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written by Mr. Clock

Stain sat in his cabin in the woods. He was quite depressed, for he was faced with a very troublesome dilemma and was running out of time to make a decision. He had examined and reexamined both sides of the argument countless times, but to no avail. His mind began to wander, and he began to recall the various events which led to this terrible situation...

It was about one thousand years ago, thought Stain, when Andy Pandy, the spiritual leader of the human race, climbed the tallest mountain to speak with God. He was gone for about a year. When he returned he spoke these words to his eagerly awaiting people;

"I have spoken with God, and this is what he has said; to say that an act is right means to say that an act is at least as stupid as any of its alternatives; to say that an act is a duty means to say that it is more stupid than any of its alternatives.' Thank you and goodnight. Please drive safely."

Someone yelled, "Wait! What does that mean?"

"Oh yes," replied Andy Pandy. "I almost forgot. God made me memorize a list of actions which are intrinsically stupid. Number one; Hitting a car with a whiffle bat. Number two: Saying `ear'. Number three: Crushing skulls with anvils. Number four: Eating as much food as possible. Number five: Improvisa-"

At that time Andy Pandy's skull was crushed by an anvil, and the list was lost forever.

The confusion which resulted from this event was astonishing. God stopped talking to people after Andy Pandy died, so most people were simply unable to determine which actions, other than the ones listed by Andy Pandy, were truly stupid; and, in fact, very few people actually cared. So for about nine hundred years most people spent all their time hitting cars with whiffle bats, eating food, saying 'ear', and crushing each others' skulls with anvils.

"But then I came along," thought Stain. "I sure changed all that!"

Stain was a child prodigy; he was always coming up with something new and stupid to do. He was aptly characterized by his mother who once said:

"Stain?! Stain is definitely not the type of child who would poke your dog's eyes out, no matter how hungry he is. But he has been know to sexually molest a goat on occasion, if you know what I mean."

Stain simply had a great intuition, a knack for the stupid. As a youth, Stain developed the Sponge-filled Duck Shirt and the Bucket o' Urine, among other things. As he matured, Stain discovered the art of giving speeches in public restrooms, the most famous and stupid of which was How the Mouth Walks:

"Most people would disagree with you if you said that a mouth could walk. But they are all... right! But if one could, this is how it would. He would start with a `stomp stomp stomp' and a `shuffle shuffle shuffle', and he'd move across the floor. He'd then turn left and walk for 13.6 feet. Then he'd do a flip! Assuming that he landed on his feet, the mouth would then turn right three times and take twenty paces. The mouth would then realize to his amazement that he was directly diagonal from his original starting position. Ear!"

"Ah, those were the days!" thought Stain. "If only things were that simple now!"

Stain soon became a hero of sorts, and was elected "Chief Conditioner of Stupidity," a title last held by the late Andy Pandy. He enjoyed his celebrity status at first; but as time wore on he became increasingly annoyed at the fact that people didn't really know very much about stupidity, or even care about it.

"How in the world are we going to maximize the amount of stupidity in the universe if nobody knows what it is?" he complained. "There must be something that is the most stupid thing to do, and it's my job to find it and tell everybody what it is."

So Stain began his search for the most stupid action, and announced that he would be accepting suggestions from the public. The news of his search sparked a renewed interest in stupidity; several people were even quoted as saying that they wanted to be the ones to discover the most stupid action. As Stain received more and more ideas, he found that they could be grouped into two similar, but nonetheless distinct, types. This was apparently due to an equivocation over the word "stupid". One group seemed to define "stupid" as "ignorant", which resulted in ideas like "eating everything" and "Stain, you dork, why don't you shut up and find something better to do before I kick your ass?!" The other group defined "stupid" as "Pointless", resulting in ideas like "eating everything" and "scratching you head until you drop." All of these ideas fit into one or both of these categories, and all were quite stupid; so Stain naturally decided that the most stupid action must be one which maximizes both ignorance and pointlessness. Soon it was quite obvious to Stain what the most stupid activity was.

"After much serious deliberation," announced Stain, "I have determined that the most stupid action is the one which maximizes both ignorance and pointlessness; and this has led me to an historic decision. It is quite obvious that trying to blow up the sun is the most stupid activity, and it's also pretty neat! So from this day forward, in accordance with Andy Pandy's thesis, the human race will be unswerving in its dedication to fulfilling this end; all human efforts will henceforth be directed towards blowing up the sun. Ear."

Stain's decision was hailed as a stroke of genius, and for quite a while everyone was quite content to spend all their time working on trying to blow up the sun, comforted by the belief that they were being truly stupid. But one day, one of the leading philosophers of the time, Captain Fee-Fob, made the astute observation that if the sun were actually blown up, the potential for stupid actions in the future would be eliminated; therefore, he concluded, blowing up the sun must not be the most stupid action, for it would clearly not maximize stupidity.

This began the greatest controversy in the history of mankind. Never before had society been so divided on an issue. Hard feelings ran deep on this subject; families were ripped apart, as brother was pitted against brother and sister against sister in a battle of theories that grew more and more violent by the minute. Even those who didn't really care about the issue were drawn into the conflict because of the simple fact that, according to one protester, "all this controversy is pretty fun!" Stain himself rather enjoyed the controversy at first, and toyed with the notion that arguing about whether or not to blow up the sun might be even more stupid than actually blowing it up. But as the tension between the two sides escalated into a flurry of skull-crushing, Stain knew something had to be done; he just couldn't figure out what. So he arranged a conference with Captain Fee-Fob and several other of the most formidable thinkers of his day to help him decide whether or not to blow up the sun.

After a few meetings it was pointed out that even if blowing up the sun eliminates the potential for stupid action in the future, it may be the case that the stupidity of blowing up the sun would outweigh the sum of the stupidity of all potential future actions. Another important issue was raised by Mrs. Penny, author of the controversial and critically acclaimed book called The Void of Stupidity (My Toilet) Mrs. Penny pointed out that before we can know whether blowing up the sun is the most stupid action or not, we must know whether stupidity is contingent upon human existence. If not, then it really doesn't matter whether or not the potential for future stupid action is eliminated; after all, what state of affairs could be more stupid than the absence of humans?

Then came the hardest blow to Stain's plan. It came from Captain Fee-Fob, who pointed out that "trying to blow up the sun" has a goal - namely, the destruction of the sun - and therefore is not really pointless, for pointlessness implies the lack of a point or goal. Therefore, according to Captain Fee-Fob, blowing up the sun fails to meet the requirements for the most stupid action.

"If we're concerned with being stupid, we're not concerned with ends," said Captain Fee-Fob, "and should not be concerned with blowing up the sun."

This upset Stain very badly, and he disbanded the conference. Then he received this news from his chief scientist in charge of blowing up the sun, Mr. Poo:

"Mr. Stain, I believe that we are now ready to blow up the sun. We have finally created a rifle powerful enough to fire toilet seats directly into the center of the sun at speeds of over 120 miles per hour."

"My God," replied Stain.

"Our best calculations estimate that it will probably take at least ten or twelve toilet seats fired at that speed to blow up the sun. We are now merely awaiting the go-ahead signal from you. Ear."

"Thank you, Mr. Poo. The signal will be as follows, but remember that I am now only telling you what the signal is, not actually giving you the go-ahead. The signal will be: `Mr. Poo, you may now begin the countdown sequence for the demolition of the sun.' But now I must go, for I have a very important decision to make, as you well know. I will return to announce my decision in exactly one week."

So Stain set out to his cabin in the woods, built at the very spot where Andy Pandy's skull was crushed by an anvil.

"And here I am," thought Stain. "I've been here for six days, twenty-one hours and thirty-three minutes, and I still haven't made any progress towards making a decision. Is blowing up the sun the right thing to do? Is it in fact my duty? It seems that Captain Fee-Fob may be right after all. If "stupid" means "Pointless", then, strictly speaking, blowing up the sun is not really stupid. But does "stupid" mean "pointless"??

Stain pondered this for a while.

"If it does, then it hardly seems possible for anyone to act stupid; for if one is trying to be stupid, then stupidity is a goal. If one is trying to produce the most stupidity, one is striving for a state of maximum stupidity, which is a goal; one is therefore not acting pointlessly, and hence is not acting stupidly."

Stain thought some more.

"In fact, it may be impossible for anyone to act pointlessly. For example if I eat food, I have a goal - namely, having eaten food - and so I could not eat food pointlessly except by accident. In fact, the only way I could do anything pointlessly, strictly speaking, is by accident. But I can clearly act stupid; otherwise Andy Pandy's thesis would be wrong. Perhaps I have made a mistake in defining the most stupid action as the one which maximizes both ignorance and pointlessness."

Stain though about this for a long time.

"Perhaps even trying to define the word `stupid' was a fundamental mistake. Perhaps `stupid' cannot be defined in terms of other, more simple qualities - perhaps it is irreducible. It seems that neither `ignorant' nor `pointless', nor any combination of the two, really captures what is meant by calling something `stupid'. But what else could it mean? `Irrational'? `Senseless'? No, those seem to be more complicated terms than `stupid'. I must have been fooled by the fact that all things which are stupid seem to be either pointless or ignorant, into thinking that `stupid' actually means one or both of those terms. No, I think that stupid is a simple quality."

Stain considered the implications of this.

"Well, even if I can't define `stupid', I can at least try to determine which things possess the quality of `stupidity'. It seems that, in general, actions are more stupid than objects; while a Sponge-filled Duck Suit may be somewhat stupid, wearing a Sponge-filled Duck Suit is considerably more stupid. So it seems that the greatest amount of stupidity must be produced by some action. Would blowing up the sun produce the most stupidity?"

Stain asked himself this question over and over.

"It does seem logical to say that human existence is necessary for the greatest amount of stupidity; for if actions are generally more stupid than objects, then the absence of humans engaging in stupid activities would greatly decrease the total amount of stupidity in the universe. This dismisses Mrs. Penny's theory, which is unfortunate; for now I am left with the task of determining whether the stupidity of blowing up the sun outweighs the sum of the potentials of all future actions. Maybe I could just try to blow up the sun, but make sure that I fail. Then the stupidity of all future actions could be added to the stupidity of trying to blow up the sun. But if I make sure that I fail, it wouldn't really be trying; it would just be firing toilet seats into the sky - very stupid indeed, but clearly not the most stupid action. It is my duty to determine whether blowing up the sun is the most stupid thing to do. But how? I guess there is only one way."

Stain left his cabin and went back to the city, to where he was scheduled to announce his decision. A crowd of over forty people had gathered for his announcement, but at least that many more were watching on TV as Stain stepped up to the podium.

"OK, everybody, I guess we're going to have to take a vote. Those of you watching at home can vote using the electronic voting devices connected to your television sets. Ready? OK, hands up, everybody who wants to blow up the sun."

Stain paused for 17.3 seconds.

"Now everybody who doesn't want to blow up the sun."

Stain paused for 22 seconds.

"The votes are in, and it's a tie - six votes for, six votes against. I guess we could flip a coin, but I don't have any change. Does anyone here have change for a dollar?"

Nobody had change for a dollar, but someone said, "I have a nickel you could borrow."

"Thanks dude," said Stain, and flipped the coin - then caught it in midair. "Oops, I forgot to say what `heads' or `tails' mean. `Heads' means we blow up the sun, `tails' means we don't"

Stain flipped the coin which landed on it's side and rolled into the gutter.

"Damn!" yelled Stain. "I owe you a nickel, dude. Does anybody else have change?"

Nobody did, but a little boy said, "I have a tennis racket at home. There's a letter `P' on the end of the handle, and you could spin it around and see which way the `P' lands."

"Well, what are you waiting for, kid? We don't have all day! Don't just stand there with that stupid grin on your face! Go get it!"

The boy ran home and returned about thirty minutes later with the tennis racket; by that time, however, a large portion of the crowd had dispersed.

"Thanks, kid," Stain said, "You're a sweetheart. Now if the racket lands with the `P' right-side-up we will blow up the sun; if it lands upside down we won't."

Stain spun the racket, which landed on it's side and rolled into the gutter.

"Strange," said Stain. " Now what do we do? How does one decide these things? How about `rock, paper, scissors'? I'll need two volunteers."

Two people raised their hands.

"Ok, come up here you two. Now on three, form your hands into the shape of a rock, a piece of paper, or a pair of scissors. Remember, rock breaks scissors, scissors cut paper and paper covers rock. The winner will make the final decision. One...two...three! Oops, a tie. Try again. One, two, three! Another Tie! This isn't working at all. Let's try something else. We could draw straws! bring some straws up here."

Some straws were produced.

"I'll hold the straws and whoever draws the shortest one gets to decide. Now each of you can come up here and pick one straw."

Just then a gust of wind blew the straws from Stain's hand and into the gutter.

"Damn!" yelled Stain. "Well, that just about exhausts the conventional ways of making decisions. I guess we'll have to think of some new ones. How about.. the first person who can... smash their head into a tree! That person will decide. Ready, go!"

Nobody moved and someone yelled, "I'm not doing that!"

"Ok, how about the first person who can smash their head into a dog!"

Several people began chasing a dog, but the dog tripped and fell into the gutter before they could catch it.

"Thumbwrestling! We will thumbwrestle to see who decides. You two, come up here. The two of you will thumbwrestle and the winner will make the final decision. Ready, go!"

The two people, we'll call them person x and person y, began to thumbwrestle and person x won.

"All right! I won!" yelled person x. "Now what are we deciding again?"

"I think we're deciding whether or not to start a volleyball league!" said someone from the crowd.

"A volleyball league? Of coarse I want to start a volley ball league!" said person x. "Let's start right now! Come on, everybody! Let's go to the volleyball court!"

"Wait, don't go!" shouted Stain. "Come back! We haven't decided whether or not to blow up the sun!" But nobody heard him - everyone was too excited about the volleyball league, and who can blame them. "Mr. Poo, come back! After all my hard work! Oh God..."

Stain grew very angry.

"I'm going to do it anyway," he said, making his way to the laboratory where the toilet seat rifle was kept. "I just can't let this opportunity go to waste."

Stain entered the laboratory, found the toilet seat gun, took aim, and fired several toilet seats into the sun until it finally blew up.