There Are Two Kinds Of Stupid

I read a post by Mike Rowe today and it got me started down the path to this blog post.

The first thing that came to mind was the old Jim Croce song from his 1972 album of the same name… “You don’t mess around with Jim”…which contains several recurring words of advice as follows:

You don’t tug on Superman’s cape
You don’t spit into the wind
You don’t pull the mask off the old Lone Ranger
And you don’t mess around with Jim

That got me to thinkin’ some…I do that a lot while Neil is out riding on his bike as he was this AM on an almost 15 miler…and the second thing that came to mind was another old saw…a book by Robert Lee Fulghum that made the NYT Best Seller list shortly after it’s publication in 1988 and remained there for almost two full years… “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten”.

Simple stuff really…both of those contain a whole lotta what we used to call walkin’ ‘round sense down in LA where Neil grew up (that’s the real LA or Lower Alabama, not that pretender out on the left coast somewheres). Mr. Fulghum’s book contains such vital nuggets as share everything, play fair, clean up your mess, and warm cookies and milk are good for you.

So’s ya might remember ‘round about 3 posts back I talked about another post from Mike Rowe where he answered a letter from Darlene asking him why he went on a trip in an RV that they dubbed the “Rowe’d Trip”…it was a reunion of his buddies that worked on his series Dirty Jobs with him and they went in search of some adventures. They took appropriate precautions from the corona, were all tested negative before they went, and mostly just did some video interviews with folks they had fond memories of from Dirty Jobs to see how things were going for them.

In his post back then
…he essentially told Darlene that he had been convinced that corona was here to stay as part of the new normal, and after seeing an interview with Dr. Michael Osterholm he had moved rapidly through the first four stage of grief and was into acceptance. He discussed how he was concerned that there was a possibility he would get it, a small possibility he would die if he did, and a small possibility that he could give it to somebody else. However…his opinion since he had accepted that was that it was time to move on in a smart manner. Just like we continue to drive even though millions of accidents driving annually and 40,000 or so people killed in those accidents…he said that for him he decided to take appropriate precautions and just accept those risks…just like we put on seat belts, use our blinkers, obey the speed limits, and don’t drive intoxicated and accept the risks of driving. His idea was not to trivialize the risk of corona…but not to let it paralyze him any longer either. Because…assuming that Dr. Osterholm is correct and corona is part of our new normal…and Neil thinks it probably is as well…we can’t stay closed forever and stop sending our kids to school and stop our jobs…as a country we accept the risk of driving, the risk of a great white shark eating us at the beach, and for the Aussies the certain knowledge that just about all the wildlife there wants to kill you.

Thinking some more on that…I remembered a long standing philosophy that Neil established and that Connie has adopted as well…there are two kinds of stupid…ya prolly figgered I forgot about the title and went down a rathole, right? Nope…I wuzza a gettin’ there by the road less traveled by.

Now we all think we’re pretty smart…and for some of us it’s actually correct while for others it clearly isn’t…but no matter how smart we either actually are or just think we are…even the smartest of us have some stupid in us…yes, it’s true and I hate to bust your bubble…but we’re all stupid.

Given that we’re all stupid…the next thing to figger out is what the heck we’re agonna do about it…and back in the day when he was in Uncle Sam’s Canoe Club and spent a lot of nights on the mid-watch as Officer of the Deck on the submarine he naturally had a lot of time to figger things out.

First up…you’ve got your accidentally stupid…a perfect illustration would be the time that his ship was out in the North Atlantic somewhere that I would have to shoot you if I told you exactly where…and they were traveling along from someplace to someplace else. The water was deep there…he recollects that the depths on the chart were all more than 1,000 fathoms or 6,000 feet…and in those days submarines pretty much kept their fathometer (a downward aimed sonar that tells you how deep the water is) turned off since the thing sent out a loud ping that told everybody within a hundred miles or so there was a submarine about…so it got left off and you navigated by the depths listed on the navigational chart. About 0300 or so…he decided it was time to clear baffles…the regular sonar is on the front of the ship and can’t hear behind the ship, that area is called the baffles so every once in a while you slow a bit, turn about 90 degrees or more …sometimes port, sometimes starboard, sometimes reverse course, sometimes just go in a circle…to expose the formerly block baffled area behind you to your sonar and see if there’s anything back there. In this particular case…the ship was going a little south of west on base course and he turned about 120 degrees to starboard (right), steadied up for 10 minutes or so at 12 knots to search that area, then turned back 120 degrees to port to base course and continued on. About 20 minutes later the quartermaster of the watch suggested he come to port another 40 degrees or so to get back into the center of our moving haven (the box the submarine has to stay inside while transiting). He did this and in an hour or so then turned back to the right to follow the track we were following on the chart. At the end of the watch…they pulled up their sheet of tracing paper to  use for the patrol report and discovered that they had essentially gone in a square right around a marked shallow spot on the chart that said it was 40 fathoms or 240 feet. This would have been an issue since the ship was at more than 400 feet at the time…and looking at the ship’s track on the tracing paper it looked like they came right up to the shallow spot and then went around it.

Now in actuality…the marked shallow spot was almost assuredly not there…it was marked on the chart as “existence doubtful”, the sounding data on the chart was based on a survey by an English vessel back in 1890 or so, and there were no other shallow spots around…the ocean there was deep with a pretty flat bottom so the likelihood of there being a single pinnacle 5,000+ feet high was pretty remote. Still though…if they had known it was on the chart he would certainly have went around it by a significantly greater margin than he did. 

But…accidental stupidity. It happens to all of us.

Then there’s deliberate stupidity…and yup, he’s done that as well. There was this time back in high school where he and his buddy decided to mess with the old man that was the park ranger at the local Municipal Park back in LA…he went ‘round after dark rousting young people from the Lover’s Lane in the park. Anyways…they decided to mess with him…not realizing that he had a radio and could call the real cops for help if/when needed. Now I’m sure that the statute of limitations has run out…and they didn’t do anything illegal anyway…but Ima thinking I’ll just let him keep the gory details to hisself instead of immortalizing them here. But…deliberate stupidity…they went out of their way to engage in that particular instance of teenage male stupidity.

Accidental stupidity is a fact of life…we’ve all got it and it will bite us in the keister at the most inopportune times…but the thing is, it’s an accident…you didn’t do anything to cause the consequences of that stupidity.

Deliberate stupidity on the other hand…well that’s like malice aforethought…if you’re stupid and do it deliberately then you deserve whatever consequences come your way…at least a whole lot more than you deserve the unintended consequences of accidental stupidity.

But I digress…lemme see, where was I going with this?

Oh yeah…Mike Rowe and his
post from this week

So Mike gets a letter from Adam Graham who writes a column for “Caffeinated Thoughts”…and he put up a column taking Mike to task for “claiming to be an epidemiologist” and that Dr. Osterholm’s infection numbers aren’t his so therefore he and Mike are doing a disservice to science by promoting them among other outlandish statements. Now I don’t know if you like Mike Rowe or not…or agree with anything he does or says…but in our opinion he’s a down to earth guy who mostly these days is working for his foundation which promotes the idea that college is not necessarily the right thing for every person growing up today…some of them are better served by learning a trade…he does recommend an education for everyone but thinks that trade or technical schooling or learning a trade on the job can provide you a rewarding career that allows one to support a family.

However…he’s always careful to state that his opinions are just that…opinions…and he’s usually pretty good at researching before coming to an opinion, especially if he’s going to write about it and post it on the interwebs…that’s just what he does. He actually did a pretty good job with his original response to Darlene explaining how and why he concluded that getting on with the business of living and live while still practicing social distancing and wearing a mask when appropriate was the correct solution…for him…under the circumstances that the corona will be with us long term.

So…Adam Graham…well he decided to descend into deliberate stupidity.

Mike Rowe has literally millions of folks following him on the twitter and Facebook.

So…what does Adam do? Why he writes the screed I linked to above.

So what was the deliberate stupidity here? It wasn’t the taking on of a popular internet personality with millions of followers because you disagree with something he said. Nope, not at all. Mike appreciates a good debate on just about any topic although mostly he shies away from politic…and I would never suggest that engaging with him is a bad thing. In the first place…the would be infringing on your freedom of speech which is guaranteed by the Constitution…and as a retired military family we have a fond affection for that particular document. Nope…engage away.

Where Adam went critically and deliberately wrong was…he didn’t let any of the facts get in his way. He decided that while Mike Rowe might have something good to say about getting jobs (because I presume that Adam agreed with those efforts)…Adam clearly has a completely different idea about the corona and what to do about it and therefore he decided Mr. Rowe was wrong and took him to task. Unfortunately…Mr. Rowe writes and researches for a living and given that he was essentially attacked in public by Mr. Graham…well Mr. Rowe decided to respond in public.

I gotta tell ya…no matter which side you agree with in this debate…it was like watching sharks eating baby seals. Mr. Rowe took the road…remaining excruciatingly polite and even agreeing with some of the points that Adam made…all the while completely destroying his arguments paragraph by paragraph and sentence by sentence. In the process…he also pointed out the numerous fallacies in Adam’s column and pretty much wiped the floor with him…game, set, and match…it was a landslide.

So the moral of the story here…is not that one should not engage with popular internet personalities with millions of followers. Nay, not at all. What you should do is engage with them intelligently and make cogent arguments. If you fail to do that with a guy that writes and talks for a living and is known for well researched and reasoned opinions…well he’s going to rip you to shreds. Essentially if you’re going to compare your credentials to his…and yours include a failed attempt at elective office and long term tenure as a Sunday School teacher while he’s quoting respected scientists…then you’re going to lose that fight…badly.

There’s not much new going on ‘round here…although Neil and Connie have re-established Date Night as a regular thing. We did this for years back when we were still working…it was always Thursday night as you didn’t need a reservation to get into the restaurant in the DC suburbs. Mostly it was a reason for Neil not to have to cook and to get Connie in a dress and high heels at least once a week…as well as a reason to try new eateries. Last week was the first week and he cooked but we decided to get take out until we can actually eat out again…depending on how Connie feels this afternoon we may have to cancel it for this week as she was feeling poorly this morning. As Ima typing this at 1553…it don’t look good.

Looking back at the past…this week in 2018 we were finishing up our RV trip up to the Canadian Maritimes…we took a lot of images of waterfalls and lighthouses while we were up there and the thing that stuck with us is that almost all lighthouses up there are pretty similar. Same couple of shapes, painted white with red trim.


In contrast…lighthouses here in the US of A have wildly differing designs and color schemes by design…so you can tell what lighthouse you’re looking at in the daytime simply by it’s shape and color. You can’t use the light characteristics in the daytime so looking at it is all you got and if you aren’t familiar with a particular lighthouse then it’s color scheme and type is listed on the chart…so you know you’re looking at the correct one. Up in Canuckistan…the similar note on the chart would say “tall white structure with red top”…and that describes pretty much every lighthouse you could possibly see so you have no idea if you’re seeing the one you think you’re seeing.

You probably saw on the news about the explosion of ammonium nitrate in Beirut Lebanon over the weekend. Turns out it was seized from a Russian freighter that was abandoned back in 2014 and it looks like it was not stored and maintained appropriately…so when the building caught on fire and the flames got to the fertilizer it went boom.

So there’s this article today on public with the scary title about the same dangerous chemical is stored all over the US and we’re all gonna die.

You know what ammonium nitrate is…right. Yes, it was used by the Oklahoma City bomber and a ship blew up in Halifax NS back during WW I…and yes it’s used for some low grade explosives sometimes…but what it is…is…well, fertilizer. Pretty much every farm in America uses it to help increase crop yields…and if you have a bag of Feed’N’Seed from Home Depot or Lowes in your garage then you too have a store of this dangerous chemical.

It doesn’t blow up like it did in the Oklahoma City bombing unless there’s another explosion first…that one was initiated by dynamite or some other conventional explosive…or unless it catches on fire in a serious way. Neil actually used…well it was really the folks at NM State University who did it at his direction when he was in the Navy and was running a test…the very same combination of about 96% fertilizer and 4% diesel fuel by weight that was used in the OK City case to simulate the detonation of a Tomahawk missile warhead for his test. He wondered why they were using the instead of plastic explosive or dynamite so he asked the guys running the test. Their response…it is actually  safer for us to use than military grade explosives would be as it is less volatile. Then they admitted that wasn’t the real reason although it was true…the reason they use it is that plastic explosive costs about $50 or more a pound and fertilizer/diesel combination (known as ANFO for Ammonium Nitrate Fuel Oil) was under 10 bucks for 50 pounds…and since we needed 500 pounds to simulate the warhead size of a Tomahawk they saved a whole bunch of money doing it that way.

Down in Newcastle Australia…there is 12,000 tons (5 times as much as the Beirut explosion) of the stuff stored “800 yards from houses and only 3 miles from downtown” according to the NIMBYs who wrote the article for the paper down there. Never mind that the reason it is that close to the houses is that the factory was built out in the boonies back in the day and there was nothing around it…but the city expanded and people built houses close to the factory and are now unhappy that there’s a “major explosive threat” to their property.

Interesting things found on the net.


Interesting fact that may interest only Neil and our daughter in law Jen who is a math teacher. If you calculate 10 factorial…which means you multiply 10 times 9 times 8 times 7 times…on down to times 1…anyway 10 factorial seconds (written in math as 10!) is exactly 6 weeks…exactly.


You can now stop by Krispy Kreme…home of the world’s finest donuts for those of you disadvantaged folks that do not live around one…and get yourself a free face shield for the corona with every purchase of a dozen.


That guy looks familiar to me…but I’m not sure why.

All other problems in the world having been solved…we can now move on to the real important stuff. According to “Australian doctors”…well at least one of them as there is only one mentioned in the article
…anyway we need to get rid of terms like Adams Apple and Achilles Tendon in medicine because they are “irrelevant and misogynistic”. According to Doctor Small “…we have a personal choice to decolonise our language and these historical terms will fade out”. The article goes on to list a plethora of these misogynistic terms which are all named after men…even though most of them are named after the person who discovered them and back in the day when they were discovered most physicians were men. Nothing like judging things from hundreds of years ago by today’s standards though. Dr. Small obviously has too much free time on her hands.


About Gunther

The full time RV travels and experiences of Gunther the Bear and Kara the Dog…along with their human staff neil and Connie.
This entry was posted in Homebody, Ya Can't Fix Stupid. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to There Are Two Kinds Of Stupid

  1. Pete says:

    Your face shield looks finger licking good!
    Thanks for the smile,
    I needed that.

    • Neil Laubenthal says:

      Yeah…they are finger looking good…and so much better than the Colonel’s secret herbs and spices. Gotta get em when they’re hot though. If you ever get to Gulf Shores AL…go visit Lulu’s. It is owned by Jimmy Buffets sister and they serve a bread pudding made from Krispy Kreme donuts. Super sweet…and take a friend because it’s a southern portion… it it’s really worth a special trip thee to eat it.


      The three kinds of stress…nuclear, cooking and a&&hole. Jello is the key to the relationship.


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