Thursday, February 01, 2007

How to seem smarter than you really are

January 31

I had lunch at Porter House with dashing young catfish farmer Paul Dees and The Catfish Institute's publicists.
Paul is a native of Mississippi, but he studied ag economics at Auburn in Alabama.
Now, because I am a strange person, I know a fair amount about catfish farming, but very little about Auburn, and possibly less about college football.
Okay, I probably know a little more about college football than Auburn, because my boss, NRN Editor Ellen Koteff, went to the University of Florida and a couple of people on staff went to Ohio State (senior desk editor Christi Ravneberg makes delicious chocolate-and-peanut-butter buckeyes), and then there’s Georgia Bulldog Elissa Elan, who covers the foodservice industry's on-site segment.
(I went to Tufts, and our football team, the Jumbos, in fact won the championship — for Division 3, New England — during my freshman year by defeating the Amherst Lord Jeffs; our other big rival was the Williams Purple Cows).
But I did watch the Florida-Auburn game with Ellen the Gator during MUFSO this year, and was delighted that I could make fun of Ellen because Florida lost, mostly due to multiple interceptions caused by Florida's nearly complete inability to hold on to the ball. It was funny.
Florida of course ultimately became the national champions in a stunning upset victory over Ohio State, something that did not go unnoticed in NRN’s headquarters.
I have now related everything I know about college football, but of course that was enough for me to express joy for the victory of Paul’s alma mater over Florida, interspersed with questions about catfish's conversion ratio, observations about its clean taste relative to fished catfish, concern about competitors and so on.
You can get great leverage out of a little information applied correctly.
Here's something you can say pretty much any time the Denver Broncos come up: “Boy, those Broncos sure like to take it to the last minute don’t they? They really like to make their fans nervous."
But here’s a great anecdote that Paul told me: A popular appetizer in Ohio in the lead up to the national football championship was alligator.

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