Five-Second Rule


Well that didn’t take long!

Multiple news sources have reported on a two-year microbiology study out of Rutgers University (Is the five-second rule real?). The upshot is: Yes, of course it’s not real.

What strikes me is that anyone actually thought it was real. We (meaning pretty much everyone I ever associated with) always understood it as a bit of obvious irony, a self-serving excuse for eating fallen food. If asked, I would have said one would have to be a real idiot to think it was real.

Well,… can’t say I’m surprised.

The current election cycle in the USA has forced me to realize that people are even stupider than I always thought. Truly, deeply, and probably irredeemably, deliberately stupid to their core.

And, by all accounts, pretty damn proud of it.

This election cycle has fueled my long disdain to a bitter and abiding hatred for the human race. Homo sapiens sapiens… a double-sap indeed.

Somehow, in our search to be an egalitarian society, we’ve managed to create a false equivalency with regard to people’s opinions. Certainly everyone is entitled to their own, but somewhere along the line we stopped recognizing stupid opinions from non-stupid ones and allowed them to persist unchallenged.


…and proud of it.

Essentially, society has been sucked down to its lowest common denominator. As a society we’ve come to accept crassness and vulgarity and all manner of childish — no, infantile — bullshit from supposed adults.

The only thing Hillary got wrong was in saying it was half. It’s more. Just about any poll shows this.

His supporters really do believe in deplorable things. (And isn’t that the definition of a deplorable person?)

Churchill supposedly said that, “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”

He didn’t, though. (He was actually pretty big on the whole democracy thing.) The quote first shows up in a USENET post from 1992 as attributed to him. But you can certainly understand the sentiment of the person who did come up with it.

Way back in 1992.


time-travelColin Dickey, in New Republic, as an interesting article about a new James Gleick book (Time Travel) examining time travel in science and science fiction (The Foolish Errand of Time Travel, September 19).

The article is definitely worth reading for any fan of time travel or science fiction, and it sounds like the Gleick book could be interesting.

One interesting note: Time travel in fiction really doesn’t show up until the Industrial Revolution.

Until then there was a timeless quality to life that tended to conflate past, present, and future. But as human progress really took off (thanks to, um, science and rational thought!) there began to be more differentiation between past, present, and — most especially — the future.

We began to wonder and speculate what the future might hold given all the neat things the present turned up (presents, indeed).

But what really caught my eye was this:

[Gleick’s] third book, Faster (1999) was, well, faster — offering a series of vignettes that slammed the reader in rapid-fire succession, enumerating a thousand different ways in which modern life has sped up time in the futile promise that we might “save” it. Time-saving conveniences, he argues, are a false messiah, the byproducts of a delusion that pushes us to consume at an ever-faster rate without offering much by way of meaningful benefit.

I mentioned recently how the 1991 movie Grand Canyon spoke of a world that seemed to have gone insane. It’s clearly gotten more so since.

Dickey found the same thing about Faster and closes with this paragraph:

Reading Faster now, seventeen years after it was first published, is a dystopian exercise: Gleick, lamenting how mindlessly sped up our world was then, had no inkling yet of smartphones, of Twitter and Snapchat, of the nightmarish acceleration that has only continued without signs of abating. Consumerism demands a perpetual restlessness, an unslakable thirst, a steady anxiety that drives us at greater and greater speeds. Time Travel, by contrast, comes across as something of an antidote: a reminder of the way that one of literature’s great powers is to remind us that this might be the best of all possible worlds, and that we are here because we could be nowhere else.


On all counts, yeah.

Try to stay sane, my friends!

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

9 responses to “Five-Second Rule

  • dianasschwenk

    (smiling) written in true Smitty style.

    I really am feeling for you guys regarding the upcoming election, while acutely aware that the results of your election will have implications beyond your borders. ❤
    Diana xo

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Well, what am I to think about people who embrace being deplorable, are proud of it? This goes so far beyond any difference of opinion or views. It’s about how people are, and I see so much ill and misery that could be eliminated, or at least greatly reduced, from human experience.

      With the resources we have, there’s no reason anyone should be starving or homeless in my (or your) country. And yet we both have a huge supply. The only reason we don’t fix it… is we really don’t seem to want to. Or we’re greedy or too self-involved.

      We wallow in ephemera while so much of the world hurts.

      I think that’s really fucking stupid.

      Either that or we need to start treating evil as a real thing.

  • danielwalldammit

    White nationalists have consistently been the most dedicated support group for the Trump campaign. Far from disavowing them, Trump and his children have embraced them and used their materials. ‘Deplorable’ is far too generous a word for it.

  • rung2diotimasladder

    I’m working on staying sane. It’s hard.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Yep. Life in modern society.

      Back in, like, the 1960s I predicted the “world would be in flames” by the turn of the century. I didn’t see how the insanity could continue to build without exploding. (That was also an era of serious racial unrest.) Somehow we muddled through, but I’ve been wondering if I got it right, just under-estimated how long it would take.

      There are all sorts of hair-raising signs across the globe… hopefully a landslide victory by Clinton will provide some sanity and damping of alarming tendencies.

      • rung2diotimasladder

        It would be nice to have a landslide victory. It would also be nice if the Republican party took a major hit because of this. They should. This goes beyond politics as usual. Trump uncovers a deep inconsistency in the party as a whole, a moral/selfish divide that I hope won’t hold up much longer.

        On the other side there’s the idealism/pragmatism divide. These millennials are disturbingly idealistic. I’m idealistic, but now is not the time. I wonder if it’s because they haven’t experienced anything but extremely negative rhetoric all their lives? I mean with Bush, it was “He’s evil.” Rarely did liberals correct such statements with, “Well, no. He might be an idiot, but he thinks he’s doing the right thing.” (It wasn’t until Bush published his book that I realized, yes, he’s actually an idiot. I’d suspended judgement, believing it was possible that he was faking it for political reasons.) Now we can’t call Trump evil without a diminished effect.

        Or maybe it’s something else. Who knows. I’d like to give them my arguments on why this is not the time for idealism, why settling for not evil (or “no change” maybe) is the right thing to do, why imagining the worst case scenario is the right thing to do…maybe that’ll be a post. But it’s not as if any of my readers are the target audience.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        “It would be nice to have a landslide victory. It would also be nice if the Republican party took a major hit because of this.”

        Well, stay tuned… this thing is turning seriously insane!

        “These millennials are disturbingly idealistic.”

        Yeah. It is, to some extent, a property of youth, but beyond that is the isolation of the bubble and the social media amplification of the ideas you do let in. Polarization is everywhere these days.

        “Now we can’t call Trump evil without a diminished effect.”

        Right. As you say, a highly negative world, plus a hyperbolic one. Everything is “the worst” or “the greatest” (Trump speaks constantly in hyperbole.)

        As I’ve said many times, words have lost meaning these days. Which really damages our ability to discuss ideas.

        “I’d like to give them my arguments on why this is not the time for idealism,…”

        Sometimes it’s cathartic to express it just for yourself. (It’s not like I have much in the way of readers, let alone readers I’m trying to convince. 🙂 )

        The best argument might be pointing to those alien invasion movies where a threat to all of humanity is the one thing that gets us working together to fend off a far greater threat.

        This is almost exactly like that.

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