Sunday, August 28, 2011

Things That Chap My Ass About Going To The Fair

Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us.” 

                                                     – Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes


Is it just me?

Or are there a whole lot more stupid people than there used to be?

Ever heard of The Fermi Paradox?

Back in the late 1950’s, a brilliant physicist named Enrico Fermi asked a simple question:  Where are they?

He was talking about extraterrestrial civilizations. He was talking about life, specifically intelligent life, elsewhere in the universe.

See, there ought to be a lot of them, detectable extraterrestrial civilizations that is. 

Except we can’t detect even one.

So where are they?

Another brilliant scientist, this time a radio astronomer named Frank Drake, formulated an equation called appropriately enough The Drake Equation (It’s officially the Green Bank Formula but nobody calls it anything but The Drake Equation) that basically takes the number of detectable stars in the visible universe and calculates the number of those that might have planets. Then takes the number of those planet-forming stars and calculates the number that might have earthlike worlds.  Then the equation plugs in an estimate of how many of those earthlike worlds are places where life might have formed, next you guess how many of those life bearing worlds might have evolved intelligent life, and of those, how many might have given rise to civilizations advanced enough to broadcast intelligible signals into space and of those, how many might be close enough for us to detect here on earth (I think Drake missed a step, to wit: and of the signals reaching the earth how many will arrive when there is actually enough public interest in science that the politicians would actually fund the effort to look for them. But I digress).

Now, up until very recently, those numbers were almost all guesswork and so scientists were very conservative with the estimates they plugged in. Nevertheless, no matter how you sliced it, the final estimate of the probable number of intelligent alien civilizations in the observable universe still should have been “many.” And guesswork or not, Drake’s equation provided a place to start when we went looking for evidence of alien intelligence.  

Of course we haven’t found any.

And that’s really odd given that recent advances in astronomy indicate that those conservative guesses were way off – turns out that there are a hell of a lot more stars in the universe than Drake thought back in 1961.  And I mean a lot, orders of magnitude more, unbelievable bazillions more,  whole googolplexes of stars and galaxies and stellar clusters, more than we ever thought – you can thank the Hubble Space Telescope and other advanced instruments for that.  Not only that, but one hell of a lot more of those stars have planets – far far more so than even the most conservative astronomers would have guessed.  We’ve seen some of them, those alien worlds, circling far distant stars, and we’re finding more of them every single day.

The universe, it would seem, is chock a block with worlds that could very likely harbor life – including intelligent life. 

There should be alien civilizations everywhere.

And yet, we have detected not a single one. Not one.

So we return to Fermi’s paradox: Where the hell are they?


I have a theory.

Stupid people ate them.


See, there’s an idea within the study of evolution that goes something along the lines of: when a species achieves intelligence, it stops evolving. 

Intelligence may not be a long term survival characteristic. 

Yeah, I know. Bummer, Dude.

It’s entirely possible that evolution will discard intelligence right along with T-Rex’s little stubby arms and the Neanderthal’s huge giant, uh, brow ridge.

See, instead of survival of the most fit, instead of weeding out the chowderheads, instead of letting the silly stupid bastards be eaten by sabertoothed tigers as nature intended, civilization keeps them around.  And since stupid people aren’t good for much of anything except getting smart people killed, mostly what they do is lay around watching Jersey Shore, eating Pop Tarts, and making more stupid people. 

Once the process of evolution stops, sooner or later you’re going to end up ass deep in booger eating morons and sooner or later one of them gets access to the nuclear weapons and it’s curtains for civilization.

Look around, doesn’t it seem like there are a whole lot more stupid people than there used to be?

There you go.


We spent yesterday at the fair.

Now, the annual Alaska State Fair is one of my favorite events.

I look forward to it all year.

I love fairs and always have, all kinds.  I like those crappy little carnivals and big top circuses. I enjoy farmer’s markets.  I dig small town celebrations and big city fests.  But I especially love state fairs – that’s where it all comes together, deep fried sugary deliciousness accompanied by the aroma of livestock and the sound of the monster tractor pull. 

But, man, I tell you, every single year it just seems like there are more and more stupid people. 

I’m telling you, the goofy bastards are breeding like mayflies! 

For example, like the Drake Equation, you can calculate the number of people in the world, and from that you can figure out the percentage who live in Alaska, and from that the number who might come to the State Fair and from that the number that might have small children and from that the number that might be pushing strollers.

And just like the Drake equation, you’d be wrong by a factor of at least a billion.

Math doesn’t lie, folks, but it sure can exaggerate the hell out of things.

There are few irritations in the world I hate as much as I hate stroller pushers.  If ever there was a group of idiots that should have been eaten by sabertooth cats long before they were old enough to breed, it’s these mouth breathers.  Now when I say stroller pushers I’m talking about people who insist on pushing their kid around a crowded fair (or zoo, or concert, or store, or anywhere other people gather in large numbers) in Jaba The Hut’s Party Barge. As I mentioned on Facebook, what in the hell is the deal with strollers?  Everybody is pushing a stroller.  People who don’t have kids are pushing strollers. And the modern stroller is not your parents’ simple little rig of wheels, aluminum and cloth that could fold up and fit behind the seat of a Mini Cooper.  Oh hell no, this is the SUV generation, this is the Super Size Me generation, this is the Raging Age of Viagra where bigger is better and loves you bang bang long time.  I’m talking about those drooling hard-ons who think their worth is determined by the immense size of their vehicles.  The modern baby stroller is a massive all-terrain juggernaut of plastic and chrome, a thunderous behemoth of immense earth rattling splendor large enough to transport a fully grown circus elephant.  They plow through the crowd like a Russian nuclear powered icebreaker smashing through the North Pole icecap. God help you should you get hit by one, it’s like being run over by a cement mixer driven by Rosanne Barr with Louie Anderson riding shotgun.

Hell, a mere grazing blow is likely to leave you crippled for life. 

If you’re really lucky, a herd of these cud chewers will come to the fair together, arriving in a caravan of SUV’s the size of Sarah Palin’s Great American Greyhound Leviathan of Patriotic American Liberty.  They move through the crowd in regulation chevron formation like an army of unstoppable lumbering brontosauruses crossing some Jurassic savannah crushing all beneath their monstrous tread.   The best part is when they congregate into a large bellowing group (what is a herd of strollers called? A diaper? A drool? A rectum?) and block pedestrian traffic in all directions.

Then there’s the guy I like to call The Camel’s Hump. He’s the clueless miscreant with the backpack. Now I’m not talking about some little sissy fanny pack, or a modest day sling, or one of those small fair bags they hand out for free at the BP Booth. No, I’m talking about the asshole who is lugging a pack that makes you think he’s off to climb Mount Everest.  What in the name of the rampant six trunked elephant god does he have in there? A piano? A moving van?  He’s off balance and tottering through the crowd like some clockwork drunkard and just about the time he’s right next to you one of his  stroller pushing asshole friends shouts across the crowd at him and what happens?  He whirls around like a humpbacked mutant Russian ballerina from the Chernobyl Ballet Company and BLAMO! knocks you flying – usually into the stroller that was being pushed up your ass by the impatient brontosaur behind you.

While you’re laying there, on the cotton candy coated pavement, praying to the shiny elephant god not to be crushed beneath the grinding stroller wheels, you can get an excellent view of Redneck Under Belly Tattoo and the winking five fingered Belly Button Ring of Horror.  Always a treat.  Unfortunately bleach and a power drill are the only way you’re getting that vision out of your brain.

Now, I’m sure you’re all familiar with the Standard Issue Cell Phone Asshole, but the fair brings out the special kind of stupid in these people.  I stepped into the restroom to do what you’d normally do after consuming a couple of excellent lattes from the Vagabond Blues booth and just about the time I’m in position, The Camel’s Hump staggers into port next to me.  On his back is a screaming little girl of indeterminate age lashed into one of those kid backpack contraptions like some kind of Siamese twin from hell.  I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time concentrating on my business when there’s a midget demon screaming in my ear.  But wait, it gets better – Camel Hump’s phone rings! Understand, Hump is midstream in the river so to speak, but, damn, you know that call might be important.  He’s fumbling in one pocket while holding Mr. Slippery with the other and the kid is screaming and kicking and let’s just say that Camel Hump begins to lose target lock.  Excuse me, says I, but let’s try to keep it in the urinal, eh? But Hump doesn’t hear me because he’s now shouting Hello? Hello?! into his phone and has completely given up on even a pretense of aiming.  With a superhuman effort equal to the energy required to move a Saturn V moonship from the vehicle assembly building to the launch pad, I choke off the flow and step back out of range.  If I had been wearing my waterproof hiking boots I would have stayed and damn the flood, but I was wearing clogs.  The small red faced parasite on Hump’s back waved to me and smiled a devilish grin as I washed my hands.

I fled the restroom and ran right into Fred Flintstone – you know him, the Neanderthal with the barbequed pterodactyl drumstick.  What in the hell is it with the giant fried turkey leg? Seriously? Lips smacking, scraps of skin and globs of grease flying.  Hey Conan, here’s a napkin and try chewing with your mouth closed.  For the life of me I can’t understand the allure of the giant turkey leg, or plowing through the crowd while eating it.  Hell, it’s the whole walking around, dodging strollers, while leaving a trail of soggy elephant ears and melting ice cream that gets me.  We were looking at RV’s and a woman came lumbering up the steps and pushed past us into the cramped space without so much as a pardon me – or even a ‘fuck you!’ though that might have been implied.  She was eating soup.  Soup, from a Styrofoam bowl with a plastic spoon.  Soup, which she proceeded to drip all over the inside of the $60,000 vehicle. Soup.  I suggested to the vender that maybe somebody should smack her upside the head with a fried turkey drumstick.

Speaking of trailers, ain’t it great when they bring the trailer park to you?

If these people were dogs, they’d be the kind what always stop at the most inopportune time to lick their balls in public.

You know the ones, those astoundingly obnoxious folks who fight in public. The horrifyingly loud women with the Pall Mall and the Twilight tattoo who’s wearing the way, way too small halter top and the over loaded stretch pants.  Who spends the entire fair making a scene. The one that had a couple  too many in the beer tent. Yeah, her. She screams at her kids and her husband (or the guy who this month the kids are calling “Uncle Bill,” whatever).  Sooner or later she’s going to be crying and telling somebody in uniform to fuck right off.


See that’s the answer to Fermi’s question, right there.

Where are they?

Oh, they’re out there all right.

But they’re idiots.

That’s it. The universe is full of morons.

They’re probably pushing strollers and waving fried turkey legs too.



Note: If you thought this post was fun, you might like the complete list of Things That Just Chap My Ass.

If you didn’t think it was funny, please feel free to stick a fried turkey leg in your ear.


  1. I hate the Fair and I don't go, for many of the same reasons that you just gave. If I want to see masses of fat white trash wearing inappropriate clothing with their tats hanging out I could just go to WalMart, but I choose not to.

  2. Alright, alright already!!!

    I APOLOGIZE!!!!! It's my fault... I know it is....

    The medical community is a HUGE PART of this problem... we save them... I know we do... and the we release them back into the wild to take part in their rituals of stupidity...

    I don't get to pick and choose my patients... got any ideas?

  3. There is something comforting about learning the morons are in other places. I had resigned myself to believing they all seemed to reside in Texas. After all, their leader is here, but he is trying to escapre to DC.

    While you looking at the extra-terrestial side of this issue, could you find out why the UFOs always land in a mobile home park and not on the lawn of MIT?

  4. "...whole googleplexes of stars and galaxies and stellar clusters...."

    Damn you, Google, corrupting our nation's youth! (That means you, Jim.) When you're talking numbers, it's "googol" and "googolplex".

  5. Twenty years ago we went to the Iowa State Fair -- best place to avoid the turkeys is deep in the livestock competitions. (wry grin) You know, where breeding MATTERS. And teens learn a few things about Life.

    Dr. Phil

  6. @Randy, I fixed it.

    Turns out googolplex is in my spell checker, but I didn't bother to check it because I just figured it wasn't. Doh, who's the idiot now?

    Speaking of which, I have a handkerin' for a fried turkey leg.

  7. Hit the nail on the head! we are allowing the thinning of the herd, and the Patterson comment is dead on. Love your work, thanks.dave

  8. geeze,NOT allowing, so much for first comments.whats the preview button for..

  9. I don't like The Fair. I avoid invitations. I've had to, a couple of times. An adult friend actually bought tickets for the headliner concert a few years ago, without asking me, then told me I had to since she spent the money. Duty date and the worst possible year ever, to be in the audience of a national C&W band in 'Sarah Palin's Hometown'.
    It was bad. I felt like I had an enormous balloon with blinking arrows over me saying "NOT A PATRIOT". We had the same crowd as yourself, Stonekettle, on all sides, with the added treat of teenagers in straw hats to the left and an enormous angry drunk white guy and his enormous happy drunk wife directly in front of us. He knew all the words to every song and cried during the crowd-pleaser, "I'm an American!"
    For $100, I would have liked the band to have put shirts on. Or at least cleaner newer t-shirts that covered the middle-aged man tummy. Yeah, I know it's Palmer, Alaska, but c'mon. I was embarrassed for them.
    Now, I like good C&W: George Strait, Hank Williams, Sr. But that wasn't it.

    We went on Thursday. We wanted to. We were taking a little guy, which is always fun and rewarding.
    It was apparently Teen Parent Day. I'm confused; when did we do away with all birth control options in this state? Is everything now "Abstinence-Only" and faith-based? Is that where they pray that they don't get pregnant?

  10. You think I'm kidding about the idiots, don't you?

    I'm not

  11. Of course you know that real reason to the Fermi paradox is not that they're not out there. It's that they've already been here and there is no way in hell they're ever coming back.

  12. Jim. It's a consternation of strollers.
    Should you be so inclined to find another life form than the BEAUTY you see here. One must let go of the ego. Finding oneness will open to the parallel universes. This universe is on your time understanding. As they say "walk on the wild side"

    Nice article.

  13. Jim, I can top you.

    On the subway

  14. I never understood those turkey legs. We have them at our Renaissance Faire and I never understood where they came from. They are not period, and they are a pain to eat.

    Must be a southern thing.

    1. I have to admit to loving the turkey leg, however i usually wat until i get home to eat it. They are messy but good. But then I am a hillbilly from Tennessee. Thank goodness its the love of the turkey leg and not the ideaology that stuck with me.

  15. Jim, so glad you got that off your chest. There's only one group you forgot to skewer and that's the old codgers that always stop in the middle of any exit to confer about where to go next.

    To EdithAnn and MikeB, I think you are on the right trail.

  16. I shouldn't read your posts at work...I really shouldn't. The guys from the warehouse come to my office to find out why I'm draped over my desk laughing my ass off!

    Hubby and I actually had an interesting conversation with some friends of ours about twenty years ago about the intelligence as an extinction event. I was pregnant with our first son (the first of our group to produce progeny), and our friends assumed that we'd stop right there...you know, because of the population issue.

    They were horrified when we admitted that we were actually sort of planning on having about 3 more. "What about the planet? What about out-of-control population growth?* They protested.

    I pointed out to them that the ONLY people concerned with such matters were the SMART ones. This means that the SMART people are having one kid, while the stupid people are having mutltiple kids. Simple math kids - we're setting ourselves up to be outnumbered. And as far as I can tell, stupid breeds true nearly every time.

  17. I tend to avoid fairs as much as possible, although when pressed I do enjoy a good livestock exhibit. There is little in this world I find as oppressive as a carnival atmosphere. And I am as big a turkey freak as anybody, but I'm way too cheap to pay six bucks for a turkey leg.

    The Proliferation of Stupid has troubled me for a long time. I have a hard time believing that there are more stupid people at large, since all the evidence is anecdotal. But I do think that they are higher-profile these days. They used to be content to keep their heads low and let people wonder. Now they see their ignorance as a virtue to be defended.

  18. What I can't understand is how my mother could get by with a folding stroller and a diaper bag slung over her shoulder, and nowadays they need these fuggin' *BABY SUV's*. Oh wait, yes I do. Back in my era, kids were kids -- mommas popped'em out 'cause that's what mommas do, but once the kid was fully toasted, that was pretty much it, you got tossed out the door to play outside with occasional diversions to eat, sleep, and attend K-12 school until you were old enough to ship off to college and got the fook out of the house. Nowadays, kids are fookin' *status symbols*, to be pampered and treated like friggin' queens and kings and dressed up and shit and have every second of every day of their life programmed for them and protected like gold from Fort Knox. And of course nothing's too good for Baby. A folding stroller and a diaper bag? Heavens no, the Jones have a baby SUV, that's what we gotta have too!

    Of course it ain't got shit to do with the kid, who doesn't give a damn because he'd rather examine his boogers and lick cotton candy off the pavement anyhow and couldn't give a shit whether he's being pushed around in a folding stroller or in a babby SUV, it's all me, me, ME on the part of the parents. Siiiigh. WASF (We Are So F'ed).

    And there ends my rant about baby strollers, now we can get back to discussing the rest of the stupidity :).

  19. I like fairs myself- in fact, I'm looking forward to the LA County Fair that starts next week. I do plan my visits carefully, though, and try to escape before the beer fumes get too strong. (Beer margaritas- a clear sign that Armageddon is upon us)

  20. "...stupid breeds true nearly every time."

    I think it's a nature/nurture thing. Not one or the other, but BOTH!

  21. The assumptions that ought to go into the Drake Equation are all sorts of questionable, and in fact it's possible to plug in a not-unreasonable set of figures and predict that there's no intelligent life in the universe at all, which may indeed prove your point.

    And yet the thing that I disagree with most strongly in your post, Jim, is your spelling of "Jabba The Hut". Which, now that I think about it, may also prove your point.

  22. @Eric, don't get technical with me, you overweight glop of grease. I was translating from the Binary Language of Moisture 'vaporators via Botchi - which as I'm sure you know does not allow for a double BB. Jerk.

    Also, Scolopendra is my new favorite, anybody who mentions The Little Black Bag and The Marching Morons is ok in my book. I'd add Search The Sky by Fred Pohl and Cyril Kornbluth, great classic scifi novel about the quick and the dead and the inbred.

    1. Oh, dear...I'm not sure what this says about me, that I know how "Jabba the Hut" is spelled in the first place, or that I noticed the misspelling.

  23. Oh great, I was planning on going to the Great Geauga County Fair this weekend and now I'm dreading it. Thanks, Jim.

    Yeah, I've often had the mental image of alien races "smarter than us" whispering to each other, "Shh, don't talk to those booger eaters over there. They'll get ideas about coming out here."

    Dr. Phil, when this semi-city boy corrects the 4H people about good horse etiquette and care ("Stop waving your f#$king hat, you idiot. I don't care if that mare stomps you, but wait until I'm out of the barn"), I'm not so sure the animal barns are all that safe from the booger eaters.

  24. Warner beat me to it with his comment about these same maroons on the subway.

    Some days I'd get hit by so many backpacks going on/off with no regard for anyone in the vacinity, I was positive I'd have concussion before I got to the office. If they were really good they'd manage to hit several of us at one swing.

    Worse, even if they KNOW they'd hit you, there is never an apology offered, just a glare because I'm in the way.


    Of course being on the line that goes straight to the airport - on more than one occassion we'd get the mom pushing a mega-stroller with screaming kid pulling 2 rolling suitcases, wearing a monster backpack AND talking on a cell phone. The inhumanity! Ouch.

  25. First off, love Jim's last comment.

    Second, anyone seen the movie "Idiocracy" with Luke Wilson? It's a stupid movie (as the name kind of implies) but it describes exactly what Jim is talking about. Kinda scary to think where we'll be in 500 years.

  26. The thing that annoyed me most about The Marching Morons was the notion that the lower classes were such principally because they were stupid and that thus the lower classes reproducing more than the upper classes would depress IQ. The numbers show that intelligence generally reverts to norm over generations -- i.e., folks with low IQ generally have children smarter than themselves, while folks with high IQ generally have children dumber than themselves, until over the course of a half dozen generations or so, the descendants of both the moron and the genius are pretty much average.

    Furthermore, my experience teaching poor kids in both urban and rural areas was that intelligence was as randomly distributed amongst them as it was in the suburban high school that I did my student teaching in. That is, there were smart kids and there were dumb kids, and the smart kids in either setting were just as smart (by the standard of, "quick to learn the material", not by scores on standardized tests, where the poor kids didn't generally do as well even if they were as smart as the rich kids because they simply didn't have the cultural background assumed by the tests).

    In short, The Marching Morons appeared to me to be more an apologia for Nazi-style eugenics than good science fiction, which requires good science, which Nazi-style eugenics isn't. In the end, intelligence just doesn't have much to do with success in American society and thus the fact that the successful have fewer children makes no difference to the overall intelligence of the country. Proof in point that intelligence is irrelevant to success: George W. Bush. 'Nuff said :).

    Finally: I don't think there's more stupid people today than when I was young. It's just that, like most young people, I was stupid, and thus didn't notice other stupid people because they were just like me, and as I got older, I got smarter, and thus started noticing stupid people more. A study of history shows no shortage of stupid at any given point in history. I mean, WTF did the Emperor Honorious think he was doing when he executed his only effective general, Flavius Stilicho?! And what intelligent person would embroil the whole of Europe in a war that ends up killing tens of millions of people because of some anarchist killing the heir to some decrepit kingdom's throne? But hey, it does make for a funny snort-coffee-out-of-nostrils post :).

    - Badtux the Too-verbose Penguin

  27. First: Brilliant! You made me giggle and gag at the same time.
    I don't understand strollers either. When I was a kid, once I could walk, I pretty much walked and was only carried once in awhile when I was truly tired. I see some pretty old kids riding around in those junior SUV's where I work and figure that in ten years they're going to have weight issues.
    Now, about life in the universe, someone I read suggested that the reason why we aren't finding intelligent life elsewhere may be because we aren't the Johnny-Come-Latelys, but pioneers in a relatively still youthful universe. Blew my mind to consider that.
    M from MD
    who used to live in Cordova and Seward, Alaska and now lives near DC.

  28. I'd bet there's another phase of evolution we just haven't witnessed yet. Let's call it post-evolution, in which the actually intelligent beings go into hiding from the stupid beings. The stupid beings continue to get each other killed off in really stupid ways while the intelligentsia, oh, I don't know...reads a book.

    Eventually, the stupid are gone and the smart ones can come out of hiding.

    The aliens aren't stupid. They're hiding from us.

  29. @Richard, my understanding is that Idiocracy was based loosely on so-called the Marching Moron Effect. So were a number of famous scifi novels and stories, which is not surprising given that both Kornbluth and Pohl had enormous impact on the genre - and continue to do so, Pohl especially.

    @Tux, you should take any science or opinions expressed in this post with a large grain of salt. I use the Marching Morons (i.e. should have been eaten by Sabertooth cats!) theme quit often in these Chap My Ass posts, simply because it amuses me to do so (stupid people chased and ripped apart by wild beasts is hysterical to me, but then I'm sensative like that) - not because I actually subscribe to the long, long discredited notion of eugenics.

    Your analysis of The Marching Morons is interesting and similiar to mine. However, it's important to remember the context Kornbluth wrote the story in - hormonal birth control had not yet been discovered, Watson and Crick had only formulated their theory of DNA structure in 1953 (MM was published in 1954), and eugenics in certain forms was still more or less regarded as valid (if unethical). There were damned few folks who didn't vividly remember the Nazis and they were still discovering the horrors of that madness (hell, even ten years after the Marching Morons, mainstream scifi was still using those themes, note the "Eugenics Wars" alluded to in Space Seed, the episode of Star Trek that gave us Khan). Prior to WWII, the country, and the world, was mostly divided into the elites and the working class/Poor and mired in the Great Depression, busy working its way out of the second industrial revolution. There were plenty of weak chinned inbred morons around to serve as examples.

    Kornbluth's Maching Moron scenario seemed entirely likely in 1954. Personally though, I think the story sufferred from lack of sabertooth cats.

  30. Eric, I am already visulizing you with duct tape over your mouth.

  31. When I worked retail many years ago, I came up with a theory. (keep in mind that I was an anthropology major in college.) It went something like this:

    Our chimp ancestors lived in trees, and the really stupid ones fell out of the trees and couldn't figure out how to climb back up. (This was the first wave to evolve into humans.) Over time, the smart ones noticed what was going on and decided to actively push the stupid, ones out of the trees. (This was the second wave to evolve into humans.) After a while, the smart ones got curious about what happened to all those who fell, or were pushed, out of the trees, so they climbed down. (This was the third wave to evolve into humans.) By this point, though, it was too late for the smart ones. The dumb chimps had a population lead that the smart ones couldn't overcome. Thus explaining why smart people are so hard to come by: they were out bred by monkeys too stupid to climb back up the tree.

    I've yet to encounter anything to make me doubt this theory.

    Just found your site and am working my way through the archives. Love the writing.

  32. way too accurate a description, and way too funny.
    thanks for the good laugh and the horrific visuals.
    I thought all the morons with giant ass strollers only were at the Minnesota state fair!

  33. You are explaining both the Roswell crash and the cattle mutilation/crop circle thing, here. The only aliens we ever see are the obnoxious, wasted, little grey cow-tippers, or rippers, who steal dad's saucer while under the influence and crash it on a backwater prior to going on a rampage and putting graffiti everywhere. :)

  34. There is no doubt in my mind that there are many many many many planets out there with life.

    However, I think the odds of intelligent detectable (ie radio waves) life reaching us over the vast space time continuum in the extremely short time we have had the capability to receive it are quite slim. Mostly just because of the vast distances. There would have had to have been detectable intelligent life millions of years ago for a lot of the signals to be reaching us now.

  35. Oh, no! I've never been to a state fair, but I promised to go to the New Mexico one next month to help my knitters' guild promote itself. At least I'll be armed with pointy sticks.

  36. A gathering of strollers is a gossip as any observer with good hearing knows.

    Jim_ Consider yourself lucky. If you want an event where the stupid is thick as cold molasses you have to come down to the sprint car races here in Butte County California.

    It's HOT down here so your "88" tatted shave-heads are competing with their gap-toothed sistren in the expose-the-most-horrible acreage of tattoos contest. Just because it's your ass-crack doesn't mean you can't have "John 3:16 tatted down there vertically. We'll not go into detail about the Salvador Dali-esque scene of Jesus bearing the cross wandering down the side of an gigantic sagging teat. Or the fact that it's considered cute for the lady folk to squat and pee in any public corner. (extra points if your girlfriends post a pic to Facebook)

    Then there's the noise. Sprint cars don't have mufflers; they seem to have louders. Which means every little comment has to be boozily shouted into your face.

    But it's okay 'cause these are such nice folks that they all seem to know the parole officers that attend every show by first name. They give them a big smile and a wave too; with their other hand carefully behind their back holding the beer. Very polite.

    These races happen every Friday night for three months every summer. It's no wonder the smart folks are being out-bred.

  37. I think humanity in all of it's imperfections on display at fairs, is wonderful . Now there is only so much wonderful I can take as when all of those imperfect humans decide to go where I am going and they crowd me .

  38. In that huge chaotic mess, you made a very good point. If the Drake Equation produces X planets capable of producing intelligent life, the span of time that life lives before it becomes intelligent enough to obliterate itself is just a blip in the timeline.

    We probably always eat ourselves; and because the portion of time on these planets where intelligence thrives is so short, it is likely all of them are past their most recent intelligent life era.

    We are alone.

    Good news: we will not be alone for long. We are setting our table and preparing for dinner as we speak. Soon we will take our seat in the pantheon of intelligent life.

  39. But golly, Jim, did you enjoy the fair or not?

  40. Of course he did. Nothing a misanthrope likes better than going somewhere that his opinion of humankind can be properly vindicated :>).

  41. See? That's how rumors get started. I'm no lycanthrope, I don't even know where you got that, Tux. I just get a little twitchy around the full moon.

    And of course I enjoyed the fair, I always enjoy a place that's full of food that's really bad for me.

  42. I needed a good laugh today ! Thanks !... Now, when do you go to the Supermarket or Costco.. can hardly wait for that report !!

  43. Strollers. I'm against 'em. Kids need exercise. They also learn to stick close to the parents. This was a hard lesson for me, and I wore a leash until I learned it. But carry or push me? Nuh-uh. My mom wanted me tired when I got home.

    I played music at the Arizona State Fair for many years in a row, on one of those little stages with a few benches out front. It was a good thing and we got in free.

    As far as the general gathering places of Teh Stoopid, the everyday locations are Wal-Mart and small ratty bars. I've been avoiding W-M as a philosophical stand for years, and I played music in those raunchy bars for a long time. Not any more.

  44. Well, while I was commenting over at Janiece's place, I was reminded of another notion that I've had that might pertain here. "Peak stupid," in the sense of "peak oil." Usually used in the phrase, "nope, we obviously haven't hit peak stupid yet." And sometimes I wonder whether we ever will. Do with it as you will.

  45. Props for using "googolplexes" in a sentence!

  46. Jim, ET is out there, and they have visited us on a regular basis for centuries. They are very advanced, and they know what shows up at the State Fairs, and they are smart enough to IGNORE and AVOID us at all costs.

  47. A great rant and a reference to Cyril Kornbluth in the same thread. Happy days.

    Mostly I hate the MN state fair because they decide to change all the bus routes from simple to obscure and it messes up my getting to work.

    But, look on the bright side. At the MN fair you can see a sculpture of the Dairy Princess in a 500 lb block of butter.

    Is America a great country or what?

  48. Actually, I believe that the universe is full of intelligent life.

    But an intelligent population wouldn't advertise their existence to a potentially hostile or aggressive civilization would they?

    Let's face it, one day some aliens are going to hear our little radio signals, hunt us down, and then we'll all be sauteed up in some recipe from a cookbook called "To Serve Man". BT

  49. Ah yes, another classic, To Serve Man. Granted, the story itself was tongue-in-cheek, but it always has annoyed me that someone would assume that just because it was life, it would be edible to some life that evolved on another planet entirely and undoubtedly had an entirely different protein structure. Heck, there's living things right here on Earth that I don't suggest you try eating, things full of bile and poison. Like Republican politicians. Just sayin ;).

  50. Anon,

    I would like to quote you with attribution, but Anon, is not my first choice.

    Do you have another name? Smith or Mohammed, perhaps?

  51. Yet another reason I love you! This is exactly how my father and I feel about people, the great unwashed is what he calls them.

    I recently went to the Willie Nelson Fourth of July concert in Ft. Worth. It was my version of your state fair experience. Except the strollers. The little kids were playing pool at the pool tables til well close to midnight. I figured, what they hey. At least they are learning SOMETHING.

  52. My Mom drowned all her dumb kids. They were allowed to do that back then.

  53. And what a wonderful time it was back then, when you could just drown the dumb children. Good times, good times.

  54. I don't think my mom was into drowning, she'd never let us go swimming until an hour after we ate. Plus she'd yell at us for splashing in the tub, we might damage the floor.

    I'm still looking for the rocks my parents found my siblings under...I want to return them. I even have the receipts!

    wv-shies: the butter-covered, bacon wrapped, cheese loaded deep fried chocolate bars you toss at the People of MallWort to make them go away.


  55. My opinion of this place just went up."misanthrope" is such an uncommon word .I wonder do any of you have children? None of you ever pushed a stroller at a fair?

  56. I laughed my ass off at this post Jim. I have the same exact feeling on those rare occasions I find myself cutting through the mall whenever I feel like taking a bus across the city. Only in that case, it's Twilight teens. And armies of angry, screaming children who really would love that toy they just spotted at one of the many hundreds of vendor booths there as well.

  57. Anonymous, I can't speak for anybody else, but I've certainly pushed a stroller or two. In the spirit of "takes one to know one" this post is intended as humor, please take it that way.

  58. Snerk.

    Now, that was funny, and true, and wicked funny, and horrifyingly true (mostly). Based on my expeditions to the Topsfield (MA) Fair, that post perfectly corralled all the major species of Idioticus rampantii roaming free in their natural habitat.

    But, being a nitpicking proofreader by trade, I must pick one annoying nit -- annoying because it spoils an otherwise perfect last line:

    "They’re probably pushing strollers and waving friend turkey legs too."

    Study that, O Jim of wit and mirthful eloquence; study it, my cyber-friend, and then, using the wonderful power of the Edit button, go back and pluck out the offending extraneous consonant.

  59. Oh goody, another English major. I fixed it, you damned pedantic proof reader, you.

    Typos are a large part of my charm. Apparently I'm very charming. Very.

  60. I just want to know why the turkeys I buy for Thanksgiving never have legs the size of those sold at the state fair.

    My mother use to wonder where these crazy people went after the state fair ........ then she went to WalMart..... and found them.

  61. Don't get me going on strollers.What gets me are the double ones. No, they aren't twins. They hold the three year old and the five year old WHO IS PERFECTLY ABLE TO WALK ON HIS OWN TWO FEET.

  62. @Jim: Actually, part of the reason I decided to stick around and check out the rest of your blog, after following a link to the "White Whale" post, was because the writing was relatively error-free, and didn't make me cringe several times a paragraph.

    On the other hand, at those other places with frequent errors, I eventually get acclimated, and only cringe a little bit each time. When I see the occasional "alter" for "altar" on yours, since I expect better from you (well, other than that one example), it still produces the Big Cringe.

    @Lee27: All depends on whether the turkey in question was forced to use Suzanne Sommers' Thighmaster or not.

  63. @ JIM:

    "Oh goody, another English major. I fixed it, you damned pedantic proof reader, you."

    English major? Forsooth, not so, sirrah! My bachelor's was multidisciplinary, in Medieval Civilization: Chaucer and Beowulf in the original, history and poli sci of the early, mid and high Middle Ages, Le Morte d'Arthur, art and architecture of the period -- you know, all sorts of utilitarian and relevant stuff. For example, when deciding which hideous disease to wish upon, say, a Tea Party yammerer, it's useful to know the symptomatology of the Black Death.

    But I ask you, Jim, I ask you -- what good is a proofreader who isn't pedantic? Huh? Huh? Answer me that.

  64. My bachelor's was multidisciplinary, in Medieval Civilization: Chaucer and Beowulf in the original, history and poli sci of the early, mid and high Middle Ages, Le Morte d'Arthur, art and architecture of the period -- you know, all sorts of utilitarian and relevant stuff. For example, when deciding which hideous disease to wish upon, say, a Tea Party yammerer, it's useful to know the symptomatology of the Black Death.

    So what you're saying is that you can ask, "You want fries with that?" in at least three dead languages.

  65. "... like a humpbacked mutant Russian ballerina from the Chernobyl Ballet Company ..."

    Hey, now! Humpbacked mutant Russian ballerinas have feelings, too, you know.

    I have been working at the fair - I haven't attended for a few years, due to many of the factors you mention - and the human (or near-human) parade is the best show there. The massive strollers, yes. Including the stroller containing the caterwauling child big enough to dig his heels in and impede the progress of the stroller. Folks, if your offspring is big enough to lock up Flintstone brakes on the stroller, he's big enough to walk.

    Random thoughts on observing the passing crowd:

    Spandex bike pants really should NOT be sold in certain sizes.

    As an antidote to the smugness I am feeling while asking in reference to the fashion choices of some patrons, "WHAT was she thinking?", I pledge to get out my old photo albums and ask (insert forehead-smack sound effect) "WHAT was I thinking?"

    The family in the four-wheel-drive vehicle who decided that they are just too special to continue to wait in line for parking, and simply drove down the embankment into the parking lot for free, will reap just what they sow. But they most likely won't recall their shining example when little Madison and Jason - as adolescents - get tossed into juvie for shoplifting.

    Whoever is selling those grabber things is a heck of a salesperson - I see dozens of folks walking by with them.

    As to aliens ignoring us, I'm not too sure. I'm seeing a few fair-goers who might well be from some other planet.

  66. Are there more stupid people than there used to be?


    Rather, the civilizational controls that forced women to act like adults have been systematically dismantled.

    Many US women have devolved into a feral state, no more mature than children.

    Read more here :


  67. I can certainly see why you'd want to post bullshit like that anonymously. I think I'll pass on following the link.

    The rest of you are more than welcome to point, laugh, and engage in ridicule.

  68. "Look around, doesn’t it seem like there are a whole lot more stupid people than there used to be?

    There you go. "

    I think that there are as many % of stupid people now as in the "good ole' days."

    unfortunately, the issues of the world are multiples more complex than in 18th century rural Virginia. at the same time, cheap technology has given everyone a megaphone and worldwide publication ability. so while Thomas Paine had to make an effort to publish his pamphlets, any dude with a pulse can now go on twitter and get 1,000,000 #winning followers.

    so the "idiot deficit" has skyrocketed while people are no smarter, nor no stupider, no more moral or ethical than way back when.

  69. I suspect you are indeed correct, Anonymous, but it's not nearly as funny that way. ;)

  70. You were wearing, er, clogs?

    I couldn't read any further. Just sayin.

  71. Well, since this was a humor piece, I thought "clogs" sounded funnier than "REI Hiking Moccasins."

  72. Oh sorry, thought it was a sartorial piece, my mistake.

  73. My better half is a pediatric genetic counselor. She is especially skilled at dysmorphology (i.e. figuring out what exactly is wrong with a FLK ="Funny Looking Kid").

    It's quite enlightening to go to the fair with her, or to a zoo, waterpark, museum, daytime concert, anyplace with crowds of humanity. She starts rattling off syndromes non-stop, and not just common stuff like Down's (trisomy 21) but all sorts of stuff like deletions, duplications and mutations. I swear, a solid 25% of humanity needs a good genetics workup.

    I don't know if this proportion is increasing, but I'm a lot more aware of it now. Jared Diamond speculates that since Mankind resorted to agriculture, selection has favored disease resistance (and kissing up to the local rulers) over intelligence. So, adverse selection has probably been going on for a while, not just during the last century.

    But, I'm not so sure that this is inevitable or universal. Leslie Kean has convinced me that UFO's are real. And if UFO's are real, then why hasn't whoever is flying the d8mn things stopped to talk to us, or at the very least filed a frickin' flight plan last time they wanted to buzz Belguim.

    My guess is they don't want to talk to us any more than the average person wants to strike up a conversation with the average gorilla. Chat with a rabid racoon may be more like it. We probably don't look all that civilized to them.

    Even more than being dumb, we're wild. Any UFO's that pass thru will no more stop and chat with us than you would open your car door and frolic with the next pack of feral dogs you encounter when driving thru the woods.

    I also suspect we have stumbled onto nukes a little too early in our evolution, like if a species of bear that knew how to make fire. Mostly a danger to ourselves but the tourists keep their distance.

  74. Any UFO's that pass thru will no more stop and chat with us than you would open your car door and frolic with the next pack of feral dogs you encounter when driving thru the woods.

    Uhm, you ARE aware that every year there's folks mauled and even killed for doing exactly that with even larger animals, right? I mean, it's as if they see a moose or a bear and say "ooh, cuddly fur thing!" and stop and hop out of their car and promptly get trampled to moron mush or mauled into shredded moron meat (coming to a bear dining room near you!).

    Of course, this might be a fenced-off wildlife reserve. In which case the occasional reported cases of alien proctology exams may just be an alien version of catch-and-release tagging, and the fact that the recipients of said proctology exams always tend to be drunk rednecks, well. That one I can't explain :).

  75. Let me rephrase...

    "...any more than the aboveaverage person wants to strike up a conversation with the average gorilla."


    "...no more stop and chat with us than you would open your car door and frolic with the next pack of feral dogs...assuming you're not the type of moron who would frolic with a pack of wild dogs"

    But more to the point, if extra-terrestrials exist, the fact that they haven't stopped to yak (or rolled down the window of their flying saucer to feed the cute humans and gotten mauled) is probably the best evidence that they are intelligent, or at least with more sense than us.

    1. lol! True! There's probably the alien equivalent of 'Do NOT tap on the glass' posted on the moon somewhere...

  76. (sorry, didn't mean to my first post to be anonymous. I'll figure out these here internets by and by)

  77. Ironic that the writer of a post about other being being stupid managed to misspell Bill Watterson's last name....

  78. I never understood the attraction of the giant turkey leg either. My kids and wife are incredulous when walking around Disneyland seeing kids and adults gnawing on them, passing them back and forth amoungst the family, and talking, drooling and generally polluting the park with their poor manners.

    BTW, I came upon your site via Barry Ritholz's "The Big Picture" http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/

    -I'm sure he's a guy you'd get along with. He's the first to introduce me to the term "asshat". You'd also appreciate his disclaimer for posting comments-I'll leave that for you to explore on your own.


  79. How could you skip the Tanana Valley State Fair? Way better. Not as good as the Ninilchik fair-the same rides as Fur Rondy, but in the rain!

  80. I would be careful with the cart thing.

    I noticed that the marines are testing out a little electric golf cart thing to take around with them on patrols in Afghanistan. Seems like a combat load of 220 pounds on top of the Level 8 (or whatever they are up to these days) body armor gets a little much.

    Their golf cart looks a lot like a slightly higher tech version of the babby carriage used by non-parents.

    Even with a 220 pound combat load, I don't want that crowd to come looking for me: even without their auxilary golf cart.

  81. Firstly... Honestly really... smart people don't go to State Fairs.

    However, we are all human, so really we are all stupid. Different degrees of stupid...
    Because you do have the smart-stupids too (the first step away from being smart). You know the ones... they spend large amounts of dollars to get their nails done, hair done, wearing really fancy clothes and you see them with their pointing manicured fingers. They usually stop and they look at each other and they say: "I bet you'd never saw that before." They probably also have a venti latte something slim milk, Starbucks in their hand.

    Anyways... how can we get rid of the stupid people???

  82. JW,
    This media was not a product of stupid people.
    If you consider yourself not stupid, you become responsible for a better future.
    Best regards,

  83. Jared Diamond made the same observation in the Introduction to "Guns, Germs, & Steel," but was not so funny. Civilization keeps stupids alive, and the big thing that kills urban groups - disease - doesn't select for intelligence. And now, modern warfare is so chaotic and mechanical that it, too, doesn't weed out the idiots.

    On the bright side, shows like "Jackass" do manage to get a few to off themselves.

  84. Dear RC,

    please, fuck right off.

    Sincerely, Jim

  85. I suppose I need to explain that last comment directed at Anonymous@0639/RC.

    Before you surf in here, read one snarky humor article I wrote and arrogantly tell me what I should do, stop, remove your hands from the keyboard and walk away.

    I spent my entire life in the uniform of the United States, risking my life to make the world a better place. I wasn't always successful at it, but you can rest assured that I made my decision where to stand a long, long time ago. You want to instantly piss me off? Leave a comment like RC did.

    It should be obvious to anybody that I'm simply poking fun at something we've all done, at things I do myself. As I mentioned up above, I've pushed a stroller or two through a crowd upon more than one occasion and I'm sure I annoyed people doing it (I do want to point out that I've never eaten the fried turkey leg though, ever).

    This is a humor piece. Humor. Humor makes the world a better place. Laughter makes the world a better place and beats the hell out of killing people for a living.

  86. Okay okay, I admit it. I ate a damn turkey leg.
    But I never pushed a stroller. My mom gave me one for a flight and I left it behind on the plane. Intentionally. I just couldn't manage it. You simply cannot chase a walking grom and push an empty stroller at the same time. None of my babies would suffer the indignity of being plopped into it and then staying in it.
    Backpacks. That's where it's at. I threw screaming kids in the backpack and wore it in the house to do dishes, study, vacuum, make them go to sleep.
    Basic old-school retro Gerry packs are best. REI has some lovely high-end baby packs worthy of Nepal expeditions, but cumbersome.

  87. Wow, Jim, Ninety-one comments on this post-now 92!

    I love turkey legs, but not as I wander through crowds.

    You wear clogs?

  88. I love fairs, but the older I grow, the more I hate to mix with the unwashed masses.

  89. @Richard: My spouse and I had a readying for the rapture party this last spring, and now we are talking about having an Idiocracy screening party. Mike Judge called it.

  90. Aw come on man,

    By your own admission you love the deep fried foods and the spectacle of monster tractor pulls.

    Do you expect such an event to be a conclave of rocket scientists???

    Going to the state fair and complaining about morons is like going surfing and complaining about getting wet.

    You have to appreciate the stupidity and savor it like fine wine. ;)

    Great post as always.

  91. They’re probably pushing strollers and waving fried turkey legs too.

    And now they've moved on to Los Angeles! Perhaps if we deep-fried the strolllers.....

    palgalv- someone to share your fried turkey leg with.

  92. Love grilled turkey of any kind. Goes reeel good with okra.

  93. Yum. I love fried okra, especially if it is rolled in cornmeal first.

  94. I was just looking at a catalog of cat products, and I saw a stroller for cats. Jim, you should get one, and then you could take ShopKat to the fair!! :D

  95. Jim - et All

    I was hired and flown in to work as a demonstrator at the Wyoming State Fair years back. I guess I should have figured something was up when they offered to fly a *Canadian* in from *Ontario* to Wyoming to demonstrate blacksmithing. They couldn't find anyone local or regional who would admit to undertaking public demonstrations. (I now see your 'intelligent Alien' effect in play here...)
    Now, I've got a lot of years demonstrating at living history museums. I can actually talk, work and be moderately entertaining and interesting - all at the same time. (I suspect you might resemble that remark?)That being the case, I was TOTALLY unprepared for what I was confronted me.
    -'Demonstrations' that announced their upcoming start via blaring rock music.
    - And had content that was little more than a giant infomercial for what ever 'art' that individual was plugging sales of.
    - Few short presentations, typically with much drinking between.

    I see I'm getting way off track. For a Canadian, the extremely obvious violence levels endured by females (all ages) and First Nations (or any visible minority) made me extremely uncomfortable. I almost got into a fist fight with one slug who threatened the young daughter of what was obviously his latest punching bag - just because I refused to cater to stupid attention seeking by his male 'pride and joy' who interrupted me....

    Anyway, the point here was (and Jim, you will get this). I actually fielded questions so insightful as :
    "Is that hot?" (glowing orange metal)
    "Is that a real fire?"
    "Is that a real beard?"

    I'm with those who see the 'Men in Black' view of people at the State Fair. The aliens are among us, shopping at Walmart...


  96. There isone group you didn't mention the tobacco cheweers whspit everywhere even on you if you don' t move quick enough. I unfortunately know this first hand.


Comments on this blog are moderated. Each will be reviewed before being allowed to post. This may take a while. I don't allow personal attacks, trolling, or obnoxious stupidity. If you post anonymously and hide behind an IP blocker, I'm a lot more likely to consider you a troll. Be sure to read the commenting rules before you start typing. Really.