There are probably thousands of exceptionally bright kids attending Syracuse University, but the important thing in life isn’t innate brains or an elegant education — it’s curiosity. Curiosity is perhaps the most attractive human trait, and there seems to be a whole lot less of it now than before. Basic logic, it seems, is also on the ropes.

Example: Four minutes ago I ordered some breakfast at a local Syracuse U. bagel joint. I then asked the girls at the counter — one blonde, pigtailed and zaftig, the other fat and brown-haired with slightly blemished skin — if they knew of a local copy joint. “Copies?” the brown-haired girl said. Yeah, you know…a place that prints computer files on paper or make copies or whatever. “I’m not sure that they have that here,” she said. No copy place in a major college town? “I don’t go to college here,” she said.

This, I submit, is a blade of grass that indicates where a lot of kids are at today. If they’re not getting paid for it, and if it doesn’t feed into their immediate interest or friend-sphere or family environment or is otherwise right in front of their face, they don’t know about it and they don’t care to know. How many brain cells does it take to surmise that a college town will definitely have two or three copy places?

That said, I sympathize with anyone who isn’t the least bit curious about higher math. I hugely resent being put through years and years of torture in math and algebra and geometry classes in junior and senior high school because they’ve had any practical application in real life. If I have a math issue, I use my calculator — end of story. The educators who put me through my pre-pubescent and teenaged math classes were sadists, pure and simple.