April 7, 2013
Dumb and Dumber
Haven't posted since Halloween and spring is in the air. A shameful lapse for which I offer no excuses and ask your forbearance. Then again, maybe it's been a blessing. But if it were you wouldn't be wasting your precious web time wandering over to this barren, tumbleweed-strewn site. But is there really such a thing as precious web time?
See? I can argue two sides of anything. Oh well. Sorry.
Woke up this morning to learn about new reasons to wonder if the people in Kansas that wonder about Darwin aren't right after all. I think by the end of this I'll have turned my head back around straight, but I was stunned by the clock-rewinding stupidity of one of the District's own would-be criminals. I
According to today's Washington Post, some guy in urgent of a cash infusion made a poorly planned run at two financial institutions in midtown. A few blocks from the Treasury Department. And the Federal Reserve. You know. The places where all the money is.
To the bumbler's credit, he knew not to set the bar too high. But perhaps he aimed a bit high just the same. Or poorly calibrated his own skills as a thief. The guy walks into the first bank and hands the teller a note that simply reads "100s 50s 20s 10s". After the guy couldn't be more specific about his request, and lacked documentation for a proper withdrawal, the teller turned him away. And away he went.
To the next bank up the street. Again with the incoherent note, but this time with a slightly more excitable teller who screamed "Oh my God! We're being robbed!" Six words every thief sans getaway transportation hates to hear. The guy took off and was arrested about a block away.
Authorities, just to be helpful, said that "most bank robbers use notes, not guns, but the wording must be clear to be understood." So keep that in mind next time you're desperately short of cash.
Which brings me back to my thesis. Could Kansas be right? Well, of course we all know they're far right of center. Perched on the axis of a country with extremes on either coast. Spinning in a wild equilibrium. But are they correct? About Darwin that is.
If Darwin is right we should be advancing in a steady, if uneven, progression. Getting smarter. More tolerant. More civil. Well, as I write these things I bring to mind plenty of examples that cause me to question. But maybe these are only the temporary lapses in an otherwise inexorable trend. At least I hope so.
And then we have examples like that feckless robber. And I realize that, in my desire to see a trend everywhere, I'm overlooking the underlying process that drives the trend in the first place. Things get better because dumb things are selected out. Darwin had his eye the natural selection of physical attributes that improve the relative advantages of living things. I'm starting a new science of unnatural selection whereby people that are bad at things simply get told to just stop it. It happens all the time!
- Yesterday's robber has now been told to stop robbing. (At least for awhile)
- If I suck at my job, I will be told to stop doing it. (Or do a different one)
- If I'm a crappy driver, I will be told to stop doing it. (Again, for awhile)
- If I'm a boring, pedantic writer, I will be told to stop doing it. (But I know my constitution)
The laws of unnatural selection are nowhere near as harsh or consequential as Darwin's natural brethren, but they act in our lives every day. Better yet, as microscopic expressions of choice they are free-will manifest. So exercise your right to unnaturally select somebody by telling them to just stop it!
Some unnatural selections, being of human origin, drift strangely off-course down blind alleys strange byways. I let my mind wander on this for a moment: