The Stupid Ages, eight stupid things in “modern” America
Mulling over the state of America, I’ve come to another dismal conclusion. I’ve concluded that the general state of education and intellect is declining. Declining rapidly in fact. In fact, I think we are entering a new age. Yes, we’ve had the Dark Ages, the Age of Enlightenment, the Age of Reason, and all the rest. Now we’ve come full circle … The Stupid Ages. I look around me, and am just amazed at the stunning stupidity of some aspects of “modern” America. Maybe I’m just getting older and wiser, or maybe I’m getting senile. I am sure commenters will weigh in one way or the other. With no further ado, eight incredibly stupid things about the USA:
1. The Metric System. The rest of the world went to the metric system years ago, it may not be perfect, but it’s a hell of a lot better than a system based on the length of the King’s nose. Why is it incredibly stupid to keep using the English system of measure? Because it’s costing huge amounts of time and money every year to make the conversion, or correct the mistakes that were caused by incorrect conversions. And I’m sure the occasional life is lost as well. Using the English system of weights and measures makes about as much a sense as using Roman numerals. We lost a 125 million dollar Mars mission because of this stupidity, go figure.
2. The Penny. Again, an archaic coin of no use whatever is kept in circulation. People spend time counting pennies almost every single day. Especially retail, if one adds it up, we are talking huge amounts of time. Then there’s the fact that cash registers have to be set up to hold them, banks have to sort and store and move them, and we are talking huge amounts of money just so we can keep fake pennies around. I mean fake as in fake, the last copper pennies were minted in 1981, since then they have been copper clad junk metal. What earlier generations would have called counterfeit money.
3. 7,000 Year Old Earth. OK, yes, I rant about this one all the time. Tens of millions of Americans believe the Earth is 7,000 years old. Now that’s not what bothers me, what bothers me is that they think their belief is backed up by evidence. Not, it’s not. By the late 18th century the extremely Christian scientist of the day concluded that the Earth was at the very least millions of years old, and the story in Genesis could not literally be true. Arrrgh!!
4. Moon Landing Hoax. A huge percentage of Americans think there is some validity to the idea that the Moon landings were faked. Thank you Fox network and the History Channel. No, there’s zero chance the Moon landings were faked, these were some of the most well documented events in history for God’s sake. Every single argument raised by these folks has been shown to be utter drivel, yet like the energizer bunny, the myth just keeps on going.
5. Nostradamus. ARRRRGH! Sorry. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, no one has ever predicted anything using Nostradamus as a guide. Connecting up events with Nostradamus’s predictions after the event … isn’t prediction. I guarantee you, write a hundred nonsense poems, and just by chance events will occur that resemble some of them. So what?
6. Health Care. Every other industrialized country in the world provides their citizenry with cradle-to-grave health care, and at far less cost than the American “system.” Yet try to talk to an American about this, and they immediately demonstrate that they know less than nothing about how health care works in other countries, and worse, they are often under the impression that the American “system” is somehow superior. Let me see if I understand this, we’re just about dead last in every health category compared to the other industrialized nation’s, pay vastly more money per capita, and have tens of millions of people with limited or no access to health care … and this is a superior system?
7. Saturday mail. Other countries have sane efficient systems for delivering mail. Only five days a week, and the (locked) mailboxes are in little clusters. Vastly easier and cheaper to deliver the mail, and it’s far more secure! Here they somehow have to schedule a six day week, and the poor mail people have to truck door to door six days a week. It doesn’t make any sense, so that’s why it’s on this list.
8. Lead paint and gas. Lead paint was outlawed in Sweden around 1900, by 1920 or so it was outlawed pretty much throughout the industrialized world. I mean, the goddamn Romans figured out that lead was poison. (Only slaves were allowed to work in lead mines.) Yet in the USA the paint industry kept lead paint legal till 1970 or so. I mean, lead kills and makes you stupid, this isn’t even remotely debatable. Then there’s leaded gas, which remained legal in the USA until 1986. We’re talking a product that they knew when it was introduced that it was a poison. OK then. On the optimistic side, maybe the lead in the paint and gas explains the first six items on this list.
I could go on, but eight is enough for now. I’m not trying to diss America in particular, it’s just that I live here and have to deal with these every day. In a country that prides itself on its modernity, we sure cling to a lot of outdated and even harmful ideas. How the hell does the country that first put humans on the Moon cling to medieval ideas? I have some ideas … but that’s for a future post.
(The above image of the Rider-Waite tarot card, The Fool, is public domain under every copyright law in the known universe. Technically speaking, there were better cards to illustrate this post with, but since most people know as much about the Tarot as they do about quantum physics, this will do just fine. The Fool, by the way, eventually morphed into The Joker in modern card decks.)