Written on a napkin

Jan 22 2011 Published by under Uncategorized


One of my few geek shirts is the one above, the old classic "98% Chimp" from those True American Heroes at ThinkGeek.com. (I have another I love which shows Darwin's finches and true adaptive evolution: Jet Engine Finch, Laser Eyeball Finch etc.).

Anyway, I was wearing my Chimp T-shirt at the pub the other day and some wag had a note sent down the bar to me. It read thusly, "What's the other 2%? Ponce?" I'm surprised he could do the math, but perchance the Memphis city school system is better than I've been lead to believe. I thought about this thesis on simple genetics for a moment, and decided that I should respond. After all, I am nothing if not a scientist and educator. I grabbed another napkin and a pen and wrote back thusly:

"Thanks for your kind note. Actually, the T-shirt is wrong. We're probably closer to 97% closer to Chimps. Our closest genetic relative is the Bonobo, another species of ape, at perhaps 98.5%. In fact like you and your sister they fuck face-to-face, and like your mom they even practice lesbianism. I digress. We're also about 85% similar genetically to pigs and even 68% to the fruit flies plaguing this bar. So, really what do those numbers mean? A chimp is 23% different from a fruit fly, and we are 25% different? We need to look deeper and explore not what the differences are between us as species, but what the differences are between us as humans. In fact, there is a greater degree of intra-species variation than there is inter-species! So, while you and I might be '2%' different from a chimp, the differences between you and I are actually more significant on a genetic level. Thus we can say we are 100% similar, yet we are far from identical. The differences between us make us who we are. While I might be "2% ponce" you are clearly at least 2% ill-educated fuckwad who needs to think before he smack-talks via napkin."

Thankfully he appreciated his impromptu genetics lesson, and even saw the humour in the incident, when it was pointed out to him that I have PhD in molecular genetics, am a regular at the bar. And at least 6 inches taller than him. And a kickboxer.

24 responses so far

  • ricardipus says:

    +1,000,000 for excellence! 😀

    Also - those who are excited by copy number variation will tell you that those old percentages are wrong anyway. 😛

  • brooksphd says:

    Yeah, I totes had one napkin to write on so I stayed to genetics 101 for him 😀

  • Dr Becca says:

    I hope on the back of the shirt it says "100% kickass."

  • JaySeeDub says:

    This is brilliant, sir!

  • brooksphd says:

    Ta berry much!

  • Bashir says:

    Hold up. People pass notes in bars?

    Had to look up ponce. I was thinking "de Leon".

    otherwise, oh snap.

  • brooksphd says:

    haha, I was surprised an American knew such a British word TBH.

    That was part of my motivation for writing back. If he'd have said "2% dick" I'd have broken his jaw probably have been less loquacious >:)

  • Julie says:

    Quite, quite lovely.

  • rpg says:


    Yeah the 6" advantage (no fnar...) probably helped.

    I reviewed a book for the day job a while back, taking apart that 2% and 'similarities' between humans and other primates. Not a Chimp, by Jeremy Taylor; dry, but good stuff.

  • Kausik Datta says:

    The last paragraph made it all worth it.
    Well-written, Brooksie! 😀

  • brooksphd says:

    Cheers everyone.

    RPG: I *nearly* edited/made a fnar out of the 6" bit...but i thought it best to let it stand there, proud, by itself. If you will.

  • rpg says:

    When you get right down (uh...) to it, Tiddles, it's ALL about willies with you, innit?


  • ecologist says:

    Hmmm. Let me see if I have this right. A guy walks into a bar, wearing a t-shirt with a clever saying on it. Someone passes him a note with a clever reply. So the first guy composes a much longer note. He decides that cleverness involves family sexual statements and an attempt to use homosexuality as an insult (oooooh). He thinks that "ill-educated fuckwad" is even more clever. Plus he's 6" taller and knows kickboxing.

    OK, let me start over. There are two guys in a bar. One of them is an asshole. The other one is shorter.

  • Zuska says:

    Well, amusing, except for the part where you equate implied incest on his part with his mother's lesbianism and both of these are deployed as part of your smackdown. I see what you were going for there but it comes across as equating lesbianism with incest and both as degrading practices that stupid lowlife humans have in common with those dirty apes. Sorta the opposite of what you were going for.

  • Katharine says:

    I probably would have made a snarky comment about the shortage of neurons in his brain.

  • brooksphd says:

    @Ecologist: No, you got it wrong. Nice try though.

    @Zuska: I did no such thing. That is neither what I said, what I implied or what I belive.

    @kathrine: yeah, if we hadn't been in a pub with a skin full of beer I'd have likely been more erudite. AS it was, a dogy pub in Memphis and male bravura...not the most eloquent of moments 🙂

  • Bob O'H says:

    Bloody big napkins you have over there.

  • antipodean says:

    It's not the height you have to worry about, it's the reach. And as we all know chimps have a really good reach for height ratio

  • BrooksPhD says:

    Bob: tiny, spidery writing 🙂

    Antopdean: I'll rescue you from the filter when I can :/

    Arm reach wouldn't worry me as much as the 7x strength ratio...

  • becca says:

    You are clearly more chimp than bonobo.

  • Dr. O says:

    Absolutely brilliant. 🙂

  • Gerty-Z says:

    Tiddles, sorry I am late to the party. I am glad that you were able to show this fella wot is wot. But, I am going to have to take offense to your methods here. I find it pretty offensive that you went with "your mom is a lesbian" as an insult. Especially in the same sentence with a "and you fuck your sister". Really, you are smarter than that (even with a few drinks).

  • brooksphd says:

    Hey, I'm not gonna attempt to mansplain (heterosplain + mansplain I think) my way out of this. I'll just say sorry.

  • That was awesome!!
    I had a similar experience with someone, in a bar no less, who after finding out I was a scientist wanted to wax poetic about the movie Expelled featuring Ben Stein. He was clearly expecting me to be totally on board with intelligent design, and was not at all happy about the lecture on evolution and the multiple reasons intelligent design is not science.