Stupidity is Forever. [updated]

December 1, 2010 at 7:03 am (By Amba)

That’s the punchline of a Romanian joke.  God is handing out various qualities to people getting ready to be born, and finally there are only two left:  Beauty and Stupidity.  The last one in line is Bula, the hapless hero of many Romanian jokes (a sort of wise fool, or idiot savant, whose name bears a near-miss resemblance to the word for “penis”).  God gives him a choice, and to His surprise, Bula chooses stupidity.  “May I ask why?” says God.  And Bula says, “Beauty is fleeting, but stupidity is eternal!”

Lots of paperwork has arrived, and it has perversely cheered me (if also made more work for me) by being all wrong.

Social Security, taking my statement over the phone, misheard and misrecorded J’s date of death as November 16, which will necessitate at least one more phone call to set it straight.  Screen Actors Guild has been sending his pension to his legal name, Jack Herman, for years, but is now addressing correspondence to his professional name — another potential source of rich confusion.  (Partly our stupidity, in this case, for maintaining multiple names.)  But it is American Express that takes the cake.  When I called them to have J’s senior gold card account, on which I was an additional cardholder, transferred to my name, they gave me their condolences and said no problem, but they would be sending me a new primary card with a new number, which they did on November 23.  On the same day, they sent me the following notice:

To the Estate of
Annie Gottlieb
C/O Annie Gottlieb
Re:  Account Ending    [NEW card number!]

To Whom It May Concern:
We are sorry to learn ot the death of Annie Gottlieb and want to thank you for taking the time to notify us. We value our relationships with our customers and are pleased that you want to continue with Cardmembership. . . .
Please complete, sign, and return the enclosed Primary Cardmember Change Request Application so that we may process your request to transfer this account. . . .
We need to receive the completed and signed application within 30 days, or we will have to close Annie Gottlieb’s [NEW!] account, as well as any Additional Cards.

Delicious.  I’m bracing myself for J’s death certificate.  What can they get wrong there?  Maybe they’ll send me a birth certificate instead?

One of my ex-brothers-in-law, who was Mexican and unsure of his English and also hung over at his wedding to my sister over 30 years ago, screwed up the vows and actually married himself.

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38 Comments

  1. Tweets that mention Stupidity is Forever. « Ambiance -- Topsy.com said,

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Annie Gottlieb, Sissy Willis. Sissy Willis said: Mark Twain is resting comfortably in his grave:RT @amba12: "Beauty is fleeting, but stupidity is forever" http://bit.ly/gXrDJR […]

  2. Maxwell James said,

    LOL. A good friend of mine recently had a similar experience – after his half-brother died, his parents received a card from some long unheard-from cousins offering condolences on my friend’s passing. This included a very specific story about how as a child he once called one of them an “angel.” Problem is, not only is he quite alive, but that never happened (presumably it was the half brother who said that).

  3. PatHMV said,

    Annie, I’m so sorry to hear of your passing!

    It’s odd, though, how the frustrations of dealing with death can actually turn into a welcome relief from the grief.

    When my grandfather died, this priest who never knew him gave the eulogy, and it was just terrible. The priest kept droning on and on about himself. He said how well he remembered my grandfather and grandmother sitting right there (he pointed) at mass every Sunday, even though they hadn’t actually been to a mass in 20 years. He talked of his own family incessantly. When he mentioned his uncle Tony, and how uncle Tony had worked at the paper mill (where my grandfather worked his entire career), the entire audience begin to open up hope that this would tie all of his family stories into some kindness my grandfather had done uncle Tony once upon a time — but our hopes were dashed, as he spoke not a word about uncle Tony ever having met grandfather.

    It was so bad, my father almost had to physically restrain his mother from standing up out of her wheel chair and giving the priest the big “fuck you” gesture (right arm extended with fist, left hand grasping inner elbow of right arm) right in the middle of the service.

    I know she was about to do that, because when we were all drinking in her kitchen that night, she told us, with a vivid demonstration, that she had been about to do just that.

    But the odd thing was, drinking together and bitching about the truly terrible priest’s eulogy was really a welcome solace from the misery and grief we were experiencing.

    Even the chintziness of the paper mill company helped distract from the grief, and turn it into righteous indignation. They normally sent the monthly retirement check in advance. That is, the check received at the beginning of December was to cover the retirement owed for the month of December. Grandfather died in the middle of the month, and the company had the gall to send a letter wanting to be repaid the pro-rated amount which it had paid at the beginning of the month but to which grandfather was not technically entitled, as he had not lived through the end of the month.

    As an aside on the priest, grandmother made all of us swear that we would NOT have him speak at her funeral. When she died a couple of years later, it took a great deal of effort to find a priest willing to come into a parish and perform a funeral mass for a group who was intentionally trying to keep out of the clutches of the local parish priest. We almost had to find an Episcopalian priest, but at the last minute a nice priest from a few parishes over agreed to step up.

  4. amba12 said,

    LOL!! Wonderful story. I know the gesture whereof you speak.

    I’m about to call American Express and break the bad news to them!

  5. PatHMV said,

    You’re a New Yorker… I figured you wouldn’t be shocked by the gesture, and might have had occasion to see it, or give it, before.

  6. wj said,

    Please accept my condolences on your demise as well (I assume services are pending….)

    Somehow, I am put in mind of the bit from Monty Python (Monty Python and the Holy Grail, if memory serves): “I’m not dead yet….”

    What is always startling is how quickly and easily some of these institutions can move on the “demise” of someone who is still alive, vs. all the documentation that they demand for someone who really has died. Seven months later, we’re still doing death certificates, and medallion guaranteed documents, and all kinds of other stuff to get my Mom’s financial affairs straight.

  7. Icepick said,

    Pat, you make it sound likeit wasn’t worth dying for the trouble it caused. Annie too. (Both her’s and Jay’s.)

  8. Ron said,

    It’s delightful to know that now we’re sobering up from your wake, that you are, in fact, not dead, so at some distant date, (say, when we’ve paid off China) we can have ANOTHER wake for you!

    Who sez credit companies aren’t looking out for our happiness?

  9. Louise M said,

    Reminds me of the old story of Babel from Genesis. If as one, humans were to speak the same language, nothing planned would be impossible. One can only imagine such focus, power and potential when daily encountering confusion on multiple levels, from individual to corporation, minute to magnificent. From hospice promises of extra large to Social Security and Gold Card screw-ups.

    Which makes the language of picture, poem, song, story and heart you’ve been sharing rare and much appreciated as it clearly and honestly communicates the joy and sorrow involved with life, love and loss.

  10. amba12 said,

    Reminds me of a conversation I just had with my best friend from high school (a big influence on me), who volunteers to poll-watch in her precinct in Philadelphia and had an argument with someone who told her “What’s the use? Why bother to fight for everyone’s right to have their vote counted? What difference does it make?” My friend says she’s still a “hopeless idealist.” We talked about how if more people cared that every vote get counted, much closer to every vote would get counted. Cynicism has the opposite effect. It’s up to us, one by one.

  11. Icepick said,

    We talked about how if more people cared that every vote get counted, much closer to every vote would get counted. Cynicism has the opposite effect. It’s up to us, one by one.

    The true cynic thinks that if everyone’s franchise were guaranteed, and if every vote were accurately counted, it STILL wouldn’t make a difference.

  12. amba12 said,

    Then why fight to defend democracy? Because it’s the worst — except for all the rest.

    It’s not nearly enough to make sure every vote is counted. You’d also have to persuade a lot more people to vote. And to vote based on thoughtful deliberation. And so on. But still, there are degrees. You’d still probably rather live here than in, say, Myanmar. Or even Kazakhstan.

  13. wj said,

    Not voting because you are such a small part of the electorate (and therefore will likely have minimal effect on the outcome) is like other excuses for inaction. Since you cannot, by yourself, eliminate world hunger, should you therefore refuse to donate to your local food bank? Because you cannot lift the entire world out of poverty, should you therefore completely decline to help out those in need? (You could not donate to one cause because you are focusing your efforts on others. But that’s a different discussion.)

    Any of those rationalizations may make it easier to sleep at night when you have done nothing. But they ignore the fact that almost anything that is accomplished is done by lots of individuals contributing a small (probably very small) amount to the total effort.

  14. amba12 said,

    Sorta same thing with littering and road rage — thinking you may as well act like an asshole since the great majority of people do. How we get a majority :-P

  15. Icepick said,

    DIsclaimer – I’m not a true cynic, just a sour defeated man. However, I will take up the cynic’s cause for the sake of argument.

    It’s not nearly enough to make sure every vote is counted. You’d also have to persuade a lot more people to vote. And to vote based on thoughtful deliberation.

    Why would persuading more people to vote help anything? First, the next sentence you wrote shows the problem – not enough people that CURRENTLY vote give it thoughtful deliberation. Increasing the number of clueless idiots that vote isn’t likely to help anything at all.

    Consider the problem in more detail. Intelligence is normally distributed. Which is to say that roughly half the population has intelligence at or below normal intelligence. Which means that at least half the people will never be able to understand truly complex subjects regardless of the level of deliberation they make.

    For that matter some subjecs require a lot of knowledge to understand. Actually, a LOT of subjects require significant amounts of expertise to understand. Even those that have the intellectual ability to understand such topics won’t have the time, nor likely the inclination, to understand all those subjects. (And here I mean just those subject to political considerations – I’ll ignore questions about dark matter and the like.) SO the best case scenario is that an intelligent person can have mastery of a few topics.

    Furthermore, there are questions of worldview. Many matters will be decided solely by personal beliefs. For example, one either thinks a fetus has a complete set of human rights, or one thinks a fetus doesn’t have a complete set of human rights. Thus one’s position on legalized abortion is decided.*

    So, many people won’t be able to carefully deliberate on complex matters. Almost no one will be able to deliberate on ALL complex matters. And some issues will be decided by considerations that have nothing whatsoever to do with deliberation.

    Additionally people will often deliberate to the best of their abilities only to end up making a bunch of mutually contradictory decisions. Consider the ‘left’ in the US. They want reduced carbon emissions for the world and especially the US – but they also want to allow tens of millions of people from the Third World to emigrate to the US. The result of said immigrtion would be to greatly increase the level of carbon output by the immigrants (on a per cap basis) as they become Americanized. (And don’t be fooled, no amount of carbon emission cuts would balance that out short of completely destroying the US economy.) But most will never realize this, and if they do they will use their powers of rationalization to convince themselves that there is no contradiction. That is one example from one part of the political spectrum. One can find them everywhere.

    Then why fight to defend democracy? Because it’s the worst — except for all the rest….. But still, there are degrees. You’d still probably rather live here than in, say, Myanmar. Or even Kazakhstan.

    I decided many years ago I’d rather live in Florida than Maryland. Most of the considerations had nothing to do with political considerations, and would still hold if Maryland were wonderful and Florida a disaster politically. Most humans prefer to live as closely as possible to the place they’re from. Why didn’t EVERYBODY try to leave the Soviet Union? If everyone (or almost everyone) had decided to up and leave at the same time the authorities would have drowned in the deluge. Everyone didn’t.

    As for which system is best, even compared to all others? That remains to be seen. Western civilization has certainly achieved much, but the question remains whether or not it can be sustained. How long did the Egyptian civilization last? Thousands of years, and it absorbed one wave of barbarians after another, including the Greeks. It took the organizational might of the Romans to finally end it. So far our civilization hasn’t even lasted one thousand years. ANd given it’s changable nature one could argue that it isn’t even the same civilization today that it was one hundred years ago. Throw in the fact that our greatest successes often have huge down-sides and the prospects look grime.

    In fact, it looks kind of like a ponzi scheme. Ponzi schemes are fantastic investments – the rates of return are fantasitc. Just so long as you’re in the next to last group of people to ask for your money back. At the moment Western civilization looks a lot like a Pnozi scheme. But perhapsthat’s just our financial system.

    * Yes, it’s a bit morecomplicated that that for many people, probably a plurality in the USA. But this is for illustrative purposes.

  16. Icepick said,

    Continuing the cynic’s case:

    Not voting because you are such a small part of the electorate (and therefore will likely have minimal effect on the outcome) is like other excuses for inaction.

    Actually I don’t even have to be a cynic for this one. In all the elections I’ve voted in (starting in 1986) my vote has made a difference in exactly none of them. In fact, my vote hasn’t even come close to counting in _any_ of them, not even the crappy little local elections.

    The closest I came to having my vote count was in 2000, and it was the Big Daddy of all American elections – my vote could have decided the US Presidential election because I was a Floridian! There was only one small problem – I had moved to Maryland a few months before the election. So instead of my vote counting for the candidate of my choice in Florida, I was just another throwawy vote in a state that was guaranteed to support the Democratic candidate no matter if it had been Jesus vs Satan on the ballot. (You can decide for yourself which party you think should be assigned to Jesus and Satan.) So my vote still didn’t count

    But it’s worse than that. In all those elections in which I have participated there have been two outcomes. The first is that the guy (non-gender specific) I voted for has lost. In that case I may as well as not voted. The other outcome is that the guy I voted for has won. And those have been the most unkind cuts of all. I voted for Lawton Chiles for governor of Florida twice. He won both times, and I couldn’t have been more disgusted with my vote. I voted for THAT ass-clown? And then I did it again?! In the words of PJ O’Rourke, “What the fuck? What the fucking fuck?!” A distater both times. I think there’s only been one election where my candidate won and he wasn’t an embarassment One out of how many cases? I don’t even keep track of that.

    So looking at the results objectively, my vote has never counted. And looking at it subjectively, when I’ve been on the winning side my guy has been a disaster*. Best that I not vote at all!

    And no matter that my guy the disaster may well have been better than the other guy the catastrophe – getting to pick the disaster instead of the catastrophe just doesn’t speak well for the merits of representative democracy!

    So this time I decided to not reward one party over the other just for offering a slightly less shitty candidate. I did vote in three individual races. I voted for Daniel Webster – primarily because Alan Grayson had been so embarassingly contemptible. I voted for Pam Bondi for state Attorney General. I really didn’t care one way or the other, but a friend of mine thnks she hot in a dominatrix-y kind of way, so I voted for her for my friend’s prurient interest. And I voted in a local county mayor race for strictly local reasons. (I did vote on the ballot initiatives.) But again, none of my votes mattered.

    So I really don’t see, in even a non-cynical way, how my voting or not voting will effect anything at all. Hell, they don’t even use the voter rolls for jury duty anymore (they use the driver’s license lists instead) so it doesn’t even impact whether or not I sit in judgement of my fellow citizens. (Not that any lawyer will ever sit me for a jury anyway.)

  17. amba12 said,

    At the moment Western civilization looks a lot like a Ponzi scheme.

    YES. You’ve put your finger on something vital, there.

    As for people wanting to live near where they come from: I got the hell out of Chicago. It’s a fine place to come from and there are many people I love there, and I’m happy to visit. But it was as geographically oppressive to me as, say, New Mexico is exhilarating.

  18. amba12 said,

    Ice: you make the argument for nihilism almost cheerful. Certainly there’s a lot of energy in it. Maybe you’ve found your metiér. A disgust-powered vehicle. Wouldn’t that be the ultimate — not green, black — energy source!

  19. Icepick said,

    Since you cannot, by yourself, eliminate world hunger, should you therefore refuse to donate to your local food bank? Because you cannot lift the entire world out of poverty, should you therefore completely decline to help out those in need? (You could not donate to one cause because you are focusing your efforts on others. But that’s a different discussion.)

    Any of those rationalizations may make it easier to sleep at night when you have done nothing. But they ignore the fact that almost anything that is accomplished is done by lots of individuals contributing a small (probably very small) amount to the total effort.

    Oooo, now this is a case for cynicism!

    Let’s take the issue of the hungry. There are some hard truths here. The most important is that no one starves because of a lack of food.* Peopl starve in this world for two reasons: either they have bed personal habits (drug abuse, for example), or someone has decided that they should starve. People didn’t starve in Eithiopia back in the 1980s because of drought and such. Drought was one proximate cause for the lack of local food production. The reason for the famine, though, was the civil war in that country. At least some of the folks running the war were of the opinion that famine suited their needs better than the opposite. You can give all you care to give to Live Aid – the better solution would have been to send in a few divisions of Army and Marines to settle the political issues.

    The primary purpose of government is to ensure the food supply – production, storage, rationing, seeing that food shortfalls in one area are compensated for with stored supplies or imports from elsewhere, etc, etc. Look where governments (as opposed to merely picking one person to be in charge) arose – they all arose in conjuction with agriculture. The sole reason for agriculture is to produce a surplus to store against times of scarcity. And the purpose of government is to protect and distribute the surplus.

    DOn’t believe me? Most of the basic functions of civilization can be traced to an agricultural begining. Math? Needed to measure how much food there is, and how to divy it up, including how much to set aside for next year’s planting and how much to keep as insurance. Applied math in the form of surveying to determine who owns what. Construction and eventually engineering to store the food. Sanitation to insure that the food doesn’t get contaminated. Some chemistry and biology to keep the food from going to waste. (Beer! Bread!) And the ability to organize large numbers of people both to produce the food and to defend it from those that would steal it. And that last gets us to bureaucracy – both the boon and bane of any worthwhile civilization. (It’s no accident that every civilized person has complained about bureaucrats – and that for all that bitching we have always had and will always have those same pain-in-the-ass bureaucrats.)

    But the whole shooting match of civilization is to ensure the people don’t starve. When it happens to an individual, that’s probably that person’s fault. When it happens to many people, that’s a breakdown in government, or a true catastrophe. So, if you want to ensure everyone eats, then work at producing a surplus of food,and make certain your government functions well. Working at the food bank isn’t likely to help all that much. And donating to international relief funds? Worthless. How much money has been poured into Haiti? Has it done any damned good at all? The answers are “Lots” and “Not much”. Until Haiti is well-governed none of it will matter. I would advise against holding one’s breathe.

    Now for the latter part.

    Any of those rationalizations may make it easier to sleep at night when you have done nothing. But they ignore the fact that almost anything that is accomplished is done by lots of individuals contributing a small (probably very small) amount to the total effort.

    Very little is accomplished by lots of individuals making small contributions wily-nily. Only organization will allow for anything effective to be done. One man came invent the necessary ideas to save hundreds of millions or even billions from starvation. But Norman Borlaug’s ideas could only be implemented and scaled up with the help of organizations and money.

    So forget working at food banks. If you want to help the hungry folk in the world support an agronomy program at your local university. And find out who has organizational skills and put them in charge. Everything else is feel good nonsense.

    So the cynic’s argument is this – how are you supposed to do any damned good if you don’t even know what constitutes effective action?

    * There will be some minor exceptions to this, but donating to food banks isn’t likely to help out that poor starving individualist living out in the middle of nowhere for personal reasons. If you’re living in a wilderness and run out of food, that’s largely your own problem.

  20. Icepick said,

    Ice: you make the argument for nihilism almost cheerful. Certainly there’s a lot of energy in it. Maybe you’ve found your metiér. A disgust-powered vehicle. Wouldn’t that be the ultimate — not green, black — energy source!

    I once had an idea for a blog. I would have called myself The Contrarian. I’d invite people to submit ideas to me so that I could tell them why they were wrong. The fun part would have been waiting for people to send me what I had already written. I would have then told them why THAT was wrong too. Equal opportunity contrary denialism! I thnik I was going to call it “Let me tell you why you’re wrong!”

    When I was younger I was truly exceptional at such displays. It’s a good thing I didn’t go into law or politics. (Good for the rest of you, a wash for me. I didn’t get rich and powerful, but at least when I’m dirty I can wash it off in the shower. No small thing that.)

  21. Icepick said,

    Sorta same thing with littering and road rage — thinking you may as well act like an asshole since the great majority of people do.

    Oh, I think a cynic can be fine with not littering and not road raging(?). For example, I don’t litter for aesthetic reasons and politeness. I find litter unattractive and I consider it rude to just throw my trash around wily-nily. (But you won’t find me wandering up and down the side of the highway picking up other people’s trash either. Not unless there’s court-ordered community service involved.) I don’t commit acts of raod rage because I live in a bad neighborhood, and don’t want to look for additional opportunities to get shot. I don’t think any of those reasons are antithetical to cynicism.

  22. wj said,

    Ice, I wasn’t saying that you should necessarily work in a food bank to help relieve hunger. I was saying that it was not a valid excuse to not do so to say my little effort wont’s solve everything, so I won’t bother to do anything. That’s not the same as saying, as you do, that the real problem of hunger is somewhere else, so you would prefer to put your energies into addressing that (the root of the problem). That, IMHO, is a valid reason not to help at a food bank.

    As is saying that you think that there are other, more important, problems that deserve your time and energy. I’m not arguing about the relative merits of various problems. Just saying that having other priorities is different than not bothering to do anything because you can’t solve the whole problem. Which, as I understood it, was the original issue.

    As for not voting, sure, the chances are that a single vote will not count. But there is no way to know that until the votes are counted. Any time an election turns on a fraction of 1 percent of the total vote (e.g. my Congressional race this year), it’s impossible to guess ahead of time just how close it will be. And, if lots of people take the “my vote won’t matter” approach, suddenly the whole complexion of a district can change. For instance, I’m in a district gerrymandered to be safe Republican. And yet, the Democrat won, albeit narrowly — sure things sometimes aren’t quite as sure as expected.

  23. wj said,

    I don’t think any of those reasons [aesthetic reasons and politeness] are antithetical to cynicism.

    I have to say that politeness is antithetical to cynicism. Unless you are in a situation where lack of politeness may result in assault or something…in which case, I would argue that it’s not politeness but self-preservation that governs your behavior. Being polite involves, at its core, caring about the feelings of others. And I can’t really see how a cynic would do so.

  24. amba12 said,

    donating to international relief funds? Worthless. How much money has been poured into Haiti? Has it done any damned good at all? The answers are “Lots” and “Not much”. Until Haiti is well-governed none of it will matter. I would advise against holding one’s breathe.

    That is absolutely true. Unless there is a certain level of accountable, functioning institutions in a country, any money sent will go straight through a hole in its pocket into some corrupt official’s Swiss bank account.

  25. amba12 said,

    However, where I disagree about individual actions making a difference is in small behaviors that affect the quality of life in fairly big ways — littering and road rage being my examples. I never litter because I hate it when other people do, but I’m as susceptible to road rage as the next guy (gender neutral).

    It used to crack me up that people would yell, cut in, even shoot each other rather than give ground on the road; then they come, say, to the entrance to the Holland Tunnel where there’s an official alternate merge, and the same people would alternate as demurely as participants in a minuet. There’s a term I can’t remember at the moment — it’s sort of engineering for human behavior, recognizing that you can’t change human nature and instead setting up the circumstances that elicit the best behavior. The word will come to me.

  26. amba12 said,

    There is a great tradition of cynics who are cynics precisely BECAUSE they care.

  27. Icepick said,

    Being polite involves, at its core, caring about the feelings of others. And I can’t really see how a cynic would do so.

    The vast majority of the time I am polite for one of two reasons: I am dealing with those I care about, or that I can catch more flies with honey. That first reason isn’t cynical, but the second certainly is. After that I prefer to be polite just because I prefer to act that way. I stopped caring about almost everybody else a long time ago. (And on this I _am_ speaking as a cynic.)

  28. Icepick said,

    Just saying that having other priorities is different than not bothering to do anything because you can’t solve the whole problem. Which, as I understood it, was the original issue.

    I would say that most people shouldn’t bother trying to solve any problem because most can’t even properly define what the problem is. And that goes for just about every problem you can name.

  29. amba12 said,

    I am coming to this conclusion as well. At best, attempts to solve problems (especially enthusiastic, “inspired” attempts) always create new problems.

    I guess we are destined or doomed to try. The definition of the Fall is that we stepped outside nature and started trying to improve on it. But we must expect unintended consequences. The entire history of the human species is a cascade of unintended consequences, of coping with what we ourselves have wrought.

    I like the Taoist perspective, myself.

  30. Icepick said,

    However, where I disagree about individual actions making a difference is in small behaviors that affect the quality of life in fairly big ways — littering and road rage being my examples.

    At some point it’s about who one wants to be. One can be a cynic yet not wish to be obnoxious. In fact, that’s the biggest piece of advice I will have for my daughter: “Don’t be a Richard.”

  31. Icepick said,

    Actually I think a bit from WKRP in Cincinnatti covers it:

    Andy: Got any ideas?
    Johnny: No, I try not to have any ideas. They only lead to complications.

    Johnny: Suppose I give you a great idea. Let’s suppose that this great idea works and the station actually starts making a lot money. Do you know what that can lead to, Andy? Memos. Before you know it, assigned parking spaces. Then chrome furniture, and lots of paintings of wistful children with big eyes. Believe me, I’ve seen it happen before!
    Andy: All right, don’t get all shook up, you don’t have to help.
    Johnny: But don’t you see? No one should!!

  32. Icepick said,

    I guess we are destined or doomed to try.

    It’s that we keep breeding a new batch of idiots, and being human they all have to learn for themselves. I mean, we did, right? ;)

  33. amba12 said,

    TV Taoism. Works for me!

    “Confucius came to Chou to consult old Lao Tzu about ritual.” [and spoke of the heroes of old …]

    “Lao Tzu said, All those men of whom you speak have long since mouldered away with their bones.
    Only their words remain.
    When a capable man’s time comes, he rises; if it does not, then he wanders wearily around.
    I have heard that good merchants keep their goods buried deeply to make it look as if they had none,
    and that a superior man whose character is perfected will feign stupidity.
    Give up, sir, your proud airs, your many wishes, mannerisms and extravagant claims.
    They won’t do you any good, sir!
    That’s all I have to tell you.”

    Introduction to the Tao Te Ching

  34. Icepick said,

    Here’s more evidence of the Great Western Civilization Ponzi Scheme

    Federal Reserve May Be `Central Bank of the World’ After UBS, Barclays Aid

    You know, if I had access to this kind of stuff….

  35. wj said,

    There is no evil in trying and failing. Evil is seeing a problem and declining to even try to do anything.

    As noted above, one person cannot focus on everything. But to decline to do anything about anything? That’s a different story.

    Your mileage may vary.

  36. PatHMV said,

    Annie, I think the term you are looking for may be human factor engineering.

    There’s also the recognized discipline of traffic psychology.

    This post should be considered for the “most diverse comment thread ever” award, it’s touched on so many topics!

  37. amba12 said,

    I remember now, Pat, it was euthenics.

  38. PatHMV said,

    Interesting, never heard that word before. Thanks!

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