Tag Archives: monty python

Ow! That Smarts! OOH, Dry Corners

Smarty-pants is a smartass. What does that mean? Mean is average. Mean is unkind. What does that say about language?

I have been thinking lately. I don’t feel as smart as I used to be. Sometimes I look back at papers I wrote in college and think, “Man I used to be smart.”

On the show Good Eats Alton Brown had an episode about casseroles. He recommended round pans to avoid dry corners. Square pans cause dry corners use a round one – unless you like dry corners. THAT is the key. It’s not a mistake if you like it. These cooking shows like to tell you how to avoid the liquid at the bottom of the coleslaw. Well excuuse me. I happen to like that liquid. And microwaves stunt creativity. Not through some radiation leakage or anything like that. People used to use leftovers to make new dishes. Hash, Mulligan Stew, Shepherd’s Pie, Pot Pie, were what you made with leftovers. Beef Stroganoff was leftover onion soup dressed up. Pot pie didn’t “Reefer” to a dish legal in Colorado. Brownies were somebodies fallen cake. Now back to the main article.

And not only was I smart, but I was able to stay focused. I have often heard intelligence described as capacity. There are different kinds of capacity. There are different ways of being smart, and different components within the types. A lot of it boils down to what do you want to look at.

IQ isn’t a comprehensive, all-encompassing measure of intelligence. It was originally designed to predict how well a person would do in school. It’s been criticized as being socially biased. As a predictor of success in school it is fairly accurate. Schools are socially biased as well. A genius that is unfamiliar with the language and culture will probably not do well in that school.

Memory plays a big role in what most people think of as intelligence. I suspect when people talk of intellectual capacity they are most often talking about memory. Individuals vary greatly in their ability to remember. And there is a difference between remembering the events of the day versus memorizing facts for a test. There is a difference between recall and recognition. Recognition is a big part of figuring out cause and effect. It also leads to things like superstitions when causality is mistaken for coincidence.

Even with a round pan you can end up with a dry outer ring if you cook it on too high of a heat. My mother-in-law had a recipe for scalloped corn that is really good. The outer edge does form a harder crust, but I think it’s the tastiest part of it. There’s some caramelization that makes it seem sweeter.

Memory is certainly not the only hallmark of intelligence. Processing that information is key. Correlating, cross-referencing, reenforcing synaptic pathways makes those memories useful. I added synaptic pathways because learning motor skills is done through repetition. Those more times those neurons fire in that order the easier it gets. You don’t develop coordination by thinking. If you learn a new skill, like ice skating. At first you have to think about balance and what you’re doing. When you stop having to think about it is when you know how to do it. Language is like that too. A measure of fluency is whether you think in that language or whether you think in your native language and translate. If it applies to motor skills, and it applies to language skills, don’t you think it might be a property of what it means to have a skill?

All too often human endeavors are an attempt to justify looking down on some other group. That is a highly refined skill for some.

And before I forget, oh what was that again?

When you caramelize something you are converting starches to sugars. That’s why they taste so good. Onions are great caramelized. The stronger and more tear inducing the onion the sweeter the caramel.

Curiously, self defense sprays are pepper based never onion based. You might deter some if you hit them with an onion.