Tuesday, November 18, 2008

How stupid do you have to be, part 2

Yesterday morning I went to the airport for my flight from Boise back to Salt Lake. When it was my turn at the TSA desk, the agent looked at my driver's license and pointed out that it was expired. So? I thought. The picture looks like me, and the name matches my ticket. "Do you have another form of valid ID?" I was more annoyed than concerned, but in our current socialist police state, talking back will get you nowhere. So I looked through my wallet, pretending to be concerned, knowing there was nothing there. "Anything else with a picture, like maybe a Costco card?" he asked. So I grabbed my Costco card and used that. Apparently a 3/8" x 3/8" grainy, black and white photo on a warehouse store card is OK to fly with, but a state-issued driver's license that happens to be expired is not.

The guy in front of me was a pilot, and as we put our stuff on the X-ray machine, he commented on the absurdity of the situation. A driver's license being expired doesn't make it any less useful for establishing identity, at least I wouldn't think. In fact, I have a friend who has been using the ID he got at a Go Cart race track to fly with for years. And it's not like the TSA is consistent with this approach either, because it's been expired for seven months, and this was my fourth flight in three weeks and the first time anyone even noticed. Don't think I'm going to go get it renewed a month before I move to another state, either.

It would have been nice had the stupidity ended there, but it didn't. Except the next act was all me. Actually, the next act of stupidity had already been completed, but it was still a few hours from discovery. I had been very careful on Sunday night to set out wallet, keys, and chap stick so as not to be stuck without essentials. Keys were particularly important because my car was still in Salt Lake and I also needed the RFID key fob to get in and out of the office.

We share a floor with several other tenants, and the restroom is outside of our space. Once and only once so far I left for the restroom without my keys and had to have someone come open the door for me. Since then I have always checked to make sure my keys were in my pocket before venturing out. Sure enough, they were there, so I proceeded with confidence. On the way back in, I pulled them out and discovered that I had brought the keys to my wife's car with me from Boise. This was disastrous. Not only could I not get back in, but I couldn't drive home either.

Fortunately, I was able to get a loaner key fob for the office. I then borrowed Mark N.'s car and drove to the dealer to have a new key made. My stupidity only cost me $2.14 this time, plus a little bit of humiliation.

Apparently stupidity is virulent and contagious, because even after Martha Stewart's jail time, billionaires are still (allegedly) engaging in insider trading. This time it's Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban dumping shares to avoid a loss that, relative to his wealth, would be like me losing a spool of dental floss.

But that's not all--the idiot storm is dumping large buckets of stupidity all over the country. It seems that a few thousand or so Mormons were the entire reason that a majority of the voters in a state of over 16 million registered voters supported California's proposition 8. And because it's clearly entirely the fault of the Mormons, those disappointed by the outcome have decided to protest at and vandalize the Mormons' places of worship.

Now I realize that this is an exceptionally complicated subject that is sure to elicit a highly emotional reaction. But the fact of the matter is that the people of California exercised their constitutional rights and made a decision. There may be enough Mormons in California that if all of them voted for proposition 8, it could have been the deciding factor. But they didn't all vote for it, and non-Mormon Californians who did vote for it outnumber the Mormons who did by at least an order of magnitude.

So why all the anger directed almost exclusively at the Mormon church? One opponent of the measure called it "the most dangerous form of bigotry." Apparently participating in a democratic election is the most dangerous form of bigotry, but vandalizing someone's place of worship and assaulting missionaries is appropriate for people who preach tolerance and acceptance of others.

Sure you'll always have your wackos, but I wonder if the response would have been so heated and on the scale that it is had the election results been different.


  1. $2.14! That's a bargain. They typically want a small fortune for those keys.

  2. I think you are seriously downplaying the power of a Costco card. It is probably the most important form of ID in my wallet.

  3. The Mormon church is being targeted for protests because members paid the most (around 40%) for the ad campaign supporting Prop 8.

  4. KK, I'm fully aware of who paid what for the campaign. I just think it's stupid that an entire class of people are being targeted in sometimes illegal ways because a few members of that class exercised their constitutional rights by offering financial support to a ballot measure. The behavior is inconsistent with the message of acceptance and tolerance and there would be some serious foul crying going on if the tables were turned. That's all.

  5. there are stupid people everywhere, on both sides of every argument.

    Emotions tend to make stupid people do stupid things, sometimes it makes smart people do stupid things.

    On an oddly related note, the first wedding I went to in Utah was between 2 women, but I am a pinko-commie

  6. I can see your point, but I'm not surprised by what's happening. Just because something was done proper and legal doesn't mean it will be accepted without reprisal. The folks against prop 8 are upset and want to direct their frustration at some target, and the Mormon church is the biggest target.

    This reminds me of a quote from Men In Black:

    Edwards: Why the big secret? People are smart. They can handle it.

    Kay: A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it. Fifteen hundred years ago everybody knew the Earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, everybody knew the Earth was flat, and fifteen minutes ago, you knew that humans were alone on this planet. Imagine what you'll know tomorrow.

  7. I'm not a fan of the knee-jerk TSA either. Remember when removing your shoes was just a suggestion? Now it's mandatory? I'm always glad that Richard Reid didn't have explosives hidden in his hair or in his man panties, otherwise the TSA would be picking through our hair, and looking in our underwear.