By Hunter S. Thompson
Page 2 columnist

A spiral that goes straight Down at unholy speed is called a "Vortex," I think, and a spiral that whirls straight Up is called a "Tornado." They might appear to be different, but among scholars of Physics and Quantum Science, they are both the same thing.

They can both kill you instantly. The only sure difference between being sucked down a bottomless sinkhole and getting sucked up in the air while strapped into your car and then dropped like a bomb on a schoolhouse 12 miles away, is that your scrambled remains will be easily identified if you fall from the sky on a schoolhouse -- your family will be disgraced and their auto-insurance will be cancelled for unexplained reasons.

"These things are always Genetic," they'll say. "And his Grandfather was hit by Lighting two or three times, and his Uncle got killed by a tractor. That whole Family is doomed, sure as hell."

The upside of being sucked like a roach down a hole in the earth is that your body will disappear forever. Any Coroner's Jury will have problems with That one. ... "It was like he got flushed down a toilet," said one witness. "And that was the last time I saw him."

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All spirals will get out of control now and then: Witness the horrible fate of Dan Marino in his final game against Jacksonville. (He went 11-for-25, as I recall, with two interceptions and a fumble.) Not even Joe Montana was smart and sharp every Sunday.

But WAIT! Don't touch that dial! Stay tuned for the Point of this story -- which is the downward Spiral of Dumbness that threatens to drag all of us down in the Mother of all killer whirlpools. It is the natural law of any Market economy that a rising tide lifts all boats (for 12 hours) -- and unless the moon gets blown off its axis by some Pentagon dingbat who wants to "teach China a lesson," the same law applies with Low Tides.

The golden success of the 'Be Like Mike' league has gone up in a foul cloud of smoke. The game goes on, yet nobody has the faith in its future. ... The level of desperation has sunk to the spreading of shameless rumors of a comeback by Michael Jordan, which not even sportswriters pretend to take seriously.
HST

It is the Freak tides that lead to disasters. And this eerie phenomenon of guaranteed high-yield Economy that has made even Dumb people richer and richer for the last 20 years is a decidedly freakish tide. ... It is also a law of nature that when too many dumb people get rich all at once, they will naturally rise to the top and be making more and more Executive decisions that will affect the lives of more and more people.

George W. Bush is an obvious example of the spiral of dumbness in action. But he is not alone. Other hideous examples are all around us from Mad Cow disease and the stock-market plunge to the shutdown of Hollywood, and the loss of TV from our lives. We live in times of diminishing expectations.

The golden success of the "Be Like Mike" league has gone up in a foul cloud of smoke. The game goes on, yet nobody has the faith in its future. ... The level of desperation has sunk to the spreading of shameless grasping at rumors of a "comeback" by Michael Jordan, which not even sportswriters pretend to take seriously.

It is far worse than dumb, for instance, to think for more than 10 seconds that a return to the days of Zone Defense will speed up the game or make it more exciting on TV. The Zone will add about as much speed and excitement to the NBA game as the return of the dreaded Four-Corners offense or getting rid of the 3-point shot. It is the work of fools and bunglers who got caught in the Spiral of Dumbness.

Dr. Hunter S. Thompson's books include Hell's Angels, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72, The Proud Highway, Better Than Sex and The Rum Diary. His new book, Fear and Loathing in America, has just been released. A regular contributor to various national and international publications, Thompson now lives in a fortified compound near Aspen, Colo. His column, "Hey, Rube," appears each Monday on Page 2.




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