Home
In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Oct. 4, 2006 / 12 Tishrei, 5767

Award to the wise

By Malcolm Fleschner


Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Throughout the calendar year the American public is treated to the release of various lists of prominent people who have distinguished themselves in some way. Just a few examples are the Forbes 400 richest Americans, People Magazine's 25 Most Intriguing People and the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list. To date the only person with the distinction of making all three at the same time is Martha Stewart.


My favorite accolade, however, would have to be the so-called "Genius Grants" awarded annually to a couple dozen Americans deemed by the MacArthur Foundation to have shown "exceptional creativity in their work and the prospect for still more in the future." After all, what's not to like about a well-funded organization that unexpectedly calls you up to say, "We think you're a genius and oh, by the way, here's $500,000 to blow any way you like."


So how are MacArthur fellows selected? Unfortunately, I don't know. The process is undertaken in complete secrecy, following the example set by the obscure evaluation methods involved in choosing such other eminent personages as Supreme Court nominees, the Pope and contestants on Survivor.


As a result, the presumptive geniuses have no idea they're even under consideration until they receive a phone call out of the blue with the good news. And while I'm sure recipients are always pleasantly surprised, this system seems dangerously open to abuse. I mean, you know how self-absorbed some of those academic types can be. And while I'd hate to plant an idea in the heads of any overworked and underappreciated graduate students who may be looking for a way to get back at their dictatorial advising professors, but could you imagine a better prank phone call?


"Hello, is this Dr. Nasenhaare, of the Harvard University physics department? Yes, this is Haywood Jablome, executive director of the MacArthur Foundation. I'm calling to inform you that you've been selected for one of this year's Genius grants. We were very impressed with your work in the area of subatomic particle retrieval, specifically with regard to all the particles you were able to retrieve from your nose during office hours when you thought no one was looking. Psych!"


With such a secretive selection process, pretty much anyone can feel they have a shot at making the cut. Which explains my shock and disappointment when this year's MacArthur fellows were announced and my name was not listed. And yes, I did call the foundation to make sure there hadn't been some sort of bureaucratic mixup.


So what makes me think that anyone would ever consider me for the title of "genius," particularly in light of the fact that on more than one occasion I have driven away from a self-serve gas station with the pump still attached to my car? It's a fair question. For one thing, this past year I've been barraged with direct references to my apparent genius, often from complete strangers. I can't count how many times people have said to me, "The door is marked 'Exit Only,' genius," or, "Hey genius, the toaster doesn't work unless it's plugged in," as well as, ironically enough, " 'Genius' is only spelled with one 's,' genius."


I guess I may have also deluded myself into believing I was in the running because I could really use the $500,000. The money is offered with no strings attached, and is intended to help relieve recipients of financial concerns because, according to the Foundation website, "we believe that talented people are in the best position to decide how to allocate their time and resources to follow their creative vision." In my case, it will be difficult for me to follow my creative vision and keep churning out these columns if I don't come up with the substantial sum I owe to my bookie, Vinnie "The Tenderizer" Stromboli, who has threatened to send over a few of his associates to, as he put it, "make mashed potatoes out of my fingers."


So my genius may go unrecognized for another year. And as a result, I may also lose the use of my hands for a while. But why dwell on the negatives when there are so many other, as yet unannounced, tributes to shoot for? Assuming I can learn how to type with my nose, I should definitely be on the short list for a Pulitzer Prize for commentary. The selection committee can't possibly have missed this column's many courageous stances, whether railing against the lackluster quality of what passes for fortune cookie "fortunes" these days or my call for mandatory paper-based ballots to restore the nation's faith in the voting process on American Idol, to name just a couple.


And failing that, well, I'm sure I can count on a groundswell of reader support for my run at People Magazine's Sexiest Man Alive title.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Malcolm Fleschner is a humor columnist for The DC Examiner. Let him know what you think by clicking here.


Previously:

08/24/06:Phrased and Confused
08/09/06: We're Gonna Party Like it's $19.99
07/19/06: Just Singing in the Brain
05/24/06: Who says you can't go home again?
05/11/06: When nightly news stories go off script
04/26/06: Cents and sensibility: A thought for your pennies
03/16/06: The day the Muzak died
02/23/06: Checkbook diplomacy begins at home
02/15/06: Today's toys: Where learning means earning



© 2006, Malcolm Fleschner

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles