12/27/2004: "An Encyclopedic knowledge"
I'm back from my little break…obviously.
Before I get to today's lecture about Know-It-Alls, there's some last
minute gingerbread house stuff that needs to be addressed.
Here are some shots of the gingerbread house which I constructed for
Vienna's large, Italian family. Please note the clock face and stained
glass windows (made from Fruit Roll-Ups…which I doubt contain any actual
fruit. The healthiest part of any gingerbread house is the Styrofoam
base.). Next year I'm going to build a gingerbread Io Sophia.
Kendra sent in this picture of a lovely gingerbread A-frame (for "Anarchy")
house that she built using the Vegan recipe that she found over at The Post
Punk Kitchen and not the recipe which I so kindly provided. Next
year, Kendra plans on tackling (perennial Jeopardy answer) Frank Lloyd
Kendra built two houses but, sadly, one collapsed (killing an entire
gingerbread family who were celebrating their first Christmas in America,
after having emigrated from Turkmenistan where the shocking practice of
ginger-cide still takes place). I'm tempted to say that the collapse was
caused by Kendra's refusal to use my tested on lab animals recipe (except
for the egg, my recipe is also Vegan), but I too experienced a structural
disaster when half of the roof of my second gingerbread house (which I
built for my small, German family. German Christmas: At midnight you
exchange disquieting looks of hatred.) collapsed.
I tried to put the best possible face on the cave-in by explaining to my
young nieces that it just proved that tragedy can happen at any time -
even on Christmas day. They understood, and not just because they enjoy
Lemony Snicket. No, they understood because they're cursed with an
That's right, I said cursed and not blessed.
Oh, there was a time when having a wide variety of knowledge was considered
a blessing. Before the invention of the printing press, if you wanted to
know something you had to seek out someone who knew
everything. Plato's life must've been a living Hell. "Hi, Plato,
sorry about waking you up in the middle of the night, but me and Aeacus
was just having a rather heated discussion about rather or not dogs had
It may not be politically correct, but you really have to feel sorry for
the ancient Greeks and Romans.
Today, the term "Barbarian" is applied to NASCAR dads, anyone who has ever
pledged money to the 700 Club, and Bill O'Reilly. As backward as these
simpletons may be, they at least understand the concepts behind books and
indoor plumbing. The original Barbarians feared the written word and held
shitting contests in their living rooms.
You and I may encounter some particularly crude and stupid individuals on
a daily basis, but it's only a fraction of the massive fucktardary that
someone from a civilized part of the ancient world would've encountered
when dealing with an actual Barbarian. We may have political disagreements
with the people we call (behind their backs) Barbarians, but at least we
don't have to explain what politics are to them: at least not yet.
No wonder that after a while, the ancient Greeks and Romans got tired of
trying to explain things and just went straight to burning crops and
villages. In a few years, this'll be your attitude too.
[Getting back on track]
After the invention of the printing press, if you wanted to know something
you either had to read about it yourself or seek out someone who had read
about it. People who read a great deal and knew a lot about various
subjects were (believe it or not) held in high regard: Sherlock Holmes,
Yes, I'm well aware of the fact that Sherlock Holmes was not a real person
(I really hate to break this news to anyone who belongs to one of those
creepy "Holmesian" groups.), but people in the early part of the last
century eagerly read about him and desired to emulate him because he had
an encyclopedic knowledge.
Things remained like this (people having a strong respect for those who
"knew stuff") until the late 1970's when stupid people organized, seized
power, elected Ronald Reagan, and leaned their mantra: "So what? Who cares?"
Here's a Phun Phact that's made even more phuner because we've reached the
end of the Scott Peterson trial:
The leading cause of death among pregnant American women is being
murdered by their male significant others.
Got that? If you're reading this and you're a pregnant woman living within
the confines of the United States, you're more likely to be killed by your
boyfriend or husband than you are by any medical complication arising from
your pregnancy. In other words: We've traced the call - IT"S COMING
FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE! Get out!
Now, if you impart this fact to a non-idiot, there's a good change that
they'll say "Wow, I can't believe the crappy job that the media did of
reporting that fact while they were creaming all over Laci Peterson's
decapitated corpse. Thank Dionysus for Paul Kircher and his boy wonder
Rodney Anonymous. Without them, we'd all be as ignorant as a Creationist
at a Rick Santorum rally."
Mention the whole "Baby-Daddy-As-Leading-Cause-Of-Death" thing to a
Neo-Barbarian and they'll say (all together now) "So what? Who cares?"
If it helps, you can think of the whole process as Barbarian-Americans
celebrating their Barbarian pride. It doesn't help; does it?
I don't have any numbers on the actual percentage of Americans who have
slipped into Barbarism, but I'd be shocked if it was below 45%. It may be
as high as 90%.
This explains why Law and Order: Sexual Sex Unit gets bigger ratings
than Law and Order: Criminal Intent. The average American finds it
easier to identify with the total fucktards on Law and Order: Butt-Sex
Police than Vincent D'Onofrio's portrayal of Sherlock Holmes-esque cop
Detective Goren. Why? Because Detective Goren has an encyclopedic
Personally, I'd be less afraid of spending an hour getting slapped around
by the goons on Naked Lady Cops than spend ten minutes in the
interrogation room with Goren who uses psychology and his encyclopedic
knowledge on a subject the way other cops use a plunger.
A.J. Jacobs has an encyclopedic knowledge.He got it by reading all
32 volumes of the 2002 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica. It
took him a year and he's written a book about the experience called The
Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the
The book's chock full o' Phun Phacts. Most of which will results in a
chorus of "So what? Who cares?" when related aloud.
I'm very proud of my nieces and I think that my sister and brother-in-law
have done a great job raising them (and my brother-in-law did a terrific
job of defying the Law of Averages by not killing my sister while she was
pregnant), but I know that they have a tough road ahead of them.
Handicapped, as they are, by their encyclopedic knowledge
afrwn - senseless, foolish
If the above word looks like ippojshit to you,
then you need to go here
and download the SPIONIC font for either MAC or PC. Dude.
cantare - to sing