About braids, ink & envy

Anti-intellectualism goes a long way. It is a comfortable scream of lesser minds that those who think better and have more experience are actually the idiots and need to be punished for what they are better at. It is a childish response. My mum told me that she disliked a girl sitting in front of her so much, because she raised her hand often and learned better than the others, having always good marks. She impulsively took her blond braid and dipped it in an ink-pot during class. Later she threw a mug of coffee over the friends white dress. They were still friends decades afterwards (and still found it a fun anecdote), because they were young and lacked the mature responses of dealing with envy or the value of “nerds”. But this story rang a bell. Our world in the last 15 years seems more and more like a school class of 12 year olds where fun and the action of bullies is much more important than learning something useful or being motivated. And it starts to get annoying and “normal” to think that way. Envy and being mean as the new “chic”. It is an old human feeling, but ask yourself, who are your real heroes and why?

As any teacher can tell you, children in schools are like in the Lord of the Flies if let unattended, cruel and full of emotional and sometimes destructive reflexes. Why is then, that we celebrate the deeds and accomplishments of greater men, inventors, explorers, fighters for justice, crazy adventurers, engineers, superheroes, writers, poets above all, if we could also discard them and put their “better thinking” under a rug? Einstein, Yeats, Shakespeare, Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King, Admunsen, daVinci, Ghandi, Cai Lun (inventor of paper and the papermaking process), Benjamin Franklin, Hedy Lamarr, Nikola Tesla, Helmut Newton, Sir Isaac Newton, Copernicus, Homer (yes, also the writers of Homer Simpson qualify), Columbus, Ada Lovelace, Mungo Park, Sartre, James Joyce, Omar Khayyam, Paul Valery, Sauerbruch, Karl Landsteiner (the discovery of blood types, saving millions of lives, in case you wonder), Lao Tse, Heisenberg, Asimov, Vertov, Antonio Meucci (the actual inventor of the telephone), Josef Ressel (the actual inventor of the ship´s propeller), Mary Shelley, Arthur Rimbaud, Petrarca, Paul Celan, Goethe, Aristoteles, Grace Hopper, Lin Yutang, Foucault, Moebius, Alexandre Alexeieff  (pinscreen animation, with his wife Claire Parker), Clarence Birdseye (flash freezing), László Bíró (Ballpoint pen), Ingeborg Bachmann, Alan Blumlein (stereo), Marie Curie, Jacques Cousteau (co-inventor of the aqualung and the Nikonos underwater camera), Muhammad al-Fazari (astrolabe), Julius Fromm (first seamless condom), and so on and so on…

Lets not forget the success stories from misfits and bullied “geeks” like Elon Musk and Steve Jobs, one hippie geek leading Apple with the Apple iPhone & iPad into commercial success and redefining the animation industry with Pixar, the other one leading with SpaceX into orbital space and ahead, also showing the way to the future of automotive with Tesla and the energy sector with Solar City, where he is both CEO and visionary as well. Both seem to have turned out misanthropes and narcissists, but success in financial terms is king, no? You wanna seriously put yourself ahead of all of this? Is there a major Dunning Kruger effect lurking, misinterpreting your own abilities? You want to become a little Trump who bashes experts, because he thinks he knows better – riding on a wave of anti-intellectualism of people voting for him because they themselves think they know better, having all the answers of change in one ballot every 4 years? Dunning Kruger all the way, 360 degrees.

If you do not know what I am talking about, watch Stephen Fry (he himself not a bully, rather far on the other end of the spectrum) explain it in simple words:

I want to underline here, that despite we are increasingly voting for and laughing with the bullies like in early school times, this regression is not a healthy adult response. It is also irresponsible. You want bullies to teach you? Well, go ahead and and see what you can learn. You want to lead a company like that? 90% look like they do now, timid bigmouths who think small and in small, incremental “secure” steps loosing the big picture. See NASA (by the way NASA means “to lift up” in Hebrew -“נָשָׁא” or na-sar -, not “to deceive” as some claim, which is pronounced with “sh” and a litte dot is at a different place on top -“נָשָׂא” or na-shar). NASA is now lifted up by private SpaceX run by Elon Musk and Boeing, at the occasional collaboration with the Russian Soyuz program. See Europe in the digital transformation – Europe, you can be better, support your talents, not just with words but with resources! Look at Volkswagen, selling us the Diesel as clean-tech. That is not innovation. Well, you might want to think about the consequences of sitting on chair which is way to big, frame it in the metaphor of the Peter principle (Lawrence G. Peter) or Damocles, if you will. Following and obeying those will not yield a better future, not even a frozen status quo, but we are maneuvering blindly towards a dangerous cliff in fear, because we did not learn to listen and look ahead – and we know we are out of our depth. But, for sure, you already have all the answers and all the others are idiots. You think you are sitting on a big cushion because you learned to impress people with clamorous, condecending bullshit, but no real content? Would you let anybody like this perform a critical surgery on you, or fly you across the continent, or lead you up a Himalaya mountain or feed you with food…?


Why not? Let’s discard experience and experts and just claim we are the best and we earned it, even though we do not have the slightest clue how to navigate the uncertainties of our complicated times. Lets just run after 12%, what do I say, 20% MORE (revenue, possessions, unearned socially engineered fame) no matter how (and why), and block innovation as a threat to the status quo. Lets play more golf (or invest into bigger cars) and learn less, disrespecting those who keep the world running for real with minimum wages, what do I say, optimised wages. Visions and accomplishments are dangerous, because they make everybody else look bad. I understand, yes, that may be. But who cares about egoistic feelings of a majority if this majority profits from an invention or new thought? Envy? Gimme a break, grow up. Learn a bit more humility.

Being proud of someone who managed to do the unthinkable, that is an honorable human response. Actually also a natural one, because it is rare. Not everybody can be a great personality, and not many become one alone, no matter what the seducers of reality TV shows and circus-maxiumus-like talent competitions want to make you feel. Your 15min of TV fame does not matter. The nerds and geeks who make things work for real, they do. The ones who care and know how quality looks like. Remember who accomplishes progress. Usually not the managers (with a few honorable exceptions) or the laymen. It´s the educated, experienced and bold ones, stupid. The ones who really know better – and prove it. The ones we learn in school about.

All I say is – the geeks were right.

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