I'm not going to lie to you folks -- at least not this week: There hasn't been a lot of "funny" stupid news lately. Headlines here in the U.S. have been dominated by the Tucson tragedy, while the rest of the world seems to be getting washed away by floods. Even someone as callous and inappropriate as me would consider it in bad taste to make fun of things like that.
But I still had to write a column this week. Thus, I found myself on the horns of a dilemma. Being somewhat slow and not terribly creative, I rely on good source material to provide me with inspiration each Thursday, and in the absence of such I could be, much like Kate Middleton, royally screwed.
I surfed up and down the Internet for a worthwhile story to mock, but I found nothing. Panic started to set in, and before I knew it I'd made the disturbingly short journey to my wit's end. If I had any hair left, I would have torn it out in frustration.
I was on the verge of calling my editor and making up a lie about accidentally chopping my fingers off and being unable to type when I finally stumbled across a headline on the BBC News website that gave me hope: "Is there a genius in all of us?"
Surely, the BBC wouldn't pose such a question if the answer is no, would they? I mean, that would just be cruel to stupid people like me. And if the answer is indeed yes, that means there must be a genius in me, too. Clearly, if I'm a latent genius, I can bang out a 750-word column even if I don't have something good to work with, right?
Buoyed by this revelation, I channeled my inner Einstein and decided that for this week's column I would do my part to lift everyone's spirits and prove that the BBC article was spot-on, that we all have the potential for greatness lurking inside.
So, is there really a genius in all of us?
Ha! Are you kidding me? Not even close. I dare say there's not a genius in more than about 0.0005 percent of the population, and even that may be a stretch. Sure, as the article intimated, it's possible to rise above the stupidity with which you were born and make yourself a moderately more intelligent person, but a genius? I don't think so.
Let me give you an example from my Internet surfing this week that shows just how dense we are as a society. One of the featured stories on CNN.com, reprinted from People.com, reprinted from a German magazine called TV Movie, bore the headline: "Nicole Kidman: I used Botox, but didn't like it."
Really? That's what passes for news in this country? Wow.
Amazingly, someone actually penned a 110-word story to say the same thing as the nine-word headline, and within hours of it being posted more than 100 people were so moved that they felt they had to leave a comment on the matter.
Another thing I've noticed lately that leaves me scratching my head is the fact that YouTube now has a button you can click to let all your Facebook pals know if you "dislike" something. Why anyone would bother to do such a thing is beyond me, but in certain cases -- videos of Nicole Kidman talking about her Botox use, for example -- I can understand it.
Just to see how moronic people can be, however, I decided to search for something nobody could possibly be opposed to, and I came across a 20-second video of baby pandas playing on a slide in the snow. Trust me when I say it's about the cutest, most harmless thing you will ever see. Apparently, though, that didn't matter to the 225 people who actively disliked it and wanted the world to know.
I'm not sure what to say about those 225 people other than to note that the BBC story is hopelessly, irretrievably wrong about them. No matter what those people do, no matter how hard they study or watch whatever videos do appeal to them, they will never in a million years approach the level of "genius." I'm thinking the best they can hope for is "special."
And as for me, who thought he could write a decent column if he truly believed he had genius potential, it would seem I was gravely mistaken.
Todd Hartley once applied for a Genius Grant but misspelled "Genius." To read more or leave a comment, please visit zerobudget.net.