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HTML finally made it onto TV! Well, sorta.

You all know how I feel about the IQ test, and whether it actually measures intelligence. Well, anyone who’s been listening to me rant over the last few years does. It doesn’t measure intelligence as much as ease of accessing archived educational tidbits. That is why I rank incredibly well despite my failings, and why so many people rank poorly in IQ tests who are factually incredibly capable, competent problem solvers. My basic point in the above is that you know I find the IQ test highly fallible. It does not measure a man’s worth. Just his accessible education and some small measure of his reasoning skills. My general working theory is that the concept of IQ simply exists to remove the requirement to actually observe your fellows for their worth. It allows you to shuck it off to authority, and removes the requirement to truly judge another on his capabilities.

The above is only a small part of why the new TV show </scorpion> bothers me so much. I wanted to like it. I really did. (“Smart people saving the day! Sounds like my kind of gig!”)

And then I saw a promo for the first time. Argh. The broken code! Ugh. Aaak! I could barely stand it. I wanted to tack on the opening HTML tag every time I saw that ad.

The show has a potentially wonderful premise. Supposedly, it’s based on the life of a real person with an IQ off the charts. While this person’s IQ is fantastic, my grandfather’s IQ was higher, mine’s within spitting distance of it, and nearly every member of my immediate family is right up there. I’m sure I could hold my own in an informed conversation with him on many topics. (Especially if they’re writing this character to actually mimic the real guy.)

The opening sequence is nauseatingly self-serving. The voiceovers tout the lead character’s brilliance. Our main character is heard talking about how fantastically smart he is. He declares himself to be smarter than Einstein in the intro. (It’s not winning the show any points to brag at the expense of others, especially one as respected as Einstein. )

Perhaps I’m spoiled by having humble, hardworking intelligent people around me, but I’m already sick of hearing him self-aggrandize, and I’ve only seen two episodes. Intelligence is valued in the end not by how much you have, but how much you share. I’m sure the show’s inspiration knows that.

I can only assume that the show has wandered far afield of the intent. I have seen showbiz projects that were nearly unrecognizable by the time they hit the boards; perhaps that’s the problem here. I certainly can’t imagine that anyone with an IQ over 190 would have intended to allow the meaningless, pointless use of half of an HTML tag.

So, if this Mr. O’Brien is closely associated with the show, why would he not want something useless, pointless and confusing stripped from the title. He wouldn’t. Smart people understand the world around them better than that and a pointless symbol without anything to ground it is more bothersome to them as a result.

My guess? The show’s producers or marketing team or whomever it was just wanted something that looked confusing and mathematical or code-based without actually being mathematical or code-based, and didn’t bother to ask the brilliant man what it should be. But no. I’m left mentally beginning the tag every time I see it written.

If it’s meant to be a self-closing tag the /> would be at the end like this:

<scorpion />

It’s the exact same amount of characters… so why not? Or… how about just a start tag?


(And then they could put the closing tag in place at the end of the season, as an inside joke.)

In the end, two episodes was enough to tell me that the show is not written for the brilliant, but about the brilliant. An important distinction.

Big Bang Theory is, despite being the undeniably formulaic and typical sitcom that one would expect, thoroughly enjoyable, primarily because it’s not trying to pretend to be more than it is. It has a sense of humor about the intelligence it mocks. The juxtaposition of awkwardness and intelligence in that show tells me I’m not the only one having trouble being relatable. People who misunderstand it might think it mattered for TBBT to be accurate and be about the science, but it’s very much not. It’s about human relationships, something that like most people in my position, I find more difficult to wrangle than higher math or quantum physics or code.

Scorpion is also purely meta-scientific, but pretends to be more. You hear about but never delve into the real meat of the technical side of what the character of Walter is doing. The writers failed to make the voiceover from the actor playing Walter sound like anything less than braggadocio. Where Big Bang hides the bragging in the dialogue of the admittedly flawed and likeable antagonist Sheldon, Scorpion IS Sheldon, touting it’s superiority and splendor like a strutting peacock.

Sure, the Walter character solves things in a MacGyverine fashion, and turns unlikely circumstances into truly preposterous solutions based on potentially plausible solutions, but he’s doing so through some of the most transparently dumbed-down-while-cocky dialogue I’ve ever come across. Never a double meaning, never an epiphany. No real thought, just formula, and predictable, obvious words from obvious two-dimensional characters.

Sure, it is mildly entertaining. But being trite while touting your intelligence is a waste of time.

In the end, I’ve decided that the character based on the life of Walter O’Brien, however wonderful or intelligent he might be, is being done a disservice by very poor writing. Perhaps they simply don’t realize that while they might be writing about a remarkable man, they aren’t writing it to do well by him. Honestly, the real life of Walter would likely be utterly fascinating to me. I’d be hooked on the show in seconds, if it mirrored reality better, and involved better writing.

I will not be watching another episode. Unless my DVR accidentally records it. In which case my obsessive completion habit will require it to be watched. And then I’ll rant again.

4 Responses to HTML finally made it onto TV! Well, sorta.

  1. Jason January 28, 2015 at 1:36 am #

    “While this person’s IQ is fantastic, my grandfather’s IQ was higher, mine’s within spitting distance of it, and nearly every member of my immediate family is right up there. I’m sure I could hold my own in an informed conversation with him on many topics.”

    So basically, what your saying is your family completely defies basic statistics. If you had done any research on the standard distribution of IQ scores you would realize that your complete arrogance undermines your very argument. Depending on whether you take the Wechsler (15 SD scale, 1 in 20 billion having an IQ of 197, or 1 in one billion of having an IQ equal to or above 190) or whether you take the Stanford-Binet (16 SD scale, 1 in 1.5 billion of having an IQ of 197, 1 in 107 million of an IQ above 190) the likelihood of that statement actually being correct is a slim chance at best.

    Assuming you have the average of 1 sibling, you also have 2 parents, and 4 grandparents (8 total, including yourself) that would mean one of two things (Depending on the test).
    1. Statistically your family single-handedly consists of every person to have an IQ above 190 on the entire planet (with the Wechsler test)


    2. Your family consists of 8/70 people in the world to have an IQ above 190 (with the Stanford-Binet test).

    “I’m sure I could hold my own in an informed conversation with him on many topics.”

    As for that statement, have you even researched the man? Or did you decide to just arrogantly (and ironically considering half of your insults) decide your equal with him? Since I’ll assume you haven’t, here’s a little bit of information.

    “Scorpion himself has created over 177 unique technology inventions including ScenGen and WinLocX and is one of the world’s leading experts in the application of computer science and artificial intelligence to solve complex industry challenges.”

    So exactly how many topics could you hold your own with him? What you had for dinner? The weather? How good the latest film was? Because your certainly not going to be able to hold your own on ANYTHING computer, science or math related.

    Yes, I agree the show is corny, predictable and just downright ridiculous at times, but it needs to be to be entertaining. Walter O’Brien was a man to base the show on. Much like the Titanic, Pearl Harbor, Alan Turing and every crime ever were the basis on which popular movies and TV shows (NCIS, Criminal Minds, Stalker, etc) were formed.

    So how about instead of letting your arrogance and negativity shine through, next time do some research so you can actually know what your talking about. You want to say the show is rubbish, go right ahead it’s your opinion, but stop trying to put yourself on a pedestal by insulting others.

    FYI, for someone who likes criticism here’s some for you. For a professional of 12 years now, this is one of the most poorly designed sites I have ever seen. Seriously, WordPress offers better default themes for free, maybe check them out and take some cues from them?

    Yours Truly,

    A bored 17 year old.

    • Desi Matlock May 17, 2015 at 1:23 am #


      I like you. A critical thinker.

      You’re working out the math on flawed data here. I never claimed my immediate family was large enough to have 8 people in it with IQs over 190. When I said my immediate family, I meant my nuclear family. But there are more than 8 people within my family with IQs within spitting distance of or “higher than Einstein”, which is the metric against which the show measured genius. Since I left “within spitting distance” vague enough to cover any statistical anomaly you might throw at me, I’m leaving that at that. 😉

      I find that working out the odds is lovely until you actually have to figure out how real data fits into those odds. Believe or do not believe that we’re a family of odds-defying geniuses, I don’t care.

      I’m not putting myself on a pedestal. If you read it that way, fine. I don’t self-promote, and this blog isn’t meant as a promotional tool. In fact, I’ve pretty regularly pointed out that I blog about what I want to here, and sometimes this site doesn’t see a new post for a while. I don’t generally promote, since the word-of-mouth from previous happy clients keeps me booked out for the foreseeable future. So, many of my own marketing tools get a bit dusty at the edges. In fact, I care little for self-promotion and usually keep my high test scores to myself. Again, mostly due to not valuing IQ – as covered in the post. I’ll probably never mention it again.

      One of the smartest men I know left school at 13 and will never be known as intelligent because he chose to live on the land.

      And the theme is fine. Although I used to build my themes myself, I switched to using Canvas by WooThemes a while back – mostly because it nearly never conflicts with a plugin, and handles mega-boat-loads of traffic well. Woo gets quite a bit of peer and user love, and they regularly update to remain at the top of the game. So, your beef is with them. If you mean the visual elements within the theme, I am not sure which particular moment of my tinkering with this site that you saw. Sorry you didn’t like it.

      Your insults are pretty unwarranted. I never insulted Walter O’Brien, who is smarter than me. Perhaps you should learn from that lesson.

  2. Iggy November 23, 2017 at 8:51 pm #

    It’s not HTML. HTML has a standard tag set, most likely it’s XML or somebody’s poorly understood version of HTML.

    • Desi Matlock November 28, 2017 at 9:58 pm #

      …”or somebody’s poorly understood version of HTML.”

      We agree then, since it’s not XML either.

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