my ideal man has the personality of jon stewart and the humor of dave barry
2001-01-30 at 21:04:40
DAVE BARRY -- On College
College is basically a bunch of rooms where you sit for roughly two
thousand hours and try to memorize things. The two thousand hours are
over four years; you spend the rest of the time sleeping and trying to
Basically, you learn two kinds of things in college:
1. Things you will need to know in later life (two hours).
2. Things you will not need to know in later life (1,998 hours).
These are the things you learn in classes whose names end in -ology,
-osophy, -istry, -ics, and so on. The idea is, you memorizethese things,
then write them down in little exam books, then forget them. If
you fail to forget them, you become a professor and have to stay in
for the rest of your life.
It's very difficult to forget everything. For example, when I was in
college, I had to memorize -- don't ask me why -- the names of three
metaphysical poets other than John Donne. I have managed to forget one
them, but I still remember that the other two were named Vaughan and
Crashaw. Sometimes, when I'm trying to remember something important
whether my wife told me to get tuna packed in oil or tuna packed in
Vaughan and Crashaw just pop up in my mind, right there in the
It's a terrible waste of brain cells.
After you've been in college for a year or so, you're supposed to
major, which is the subject you intend to memorize and forget the most
things about. Here is a very important piece of advice: be sure to
a major that does not involve Known Facts and Right Answers. This means
must not major in mathematics, physics, biology, or chemistry, because
these subjects involve actual facts. If, for example, you major in
you're going to wander into class one day and the professor will say:
"Define the cosine integer of the quadrant of a rhomboid binary axis,
extrapolate your result to five significant vertices." If you don't
up with exactly the answer the professor has in mind, you fail. The same
true of chemistry: if you write in your exam book that carbon and
combine to form oak, your professor will flunk you. He wants you to
up with the same answer he and all the other chemists have agreed on.
Scientists are extremely snotty about this.
So you should major in subjects like English, philosophy, psychology,
sociology -- subjects in which nobody really understands what anybody
is talking about, and which involve virtually no actual facts. I
classes in all these subjects, so I'll give you a quick overview of
ENGLISH: This involves writing papers about long books you have read
little snippets of just before class. Here is a tip on how to get good
your English papers: Never say anything about a book that anybody with
common sense would say. For example, suppose you are studying
Anybody with any common sense would say that Moby-Dick is a big white
whale, since the characters in the book refer to it as a big white whale
eleven thousand times. So in your paper, you say Moby-Dick is actually
Republic of Ireland.
Your professor, who is sick to death of reading papers and never
Moby-Dick anyway, will think you are enormously creative. If you can
regularly come up with lunatic interpretations of simple stories, you
should major in English.
PHILOSOPHY: Basically, this involves sitting in a room and deciding
is no such thing as reality and then going to lunch. You should major in
philosophy if you plan to take a lot of drugs.
PSYCHOLOGY: This involves talking about rats and dreams. Psychologists
obsessed with rats and dreams. I once spent an entire semester training
rat to punch little buttons in a certain sequence, then training my
roommate to do the same thing. The rat learned much faster. My roommate
is now a
doctor. If you like rats or dreams, and above all if you dream about
you should major in psychology.
SOCIOLOGY: For sheer lack of intelligibility, sociology is far and away
the number one subject. I sat through hundreds of hours of sociology
>and read gobs of sociology writing, and I never once heard or read a
>coherent statement. This is because sociologists want to be considered
>scientists, so they spend most of their time translating simple,
>observations into scientific-sounding code. If you plan to major in
>sociology, you'll have to learn to do the same thing. For example,
>you have observed that children cry when they fall down. You should
>"Methodological observation of the sociometrical behavior tendencies
>prematurated isolates indicates that a casual relationship exists
>groundward tropism and lachrimatory, or 'crying,' behavior forms." If
>can keep this up for fifty or sixty pages, you will get a large
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