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It’s not hard to be a genius when you pick really stupid shit to be a genius about. That one concept is what accounts for Daniels passing the million dollar mark at age 30. It wasn’t because he was particularly talented, nor good looking, and no more than average intelligence. He was just good at picking what to work on. Say his doorknob. Most people who graduated the California Institute of Technology with a PhD in electromechanical engineering were working for NASA, or on large scale industrial projects, or in biotech firms attempting to use nanos to remap the nerves in the arms of amputees. They probably won’t ever achieve their goal by the time they die, and if they do, they’ll be too old to do much with the money besides pass it on. Most likely, they’ll make one minor advancement in their field, a new, slightly more aerodynamic shape for a bulkhead that will improve speed by .2%, and pass their work on to the next generation of genius engineers. The full project will be done in five or six decades, and they will have made a their small contribution among many for the greater good.
Craig Daniels made a doorknob. Finished it in a couple months, and made two hundred thousand dollars when Framework Industries bought the patent. Has a special clicking thing to make sure it doesn’t come unlocked or whatever, point is, no one had thought of it before, because all the people with an engineering degree are off designing rockets, and all that’s left to design doorknobs are the stay at home dads who took wood shop in high school. Apply complex methods to the simplest problems and get disproportionately good results. The next project was a gear for a treadmill. He drew out the first blueprint half tripping on mescal. 6 months later, $600k from LifetimeFit. Daniels doesn’t have to wait for his legacy to be made. He’s doesn’t need a mention in the footnotes of Obscure Science Textbook for the Class for 2301. His work is fucking everywhere. He designed everything you look at but don’t see. Ever wonder why the long metal plate beneath automatic doorways has etched parallel lines going across it? Of course not, but it made him $2 million at the age of 35. Do you know why baseball hats have those little dot button things at the top? I sure as hell don’t, but you know who does? The dude who bought Daniels’ prototype for $1.5. The magnetic tip on the end of screwdrivers so you don’t loose your 3/8 inch? Daniels. The shape of the little cups that hold tattoo ink*? Motherfucking Daniels. He doesn’t worry about legacy. You might get your name up in lights, but Craig Daniels designed the LEDs.
In general, genius is wasted on difficult problems. Without people like Daniels, our world will develop into a place with interstellar travel, pills that cure cancer, and doors that people still push on instead of pulling. We’ll be walking on moons and tripping over our shoelaces. What good is a flying car if you can’t find your keys? People relegate the problems of every day life to those without better things to do. It takes people like Daniels to realize that they are the better things. That finding the new propulsion mechanism for the next Martian crawler is if anything less meaningful than finding your light switch in the dark (Daniels Dimmer patent pending).
Among the scientific community, Craig Daniels has been a somewhat polarizing figure. According to some he is Einstein, to others Einstein’s obsessive-compulsive interior designer. His success did not always sit easy with his colleagues. He has often been criticized for being overly pedantic*, and some rivals have gone so far as to investigate his personal life*. Regardless, Daniels continues to invent. In his words, he “[is] not bothered the the criticisms of those whose accomplishments will be outlived by [his] swallowed chewing gum.”

*Apparently the base has to be wide enough to keep it from toppling over, but narrow enough so there is less surface area for ink to dry on and be wasted. See, “The World-Shattering Work of Craig Daniels”, by Craig Daniels.

*cf. “Proper Use of Tape Measures for Engineers and Other Three-Dimensional Designers”, Engineering Monthly, Daniels 2003

*See, “The Tragic Childhood of Craig Daniels”, by Craig Daniels