In the late 60's and early 70's, there were two urgent movements in America that seemed to be gaining momentum and then just faded away. One was the ecology movement which focused on cleaning up our planet, from litter to pollution. It was probably the first big push to educate and influence the population to be socially responsible, from picking up litter to cleaning up the skies. Traces of it can be seen through Earth Day and current environmental initiatives. It even made its way into pop culture, most notably for me, through Carol Burnett. At the end of her show, just before saying good-bye, she would give a tip about picking up trash along the road, or whatever. As a sixth grader, it prompted me to write my first letter to a celebrity asking her for a list of those sayings. I made them into posters for a school project. And, yes, those posters probably ended up choking a raccoon in some landfill somewhere. Oh, the cruel, cruel irony.
Another movement that seems to have all but disappeared was ZPG. Zero Population Growth. In the '60's, there was a group of people trying to tell the world that if we don't stop multiplying, we'll run out of room and resources. They promoted images of crowded streets where everyone wore gas masks. Not as embraced as the ecology folks, they were generally considered to be paranoid alarmists. Given the failure of the abstinence program, the rise in teenage pregnancy, the number of young mothers with multiple children that I see on the bus and subway, the number of kids I see and hear up past 11pm on a school night, the more I wish ZPG were back with a vengeance. We are growing so quickly and irresponsibly, that not only are we endangering our resources, our children are not getting the proper parenting they need to grow to be healthy, contributing adults.
Below is the opening to Mike Judge's film Idiocracy. It is a brilliant satire about what our future holds given our current trajectory. His demonstration of why America is dumbing down is in the first three minutes. The whole film is great and was so biting, the studios buried it when it was released. It's now available on DVD. If you haven't seen it, SEEK IT OUT. You'll want to run out and give every boy who turns 16 a condom. I personally would prefer to also put a chastity belt on every girl until they finish college. And remind them not to litter.
THE BS NEWS QUIZ OF THE DAY
Yesterday, I asked...
"The Miami County Jail in Ohio is joining other jails around the country trying to create a calmer environment by doing what?"
67% said "Using lavender scented aerosols"
- That's what my dentist does. And it does make me relax more and enjoy the pain.
17% said "Having security guards speak in hushed tones"
- Clint Eastwood speaks in hushed tones. It does not have a calming effect. "Feel calm, punk? Well do ya'?"
No one fell for "Pumping in John Tesh music"
- We all know what kind of blood shed that would cause.
16% picked the right answer, "Painting the cells pink"
According to the Associated Press, inmates at the Jail are putting color on the jail's once cream-colored walls after Sheriff Charles Cox entered the academic debate over the color pink's calming abilities. Researchers have documented the ability of certain colors to evoke emotional and physical responses, and many jails around the nation have been painted pink as a pacifying measure. I don't think it so much makes them calmer as self-conscious. No one wants to make any sudden, flamboyant moves.