Sunday, December 16, 2012

10 'Talents' that are pretty overrated

Everyone has talents, or something that they do better than anyone else, or at least better than a lot of people.  For some, it's athletics, for others, academe.  In this world of over 6 billion people, there's quite a few people that have some odd abilities.  Among all of the talents that are available, there are some that are simply overrated.  To wit:

10.  Holding your liquor - A staple of movies for ages, the ability to hold ones liquor appears to be a sought after talent.  It would seem that you would want the exact opposite.  To feel the effects of alcohol with as little intake as possible would seem to be a more cost effective way to get buzzed instead of having to drink your weight in the fruit of the grape.

9.  Knowing History - This one would get the most argument from the most people I believe.  Historical knowledge is valuable only when it comes to law and that's because law relies on precedent in order to determine a direction of action.  That's because we are trying to be consistent.  The problem of course is our society and our technology is far from consistent.  Things that made sense 50 years ago make no sense now. That's why we have stupid laws like you can't fish from horseback and birds have right of way on the highway (real laws I'm afraid).  Knowing history by and large is knowing things that are interesting.  It doesn't provide much value beyond that.  The events of human kind have even left the History Channel dry of material which is why they have the current line up they have.  Hardly Historical.

8.  Gambling Knowledge - Knowledge of the the games of chance available in a casino has been touted as worthwhile information in movies and tv.  Here is the only knowledge of gambling you need to know.  Over time the Casino will take your money.  I have this particular knowledge in spades.  I go to the casino twice a month and I win just a little less than I lose.  I'm just short of being an expert.  Knowledge of the games will only help you lose slower, not win.  It's still fun though.

7.  Remembering Trivia - Memory is a terrific talent, it's useful and beneficial.  Using that ability for remembering minutiae is unfortunate unless you are a writer for Jeopardy.  The ability to spout little known knowledge has long been a false indicator of intelligence.  Lately it has become that much more overrated thanks to the Internet.  There goes another talent down the tubes.

6.  Ability to tan well - It's not so much an ability as it is an attribute.  Yet I hear people commenting on it all the time as though sitting in the sun is something that is desired at all besides the obvious enjoyable sloth that it signifies.

5.  Old Computer languages - In programming there are languages that are much like regular languages.  the vocabulary set is much more limited and designed only to facilitate logic.  When you learn a computer language it is very much like learning a real language.  There are nuances to the code and each programmer will implement it differently.  Over time, these languages become obsolete.  Hopefully, the programmers don't become obsolete with them.  It is with an unfortunate amount of pride that programmers reminisce about old languages.  It's really the most pathetic aspect of being a programmer is telling people how easy they have it because they didn't have to program in FORTRAN or COBOL.  Yawn.  It's like telling you kids how easy they have it because they didn't have to live in the good old Greek (assuming you know Greek).  But more about that coming up next.

4.  Dead Languages - People that can speak Latin or Greek are pretty rare, even among the legal/medical set.  Sure they know a few of the roots, but honestly, Praising Latin for being the base of languages is much like praising flour because you are eating a tasty cake.  Sure it's important, but honestly, something else would have shown up in it's stead if Latin wasn't available.  The ability to speak a dead language is really important on the Masters edition of Trivial Pursuit.

3.  Average singing - For many people, going to church means having to endure a choir made up of local parishioners.  When these people sing it's really a crap shoot.  You sit on your chair and hope and pray that if you happen to be in the church that God thinks is the good one that he'll spare you and them any embarrassment by helping them to hit the notes or at least helping you to hear them as they were intended to be sung and not how it came out.  These people are then praised after a performance to the point that they actually might start believing that they can sing better than they are able and try out for some reality based singing show.  It only gets worse from there.

2.  Being Stupid - That's not a talent.  No?  Take a look at shows such as Jersey shore and the like and tell me that being stupid and proud of it is not a talent that is valued today.  Valued AND overrated.  Before I let go of this particular bone, let me say this.  Being entertained by ignorant people and the resulting train wreck of their lives is most certainly not a sign of any higher evolution than the people you are watching.

1.  Being OCD -  Obsessive Compulsive Disorder has been misdiagnosed by many as a talent.  It is no more a talent than being able to pass gas to the tune of Call Me Maybe.  Actually, far less.  The problem is, if an individual is obsessed with something that happens to be socially acceptable then it has transited quickly to the world of talents.  To those with genuine OCD, it's likely less talent than it is torture.

Happy Holidays.

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