ROFL: Random Outbursts From Lar!


Effective Immediately! [Memo 13] Einstein’s Error (and I’m Not Mad as Hell)

This is Effective Immediately! Memo 13. The following is effective immediately!

Effective Immediately, everyone needs to stop quoting the movie Network where the character Howard Beale goes nuts and says he’s mad as hell and he’s not going to take it anymore. (Link.)

That clip has been the rallying cry for too many political activities. You know who else was mad as hell and wasn’t going to take it anymore? Osama bin Laden. Who know who else? That asshole in Norway who killed dozens of people.

Who know who else? Whatever terrorist somewhere in the world just planted a bomb that will explode later today, killing people he’s never known, who have no power to change whatever he’s mad as hell about.

All these bad guys are driven by anger. And yet people keep calling for more anger. Then they wonder why the world is so cruel.

I’ve got it, people. We’ve got it. The entire world has GOT IT. You and everyone else is mad as hell and you're not going to take it anymore. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And where has that gotten us? To a place where everyone is mad as hell. And no further.

Einstein said, "the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result." Now he was a genius, so you should pay attention to him. Actually, come to think of it, he was wrong, because when you roll dice you usually get a different result than before. That’s what drives the whole game of craps.

Okay, maybe philosophy wasn't Einstein's strong suit. So let’s just ignore Mr. Supposed-Brilliant-Mind's error and pretend it never happened because it’s getting in the way of his genius image and my point, which is that everyone has been "getting mad as hell and not taking it any more" for years. Everyone does it and golly gee, it seems like we’re still having trouble coming together in peace and harmony.

But wait, you say, what if we see an injustice? Aren’t we allowed to get mad and not take it anymore? What’s the alternative? Let’s consider our options in the chart below.


As you can see, Howard Beale and most others have been "mad as hell and not taking it," and yet we seem to be heading in the wrong direction.

To represent the "mad as hell and taking it," quadrant I offer the iconic image of an individual whose primary agenda appears to be suggesting others "get brains," (a pro-zombie platform?) when he seems to be short one himself. He makes me think of that breed of person often angry, and despite claiming to love America, hates most of the innovative ideals that make America awesome. He equates dissidence with treason. This breed seems to spend most of their time shaking their fist at the television news and doing little else. This fellow might need to read his own sign, but he deserves credit for having more initiative than most other morans. His endless rage, unexamined by him, amounts to "taking it."

Our lower right quadrant doesn't make a whole lot of sense. If you’re not mad then are you really taking anything? No. You're just sitting there accepting.

The upper right quadrant is our winner: not mad as hell, and not taking it. What does that look like? Well, I guess it looks like intense civic participation: Sit ins, protests, hunger strikes, labor strikes, any form of protest that don’t involve killing people. You’re speaking up, you’re being disobedient, but you’re not acting out of rage.

I wrote the first draft of this a few months ago, before Occupy Wall Street got rolling, but I'd say, OWS is the closest I've seen in my lifetime to Not Mad As Hell and Not Taking It. While surely anger plays a part for some in that movement, anger isn't all they are about, as opposed to Mr. Moran. Their approach is, we're just going to sit here until you, well, until. They serve as a reminder that justice still needs to be done. (As of this writing, still exactly zero Wall Street bank executives have been prosecuted for tanking the world economy.)

Knowing that your agenda involves something substantial, like bringing criminals to justice (as opposed to telling others to "get brains") may not make you un-mad, but it surely makes you less mad.

Suppose that Norway asshole, instead of shooting people, had gotten naked and ran across Norway with a banner attached around his waist that read, "Ask me why I hate foreigners and love the Knights Templar!" Now THAT would have been an interesting take on the Nyan cat. Suppose he met the requirements for not being mad as hell, and not taking it. Maybe some people would have thought he was an especially devoted soccer fan, but still, one video of that would have gone viral and made people smile. Instead people are determined more than ever to resist his D&D fantasy. (Knights Templar, dude? How about more time with World of Warcraft and less time shooting people?)

The key problem is anger. What does being mad get you? Once I was mad as hell and decided to take it. I stayed mad. Once I was mad as hell and refused to take it anymore. I punched a wall and it hurt so bad I thought I broke my fingers. And it did absolutely nothing to solve my problem: girls still wouldn't date me on account of my temper.

There’s a reason mad means both angry and crazy. Because it’s hard to find one without the other. So how about we put all our energy into something like thinking, or communicating with grace. Or compassionate resistance. Or Occupying. Just stand there until someone figures out what you want. Or you figure out what you want. Or something happens. There's no law against just standing there. That doesn't mean law enforcement won't beat your head in enforcing such non-existent laws, but hey, try it.

Maybe you're skeptical. Maybe you think all this peaceful resistance is nuts and only going to work in a world where everyone is willing to listen. Then again, maybe the exact reason peaceful resistance will work is because the whole world has gone mad.


Larry Nocella writes the blog ROFL: Random Outbursts From Lar! at He's the author of the novel Where Did This Come From? The world's first CarbonFree(R) novel according to The book is available as an Amazon Kindle eBook. It is also available for reading online. P.S. You don't need a Kindle to read Kindle eBooks. Download the FREE Kindle app for PC, Mac and smartphones. You can then purchase Kindle books or download free ones. Enjoy!