Beating back dumb in 2011

Before I start my Ermas column today, I need to take a few minutes to talk with my daughter about the New Year. Give me a sec. I’ll be right back …

This is going to be a big year, Puggy. You’re already reading, drawing and putting the computer to better use than most government workers. You sing, dance, play well with others and 90 percent of the time, you have underwear on. But soon you’ll turn 6 and enter first grade. That said I’d like to give you a few pointers on how to overcome dumb people.

See, this year, like flies at a picnic, dumb people are going to come at you from all angles. This has nothing to do with the passage of time, or that the quantity of dumb people has changed. It’s just fact. Dumb drops its luggage and stays like an unwanted house guest. Young and old, tall and short, thin and fat, dumb has no prejudice and says inane things like “everyone’s a winner” and "You workin' hard or hardly workin'?" I blame phrases like this on standardized testing and “synergy.”

In order to combat dumb, you must continue to get smarter, grow your independence but like a ninja, blend in with the doofus hoard. And who better to provide advice to a first grader on combating dumb people then an American hero – retired General Colin Powell! Not all of his 13 rules apply, but five of them do so let’s get this New Year started right:

  • “It ain’t as bad as you think. It’ll be better in the morning.” In school and out, you’ll be dancing with dumb. At the end of the day, you’ll sit in bed with your chocolate milk box and bowl of cheese popcorn – and it will make you sad. One of the best things you can do is go to sleep, wake up and go after it again (although one of your favorite people, Albert Einstein, defined this behavior as “insanity.”)
  • “Be careful what you choose. You might get it.” At some point, many many dumb people chose to give piles of cash to Justin Bieber for singing “Baby baby baby, oooooh.” As you are constantly singing it around the house, you would disagree but this was not a careful choice.
  • “You can’t make someone else’s choices. You shouldn't let someone make yours.” Unfortunately, our whole political system is the exact opposite of this rule. This is called an oxymoron. In short, if you want to wear plastic rain boots, a tattered paint smock and leggings to school, you can. That’s your choice. Own it. Your mother will, however, insist that they match.
  • “Don’t take counsel from your fears or naysayers.” Remember when we watched “The Fellowship of The Ring” and Gandalf stood in front of that giant, flaming cow and said, “You shall not pass”? He made a decision. Then, the cow broke the bridge, grabbed Gandalf with his whip and sucked him down into the black hole. But he chose, on his own, to trifle with the burning cow because he knew if he did, it would help those hairy footed midgets drop the ring into the volcano later. By the way, “naysayers” is another word for dumb people.
  • “Remain calm. Be kind.” You know that scrunched up, tight face you make when Mom and I ask you 37 times to finish eating your breakfast? That face will happen more and more as you get older. This rule applies.

To be clear, we all end up doing dumb things, even your Mom and me. So we’ll add two rules on to General Powell’s: 1.) Always listen to your parents; and 2.) When in doubt, follow rule 1.

I love you. Happy New Year.

Jason Tudor is an American writer and illustrator who lives in Bavaria. More of his writing can be found at his website.

Image credit: scientificilliteracy.blogspot.com


  1. Daw! Bless. ;-)

    Dumb people are the bane of society. :(

    Great post, Jason!


  2. Giant, flaming cow... Ha! Einstein, Beiber, and Balrogs. Oh My! Great column.

  3. You should add, ask yourself this question, "What would the cast of the Jersey Shore do?" And then do the opposite

  4. I need to tape this to my refrigerator.

    I LOVE the giant flaming cow! I never would have thought to explain it that way.

    Together we can defeat the dumb people!

  5. I am thrilled by this. All kids should have the chance to hear your advice.
    (Still giggling about "dumb drops its luggage . . .")


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