Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Stuff I've Said Was Done Before

Some updates today on past DUMB entries, to show that they're STILL DUMB.
"It's putting us into new places in the stores. We're now showing up in the better-for-you section." - Mark Singleton, Sales VP, Rudolph Foods. Rudolph Foods makes PORK RINDS. Rudolph Foods has seen their sales jump 22% since they proudly proclaimed "Zero Carbs!" on their bags of PORK RINDS. Deep-fried pig skin is now health food. I hope you're all happy.
""I've never seen nothing like this." - Rhea County Attorney Gary Fritts, describing the uproar over the quickly-overturned plan by Rhea County commissioners to try to charge homosexuals with crimes against nature. It's nice to know that the guy they turned to for a legal opinion on kicking gays out of the county has such a fine grasp of the English language.
"The vote came at the opening of the third round of a constitutional convention on the contentious issue, as competing cries of 'Jesus Christ' and 'Equal Rights' shook the Statehouse outside the legislative chamber." - From a wire service article about the Massachussetts legislature approving a gay-marriage ban. I can't think of a better, more compelling image encapsulating everything I wrote about gay marriage last month, and everything I wrote about political discourse a few days ago, than two crowds of people shouting that at each other.
Something I did not know at the time: Altovis, which is to Google searchers as chum is to sharks, is made by the same company that makes Enzyte, the magical dick-lengthening herbal pill with the smiling racist retard for a mascot. I don't know if I'm happy that only ONE company is that evil, or concerned that one company is THAT EVIL. But I bet we'll be hearing from them again.
"The vindictive Clarke has now had his revenge, but what kind of hell has he, his CBS publisher, and his ax-to-grind advocates unleashed? It's obvious to me that this country is rapidly dividing itself into two camps -- the wimps and the warriors. The ones who want to argue and assess and appease, and the ones who want to carry this fight to our enemies and kill them before they kill us." - Which right-wing nutjob said this? Yes, it's DEMOCRAT ZELL MILLER, who went on the Senate floor and actually claimed that the work of the 9/11 commission would "energize our enemies and demoralize our troops". You know, Zell, when you start to make Ann Coulter look like a moderate, maybe it's time to retire, rethink, and refill your meds.
Oh, and the AP gave the news story on Miller's speech the headline "Senator worries about 9/11 dispute", which is kind of like writing a story in which four hundred people are simultaneously decapitated the headline of "Incident at train station causes boo-boos for many."
And while we're on the subject of Zell Miller, who, as you may recall, was originally inducted for railing against that "rap crap" (every time I have to type that, it hurts), I'd hate to leave you with the impression that he's the only old white conservative with a tendency to overreact when it comes to hip-hop. Case in point, World Net Daily's Joseph Farah.
In fact, let's turn it into a game.What hardcore, ultraviolent gangsa rapper or group appeared at a Democratic fundraiser, prompting this response from Farah? "Many parents across America are struggling to figure out ways to protect their children from the effects of a corrosive and pervasive pop culture that promotes death, drugs, violence and sex. Apparently the Democratic Party is not concerned with any of that. It is more concerned with courting the votes and support of mindless, programmed, amoral automatons who look up to performers like...
The answer is... OUTKAST. If you know why that's funny, then you're laughing your ass off right now, and if you don't know why that's funny, just trust that it is and I'll explain it to you later, Dad.
Finally: tomorrow is April Fools Day. That means that the 1% of the Internet that was not lying to you already is GOING TO LIE TO YOU. Except here. We at You Are Dumb Dot Net do not truck with April Fools Day, as it implies that there are no fools the other three hundred and sixty five days of the year. And we know that's not true, don't we.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004


Hot off the headlines, another magical prediction from You Are Dumb Dot Net: The RIAA will be DUMB.
I guarantee you that the RIAA will, over the next few days, participate in what I like to think of as the Great American Pastime. Not baseball, no. The devaluing of the fact.
I'd hate to be a fact these days. You think the Bill in Schoolhouse Rock had a shitty life? Try being a fact in 2004. I mean, even assuming you're a LUCKY fact, and don't get pissed on by people with an agenda, the best fate you can hope for is just to be ignored, disbelieved, and occasionally brought up in Internet arguments.
How horrible it must be, then, to be born into this world as a fact. Like today, when the largest ever statistical study comparing illegal file downloading and record sales showed that there's no connection whatsoever between illegal downloading and diminished record sales.
This isn't market research. This isn't asking 300 people whether they're "more likely" or "less likely" to purchase the music they downloaded. This is fucking SCIENCE. This is counting how many times songs from an album were downloaded, then counting how many sales that album had during that time, and looking at the numbers.
And when they looked at the numbers, for six hundred and eighty different albums, guess what? Really popular albums saw an increase in sales as their downloads increased. Most albums saw no change in sales. A few of the least popular albums saw a slight decrease in sales. Sounds mighty different from what a certain recording industry association in America would like you to believe, doesn't it?
You would think that a reasonable organization, when presented with scientific evidence that their viewpoint might be wrong, would take that evidence and adjust their viewpoint accordingly, but they won't. I'm sure the RIAA will go on making the same claims and suing the same 12-year-old girls and such. Because what good are facts?
"Downloading doesn't hurt music sales" can just join the rest of them in the gutter. Oh, look, there's "National security advisors have testified under oath before" right next to "John Kerry didn't vote to raise taxes three hundred and fifty times". They look only a bit worse for wear now, but just give them a few months, and they'll look as abused and bedraggled as "No connection between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein".
Oh, we're just the facts,
Yes, we're only some facts
And because you keep your head up your ass
It's been a long, long time since
I've been believed by any,
It's been a long, long time since
I've been said by Dick Cheney
And unless you all grow brains somedaaaaay
I'll be stuck down here, smoking crack
While you hear, PR flacks
Lacking facts
Yes, that was an excerpt from "Dumbfuck Rock!", appearing on your televisions about five minutes after my election or apotheosis, whichever comes first.

Monday, March 29, 2004

Phony Political Discourse

Memo to political discourse in America: YOU ARE DUMB.
Could we just admit, once and for all, that politics in America is about one side fucking over the other however it can so that they can get what they want? Please?
Because it is. It's not even a question. It's how the system works. It may be how the system has always worked, but these days, they're not even subtle about it. There's this pro-forma Official Veneer where every tactical move you make is just dandy and every tactical move the other guy makes is evil incarnate, and we all know that they're just tactical maneuvers designed to fuck over the other side, but only the Official Veneer gets treated as news.
Especially during a campaign. I mean, there's a "big" story today about the R's being OUTRAGED that the Head D would DARE to use a BIBLE QUOTE during a campaign stop. A stop that happened to be at a church, where a lot of churchy, bibly types were there. It was basically "they talk the talk, but don't walk the walk", only said by some guy in robes a few thousand years ago, so suddenly it's a crime against humanity.
And, that complaint, that Mr. D was exploiting religion for political gain, was taken entirely seriously by the media, as if nothing had ever been exploited for political gain before, and this new transgression of our otherwise pure system merited dozens of column inches to claim, counterclaim, and mock-horrified reaction.
Or the judicial nomination thing, which is just getting completely insane. The guys in power want to put more of their guys in power. The guys not in power have a way to stop them. The guys in power have a way around the stopping technique. The guys not in power vow to make the guys in powers' lives difficult forever if they keep using that way around.
This is politics. This is the process. So why, every time someone makes a move or a countermove, do we have to hear how whoever made the move is "subverting the process"? Fuck that noise. The process isn't being subverted.
Essentially, American government is a like an out-of-print role-playing game. The rules were written a couple of hundred years ago, and we've been playing using those same basic rules ever since. So we've had a couple of centuries to figure out how to "cheat" within the rules, and now we're really, really good at it. Which makes for a really crappy game, sure, but nobody's actually cheating.
When two fat fucks with Cheeto stains on their t-shirts nearly come to blows over whether someone's fifth-level paladin can REALLY use that obscure skill to instantly kill a beholder, the rest of the players at the table do one of three things:
The smart, cynical players go home early, 'cause they know this won't be settled anytime soon, and they might as well get some sleep. In real life, we call these people "Internet rant columnists".
The naive players start poring through the rulebooks looking for the real answer, in the impressive but mistaken belief that the truth will stop the argument. In real life, we call these people "activists" and "journalists", and nobody listens to them.
The assholes jump in on either side, using past slurs, personal histories, their own imperfect memories of the rules and past situations and shouting at the top of their lungs. In real life, we call these people "the press".
And all the while, the basement that is America slowly fills up with the orange spittle of hypocrisy and the yellow spilled-Mountain-Dew of partisan vitriol, until eventually, we all get really grossed out or we drown. THAT'S politics. And pretending any different, or giving any credence to people who claim that their side is any different, just fills the room up that much faster.

Friday, March 26, 2004

Gluttons For Punishment

Memo to Gluttons For Punishment: YOU ARE DUMB.
What, do you enjoy this? Is this some kind of Southern S&M thing? Do you secretly thrill at the words of anger from us Northerners? You're like some kind of coprophilic dog who keeps pooping on the carpet because he gets off on having his nose rubbed in it.
I mean, I look over at Tennessee for a few minutes, and all of a sudden Georgia, who tried to get rid of the word "evolution" a month or so back, is now trying to ban genital piercings. But only for women.
Can you people not be left alone for one second without fucking things up? Is all the mercury in the water bringing out everyone's latent tightass qualities simultaneously? Has something emboldened public officials, and if so, what, and can we find it and kill it?
See, what apparently happened is that the Georgia House of Representatives was pondering a bill banning involuntary female genital mutilation. Now, I don't know how big a problem female genital mutilation is in Georgia, but let's give them the benefit of the doubt and say that the problem was absolutely rampant, and if the legislature hadn't acted when they did, there wouldn't be a functioning clitoris in the Atlanta city limits by the end of the decade. I do not have a particular problem with banning the harmful rituals of a superstitious group of people, even if I'm also sure that a vast majority of GA's legislators wouldn't treat their own superstitions equally.
But then Rep. Bill Heath tacked on an amendment adding "piercing" to the list of outlawed female genital mutilations. And the whole thing passed the House unanimously. UNANIMOUSLY. Not one member of the Georgia House of Representatives thought this might be a bad thing. Not one member noted that after this law, the Prince Albert would still be perfectly legal. Nobody.
I need to quote from the Associated Press here, because they have captured a pristine moment of cluelessness and deserve the credit. Amendment sponsor Rep. Bill Heath, R-Bremen, was slack-jawed when told after the vote that some adults seek the piercings. "What? I've never seen such a thing," Heath said. "I, uh, I wouldn't approve of anyone doing it. I don't think that's an appropriate thing to be doing." 
How are these people even getting on ballots? Do the state parties actively search under rocks and in hermit caves for their candidates? I am not a huge fan of the metal-filled hole in one's junk, but I have, on occasion, heard that it happens. What else doesn't Bill Heath know about, and how long before he bans it?
This, like Ryan County's gayhate, is one of those things that'll get national play, everyone will point and laugh, and the amendment won't become law. But the astonishing fact remains - ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTY elected lawmakers in the state of Georgia passed this bill, complete with amendment, without any debate.
If anything should be criminal, this kind of mental mutilation ought to be. Voting for this amendment should be an impeachable offense, and Georgia should be forced to replace its entire legislature. In fact, as a gesture of outreach, the new legislature should be made up ENTIRELY of people with genital piercings. In fact, they can just switch places. All the genitally-pierced can go to the legislature, and all the legislators can be forced to work for Hot Topic at minimum wage. Once the guys that operate the metal detectors at the Capitol building are retrained, it becomes a win-win for Georgia, for the South, and for the nation as a whole.
Plus, these fuckbrains probably can't work an electronic cash register worth a damn, so every time I'm in Georgia, I'll be able to get me a bunch of T-shirts for cheap. BONUS.

Thursday, March 25, 2004


Memo to Duluth, MN: YOU ARE DUMB.
Well, at least some of y'all are. You see, I am under a bit of obligation. First, we've covered some separation of church and state stuff in the past. There is precedent. And second, I may have offhandedly mentioned that geographical regions have a certain responsibility to openly reject the bullshit that goes on within their borders.
So, as a transplanted Minnesotan for the past decade or so, I'm compelled to mention that a bunch of people in Duluth are being dickheads about the whole Ten Commandments monument thing.
We're not as flashy as Judge Roy Moore here in the Midwest. In fact, it was only after that Boss Hogg wannabe made his big stink about keeping a Ten Commandments monument in his courthouse that a bunch of people around here noticed they had 10C items in their own government buildings.
Specifically, Duluth, whose 2,500 pound granite commandments were noticed by the ACLU. After being told they'd lose, the city voted 5-4 not to fight. And that's when the godly became the grumpy.
"We already know where they're headed, anyway. To Hell." The county offered to take up the fight the city didn't want to bother with. Petitions were circulated. Society was declared depraved and doomed.
All because of a big lump of rock that was, essentially, a MOVIE PROMOTIONAL TOOL. These things are all over the state, courtesy of one of those fraternal wankery organizations that were rife in the fifties who teamed with Hollywood to promote God and, simultaneously, that hot new Ten Commandments movie.
Once again, it boils down to insecurity. Why is it that the Christians (and I mean the whole lot of 'em. Think the broad sense of Judeo-Christian, but with the Judeo- left off because the Jewish community never seems to pull this shit) have to gloat?
Seriously. You've got giant cathedrals and ancient stone churches. Most of the people in power check off your box on the census. You're considered fairly normal, even with the whole ritual cannibalism thing and the speaking in tongues thing. Your last movie made over $300 million dollars. You'd think that would be plenty to assuage your self-esteem issues and persecution complex.
But no. You gotta stick your halos EVERYWHERE so that we can all see them. You have the utter nerve to complain about homosexuals flaunting their "lifestyle choice" and then whine like bitches every time someone tries to detach your pervasive iconography from the halls of power. The draggiest drag queen in the flamingest pride parade in the nation can't begin to compete with Christianity for shoving things in people's faces.
Just once. Just once, I'd love to hear these people be gracious. Admit that they've got enough. Admit that they're not the only people that matter. Admit that what a bunch of fat guys in funny hats did fifty years ago to help line Parammount's pockets is not actually sacred and incontrovertible.
For those concerned about my blood-oxygen level, rest assured I will not be holding my breath.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Tom Hanks And The Coen Brothers

Memo to Tom Hanks and the Coen Brothers: YOU ARE DUMB.
It pains me to say it, at least about the Coens, who made "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou", which was not dumb, and Fargo, which is not dumb either even if it's not as good as you all said it was.
But I have now seen a movie trailer, a half-dozen commercials, and one talk show clip from The Ladykillers, and I can only stare, mouth agape, and wonder what the fuck you were thinking.
In every single commercial I have seen, Tom Hanks is doing that. All of them. Not once, in any of the commercials or trailers, is he NOT doing that. From this I must assume that, for all hundred and four minutes of the actual movie, Tom Hanks is doing that.
The specific "that" to which I refer, of course, is that freakish Southern stammery 'charm' thing. What the fuck is that? It's like Colonel Sanders squatted in the shallows of the Mississippi River and ever-so-gently released an egg from his sac, burying it in the fecund mud along with his special blend of herbs and spices.
And then, in a miraculous freak of nature the Discovery Channel was lucky to catch on film, Forrest Gump, Snidely Whiplash, and Matlock swum by, and from three different directions, simultaneously squirted their sperm, producing a freakish hybrid not unlike that two-headed, six-legged frog they found last month. Only, you know. Annoying.
Did Hanks have "redefine unctuous" on his career goals? Has the Coens' entire oeuvre been merely an attempt to build the Ultimate Bionic Affectation? What, precisely, was the thought process that led to reframing a 1955 British caper comedy as the definitive showdown between Orville Redenbacher and the mom from Good Times?
I humbly beg America: JUST SAY NO. Go see Dawn of the Dead or something. Or stay home. That's it. Stay home this weekend. 'Cause you can't see Ladykillers for reasons detailed above; you can't see Scooby Doo 2 for reasons that should be obvious; you can't go see Jersey Girl because if you do, you run the serious risk of finally realizing that Kevin Smith is NOT THAT DAMN GOOD; and you can't go see Never Die Alone 'cause it's got David Arquette in it.
Keep your eight-fifty. Spend it on something not DUMB.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

The Supreme Court

Memo to the Supreme Court: YOU WILL BE DUMB.
In accordance with the Bush Administration's doctrine of pre-emptive strikes, we at You Are Dumb Dot Net have substantial intelligence. That substantial intelligence leads us to believe that the Supreme Court will overturn the ruling that says "Under God" shouldn't be in the Pledge of Alliegance. As a result, they will qualify as DUMB.
Of course, the Pledge itself is stupid. It's a waste of time. I've recited the pledge thousands of times in my childhood, having been forced to do it in homeroom, in assemblies, and whatnot, and yet, somehow, I neither watch Fox News nor attend church services regularly. It is therefore ineffective, and should be sanctioned under the No Child Left Behind guidelines.
Are we afraid of moles? Enemy agents who will be ferreted out or turned by recitation of this magical phrase? Are we afraid that children will grow up not realizing they are American citizens? They're children, for fuck's sake. You've got about a two week window between when they finally understand what they're being asked to say and when they stop caring for this "pledge" to have any effect at all. It's pointless ritual.
But if we gotta have it, and apparently we gotta, judging by the amount of uproar this has been causing, then jamming "Under God" into it back in 1954 in a blatant power grab by the Yay Jesus crowd should be reversed. Because grammatically, the Pledge of Allegiance is tantamount to state sponsorship of monotheism.
Yes, I said grammatically. Because if you strip away all the bullshit that people arguing about this use to support your position, the question you're left with is what, exactly, does the Pledge say? I don't care how long we've been saying it. I don't care how important it is to insecure Christians that they need the government to constantly acknowledge their majority and power. Let's look at the words in question.
The Pledge of Allegiance is entirely in the present tense. The Pledge is surprisingly verb-light, but both verbs, "pledge" and "stands" are present tense. With no other indicators, we must therefore conclude that the whole thing is intended to be in the present tense. Ergo, the Pledge claims that RIGHT NOW, in the present, the United States of America is "under God".
Second, "God". Singular. The possibility of more than one God is summarily excluded. One could go even further and say that the strong implication that this is the Christian God is there in spades, but we're talking pure grammar here.
So there we have it. Every single day, in schools across the nation, people in a position of power are making the statement in front of students that, right now, the United States is under one God. State-sponsored monotheism. Clear violation of the First Amendment. The government should not be expressing a preference for one god over many gods, or one god over no gods. End of story.
Of course, that's not how it's gonna go down. Not with this Supreme Court. Not in Dubya's America. Not in a country where it's perfectly OK for journalists to ask presidential candidates if they accept Jesus Christ as the son of God (Newsweek / Howard Dean) or if God is on America's side (Debate moderator / John Kerry). And certainly not with this test case. Atheists really need better poster boys than a father with limited visitation rights whose babymomma actually disagrees with him about the whole Under God thing.
Nope. God's going back into the Pledge with the help of at least six, and probably more, of his berobed Divine Hands. Because they won't be doing their goddamned job, which is to look at the facts and see how they stand. And even giving the Pledge an unfair benefit of the doubt, it breaks the rules. But it'll get a pass, because the Supreme Court will be DUMB. Guaranteed.

Monday, March 22, 2004


Memo to the fine people marketing Altovis: YOU ARE DUMB.
Actually, now that I think of it, you're probably not dumb. You're probably very, very clever, albeit evil. You're blatantly taking advantage of the idiocy of the general populace. But I can't start this off with "Memo to the general populace: YOU ARE DUMB", because then nobody will think it's a new one. So you get hung on the hook.
See, Altovis is the ultimate proof that America is a nation of drug abusers. In just a few short years, the culture of prescription drug marketing has grown to astonishing proportions. You can't go five minutes without seeing an ad for something that makes your dick harder, makes you able to stand other people, helps you breathe, whatever. They all have three-syllable names*, and after two years, they get promoted to three syllables plus two initials.
You get two types of ads. In one ad, pretty people with unspecified problems have their unspecified problems solved because they asked their doctor about Zamfirim. They are now able to walk through sunny fields and hug their children and pet their dogs, thanks to Zamfirim, and, eventually, once-daily Zamfirim XP.
In the other ad, they actually point out that agoraphobarthritorabies is horribly mangling the quality of life of thousands of people each year, but thanks to once-daily Zamfirim XP, pretty people can now walk through sunny fields, hug their children, and pet their dogs with only a small risk of dry mouth, erections lasting longer than four hours, liver problems, and zombification as compared to sugar pill.
But where does Altovis, the putative subject of this article, enter into it? I saw their ads this past weekend on the Food Network. There's two of 'em, they're almost identical, and they air, inexplicably, back to back. In each of them, a narrator discusses the symptoms of fatigue, and how it's a growing problem in today's busy world, leaving people just too damn tired to hug their pets, take long walks through their children, and pet sunny fields.
In one ad, it's a guy talking about fatigue, and all the images are of office work. In the other ad, it's a woman talking, and all the images are of housework. All the words are the same though, as well as the conclusion that a daily dose of Altovis will fix it.
Altovis has a three-syllable nonsense name. It comes in a plain box, sans-serif fonts, tiny round pills in foil-backed plastic bubbles. It's offered in 28-day "cycles". And it's... not a drug.
It's an herbal supplement. Specifically, it's exactly the same kind of ginseng, vitamin, juice bar, organic co-op hippie stuff they've been selling for YEARS.
But now it's Altovis, the once-daily treatment for fatigue, with its own website made up to look like all the other prescription drug websites, complete with fuzzy picture of a Pretty Person hugging a baby and a small child who looks like the spawn of a Grey Alien and a 70's game show host. Go look at it. I bet you can figure out the URL.
This is how insane we are. It used to be, if we needed to be duped into taking our vitamins, all they had to do was add sugar to them, color them orange, and shape them like a dinosaur. But we're adults now, and have put away our childish things, and must be fooled in adult ways. They're not vitamins, they're NUTRACEUTICALS. Swear to God, that's the company putting this stuff out, "Wagner Nutraceuticals, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Berkeley Nutraceuticals".
But my favorite bit on the website is the Success Stories. After three short paragraphs detailing how Altovis has helped a mom (Stephanie), a professor (Roger), and a partying sales rep (Bo) ditch coffee and lead healthier, happier lives, they happily point out that "Success Stories are dramatizations of user results and not actual consumer testimonials."
Yes, what better way to instill trust in your customer base and get them to take your magic pill every day than to claim on the very same page as your lies that your lies are lies?
But I bet it works. 'Cause there's a whole heaping pile of DUMB in this one. And there's no pill to cure that. Yet.
* Except for the few who don't. Basically Paxil, Procrid, and whatever gets mentioned by the first three people to e-mail me about it. You know who you are.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

The South

Memo to the South: YOU ARE DUMB.
We've covered some of this ground before, but it keeps cropping back up. The South needs to clean up its shit if it wants to be seen as smart, sophisticated, modern, and non-sister-fucking by the rest of civilization.
Start in Tennessee, a state already ON THE LIST. Specifically, Rhea County. You may remember Rhea County as the home of the Scopes Monkey Trial, an event they commemorate each year with a festival. Apparently, an annual celebration of anti-evolution hysteria didn't make them seem backwards enough. Like Avis, they try harder in Rhea County, TN.
So the county commission voted, unanimously, to ask the state legislature if they could kindly* change the laws so that Rhea County could charge homosexuals with "crimes against nature". Oh, and they checked with their attorney general to see if there was a way to keep gays from living in the county.
Essentially, Rhea County is hoist on their own petard. By denying the idea of natural selection, they've failed to realize that all they need to do is keep being an entire county of backward, inbred gaybashers, and, with the possible exception of a few Log Cabin Republicans, all the gays would NATURALLY SELECT to stay the hell away from there.
And what's worse, they're pussies. A day later, after their leader was quoted in publications saying "We've got to keep them out of here", some of the commissioners are now claiming that they need a "clarification" of the measure. That they voted unanimously for. Seems they thought they were just endorsing the commonly accepted bigotry about gay MARRAIGE, not the less palatable bigotry against gays in general. Unfortunately for these commissioners, the state's recently enacted "No takebacks" law means they're stuck looking like jackasses.
And here's where we get to the crux of the matter. Remember, back after 9/11, when pretty much every single Muslim or Muslim-looking person was expected to individually and publically denounce what happened, under pain of being sympathetic to the terrorists? Well, I think the same standard needs to be applied south of the Mason-Dixon Line.
Every time a county wants to kick out all the gays, or Miami police are found to be following and photographing rappers who visit "just in case", or anyone in Texas does... anything, really, everyone in the South, and everyone living in the North but with a twangy accent, has to publicly denounce their actions.
It's really the only way for the South to escape their horrible, unfair, stigma of deep-seated DUMB. Get crackin'.
*I do not know for a fact that the measure they voted on included the word "kindly". However, I have it on the highest authority (Andy Griffith as "Matlock", Andy Griffith as "Andy Griffith") that Southerners use "kindly" like I use "motherfucker", i.e., as punctuation.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

St. Patrick

Memo to St. Patrick: fuck you, and the day you rode in on. YOU'RE DUMB.
I mean, there are a lot of weak-ass holidays out there, but St. Patrick's Day has turned into the worst of the bunch. A full day of ethnic caricatures, psychotic traditions, and culturally-sanctioned alcoholism, and we don't even get it off from work.
Who's responsible for the "wearing at least one green item of clothing" tradition? Let's find him and stab him in the face with a fork. And whoever tacked on PENALTIES for not doing so to the tradition gets the same fork, but in the genitals. I really hope it's not the same guy, cause if it is, he's in for a world of hurt.
But then, that seems to be what the holiday is for. Taking shit that is normally not green, and then rendering it in green form. It's like the entire nation Hulks out on March 17, only to throw its backpack over its shoulder on March 18 and hitchhike on to the next town as a mournful piano plays in the background.
Green clothes. Green beer. Green milkshakes. Green Hostess Sno-Balls. At least when Bruce Banner turns green, he breaks a bunch of shit that needs breaking. The only things that get destroyed on St. Patrick's Day are brain cells.
I mean, if you're actually Irish, or Irish-American, go ahead. Celebrate your island's herpetelogical ethnic cleansing however the hell you want. But the rest of you shamrock-toting asswipes better stay out of it. You know who you are.
If I overheard you expressing the sentiment that "Everyone's Irish", you're ON THE LIST. If you've brought out your only Proclaimers album for it's once-a-year playing, you're ON THE LIST. If you even think about doing a jig within a five mile radius of my person... ON THE LIST.
And if you're ON THE LIST, my revenge will be complete come Arbor Day. 'Cause I'm gonna go around pouring maple syrup over my head, with branches shoved up my sleeves, kicking people in the shins who didn't wear brown. EVERYBODY'S A TREE ON ARBOR DAY, MOTHERFUCKERS. Get in line or get kicked. That's how it's gonna go down. Maybe then you'll see how DUMB you are.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

The Bush Administration

Memo to various and sundry in the Bush Administration: YOU ARE DUMB.
Riddle me this, Batman: When is news... NOT NEWS? And I'm not talking about my usual hatred of the media wasting time and effort on unimportant shit, I'm actually asking a Gorshim-style riddle here. When is news not news?
When it's a government-prepared, ready-for-air video puff piece handed out to local news, complete with fake reporter and fake lead-in for the real anchor.
Apparently, Bush has an entire team of people working tirelessly to come up with new, outrageous shit they haven't gotten away with before. And after their success with "Let's give Cheney's company billions of dollars by bypassing the contract bidding process" and "Look! Over there! Uranium!", they've thought outside the box once again.
Faced with an increasingly uppity press occasionally willing to risk royal disfavour by mumbling "hey, that's not, um, true, you know" once in a great while, the administration figured they'd just eliminate the middleman and create their own fake press to get their own fake news out.
So they sent a happy little video about Medicare reform to local news stations. It's full of happy people talking about how happy they are now that they can finally afford their life-saving drugs since the President singlehandedly fixed Medicare.
The videos have everything. Well, ALMOST everything. They have an actress portraying a fake reporter, Karen Ryan. Hispanic viewers get a different fake person, Alberto Garcia.
They have astonishingly realistic dialogue, such as the following exchange between a customer and pharmacist: CUSTOMER: "It sounds like a good idea." PHARMACIST: "A very good idea."
It even tells the anchor how to introduce the piece: "In December, President Bush signed into law the first-ever prescription drug benefit for people with Medicare. Since then, there have been a lot of questions about how the law will help older Americans and people with disabilities. Reporter Karen Ryan helps sort through the details." Presumably, there's a different script for the Hispanic video, lest people grow wise to the fact that the beautiful Karen Ryan has transmogrified into the hunky Alberto Garcia.
In fact, they only left out one thing. Any kind of indication in the video itself that it's actually political propaganda from Health and Human Services. As a result, someone -might- get in trouble over this. Maybe. Some Democrats are yelling, and someone'll probably look into it, and if you check page 17B six months from now, you may find out how it all turns out.
The amazing thing is that I honestly expected local TV news to have more pride than that. Not more ethics, of course. Just, you know. A certain amount of pride that, no matter what sensationalistic or insipid crap they throw on the air, at least it's THEIR CRAP. Not some Stepford news that Big Brother Bush asked them nicely to run.
I mean, there was a bigger uproar a few years ago when Sony made up a fake movie reviewer to pimp its crappy movies and get quoted on posters. That was a HUGE scandal. I mean, if our movie reviewers aren't real, then who ARE we all stealing our opinions from?
It's just like I said yesterday, when I was discussing this with my pharmacist, Alberto Ryan. "It sounds like a dumb thing," I said, and he replied, nodding sagely, "Si, a very dumb thing."

Monday, March 15, 2004

People Who Don't Listen To Me

Memo to people not listening to me: YOU ARE DUMB.
Now, I don't like to gloat.
Wait. What am I thinking of? I love gloating. I must have been thinking about skiing. I hate skiing. Don't know what you people see in it. But gloating? Gloating/s great.
Remember last week, how I may have mentioned in passing that the Internet lies to you? Well, it lied to a paralegal in Aliso Viejo, California, too.
And because of the Internet lying, the Aliso Viejo city council came THIS CLOSE to voting on a ban on styrofoam cups, because the paralegal (whose gender the Associated Press failed to mention in a clear ploy to make me have to write awkward pronouns on a virally-tinged Monday) learned that styrofoam cups were manufactured using the hazardous chemical... dihydrogen monoxide.
Yes, the old dihydrogen monoxide gag. If you haven't searched it out before, you should, it's pretty funny. Dihydrogen, two hydrogens. Monoxide, one oxygen. H2O. Deadly when inhaled, and also prone to causing deep embarrassment if it's found in your record collection.
Meanwhile, another $30 million worth of people also failed to listen to me, so the Jesus is up to $260 million, and pundits are predicting big numbers for the upcoming Easter weekend, which, if the seasonal aisle at Target is any indication, should be pretty soon.
Call me an old-fashioned traditionalist, but I really miss the days when Easter was about chocolate, rabbits, chocolate rabbits, plastic grass, and not eating the black jellybeans. It's almost as if we've forgotten about the TRUE meaning of Easter in our mad rush to the multiplexes to watch some bearded dude get tortured and flayed. Especially when it's not Bruce Vilanch.

Friday, March 12, 2004

E-Mail Forwarders

Memo to you. Yeah, you. With your mouse pointer hovering over the Forward button. YOU ARE DUMB.
Don't click it. Don't. DON'T. I know you want to, but fifteen plus years of e-mail history have taught us an important lesson, and you ignore it at your peril. Slowly slide the cursor away from the Forward button. That's it. Nice and easy. Oh, and you should really get rid of that Comet Cursor shit. That's bad news.
Oh, right. The lesson. That lesson, gleaned from fifteen years worth of e-mail traffic, is that nobody's lives have ever been even incrementally improved by receiving a forwarded e-mail. NEVER. It doesn't happen. Anyone who tells you it happened to them is either a bald-faced liar or very delusional, and you should smile, nod, and run like hell.
I do not know what it takes for you people to get this through your skulls. The Internet LIES TO YOU. Constantly. Especially in e-mail. Especially especially in any e-mail that suggests you forward it to people you know.
If it's a horrible warning, it's a lie. If it's a funny story, it's a lie. If it's a Darwin Award, it's a lie. If it's a call to action to support a cause, it's not a lie so much as it's just wrong, because forwarding the e-mail is not action and will not support your cause, as previously discussed. Nobody in Nigeria actually wants to give you money, nobody has a secret crush on you, and giving a 30-year-old pigtails and a lollipop does not make them a hot teen slut.
And that "screensaver" you clicked on just erased your hard drive. Because the Internet lies. Except when it's too busy being not funny to lie.
There shouldn't even be a Forward button. If you absolutely need to forward something, software should make you go to the trouble of copying it and pasting it into a new e-mail. Put a tiny hurdle in your way. It'd probably cut e-mail traffic by a third.
Can we at least settle for not forwarding things to co-workers? Co-workers in the same building? Co-workers in the same room? Even on the off chance the guy in the next cube is one of the half dozen people on the planet who hasn't seen the monkey falling out of the tree, or heard the vocal stylings of American Idol's William Hung*, they could, oh, maybe walk over to your computer and see it, instead of the room filling up with a half-dozen staggered versions of the same goddamn web page.
Just cut it out. You've had the culmination of hundreds of years of advances in human communication handed to you on a silver platter, and this is the best you can manage? Taking up valuable porn and free music bandwidth with your bogus recipes and your ten reasons men are different from women and your DUMB. Cut it out.
* I bid a hearty welcome to Internet searchers. While I don't know why anyone would want to search out information on American Idol's William Hung, I did find that the last time I mentioned American Idol's William Hung in a column, a number of people searching on American Idol's William Hung discovered You Are Dumb Dot Net in the process. So, when I realized I had another opportunity to mention American Idol's William Hung in context, I shamelessly took it. I hope you don't feel too bad, but remember, the Internet lies to you. Even about American Idol's William Hung.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Minnesota Taxpayers League

Memo to David Strom and the Minnesota Taxpayers League: YOU ARE DUMB.
Man, where to start with the verbal beatings? It's not easy. See, the Minnesota Taxpayers League is, basically, a handful of old, white rich guys who are tired of paying their accountants to get them out of paying taxes. They want to eliminate the middleman. So they started a little group, a little millionaire's club, to bitch and moan every time the government collects taxes for stuff they don't personally get anything out of.
Complete bastards, of course. But they're taken seriously by the current administration and the media, so every time they bitch about something, we have to listen to them. For example. Right now, we're in the midst of a bus drivers' strike. That means no buses. That means that those of us who choose to bus to work have to drive, and those who have no choice in the matter are fucked. They're striking because, thanks the Taxpayers League, our ass of a governor got into office on a "no new taxes" platform. And then he cut transit funding. And so they want to screw over the bus drivers by jacking up their health care costs by hundreds of dollars. Is that the acrid taint of compassionate conservatism I detect wafting across the state? I believe it is.
To prepare for the strike, everyone was told to be good citizens and try to work from home and try to carpool and try to change their work hours to keep everything from going to hell. Which we did. Well, not me. I figured that playing-nice bullshit is counterproductive to the point, which is to actually make things as unpleasant as possible for people who drive so that they'll appreciate the buses almost as much as the people who ride them. And in a SHOCKING TWIST, I was right.
After two days without an urban apocalypse, along comes David Strom, president and founder of the Taxpayers League: ""Transit just isn't that important to the smooth functioning of the Twin Cities transportation system. That's the obvious conclusion to be drawn from the lack of chaos engendered by the bus-system strike."
This is classic arch-conservative fuckhead thinking. Buses, and I know this may sound radical, exist in no small part for the PEOPLE THAT RIDE THE BUSES. They're not magical Traffic Boxes that keep poor people bundled up out of the sight, and out of the way, of rich people's luxury cars.
On top of that, there's the fact that, like I said above, everyone's been following the directions to play nice and carpool and work from home. That won't last, because people are basically selfish bastards who'll only put up with the hassle of riding with people they barely know into downtown for just so long before they say to hell with it and buy a car.
That's the other thing. Without buses, a lot more people would have to actually -get- cars. Unlike millionaire Strom, most people can't up and buy a car on two day's notice. Of course, the Taxpayers League has a brilliant solution to this - buy everyone used cars with the transit money! It'd only cost $5,000 per person, and then we could stick all those annoying poor people with repair and insurance bills. Oh, and keep non-citizens from getting licenses to drive the cars we're giving them. If people only listened to the Taxpayers League, government could be fucking over more with less! 
Let's just pretend, for a moment, that Strom's idea weren't utterly delusional. If you need to smoke a little crack to get into that mindset, go ahead, we'll wait. So now all the poor people in the state have '97 Saturns with 75,000 miles on 'em. What does he actually think the traffic situation would be like once all these cars hit the roads? Face it. Eventually, a certain someone's Mercedes would be stopped dead on 35E, surrounded by the Great Unwashed in their Saturns as he tried to get to the state capital to lobby for his latest evil scheme.
At which point Strom would probably buy a fucking helicopter, and use public money to install a helipad in downtown St. Paul. Because if it's not completely evident yet, he's a bit of an asshole.
Now that I think of it, does anyone know of anyone out there, named Strom, who isn't a complete scumbag waste of skin? I'm curious, because I have a theory that everyone named Strom is a worthless scumbag waste of skin, and I'd like to see how well it holds up.
For using your power and influence to fuck over hundreds of thousands of people, and then brushing it off because you, personally weren't affected, David Strom is hereby added to the growing ranks of the DUMB.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004


Today's my birthday. Thirty-five. Officially out of the desirable demographic. Madison Avenue no longer cares what I think. But that's OK. They're dumb.
I'm taking the day off, but don't say I never gave you nothin'. The cloud from last Friday has gotten an upgrade and a name. You can even click for a bigger version you can use as wallpaper, or print out, or even print out and hang in a public place in your city if you're so inclined.

Tuesday, March 9, 2004

Snowblind Studios

Memo to Snowblind Studios: YOU ARE DUMB.
Seriously. What the fuck were you thinking? Because I just got to the end of your "Champions of Norrath" game, and I swear, it's like you all went out to Jack In The Box to celebrate getting the contract for the new Everquest hack-n-slash game, and you got an entire batch of burgers made with EXTRA CANNIBAL COW PRIONS. And by the time you were coding the end of the game, you were adding "Special thanks to 'Sparky' Creutzfeldt and 'Pizza Run' Jakob for making this game possible" to the credits.
I could, and did, live with the niggling annoyances that permeated your otherwise attractive and entertaining game. For example, the up-to-ten-second delay between the trigger for a voice sample and the voice sample actually playing. Or when the game would lock up when loading a new area. Since it only locked up a few times, and when it did, you could pop the disc drawer open and closed and it would fix it, I let it go. Water off a duck's back.
I sat through interminable cutscenes full of bad and laggy voice acting just to get the tiny bit of useful information at the end of them. I even endured the fact that the game has save and check points, even though it creates an automatic check point every time you enter a new area, and can teleport back to a save point any time you want to. Because killing stuff is fun, and you kill a lot of stuff in Champions of Norrath.
See, for those who don't know, in a "hack-n-slash" game, your lone hero progresses through a fantasy world of dungeons and monsters, hacking and slashing his way through them. Diablo, Gauntlet, Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance, Dungeon Siege... all games in this genre. Of course, in an homage to Joystick Joe Lieberman and his ilk, I prefer to call these games Genocide Simulators, since you progress through an area, and in this area are about three species, and when you leave that area, every single representative of those species is worm food.
The point is, you end up doing the same kind of thing over and over again, only everything keeps getting bigger. Your character, your weapons, your armor, your enemies... it all escalates. And in Champions of Norrath, they decided that, along with all the other things that progress in an RPG of this type, the level of incompetence and mental deficiency would climb right along with them.
Let me spoil some of the end of the game for you, because you shouldn't play it. Things really start breaking down when you hit the Plane of Hate, the last section of the game. It's a dumb name, but it's an Everquest game, so the dumbness here is a pre-existing condition not covered by this column. You hit the Plane of Hate, and the big bad guy tries to kill you. I think. There's a weird camera cut during this pivotal cutscene, but he makes you fall in lava or liquid hate or some damn thing.
But you are saved. By a goddess. From the Plane of Air, a glowing white realm equivalent to heaven. And after explaining how she saved you, and how you must return to the Plane of Hate to save all of Norrath, she says, "Please take these gifts." At which point, she turns into... a shopkeeper.
You see, in each of the five sections of the game, there is a shopkeeper. He keeps the shop. The shop is where you sell your stuff, although your stuff never ends up in the shop after you get paid for it. It's also where you buy stuff, most of which changes randomly every single time you load the area where the shopkeeper lives. In the first area, he's a guy in a well-populated village. In the second area, he's a guy in a slightly less populated village. In the third area, he's one of two residents of an entirely deserted chain of islands. In the fourth area, he's a guy in an otherwise empty village in the middle of the underworld. And in the fifth area, she's a goddess. And the "gifts" she offers you? You gotta PAY FOR THEM.
Why do that? Why, if you must make a goddess a shopkeeper, give her dialogue that makes no sense? I think they did it as a warning. As foreshadowing. Like a head on a pike, or a note on a map that says "Here, there be DUMBNESS."
You need the warning, because about an hour later, after escorting the souls of six to seven cowardly mentally ill drunk people (I have to assume, based on their behavior) to their final resting place, you must free the half-naked chick who's been appearing to you in bad cutscene visions throughout the game. And you do this by smashing five rocks while being chased by the Ultimate Evil, who you can't hurt, but who can hurt you. And if he hits you twice, and you die, the game ends. Unlike the ENTIRE REST OF THE GAME, you don't get to start from where the level loaded. For no good reason whatsoever, you have to start from your last save.
This means that, every time you die, you have to: wait for the stupid epilogue to load, skip the stupid epilogue, wait for the main menu to come up, load your save game, wait for the Plane of Air to load, walk from the Plane of Air save to the Plane of Air portal (farther than it should be), wait for the Cauldron of Hate to load, skip the useless cutscene panning over the Cauldron of Hate, walk from one end of the Cauldron of Hate around a giant pool of fire that plays no role in the game to a door, wait for Innoruuk's Lair to load, and skip one more cutscene.
There's no reason for it. It adds nothing to the gameplay. It makes no sense whatsoever. It is the act of either a sadist, an incompetent, or a sadistic incompetent. I play games so that I can waste my time, not so the game can waste my time for me. And if you get through that, there's a similar pointless ordeal to go through once you're actually fighting the Ultimate Evil, who kills you even faster now that he's vulnerable.
So to all you aspiring game designers, learn your lesson. Lay off the cheap beef. Lay off the crack pipe. Don't be like Snowblind. Don't be DUMB.

Monday, March 8, 2004

Empty Hands, Empty Mouths

Memo to the Overly Passion-ate: YOU ARE DUMB.
Enough with the Jesus already. We get it. Enough with the controversy and the arguing. Enough with the going to see it over and over. We know. Everybody loves the Jesus. Hooray for the Jesus. $51-million dollar weekend for the Jesus. $212 million total for the Jesus. Good thing all that money isn't stacked up on tables, or he'd have spent so much time tipping 'em over that he'd be forever known as The Guy That Got Three Hernias Tipping Over Money Tables.
It's like Titanic. You know how it ends, but you keep going back. Except this time, you don't get to see Kate Winslet's boobs. It's like Lord of the Rings, except, you know. You all think it's a documentary.
I realize, by the way, that I am now the last fucking commentator on the planet to weigh in on this thing. I wanted to ignore it. Oh, how I wanted to ignore it. But you wouldn't let me, would you? You had to keep writing Op-Ed pieces and letters to the editor and talking about it in the restaurants and the cafeterias and the break rooms. It's Anti-Semitic. No, it's Jewtastic. It's too violent. It's not violent enough. It is as it was. It is as it wasn't. Have you gone yet? Are you going to go? Why aren't you going? How many times are you going? Are you bringing your kids? Are you bringing them the second time you go? The eighth?
Oh, sanity, why hast thou forsaken me?
Personally, I found "The Passion" to be a huge disappointment on two counts. First, because they pussied out and put subtitles in. Back in the day, the buzz was that it was gonna be all in Aramaic and Latin, but there wouldn't be any subtitles. And that woulda been funny, because, let's face it, the target audience for this film is not "students of dead and mostly-dead languages". All the post-movie pontificating would be infinitely more entertaining if everyone talking about the movie had to pretend they could get the gist of the dialogue. Just imagine it. You know you can.
And on the second count, I'm highly disappointed because on the first day it was released, it killed a woman. A 50-year-old woman's heart gave out mid-flick. Oh, they said it didn't have anything to do with the movie, but, and this may seem wrong to some of you, I was so hoping it'd be a trend.
I know, I know. How awful. Every death diminishes us all, yada yada. But seriously, if, say, one person out of every three showings dropped dead, at least all the Passion hype would have some meaning. It's like fugu. Nobody would give a shit about eating blowfish meat if it wasn't for the whole "improper preparation and you could DIE" thing. They'd just grind up all the blowfish, throw them in with everything else they use to make fish sticks, and we'd all go about our business.
Yet somehow, despite the lack of that potential-fatality sales draw, The Passion keeps rackin' 'em in. And luckily, since the entertainment industry hates success, there's no chance of The Passion inspring dozens or even hundreds of Jesus-related spinoffs to try to get a piece of the big Messiah pie. Yep. The entertainment industry will show restraint and... who are we kidding. It's "Millionaire" all over again. Remember when they thought we all loved game shows because we all decided to watch Millionaire? Well, now they think we all love Jesus. GREAT JOB, PEOPLE.
But hey, let's look on the bright side. Let's say they look at The Passion, and decide they'll only greenlight Jesus projects with a creative pedigree equal to or higher than Mel Gibson's. So with the bar firmly set at "radical member of a fringe sect and son of a notable Holocaust denier", you won't get to do your Jesus project if you're... um... a chronic public masturbator with a $5,000 a day coke habit. Which, admittedly, does eliminate a not insignificant fraction of the entertainment industry, but not enough to keep "nails through the palms" from being the new "dark shirt dark suit bright tie".
You laugh now. Oh, how you laugh. But a year from now, when Chuck Woolery is nailed to a big cross, and that cross is nailed to an even bigger wheel, and some Midwestern housewife is spinning the beloinclothed Woolery in the hopes of an all-expenses-paid trip to the Wailing Wall, you'll look down at your yellowed, faded ticket stub and realize that YOU WERE DUMB.

Friday, March 5, 2004

Short Takes

Memo to the US Army, Guantanamo Bay Division: YOU ARE DUMB.
According to the Herald Sun in some city I forgot to type (which, by the way, is one of Rupert Murdoch's babies), an inmate at Guantanamo Bay who was recently freed has reported that one of the techniques used against him during sleep deprivation was the non-stop playing of Bruce Springsteen's "Born In The USA". 
I can only assume that the same brilliant intelligence that led to the whole mess in the first place was also responsible for analyzing the lyrics to the Springsteen song and determining, just like Ronald Reagan did, that Springsteen wrote the song out of pure, unbridled love for his country, his bandana overflowing with rah-rah patriotism. And we wonder why they haven't found the weapons yet.
I mean, shit, if I had to listen to "Born" non-stop, I'd consider it torture, too, but let's face it, "Dancin' In The Dark" would be three times as effective and barely one tenth as ironic.
Memo to Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer: DON'T BE DUMB.
Variety is reporting that Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer are negotiating for the film rights to the game "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time", widely believed by everyone who is not wrong as the single best game released in 2003.
They should consider themselves hereby warned: fuck this up, and I will be much crankier than usual. Which should tell you something. Remember Pac-Man? Remember how we all waited for the home version, so we could finally play Pac-Man on our Atari 2600's? And then it came out? Remember that sinking disappointment in the pit of your stomach after you played it for the first time, with the square "vitamin" instead of the fruit and the weird dashes and the ghosts not turning blue and that PANK PANK PAPANK sound? If you're in the target audience for this website, you're probably weeping openly at the memory. I know I am.
A shitty Prince of Persia movie, to me, would be MORE DISAPPOINTING. Hiring Brendan Fraser as the Prince, for example. Hiring Jennifer Garner as Farah. Letting Akiva Goldsman come within five miles of anything remotely related to the movie. These would all be mistakes. Don't make them. Don't be DUMB.
Memo to the guy in front of me at the gas station: YOU ARE DUMB.
You spent FIFTY ONE DOLLARS in one sitting on scratch and win instant lottery tickets. Learn math, or forever forfeit your right to complain about taxes. Your choice.
Memo to everyone:
It's been a couple of long weeks full of rage and anger. And at the end of it all, I think we need a break. Take a deep breath, think of something calming. Like a cloud. Yeah, a nice fluffy cloud.

See what they've done! People are so dumb, they've PISSED OFF THE CLOUDS. My work must continue. See you Monday.

Thursday, March 4, 2004

Completely Hypothetical People

Memo to an entirely hypothetical subset of humanity: YOU ARE DUMB.
We here at You Are Dumb Dot Net like to think of what we do as educational outreach. Of a sort. And most of that educational outreach comes in the form of How To Spot The Dumb (From Quite A Long Way Away). So today, let us examine in more detail the Poking The Nest technique for spotting the dumb.
Poking The Nest is a good way to ferret out the dumbest members of a particular large group of people. It's kind of an informal survey, in which you give a large group of people an identical simple task to perform. Ideally, that simple task should not seem in any way to be a competency test, but should instead be disguised in some way to make it seem like part of the test subjects' normal routine. Then, all you do is sit back and watch the results pour in.
These results traditionally break down into some identifiable subgroups:
The Correct Response: Subject performs the task correctly, reading and following all directions and responding with the correct information. This is, unsurprisingly, rare.
The Nearly Correct Response: The subject has gotten the general gist of the task, and has responded with mostly correct information, however, some portion of the response is incorrect due to a typographical error or other understandable cause.
Individuals in the above two groups are classified as Potentially Not Dumb. 
The Conceptually Flawed Response: These people read and follow the directions, but misinterpret one crucial portion of them and respond broadly with incorrect information as a result. For example, if you were to request an alphabetical list of all fifty state capitals, and you received an alphabetical list of all fifty states, this person would qualify as Conceptually Flawed.
Individuals in the Conceptually Flawed Response group are classified as Potentially Dumb, and should be watched closely.
The Ignorant Response: These are the people who omit one crucial part of the instructions. In the example above, the Ignorant Response group would send you a non-alphabetized list of all fifty state capitals.
The Willfully Ignorant Response: Same as above, except the person clearly did it on purpose, because they couldn't be bothered. This is not always easy to distinguish from the Ignorant Response, but that's OK, as both groups should be regarded as Dumb anyway, because for all practical intents and purposes, the difference between "dumb" and "perfectly willing to appear dumb to avoid effort" are equivalent.
The Stupid Fucks: These are individuals who completely fail to grasp the simple task. If you ask these people to provide you with an alphabetized list of 50 states, they will send you a list of 20 cities in a completely random order.
The Belligerent Stupid Fucks: These are people who completely fail to grasp the simple task, interpret it as a completely different task, take offense at being asked to perform this misinterpretation, and respond aggressively with queries as to why you need a list of the top thousand metropolitan areas in the country sorted by population, and why you are bothering them when you could go buy an almanac or something.
The Self-Aware Stupid Fucks: These are people who are able to grasp that they are NOT able to grasp what you have sent them, and send you questions that require you to repeat the directions you already gave them. Upon receiving your answers, these people will generally climb between three and five spaces on the list, but will never ever achieve a Correct Response.
The Hopelessly Stupid Fucks: HSF's are individuals whose first, second, and possibly third attempt to complete the simple task fall into any of the other Stupid Fuck categories. For example, if they ask for clarification, and respond belligerently; or if they get everything wrong, then ask you for clarification, they are Hopelessly Stupid Fucks.
Anyone in the Stupid Fuck category should be treated with as much scorn and derision as is permitted by your social/professional situation. HSF's, by their nature, are also subject to semi-public ridicule by having their stupidity exposed and shared with your peer group.
We hope you've enjoyed this purely theoretical treatise on how to identify and weed out the dumb people in your medium-to-large organizational structure.

Wednesday, March 3, 2004

Everyone In The Intersection

Memo to drivers and pedestrians: YOU ARE DUMB.
The urban four-way intersection is, in many ways, a metaphor for our society. Any given individual in society has a number of choices before them, and these choices cause them to cross paths with other members of society. And most of the individuals making those choices do so without looking, listening, or thinking, and as a result, make things difficult for everyone else around them.
There's even an analogy with the current political situation. As a frequent pedestrian, I would love to blame all the woes on those rich drivers, tooling around in their SUV's, talking on their cell phones about venture opportunities, not even noticing the common man in the crosswalk that they crush under their relentless, ever-churning tires.
But as a frequent driver, I would also like to blame all those ignorant, lazy, laconic hippies who stroll idly across the road as if it were a country meadow, pretending that hundreds of years of progress never happened and ignoring the RULE OF LAW.
I am torn, caught in the riptides of a Zoroastrian dichotomy of dumb. Luckily, I am quickly able to remember that, no matter what our differences, rich or poor, Republican or Democrat, walker or driver, we are all, deep down, just human beings. And, as a result, mostly comprised of fucking idiots. And that makes me feel... well, not exactly "better", but at least more comfortable. On firmer ground. The moral quicksand and quagmire replaced by the hard, unyielding asphalt of rage. Rage at the asses whose phalt it all is.
So to all you behind the wheel. We, as a species, have been walking for hundreds of thousands of years. We have been rolling things around on wheels for tens of thousands of years. We have been living in cities for thousands of years. We have had cars for about a hundred years. You have had plenty of time to gradually work your way up to an understanding of how these four things intersect. So you may understand why I feel a bit upset at your surprise and astonishment that a person might be using the legs Darwin gave him to perambulate from one corner to another.
Shock! Horror! Even worse, INCONVENIENCE that you cannot turn your vehicle and proceed on your way! These damn walkies are taking advantage of the system. And these CROSSWALKS. Valuable street real estate being taken up just so people have room to walk! I understand your frustration; the obvious injustice of it all that causes you to protest in indignance by making sure you stick your vehicle eight inches into the crosswalk at every opportunity. Don't mind me. I'll go around. The head start those eight inches give you will be invaluable once the light turns green.
It's enough to make a pedestrian decide to ignore the traffic laws in turn, since the other side is gaining an unfair advantage by ignoring them. Which is fine. As a pedestrian, I break the law on a regular basis for reasons ranging from getting in from the cold quicker all the way through ensuring my personal safety by knowing precisely what the cars I'll be amongst are doing. But for fuck's sake, people, recognize that you're breaking the law and act appropriately.
First, stop sauntering. When crossing oncoming traffic that could CRUSH YOU at speeds between ten and fifty miles an hour, this is not a lingering situation. Do not treat crossing against the light, or crossing away from the light, as if you had just finished a meal in a fine restaurant and have just been served coffee and pie. It's simply bad manners to smugly take advantage of people's desire not to be charged with involuntary manslaughter. Not to mention risking your life based on the attentiveness, intelligence, and kindness of a random driver.
Somewhere there exists a perfect intersection, where pedestrians realize that a green arrow and a don't walk sign combine to form the message "KEEP YOUR ASS ON THE CURB", and where "Right On Red" does not mean "Honk at the guy on foot that's keeping you from your God-Given Right On Red", and people of all races, religions, and modes of transportation live together in peace and harmony. And maybe, someday, we'll get there. You know, once all you dumbfucks have run over and crashed into each other.