Monday, February 20, 2006

Discuss amongst yourselves

So, it's Monday. Why not start the week by admitting that maybe we don't know everything there is to know?

Start here.

And feel free to expound on the ideas presented therein with a comment.

'Cause, on this point, I got nothin'.


Which brings me to my next thought.......

People are pretty smart, aren't they? I mean, I KNOW kids say the darnedest things ("haggis!"), and are universally considered by their parents and adoring family members to be destined for great things until proven otherwise, but where is the celebration for those persons who managed to make good on the promise of youth?

More to the point - Why aren't we adulating the people who think up stuff like biomorphs and 3-dimensional geometric theora and speed traps for electrons?

Folks, even though I don't understand half (OK, more than half) of this stuff, it's still something to behold and for which we ought to have a party.

Oh sure, EVERYONE wants Stephen Hawking at their next cocktail party, and for good reason. What's cooler than a guy who explained the universe AND has a dread disease AND a vo-coder? I know! It would rock.

But still, there are legions of really really smart folks out there using DNA chips (it's not a snack, y'all) and deep space telescopes and who are looking into "telecloning" (a new one on me), among a thousand other deeply interesting topics or research. We should be giving these people massive exposure of their smartness, but instead all we give them as recognition in return is a vast morass of paperwork and grant proposals and hierarchical and paternalistic funding pathways through which they struggle, year after year after year, in order to pursue their intellectual dreams.

In my humble opinion, we ought to take the money that is paid to the falsely vaunted professional athletes and actors and reality teevee stars and overpaid CEOs and THROW it at the smart people and sit back to see what they come up with. We should treat them like rock stars and celebrities, like they did in the 17th and 18th centuries, when men (and women) of learning and invention were considered the pinnacle of humankind. They should have their houses paid for and their ideas protected and their labs filled with the best stuff and have people on staff who are as smart as them and hire someone who would make them coffee and occasionally bake them some really good cookies.

Imagine it, if you can. Where would we be if the main of our energies as a race was to discover and develop stuff that actually made us better off, or more educated, or could reduce dependence of fossil fuels or could point out rifts in the space-time continuum or that could, at last, give us flying cars and an actual video phone?

Then imagine if we, as average human beings, had even a small interest in these things and could conduct a conversation about self-replicating machines or telecloners or electron orbitals or genetic mutations or any of the vast panoply of tremendously intriguing fields of study currently being explored. How amazing would that be? How interesting the world would be if we stopped sheltering ourselves within in the smothering walls of commercially available, easily digestible, bland and tasteless pablum that is offered to us on a daily basis? How much more satisfying would it be to talk about ideas rather than people or fashion or reality teevee?

I think it would be pretty darned cool.

Do you?


rennratt said...

I think it would be cool to an extent. After a short time, however, my overactive mind would begin creating theories...and I would be left paranoid and institutionalized.

If there was a sub-clause in the agreement that specified all smart people should not be evil or conniving, I am all for it.

I like the idea of pulling money from prima donna athletes and actors and handing it to the smart people. I think that athletes/actors should make less than minimum wage. Then we would see how many actually did it 'for the love of the game/craft'.

tiff said...

I think we can work that into the contract. Any genius who insists on putting an "Evil" in front of his name will lose genral cache funding. That person will have to go to the private investors, I guess. :>

As for actors/athletes - I'm not against the making a living wage, but I am against them making zillions of dollars. Doesn't seem necessary, really. Sure, CEOs have a lot riding on their decision-making skillz, and so should be remunerated accordingly, but at what level? 10-fold the lowest-paid employeee, perhaps?

rennratt said...

I think that the best paid employee at my office should be the janitor. He is a subcontractor, hailing from Africa. He is a kind and gentle soul, who greets everyone with kindness and respect. I believe that anyone who can clean bathrooms and maintain that attitude deserves all the best things that life may offer.

Regarding athletes and actors: Ok. I will submit to minimum wage (at least) with benefits and possibly a 401K. BUT, should a movie be a bomb/dud, can we agree that public apologies must be part of the contract?

tiff said...

I vote for your to be head of HR when I become queen of the world (or "Chief Despot," whatever I decide to call myself. :>)

Anonymous said...

I agree - no evil ideas allowed! I also think that teachers should be more respected (and definitely get more pay!) I am tired of parents sending their problem kids to me and expecting me to fix them - while at the same time not even admitting there might be a problem!

I would vote for you for "Queen" - when's the polling?

WordsRock said...

I think the reason we humans don't do exactly what you proposed here is fear. If we actually put our hard-earned dollars toward advancing scientific research, who knows what the world will look like?

Change is evil.
Science is change?


tiff said...

Anonymous - as a former teacher (is there such a thing?), I couldn't agree MORE. The system isn't set up to fix broken children (if I may call them that), and even less so to help those who have uninvolved parents. May I abridge the pay scheme, however, to pay the GOOD teachers top dollar, and have a stringent system in place for improving the "filmstrip" teachers who are just putting in their time and failing themselves and the children.
(steps down off the soapbox) a former scientist (is there such a thing?), I would hope that science is change! Whether or not it's eeeee-ville is dependent on the aims and endpoints (and who is doing the evaluating of such), and possibly its profitability. Topic for discussion!