Everything You Know About Belly-Button Lint is Wrong

I’ve noticed a trend recently.  The East Coast newspapers I read, such as The New York Times and The Boston Globe, have taken to lecturing ordinary schmoes like me on a regular basis that things we believe to be self-evidently true are in fact false–when you look at them in the sort of nuanced, sophisticated way that writers for these rags are capable of.

“I can’t believe I’ve been so stupid all these years!”

Headlines for articles in this vein are typically written in the following format:  “Everything You Know About [Something] Is Wrong.”  For maximum impact on a reader who was previously flipping through the paper while sipping his or her morning coffee, it helps if the “Something” is a subject of such overwhelming simplicity that it causes one to sit up ramrod straight and shout to his or her spouse/s.o., “Oh my God–do you realize we’ve been wrong about tuna salad sandwiches all these years?”

The Boston Globe:  Seriously, they know better than you.

Thus, subjects as fundamental as healthcare, immigration, taxes, highways, belly-button lint–okay, I made up that last one–have been spread across a glass slide and examined under the microscope of the methodology of “You’re wrong, I’m right, nyah-nyah-nyah, nyah-NYAH-nyah” favored by East Coast (and for all I know, West Coast) public intellectual wannabes.

The “Everything You Know is Wrong” formulation is one borrowed from a 1974 Firesign Theatre album.  The phrase has been used as the title for two songs, one by “Weird Al” Yankovic, one by Chumbawamba, whoever they are.  It has also been used as a title by no less than three authors–Paul Kirchner, Lloyd Pye, and Russ Kick; which raises the question, if the newspaper writers who tell us that everything we know is wrong are so smart, how come they can’t come up with something original?

I’m tired of being told that I’m totally wrong about familiar stuff such as the English language, the Civil War and dime-store turtles.  It’s time to fight back.  I’ve picked an extremely difficult topic–string theory–and I’m writing today to tell you that everything those guys know about it is wrong.  Ready?  Let’s go!

String theory does not involve actual string.  If you’re at a physics department cocktail party and some guy is making goo-goo eyes at your date and you try to head him off at the pass by launching into an explanation of string theory, do not hold out your hands like you’re making a cat’s cradle.

“See, this is Cleveland over here,” you begin, “and this is the solar system, and this is the Crab Nebula Supernova.”  Pretty soon you’ll run out of room and cut your hand by pushing it through a closed window.

Crab Nebula Supernova:  It’s over by the bacon dip.

“Strings” are One-Dimensional Objects, So You Don’t Have to Be.  String theory is a developing approach to theoretical physics based on one-dimensional extended objects called “strings.”

Sharif:  “Please–enough with the theoretical physics.  Let’s go nibble each other’s earlobes.”

If all you ever talk about is one subject, like yourself or string theory, your date is going to walk off and talk to the guy with the mustache who looks like Omar Sharif.

Because string theory does not depend on the “point particles” of quantum field theories, it forms an apparently valid quantum theory for the creation of belly-button lint.

This is a show stopper.  You’ve been listening to some wise guy drone on and on about his second Nobel Prize in Physics.  He’s dominating the dinner-table conversation, and you’re starting to drink too much to deal with your feelings of inadequacy.  You may already be inebriated, for all I know.  Now is the time to man up and give this guy what-for:  “Sure, that’s an adequate descriptor of the modular valence if you’re talking quantum field theories,” you snap.  “But has it ever–and I do mean ever–formed a valid quantum theory for belly-button lint?”  You pause for effect, and your stare turns your stunned adversary into a startled fawn.

Startled fawn

“Uh, well actually, now that you mention it, I guess not,” he says, sweat breaking out on his forehead as he reaches for his glass of water.  “Is it just me,” he says after he takes a gulp, “or is it getting hot in here?”

Which, as every scientist worth his slide rule knows, is a song by “Nelly,” an American rapper, singer and actor.

Unless everything I know about him is wrong.

Views: 56

Comment by nanatehay on April 27, 2017 at 3:43pm

I once operated a small business out of my home in Kansas City, manufacturing doilies and throw pillows woven completely out of belly-button lint. These were high-end products, using nothing but the finest, fully organic, fair trade navel pickings, but critics said it wasn't a viable long term business model. They were right, of course, since the public is still years away from being able to appreciate the time and craftsmanship it takes to produce even one belly-button lint teakettle cozy, but some day that will change and then who's gonna be the fawn in the headlights laughing all the way to the bank?  Not those meddling, snotty Philistines at the Better Business Bureau, I can tell you that. 

Comment by Con Chapman on April 27, 2017 at 4:36pm

I'm from Sedalia MO. Tried to grow belly-button lint hydroponically once, but it turned into plain yogurt instead.

Comment by nanatehay on April 27, 2017 at 6:37pm

That happens to my milk sometimes. When I finally place my Craigslist ad for "Spouse needed, female only need apply, must have all original limbs. Possible long-term professional opportunity for self-starting, motivated individual" I'm probably gonna put "Reliable dairy-sniffing skills a must" in there somewhere.



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