Monday, June 07, 2010

When ambition is gone, there's always terror....

The other day a Facebook friend was questioning his decision to pursue science as his profession, stating that perhaps firefighting would have been an easier, saner choice.

No surprise there -- firefighter and scientist are great career favorites of the under-eight XY crowd. Probably "Transformer" and "King of the Galaxy" as well.

This made me think of a little kids' book I wrote a few years ago, entitled I Want to Be a Scientist Like Stephen Hawking. Two prior authors had tried and failed to write an acceptable text about Hawking's life, and it was no easy task for me, either. You see, the challenge in selling Prof. Hawking's story to kiddies as inspirational tripe is that 1) he was an enormous slacker who was scared into diligence by a debilitating disease and that 2) no one would be writing books about him if he were an amazing cosmologist without full-body paralysis and a spooky computer-generated voice. On the cover of the book you see his slack-jawed grin and the backdrop of his wheelchair and the subtext seems to be "and if you don't have the spine to make your dreams happen, little child, there's always the WRATH OF GOD...."

I'm all for scaring the kiddies into line.*

* To quote Laurie Anderson: "For when love is gone, there's always justice. And when justice is gone, there's always force. And when force is gone, there's always Mom...."