Archive for October, 2008

Toxic Stupidity

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

Many modern issues of stupidity are actually age-old. Even older than the institution of marriage. Which reminds me: oh, woe are we who are stuck with stuper (short, yet again, for an implacably stupid person) in-laws who practically induce a mental rash from their mercilessly irritating ways. Here’s a letter detailing just that:

Dear Keli,

I’ve been wanting to e-mail you for a really long time. I keep hoping my stuper problem will go away, but it hasn’t. It’s my mother-in-law, Dayle. I’ve been married to Mike for almost twenty years and during this whole time, Dayle treats me like cr*p. She sends out Christmas cards addressed only to Mike and the kids. She’s never thanked me for any presents I’ve gotten her, even when I made them myself. When she comes over, she sometimes brings a gift. But she’ll repeatedly say that the bottle of wine or whatever she brought is for Mike (and not me, miserable piece of chopped liver that I am). I talked to her about this a year ago and told her I’d really like us to be friends. Dayle agreed, but the next time I saw her, she acted like her usual critical, pompous self. She always talks only about herself. I can’t get a word in and when I do, I’m criticized. She’s not just an old windbag, she’s a cyclone! Even though Mike says I don’t have to see her, I don’t want to hear about her, that’s how much she upsets me. I guess I’m just weak minded. Or maybe I’m the stuper? Am I? What should I do? I don’t like feeling this way.
Thank you, Keli, for taking the time to answer this.


Stupidity can chip away even at minds of Einstein-like proportions (witness Einstein’s many quotes about stupers). If we don’t take control over our own minds, then we will become stupers ourselves. As is it, Sarah is permitting an inferior, seldom used mind to contaminate her own.

I’m very fortunate not to suffer from toxic parents-in-law; only a menacingly insipid sister-in-law. Extended family of this lowly caliber can indeed trigger a rash and even clog our thinking with destructive thoughts, if we’re not careful.

There are ways to prevent idiotic relations from dampening our spirits. And I don’t mean muzzling them with that lovely lavender colored scarf sitting expectantly in the back of your sock drawer. If we are going to be disturbed every time we hear from these unworthy opponents, we are unknowingly entering a trap. One that snares the mind and prevents it from thinking clearly and promoting personal happiness.

Deprive a person of oxygen and he’ll suffocate. Deprive a stuper of his idiocy and the rest of us will thrive. Authentic humans should clear this low hurdle with ease simply by using any of these methods:

1. Treat opponents kindly. Kindness can hugely influence people. Even the vacant minded variety. If you don’t want contact with the stupid among us, then merely think of them kindly. This is a simple and highly recommended strategy because kindness begets kindness. It keeps us in a serenely firm frame of mind and allows us to ably continue our lives. This requires confidence and patience in oneself;

2. We may not be saintly enough to love our opponents, but for the sake of our health and happiness, we should at least forgive and forget them, according to Dale Carnegie. This step is most challenging. The reason we detest the company of certain hollow heads is because we feel they’ve unjustly wronged us. Why should we forgive? Because forgiveness diffuses our anger. Staying angry is like carrying a five-hundred pound sumo wrestler in our arms. The effort is enormous; back-breaking. Is it worth it? Forgiveness liberates the soul; and

3. Ignore them. Refocus on someone less fortunate and lend a gracious hand. This helps promote proper perspective, induces forgetfulness about the stuper and strengthens the soul of the giver.

Each of these methods requires practice and effort. But anything worth having calls for such.

The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits.
Albert Einstein



Ignorance and Stupidity

Sunday, October 26th, 2008

It seems there’s a burning question about stupidity. A question actually posed to me during a mini (with heavy emphasis on “mini”) symposium I attended a few days ago on Perplexing Characters Traits in Today’s Society. Stupidity is not actually a trait, but a lamentable character flaw. Nonetheless, I did bask in my fifteen minutes of answering pressing queries on stupers (short, yet again, for unabidingly stupid persons) and their unbecoming behavior.

I spoke in front of a small crowd that teetered somewhere in their mid-twenties and early thirties; they regarded me as a sage relic of sorts on stupidity. The burning question was “Is ignorance bliss?” or “Are stupers happy?”

Some of my extremely sharp-minded readers are sighing profoundly right about now and politely wondering, was this perchance asked by a stuper? Because ignorance and stupidity are not synonyms. Not even part of the same family, let alone species. As you know, I don’t even count stupers as humans, deeming them counterfeit. Real humans flip on their mental switches and diligently keep them on, with only minor slip-ups now and then. Stupers don’t take the effort to turn this mental switch on. They’ve not used it in so long, they’ve forgotten of its very existence.

One can be ignorant without being an idiot. For instance, if you asked me to explain the inner workings of a carburetor for an internal combustion engine of a hand-held working tool, I would plead complete ignorance and be completely unable to explain about the suction channel and the throttle connected to the suction channel to make it pivotable and know nothing of the control chamber. (Yes, I am a modest, self-taught, know-it-all). However, if I dug a deep hole, jumped into it, was unable to come out and refused all offers of assistance, I’d qualify as a stuper. Ignorance is not knowing; stupidity is knowing and doing it anyway.

So the question went like this: “Isn’t it true that ignorance is bliss? Don’t we often see stupid people, like, looking all happy?”

My reply: Absolutely not. Stupers usually appear miserable and discontented. They are gloomy by nature, hence perpetuating their affliction of stupidity.

Sometimes those with actual, medically diagnosed disorders and/or abnormal development of mental faculties such as mental retardation, autism, and various psychological issues are mistakenly regarded as stupid. They are usually regarded as such by stupers who take no time out for understanding or tolerance. Additionally, sometimes those with disorders as above described may appear happy. I’ve met many a Down’s Syndrome (a genetic disorder) sufferer who seemed quite happy, and in fact, may be happy. I’m afraid my unpracticed audience member mistook that for stupidity.

I carefully explained that stupers have a working mind and yet abstain from utilizing it. Thought is virtually nonexistent. It’s almost a kind of selfishness where the idiot’s interests are entirely within himself. This is caused by imperfect understanding as well as an almost permanent sense of confusion. A person who can govern his thinking determines the course of his life.

I noticed several pairs of glassy eyes after my speech so I summarized my talk with this statement and quote:

Thinking is to the mind what a fine cool pair of jeans is to the posterior a*s (when in Rome, you know), and

The trouble ain’t that there is too many fools, but that the lightning ain’t distributed right. ~Mark Twain


The Three Best Jobs for Stupid People

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

You’ve seen lists, dear readers, in magazines and on the Internet, detailing the best places to live, retire, raise a family, work, travel, eat pizza, or do just about anything. They’re touted for their many benefits. Today, I’m going to visit the opposite end of the spectrum: the best places for stupers (short for determinedly stupid persons) to work. These are the worst places for the rest of us to work. Accountability is nonexistent, four letter words replace compassion and understanding, and customers are in for a roller coaster ride without the roller coaster.

These idiot-infested environments are where stupers tend to seek out and consistently obtain jobs. Consequently, stupidity is freely dished out to unsuspecting and innocent bystanders. Of course, not every employee at these asylums for the content-free mind is a stuper. But the overwhelming majority snugly fit into this woebegone category.

The mentally bereft are present in practically every workplace, it’s true, but in mediocre environments, ignorance and unhelpfulness are more plentiful, doled out like Snickers and Tootsie Rolls on Halloween.

I donned my lab coat (with pearl buttons, in a lovely shade of lemon) and set to work, thinking it’s high time for this list. Why? Because some of my cherished readers may be out there, right now, earnestly searching for their next gig, only to be unknowingly offered a position in one of these stuper-filled companies. Or you may have the misfortune of calling on one of these companies and being serviced by a meager mind. Beware!

Here they are:

1. Pest Control (specifically Termite) companies:

These dispensers of stupidity are routinely called in when there’s a sale of a home or a potential termite problem, proudly referred to as “evidence of infestation” (termite droppings or wood debris). A fumigation is ordered. However, take note, such droppings, usually found in attics or basements, are never vacuumed or otherwise cleaned up by the hollow-headed. So when a building or house is resold, even a few short months later, the termite company will once again inspect and find “evidence of infestation.” The very same evidence found previously. And thus the circle of lunacy continues.

I read of an unsuspecting gent, Dennis, who treated his home for termites. After an inspection of the home, Dennis was awarded a clean bill of health. Days later, he found evidence that termites were still present. A stuper inspector verified that termites had re-infested the very same area, but he insisted that these were a completely different species of termites and therefore not covered by any warranty. It cost an additional $2,500 to treat.

2. Telemarketing: self-explanatory to anyone who’s ever been on the receiving end of this aggressive brand of oversoliciting idiocy.

3. Banks: Fools are prevalent here, but harder to spot. First a quick disclaimer: At least one-third of these workers are not stupers. I’ve used the services of bank employees who are thankfully competent. But there are the others. The stupid among us.

Many, many, many years ago, we were losing our home to foreclosure. There had been a downturn in the real estate market; our residence plummeted in price. We wanted to keep it, but shouldered a hefty mortgage payment. I was told by a degenerate bank representative:

“You’ll have to sell it at a loss.”

“Can’t you reduce our payments to what they’d be if we sold it at a loss?” I asked hopefully.


“How about just reducing our interest for a short time until market conditions improve? We have a good record.”


“What if I sold it to my mother who then turned around and sold it to back to us?”

“That wouldn’t be right.”

“Okay; just sell it to us at the discount.”

“No. We must start the process all over again. It has to be a fresh transaction.”

Think of the money that would have been saved all around, if they’d worked with us (no real estate related fees, paperwork, etc.). Consequently, we lost our home when it was sold to a “fresh” buyer at a substantial discount.  This pitiful bank itself went under shortly thereafter.

Stupers are prevalent in many assorted workplaces. In fact, it’s highly likely that there’s at least one stuper lurking among every ten employees in most companies. When I worked in the corporate world, our legal department had a staff of eight, two of which were certifiable dimwits. All the more reason to diligently exercise our minds. As the number of stupers rapidly increases, the demand for thinking humans will also rise. Imagine what those with working minds can accomplish.



Stupidity in the Media

Sunday, October 19th, 2008

If I believed everything I read in women’s magazines, I’m likely to have a deadly disease, my butt needs boosting (in five minutes or less!), I need to wage war on cellulite and stress (hopefully simultaneously), my nose should be thinner, I should engage in sneaky ways to achieve my dream weight and Botox is my only hope. Is it any wonder that the only women’s magazine I subscribe to is Town & Country? All I need to be worried about within those pleasant pages is the sizzling art scene in Paris, English gardens and Cartier watches.

“New diseases emerge more frequently than people realize” states a boldfaced, Self magazine article. Why are they telling us this, dear readers? Because they want to kindly keep us informed about calories and health threats while offering the latest fudgy Brownie recipe (all on the cover of Shape magazine)? Or are they hoping we’ll obsess, garner self-pity, give in to fear and maybe even self-destruct, so they can write about us in their unhallowed pages?

These magazines are highly presumptuous. My butt does not need boosting. I don’t have cellulite (none that I can see anyway and isn’t that what matters?), I weigh the same as I did in high school, I like my nose, thank you very much, and I don’t need their generic, life-saving advice. Even if it is allegedly from “real women” (as opposed to what? Mannequins? Lab rats? Are they trying to convince us that they actually conducted research?).

The media tends to prey on our emotions and weaknesses. They seek out our Achilles’ heels. It helps their unworthy cause if readers are stupers (short for unswervingly stupid persons). They hope to instill panic; they want us orphaned by common sense and reason.

Are you wondering right about now, intelligent readers, if persons truly exist who believe these articles? I present to you, Exhibit A: one of my stuper relatives, Scarlett. She is an attractive businesswomen in her late fifties, who reads these magazines. She advocates and uses Botox because Vogue said so. In fact, she told my mother that “all normal women use Botox.” Hence, Mom is not normal. Need I say more?

And don’t think for a moment that the broadcast media is any better. They thrive on criticism and hopelessness.

On my way to Los Angeles last week, I searched through Talk Radio stations, hoping to stumble upon some stimulating, and possibly even charming, discussions. Yes, I was stuck in heavy traffic and becoming increasingly delusional by the second. I learned that Senator McCain is a fading war-monger with senility sitting heavily on his shoulders, and Senator Obama is a socialist, possibly even a card-carrying member of the Communist party, who keeps a half-brother in poverty in Kenya. Then I was told that not for a moment should I doubt that the economy is crumbling. Warren Buffett’s encouraging words were meaningless. To hell with Buffett! The stock market will not revive. Don’t you dare carry any hope!

Listen to me, dear readers! We can rise above, conquer and outsmart the media. To do this, ironically, we must go on a diet. But this type of diet is never discussed in mediocre magazines. I speak of a mental diet. Or perhaps more precisely, a mental adjustment.

We have unlimited potential. Our potential is often like a treasure chest hidden atop a high mountain, covered by shrubbery, dirt, bird dung, dead branches and an assortment of undiscriminating insects. We need to clear away the rubbish that keeps our treasures concealed. This rubbish consists of our own negative thoughts and detrimental, jaundiced external feeds, such as that found in the media and the stupers among us. We must hone our ability to focus on that which falls under our control. (No, I am not standing atop a podium). Our minds fall within our own grasp. We control what goes in.

We need to flood our minds with positive and constructive thoughts. So much so that all dark shadows within the mind take flight. It’s too easy to droop in the face of pessimism or unfavorable news. Our mental faculties will grow only if we deposit good-will. I’ve said it before: Focus on your good, so your good will grow.

Surround yourself with loving, kind and thoughtful folk as well as reading material. Exile the stupers. They won’t notice, but you will.

Thoughts are everything.


Stupidity and the Birthday Card

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

The purchase of a simple greeting card should be a painless, inoffensive task…unless, of course, there is a stuper (short, yet again, for an insurmountably stupid person) involved. Then it could turn into a journey similar to wading through a swamp, blindfolded, while balancing a basket on one’s head filled with coconuts that must promptly reach a starving village.

My favorite natural foods market, Lazy Acres, sports an awesome greeting card collection. I’ve always found cards so perfect, I’d swear they were created just for my intended recipients. In fact, I love the whole store. I know many employees by name; they’ve watched my kids grow up and often ask after my mother. These wonderful workers act happy to see me, and they merely smile and nod when they catch me privately confabbing with myself. What more could I ask for?

I’ve considered setting up camp there or just moving in, that’s how welcome I feel. Best of all, stupers are absent…almost. Periodically, idiot employees make a brief appearance, then vanish altogether leaving store managers looking sheepish and apologetic, muttering to themselves,

“I don’t know how that happened,” or “We were always so careful.”

However, there is Andrea (An-DRAY-uh). She’s worked at Lazy Acres for years despite her overt, obvious and ostentatious stupidity. I’m certain one of the Zen monk type store owners hired her as a sort of benevolent act of charity or perhaps to offset some karmic debt that desperately needed to be repaid. There is no other explanation.

When Andrea worked in the Deli section, my #1 Son dreaded ordering lunch. Invariably, when he’d ask for yellow mustard on his roast beef sandwich, he’d get horseradish, and the roast beef would conveniently be left out. He’d ask for a soft French roll, and get rock-hard, crusty panini, befitting a lusty sea captain.

Andrea soon vanished and peace was restored in the Deli.

Then one day, I sought a birthday card. The greeting cards that caught my eye sported poignant quotations from wise, respected historical figures.  The particular one I chose came from a group of smallish size cards with different quotes for various occasions. There were about fifty such cards, all missing one vital requirement: envelopes.

I asked a manager for help. He left for a few minutes, then returned, apologized, smiled contritely and stated they were all out of that size envelope. I found this to be quite alarming. Stupidity was lurking about.

I purchased the card, knowing I had plenty of envelopes at home. As I neared the exit, I ran smack into Andrea in the greeting card section.

“Hihowareyou,” she stated in a monotone reserved for those made mostly of hard components, wires in primary colors and assorted electronics. She shuffled away with me in close pursuit.

“So where are the envelopes to these cards?” I asked, waving the evidence (birthday card) in my hand.

“Oh, you know, customers come and take them all,” she replied flippantly.

I took a quick eye-count and noted that each one of the other types of greeting cards included envelopes. I didn’t have to be Inspector Poirot, Clouseau or even Gadget to realize what happened. Andrea’s cable connection was clearly scrambled.

My choices were twofold: continue to argue with the semi-operational Andrea and get absolutely nowhere except doused with a heavy film of annoyance or remove myself from the active presence of a stuper and thereby maintain my sanity.

I did not want Andrea to trespass into my mind, leaving her messy fingerprints. If I became irritated, she’d do just that. No matter how impatient you feel, don’t lower yourself to the level of a stuper. If the signs of the presence of a stuper are glaring, do yourself a favor and move on.

Keep thinking.


Stupidity and the Three Ds: Divorce, the Devil and the Derrière

Sunday, October 12th, 2008

Lord have mercy, I’m back.

Last week, when I watched a portion of the Presidential debate, I realized there was one question of vital importance that needed to be asked. This query, if answered well, could propel a candidate into a decisive lead and victory. Alas, this crucial question was not posed. Namely: what do you think of religious fanatics?

I define religious fanatics as interfering, uncontrollable, iron-tongued, meager-minded zealots who feel compelled to announce to all who cross their crooked paths that theirs is the only true religion. Their minds are not entirely empty, but rather stuck on one noisy track and one track only. They haphazardly scatter this skewed belief, guaranteeing that onlookers and unfortunate listeners will either be dumbfounded, scramble for cover, conduct a verbal assault and/or inflict bodily harm on said fanatic. This brand of stuper (short for a pungently stupid person) has promoted deafness and helped the earplug industry enormously.

When my beloved grandmother passed away two weeks ago, I wrote a eulogy that I knew I’d be unable to read aloud without choking up. So in a moment of weakness or madness or possibly both, I asked my religious fanatic, Class AAA++ stuper Aunt Iris, to read it for me. Iris is married to Grandma’s eldest.

Iris did an astonishingly fine job of reading a eulogy at my grandfather’s memorial service years earlier, meaning it occurred without incident or offense and actually came across sounding meaningful. I thought that although she lacked credibility in all areas imaginable, including, but not limited to, cooking, travel arrangements and gift giving, perhaps eulogy reading appeared on her extremely short list of actual and only slightly arguable, skills. Plus, Grandma always managed to get along with Iris. If Granny could do it, so could I, damn it!

My eulogy revealed how my grandparents provided a haven for the grandchildren (six of us) whose parents were divorced; how Grandma created a devil’s knot (a simple knot) on a handkerchief and managed to locate lost items (an old custom from the place where she grew up) and how she once kicked a servant in the posterior (when she was nine-years-old) for trying to physically punish Granny’s younger brother.

I e-mailed my eulogy to Iris. This was her response:

“I feel uncomfortable talking about divorce. I feel uncomfortable talking about the Devil. And I don’t know why, but I feel uncomfortable talking about the kick in the derrière. So I’m going to edit it.”

Ah, the nonsensical ways of stupidity! Yes, I did want to give Iris a kick in the rear to remind her that this was not about her. And that it wasn’t all that long ago when Iris herself was advocating divorce for her son and his wife to all with unplugged ears because she did not approve of her daughter-in-law.

If the practice of religion makes no improvement in a person’s outward talk and actions – if she continues to be just as greedy, spiteful or idiotic as before – then this practice is illusory. A great interest in religion is meaningless unless it spurs on better behavior and greater thought.

I revoked my request, in the nicest possible way, of Iris, and instead turned my eulogy into a memory book adding sentiments from my cousins. Meanwhile, I redirected my attention to the memorial service and devised a plan enabling me to effortlessly leap over the empty heads of my other abundant stuper relatives and get through it all while maintaining my sanity.

I focused only on those who’d made a positive difference in my grandmother’s life by giving her the gift of their time and kindness. I told each one how much they meant to her. I knew who Grandma’s favorites were, as I had the privilege of being on her inside track.

I made it. All it took was a little thought.