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Left Coast/Right Coast: People are funny

Mike Gold is a retired entrepreneur providing his views on various subjects. Photo credit: Nancy Gold.

By Mike Gold, a retired entrepreneur "living the dream in the Pacific Northwest" wrote this article on October 12, 2014.

There was a TV show that starred Art Linkletter called "People are Funny."  It is still around in syndication (but you have to search for it on the more obscure cable channels  at 3 am – or on Youtube).

Art ran this show which was about how normal people do funny things. He had a segment called: “Kids say the darndest things.”  Among the classic examples are:

“My dad ran away when my youngest sister was born – she was a really ugly baby” (nothing really very funny about that).

“My mom has been trying to lose 10 pounds for the last ten years” (I know how proud the mom is to have this little nugget aired to five million people!).

And my favorite:

"Love will find you, even if you are trying to hide from it. I been trying to hide from it since I was five, but the girls keep finding me." -- Dave, age 8.

Now what is really behind this is that people are often driven by emotions. Whether those emotions are voiced, or cause actions to happen, the result is the same. Often someone is amused by their result, or someone is either hurt or stunned by the outcome. I would argue that neither should be a surprise once you know that “people” are involved.

Here are some of my favorite human endeavors:

The Darwin Awards: This is a web site dedicated to people who in the process of accidentally killing themselves improve the gene pool. (Think about this for a moment:  If you are so galactically stupid and then do something that causes yourself to be eliminated from the human reproductive gene pool, that in theory, improves the over-all gene pool that gets passed along). I think it’s just wonderful that a bunch of enterprising people have taken the time to study these people.

Among my favorite “Darwin Award Winners” was the guy who strapped a rocket engine to the roof of his large American car. He lit the engine off in the desert somewhere in the American West. The car took off (with 60,000 lbs. of thrust or so) went about 2000 feet into the air and crashed head first into a nearby mountain top. Needless-to-say, this “rocket scientist” improved the gene pool by eliminating himself from it.

Another recent favorite: The Elephant Selfie. Two men tried to take a selfie within an elephant enclosure. Quelle Surprise?!? - for those who don’t speak French – it translates to “what a surprise!“  The elephant trampled them to death, then attempted to bury the bodies under some leaves.  As elephant brains are approximately four times the size of a human’s, one can speculate that the elephant was thinking, “I’d better bury these two morons – for fear someone might think I was responsible for this.” The only thing that would have been more fitting would have been if they chose to take the selfie while inside the Tiger cage at the local zoo. That might have qualified them for a “double” Darwin Award.

Another recent “read” was about the 10 habits of happy people: Among the gems that “happy” people do are:

Have a fulfilling job and have meaningful friendships. (oh and do charity work). Does anyone other than me see a dichotomy here? If you have a fulfilling job, lots of meaningful friendships and do charity work – it could only be because your boss is your best friend and your company provides time off for both of you to do some charitable work.

Other things that support Linkletter’s “people are funny” supposition:

The Running of the Bulls in Pamplona Spain: Most of you probably have heard of this event. Perhaps you did not know that it originated in Spain in the 14th century. What is amazing to me is that after almost seven centuries, that there are any Spaniards left alive! I’m certain over the centuries, the IQs of eligible Spanish males has continuously gotten higher as a result of all the fatalities in this event.

My last offer is one of my favorite radio shows. It is called Car Talk and airs on National Public Radio – usually at 9 am on Saturday mornings (depending upon your local National Public Radio market). These two brothers, Tom and Ray Magliozzi each graduated from MIT during a very “down” hiring year. So with no jobs available, they started in the offbeat environment of Cambridge Massachusetts (where both MIT and Harvard are located) the 9-5 garage. This was a place aimed at the “counter-culture/alternative lifestyle” of the typical Harvard Square resident. The garage was open from 9 pm to 5 am(!). You brought your car there so you could work on it yourself (counter-culture can be translated into “no money”). Tom and Ray and an odd-ball assortment of other counter-culture types (who got paid very little) were there to help you figure out what you attempted to do (wrong) and then fix it.

I really like a famous Tom and Ray expression (just before you became eligible for a Darwin Award): “Hey guys, watch this.”

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