There's just no shortage of freaks out there. Be they religious freaks thumping upon their Bibles, Talmuds or Korans; be they hunters of communists, witches or protected species; the insert-passion-of-choice freak seems the rule rather than rarity.

The trouble with freaks -- apart from any true danger to life, peace and planet that the deity and country-minded sort might pose -- is that they suck the fun out of whatever it is they have chosen to freak over. Ever run into a Star Wars freak the day before you were planning to see the next -- last -- episode? As he runs through the dialog better than the best script supervisor in LA, what are you supposed to do? You can't stop him with hints or a punch in the teeth, it seems. So you decide to save the price of a ticket (you already know, now, how Darth got to be his way and what the Emperor had to say about it).

Plainly put, freaks fuck things up.

Ever encounter a cable freak after you listened and made your call? Ever had to tell a tweak freak that you honestly couldn't hear a difference between the X-Blob 2000 and the Poxy Pods? Ever explain to a computer freak that you didn't know how many gigga-killa-mega-kiggas your hard drive had? And that you didn't care? Ever see the barely suppressed sneer of a car freak as he scans your humble ride? Or that of a Harley owner eyeing your rice burner?

Yeah. That's what I'm talkin' about. The most -- if not only --laughable thing about the freaks is the casualness whereby they look down on other freaks. Within their own little freakdom, naturally. But also on freaks from neighboring freakdoms. Step right up, folks! Watch a pudgy, pocket-protector and ID badge wearing middle-aged man leave the Electronics Expo with a Tubes Rule! T-shirt! Watch as he goes home and sniggers along as The Simpsons lampoon a Star Trek convention!

One of the evergreen agonies in the audio freakdom goes something like "Why can't we do a better job of attracting more young people to the hobby?" Puleeze, people. To attract anyone, most of all young ones, the price of entry is fun. Not facts, not minutia, not esoteric chanting that proves how much smarter I am than you. I've seen many a gentle potential newbie flayed alive on the message boards. Please refer to paragraph four.

Freaks of all stripes would do well to bear in mind that the most important things in life are subjective: God, love, even how one loudspeaker compares to another. And in all things subjective, there can be no One True Knowledge, only personal belief and experience filtered through individual body-minds.

And maybe a pocket protector.