It has been shown, through scientific study and real-life observation, that intelligence doesn't automatically correspond to excellence in other areas, including such diverse disciplines as spelling, writing and, for that matter, common sense.
That first part keeps me from screaming every time I hear about some home-schooled kid winning a spelling bee. That doesn't mean that the kid is smart; it just means he can spell. Heck, if I were locked in the house all day with Mom (and Jesus), I'd take up a hobby, too.
At the same time, no matter how smart one is (or isn't), it would probably behoove one to double-check things that are going out into the public with one's name attached, especially if you're getting paid a crapload of money to be, if not smart, then at least competent.
A few years back, the Weekly ran a cover story about a drunken party attended by graduates of a local high school. (The name of the school doesn't matter, because I'm sure that stuff doesn't go on anymore at any school, anywhere, ever.) It just so happened that the school at which I was coaching was playing against the drunken-party school the night that issue hit the newsstands. I walked in the gym and was surrounded by angry students and parents demanding to know why I had written the article. I told them I hadn't, but they insisted that I had ghost-written it.
I ended the discussion by saying, "You guys know me. If I'm going to piss on somebody, I'm going to use my own piss."
Speaking of bodily waste, just last week, two different people sent me copies of a memorandum signed by new Tucson City Manager Mike Letcher. It's addressed to the Executive Leadership Team and its subject is "Problem Solving." At first, I couldn't believe that it was authentic, but both senders confirm that it is. It contains errors in grammar, syntax, punctuation and just about everything else for which an English teacher would give you the stink eye. (I won't go into the ass-kissing tone, because that's obviously part of the job description.)
Here is the first sentence:
"As leaders and managers" (no comma) "we are faced with solving problems everyday" (one word).
Then follows (exactly!): "Most problems you resolve Richard Miranda, Assistant City Manager and are not required to act on.."
And, yes, it has two periods at the end (and is missing at least one comma and a bunch of words). What the heck?! I know at least one problem that needs fixing.
It continues, asking questions in bold-face and then (sort of) answering them.
What is the Problem?
We know what we have to fix.
(I don't recall ever being this bowled over by profundity. And the "Problem" must have been a big one, because it was capitalized.)
How do we fix it?
Please do not come to Richard Miranda, Assistant City Manager or me unless you have thought about how to fix the problem.
If they've already thought about how to fix the problem, why do they need to bother the higher-ups? Also, every time he mentions Richard Miranda, why does he follow it with "Assistant City Manager," only without the requisite comma at the end? Every time I read it, I hear Michael Scott murmuring, "Assistant to the City Manager."
How do we make sure it does not happen again?
Please do your homework on making any and all departmental corrections so this does not Happen again, or is less likely to happen again. This may involve working with other department heads that are part of the process that need to be changed.
So that's the key—doing homework. Find at least three things that are wrong with those two sentences.
Anyway, it goes on, but you get the idea. My favorite part of the first page is this particular Q&A:
How will this be consistent with Mayor and Council priorities?
Make sure the solution is consistent with Mayor and Council priorities.
Is it just me, or do you feel your IQ tick down a point when you read that? It reminds me of that old Richard Pryor bit about pimps on cocaine: "They be talkin' all the time, but don't be sayin' sh--!"
Anyway, the memo saved the best for last. On the second page is what at first appears to be a Venn diagram, with overlapping circles of different colors (See it here). The six circles form a ring with No. 1 ("What is the problem?") leading to No. 2 ("How do we fix it?"). It sort of makes sense—in a third-grade, Billy Madison-kinda way—but then, when you get to the final one, No. 6 ("Is it working?"), an arrow leads you back to No. 1 ("What is the problem?"). It's a Venn diagram in an infinite loop.
Wasn't there a Polack joke like that back in the day?
Perhaps most telling in this exercise in inanity is that inside the ring of circles is the word "Solution." It's in a white space, not touching any of the circles.