printing powerhouse, but that may not all be a bad thing. The continual growth and investment has assured that the holiday remains alive and vibrant in American culture. In fact, thanks to popular media and the exportation of American culture, the celebration of All Hallows Eve around the world -including in Ireland and Scotland- has become much more inline with American commercialized traditions than the older Celtic ones. In essence, it has become a uniquely American holiday.

The Millennial generation is going even further with Halloween and in recent years have raised it back to a holiday that can be enjoyed by adults as well as children. We nerds have never been shy about dressing up and acting like Jedi or Mutant Turtles or kids in general, so maybe it is not surprise that Halloween enjoys even more popularity among adults now than it did back in the 50’s or even in the 20’s. After all, we grew up enjoying this scary, spooky, and fiscally profitable holiday. It is only natural that we would want to keep celebrating it regardless of age. Maybe that is why it looks like Halloween may only be stopped, nevermore.