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1/3 Physicist, 1/3 Sloth, 1/3 Idiot E-mail
City Life - Blogs & Columns
Written by Mary Higgins
Chinese students spend every waking moment of their young lives trying to better themselves by staring blankly into space for 13 hours a day while they’re in school. They study and study and study and dream of one day owning their own shoe shop or plumbing store or anything else that requires a 14 year old to understand quantum mechanics.

Unfortunately, the mind simply cannot hold the entire wealth of human knowledge and any effort to cram every last known bit of information into the mind of a child will have devastatingly incapacitating results. Only partial information will be remembered and what is remembered will only end up being a random stream of data that is understood completely out of context.  There is no better place to observe the incredible success and subsequently ironic failure of the Chinese educational system that on any road in China. At any one moment, any person on the road is a trinity of Newtonian parts: 1/3 Physicist, 1/3 Sloth, 1/3 Idiot.

Let’s see how these seemingly unrelated parts fit together with Newton’s three laws of motion.

The 1/3 Physicist

Newton’s First Law:  An object at rest or traveling in uniform motion will remain at rest or traveling in uniform motion unless acted upon by a net force.

The 1/3 Physicist driving his car, bus, bicycle, 3 wheeled cart, or even pushing his cart down the aisle of the supermarket knows that he has inertia and the only net force that is going to act on him is some poor soul that gets in his way. Remember, the “right of way” doesen’t exist in Newton’s world. So, unless you believe in fairies and leprechauns, and other fantasies, get your head out of your ass and get the hell out of the way because the 1/3 Physicist ain’t stopping.

The 1/3 Sloth

Newton’s Second Law:  The acceleration of an object depends directly upon the net force acting upon the object, and inversely upon the mass of the object.

Simply put, F = m * a. What this means is that force, mass, and acceleration are all dependent upon each other. For the 1/3 sloth, this means that if you get in his way, then he’s going to have apply a force to slow down (alternatively he could try and gain a massive amount of weight presumably through not hawking huge gobs of phlegm). Whoa! Hold your horses! Apply a force? So, if he doesn’t want to hit that guy in the middle of the road then he’s going to have to do something that requires effort!? Nah…that sounds like way to much work. It’s probably better to do nothing.

The 1/3 Idiot

Newton’s Third Law:  For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Essentially, doing nothing is actually doing something (albeit not very much) because it always produces a result. Our 1/3 Idiot doesn’t understand that we are slaves to Newton and that there are consequences to our actions. You can’t simply go wherever you want on the road and hope that everyone else has studied up on the three laws. Increase that F!!! Reduce that a!!! We’re all gonna die if you don’t start using your head!!!!

So, for all you young Chinese parents out there dreaming of great things to come for your children, do them a favor and quit jamming so much useless junk into their heads. Try teaching them to look both ways when crossing the street BEFORE you start teaching them how to measure the amount of force that is required to crush a person trying to cross the street. If you like, you make the moment educational and practical by demonstrating how a teeny tiny amount of angular force applied to the steering wheel of a car can avoid killing a guy on his bicycle that is equally as uneducated/overeducated as you are.

Maybe I need to try and be more clear so that we’re all on the same page:


Our valuable Editor Mary Higgins has been with us since Tuesday, 24 November 2009.

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