View Full Version : Kinda - Sorta - Semi-Off Topic...

06-11-2006, 05:35 PM
So, I'm at the check-out counter at the grocery store today, right? Before she starts to check out my items, the girl behind the counter takes a drink from her cup. I notice that the straw in her cup has a receipt punched through it, similar to how you see stacks of receipts punched through a desk punch at a register.

I say to her, "I'm sorry, but I couldn't help but notice the receipt punched through your straw. What's that about?"

"Well, we have to keep receipts with everything we get here while working, or else we'll get fired."

"Fired, eh?" I replied. "Heh. Well who's your boss? Joseph Stalin?"


"Joe Stalin. Is Joseph Stalin your boss?"

"Well, I don't know" she answers. "I've only been here a couple of weeks, and I may not have met all the managers yet."


At this stage I begin to wonder if this flooze ever read a book in school.

So I clarify, "Um, that was supposed to be a joke."

She looks at me with her head tilted slightly to one side (no kidding!)

I pause for a moment. "Do you know who Joseph Stalin was?" I ask.


"Joseph - Stalin. Of the former Soviet - Union. You've never heard of Joseph Stalin?"

"Uh, no." she laughs.

Another moment passes while she completes checking out my groceries.

As she hands me my reciept, I say to her, "You know, the guy was one of the biggest tyrants in the history of mankind. You might want to watch a little less American Idol and celebrity gossip shows, and read a book or two once in a while, mm'kay?"

As expected, her courtesy smile vanished and turned into a bit of a veiled scowl...

Now, I never profess to be one of the smartest guys in the world, but the sheer ignorance of some people can be staggering at times. I would love to hear her try to answer some of the questions on NPR's "Wait! Wait! Don't Tell Me!"

06-11-2006, 05:50 PM
Oldie but goldie http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-very-happy.gif

You know,she`s just a "girl behind the counter".You don`t expect this kind of infor from such people.

She made a choice.Most likely she will work behind the counter for the rest of her life.

06-11-2006, 05:58 PM
I know alot of people as dumb as her. It's the way society has developed. Not anybody's fault personally or directly.

06-11-2006, 06:02 PM
Stupidity and ignorance are two different things..... one is hard to overcome.. the other just takes work.... One is far less common than the other.... and one is something even "intelligent" people can suffer from... sometimes even to a greater degree... the one thing they have in common is this... most people who suffer from these conditions dont even know that they have them....

06-11-2006, 07:52 PM
Hello Treetop64,I understand your point completley.....but this is something I would like you to consider....
I was educated in Chicago Ill.U.S.A in the 70's--80's all through my primary and secondary education we covered THE CIVIL WAR,WW1--WW2,THE ROMAN EMPIRE,THE GREEK CIVILIZATION...WW1&WW2we covered twice but never ever did we study the VIETNAM WAR.
I actually grew up not knowing who HO CHI MINH was....every time my classmates or I tried to discuss it we were told it wasn't in our curriculum!!!!....this is 5 yrs after VIETNAM!...actully STALIN was portrayed as an ally,a victor against nazi germany pictured right there with CHURCHHILL and ROOSEVELT as the champions of peace!!!
All I am saying is the girl might not be as dumb as she appears to be....how did they CHOOSE to educate her?....she might be a mathamatical genius...tell me did you receive the correct change?

06-11-2006, 07:59 PM
Then again, people who attack others because they think they are "stupid", "ignorant" and generally "inferior" , are known to have a little Stalin hidden inside them.
At least, she just worked for one...

06-11-2006, 08:33 PM
Just watch the Tonight Show with Jay Leno when they ask the simple questions to passer-bys on the streets of Burbank....

06-11-2006, 08:33 PM
My all-time howler was when I was doing graduate work at the University of California at Santa Barbara in 1980. At the time the school was getting the top undergraduates in the UC system, best grades, best test scores. I was visiting a girl I knew who lived with a couple other girls. All were undergrads. They were all watching the film PLAYING FOR TIME about the Auschwitz female orchestra starring Vanessa Redgrave. One asked "When was Hitler alive?" Another said "I think it was the 19th century around Napoleon's time." None had a clue. I said "Internal combustion engine---there were cars and trucks in his time." One said "Well. there were cars and trucks when Napoleon was around." Mind you, this was only 35 years after the end of the war.

06-11-2006, 08:45 PM
Bearcat, In my experience, everybody suffers from both conditions to some degree or another if you take them away from their area of expertise.

We all have our strengths and weaknesses. Some of us have more useful strengths than others of course...

Treetop64, whilst it is nice to know who Stalin was, such knowledge isn't particularly valuable to most people in day to day life.

If you were to turn the situation around, and she were to make a joke based upon D-list celebrity culture, big brother or similar, perhaps she would think the same of you. Why should she know who Stalin was and what he did? What possible good will such knowledge do her?

06-11-2006, 08:55 PM
There is a body of knowledge necessary for a society to function. Part of that body of knowledge is history and current events. For a free society to work, they are not optional. When I was young people were not proud of ignorance as some are today. It is really not a matter of feeling superior, it is feeling appalled because thousands of people have no reference points for understanding events or the culture of their country. In the 'fifties and 'sixties there was a big market for history films because people were really interested in history---can anybody imagine films like IS PARIS BURNING?, THE TRAIN, or THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN being made now? "American Idol" is no substitute for learning. Ignorance will be the undoing of the West.

06-11-2006, 08:59 PM
Actually, this is more common then you realize with youth....They're always looking to the future, not the past "as it should be"......Few understanding the old phrase "those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it".

It's natural.....Not that shocking. When it's shocking is when someone mid 30's or older has no idea, as it clearly shows they have not progressed since youth.

That again however natural........As be it brawn, or be it luck, or be it endurance only one thing insures for humans to truly succeed in a Darwin based world....Intelligence. Sometimes that simply making the effort to learn not needing to be a genius.

Those that don't even try, make even the slightest of efforts dooming themselves to remain where they are now, and sadly often dooming their children to the same fate.....Their genes & offspring then destined to mediocrity.

06-11-2006, 09:00 PM
Originally posted by Viper2005_:
....... Why should she know who Stalin was and what he did? What possible good will such knowledge do her?

History repeats itself and when you vote you have some -very limited- power over the future. But that is one thing. If you meet such a person, you can either educate her or walk away. If you mock her, you just reveal your sadistic nature for the ignorance of which you accuse her of in the first place.

06-11-2006, 09:06 PM
ops... posted just as Billfish was posting...
Anyway, an ancient greek philosopher said that studying history is like travelling in a boat in a river facing backwards. What is in front of you is the future and what is behind you is the past.

06-11-2006, 09:15 PM
All true, LEBillfish, some is just biological destiny, but over the years I've seen ignorance institutionalized as an optional state of being as good as its opposite. People used to occasionally go to an opera, or a concert, or a play, or watch a poet on public TV. They did it because they had a sneaking feeling they had to leaven the sitcoms with something a bit more challenging. There was a slight uneasiness about being clueless. No longer. All of the best observers of events I know aren't university types (academics are often ridiculously ignorant). They take the time to read papers, books, and internet news. They are engaged in their countries' culture and history. They still enjoy mindless pleasures, as should we all.

06-11-2006, 09:16 PM
Well leitmotiv, if you take a Thatcherite approach and say
There is no such thing as Society then your problem is solved. http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

Anyway on a more serious level, the modern world is all about specialisation. I, like most people in the "civilised" world lack most of the knowledge and skills required to sustain my existence. But it doesn't matter. That's what the economy is for. Thanks to money, I can let a specialist farmer produce my food, let a specialist programmer provide my computer software etc., whilst I get on with being a specialist in whatever it is I choose to do.

Collectively we have the required skills and knowledge to survive. The whole is roughly equal to the sum of the parts. It therefore follows that individuals need not and indeed should not know everything; far better for them to specialise.

As for learning history;

The Lesson of History is that we never learn The Lesson of History

So she doesn't need to know about Stalin because she can pay other people to know about Stalin for her; though it may well be a waste of money anyway.

[Playing Devil's Advocate is fun! http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_razz.gif ]

06-11-2006, 09:19 PM
The problem is that you can't really rely on a specialist to vote---that is dictatorship.

06-11-2006, 09:38 PM
We already do. We only let a subset of the population vote, and even then, we don't let them vote on most issues.

We save that for the specialist voters aka politicians.

Specialisation is inevitable. Everybody could farm, if they wanted to. Most choose to outsource.

At the moment, many people who could vote, elect to outsource that responsibility to the small subset of the population that actually cares.

06-11-2006, 09:48 PM
In 1995 I saw the movie Apollo 13, and was asked by a couple of college kids (I was one too) at Best Buy (where I then worked ) what I thought of it.

I said "pretty good considering I knew how it ended"

I was asked Why? Did somebody tell you the ending?

so even 1970 was ancient history

06-11-2006, 10:02 PM
Viper2005_, you are celebrating a society of technocrats like we did in the 20th century---unfortunately it didn't work. Technocrats like Albert Speer were moral cretins who sold themselves to governments regardless of how corrupt or evil they were. In the U.S. we have a courtier culture in government and commerce which values currying favor above competence. This is probably permanent and will never change. Politicians are not dictators---yet, at least in the U.S. Politicians are not specialist voters---they are flim-flammers who survive by appeasing their supporters above and below them. They are still elected no matter how much the voter pool shrinks. We do not have dictatorship yet---as long as one vote counts. We do have what is approaching a plutocracy or oligarchy.

06-11-2006, 10:25 PM
I will not address to noone, I will just say.... Here are some signs that I am getting old. The word Mustang never means nothing but the name of a car to people around me. To most young people the last BIG war was Desert Storm. Jokes about the desert Fox or Winston Churchill, or even Ho Chi Ming fall on death ears.
As a final insult, my girlfriend is 14 years younger. I am 42... YOU do the math. She is a high school teacher with two degrees in science and you could say preety smart. The other day we are talking and I say "I want to play this album(see, I am old) by Sting for you" She says with a straight face "Who is Sting?" Then I made the mistake of saying "He used to be with the Police" to witch she replied " So he was a cop?" Later that night I listened to my eighties music and worried about the world we live in.

06-11-2006, 10:36 PM
LOL u guys are lucky that my Step-Grandfather isnt here to read your Stalin comments, if he saw them i wouldnt be surprised if he flew to all your houses to give u a 3 hour lecture on how "great" he was....LOL i had realised that u dont bad mouth stalin or lenin infront of him, or u would die of bordem http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_frown.gif

06-11-2006, 11:06 PM
Originally posted by leitmotiv:
Viper2005_, you are celebrating a society of technocrats like we did in the 20th century---unfortunately it didn't work. Technocrats like Albert Speer were moral cretins who sold themselves to governments regardless of how corrupt or evil they were.

How do you measure evil or corruption?

06-12-2006, 12:16 AM
Gad, you are a technical, aren't you! I don't think it is a matter of Robert McNamara's statistical analysis and quantification. It is a matter of fine discernment which Speer, the ambitious weasel, for example, totally lacked.

06-12-2006, 06:48 AM
I was on a commercial flight from Jacksonville, FL to Washington, D.C. I was on the window in the very last row of the plane. A 16 year old girl was sitting beside me and to her right was a stewardess, 28-30 or so, who was deadheading back to her main base at Reagan.

The 16 year old had never been out of the state of Florida, and it being late October, marvelled at the colors of the leaves as we descended into Reagan. The approach to Reagan is straight down the Potomac and we passed directly over the Watergate complex. I pointed it out and the girl said, "So what important happened there?" Before I could answer, the stewardess said, "Oh, some kind of sex scandal, I think". The girl said, "Oh". I just shook my head and decided to pursue it no further.

06-12-2006, 06:53 AM