The White Shoe Irregular:
It was fun while it lasted.

Classons, Weakons, Leptons, and Quarks

Michael Karpinski

To the judges of the Spiro T. Agnew Elementary School "2001: The Future We Share" essay contest:

I write to you in indignant disbelief vis--vis your decision of 12 January to disqualify my daughter [Andromeda Cassiopeia McCarthy] and her exemplary essay ["Classons, Weakons, Leptons, and Quarks: The Subatomic Undercarriage of the Cosmos"] from your erstwhile estimable competition.

Your somewhat sinister insinuation that the essay "demonstrates a suspicious level of cognitive and linguistic sophistication for a six-year-old child" — not to mention your repeated (and aggressively unsubtle) references to my own well-documented and honored career as an astrophysicist, academician, and occasional consultant to NASA — not only serve to suggest that I am some sort of unscrupulous, behind-the-scenes puller of prepubescent puppet-strings, but to cast purposeful and hurtful aspersions upon my gifted offspring's abilities as scholar, scribe, and scientist.

For your information, by the age of four, my aforementioned offspring was already capable of cataloguing 101 of the 103 elements in the Periodic Table (stumbling only on the admittedly tricky Praseodymium and Ytterbium), extrapolating pi to the seventy-eighth decimal place, and identifying all nine of our solar system's then-recognized planets by name, date of discovery, and rate of rotation. No doubt my preciously precocious progeny's thought-provoking epistle would have met with significantly better success (and respect) had it taken up a more suitably "juvenile" subject (e.g., "Our Friend the Sun" or "Comets!") — the academic equivalent of a Styrofoam-balls-suspended-from-string simulacrum of our blessedly complex, blissfully intricate solar system.

Please accept my untempered "congratulations" on your "invaluable" contribution to the dumbing-down of a planet already so scientifically stunted it wouldn't know a photon from a graviton, let alone a muon neutrino.

Signed, with all due rage and reproach,

Glenn Armstrong McCarthy, Ph.D.