Tuesday, November 22, 2016
Of Dunces, Fools, Drones and Heroes
That was a test. It was a success. Now that all eight of the planned designs are available, I offer the full explanation and rationale behind this, my latest humanitarian intervention/fundraising effort.
Beyond attempting to mitigate against the erroneous notion, held by many of those who regularly read this blog, that high-quality web content grows on a magical content tree, and that therefore there is no need for them to pay for it, this new initiative is designed to solve a specific societal problem. Week after week hundreds of thousands of readers come to ClubOrlov and find out about some important aspect of reality, of which they would have remained unaware had they continued to just pay attention to mainstream media, to which some choose to refer as “presstitutes,” but I do not, out of respect for sex workers.
This leaves many of my readers feeling like they are stranded within a tiny minority of clueful people. That, unfortunately, is very much the case: most of the population remains clueless. Some of the readers would like to clue some people in, but where do they start? Broaching difficult subjects with family and friends often results in alienated family members and fewer friends. How do we determine whether any given person is worth trying to talk to?
Are people worth talking to at all? Some are. And you will need some of them as your allies. The lone individual is weak, but even a small group of dedicated individuals can often persevere against all odds. It is a bad idea to try to tackle the future alone. Family and friends might help—if you are lucky. And if you are not—better start looking! But you need to know how to look—for people you can not only talk to, but trust and respect. At this point in human history, you would be sneaking into a stable at night looking to steal a horse to ride bareback through enemy territory. It better not be lame, skittish or a rodeo horse.
In all my travels and conversations, I have proven to myself beyond all doubt that the decision on who to talk to should have nothing to do with race, age, class, gender, ethnicity, nationality, IQ, profession/trade, educational level, criminal record, party affiliation, gang/militia membership, religious persuasion, military training/rank, drinking/drug habits and whatever else you might try to use to categorize people. Categorizing people based on their public attributes just doesn’t work. So, in determining who is worth talking to, all we have to go on is gut feeling, first impressions and happy accidents. But is this, I ask you, in any way optimal? No, it is not!
That is why I decided to step in and help. The eight designs may have some artistic merit, but they are not exactly art; in fact, they should be regarded as precision mental calibration instruments. Each design features a simple nautical motif consisting of a circle and the 16 compass points. Around the circle is a tag line. Inside the circle is a fish. The tag line is a pun about the fish. Confused? Read on!
Each of the designs is a cognitive test. As you walk around wearing one of these shirts, looking for people worth talking to, you can apply specific methods, explained below, to interpret the way they react to your shirt. You can then make an objective determination as to whether a particular person is worth talking to. The determination is based on that staple of business consultants, Four-Quadrant Analysis. In this case, the two dimensions being mapped are:
x-axis: Did the person get it? (No | Yes)
y-axis: Did the person laugh? (No | Yes)
The only people worth talking to are the ones in the upper-right quadrant (Yes, Yes); the ones who both got it and laughed. For the sake of the Four-Quadrant Analysis, we shall call them “heroes.”
This technique will produce some number of false negatives: some people will fall into the “dunce” category simply because they aren’t paying attention, don’t want to talk to you, or both. Be that as it may; since you are looking for people who are paying attention and do want to talk to you, this source of systematic error is of little consequence. But keep in mind that “Hey, whaddaya thinkamah shirt?” is a perfectly acceptable gambit to try on those who look promising but aren’t paying attention no matter how intoxicated you are pretending to be. To avoid false positives, your tone of voice and body language should indicate that you are earnest and are posing a serious question. This is easiest done if you are in fact extremely drunk, but that is likely to generate false positives as well. It is a fine line.
The technique for determining to which of the upper two quadrants—“fool” or “hero”—a person should be assigned is somewhat involved. When a person laughs, the reason is not always clear. Some people laugh for the same reason that pigs oink: none at all. Luckily, these shirts are specifically designed to avoid this type of ambiguity. Each of the shirts contains not just any joke, but a pun (paranomasia) and not just any pun but a gratuitous one: a pun for pun’s sake. Gratuitous puns are a subtle form of audience abuse, and the chuckles they elicit are more often than not accompanied by groans, snorts and eye-rolls. These subtle cues allow you to distinguish a person who gets it—a “hero”—from just a plain old chucklehead—a “fool.”
There is also some amount of technique involved in determining why a person who “got it” didn’t laugh. Having a sense of humor is essential to preserving one’s sanity when being clued into things that may cause severe mental discomfort (which are legion) and so humorless people pose a danger both to themselves and to society, and are best avoided. If a person says something like “I see, a wrasse is that fish, and ‘your wrasse’ sounds like ‘your… ass’… on a plate… Oh, I get it now! Is that a veiled threat?” and then, instead of laughing, gazes upon you like a cow at a barn door, that would be a humorless person—a “drone.” Steer clear.
There is another, much rarer cause of failure to elicit a laugh. In this case, a person looks at you and simply says: “Yes, that’s quite funny,” sometimes following up with an even funnier joke or two, all without laughing or even cracking a smile. In this case, what you have before you is a professional comedian. Comedy is serious business, and you shouldn’t expect a comedian to laugh with you any more than you should expect your anesthesiologist to pass out when you do. You should always be nice to comedians, because otherwise they will make jokes about you. But it is up to you whether you should try to clue them in, since they are more likely than not to just go on making jokes, while what is happening to the world is no laughing matter.
Once you are convinced that you have before you a hero, there is an additional safety check for you to perform. You have to somehow determine whether this person is a know-it-all. Know-it-alls are dangerous, because they often have a certain character flaw that makes it difficult, or even impossible, for them to admit to ignorance. This flaw, under certain circumstances, can lead to dangerous, reckless behavior that is indistinguishable from Level III Stupidity, which is explained below. Here, some of the designs are more helpful than others: some of the fish shown on them are quite obscure. Few people aside from those who are ichthyologically trained know what a wrasse, a plaice, a bream or a dace is. Here, you can use a simple ploy: pretend that you got the t-shirt from a second-hand or as a hand-me-down, and never wondered what it means, then innocently ask, “What’s a dace anyway?” and gauge the answer. If it starts with “Well I guess…” then you have a winner. If it starts with “Well, obviously…” then you may have before you the dreaded know-it-all. Be sure to follow up with “Are you by any chance an ichthyologist?” to avoid false positives.
One last point. There is very limited use to be made of drones and chuckleheads. Intelligence without humor is just as bad as humor without intelligence. Dunces, however, are not necessarily altogether useless. Humans are useful in any number of capacities. For example, some of them make good pack animals. To wit: your typical US Army grunt can carry 40 kg—has to, in fact, since that’s the weight of their kit. Since we are headed into an age of scarce and expensive transportation fuels, such capabilities are not to be ignored. But only some dunces are actually useful. Roughly speaking, dunces can be teased apart into three categories of stupidity:
Level I Stupid: Potentially quite useful. Takes a long time for the penny to drop, but it does eventually, often after some embarrassingly large amount of time and effort. These dunces know that they are dunces and try to compensate for their meager mental abilities through honesty, hard work and physical endurance. As long as their heads are put to purposes other than thinking—such as holding up a bucket of water while walking uphill—their intellectual failings can remain inconsequential.
Level II Stupid: Possibly useful, though not quite as good. The penny never drops, but the dunce knows this and makes no pretense of even trying. This is potentially dangerous, since the ability to comprehend and accurately execute simple orders is sometimes important. If the standard reaction to a simple enough order is to stand there, feet planted, chew cud and low mournfully, then that’s not a positive.
Level III Stupid: Shouldn’t be used at all. These dunces are so stupid that they have no idea that they are stupid. They are often convinced that they alone are right, and will do the most absurd and counterproductive things, repeatedly, blaming their failure on anyone they can think of. What’s worse, because in these Level IIIs the negative feedback loop between stupid thoughts and the results of the ensuing stupid deeds happens to be broken, they can be extremely unpredictable and capable of stunning, fantastic acts of stupidity that endanger those around them.
Here, then, are the tag lines from all eight shirt designs, in alphabetical order. Please order whichever shirts you like best, put them on, go out into the world and find people who are worth talking to and cluing in. Also, please spread the word and share the links: the success of this project depends on you.
Click on the links below to order a specific shirt, or visit the online store to see all of them.
1. Best shirt gar none!
2. Please don’t be so koi!
3. Happy dace are here again!
4. I have a bream!
5. In cod we trust
6. I like to play the bass
7. Your plaice or mine?
8. Your wrasse on a plate