the basic laws of human stupidity


by Carlo M. Cipolla
illustrations by James Donnelly

THE FIRST BASIC LAW of human stupidity asserts without ambiguity that:

Always and inevitably everyone underestimates the number of stupid individuals in circulation.

Stupid Person No. 1
At first, the statement sounds trivial, vague and horribly ungenerous. Closer scrutiny will however reveal its realistic veracity. No matter how high are one’s estimates of human stupidity, one is repeatedly and recurrently startled by the fact that:

a) people whom one had once judged rational and intelligent turn out to be unashamedly stupid.

b) day after day, with unceasing monotony, one is harassed in one’s activities by stupid individuals who appear suddenly and unexpectedly in the most inconvenient places and at the most improbable moments.

The First Basic Law prevents me from attributing a specific numerical value to the fraction of stupid people within the total population: any numerical estimate would turn out to be an underestimate. Thus in the following pages I will denote the fraction of stupid people within a population by the symbol å.

Continue reading the basic laws of human stupidity

upper volta with rockets

Niggers always want credit for some shit they’re supposed to do. They’ll brag about stuff a normal man just does. They’ll say something like, “Yeah, well I take care of my kids.” You’re supposed to, you dumb motherfucker. “I ain’t never been to jail.” Whaddya want? A cookie? You’re not supposed to go to jail, you low-expectation-having motherfucker!
Chris Rock

Русский народ никому ничего не должен. Напротив, это ему все должны за то зло, которое он мог причинить миру — и сейчас еще может, — но не причинил. А если и причинил — Чернобыль, то не по злу, а по простоте своей технической. Кто защитил Европу от Чингисхана и Батыги ценой двухсотлетнего ига, кто спас ее от Тамерлана, вовремя перенеся в Москву из Владимира чудотворную икону Божьей матери, кто Наполеона окоротил, кто своим мясом забил стволы гитлеровских орудий? Забыли? А надо бы помнить и дать отдохнуть русскому народу от всех переживаний, обеспечивая его колбасой, тушенкой, крупами, картошкой, хлебом, капустой, кефиром, минтаем, детским питанием, табаком, водкой, закуской, кедами, джинсами, спортинвентарем, лекарствами, ватой. И баснословно дешевыми подержанными автомобилями. И жвачкой.
    Но никто нас не любит, кроме евреев, которые, даже оказавшись в безопасности, на земле своих предков, продолжают изнывать от неразделенной любви к России. Эта преданная, до стона и до бормотания, не то бабья, не то рабья любовь была единственным, что меня раздражало в Израиле.
    — Юрий Нагибин, Тьма в конце туннеля, 19
Russian people do not owe anything to anyone. On the contrary, everyone owes them for the evil that they could have caused to the world — and can cause even now, — but refrained from causing. And even if they did cause evil, as in Chernobyl, it was not out of malice, but due to their primitive technology. Who defended Europe from Genghis Khan and Batu Khan at the cost of a bicentenary yoke? who saved her from Tamerlane, by a timely transfer of Our Lady of Vladimir to Moscow? who cut Napoleon down to size? who stopped the barrels of Hitler’s guns with their flesh? Or have you forgotten? But you should remember, you should help Russian people recover from their tribulations, you should surfeit them with sausage, canned meat, cereals, potatoes, bread, cabbage, yoghurt, pollack, baby formula, tobacco, vodka, snacks, sneakers, denim, sporting goods, medicine, cotton. And fabulously cheap used cars. And chewing gum.
    But nobody likes us, except for the Jews, who, even upon finding themselves secure in the land of their ancestors, continue to suffer from unrequited love for Russia. This love, devoted unto moans and murmurs, be it womanish or slavish, was the only thing that annoyed me in Israel.
     —Yuri Nagibin, Darkness at the End of the Tunnel, 19, translated by MZ

what was hawaii doing in the pacific?

Reproduced from Zero Mostel’s FBI file:

Stage Door Canteen, Thursday, 13 August 1942



My impression of a peculiar sapiensis Americanis, (the Isolationist Senator), who digs at our great President, is a holder of an X card, cannot get along on the starvation wages of $25,000 a year — the honorable Senator Phineas T. Pellegra, who never gets excited, who is always very calm and cool as he speaks about the democracy in which he doesn’t believe — in.

My fellow Americans, I take off my hat in America to no one — but in this great land of opportunity, in this great land of democracy, in the midst of plenty, where we have these various sacred principles that our fathers have fought for in the past, present and future, then I must reiterate that all our strength, that all our power, these same principles which we know to be true on the one hand — and on the other hand.

I may be vague, but permit me to be serious and bituminous at this moment, to illustrate this story with an incident that was related to me by the president of U.S. Congeal, a struggling monopoly.

He said to me, “Pellegra (he calls me by my first disease), you take your attitude away from your platitude — what have you got — FIDUCIARY?” — and this shows, my fellow Americans, that we cannot pursue a policy… that we cannot pursue a policy… that we cannot pursue a policy of… (DOUBLE TALK) …..FORGET IT!

I say to you, AMERICA FIRST!!!

(And what is the trouble with our war effort? I will tell you. The trouble with our war effort is that we have too many allies… twenty-six… we are too crowded! It is not restricted enough! Why, my golf club has more rules for admission than this war. Before we know it, it will be an unequal battle… the Axis will be outnumbered. Is that fair? Is that the American way?)

One final word. You know, I come from a state where there are no conditions, and if I were to tell the most serious and grievous problem facing the American people about this so-called Japanese attack on Hawaii, I have this to offer to you, my fellow Americans…… From one corner of our great land, in Rhode Island, to the other corner in California….. DOUBLE TALK….. DOUBLE TALK….. DOUBLE TALK….. This one question….. WHAT WAS HAWAII DOING IN THE PACIFIC?

Agent’s Note

It is believed the above excerpts taken from the broadcast of Stage Door Canteen on 13 August 1942 by the Columbia Broadcast System resulted in Sokolsky‘s criticism of the Subject in his column. Attention is directed to the fact that the script was not presented in its original form. The program director made deletions of certain passages in the script, which he apparently felt were in bad taste. These are shown in the script in brackets.

happy centenary, samuel

            Le Concentrisme


    Vous êtes le premier à vous intéresser à cet imbécile. Voici tout ce que j’en sais : j’ai fait sa connaissance ou, plus exactement, il m’a imposé cette incommodité, la veille de sa mort, à Marseille. Il s’est cramponné à moi dans un sombre bistrot où, à cette époque, j’avais l’excellente habitude d’aller me soûler deux fois par semaine. « Vous avez l’air » me dit-il « suffisamment idiot pour m’inspirer une confiance extrême. Enfin » poursuivit-il — (je ne change rien à ses logogriphes) — « enfin et pour la première fois je tombe sur un animal qui, si j’ose en croire mes yeux, est totalement et idéalement dépourvu d’intelligence, plongé dans une divine et parfaite nullité. » Il s’interrompit, se découvrit, et puis, d’une voix vibrante : « Je vous embrasse, mon frère&nbsp ! » s’écria-t-il. Je le repoussai vivement. Il faillit tomber, pâlit, et se mit à tousser d’une façon si douloureuse que je ne pus m’empêcher de regretter la violence de mon geste. Mais il se reprit bientôt et m’adressa de nouveau, maintenant d’une voix à peine perceptible.
    « Monsieur » dit-il, « permettez-vous que je vous pose une question&nbsp ? » Continue reading happy centenary, samuel

looking for loopholes

        (Fortune Theatre, London, 1961)

    Yes, I could have been a judge but I never had the Latin, never had the Latin for the judging. I just never had sufficient of it to get through the rigorous judging exams. They’re noted for their rigour. People came staggering out saying ‘My God, what a rigorous exam’—and so I became a miner instead. A coal miner. I managed to get through the mining exams—they’re not very rigorous. They only ask one question. They say ‘Who are you?’, and I got 75% for that. Continue reading looking for loopholes

selected sound bites from webex watchers

    Tis The Season…..
    Due to intense media scrutiny, the annual Gala Daughter Pork Fest has been moved to a new, undisclosed location and the date has been changed.
    Those of you who have daughters. Think for a moment about raping her. Pretty distrubing? Damn right. Now, do you really want to be affiliated with anyone who’s moral compass is so badly out of adjustment that daughter raping falls within the “O.k. to do” list?
    I don’t give a shit if you’ve made 10 million off the turd.
    ― Yahoo! Message Boards: WEBX, Msg 38303 by gloufam, 12/13/05 08:19 pm

    This Just In:
    The hymen is sad…
    When ruptured by Dad.
    ― Yahoo! Message Boards: WEBX, Msg 38332 by gloufam, 12/19/05 06:21 pm

    WebEx Drops Libel Claim Against Zeleny
    Since December 29, 2001, Michael Zeleny has publicized child rape allegations repeatedly made since 1988 by Erin Zhu against her father Min Zhu, better known as the founder and former President and CTO of WebEx Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ:WEBX). On Friday, December 23, 2005, WebEx agreed to drop its libel lawsuit filed against Michael Zeleny for asserting that it squandered its shareholders’ assets on a failed coverup of child rape. This capitulation took place in response to Zeleny’s defense of truth asserted in the wake of two judicial sanctions imposed on WebEx for bad faith pleadings. WebEx’s aborted action against Zeleny has been funded by its shareholders’ assets.
    ― Yahoo! Message Boards: WEBX, Msg 38370 by helicalenzyme, 12/24/05 01:33 pm

    management sucks
    Webex has several years advance on the competion in a growing market with huge potential.
    The problem is that Wall street has no confidence in this awful managemnt team. The founder is a pedophile who raped his own daughter (he still makes managment decisions)
    Subrah can not even manage his waistline how is he going to manage a corporation. No one has any respect for this fat east louisiana loser.
    That is why when any company with real management announces anything in the conferencing arena (does not even need to be web based) the stock tanks. Wall street knows subrah can not keep the others at bay. They have seen him fumble before them and not even know how many working days in the quarter.
    Believe me the mediocrity trickles down to every nook and cranny of this organization.
    They can not even maintain 99% uptime in USA during business hours.
    ― Yahoo! Message Boards: WEBX, Msg 38297 by bbbburn, 12/13/05 01:58 pm

    Re: management sucks
    If you have evidence of Min Zhu still making management decisions at WebEx, please contact me. The ensuing housecleaning will benefit all members of the general public investing in WEBX.
    ― Yahoo! Message Boards: WEBX, Msg 38302 by helicalenzyme, 12/13/05 06:12 pm

    WebEx president plans to leave company
    WebEx Communications Inc. said on Thursday that its president, Bill Heil, plans to leave the company.
    No reason was given for Heil’s decision, but the company said he plans to join its Business Advisory Board and will continue at WebEx in the coming months to assist in the transition of his responsibilities.
    ― Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal – February 23, 2006

    Bill Heil Bails
    I talked to Bill last May. He didn’t want to stick around for the encore.
    the sinking ship
    ― Yahoo! Message Boards: WEBX, Msg 38821 by helicalenzyme, 02/24/06 05:07 pm

    Re: Bill Heil Bails
    He was fired and if he wants to get extra money besides his severance he sits in this new position and shuts up. IMHO
    ― Yahoo! Message Boards: WEBX, Msg 38825 by dayslate90, 02/26/06 11:57 am

    Re: Bill Heil Bails
    you’re right on. He was fired.
    This is why I love investing in companies where the founder(s) are still involved and have a significant share. Too many comapnies wait until the mgt weakness shows up in the numbers, and even then sometimes the board drags its feet.
    ― Yahoo! Message Boards: WEBX, Msg 38826 by munger75, 02/26/06 11:57 am

    Re: Bill Heil Bails
    “This is why I love investing in companies where the founder(s) are still involved and have a significant share.”
    one down, two to go
    ― Yahoo! Message Boards: WEBX, Msg 38837 by helicalenzyme, 02/27/06 09:58 pm pm

    Re: Bill Heil Bails
    That’s just the Chinese culture, they value family more than we do.
    ― Yahoo! Message Boards: WEBX, Msg 38843 by munger75, 02/28/06 01:40 pm

    I’ve Examined The Facts;
    The allegations are built on pure POPPYCOCK.
    ― Yahoo! Message Boards: WEBX, Msg 38827 by gloufam, 02/26/06 04:03 pm

    Re: I’ve Examined The Facts;
    gloufam seems to be questioning my allegation of child rape coverup by WebEx:
    make amends for mayhem
    WebEx Drops Libel Claim Against Zeleny
    ― Yahoo! Message Boards: WEBX, Msg 38838 by helicalenzyme, 02/27/06 10:09 pm

    Re: I’ve Examined The Facts;
    Not at all my friend. It was meant as clever word play. Based on POPPY COCK — get it?
    ― Yahoo! Message Boards: WEBX, Msg 38840 by gloufam, 02/28/06 11:53 am

    Re: I’ve Examined The Facts;
    “Not at all my friend. It was meant as clever word play. Based on POPPY COCK — get it?”
    Please bear with my non-native grasp of English.
    Merriam-Webster identifies poppy as “any of numerous annual, biennial, and perennial herbs or rarely subshrubs of Papaver or sometimes of closely related genera…”, or “an extract from the poppy used in medicines”, or “something possessing the narcotic qualities of the poppy.”
    Are you attributing the narcotic qualities of the poppy to Min Zhu’s penis? That would explain a great deal about WebEx management and its musical chairs.
    ― Yahoo! Message Boards: WEBX, Msg 38845 by helicalenzyme, 03/01/06 12:07 am

cordially, — Michael
7576 Willow Glen Road, Los Angeles, CA 90046 — 323.363.1860 —
All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better. — Samuel Beckett

borat update

    Responding to his government’s recent charges, Borat Sagdiyev, rated as “Number 2 TOP Television Reporter in Kazakhstan”, has officially announced his support of legal action against Ali G’s alter ego Sacha Baron Cohen: “Jagshemash! In response ro Mr. Ashykbayev’s comments, I like to state, I have no connection with Mr. Cohen and fully support my government’s decision to sue this Jew. Since the 2003 Tuleyake reforms, Kazakhstan is as civilized as any other country in the world. Women can now travel on inside of bus, homosexuals no longer have to wear blue hats, and age of consent has been raised to 8 years old. Please, the captain of industry, I invite you to come to Kazakhstan, where we have incredible natural resources, hard-working labor, and some of the cleanest prostitutes in whole of Central Asia. Goodbye! Chenque!”

say what?

― for David W. Affeld        

„Die Kunst muß erst recht wieder verachtet, für ganz unnütz gehalten werden, ehe wieder was daraus werden kann, oder sie muß auch recht einseitig auf alles angewendet werden. Es ist ein vergeblicher Wunsch, daß uns das Publicum recht verstehen soll.“
“Art must be despised and considered to be completely worthless before anything can be derived from it again, or else it must be applied to everything. It is therefore ridiculous to try for any kind of personal success.”

« Quand j’aurai inspiré le dégoût et l’horreur universels, j’aurai conquis la solitude. »
“Once I have inspired universal disgust and horror, I will have conquered solitude.”

« Ma carrière n’avait pas été un échec, commercialement tout du moins : si l’on agresse le monde avec une violence suffisante, il finit par le cracher, son sale fric ; mais jamais, jamais il ne vous redonne la joie. »
“My career had not been a failure, at least commercially: if you assail the world with sufficient violence, it ends up spewing its filthy lucre; but never, never does it give you back any joy.”

Continue reading say what?