Comic Riffs would have guessed that in the Venn diagram to represent crossover between "Dilbert" fans and Trekkies, the overlap would be almost complete and total -- as in synch as a full eclipse or a Vulcan mind-meld.
Comic Riffs, apparently, would have been wrong.
Tuesday's "Dilbert" strip stymied entire pods of Google-bound readers. Some 'Riffs readers told us they had to chart a course for Wikipedia to boldly discover that the term "pon farr" -- which "Dilbert" creator Scott Adams deftly spun into his punch line Tuesday -- refers to "a psychophysical condition affecting Vulcans, in which Vulcan males and females go into heat every seven years." In other words, if the Trekkie disease were reduced to a slogan, it would read: "Empathetic mating or death."
Who knew Dilbert's pink-skinned blood fever could stir such curiosity and confusion -- and drive "pon farr" to become a top Google-search term?
(For those who care to get geekier, writer Theodore Sturgeon cooked up "pon farr" for a 1967 "Star Trek" episode titled "Amok Time.")
Today's "Dilbert" strip "resolved" the mystery by redefining "pon farr" as when "Vulcans and engineers go into heat every seven years."
Equally entertaining, perhaps, is the top-10 guesses that we've seen or heard by folks playfully hazarding to decipher what the term means without a Trekkie or Jimmy Wales at their fingertips. They are:
"PON FARR" is:
10. A male professional golfer.
8. A female professional golfer.
7. An actor from "M*A*S*H."
6. The greatest Aussie thoroughbred ever.
5. Garry Kasparov's favorite chess move.
4. An ancient Atari videogame.
3. A tree rodent indigenous to Madagascar
2. A highly annoying Star Wars creature.
1. French for "extremely large pants."