Tuesday, October 9, 2007

I'll show you genius

A couple of weeks ago the MacArthur Foundation (www.macfound.org) announced its newest crop of 24 genius grants ($100k/year for 5 years). Oh, I’m sorry, they don’t like the term “genius.” Well, I don’t like the term “borderline sociopathic personality,” but sometimes it’s not up to us, is it?

Anyhoo, once again I was not an honoree. Banners, kazoos, and thousands of yards of colored tissue paper were wasted. I’m not ashamed to admit I took it hard. But after a few weeks of refusing to shower, or even change out of my tuxedo, I’m back with a vengeance.

I did some research, and according to David Plotz, John and Cathy don’t accept applications. That’s hundreds of dollars in postage I wasted! So on the off chance that one of you is a MacArthur talent scout, here is why I should be shortlisted for the 2008 MacArthur Fellowship:

As a “professor without portfolio” for several third tier universities in San Francisco and New York, I don’t have much free time for my true passion – leading blind children on photographic safaris to Darfur. There is no purer, more heartbreaking way to view genocide than through the eyes of a child, even if those eyes don’t actually work. Sure, parents and child-rights organizations poopoo my methods, and protest regularly outside my office. But they are bound by the leathery chaps of tradition, and cannot escape the mildewy burlap sack of conventional wisdom.

This closemindedness will bring civilization to a cataclysmic end if I am not able to continue these adventures, which are merely part of my research into the Supersensory Compensation Theorem. The blind children for which I am responsible may eventually develop super hearing, or even an heroic ability to distinguish between sweet and savory foods. We may never know, unless I can afford to continue with the hormone therapies and sleep deprivation procedures. Those hormones are not cheap, by the way, or easy to obtain. One can’t just walk into the local pharmaceutical concern, order 150 gallons of equine lycopene, and not expect some sort of hubbub. The total cost of these therapies, combined with our annual photographic journeys to Darfur for twenty sightless boys and girls, will run to just under $100,000 over the next five years.

And this is above and beyond my work to maintain our security in the face of the sinister bovine threat.

So I put it to you, anonymous talent scout. Do you think the world should be denied my efforts? If you want to put 20 blind kids out on the street, children who haven’t slept in weeks and are all hopped up on horse proteins, then go ahead – award the $500k to someone else. But if you’re tantalized by the idea of millions of boys and girls who can smell strawberry jam from 3 miles away, then you understand how much I – we – need that money.

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