We start the day, and the week, with a Barney and Clyde (WPWG) in which Weingarten et cie use “beg the question” properly, which is probably too smart for the room, but they redeem themselves by referencing “passive-aggressive,” a phrase that has come to mean any response short of a punch in the face and is no longer an accepted personality disorder by people who actually understand such things.
Well balanced humor!
And Tank McNamara (AMS) counters with the proposition that, Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers having hosted Jeopardy, Tom Brady and Giselle could host Wheel, with Sajak going to The Price is Right, a head-spinningly insightful example of descending intellectual fare and descending intellectuals.
Though it does beg the question(!) of whether Jeopardy is all that intellectual anymore. I don’t know whether I quit watching because I’m too old to get all the pop culture references anymore or because it’s full of pop culture references, but I felt justified when they brought in Dr. Oz as a guest host.
Dr. Oz being well-named given that the original wizard was also a shameless con artist.
But we won’t feature this Pat Bagley cartoon, because, while it certainly celebrates stupidity, it’s not clear the proportion of Republicans who are genuinely that stupid and the proportion who are simply cynical and dishonest and willing to betray their country while appearing sincere.
We’re trying to focus on amusing stupidity today, not the depressing kind.
Juxtaposition of the Day
The issue of Caulfield’s intellectual games came up the other day, and this morning we were presented with an interesting contrast.
Nate is a bright kid, but much of the humor in the strip is based on his overreaching and, once again, he has tried to outsmart his teacher and fallen well short.
Caulfield has something of a point, but he should have mulled it over longer, because, as both Mrs. Olson and Frazz suggest, he didn’t quite have it down.
But God bless us, every one, we will always have Agnes (Creators), who is as full of good ideas as Ralph Kramden, and just as eager to pursue them without the least bit of reflection or delay.
Note that it’s not stupidity that gets her in trouble but impulsiveness.
Part of the attraction of Agnes is an undercurrent of sorrow, if not outright despair, that also made the Honeymooners as touching as it was ridiculous. It’s one of the keys to making foolishness endearing, as both Chaplin and Keaton knew full well.
The Fool being not a stupid person but one of unfeigned naivete and innocence, the classic example being Candide, who innocently blundered from one adventure to another, barely learning from them, contrasted with Lemuel Gulliver, who saw and commented upon the follies he encountered, with Don Quixote somewhere between the two — commenting to an extent but then blundering on to the next.
You could probably sort most comic strips into one of their three categories.
Meanwhile, on social media today, much is being made of this malignant example of stupidity:
Dilbert creator Scott Adams has long since soiled the bed linens, espousing a level of bizarre theories that make people simply gasp over statements like this, without bothering to debate his view of a world in which everyone can afford self-driving cars or even to hire them regularly, much less a planet in which urban areas could possibly be managed on a Brave New World level like this.
Though at least Adams still advocates some level of public safety. There are people on Facebook seriously proposing that police not stop anyone at all, but rather that traffic cameras capture their violations and mail them fines.
I don’t suppose there’s anything that much more Orwellian in a world of traffic cameras than there is in a world in which police stop and shoot people, but I do think someone drunk-driving 85 miles an hour down the wrong lanes of an Interstate needs more than a scolding in the mail three days later.
Meanwhile, let’s imagine a world in which you could drive any way you wanted, as long as you took the plates off your car.
It’s funny when Agnes proposes ideas she hasn’t thought through, but it’s just depressingly dumb IRL, particularly when applied to things that matter.
And what’s really depressing is that, after a while,
You begin to see stupidity everywhere
Regular readers know I’m a huge fan of First Dog on the Moon, and have probably also picked up on my interest in nature, though you may not be aware that, in my newsroom days, I harbored a cunning plan to swap jobs for a year with someone from Hobart, Tasmania, which is the same size city as where I was working and is also where they have Tasmanian Devils, though not nearly as many as they once did.
And probably not right in downtown Hobart.
So his latest cartoon really caught my fancy.
Aussie slang can be daunting, but what I ran into wasn’t slang, just regionalisms.
I knew what a “donga” is — a sort of ravine — but I’d never heard of a quoll, so I looked it up and found this:
Which is no more informative that First Dog’s panel, but fair enough, except I scrolled down and saw this:
Okay, I realize it’s a dictionary of the English language, but “first known use” still seems awfully arrogant, because I’m sure the Guugu Yimidhirr-speaking people knew they were using it before 1770.
But that’s not the most stupid thing First Dog put me onto this morning.
It began here, on Twitter:
I had no idea what he was talking about (pretty sure it had nothing to do with Kelis), so I scrolled on, until I encountered more Aussies:
In the interest of science or journalism or masochism, I had to learn more.
Jeezuzmaryanjosef brace yourself.
It may seem incredibly stupid to some people.
But you can see it’s not.
Skip to the video. The rest of your day will seem far less stupid. (You’re welcome.)