Siddown, shuddup, and do your damn homework. Or, Lissa, avoiding her chemistry reading.

Which I need to work on, since I misspelled “VSEPR” in my last post. Can Chronicle Lite get a spell checker, please? Of course, that’s just me being a lazy bum, because I could surely type this shit in another editor (Emacs, my love, my baby) and paste it into CL for posting.

Tomorrow, Mae, my biology genius friend, is throwing a Ghirardelli hot chocolate party for some of us girls. Mine gets made with soy milk, of course. She’s also going to help me run an experiment in which we shall test if I have a food allergy to either casein or whey (or both, I suppose), due to my suspicion that I’m not just lactose intolerant. The whey shall be easy to test (I have a huge jar of whey protein sitting on top of my armoire), but the casein test (which will require concentrated amounts of casein, obviously) will require, of all things, Pringles. Apparently the pizza-flavored Pringles (or one of those exotic types) contains among its listed ingredients “concentrated casein”. Mae’s face as she explained that she almost ate one (her reactions are bad) was hilarious.

Which reminds me of my weird response to the term “genius”. My friend Merriam-Webster (which I am currently sitting on, by the way) informs me that a genius is, and I quote:

genius: n. pl geniuses or genii
[Insert lots of things about spirits and strong characters]
5. a: a single strongly marked capacity or aptitude b: extraordinary intellectual power esp. as manifested in creative activity c: a person endowed with transcendent mental superiority; esp: a person with a very high intelligence quotient

So am I completely insane for thinking that you have to do something in order to be a genius? I don’t mean save the world from cancer or lead the most cunning tactical assault ever launched, but does a high intelligence quotient or “extraordinary intellectual power” mean genius if it’s not being applied in some manner? Obviously, taking the IQ test itself is an application of intelligence (or else it wouldn’t really be an indicator, now, would it?), although I maintain the SAT is not (as was the CollegeBoard, last I heard), whatever the writers of the B*ll C*rve wish to tell me. (Should you be able to study for a test heavily loaded with g? Better yet, should you be able to cram, as I did, for an intelligence test, and do markedly better?) But rather than go into my own thoughts on those authors’ debate with Stephen Jay Gould or just how much g is in the SAT test or ask, when those authors disregard a uniform bias in the tests because of the reaction time and digit span tests, whose definition of intelligence is in use that makes one response better than another (and to which society such a definition should apply), I shall move back to the idea of genius. (Of course, I am probably just missing a crucial idea in the creation of the concept of g, because I’m not a statistician, or a scientist, which is an interesting aspect I apparently share with many and that scared off many reviewers from critiquing the actual arguments and statistics of the book. There are a lot of reviews that sort of read, “Well, the arguments seem sound, but what do I know? But it was well-written…” Which it was. The second author wins for making a readable popular science book handling a tough topic. Of course, sticking all the statistics in the back of the book [and how many folks really flip back and forth between an appendix and the main content when reading? It kills the flow and the content back there is much more boring to a reader than the scintillating arguments being made on the page on which they currently reside. You know, like that whole bit about the dumb people having too many babies.] and not showing the actual data points of those pretty graphs with trendlines galore kinda hurts their case a bit.)

But I was going to talk about genius. Why is it that I look at someone like Mae, who’s doing chemistry research with a professor here now and just accepted a similar position for the summer, and lives, thinks, and breathes biology and chemisty and see a genius, while when I look at Theodore, who has does have an aptitude for machinery and engines, I see him as “merely” a smart guy? He’s got the same passion, the same desire. It’s like when people try to slap that label on me because of an SAT score or my computer tinkerings. I automatically dismiss them as out of their damn mind or unqualified to judge me as such, respectively (my roommate thinks it takes a genius to setup Linux–hence my calling her unqualified). So what if I scored high on a damn test–I’m not doing anything! I’m not discovering fancy-schmancy algorithms to do cool things, or writing beautiful, graceful code to fix everyday problems I have on my computer. I can’t even get Maple to install! But Mae’s not really doing anything big with her smarts right now, either. And I’m probably not qualified to say she’s a genius, although that professor must have wanted her for a reason. See, now I’m confusing myself as to why I think she’s a genius. Grr.

So what is a genius, really? Is it the dictionary defintion, or the connotations behind it? Why do I put so much emphasis on the connotations rather than the literal meanings? And does it even really mean anything to be labelled a genius? I have so much trouble with labels, one would think I would want to do away with it completely. I guess I do; it serves no other purpose than to segregate even a subculture like Rose’s into those than can and those that kinda or passably can. But the difference between can and kinda can, in the larger scope of the nation or the workforce, is so fucking miniscule as to be ridiculous to even consider, isn’t it? It’s like distinguishing between the haves and have-nots at some hoity-toity fund-raising event for saving badly shorn poodles–what does that mean, you had to wait for your next paycheck to come in before you could buy the bajillion dollar house on the coast of that country you bought last year? I jest, but the point is the same (I think…).

And on a completely different note…

I was watching television last week, and a commercial shown grabbed my attention and sent me surfing my favorite blogs for a hint of a reaction like that from the Joe Boxer commercial. And I’m still waiting. What commericial, you ask? The silly-ass Rubber Band Man commercial from Office Max. Why the lack of response to this? Quel est la différence? Don’t we have another goofy black guy dancing around to a song (this time in the workplace) for no apparent reason? Is it that we can come up with reasons for the guy to be happy, other than the questionable imagery that stood out to some with the Joe Boxer commercial? I mean, maybe the guy is just happy to have a job in this economy, you know? Perhaps it’s the fact that with that rather fascinating hairdo and that dancing and that music, the workers in the Rubberband Man’s place of employment aren’t quietly shuffling to avoid him in the elevator? Hell if I know. Could just be the icky response gotten from posts on the Joe Boxer commercial. Or maybe the commercial isn’t being run on big time television–I saw it on a Friday night while watching Law and Order on USA. More like “lonely nerd at home avoiding doing homework” time than prime-time, if you ask me.


  • Rackrent

    I don’t think genius is only the literal meaning in the dictionary. With any kind of labels, it’s easily formed b/c ppl like to categorize their world and the people around them, even though they know (at some level) that it’s wrong. They like to simplify and ignore the individuals behind the labels. “Genius”, to me, not only means how smart the person is, what the person is doing with his/her smarts, but also how the person conducts his/herself, including physical appearance and nonverbal behavior, etc. That last part may seem kind of superficial, but since so many (if not all of us) people judge others by the “outside”, it might turn out to be the difference between Mae and Theodore.

  • karsh

    What is genius? That’s a damn good question. On the books, I’m certified as one (test scores, IQ, all that rot), but that doesn’t really mean much. I think it means more to be labeled smart than a genius. Not sure why, but I’ve always gotten more negative connotations from people saying I’m smart than intelligent or even genius. When you get the “genius” title, folks tend to look at you a little skewed, like you wear your hair in some Einsteinesque fashion or only have 13 suits, all of the same kind, like some late French impressionist painter.

    On casein: put two parts milk to one part vinegar in a jar and let it sit in the fridge. It’ll separate into curds (the stuff on the bottom) and whey (the stuff on the top). Drain the whey. Those curds can then be made into plastic (by baking) or remain in their present state and be used as glue. And yes, that’s how it separates in your body when you drink it. Yummy, eh? Just think of that concentrated….

    And dumb people do have too many babies. Just break apart the common term for a male prophylactic. Marinate on that. [;)]

  • Lissa


    A couple more of those, Karsh, and I’ll be a full-blown vegan pretty soon. Geez, dude. That’s all *kinds* of nasty… [8)]