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Announcing: National Boycott Stupidity Day (First appeared in InfoWorld)

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I love the movie Apollo 13. It’s a modern rarity. Engineers and scientists – smart people dedicated to their jobs – are the heroes, and they become heroes by doing their jobs intelligently and with dedication.

The only other recent movie that came close was Independence Day, and even there a cable repair guy showed up the real scientists.

Okay, there was Flubber. The hero was a scientist, albeit absentminded. The whole movie was incredibly stupid, though, so I don’t think it counts.

People celebrate stupidity in all sorts of ways. They say, proudly, “I don’t know how to balance my checkbook!” They call each other “bleeding heart liberals” and … well, whatever we call conservatives these days … instead of solving the nation’s problems.

Not just our government, but many corporations as well, employ a “use it or lose it” budgeting philosophy that encourages year-end spending sprees – they penalize managers who reduce costs by cutting their budgets the next year. Stupid.

Lots of companies are stingy with training dollars, because, “What if we train you and you leave?” Well, what if you don’t and the employee stays? Stupid.

Then there’s compensation. Companies tie salaries to the going rates in the job market, then link jobs to the wrong market categories to keep labor costs down. Employees, of course, monitor the job market. These companies then set a corporate standard salary increase of 4 percent. The best employees leave. Stupid.

In a hotel recently, I saw a sign above the thermostat that read: In Heating Season/To heat the room/Turn thermostat up/Turn fan up. To cool the room/Turn thermostat down/Turn fan down. In Cooling Season/To heat the room/Turn thermostat up/Turn fan down. To cool the room/Turn thermostat down/Turn fan up. If we need instructions this detailed to handle a thermostat, clearly our gene pool needs a good cleaning.

Well, I’m sick of it. I’m sick and tired of people being stupid and proud of it, of corporations counting on our stupidity to make their marketing strategies work, of car salesmen pretending to talk to their sales managers to get approval for the price we’ve negotiated and expecting us to believe it … I’m fed up, and I think you and every other IS Survivalist are fed up, too.

So I propose we organize a National Boycott Stupidity Day. Unlike many other big rallies, this one won’t be held anywhere near Washington, because Washington’s citizens re-elected Marion Barry mayor after he was videotaped using cocaine. It’s no place for smart people to gather.

We’ll name a city later, or maybe we’ll hold National Boycott Stupidity Day in a cornfield, stamping out perfect geometric shapes in the corn to prove we’re as smart as space aliens.

For the event itself, we’ll have speakers – top physicists, engineers, biologists, chemists, and other people like that. They’ll have to be smart, though, and they can’t be dull.

We’ll also organize tournaments. Chess, backgammon, checkers, poker, bridge and Go will be a big deal since you have to be smart to play them well. Curling and bocce, on the other hand, will be banned.

We’ll invite some stand-up comics too, but only the smart ones. Good stand-up comics are more perceptive than most professional political commentators, since they’re better at spotting incongruities in the statements of our public figures.

For other entertainment we’ll hold continuous showings of Forrest Gump so we can all not watch it together. The thought of a million or so smart people all simultaneously ignoring this, the ultimate paean to dumbness, sends shivers up my spine.

People like Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Bill Clinton, and Newt Gingrich will get invitations but we’ll turn them away at the door, because to be allowed in you can’t just be smart yourself. You have to encourage intelligence in others.

You’re invited, unless you trust your gut so much you ignore facts and logic when making important decisions. Sorry, but if you do, we’ll just have to turn you away, too.

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