Life Sentences, Day 132: Stupid-Proof

February 10th, 2011

Almost anyone can figure out how to baby-proof a house. But how do you stupid-proof an entire nation?

A few days back, a Minneapolis woman with the finely ironic name of Stacy Champion attempted to air-mail her son in Georgia a puppy.  When she saw postal workers handling the package a bit roughly, she warned them it had “a robot” in it.  Postal employees heard the robot breathing, opened the box, and gave the dog to an animal shelter, and Stacy Champion went to court to demand the return of the dog and the $22 in postage she had paid.

When the hearing officer asked why she had attempted to mail a puppy, Stacy Champion said, “They didn’t have no display, what you couldn’t mail or nothing.”

Okay, they didn’t have no display.

I date this whole we need to warn the stupids movement back to the late fifties, when Procter & Gamble sent out millions of samples of their new dishwashing liquid, which — hold your breath — contained lemon  juice to cut grease, or so P&G said. (It actually contained artificially produced lemon scent molecules.)

P&G first got an inkling that something was awry when news reports surfaced about hundreds of people who had gotten sick from drinking the detergent.   Let me repeat that: Hundreds of people had gotten sick from drinking the detergent.

And then, of course, drawn by the stench of stupidity, the lawyers descended like flies.  Fifty years later . . .

. . . we apparently need to be warned not to place our infants in large plastic containers.

This attempt to keep the idiots in the gene pool is costing us a fortune.  Because of the lawyers, if there ain’t no display, there’s a lawsuit.   As an example, let’s look at the stairways at a Los Angeles university.  You see, the buildings have more than one story.  The architects thought it would be nice if the students, rather than having to scale the exteriors of the buildings and go in through the windows, had stairways to get from floor to floor. Well and good.

But then someone, in this Age of Lead, fell downstairs.

In the old days — the great days of America — someone would have helped the person up, asked if she was okay, and that would have been it.  But not today.  What actually happened was that a Stairway Safety Consultant was retained (tax dollars) and the Stairway Safety Consultant decreed that the way to protect the largest number of the stupid and careless was more lighting in the stairwells, combined with reflective tape on the edge of each stair.

In order to do that, Minimum Tape Standards had to be defined by a Reflective Tape Panel (tax dollars) who established ideal tape width, thickness, and degree of reflectivity and then met again to determine which portion of the color spectrum should be reflected so as not to discriminate against the stupid and careless who were also color blind, and then met again, with an Adhesives Consultant (tax dollars), to determine which kind of stickum would be least likely to stop sticking, thereby turning this miraculous safety tape into something to trip over.

Then the tape specs were released, manufacturing bids were invited, contracts were issued, Tape Placement Crews were sent to place the tape under the keen eye of a Tape Placement Crew Supervisor, who never touched the tape, and calendars were drawn up to schedule Tape Wear and Tear Checks by Tape Wear and Tear Crews. When Wear and Tear is reported, the Tape Placement Crews swing expensively back into action.

And this will go on forever.

I know this is cold-hearted, I know it smacks of eugenics, but surely there is some stupidity cut-off level — air-mailing a puppy might be one indication — below which it is counterproductive for society to keep people alive.  In the long run, over a few generations, if we just ignore them and let them step in front of speeding trains, drink dishwasher liquid, and use hair dryers in the bathtub, their numbers will dwindle.  The overall average I.Q. of the nation will rise.  That would be a good thing.  School kids, no longer in classes taught at the level of the dimmest student in the room, might learn to read and write again.

We might even elect better candidates.

Otherwise, we’re looking at a future where, as the late, great George Carlin said, a grand piano will be labeled CAUTION: MAY BE HARMFUL OR FATAL IF SWALLOWED.

10 Responses to “Life Sentences, Day 132: Stupid-Proof”

  1. EverettK Says:

    Being overly simplistic (when aren’t I? My teaches always said, “He’s awfully simple.”)…

    The main philosophical difference between Democrats and Republicans, when taken to extremes:

    Democrats want to protect EVERYONE from EVERYTHING (“survival/success of everyone”).

    Republicans want to protect NO ONE from ANYTHING (“survival/success of the fittest”).

    Of course, politicians being who they are, they frequently get their philosophies mixed up (usually when spouses or lobbyiers or anyone else with influence get involved), such as Bush’s “no child left behind.”

    But, simply put, I couldn’t agree with you more, Tim. Could you maybe write something controversial one of these day, so we could have a good knock-your-teeth-out argument or something? (That’s assuming that we both have any teeth left by the time we find something on which to disagree…)

  2. Larissa Says:

    LOL! I love this post! I kinda want to try to swallow a grand piano now…just to see what would happen. Think there’d be consequences?

    I think I work with (as in customers, not my coworkers) who all meet these “Stupid Cutoff” boundaries. It’s astounding.
    Student: I need a book
    Me: For which class?
    Student: I dunno.
    Me: Who’s your teacher?
    Student: I don’t know. It’s a guy.
    Me: Do you know your college login to get your schedule?
    Student: No.
    Me: I can’t help you.
    Student: (drooling)

    No joke.

    I sent you an email. (c:

  3. Bonnie Says:

    Just to add some more sniggers, here’s a list that at least some of you may have missed some of:

    And my favorite insult, via Molly Ivins and presumably originating somewhere in Texas: “He couldn’t pour piss out of a boot if the instructions were written on the heel.”

  4. Tom Logan Says:

    And speaking of “stupid,” do you think Representative Chris Lee read your Day 130 Blog and acknowledged that he’d made “profound mistakes” rather than claiming “inappropriate behavior”?

    I don’t think we can escape from stupid people doing stupid things or others finding ways to capitalize on them.

  5. EverettK Says:

    Those are pretty crazy funny, Bonnie!

    And to prove what a small world it is, Sam Stoddard, one of the founders and owners of the rinkworks site, wrote the “Official Everett Kaser Software FAQ” over a decade ago, and it’s still on his site (but hasn’t been updated since 1999).

  6. Lil Gluckstern Says:

    Natural selection is too slow. What do we do until things change? The scary thing is, it seems as if ignorance has become popular, yuck. Good laughs, anyway.

  7. micael hallinan Says:

    I agree with Lil, natural selection is too slow (unless it’s working in reverse). A church newsletter had the promissing headline “WOMEN OF THE CHURCH HAVE CAST OFF CLOTHING” so its not all bad.

  8. Gary Says:

    The most disturbing thing is that being stupid has now become everybody else’s fault.

  9. Phil Hanson Says:

    “The overall average I.Q. of the nation will rise.

    Kinda like when Bill Gates walks into a bar, the average wealth of the other patrons goes up?

    People can malign eugenics all they want, but it’s hard to get around the fact that more care is given to the breeding and raising of show dogs and race horses than is given to the breeding and raising of children.

    “We might even elect better candidates.”

    Bingo! Condemning government as the source of all of society’s problems is popular among certain segments of the population, but it’s all wrong. Government is not to blame; bad government is. Government got bad precisely because We, the People got lazy and apathetic and became ill-informed and soon disengaged from the political process. The result is that we are increasingly governed to serve corporate interests. If Americans want their government back, they’ll need to fight corporations, not each other.

    Sorry, didn’t mean to rant. (Well, I did, but when I started I thought I could do it with a lot fewer words.)

  10. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Hi, guys and girls. I’ve been doing PULPED (finished!!!) all day today, so this is my first substantial period of time online.

    Great comments from all. I’m glad I’m not a solitary misanthrope seeing a world that’s not really there.

    Everett, I agree that’s the way the Dems and the Reps see themselves, but these days I think those distinctions are more formal than real. Bush signed off on the prescription drugs for seniors program, the biggest entitlement in decades, and Obama’s talking about budget cuts in programs that benefit the poor. Each of our last FOUR presidents, two Repuglicans and two Damnocrats, has put us into a war. They continue to characterize themselves in the traditional fashion, but there’s no more difference between them than there is between a period and a full stop.

    But I am glad you agree with me.

    Riss, that’s hilarious and heartbreaking at the same time. This is apparently a student bookstore and therefore an extension of a so-called institution of learning. Well, at least it keeps those kids off the street. And what with the new reflective tape, they won’t fall downstairs. Maybe.

    Okay, Bonnie, funniest site I’ve seen in months. (EVERYBODY LOOK AT BONNIE’S LINK!) I’d say LOL, but Riss already did.

    Tom, I was so impressed that Rep. Lee didn’t say “inappropriate” that I think he should reconsider his resignation. So he took his shirt off and took a picture of himself and sent it to someone he met on HOTFRIDAYNITE.COM or whatever it was, and he’s married and has kids. Okay, bad judgment call. But he doesn’t say “inappropriate.”

    Lil, I hadn’t thought of it in those terms. Natural selection IS too slow. But that may be in part due to the fact that we’ve been interfering with it by keeping the deeply challenged from taking pianos orally and performing self-dentistry with power drills and stepping in front of high-speed trains and mailing themselves to each other. If we left them alone, the rate of improvement in the gene pool might pick up dramatically.

    micael (since you seem to insist on that name), that’s a great headline. One of my favorites, to display my great age again, was on my various refrigerators for decades until it disintegrated: CAN’T STAND PAT, NIXON SAYS.

    Gary, of course being stupid is other people’s problems. They didn’t have no display. By the way, the video of Ms. Champion at her hearing is the most cringeworthy footage I’ve seen in a long time. It’s enough to make you envy other species.

    Phil, you make the perfect case for the Ixnaycrats. Get rid of the whores and gasbags of both parties (which is to say all of them) and vote for people you’d like to meet. Or even street mimes and actresses, if their opponents are professional politicians. I know, it won’t fix everything, but we’d never have to look at John Boehner again. and people would stop saying “inappropriate.”

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