1137. Know-all

Leo had used the same computer program for four years. He was an expert at it. He could use it standing on his head.

Some of the things Leo had to do with the program were fairly amazing. Some of the processes were complicated and took a long time.

One day a man came along who happened to be Leo’s boss. Leo proudly worked away on his computer.

“You do an excellent job,” said the boss. “Show me how you do it.”

So Leo showed his boss how he used the program.

“Why don’t you do it like this?” said the boss, showing Leo a shortcut. “It will knock several hours off the way you do things.”

Leo thanked his boss, but he wasn’t going to change. He waited until his boss left, and then he went back to his old ways. He wasn’t having a know-all tell him how to use a program he’d been master at for four years.

22 thoughts on “1137. Know-all

  1. Clay

    Leo is our antithesis! I’m sure he hates search engines! But on a tragic note, the story reminded me of this: And schools are like that. So the way schools actually function – of course it’s not 100 percent, because there is a contradiction, so all sorts of aspects show themselves depending on the teacher and so on – but, by and large, there’s a very strong tendency which works its way out in the long run and on average, for the schools to have a kind of filtering effect. They filter out independence of thought, creativity, imagination, and in their place foster obedience and subordination. I think everyone knows this from their own history. Like, how did I get to a good college myself? I was always very critical and dissident. But I got there by shutting up! I went through high school, thinking it was all really stupid and authoritarian and boring, but I was obedient, I was quiet, I wasn’t a behavior problem, I didn’t tell the teacher what I thought he was teaching was ludicrous when I thought it was. And I made it to a good college.

    There are people who don’t accept, who aren’t obedient. They are weeded out, they’re driving taxi cabs, they’re behavior problems. The long-term effect of this is to reward and foster subordination; it begins in kindergarten and goes all the way through your professional or other career. If you challenge authority, you get in one or another kind of trouble. Again, it’s not 100 percent the case, and there are some areas of life where it’s dramatically not the case, but on average and overwhelmingly in the outcomes, it holds.
    -Noam Chomsky, On Humanism and Morality

    1. Bruce Goodman Post author

      Further to that – there was this old priest – when I started teaching – so old that the students called him “Corpse” – who in his younger days had written the first Old Icelandic-English dictionary. He would solve cryptic crosswords almost as fast as he could write.


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