Tuesday, April 26, 2005

The Grass is Always Greener, But Not in My Yard

Spring greening never ceases to amaze me. The grass is a sad shade of tan/yellow/olive all winter, and every April it springs back to life. As it turns to a lovely shade of deep green I think, “All right! The lawn’s greening up!” A few weeks later, “Hey, that grass is getting long out there.” Then, in early May, “Okay, where’s the dog?”

I have an idea that could solve our lawn mowing problems and provide us with delicious food at the same time: a grass-eating species of lobster. Think about it. None of the herding problems of cattle. Just a bunch of cute little crustaceans crawling in our yards, scaring away neighborhood children, living on nothing but grass and the occasional toe.

As we get out our mowers and give ourselves heart attacks trying to get them started, let’s practice good mower maintenance. Think of your mower as a very small car that you can’t drive anywhere, yet still requires upkeep. You know, like a Yugo. With proper care, it will give you years of use as you cut down and throw away the nice green grass you’ve worked so hard to attain.

First of all, sharpen the blades. My method is to turn the mower on its side, remove the mounting bolt with a wrench, and sharpen both blades with a medium-grade flat file. Then I fetch the first aid kit to treat my lacerations.

Scrape away accumulated grass from the underside. I always get large chunks of dark green matter that look suspiciously like my wife’s spinach casserole.

Finally, change the engine oil. Look for a drain plug; if there isn’t one, you will have to turn the mower upside down in order to drain the oil. Check the owner’s manual to see what kind of oil to refill with. Don’t ask me – I wouldn’t know motor oil from olive oil. It’s one of the reasons my wife doesn’t let me cook anymore.

Have a fantastic spring! May you enjoy a large tax refund and a deep green lawn. Maybe I’ll use my tax refund to buy Astroturf.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

What’s So Great About Being Smart?

I think that, regardless of so-called “intelligence”, we are all idiots. Every last one of us. The word idiot comes from the Greek idiotes, which means “private citizen”. Basically it refers to the masses, the general population. And you know what? We are idiots. We watch inane television programs and pollute the environment and vote criminals into office. We imprison soldiers for taking naked photos of terrorists, but let ex-football players get away with double murder. We cut funding for education and veterans benefits, but award huge cash settlements to people who spill hot coffee on themselves. We are shallow, impulse-buying pinheads who think we are so cool and trendy for drinking cappuccino instead of regular coffee. We are frigging idiots. Oh sure, occasionally someone has a brief insight and invents something useful, such as the printing press or beer, but for the most part we trudge through our mundane lives, obtaining our food, clothing and medicine at retail establishments because we are completely unable to produce them ourselves. All of us should rightfully be dead, because we are nothing more than random, selfish, disease-prone organisms who use up resources and churn out offspring who also rape the environment.

Why are we such idiots? Well, our brains don’t want to think any more than they have to. They want to conserve energy and store only the minimum amount of information necessary to maintain quality of life. Therefore, across the globe, the knowledge base of the average person is generally limited to:

1) I need food and shelter.
2) My religion is the one and only correct one.
3) Paris Hilton is a spoiled, no-talent whore.

This is why humanity consists of large populations of not-so-smart but well-adjusted folks, with a few very smart but neurotic thinkers. Smart people are more aware of bad things and are thus less happy, while ignoramuses are blessed with bliss. Smart people resent this, adding to their frustration about life. They also hate seeing the indigent poor multiplying like rabbits, because the people who are least able to raise children are doing it the most.

Some smart individuals get so fed up with the morons around them that they join groups that let in only smart people. You’ve probably heard of MENSA. It was founded at Oxford University in 1946. Your IQ must be in the top 2% in order to be accepted. That might sound unreasonable, but MENSA is actually the least discriminating of all the high-IQ societies. Intertel and the Top One Percent Society (TOPS) require you to be in the top 1%. The International Society for Philosophical Enquiry, the Triple Nine Society, the One-in-a-Thousand Society (OATHS), the IQuadrivium Society, and the Glia Society demand IQs in the top one-tenth of one percent.

It gets worse. The Prometheus Society and Ultranet take in only people whose IQs are in the top 0.003% (that’s 1 in 30,000). Want to join the Mega Society? If so, your IQ must be in the one millionth percentile. Same with the Pi Society (in 2001 they had 12 members). The piece de resistance is the Giga Society, founded in 1996. You must be in the billionth percentile, which means that a grand total of 7 people on the planet would be eligible to join.

Now picture these groups’ meetings: a few eggheads sitting around mentally masturbating about what the 147th digit of pi is, inventing new numbers, and patting each other on the back for being so smart. Never mind that they have no friends and that all throughout their school years their nerdiness got them beaten up by everyone, including their teachers.

To all you super-smart people I say this: Okay, you can figure out abstract problems on paper (or in your head), but can you keep a marriage together? You can divide 45,287,012 by 37 without the use of a calculator, but can you change a tire? Non-intellectual parts of the brain are important too. High-IQ people are smart only in selected areas. All the math skills in the world won’t help you be a good parent or get dates. Hitler was intelligent.

I think it’s time we came up with a more practical measure of intelligence – one that would more reliably predict how mentally equipped a person is to function in the world. Let’s call it Ability Quotient (AQ). For example, if you’re cynical about get-rich-quick schemes and you refuse to answer your wife’s Catch-22 “How do I look?”, then you have a pretty high AQ. However, if you believe that someone you met in a chat room really is a gorgeous 21-year-old who wants to meet you, then your AQ isn’t much greater than your shoe size.

Maybe scientists could develop a product that makes people smarter. This way, when you get together with friends, instead of sharing a beer (which makes you stupider), you could split a big bottle of Smart Juice:

“Look, I got some Smart Juice. It makes you smarter.”
“Yeah, sure.”
“Here, try some.”
“Okay ... Ugh! That’s motor oil!”
“See? You’re getting smarter already.”