Oh, ego — at what cost self-greatness? As a kid, I wasn’t exactly a fan of Bill Nye. Partly because our family was broke, Disney wasn’t on basic cable, and I refused to watch PBS on general principle. Secondly because I was already a little too old for Nye by the time his show became popular; by 14 I already had a full-time night job, an all-black business casual wardrobe and (quite proudly) an interest in advanced aeronautics. So Nye of the Bowtie seemed a little…juvenile at the time. But 20 years later I realize I may have been a bit up my own a*s at the time, and the truth is as clear as argon soup: Bill Nye is freaking awesome.
Bill’s been back in the spotlight quite a bit in recent years. In our circles, by taking on Ken Ham in a well publicized Evolution vs. Creationism debate. Which, it must be said, was kind of like watching a nuclear physicist argue Amish cabinet making with a duck on crystal meth. More in the mainstream, Bill’s catapulted to incredible international fame on Dancing With the Stars — which I’m told has something to do with Glee and footballs.
Bill Nye also evidently has something to do with footballs; in this case Deflategate, which is also a thing people care about. In this Funny or Die segment, Bill takes a few minutes to put some footballs in a refrigerator and measure the pressure drop inside. Ultimately, he notes that the pressure drop (about six percent) is even by the most optimistic of estimates about half of what the pressure drop in the footballs were. Meaning, they cheated.
So, just to summarize at this point: The guy I never watched back then, who’s been on a show I don’t watch now, doing a thing I don’t care about, confirmed something that doesn’t matter to a sport as personally relevant as hyrax hurling. But, while waiting for the footballs to cool, Nye threw a Hail Mary into the endzone of things that DO matter:
“While we’re all obsessed with Deflategate, let’s keep in mind that there’s something about which you should give a f*ck. Yes, like Tom Brady, the world is getting hotter and hotter, and you know why? Because we humans are pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Nye then began listing things that contribute to climate change — including long-winded Deflategate press conferences — and followed that up with a rallying cry.
You should vote for congressmen and senators that appreciate the threat of climate change and the rate at which the world is getting warmer, so that we can preserve the earth for humankind for generations to come.”
I’ve often said I’m a bit conservative at heart — and that probably shows most in my deliberate ignorance of things I don’t care about. Things like PBS, dancing with stars and football. But I wonder now how many years of Bill Nye fandom I missed out on, allowing my ego as a kid to preclude participation in the sphere of Things That Matter to Other People. But I’m glad Bill Nye is back in that sphere…because there are other people in the world who remain deliberately ignorant of Things That Matter.
Let’s just hope they don’t let their egos, like mine, cause them to miss out on a perfectly good message. Wrapped as it is in a silly bow tie.