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Anson Stevens-Bollen

Oh, the Humanity!

Stupid is as stupid does…

July 8, 2014, 12:00 am

One-time Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain was fond of telling his supporters, Stupid people are ruining America!

Not so fast there, Herman. Stupid people also provide cheap entertainment for us, which is a valuable service.

If you’re like me, you savor stupidity like a fine wine. There’s that instant when you hear about something truly imbecilic, and you feel total glee.

I took one of those Historic Santa Fe walks recently. Our guide mentioned that the New Mexico license plates—the classic red and yellow ones—are the only ones in the country that say USA.

She said this was deemed necessary because there are just too many simpletons out there who don’t understand New Mexico is a genuine state. I guess they think we’re a foreign country, like Mexico or Indiana.

This sounded too good to be true. I went looking for confirmation, and found an Albuquerque Journal story that said USA was added in 1969 “to help geography-challenged people in other states know where we’re from.”

I know, right? We got statehood in 1912, and there are still folks who haven’t heard about it? Where the hell are they getting their news; from Fox?

Common sense is disappearing from the world at an alarming rate, and scientists predict it will vanish completely by 2022. One measure of this is to look at the increasingly voluminous instruction manuals you get with everything you buy these days.

See, in case of a lawsuit, this allows a company to testify, “We’re sorry for your discomfort, sir, but it clearly states on page 620 of the manual that our Acme Blowtorch isn’t recommended for treating genital warts.”

I don’t get out much, so I only recently learned that they now sell cars that you can start remotely with that same magic gizmo you use to unlock them. This allows you to turn on the engine from inside your home, so it’s all roasty-toasty when you climb in on a cold winter morning.

Setting aside the question of whether this represents the work of Satan, this new feature requires its own nine-page instruction manual, which I got a copy of.

Let’s see. Do not start the car if it’s out of eyesight, the booklet says. That makes sense. If a stranger standing next to a driverless car suddenly sees it come to life, he’s likely to open fire on it with an assault rifle, as outlined in the Second Amendment.

It goes on. Don’t start the engine remotely if the hood is up. Um, why on God’s green earth would anybody ever do that?

But here’s my favorite bit, and I’m quoting directly: “Do not start the engine near dry foliage, paper or other flammable substances.”

Oh. Right.

“Honey, have you seen my remote key? I parked the car on a pile of gasoline-soaked rags and burning coals, and…HONEY! NO! NOOOOOO! Oh, the humanity!”

A few weeks ago, I took that tram that goes to Sandia Peak. It deposits you at an observation platform 10,300 feet up. A red wooden rail is all that stands between you and a nonstop plunge to Splatsville, yet they still find it necessary to post this sign: “Do not climb or sit on railings.”

Why do they bother?

I mean, why do they even fricking bother?

Robert Basler’s humor column runs twice monthly in SFR. Email the author:


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