Fiction: A New Theory of Stupidity

The original theory of stupidity states that stupidity (S), like gravity, is a constant in the universe. Like gravity, all objects possess S and its force is evenly distributed. The effects of S are weak so that only when a minimum quantity of mass (M) has been reached can S be detected. There have been two competing theories concerning the minimum quantity of M. Scientists of the neoliberal bent believe that if M has a progressive spin, then the minimal amount needed to detect S ( sDETECTABLE) is achieved once M is greater than or equal to 1 ( m ≥1 ). Interestingly, scientists that self-identify as progressive believe exactly the same thing but only when M has a neoliberal spin. These theories, as should be evident, are mirror images of one another. Still, if either one is correct, that when M is of a particular spin (neoliberal or progressive) and has the minimum amount for detection of S, then S is not evenly distributed. Since the latest data seems to support this view, what, then, is the nature of S?

Researchers now believe that S is a type of dark matter and, like dark matter, it exhibits three key characteristics. First, it emits no detectable level of S. Therefore it can be present without anyone knowing of its existence. Second, it is not spread evenly across the universe but exists in clumps. Finally, its presence becomes known only by its effects on other objects.

It should be noted that the data neither supports nor negates the need for spin (neoliberal or progressive) as a necessary condition for detection. This will require additional research. Further, if S is a type of dark matter, it is not known what minimal level of clumping may be needed to detect S. Finally, by definition, clumping requires more than one object. Thus the calculation of the minimal amount of M needed for the indirect detection of S is M greater than one ( m > 1), though the clumping effect points to the likelihood that an even higher quantity may be needed in order to have an effect on nearby objects.

Written by Dr. Jeffrey Siegel, Institute of Advanced Stupidity Studies (I of ASS)

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Fiction: Rooster-Red

“That bastard,” Samantha said, shaking. “He’s here with another woman.”

“I’ve told you,” Val said. “Pieces of shit, every one of them.”

The line cook craned his neck. “Pick up, already! Crap’s getting cold!”

“Are you a moron?” Val barked. “Give her a minute.”

Samantha whispered. “I wanted him dead.”

“Honey, if my vibrator could shovel snow, I’d kill them all.”

Samantha wanted to kill just one of them. Biting her lip, she pointed at table seven. Valerie peered into the dining area. “Tanned Boy with the bimbo?”

“Yes.” She started crying. Valerie drew her into a tight embrace.

“He’s the one…” Samantha began.

“Sweetie, don’t.” As Val slowly rocked, Samantha’s panicked breaths gave way to memories of alcohol-infused nights and shared dreams of revenge. Val said she’d return to Tennessee, her grandfather’s Colt Peacemaker at her side. She’d find her ex and put one between his eyes. “Because that’s how you deal with those fuckers,” Val liked to say. Samantha thought she’d see the bastard on the subway platform, then come up from behind, shove him over the edge, and watch him fall onto the tracks.



The line cook slammed his fist. “Pick up!”

Valerie glared, then whispered to Samantha. “Sweetie, I’ll take his table.” She smiled. “And I’ll shit in his food.”

“No, Val,” Samantha said. “I’ll do it.” She laughed. “I mean, I’ll take care of the table.”

“Honey, you don’t have to.”

“I do. I won’t let that girl be his next.” Samantha pointed to the plates. “Val, can you take that to table nine? I need a smoke.”

“Sure, sweetie.”

Samantha stepped out of the kitchen, walked across the lot, and sat in her car. She lit a cigarette, watched the smoke, and wondered how to warn her.



“We hung out in the same crowd,” Samantha said to the sandy blonde woman when she came to take their order. It was a lie, but Samantha needed a way to connect with her. “At college.” She bit her lip, praying the sandy blonde made it out of high school.

“You were at Cedar Community?”

“In some of your classes.” Samantha hated when her mouth kept running.

“I don’t remember,” she said, and then touched Tanned Boy’s hand. “Kyle, do you remember?” He pivoted, put a hand over his smartphone, and stared at Samantha. She felt as if his eyes were tearing at her clothes, again. If he was looking for an autumn brunette with bruises and blood-soaked underwear, he wouldn’t find her. That Samantha died when she fled his apartment. This Samantha has spiked, rooster-red hair and chewed fingernails.

“Nope.” Kyle went back to his phone.

She exhaled, realizing just then that she was holding her breath. Samantha jotted down her number on a guest check, placed it in front of the young woman, and whispered, “I’m Sam.”

“Lindsey,” the young woman said.

“Call me.”

Kyle looked up. Lindsey kissed him on the cheek. “Girl talk.” Then she ordered their food.



“Sweetie, what happened?” Val said.

Samantha was shaking, flooded with memories of that horrible night. “He seemed so sweet. We danced all night, then went to his place ‘for a bit of wine.’ I blacked out. My clothes were everywhere.” Her face was reddening. Tears were streaming. “That bastard pulled out a bat from under the bed. He pushed it in. I bit him hard. He yelled but didn’t stop. Val, he wouldn’t stop.”

Val held Samantha close, and walked her out the back of the kitchen. She lit two cigarettes, handing one to Samantha. As they watched the smoke snake its way through the light snowfall, Val sensed that Samantha was calming down. “Should I get the Colt?”

Samantha laughed. “Val, why aren’t you my mother?”

“I am. I just didn’t give birth to you.” Val grinned. “So tell Mama what you did when you went to the table.”

“I gave her my phone number.”

“Do you think she’ll call?”

Samantha paused, wiped at a few tears. “If she doesn’t want to look like this,” she tugged on her rooster-red hair, “she’ll call.”



“I had heart problems, from birth,” Kyle said, as his muscular arm encircled Lindsey. “I was stuck inside the house and all my buds were outside.” He spun his phone like a coin. “When I got older, I went to the gym. A lot of cardio and pumping iron.” He drew her closer. She gazed at the shimmering hazel-brown lures, and gently laid her head on his arm.



“Seven. Pick up.”

Samantha took a deep breath. She grabbed the plates, walked into the dining area, and came up to Kyle and his prey.

“Your salad. And your burger.” She regretted not shitting on his plate.

Kyle reached for the ketchup and knocked over a glass. Water rushed in every direction, soaking the paper that had Samantha’s phone number, then running off the table edge. Lindsey jumped, but not fast enough.

Samantha stared at Lindsey’s wet jeans, then reached into her apron. No napkins. “Maybe dry them with the hand dryer in the ladies’ room?”

Lindsey stepped behind Kyle and wrapped her arms around his neck. “Honey, I’ll make it quick. Don’t miss me too much.” He grinned, then squirted ketchup on his hamburger. A busboy sopped up the mess. Samantha pointed to the restroom. “I’ll come by in a few to see how you’re doing.”

“Thanks. You really don’t have to.”

She had to.



Samantha darted out the kitchen and into the falling snow. “The fucker. That motherfucker.” She slammed a fist into her thigh. “He didn’t want Lindsey calling me.” She slammed her thigh again. And again. And again. Sam. Get it together. Tears ran down. You have to do this. She pulled out a cigarette. It fell onto the snow. Shit. She took another, lit it, and pulled in a deep drag. Tell her. Deep drag. Tell her what? Mr. Gorgeous is a rapist? She laughed. Slow, deep drag. No, idiot. The truth. How he does it. Another drag. The bronzed Adonis will reveal his fatal flaw, a weak heart. You’ll be his shield against the world, and at a tender moment, your Adonis will become the Devil, and you’ll become his next victim. She imagined Lindsey’s reaction. ‘How do you know this?’ she’d say. I’d tell her I didn’t always look like this, that I used to be beautiful, but after the attack…. She took another drag. Listen to me. Get out now. Run and don’t look back. She took one more drag, dropped the cigarette into the snow, and headed to the ladies’ room.



“You’re so sweet,” Lindsey said as Samantha walked in. Samantha paused, eyeing Kyle’s new prey: alabaster complexion, firm, slender legs, sheer red panties. Delicate, and in danger. She bit her lip, steadying herself for what she had to say.

“I don’t….” Samantha clenched her fist, took a deep breath, and spoke louder. “Lindsey. I don’t know how to start….”

“Sam?” Lindsey was puzzled.

Samantha felt her cheeks burn. Tears were streaming. “Lindsey. Get out.”

“Sweetie, my pants are still wet.”

Samantha grabbed Lindsey’s arms. “You don’t understand.” Her head was throbbing. Her vision a blur. “Run! He keeps a bat!” Lindsey squirmed out of Samantha’s grip.

“You’re crazy.” Lindsey quickly put on her jeans and shoes, and left. Samantha ran out, dashed across the dining room into the kitchen, out the back and into her car. Where the hell is it? Samantha yanked a white paper bag from the back seat and opened the bottle, spilling capsules on the seat and floor. She put two in her mouth, swallowed hard, then held onto the steering wheel, waiting for the migraine to subside. Picking up the medication insert that came with the prescription, she decided for the first time to read it. Nothing was in English, until she read the warning: May induce cardiac problems in those with a history of cardiovascular disease.



“Where have you been?” Val said to Samantha.

“Can’t talk now, Val. I have to get to my tables.”

Samantha frantically made the rounds, apologizing for her absence, pushing off the inevitable. She took a deep breath, slowly exhaled, then went to their table.

“Anything else? Coffee?” Samantha said.

“Yes,” Lindsey said. “Kyle, you’ll have coffee, right?”


Samantha returned with two cups. Kyle leaned back in his chair, watching Samantha walk back to the kitchen. She returned a short time later with their check. They were laughing, and they hadn’t touched the coffee.

“In the movie,” Kyle said with a smirk, ‘the other guy says, ‘I know that my cup was poisoned but you want me to think that it’s not poisoned.’” He then switched cups with Lindsey, giving her the cup with the small grease mark, the cup that had ten dissolved migraine pills. Kyle then leaned back in his chair, looked squarely at Samantha, and smiled.


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Fiction: Listen To Me

“I swear the subway knows you’re in a rush. ‘Sensors have detected harried passenger. Activate broken train signal.’” Jennifer dropped her coat on the chair, then glanced at the monitors, the I.V. drip, the half-full urine bag. Then she kissed her father’s unshaven head. “What happened to his earring?”

“If you’d been here every day,” Kara said, “you’d know the nurses took it out weeks ago.”

Peter hoped this wouldn’t become another fight. He’d seen too many from his hospital bed.

“Mom texted me earlier.” Kara contained her anger. “She’ll be late.”

Peter cleared his throat. The deep, raspy sound seemed to draw his daughters’ attention. This would be the only time he could tell them, before their mother came, before — god forbid — it happened again, here in the hospital.

“Jen. Kara. Listen. I have something to tell you.” He watched their faces, making sure he still had their attention. “I know this is coming from left field. And no. I’m not a Soviet spy.” Peter tried to smile. “Remember the stories Mom told you, about when we were first dating, about that Columbian girl I was going out with at the same time I was going with your Mom? Remember Mom said I broke it off with that girl before we were married?” He stopped, took in a deep breath, then exhaled slowly. “That’s true, kinda.”

They looked at their smartphones. Peter thought they were shielding themselves from what might be coming next.

“When I was teaching at Queens College, I saw her again. She walked into one of those big lectures I did in the summers. At the end she came to the podium to introduce herself. I knew exactly who she was, even though it had been over thirty years.

“She was auditing the course. No grade. Thank god. Talk about a conflict of interest. Anyway, we met a few times outside of the class, at the cafeteria. Public place. Safe.

Peter wondered if he should continue. Jennifer and Kara looked at him. He sensed they were torn, unsure if listening was tantamount to condoning. But it gnawed inside. He had to get it out.

“The last day of class was a scorcher. I think it hit 90 degrees. I didn’t expect her to be at that class. After I got the last of the exam booklets, I headed to my office. I had a week to grade them but I figured, why wait, do it now. I left the door open. Guess who walked in.

They kept glancing at their phones. He kept talking.

“You don’t need the details. It happened. More than once.” Peter expected the lecture. Men think they can do whatever the hell they want and women will always forgive them. He’d heard it many times. Thankfully, they spared him. In fact, they were silent, which was worse.

“She was here, early this morning. She must have called the department, wondering why a substitute was teaching my courses. They must have told her where I was. When she walked in, I tried to tell her not to visit again.

Jennifer looked up from her phone, stared at her father’s face, softly touched his head, and felt beads of sweat.

Peter’s eyes began to water. “If she shows up again, you need to stop her, because if your Mom recognizes her, nearly forty years of marriage will be shattered.” His lips quivered. “I thought the truth would set me free. That’s bullshit. I’m terrified that the truth will walk through that door.”

“Kara, did you notice his face?” Jennifer said. “It’s so expressive, as if he’s been telling us a story.”

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Fiction: Dry Toast and Coffee

It was 2:00AM. Another late night stakeout. Eight hours of staring at a window. Sometimes I wonder why I became a private investigator. It sure wasn’t for the money. At least this night of lost sleep was being paid for by Hegeman’s Casualty Co. They’ve had me tailing Sid, the company bean counter, for the past six weeks. Boss thought he was skimming the books. I wasn’t seeing it. Sid spends mornings in Livonia’s Coffee Shop. The newspaper has more flavor than his ‘dry toast and coffee’ breakfasts. He drives a run-down Buick to the office. Never eats lunch. Evenings he makes the jalopy climb Route 9 to Hal’s Burger Heaven.

I figured Mr. Bean Counter wasn’t going anywhere tonight, so I took off, knowing I’d catch up with him at daybreak at Livonia’s. Sleep wasn’t on my agenda, not yet. I headed downtown. The rhythms of the Village Jazz Club lured me in like a bee to a sunflower. Buzzing through the sensuous clouds of smoke, I gave Vern the nod and slid into my favorite booth. He sent Tina with a shot of Jameson. I lit a cigarette, took a swig, and let the warmth slide down. As my body swayed to Slim Watkins’ saxophone, a hot little number came over to the table.

“You alone?”

I looked up. Didn’t say a word, but my eyes told her it was okay to sit down.

“Can I have a smoke?”

I slid over a Lucky Strike. Soft fingers caressed the smooth paper. She lifted it to her dark red lips and leaned across the table. I flicked my lighter – it’s been with me since the war – and reached across. Drawing my hands close, bringing the flame to the edge of the cigarette, she took a deep drag, puffing out smoke rings that floated like halos around an angel. I was entranced.

“What’s your name, gorgeous?”

She took another deep drag, looked up to the ceiling and slowly exhaled. Staring at her soft neck, at the way she held her pretty head, the way her hands and body were in rhythm with Slim’s sax, I wanted this one.

“Laura Ann. Laura Ann Martin. But you can call me ‘Sugar’ because I’m the sweetest thing you’ll ever meet.”


Dry toast and coffee. Ten weeks. Maybe the bean counter deserved a pay raise for honesty. “If he’s skimming, he’s doing a bad job.”

Hegeman chomped a day-old Havana as his pudgy right hand smashed down on the intercom switch. “Give Mr. Margate his check.”

I thanked him. Told him to call if he needs my services again.

The secretary handed me a check on my way out.


Since that night the mocha-skinned dream came into my life, I’ve spent every free minute at the club, sitting in my favorite booth, listening to Slim, and scouting the floor. I have a smoke and a shot of Jameson, looking and wondering if Laura Ann was just a dream.


[Posted on Nov. 2, 2015. Edited on Jan. 24, 2016. Edited on Apr. 12, 2016]

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Fiction: The Fragmented Philosophy of Avrum Leib


As with the pre-Socratics, the philosophy of Avrum Leib comes to us in fragments. He did not develop a complete system of thought. Instead, Leib employed a seltzer-based approach, schpritzing aphorisms here and there. Further, the fragments we do have were not written down. Rather, they come to us as recollections by those who were deeply touched by his thoughts. Scholars have cross-checked many of these recollections through extensive interviews. However, some fragments could not be easily verified though we are confident of their authenticity. We have marked them with a single dagger (†).

Little is known of Leib’s education. Scholars have determined that it was severely curtailed by the outbreak of World War II. It is not likely that before or after the war he had any intercourse with the Polish-Jewish intelligentsia. However, one can discern echoes of pre-Socratic thought, such as in his application of Parmenides’ ex nihilo principle (“Out of Nothing, Nothing is Made”), indicating a familiarity with the basic questions of philosophy. It is not known how or where he acquired his knowledge and understanding of philosophy.

His family life also remains a mystery. It is believed that the woman referred to in one of the philosophical fragments was his wife. However, at the time of this writing, this is no more than intelligent conjecture. There is anecdotal evidence that he fathered two sons but little is known about them.

It is believed that Leib passed away in 2008.



For Leib, Truth was discovered through a close examination of the available evidence, allowing for a precise and unequivocal decision concerning truth or falsity.

Am I Right or Am I Wrong? (AIRAIW): After a brief examination of the evidence, a verdict is rendered that clearly demarcates truth from falsehood. Unfortunately, Leib left no indication of the methodology one should use to determine right from wrong.

Am I Right, Bevy? (AIRB): “Bevy” does not refer to a group of objects but, as used here, it represents the name of a woman.  Research has uncovered evidence that she may have been instrumental in providing the philosophical groundwork necessary for applying the AIRAIW principle, going well beyond merely schmaltzing up the truth. In fact, she may have helped develop the full Leibsian philosophy. 1

Let Me Say Is This (LMSIT): There are two possible uses of LMSIT. It can be the final statement of a philosophical proof, analogous to quod erat demonstrandum (That Which Was To Be Shown, often abbreviated as QED) that medieval geometers were fond of using at the end of a proof. It can also be used to introduce a critical piece of information. 2


For Leib, justice was not an abstract concept but was something that occurred within the world. Justice arrived in one of two ways: “internal justice,” that is, justice that occurred through processes internal to those who were deserving of justice, and “external justice,” a form of justice carried out by another on that person in need of justice. In both cases, justice was always sure, never in doubt, though not always swift. 3

Internal Justice

They Should Drop Dead (TSDD): This punishment follows after application of the AIRAIW principle. This is a swift form of punishment committed by internal forces.

They Should Get A Cancer (TSGC): Similar to TSDD, this is a slow form of punishment, again caused by forces internal to the person.

They Should Cock So Long (TSCSL): “Cock,” in this context, refers to defecation, specifically as it relates to constipation. It is based on the assumption that, for the constipated, evacuating one’s bowels is both a time-consuming and a painful, or uncomfortable, process. This form of justice applies to anyone who bears false witness where the effects of false testimony do not reach the level of TSDD or TSGC.

External Justice

They Should Get Killed (TSGK): This contrasts with TSDD and TSGC. The punishment comes from an external force.

A Note About the Pronoun “They”: As used here, “they” can refer to a single person or to many people. It can also be used as an abstract noun where it may refer to an economic or political outcome, or even a social movement. When used this way, the particular form of punishment is to be interpreted figuratively, not literally.


Leibsian epistemology mainly concerns itself with differentiating appearance from reality. It does not concern itself with the origin of knowledge.

Nothing With Nothing (NWN): This concept has strong affinities with Parmenides’ ex nihilo principle. It explains how, after examination, something that seems to exist does not, in fact, exist. This plays on the dual meaning of the word ‘nothing.’ It can mean, literally, the complete absence of being, that is, that something does not exist. But it can also refer to something that does exist. Therefore, NWN means that something that seems to exist doesn’t exist. Again, like some of the other fragments noted herein, the methodology used to determine the correct application of NWN is not known.

They’re Full Of Shit (TFOS): This principle is used to classify evidence according to the Leibsian truth/falsity dichotomy. Conceptually related to NWN, it too deals with the question of appearance versus reality. Like NWN, the methodology used to determine whether evidence falls within the scope of the TFOS principle is not known. However, recent scholarship has shown that LMSIT (see entry “Let Me Say Is This”) was employed as a way to separate appearance from reality when determining the value of any particular piece of evidence. It is likely that TFOS and LMSIT performed complementary roles when determining whether something was really nothing (see entry “Nothing With Nothing”).

A Note About LMSIT Complementarity:

Some scholars have argued that if LMSIT is a complementary principle, its only purpose would be as a philosophical ‘glue,’ binding axioms and supporting statements to the final epistemological judgement, such as TFOS. It cannot, logically and linguistically, be a statement of that judgement. Following this line of reasoning, LMSIT has been falsely elevated in importance and should be removed from the Leibsian canon. Admittedly, this is a minority view. 4

Suggested Reading

Those interested in further study may find the following publications to be of interest.

Freimlich, Robert, They Should Drop Dead: A Leibsian Perspective on Lindsay, Liberalism, and the New York Welfare State. New York: New York Universal Press, 2001.

Van Woodard, Charles, editor. The Schpritz of Life: Recollections of Avrum Leib. Ellenville, New York: Brustein & Brustein, 1993.

  1.  Sarah Farnsworth, “Et Tu, Bevy? Feminist Influence on Leibsian Truth,” Journal of Brooklyn Philosophy, Vol. 12, No. 1, pp. 23-47.
  2.  These applications of LMSIT are not without controversy. See the note accompanying the entry for TFOS.
  3.  Robert Krensworth, “Could Leibsian Justice Eliminate Political Corruption?” Journal of the American Political Scientists Association, Vol. 45, No. 3, pp. 45-81. See also, Israel Weinblatt, “A Bayesian Application of Leibsian Justice: Controlling Irrational Market Exuberance,” Econometricals, Vol. 61, No. 2, pp. 3-103. See also, Dr. Hussein Al-Sabbah, “Biblical Origins of Leibsian Justice,” Middle Eastern & Brooklyn Studies, Vol. 14, No. 4, pp. 26-35.
  4.  Joseph Scapporinni, “LMSIT: A Philosophical Interloper?,” Studies in Leibsian Thought, Vol. 4, No. 3, pp. 18-36. For the mainstream view see, Saul Goldfarb, “NWN: A Response to Scapporinni’s Interloper Argument,” Studies in Leibsian Thought, Vol. 5, No. 1, pp. 12-15. 
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