Short and To The Point isn't usually stupid

Yes, I am aware of the obvious retort.

This Week in Our Dumb World

The Late Arriving Math Genius

  1. I like June Huh quite a bit more than… other famous University of Michigan mathematicians.

  2. I love stories of late-blooming genius. I’m sure at one time some part of me hoped to discover the hidden genius within me. But even now (bereft of genius as I am), I still love these stories. It is always beautiful when someone discovers exactly who they’re supposed to be. There is so much joy in knowing that sometimes people find their perfect fit.

  3. I know absolutely nothing about math.

  4. I still really enjoyed the discussion in this article.

Initially Huh was among more than 100 students, including many math majors, but within a few weeks enrollment had dwindled to a handful. Huh imagines other students quit because they found Hironaka’s lectures incomprehensible. He says he persisted because he had different expectations about what he might get out of the course.

“The math students dropped out because they could not understand anything. Of course, I didn’t understand anything either, but non-math students have a different standard of what it means to understand something,” Huh said. “I did understand some of the simple examples he showed in classes, and that was good enough for me.”

After class Huh would make a point of talking to Hironaka, and the two soon began having lunch together. Hironaka remembers Huh’s initiative. “I didn’t reject students, but I didn’t always look for students, and he was just coming to me,” Hironaka recalled.

Huh tried to use these lunches to ask Hironaka questions about himself, but the conversation kept coming back to math. When it did, Huh tried not to give away how little he knew. “Somehow I was very good at pretending to understand what he was saying,” Huh said. Indeed, Hironaka doesn’t remember ever being aware of his would-be pupil’s lack of formal training. “It’s not anything I have a strong memory of. He was quite impressive to me,” he said

On Bees, Queens, and Loyalty

This is an interesting read about a personal relationship with a bee colony.

But I can’t stop imagining being allergic to bees and having my roommate suddenly declare that they were going to put a bee colony on the roof of our apartment.

For the first few months I had the hive, I checked on it incessantly. I had no idea what I was looking for, but felt like I had to do something—there were thousands of bees on my roof. If I wasn’t opening the hive to pull out frames and check for eggs, I was watching the bees come and go. Worker bees can fly up to 15 foraging flights a day, and seeing them return with little balls of pollen on their hind legs gave me a strange sense of accomplishment.

And I really did become that guy. I went to a beekeeping class where I met Jessica, another novice beekeeper, and found that just describing how I was lighting my smoker felt good. She knew what it was like. For months, anyone who expressed mild interest in the hive received a personal tour. Even my roommate, who was allergic to bees, found himself standing on the roof bundled in four sweaters and a mosquito net asking when he could go back inside. I had been thinking and reading about bees for so long that I was oblivious to the fact that not everyone shared my enthusiasm. It wasn’t until halfway through the summer that I started noticing how my friends remained on the far side of the roof while I, with bee suit and dish gloves, marched around pulling out frames and yammering on about drones and brood and propolis.

The Laws of Stupid

First of all, I greatly appreciate a vision of stupidity divorced from notions of intellect and instead grounded in societal function. It makes infinitely more sense (to me) to imagine that the stupid people are the people who make the world worse, rather than measuring it in terms of personal achievement. This is a vision of stupid that I recognize quite clearly.

For obvious reasons, I appreciate the inference that, if stupid people are people who make choices that hurt themselves and others, then, in order for a society to function, these people must be balanced by the work of intelligent people who make choices that benefit themselves and others.

I’ve never felt a clearer understanding of American society than to envision our most significant threat is seeing us devolve into a nation of stupid people and bandits.

On a definitely unrelated note, how about those impeachment hearing, huh?

Law 1: Always and inevitably everyone underestimates the number of stupid individuals in circulation.

No matter how many idiots you suspect yourself surrounded by, Cipolla wrote, you are invariably lowballing the total. This problem is compounded by biased assumptions that certain people are intelligent based on superficial factors like their job, education level, or other traits we believe to be exclusive of stupidity. They aren’t. Which takes us to:

Law 2: The probability that a certain person be stupid is independent of any other characteristic of that person.

The Story Of Million Dollar Duck

Sure, you could get Disney+ to watch the innumerable great movies available on the platform.

But all I want to do is talk about all the weird-ass live-action Disney movies from the 70s and 80s.

Like The Black Hole! Or Witch Mountain!

Or Million Dollar Duck.

(But also Willow. Did you know this is the first time Willow has been streaming? You should watch it. It totally holds up.)

The time has come to talk about Million Dollar Duck. 

1. The plot of Million Dollar Duck goes something like this. Albert Dooley (Dean Jones, veteran of Disney movies and also Kelly Kapowski’s grandfather in Saved by the Bell: Hawaiian Style) is a research scientist in a facility that runs various animals through mazes and puzzles to test their intelligence. Through a truly preposterous set of circumstances that I’ll describe in a minute, a duck gets blasted with radiation and develops the ability to lay golden eggs. Chaos ensues. Albert and his lawyer develop a crazy scheme to get rich, his Treasury Department bigwig neighbor gets suspicious, an international crisis develops, and a father and son bond before the father is hauled off to prison. At one point a dog chases the duck down a water slide. It is a profoundly, powerfully weird movie. 

Chicken Hypnosis

My favorite part of putting this together was googling “chicken hypnosis” and seeing that the first autofill was “chicken hypnosis why”