What Qualifies as Stupid


People say lots of stupid things. I think we can all agree on that, though I’ve noticed people don’t always agree on what qualifies as stupid.

Not that any of you primates ever stops saying more things, though. You all are a chatty bunch.

The stupid thing I hear most frequently (Note 1), residing as I do on the grounds of the most famous hot springs in Nevada (Note 2), is the piece of flagrant nonsense about frogs not jumping out of a pot of water if it is heated slowly.

Frogs know what we can handle and what we can’t, thank you very much. If you throw us in a pot and heat up the water and there’s a way out, we’ll take it (Note 3).

I’m not so sure about you humans.

Does gradual heating sound familiar to something you might have heard in the news lately? Like maybe how you’re heating up the whole damn planet, throwing everything off kilter?

By everything I mean the climate. You know, the global weather patterns that all of us — frogs, humans, other life forms — depend on (Note 4).

Lots of talk, little action. Credit Mark Maslin.

You all have known about this problem for decades and in response…you’ve held lots of meetings and made lots of empty pledges.

In other words, you’ve done what humans like to do most: you’ve talked and talked and talked (Note 5).

Hundreds of meetings, millions of spoken and printed words, and no change in the slope of the line on the temperature graph.

You all are literally turning up the heat on the pot of water you call home and not doing a thing about it. And yet you say it’s frogs who don’t know when we’re cooked.


NOTE 1: I’m ignoring the one about princesses kissing frogs. I’m assuming you don’t actually believe this, which is probably giving you way too much benefit of the doubt, considering a lot of you all believe in talking snakes and all-powerful beings that live in the sky. That said, if any princesses are looking to kiss me, I hope it’s Meghan. She’s by far the best-looking.

NOTE 2: Steamboat Hot Springs are located just south of Reno. Nevada’s tourist booster website claims the water is “loaded with anti-aging, mood-improving, chakra-channeling goodness.” That sort of malarkey has been popular at the springs since Samuel Clemens named them after a steamboat by likening, in 1963, the “rumbling and surging” sounds of the “infernal forces” below the springs to those “peculiar to a steamboat in motion.” It was a stretch, to say the least, but stretching the truth until it breaks and then stretching it more is a quintessential human pastime. Perhaps nobody loved it as much as Clemens, whose pen name doesn’t come from working the riverboats, as he liked to claim, but from his habit of hollering out “Mark Twain” when he walked into his favorite Virginia City saloon. It was his cute way of ordering two shots of whiskey.

NOTE 3: You humans are jerks (that’s putting it very mildly) for doing experiments like this on us. Then again, you do that sort of thing to yourselves from time to time, so maybe you just can’t help it. And there’s that nasty habit you’ve got of using us to practice dissection.

NOTE 4: Not to mention filling the oceans with plastic and the air with smoke, cutting down all the forests, and destroying the habitats of all the other species. What are you going to drink when you’ve pissed in the last stream? What are you going to eat when you’ve canned the last fish? Your words?

NOTE 5: Some of the talking blamed cow farts. As if the global cow population wasn’t something you humans were directly responsible for. (Don’t come after me about prepositions on the end of sentences. That was a grammatical rule in Latin — which hardly anyone speaks anymore — and has never been anything more than a preference English. A dangling preposition is something up with which I will happily put.)


Prompted by Tammie Austin, whose first words to me when we met years ago were “I’m not fat, I’m pregnant.”

Leave a comment with a living thing, an inanimate object, and a location and I will write a story based on your prompt and tag you when I publish it.

Photo by Vivi Bzk on Unsplash
Graph: Mark Maslin

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