Freethinkers Anonymous May Have Side Effects

May 15, 1998

Thanks to a recent change in legislation, drug companies are now allowed not only to advertise their drugs, they’re allowed to tell you what they are for as well. Why they couldn’t do that before is a mystery to me, but it’s nice to finally understand that the giant hot air balloon carrying a piano player cures allergies, that putting your hand over your mouth when you burp may be a sign that you suffer from bizarre gastrointestinal disorders, and that attractive couples walking along the beach at sunset no longer need to worry about their genital herpes.

Then come the special disclaimers. First there’s "Consult your doctor or pharmacist." I don’t know about you, but my pharmacist thinks the number of times he failed his school exams is hilarious, and occasionally stares off into space then yells out, "Where did all these pills come from?" Then there’s my favorite part: "Side effects are generally mild, and may include headache, drowsiness, sneezing, skin rashes, muscle aches, watery eyes, ear wax drainage, difficulty concentrating, violent behavior, diziness, hallucinations, hair loss, and brain hemorrhages." My diagnosis is: the commercials are worse than the disease.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.

Interesting Trivia

  • In Cleveland, Ohio, it’s illegal to catch mice without a hunting license.

  • Dr. Seuss coined the word "nerd" in his 1950 book "If I Ran the Zoo"

  • It takes 3,000 cows to supply the NFL with enough leather for a year’s supply of footballs.

  • Thirty-five percent of the people who use personal ads for dating are already married.

  • There are an average of 178 sesame seeds on a McDonald’s Big Mac bun.

  • The world’s termites outweigh the world’s humans 10 to 1.

  • Pound for pound, hamburgers cost more than new cars.

  • The 3 most valuable brand names on earth: Marlboro, Coca-Cola, and Budweiser, in that order.

  • When Heinz ketchup leaves the bottle, it travels at a rate of 25 miles per year.

  • It’s possible to lead a cow upstairs…but not downstairs.

  • The Bible has been translated into Klingon.

  • Humans are the only primates that don’t have pigment in the palms of their hands.

  • Ten percent of the Russian government’s income comes from the sale of vodka.

  • Ninety percent of New York City cabbies are recently arrived immigrants.

  • On average, 100 people choke to death on ballpoint pens every year.

  • In 10 minutes, a hurricane releases more energy than all the world’s nuclear weapons combined.

  • Reno, Nevada is west of Los Angeles, California.

  • Average lifespan of a major league baseball: 5 pitches.

  • Average age of top GM executives in 1994: 49.8 years. Average age of the Rolling Stones: 50.6.

  • Elephants can’t jump. Every other mammal can.

  • The cigarette lighter was invented before the match.

  • Five Jell-O flavors that flopped: celery, coffee, cola, apple, and chocolate.

  • According to one study, 24% of Iawns have some sort of lawn ornament in their yard.

  • Internationally, Baywatch is the most popular TV show in history.

Disclaimer: Thinkers Anonymous is in no way affiliated with Freethinkers Anonymous, nor do we support that organization. In its long history, Freethinkers Anonymous has supported thinking, and studies have shown that thinking, even to excess, can be a very healthy activity. -CW

Are YOU a problem thinker?

It started out innocently enough. I began to think at parties now and then to loosen up. Inevitably though, one thought led to another, and soon I was more than just a social thinker.

I began to think alone – "to relax," I told myself – but I knew it wasn’t true. Thinking became more and more important to me, and finally I was thinking all the time.

I began to think on the job. I knew that thinking and employment don’t mix, but I couldn’t stop myself.

I began to avoid friends at lunchtime so I could read Thoreau and Kafka. I would return to the office dizzied and confused, asking, "What is it exactly we are doing here?"

Things weren’t going so great at home either. One evening I had turned off the TV and asked my wife about the meaning of life. She spent that night at her mother’s.

I soon had a reputation as a heavy thinker. One day the boss called me in. He said, "Skippy, I like you, and it hurts me to say this, but your thinking has become a real problem. If you don’t stop thinking on the job, you’ll have to find another job." This gave me a lot to think about.

I came home early after my conversation with the boss. "Honey," I confessed, "I’ve been thinking…"

"I know you’ve been thinking," she said, "and I want a divorce!"

"But Honey, surely it’s not that serious."

"It is serious," she said, lower lip aquiver. "You think as much as college professors, and college professors don’t make any money, so if you keep on thinking we won’t have any money!"

"That’s a faulty syllogism," I said impatiently, and she began to cry. I’d had enough. "I’m going to the library," I snarled as I stomped out the door.

I headed for the library, in the mood for some Nietzsche, with NPR on the radio. I roared into the parking lot and ran up to the big glass doors… they didn’t open. The library was closed.

To this day, I believe that a Higher Power was looking out for me that night.

As I sank to the ground clawing at the unfeeling glass, whimpering for Zarathustra, a poster caught my eye. "Friend, is heavy thinking ruining your life?" it asked. You probably recognize that line. It comes from the standard Thinker’s Anonymous poster.

Which is why I am what I am today: a recovering thinker. I never miss a TA meeting. At each meeting we watch a non-educational video; last week it was "Porky’s." Then we share experiences about how we avoided thinking since the last meeting.

I still have my job, and things are a lot better at home. Life just seemed… easier, somehow, as soon as I stopped thinking.

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