One of the things wrong with modern education is that kids don’t learn math.
One of the things wrong with modern education is that we are losing the legends and lore of earlier times. I’ve written before about a friend of mine who did not know the story of William Tell. I have young friends who think vampires are sparkly gay teenagers instead of minor Eastern European nobility who vant to suck your blood.
This came back to me this morning when I was at Barnes & Noble. There was a rack of notebooks for sale, but nobody seemed to be interested. (Kids, notebooks are like small iPads, only you can’t watch movies on them and the batteries last longer — ask your parents.) I took the above picture of the sign (pictured above) as I realized that the problem was that kids today don’t understand the cultural significance of Moleskine Legendary Notebooks, because they never learned the legend of Moleskine in school.
I decided that since no one else will do it, I would step forward and help further the education of today’s youth. Gather around, kiddies, as I tell you of the Legend of Moleskine.
The Legend of Mo LeSkine
Once, long ago, there was a French scientist name Maurice “Mo” LeSkine. Like most scientists of his day, Mo was an astrologer and alchemist. His parents, Jean and Jeanne LeSkine, disapproved of his pursuits, and urged him to go into the family business of oppressing peasants. But Mo’s heart wasn’t really into oppression. He had been bitten by the alchemist’s bug — the ability to turn lead into gold.
So Monsieur LeSkine set himself up in a little laboratory in the outskirts of Paris, and began his experiments. Every day he would slave away in his lab over a hot philosopher’s stone, transmuting his little heart out. At night, he would gaze up at the stars, and make notes of their positions. He didn’t use a telescope for his observations, because he wasn’t sure whether they had been invented yet. The next morning, he would use his calculations to work out his horoscope, and then back to the transmuting lab to start again.
For months, Mo labored in vain. He had managed to change lead into beryllium, argon, cubic zirconium, and flubber, but never to gold. His astrology fared no better. Every morning his horoscope gave him vague predictions and generic advice. (“Today a man will tell you about a thing you should do.” “You should eat foods that are good for you.”)
Things were getting desperate for the young scientist. He’d even noticed some local peasants that looked like they’d benefit from a good oppressing. But one morning, after a particularly long night of stargazing and wishing someone would at least invent binoculars, Maurice Le Skine composed his daily horoscope and read in astonishment what the stars had revealed.
Pisces: Today would be a good day to transmute lead into gold. A dark-haired woman will enter your neighborhood.
LeSkine jumped for joy. Today was finally the day! He rushed down the stairs to his lab and began furiously working on his transmutation equations. Finally, after a few hours wishing someone had gotten around to inventing calculus, Mo had his answer. The formula for transmuting lead into gold! Scribbling the formula into his notebook, he rushed toward the city to get the supplies he needed, distracted only by the hordes of dark-haired women who seemed to be entering every neighborhood he passed.
What Mo had failed to take into account was that fully one-twelfth of humanity was born between the middle of February and the middle of March, and that included a lot of would-be alchemists. By the time Mo got to Jacques’ Lead Emporium, the shelves had been stripped bare of lead. Jacques told Maurice that a new lead shipment wasn’t due till the end of the month. Dejected, Mo returned home, anxious for the end of the month to come. It was late, so he quickly made his astrological observations and went to bed.
When he woke up the next morning, he was still groggy from all the excitement of the previous day. He got his morning coffee and his notebook and set about divining the day’s horoscope. Just as he was finishing, he was startled by a knock at the door, and dropped his coffee onto the table, splashing it everywhere. Finding no one at the door, he ignored the spilled coffee and read his horoscope.
Pisces: Today would be a bad day to spill things on your transmutation notes. Your shoes are under the sofa.
Mo looked over at his notebook, sitting in a grande puddle of coffee. The ink on the page had run, and the transmutation notes were illegible. The secret of transmuting lead into gold was gone.
And the legend of Mo LeSkine’s Notebook was born.