CSotD: The Intelligentests

Hate to burst your bubble, Agnes (Creators), but these things are scattered all over the Internet and everybody seems to be filling them in exactly the way you are.

I really need to take a break from social media. In fact, let’s take a break from politics, too.


There are too many imponderables out there, and I don’t feel like dealing with them, but this Argyle Sweater (AMS) raises a ponderable: How did the Pork Council (or whoever) manage to score such a triumph over nutrition?

If you’re into irony, you might consider that, about 40 years ago, cured meats, with their plentitude of nitrates and/or nitrites plus salt and fat, were being blamed for a whole lot of things that people race to cure, and there was even a moment when barbecued meat in general was being labeled as carcinogenic.

Mind you, this isn’t about omnivores vs vegans. Different argument for a different day and whichever you choose, Agnes has your trophy.

I’m talking marketing and, to narrow it down, how bacon became not just part of our diet but something everyone has to exclaim over.

We have these moments, when marketing hits the right note in the zeitgeist and all of a sudden everyone not only has to drink Cosmos or eat crème brûlée but feels compelled to be rhapsodic about them, and not only do you have to drink expensive coffee rather than a cup of joe, but it has to have fancy artwork dribbled on its foam.

But bacon? Bacon is fat, salt and nitrates. Or nitrites. Maybe both. And if you don’t have a really good oven hood, it’s also grease on your walls and ceiling.

We’re not just social animals but helplessly so. When our eldest was a toddler, I’d dismiss the cold cuts in the grocery store as “pigs’ noses,” which, after all, is kind of what they are. At that age, he accepted that we did not eat pigs’ noses.

Then he started kindergarten and discovered that other kids’ families lived on pigs’ noses and began asking for them. Insistently.

I think the Pork Council (or whoever) did a masterful job of getting people all fired up about bacon, particularly since so many of the same people also seem all fired up bout their Fitbits.

It’s as if they were enthusiastically drilling holes in the ship’s hull so they could get the most out of their life jackets.


But, then, Adam@Home (AMS) had a story arc this past week that reminded me of my own days in the hype machine.

At least Adam knows he’s writing good advice that he doesn’t live up to.

In my case, I feel guilty over all the stories I wrote as a business writer in which I sincerely advised people, if they got overextended, that their credit card company would be happy to work with them to lower their payments and keep everything mellow.

That was what the credit card companies told me, so that was what I wrote.

Then I lost my job and found that the combination of unemployment checks and putting everything I owned on Ebay still left me short of rent and groceries and minimum credit card payments.

So I called them and explained … well, I explained nothing because they weren’t willing to even have the conversation until I’d gone into default and torpedoed my credit rating.

Even when my unemployment ran out and I had to declare bankruptcy, the adjustment they offered as an alternative was to cut my minimum payments by one-tenth of one percent.

For the record, if you get overextended, my new advice is that you pull the rip cord. It’s no harder on your credit rating and the bloodsuckers, having long since recovered the actual money they loaned you, won’t get another dime of usury.

Leaving you with enough cash on hand for gummy worms and coffee, as long as you don’t need any fancy artwork dribbled on your joe.

True dat, Willie, so let’s make employment the focus of this


Juxtaposition of the Day

(Jeff Stahler – AMS)


(Mr. Boffo)

Speaking of people echoing the company line without having tested it themselves, the HR exec in Stahler’s cartoon reminds me, in a negative sense, of something I read just last night in CS Forester’s biography of Lord Nelson.

As a young captain of 20, Nelson had already served eight years in the British navy, including stints as a captain’s servant and a midshipman, and he used to meet with his midshipmen every noon to shoot the sun and calculate the ship’s latitude, which Forester summed up as modeling for these potential officers the wise policy of never ordering subordinates to do anything you wouldn’t be willing to do yourself.

HR people are precisely in the position of expecting others to do things they’ve never actually done themselves and setting standards for jobs they don’t really understand.

Mind you, I was the son and grandson of Lord Nelson types. My grandfather carried a dinner pail on a elevator down a mineshaft before he ever carried a briefcase on an elevator up the towers.

And, when my dad became labor negotiator for a major school district, he went down to the bus garage to meet the department head and have a look around. He was the first person from the front office who had ever set foot in the place.

So I wasn’t the Intelligentest person around for simply following suit in my own more modest career, but I didn’t rise very far before I realized that knowing what other people do for a living was, in fact, a rare facet even in middle management.

I’d have loved to work for the boss in Mr. Boffo, who may be tight-fisted but understands how it all works.

Of course, it’s only a comic strip and the joke is based on the fact that anyone that practical would have been weeded out long before he reached that stratum.


Finally, Luann (AMS)‘s dad needn’t worry.

As I’m sure anyone who worked in a music store in the 80s will recall, you’re only required to know the opening bars:

5 thoughts on “CSotD: The Intelligentests

  1. I had a trophy made in appreciation for the director of the Irish jam, and came away impressed at how little it would cost, in the grand scheme of things, to make myself a display case worth of flashy trophies.

    The Luann strip reminds me of the late Joe Fanfara, owner of Appleway Music in Ft. Collins, who could play a solid lick on any instrument he sold. Respect for that.

  2. Speaking of pig noses, my grandmother used to give her kids “elephant ears.” Turns out she was feeding them liver.

  3. Kip, I was thinking more of the sign in the guitar shop in Wayne’s World that forbade “Stairway to Heaven.” I’m not sure you could graduate from eighth grade in those days if you couldn’t pick out the opening bars of Axel’s Theme on a keyboard.

  4. Mike—at my school it was the opening bars of Sheila E’s “Glamorous Life”.

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