For no particular reason, I braced myself and watched a few minutes of the Star Wars Holiday Special, which will pretty much wreck any illusions you have that we live in a just and sane universe. A related video caught my eye, though, and it was the 19 minutes of commercials that were aired during the aforementioned special:
Like other members of the sane world, I have been disturbed and distressed about the latest doings of the religion of peace, as Islamic nut-jobs terrorize the gentle citizens of Paris with murder and mayhem. As a writer myself, I feel strongly about the need for uncensored speech, and to see these members of what surely must be the universe’s most psychologically-insecure religion slay satirists is deeply saddening.
And yet on Friday morning, the solution came to me in a shot. And, as with most good solutions, it comes from no less a place than Star Trek: The Original Series. Hear all now my idea:
You probably have heard that the cover story on Barron’s this week proclaims “This Time It’s Different.” Barron’s is, of course, all too aware of its “cover curse”, but the record there is really spotty. Sometimes their cover does indeed proclaim exactly the opposite of what’s about to happen, such as with Facebook. Other times, such as last year’s proclamation that “The Bull’s In Charge“, they are absolutely right. So I frankly think the “cover curse” is a total crapshoot, particularly when the cover itself, in a very “meta” fashion, openly voices its doubt.
They say be careful what you wish for. And, as is often the case, “they” are right.
As a kid, I wished the world favored the smart. I was a smart kid, and it seemed like the world – at least my world – was dominated by bullies and airheads. Might made right, just like in the times of old. My high IQ and love of learning were no match for popular dolts, so a portion of my childhood was wasted just trying to disappear into the background.
Unknown to me at the time, much of the adult world operated the same way. It didn’t take a lot of intellect to have a respectable, enjoyable middle class existence in the world of the 1970s. The willingness to put in a full day’s work (or, if protected by a union, a portion of a day’s work) was enough to trump the potential impediment of a double-digit IQ. As I’ve mentioned before, my own uncle had a nice house, an even larger vacation home, and plenty of leisure time, and he worked inside the stink of a Louisiana paper mill.
The world did change, however, exactly as I hoped. My first indication was a cover story of California magazine titled “Revenge of the Nerds” with Steve Wozniak’s smiling face and Apple-logo eyeglasses. It turns out the grey matter languishing in my head started to have value. At 15 years of age, I began writing articles for nationally-distributed computer magazines. At 16 years old, I wrote my first published book, which was followed by a couple dozen others. I was earning enough money to buy a Porsche in high school. It was suddenly cool – and profitable – to be smart. (more…)