Sunday, January 9, 2011

Those Who Can't Teach

by Jim Fixx
I've often made this point to physical phitness phanatics: Jim Fixx is gone and Keith Richards lives on.

Of course, it's a specious comparison, but there's still a "Colonel of truth" (as I once saw it written) in my contention that one's lifespan will be largely determined by heredity, genetics, and one's disinclination to fall from the roofs of tall buildings.

Toward this end, I asked Santa for a copy of Keith's autobiography "Life" and am currently plowing through it.  I have gotten to the point at which young Keith, in what I take to be the English version of our middle schools, is a boy soprano in a handpicked choir chosen to perform in Westminster Abbey for the Queen.  He says that to this day, that is still the most splendid setting for any performance he has given, and remember, he has played in the Baltimore Civic Arena on several occasions.

Keith in Baltimore, 2006
But then his voice changed, as will happen to a young lad, and it was back to regular school, where he was told that because he missed so many classes due to the choir rehearsal schedule, he had to repeat a year.  This sparked the inward rebellion that led to his joining that ragtag bunch of misfits that we call the Rolling Stones.  Because he felt hoodwinked by the school authorities, Keith has had trust issues with people in authority from that day to this.

I learned a similar lesson, and it had nothing to do with any sort of choir, I assure you.  I was in 9th grade at the exclusive Towsontown Junior High School, warming a seat in a civics classroom under the tutelage of a young teacher who spent lots of class time conveying to us that we could expect him to be out sick the day after St Patrick's Day ("I like to drink, kids!" was the message we took away from that.)

Employing an age-old trick, one day he popped a quiz on us, rather than actually teach a lesson.  One of the questions was to name the governor of California.  I wrote "Pat Brown" and when the quiz came back, that correct answer was marked wrong.  The teacher told me that the answer he wanted was "Edmund Brown."  I told him that Governor Edmund G. Brown, Sr., was universally known by the nickname "Pat," but the teacher said he had never heard that, so therefore I could not be right.  After class I went to the school library and borrowed a copy of Newsweek magazine that had an article about "California's Pat Brown: New Visions for the Golden State" or some such, and I showed that to the teacher, and he said he didn't care how many things I showed him, because if HE didn't know that Mr Brown was known as Pat, that no one else should have to.

That was not the last time I dealt with such intransigence in my life, but it was probably the first time I became aware of the four types of people among us:

  • those who know, and know they know
  • those who know, and don't know they know
  • those who don't know, and know they don't know
  •  those who don't know and don't know they don't know
Jerry Brown is back again!
That last group is the most pernicious among us.  Better to avoid them at all costs, because things don't change.  The current governor of California, is, of course, Pat's son Edmund G. "Jerry" Brown, Jr.  

Like Schwarzenegger, he said he'd be back, and here he is!

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