The Three Horsemen of Stupidity

Lots of folks moan and carry on about the American education system. Some people hate public schools, envisioning children goose-stepping about while befouling the flag and hurling curses at a God they are taught doesn’t exist. Private schools chafe others who see them as elitist enclaves filled with privileged children who don’t need educations anyway because of their family largesse. Of course, there are the home-schoolers, helicoptering above their kids hoping not only for a better education but also to insulate their young angels from the evils of society, i.e., other children taught in one of the aforementioned alternatives.

All agree, to some extent, that we can do better. We can achieve higher and produce generations of intellectual titans conquering the world by the sheer force of their intelligence. Maybe that’s true. Maybe not. We ignore the sad, brutal reality that a very real learning disability yokes many Americans to the oxen of mediocrity. This demon has not been conquered despite many years, centuries even, of effort.

I want to be clear about something up front here. I’m not talking about what most people call learning disabilities. For example, I once knew a guy who had dyslexia. That’s a bad deal to be sure. It makes it hard to learn to read and, once you do learn to read, it affects your comprehension. Fortunately, there are ways to compensate for this–at least to some extent.

I also know that ADHD and ADD affect people, too. Hey, if you can’t pay attention, learning is going to be pretty darn tough. Future generations may question whether addicting our children to amphetamines was the best remedy, but at least we recognize the problem.

There are people, too, with identifiable organic brain impairments which impede their ability to learn. Genetic and injury-induced impairments are well-recognized today, and we don’t expect these folks to achieve at the same level as those of us fortunate enough to have avoided the chance occurrence of such maladies.

Of course, mental illness is no impediment to learning. John Forbes Nash and The Unabomber are but two examples of brilliance developed through the fog of grievous mental illness. As we all know, serial killers are often intelligent, too.

No, I’m talking about a daunting condition which has eluded scientific treatment and continues to hamper many of us. Stupidity and its three horsemen: dumbness, ignorance and laziness. These three elements in some combination can result in chronic, untreatable and incurable stupidity.


Some people are smarter than others. I’d say everyone agrees with that. A corollary to that is that some people are dumber than others, too. Now, I’ve hit a hot button. Not everyone agrees with that. It’s become unfashionable–if not downright cruel–to acknowledge the obvious: Some folks just ain’t all that bright. We all know this but are hesitant to point it out, at least not loudly. Everyone should be able to do as well as everyone else.

I suppose when we acknowledge that some are smarter than we are, we can still cling to the idea that we, too, are smart–just not that smart. Then we can derisively note that those of superior intelligence are just plain weird. We’re smart, too, but not weird smart.

We all are less smart than someone. I have son who is smarter than I am. He is. It’s the same as him being taller than I am. It’s a fact. He studies math at a major university and is clearly far beyond my intelligence. His youngest brother laments that the oldest “sucked all the brains out of our family.” Perhaps, but it’s undeniable that he’s smarter than the rest of us. Being dumb, though, is much different from paling in comparison to someone brilliant. Dumb is dumb, regardless of the context.

We aren’t supposed to say people are dumb, of course. Perhaps they learn at a slower pace or differently or not at all. We’ll readily send the smartest kids to special or advanced classes or schools. When I was a kid, we had “remedial reading” which was pretty much an educational wasteland of some sort or that’s how I viewed it. I don’t even know if they do that anymore. It’s probably good that we don’t have dumb classes in school (assuming that’s true). School is hard enough as it is, I suppose.  I’m not talking about Special Education.  That’s a good thing, even though I was a bit frightened of the Special Ed room in high school (see my comments below about ignorance).

What happens when a child fails at school? The school or the teacher is blamed. If they would do better, so would little Johnny. Maybe, we blame the parents. But we don’t blame Johnny. We dismiss the possibility that Johnny is just a dullard. Maybe he’s dumb. Plenty of adults are. It only makes sense that kids would be, too.

If you’re dumb, learning is tough. Why? Well, you’re dumb. That about sums it up. If you’re dumb, you might not even understand why you need to learn something. Oh, someone can explain it to you, but you probably won’t get it. It just won’t make sense. You might think: “Why is that weird nerd telling me that?” or “Hey, there’s something shiny!” Lots of cloudy thinking will confuse you.

How do you know if you’re dumb? Hell, I don’t know. I’m smart, but not that smart. Even if I could explain it, you probably couldn’t understand it, anyway. We used to rely on IQ tests, but those are now out of fashion as inaccurate, culturally biased or just plain wrong. I suspect no one likes them because they demonstrate that some people are more intelligent than others. Then again, I’m not smart enough to know for sure. Not dumb, mind you, but not that smart, either. If you even suspect that you’re dumb, you probably aren’t. You have to have at least a modicum of intelligence to know that others are smarter than you are.

By the way, we took IQ tests in high school. I did alright on mine. One of my friends scored a 78. Another friend looked it up in what had to be an out-dated medical book. 78 was “high moron.” Oh, how we laughed. We would occasionally greet him with “Hi! Moron!” Like I said, school is tough enough, I guess.

I do think there are some tell tale signs of dumbness:

  • The Look: You’ve seen it. It’s a dull-eyed, vacant look. It’s in the eyes. There just isn’t much going on back there. You’re never sure if anything you say registers. Don’t worry. It doesn’t. George W. Bush has the look. So does Joe Biden. Oddly, George H.W. Bush doesn’t have it. Neither does Dick Cheney. Brad Pitt? Yep. George Clooney? No. Britney Spears? Oh, yeah. Madonna? Oddly again, no.
  • Disdain for the intelligent: “He ain’t got no common sense.” This is the calling card of the dumb. Desperate to denigrate the smart, they point to highly valued “common” sense as the true measure of intelligence. Sure, Einstein may have revolutionized centuries of scientific thought, but he lacked common sense. Just remember, the translation of this statement is: “That person is immeasurably more intelligent than I am, perhaps to the point that we belong to different species.”
  • He’s a nerd: A variation of the point above, this type of comment is designed to point out that you, although quite dumb in comparison, possess certain invaluable social traits lacking in your more intelligent counterparts. This is likely true. Why? Because the smart people are in the minority. If they were just average, they’d be hanging out with your ilk. Remember: The nerds are the ones that will sign your pay checks. Be nice to them.
  • Practiced Illiteracy: I’m not talking about literal illiteracy. Hell, if you can’t read, that’s a problem but fixable. Practiced illiteracy is the conscious choice not to read. No books, magazines or even newspapers. You might even call pornographic magazines “dirty books.” You’ll only look at the pictures in those, anyway. The advent of the internet gives you access to the same content without the need to be slowed down by type face. You’ll rarely read the newspaper, even then just the headlines. Reading is for nerds. (See point above RE: Nerds).
  • What do other people say? If you are often called names like dumbass, idiot, moron, fool, slack jaw, dullard, wastrel, lunkhead, muscle head, numbskull, nit wit, twit, git, pea brain, lame brain, brain-damaged, stupid, imbecile, simpleton or dolt, you’re probably dumb. Why else would people call you all those names?

When I was a young attorney, I took the deposition of a psychiatrist in a workers compensation case. The doctor described the claimant as suffering from “PPP.” When I asked what that was, the doctor said: “Piss poor protoplasm.” The doctor’s point was that this young man didn’t have the gray matter to do much in life. Sad, but true. He was just plain dumb.

(As a totally unrelated aside, that doctor was the ugliest person I’ve ever seen. He was the kind of ugly where you stare to try to figure out if he had some accident or cranial-facial anomaly. I don’t think he did. He was just ugly. I digress….).

If you’re dumb, you may be able to compensate for it to some degree, unless you fall prey to the other Horsemen.


“Ignorance is bliss” said someone named Thomas Gray in a pretensious-sounding work called Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College.  Dumb is different that ignorant. Smart people can be ignorant. Despite marrying me, my wife is smart, but she’s ignorant of history. She doesn’t like history and makes a concerted effort to avoid it. I could tell her that Chester Arthur was Bea Arthur’s real name before Bea’s sex-change, and my wife might believe. This isn’t because she’s dumb. She’s never tried to learn these things. She’s just ignorant (I mean that in the nicest way, of course).

I, too, am ignorant of such things as automobile mechanics. I understand the basic workings of the internal combustion engine, but that’s about it. When I look under the hood of my car, I get confused and a bit overwhelmed. Perhaps I could learn about it, I just don’t want to try. On the other hand, I have an encyclopedic knowledge of baseball history. Does that benefit me in any way? No, but it tells me that I can’t be dumb if I can remember all that minutia.

Ignorance, sadly, holds us all back to some extent. We readily recognize such vile things as racism or my fear of the Special Education room as being the product of ignorance or even dumbness. I submit that ignorance is a common thread binding us all. For me, it’s auto mechanics. For my wife, history and basic cooking skills. For you, it might be sports. Here’s the rub: For the dumb, it’s all kinds of stuff: Politics, religion, science, health, hygiene, math, world events, child care–the list is endless. The dumber you are the more likely you are to be ignorant of things. Sorry, but that’s just how it is.

The more ignorant you are the more likely you are to do something dumb. Here in Kentucky, stealing copper is quite popular, so much so that some thieves will steal electrical wiring. Now, one can persuasively argue that this is just dumb. It’s probably also a sign of gross ignorance. Electrical wiring often, by definition, carries electricity. Electricity, for all the good it does, can kill you. You need to know things like this before you steal stuff carrying electricity.

Stay ignorant about enough topics and pretty soon you’re stupid. Sorry, but that’s how it goes.

Most us, me included, write off our ignorance to lack of interest. If I’m not interested in something, why learn about it? That’s a pretty decent point, but it leads to my next topic.


Laziness is dumb’s lazy brother-in-law. Laziness gets a short shrift when discussing learning disabilities. Don’t underestimate the power of laziness. Laziness can neutralize intelligence and breed ignorance like a pen full of rabbits.

The lazier you are the less likely you are to learn anything. It’s just not worth the effort. As with ignorance, you do not have to be dumb to be lazy. Many smart folks are lazy, too. In fact, they can use their intelligence to half-ass their way through life. “Hey, if I can be average with minimal effort why wear myself out to be exceptional? Now, what’s on TV?” After awhile, your laziness and ignorance will lead to outright stupidity.

Sadly, I have suffered from laziness. Emptying the dishwasher, for example, is a daunting task for me, to the point that I am ignorant of where all the dishes go. Now, I’m not so dumb that I can’t figure it out, but it’s difficult because of my laziness.

The truly lazy have lost their ability to learn, if they ever had any. I have another son who likes to lie on the couch and watch television. School work is to him as the dishwasher is to me. His high school career has consisted of  gradually dumbing down his schedule to the point where watching television does not affect his grades. He doesn’t seem dumb to me, but it’s hard to tell, really.  His learning disability is laziness but stupidity could be in his future.

What do you do about being lazy? Getting up off your ass and doing something is a good start. At least that’s what my Dad thought.


If you’re smart, you may have noticed that this post is bereft of citations or any sign of research. That’s true, but it’s not because I’m dumb. It’s a blog, and I don’t have to do all that. So, I’m just lazy and possibly ignorant.

I maintain–and believe scientists would agree–that stupidity remains the number one learning disability in our country. Why do I say that? Because no one else will say it, even though in our heart of hearts we all know it’s true. If you’re stupid, that’s a hurdle that’s almost impossible to clear.

If you’ve managed to read this entire inane post, I have good news. You’re probably not dumb or you would have lost interest when you noticed there were no pictures. You’re also slightly less ignorant (maybe). And you’re not so lazy that you won’t at least read something. Congratulations.

© 2013

The Flu Blues

I don’t have the flu–at least not yet.  My wife does.  So does my 10-year-old son.  My other sons–17 and 19–also don’t have it.  My 17-year-old rarely leaves the basement and, when he does, it is usually out the back door.  I find this habit both annoying and disquieting, but now I embrace it as preventative health care.  My oldest son is home from college on Christmas break.  If he can avoid the spreading virus for the next 24 hours, he will be on his way back to Pittsburgh.  He attends Carnegie Mellon University, the alma mater of such diverse personalities as Andy Warhol, John Forbes Nash and Lenny and Squiggy of Laverne & Shirley fame.  His academic rigors can ill afford to be interrupted by disease.  On my advice, he is staying away from his childhood home except to pack his belongings and flee.

How bad is this flu?  Pretty bad.  My 10-year-old, normally an energetic cuss, has been rendered almost immobile.  My wife, too, has been felled, for the time being at least.  The good news is that the horrid virus has not diminished her ability to bark orders.  Thus, our home will continue to run like a well-oiled machine.

I now face a conundrum. My office is less than two miles from home, making it an oasis from the disease around me.  I must, of course, occasionally visit them while they are sick.  How can I make enough of an appearance to still be engaged as the titular head of the household, yet protect myself as any sane person would?

Before proceeding, you should know that the flu fascinates me a bit.  Several years ago I read The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History by John M. Barry.  It is an excellent book about the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918.  THAT was a bad flu, killing in the neighborhood of 40 million people, including 600,000 in one month in the U.S. Since then, I’ve read a lot of material about the flu.  If I wanted to appear brainy, I could rant about various flu strains, antigen drift, corona virus and other minutia.  But it all comes down to this:  The flu comes in many forms, changes constantly, is highly contagious and incurable.  The good news, as Barry notes in his book, is that–even its deadlier forms–it’s just the flu.  It won’t kill you.  Probably.  Now, if you’re elderly, it can lead to pneumonia which no old person wants.  Bad stuff there.  Much worse than the flu.

How do you know if you have the flu?  Oh, there are many symptoms.  Here is a simple test:  Are you coughing like you have Black Lung and do you feel like crap?  If so, you may have the flu.

Even though I won’t pretend to be a doctor, I do want to clarify something.  There is no stomach flu.  There are viruses which will cause unimaginable gastrointestinal disruption and strip you of your dignity.  You can be like I was about year ago.  Start feeling a little weird in your stomach and then–BOOM!–puking pizza through your nose for an hour.  But, that’s not the flu.  Could be a virus. Maybe it’s bacteria, i.e., food poisoning.  Just don’t call it the flu.  The flu is the flu.  If you say you have the stomach flu, it makes as much sense as saying you have a facial hernia.

Anyway, back to me (as if we ever left that topic to begin with).  Once the disease hit, I had to think fast to protect myself.  I considered several options before settling on one:


Like any animal, fight or flight is my reaction to terror.  In this case, flight is the only reasonable option.  My initial plan was to get a room at the Hampton Inn across the highway from my home.  It’s close to my office and home.  I could stay there until the trouble passes, plus feign immediate availability for the sick.

I love Hampton Inn, by the way.  I travel a fair amount for work to many places that don’t have 5 Star Hotels.  Most areas do, however, have a Hampton Inn.  They are all pretty much the same.  Nice, clean rooms, pool, exercise room and free breakfast.  Good deal.

My wife shot down my running away plan.  I simply asked, “How bad would it be if I got me a room over at the Hampton and just brought you all stuff when you need it?”  Her answer:  “Very bad [cough, cough, cough].”


I have a friend who will occasionally come up with an idea for something.  He will call these ideas “Plan Q.”  Why?  I don’t know.  I considered calling this Plan Q, but–while a fine fellow–he is a litigious sort who would likely take umbrage at this.  So, I call this Plan B.

Here are the steps of Plan B:

1.  Wife and Son retreat to the master bedroom of our home on the second floor (now called the “Phlegm Chamber”),  It has a queen-sized bed, television, sofa, ample books and a bathroom.  In keeping with today’s lingo, we will call these wretched souls the “Ratchet.”

2.  Dry foodstuffs, MREs, liquids, medicine and supplies will have been previously stocked in the Phlegm Chamber.  This will include, but not be limited to, Theraflu, Tamiflu, Kleenex, NyQuil, Advil, Tylenol, magazines, newspapers and a legal pad in case they want to draw.

3.  Once the Ratchet are safely ensconced, duct tape will place along the door facing.  This will ensure that the deadly miasma produced by their constant breathing and coughing will remain contained within the Phlegm Chamber, unable to escape to the rest of the house, now known as the “Clean Zone.”

4.  Cell phones will be provided to allow text messaging and limited phone calls to me.  I will guarantee a response within two to three hours of any message left with me, unless I am napping.  In that case, I may respond the next day, if at all.

5.  The Ratchet will not be allowed in the Clean Zone until they have gone 24 hours without a fever.  This is a bit of gamble, because I’m not insane enough to check their temperatures myself.  However, if they venture out while still feverish, I’m sure there’s some app for constantly monitoring a rectal thermometer.  If not, I’ll get my egghead kid at Carnegie Mellon to invent one.

6.  Once the Ratchet are able to leave the Phlegm Chamber, they will immediately visit a doctor to confirm that they are no longer contagious.  Once this is confirmed in writing, they are free to venture about the Clean Zone wearing appropriate surgical masks until all coughing has subsided.  Since the Clean Zone is likely to be a bit messy, the Ratchet are then expected to help straighten up a bit.

The problem with Plan B, despite its ingenious detail, is that it requires cooperation from the Ratchet.  Thus far, that cooperation has been lacking.


The name Howard Hughes likely doesn’t mean much to young folks.  To people of a certain age, like me, his name conjures up the image of fabulous wealth, daring adventure and, of course, crippling lunacy.

Hughes made fortunes in the tool, film and aviation industries.  He once declared that his goal was to be the greatest golfer, pilot and film maker on Earth and the richest man in the world.  Except for golf, he could at various times have laid claim to all those titles.

When Hughes was in his 50’s, he developed, at the very least, serious obsessive-compulsive disorder.  Eventually, he retreated to one of his hotels, sitting in the dark, naked, watching the film Ice Station Zebra over and over.  He was so obsessed with germs that he wouldn’t wearing clothes or even bathe.  He covered his body in Kleenex and put the empty boxes on his feet.  His hair grew to his shoulders and beard to his chest.  He collected his bodily waste in jars.  He hired a staff of Mormons to serve him, because he believed them to be clean.  He had a good point about that.

A dramatic recreation of Howard Hughes's last days.

A dramatic recreation of Howard Hughes’s last days.

I’ve thought about adopting Hughes’s lifestyle, at least until the plague passes.  But, I’ll have to pass.  First, I’m concerned that I would quickly become enamored of living the life of a billionaire and not be able to return to my Regular Joe existence.  Second, being naked bothers me, especially in front of Mormons.  Finally, although it sounds like it would be effective defense against influenza, I suspect that I might expose myself to other equally deadly germs.


I’m left with an all-out defensive effort to protect myself.  Here are my tools:

  • MASKS:  I am wearing a surgical mask at all times.  Two, on occasion.  The downside is that I’ve discovered that I have foul breath.  My breathing also fogs up my reading glasses.

Your author fends off sure death.

  • GLOVES:  I’m wearing latex gloves.  That’s right–latex.  I don’t have a latex allergy.  Or a gluten allergy, either.  In fact, if they made latex gloves infused with gluten, I’d wear them just to prove what a bad ass I am.
  • HAND WASHING:  I’m washing my hands every minute or so–even with gloves on.  My skin is now like that of radiation burn victim, but I’m germ free.
  • LOOK, DON’T TOUCH:  This is simple.  Don’t touch anything. If you have to touch, use your elbows or feet.  The one exception is the remote control, of course.  You can scrub it with bleach and it’s as good as new.
  • BOILING:  Boil things.  You’d be surprised at how many things can be boiled.  Food, for example.  Toothbrushes. Shoes.  Some clothes.  Your hands.  When in doubt, boil it.  Caveat: It doesn’t work well with electronic devices.
  • MEDICINE:  Take all manner of medication.  If the Ratchet have prescriptions, take those.  Buy your own.  Just keep taking them.  Yes, the flu is incurable–as far as we know.  You might hit the right combination and win a Nobel Prize to boot.

This last plan, like many good ones, was born of desperation.  Yet, it has been remarkably effective so far.  Of course, the germs are everywhere, stalking me, crawling on me.  I am certain that all of this will ultimately fail me.  What now?  I wonder if Ice Station Zebra is on Blu-Ray?

© 2013

Going Green

I’m going green. That is to say that I might go green. It’s all the rage. President Obama is all for it. All my liberal friends want me to do it. I have tiny feet–the size of matchboxes–but I compensate for that with a gigantic carbon footprint. I like the environment, but if you’ve read this blog before you know I’m not a mountain man. I like the seasons, except for Fall and Winter. Fall is like a really crappy appetizer just before an even crappier meal.

So, I guess I should go green. Maybe I will, but I have some reservations.

Green isn’t usually associated with anything appealing. I hate eating greens. To be green with envy is bad. If you’re green as a gourd, you don’t know anything useful. Have you ever aspired to be a greenhorn? Of course not. Ever see someone sick in a cartoon? Green-faced. Green teeth are really gross, unless you’re talking about Old Green Teeth from Charlie Daniels’ classic, Uneasy Rider. Even Kermit the Frog sang that It Isn’t Easy Being Green. Indeed.

There is good green stuff, too. St. Patrick’s Day and the wearing o’ the green. I’ve drunk green beer. It was just like regular beer but made for really gross vomit. The Jolly Green Giant and the Hulk seem cool (although being associated with gigantism might be bad). Money is green, and I like money. But, when you take a close look at it, it’s not really all that green.

Where I grew up, we had the Harlan High School GREEN Dragons. I guess there were all kinds of dragons–red, black, brown and green. The city of Harlan must have been crawling with dragons at one time. I didn’t go to Harlan High School. I went to James A. Cawood High School. We were the Trojans, named after, of course, condoms. By the way, since folks at Harlan High School always thought they were better than us county kids, I’m sure someone will offer an explanation of why being the Green Dragons is a sign of their socioeconomic and intellectual superiority. Save it. Truly, no one cares. You’re from Harlan County. The rest of the world thinks you’re a toothless hay shaker, too. But, I digress.

James A. Cawood High School. Home of the Trojans. The gym was called the ConDome but only by me.

Back to being green. I think I have to go off the grid. In other words, I have to live like an animal but without any animal skills or instincts. Either I have to make my own electricity or do without. Doing without is a non-starter. I like TV. TV requires electricity, as does the Internet.

I don’t know how to make electricity. I guess I could use solar energy, if I knew what the hell to do with it. When I was in the 7th grade, I built a solar water heater for a science project. Actually, my brother designed it. I just built it. That’s a lie, too. He built it. I watched, though. It worked, if you consider the ability to turn cold water into tepid, room temperature water “working.” Like many inventors, I remain bitter at corporate America for crushing my innovation.

Actual photo of solar water heater I invented in the 1970’s. Note lukewarm water pouring out of the pipe on the lower right side.

I could build a windmill, I suppose. Then what? How do I hook it up to my TV? Would I have to live inside it like Frankenstein’s Monster? He didn’t really live in one, but he did die in one. I have no interest in that. Would I be like Don Quixote and think it was a dragon–a GREEN dragon, no doubt? You know what windmills are good for? Killing birds. I could have plenty to eat, depending on what kind are killed. Power lines kill a hell of lot more birds AND have the added advantage of cooking them in the process. Once again, green isn’t necessarily better.

There goes my TV!

Windmills also catch on fire sometimes, which would scare the hell out of me, especially if I’m living in one (see comments RE: Frankenstein’s Monster above). The biggest problem is that the wind doesn’t blow all that much around here, and Kentucky is near the bottom of states in “wind potential.” I want my TV.

The sad fate of the typical windmill dweller.

Toilets. I like indoor plumbing and flush toilets. The TOTO Neorest 600 is on my bucket list. I’m not composting human waste. This one is non-negotiable.

The Neorest 600. Life at its best.

Cars. This is another tough one. I like cars. Not just any cars but ones with internal combustion engines. Maybe I could drive an electric car, if they didn’t cost so much. Plus, none of them look cool. I can ride a bike, but bike riders annoy me. They jam up traffic, run stop signs and generally get in the way. Plus, they’re all on the dope. No thank you, Mr. Armstrong.

Then, there’s flying.  I fly on occasion, and I’m sure that’s not green.  I assume that burning huge amounts of jet fuel isn’t eco-friendly.  We used to have green air travel.  Airships, massive floating palaces.  They were like flying ocean liners.  They also did this:

The joys of green air travel. The landings could be tough.

I’ll pass.

Maybe I should just get a green job. I’m lawyer, and it’s not all that green, I suppose. I produce massive amounts of paper which kills trees and fills landfills. I use lights and computers. I drive a car–a lot. Maybe I should just buy an old manual Royal typewriter and set up my office in my bird-slaughtering, flammable windmill. Unfortunately, this would substantially reduce the green which I value most–$$$$.

At one time, I considered setting up an eco-friendly mammogram business to provide much-needed health care screening while reducing one’s carbon footprint. It never took off. I’ve still got my cardboard box with two holes cut out in it, just in case.

If you’ve read other posts of mine, you know I work in the coal industry. If you’re green, you think I’m evil, that I hate the environment and want to control the weather. Not true. I like the environment. I just don’t like being out in it all that much. If you do, more power (coal power, of course) to you. I’m happy for you. Almost everyone I know in the coal business likes to hunt and fish or play golf. That’s being green.

Oddly, many green people are not all that green themselves. They are downright dirty. They are brown. Don’t be brown if you’re green. Bathe regularly. Really bathe, too. Don’t do something like soak in a pool of your own urine (or anyone else’s, for that matter) or roll around in composted human waste and call that bathing. If I go green, I’m still showering quite a bit.

Green folks are very sensitive. Generally speaking, they don’t like to be made sport of. They get enraged, in fact. They get red in the face (not green). They tell you that you are awful for not being green, too. It’s like a form of racism. Imagine if you organized protests demanding that everyone be white. But…but…THAT’S NOT THE SAME THING!! some greenie screams about right now. Well, no it’s not. Not even close. I just said that to make them mad. See how easy it is? I once enraged a hippie with this blog. Hippies are green. Some greenie will get hair-lipped about this post. Lighten up. Not with lights, mind you. Those take electricity.

I guess I’m not meant to be green. My kids do have a penchant for not flushing the toilet. They’re not green, either–just nasty. I recycle at work, but the Byzantine rules about what stuff goes where are so confusing that it’s just not worth it.

If you’re off the grid, I salute you. Of course, if you are, you’re probably not reading this unless you’re staring over the shoulder of someone at Starbucks. If you’re also “brown,” that person knows you’re standing there on account of the green smell.

I don’t feel too bad. The green folks I know drive cars, fly in jets and use electricity just like I do. That’s not a criticism. I understand. We need all that stuff. Kermit was right. It isn’t easy being green.

© 2012

Zombies and the Coming Apocalypse

We are two days from the start of the third season of The Walking Dead. This makes me happy. First, I love TWD. Second, I believe it to be a realistic portrayal of a zombie apocalypse, assuming there is–or could be– such a thing.

Athletic, fleet-footed zombies as seen in the remake of Dawn of the Dead just aren’t believable. Face it–if zombies are just cannibalistic versions of Ray Lewis, the human race doesn’t stand a chance. Shuffling zombies lacking overt aggression are more realistic.

As I write this, it is October of 2012–the year of the Great Mayan Apocalypse. You know the story. The Mayans (whoever the hell they were) made a calendar which ran hundreds of years into the future. It abruptly stopped at December 21, 2012. Buzzer sounds. Game over.

Of course, this doom-saying ignores other possibilities. The guy who made the calendar may have just gotten tired. Maybe he was a lazy-ass. Could it be just a practical joke? One thing is for sure: He didn’t predict the end of the Mayans’ own civilization. Seems like that would have been a top priority. In any event, I’m willing to believe it’s going to happen. Maybe not on December 21, but soon.

Why do I believe this? My entire life I’ve been hearing that the end is nigh. Churches are big into that. When I was a kid, we were sure the Russians were going to blow us up. People say the President will do us in. The Mayans might have been on to something.

A couple of years ago, a preacher predicted the end of the world on May 21 (coincidentally, this was the day before my son’s 16th birthday. Had it come to fruition, I would have saved a lot on car insurance). That didn’t happen, evidently because the soothsayer in question misread the signs. Oh well, it’s easy to see how that could happen.

If preachers and Mayans can predict the end of the world, so can I. So, here goes. The world is going to end and sooner rather than later. Here’s what’s going to happen: Zombies. They’re going to be everywhere.

Yes, I’m willing to embrace the end of the world. Why? It’s not because I’m particularly religious. In fact, the Rapture, Tribulation, etc., sound awful to me. I’m totally unprepared. A Zombie Apocalypse, though, is do-able. Like a lot of folks, zombies fascinate me, and I’ve watched lots of zombie movies. I think I could deal with it.

I suspect that the zombies might not eat our brains (or any other part of us). I’ve never quite understood why they do that, unless it’s just because they are undead and generally effed up to the extreme. I suppose it’s because shuffling, stumbling, rotting corpses are gross but not really scary unless they eat you, too. Think about it. If they just staggered around in a glassy-eyed daze, it would be like a Grateful Dead concert. Disturbing? Maybe. Terrifying? Probably not. I guess we better stick with the eating thing.

Let’s be clear about one thing. This won’t be a religious deal. The zombies aren’t Christians, although I concede they are “born again.” Those of us left to battle them aren’t part of the great unwashed. We’re just non-zombies. Somewhere in the Bible it says we won’t know when the end is coming. So, it’s a bit heretical to predict the end in that context. And I’m no heretic, as far you know.

I know what you’re thinking: Hasn’t the zombie thing been done to death (so to speak)? Well, yes it has. But, it’s my prediction, and I want zombies.

How do we get zombies? There are many ways, of course. Secret government experiments, uncontrollable viruses, aliens, Bigfoot and many others. My zombies will just appear. No explanation. One day there will be no zombies. The next, we’ll be slap eat up with them.

Some people will be glad to see the zombies. After all, if a close friend or relative dies and then comes back, you’d be happy–right up until he or she tried to eat your head. It won’t take long to figure out that we’re in heaps of trouble.

Pity the winner of the Presidential election. How would you like to address the nation and tell everyone that we’ve got zombies everywhere? If Obama is re-elected, he’ll urge tolerance of the zombies. The good news is that they won’t need food stamps because of, you know, the brain-eating deal. If Romney wins, he’ll declare the zombies to be a scourge on society–possibly part of the 47% which will rapidly become the 99%.

Of course, some of us won’t become zombies. Me, for example. Why not? I don’t know. There’s always some sort of immunity to zombification. In my nightmare scenario, it works the same way. I’ll be immune just because it’s my story.

Even though this is my prediction and I WANT zombies, here are some things about zombies that bother me or that I don’t understand:

  • Zombies eat a lot. Two or three of them can eat a whole adult human. What about their–you know–bathroom needs? I guess they just unload in their clothes. In my mind, that makes them even worse.
  • Do they breathe? They make noises. I’m not doctor, but I think that requires some air. If they do breathe, why?
  • Do they sleep? I don’t think so, but I did see one movie where they did. Standing up, like horses or cows.
  • I guess they don’t procreate, which is a good thing on several levels.
  • Why do you have to destroy their brains to kill them? Their brains aren’t really doing a whole hell of a lot.
  • Do they ever “die” of natural causes? Usually, they seem to be rotting away. At some point, they’d just cease to exist.

These are just a few issues I have, but I’ll work around those for my End Times. Here is an outline of how the end will come:

  • One day, we wake up and zombies are just roaming around. It happens overnight. Everyone who dies just gets back up. No one crawls or digs out of their graves, though.
  • At first, it’s just weird. No one knows if they’re dead or just in some catatonic state.
  • Whatever regenerates them is contagious–like the flu only worse. If you catch it, you die, too. Then you pop back.
  • Pretty quickly, we know it’s a bad beat all the way around. The first clue is that the zombies are trying to eat people.
  • Within days, the zombies are everywhere. It becomes clear that they have to eat or they’ll just decay like a corpse. It’s a matter of survival. If they eat you, you’ll be back, too–assuming there’s enough left of you to do much.
  • It still requires a head shot to kill them.
  • Everyone who dies is subject to coming back. BUT, you come back as a zombie in the same shape you were in when you died. For example, if your spine is severed when you come back, then you’re a paralyzed zombie.
  • The CDC can’t do much. Because it’s spreading so fast, there’s no time for research. Everyone is eat up.
  • Maybe 1% of the population is immune. In the U.S., that means there are maybe 30 million healthy people versus 270 million starving zombies.
  • Because there are so few survivors, there is no scarcity of resources. Survivors aren’t becoming cannibals or savages. In fact, there is enough canned food alone in the country to feed everyone for years.
  • The good news is that the zombies DO have a scarcity of food. They eventually rot away if they don’t eat. This makes them more aggressive, but also levels the playing field for the rest of us. The bad news is that they don’t “starve” like the living. It takes much, much longer for them to deteriorate.
  • I’ll just ignore the bathroom thing. The idea of zombies deucing in their drawers is too much even for me.

After a few years, the survivors get the upper hand. The numbers of the zombies dwindle. Finally, there are just pockets of stragglers–dangerous as Hell but easy to pick off. Remember–the few number of survivors also means that there is PLENTY of ammo to go around.

Since the zombie disease is indiscriminate, the people left are just a hodge podge of society. We’re not really capable of rebuilding the world. For example, we don’t know how to pump oil, much less refine it. We’re not farmers, although we have to be to some extent. There is no money. No government. No medicine to speak of. We’re prone to all manner of disease ourselves. We’re back to hunting and gathering to some extent. It sucks.

Wait a second, this was supposed to be the END of the world. But my scenario isn’t really the end, is it? We’ve been terrorized by zombies, but we survived. That’s not the END. Damn. This is tougher than I thought. I gotta think about this for a few minutes.

Okay. AFTER the zombies die down to manageable number, the rest of us do our best to rebuild society. THEN, the Rapture comes. Scratch that. That won’t get rid of everybody.

Try this. Just when things start looking up, some dipshit accidentally sets off a huge nuclear bomb that he thinks is space ship. Nuclear winter comes. We all die. Nope. I don’t like that. It takes too long.

The zombies are dropping like flies. Things are getting a bit better. BOOM! An asteroid hits the Earth. Since none of the survivors know how to keep track of such things, we don’t see it coming.

THE END. Literally.

© 2012