I’ve been kept indoors a lot lately by air rivers and the cold. Being by myself tends to make my thoughts more convoluted than usual. I start dredging up items from the past to complain about.
Fatalism. Fatalism gets me peeved.
It’s not that it’s logically invalid; it’s that it’s logically useless. Try using the proposition “what will happen is what will happen” to predict what will happen.
Try that in a math class.
Q. What’s two plus two, Johnny?
A. Two plus two is what two plus two is destined to be. See me after class, Johnny; we’re going to discuss what your grade is destined to be.
Another pet peeve was all the times I was told that my interest in mathematics was misplaced. In 1979, I had a guy spend more than an hour trying to talk me into becoming an actuary because “it’s where the big money is.” A year later, a guy living on a houseboat at Montlake told me I should hire myself out as a freelance applied mathematician. Again, “it’s where the big money is.” He told me how much money he made once by modeling soil dynamics for a construction firm.
Another year later, I was applying for a teaching position at a faith-based college here in Seattle, and after the math department finished interviewing me, stupidly, they sent me to the dean of Arts and Sciences to continue the idiocy. The dean, who may have been a veteran of World War I, wanted me to tell him how I was going to relate Jesus to calculus in my classes. I said, “I’m a mathematician, not a minister.”
At least he didn’t say being a minister “is where the big money is.” But he did say that mathematicians are a dime a dozen, implying that if it was up to him, my salary for the year would be a dime. On my way out of his office, I decided I wouldn’t be working there.
I’ve often thought I should’ve said that I’d tell my students if they didn’t do well on my exams, the baby Jesus would cry.
A few years later, something very similar happened. I was in a sandwich shop scribbling equations on paper in front of me while nibbling at a turkey cheddar melt as this older guy in a dark green suit looked on, disgusted. I figured I would hear again I was wasting my time with math — that I should devote myself exclusively to Jesus. But that’s not where he went. He said math was a waste of time, and what I needed was to make money in business. Making money is the only thing worth doing.
“Making big money is where the big money is.” What a revelation.
The news hasn’t been totally dead. Just really close to it. I’m thinking how QAnon had a rally in Dallas, Texas, expecting the formerly dead JFK Jr. to make an appearance and become their messiah. There are a lot of questions raised by this news story. By what means was JFK Jr. to be resurrected? Usually there’s supposed to be a divine intervention, but I didn’t see any mention of that. It sounds like he just got the idea in his own mind and then decided to walk to Dallas to meet with QAnon, people he’d never heard of in his life. Then he must have gotten delayed. He didn’t show. Maybe we should say he was not destined to arrive at that time. Maybe they made the pentagram wrong?
The other question that immediately comes to mind is, since he couldn’t have known what QAnon was at the time of his resurrection, why would he get the word to them that he would meet them in Dallas and be happy to be their new zombie mascot, replacing Trump? How did he get a cell phone so fast? How did he know what number to call? Am I overthinking all this? Is this more of that convolution I’m prone to?
Since first reading about this, it occurred to me QAnon doesn’t know the difference between JFK Jr., a dead liberal, and RFK Jr., a living anti-vaxxer. RFK Jr. would not require resurrection. He’s more alive than Joe DiMaggio (don’t tell Paul Simon. He’s probably tired of that whole thing by now).
Know your Kennedys, people.
Dr. Wes is the Real Change Circulation Specialist, but, in addition to his skills with a spreadsheet, he writes this weekly column about whatever recent going-ons caught his attention. Dr. Wes has contributed to the paper since 1994. Curious about his process or have a response to one of his columns? Connect with him at email@example.com.
Read more of the Nov. 17-23, 2021 issue.