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Click and Clack Tell Grads To Remember To Have Fun

Duo’s Mantra: Unencumbered By the Thought Process

Ray: This all started a little over two years ago. We were doing our weekly radio show and I happened to mention casually that Kofi Annan had been selected to give the address to the class of ‘97. Tommy says, Kofi Annan? Who the hell is he? [LAUGHTER] Whatever happened to U. Thant? And then begins to rant, why did they choose Kofi Annan? Okay, he is the Secretary General of the UN, I guess, but no one has ever heard of him. Everyone has heard of us. They’ve got to fly him in, fly him out, put him up in a fancy hotel. Wine him and dine him and do all that. They’d have to do none of these things for us ... AND ... AND ... AND ... he’s not even an alumnus! ...Well, hardly a fortnight passes and we receive in the mail from someone, Charles M. Vest, what I would call a terse rebuke.

Tom: It wasn’t so terse. Why I happen to have it here.

Ray: Read it to us please.

Tom: Here it is. “Dear Click ’58 and Clack ’72... I’m sorry to learn of your disappointment at not being asked to deliver the main address at this year’s Commencement exercise. It had been my understanding that you don’t usually care for exercise, especially in the open air, and that you therefore wouldn’t be interested in ours... [LAUGHTER] On the other hand... the idea of having you two gentleman as graduation speakers is invariably floated each spring. This year, as always, there was a strong but murky undercurrent of support for you as Commencement speakers. Still, even your most ardent backer has to admit that there was one crucial area in which your qualifications could not match those of your fellow alumnus...”

Tom: “As you know, the United Nations has a really spiffy flag. Because Secretary General Annan was featured as this year’s speaker we have a legitimate excuse to fly the UN flag on the dais and also to hang it anywhere else we wanted to. You can imagine how useful such a flag can be when you want to cheer up a drab corner of the campus or decorate a really big space like an auditorium or an athletic cage.”

Ray: I mean this is the kind of criterion that this guy Vest is using? What the hell is he thinking?

Tom: “If Car Talk or even Dewey, Cheetham & Howe, had possessed a similarly attractive flag, we might have been able to use you, but as it was, we felt that we really had to go with the Secretary General for aesthetic reasons.” Right.

Ray: Well, a whole year passes without incident. Well, I shouldn’t say without incident. During that year I think just about every automaker on the planet threatened to sue us. But at least without incident with regard to this issue. And then last year Tommy hears that some elected official, these are his words remember, from Arkansas who’s been in --

Tom: I don’t think I referred to him as an elected official.

Ray: -- a little trouble with the law is going to give the address to the class of ’98. As you can imagine, another rant ensues. Well, it doesn’t take long before Charles M. Vest puts laser printer to paper and we receive another rebuke...

Tom: Which I also happen to have here. Chuck won’t mind if we read this. “Dear Click ’58 and Clack ’72, I understand that you have once again expressed on-air disappointment over not being asked to speak at MIT’s graduation. Last summer, I advised you that the chances of being invited as Commencement speakers would be enhanced if Car Talk had a suitable flag that could be used to help us decorate the campus. I hear that you now have come up with a flag and you thought this would ensure your inclusion in the 1998 Commencement program.” I mean we went out of our way, if the truth be known, we got the flag yesterday. But we told him we had a flag. We figured he would be gullible enough.

Ray: He went for it.

Ray: We’re still excited, of course, and honored to be here. And after the euphoria subsided, it began to sink in that we actually had to give a speech today. And I will admit that I was concerned and maybe even a bit worried. After all, Commencement speeches are usually reserved for heads of state, respected members of the academic community, secretaries general of the United Nations. But us! Why us? But my fears began to ebb as I weighed the consequences of a poor performance today. What if we do terribly? What if we’re incoherent? Uninspiring? Uninteresting? It would be just like our radio show. I mean what could possibly happen? I mean what could they do? Ask for our diplomas back? They couldn’t do that, could they?

Tom: I don’t think so.

Ray: I don’t want to give my diploma back. I can’t!

Tom: No, it’s holding up the end of that table in your dining room.

Ray: Well, after this epiphany I began to feel a lightness of being and Tom and I rolled up our sleeves, put on a pot of coffee and began the creative process.

Tom: We figured this is the world’s foremost institute of technology on Massachusetts Avenue so we ought to use technology. So what my brother did actually was he requested from Paul Parravano, who is I guess the second, the vice president of MIT. Where is Paul? We don’t know. We requested copies of the last 20 years’ Commencement addresses. We gave this to our crack researcher, Paul Murky of Murky Research, brother of the Paul Murky of Murky Investigations. And we asked him to analyze all of these speeches to find out if there were some commonalities. And, indeed, there were. He used factor analysis which Course XV guys will understood and he came up with three factors. Get this: every one of these speeches had in common a beginning, a middle, and an end.

Tom: OK. Go ahead. We figured the beginning, that was pretty straight forward. We could read a couple of letters from Chuck Vest. So we did that already and so that’s done. The middle, that was the tough part. We couldn’t quite figure what the middle ought to be. But the end we knew had to be some kind of inspirational thing. Right? That’s what they all are. So we said to ourselves, what do we know about inspirational things? It so happens, however, that we have in addition to Murky Investigations, Paul Murky, whom I just told you did the factor analysis, had been working on some other research for us and he and his lovely assistant, Marge Innoferror. Marge Innoferror.

Ray: Yeah, they got, I think. It just wasn’t that funny...

[SHOWS SLIDE]

Tom: Doesn’t that knock your socks off! He says, left brain, right brain. And if you think about it, this is sort of what we think of, some people do at least, intelligence. So it’s almost a plot of intelligence versus happiness. And the news ain’t good for you. [LAUGHTER]

Because what Murky finds out is that right brain people are about ten times as happy then left brain people. So the stupider you get -- by left brain people’s measures of stupidity, of course. Because right brain people are too happy to waste their time developing IQ tests. But they’re ten times happier. We say, whoa! Paul, this is something...

Slide three, please. Slide three. Here it is. Here’s humans and the best of the humans, of course, is the right brain humans. And here is what he found. Happiness goes up. It begins to look like it’s exponential over there. [LAUGHTER] The next happier life form is a golden retriever. [LAUGHTER] Then a cow. Then worms. And he stopped his research at grass. [LAUGHTER]

Ray: OK. We’ll just keep going.

Tom: Here’s the story. I mean what is the importance of this. We have always thought that we were the highest life form on the planet. Turns out, we are the lowest life form on the planet. And I am going to give to you now a theorem which will knock your socks off... This is the theory of reverse reincarnation. I mean some people believe in reincarnation. And what they believe is that when we die, we come back as better and better people. What the theory of reverse reincarnation says, if we are good people, we will come back as a golden retriever. [LAUGHTER] Then a cow. Then a worm. Then grass. Now if the reincarnation was working in the other direction, coming back as better and better people, where are they? [LAUGHTER] Duh! So, it becomes clear that the theory of reverse reincarnation may be the scientific finding of not the decade, not the century, but of all time. Now, my brother and I, L. Ron Magliozzi, are going to help you to achieve nirvana. We’re going to help you to become not smarter. Smarter is no good. That’s the wrong direction.

Ray: You have been doing that.

Tom: You must stop this from happening and you must go in the other direction and we are here to help you... You must repeat the mantra. And the mantra, which happens to be emblazoned on our flag, which stands here -- none of your morons will be able to read it because it’s in Latin.

Ray: It says: Non impediti ratione cogitatonis.

Tom: Which, of course, means: Unencumbered by the thought process... [LAUGHTER] [APPLAUSE]

Tom: ... I was once trapped by the scientific, logic, left brain life. I graduated from here and I went to work as an engineer. And I will tell you about my defining moment. I was driving -- I lived in Cambridge at the time -- I was driving from Cambridge to my job in Foxboro, Massachusetts, and I was driving in a little MG. It weighed about 50 pounds and on Route 128 I was cut off by a semi and I almost, as they say, bought the farm. And as I continued my drive, I said to myself, if I had in fact bought the farm out there on Route 128, how ticked off would I be that I spent all my life -- that I can remember at least -- going to this job, living a life of quite desperation. So, I pulled into the parking lot, walked into my boss’s office and I quit, on the spot.

Ray: See, now most people would have just bought a bigger car.

Tom: [LAUGHTER] See, those people would have been using their left brains. I had been saying my mantra in the car. That’s why the guy cut me off. I think I cut him off. In any event, I quit my job. I became a bum. I spent two years sitting in Harvard Square drinking coffee. I invented the concept of the do-it-yourself auto repair shop and I met my lovely wife. None of which would have happened if I had been using my left brain...

Ray: I’m not sure if we’re in a position of any wisdom but we’ve never let that stop us. So listen up. I’m only going to say this a few times. Today you will receive a document that states that you’ve earned a degree or maybe degrees from MIT. You know, you’ve worked hard and you should feel a great sense of accomplishment. I know I did.

And most of you will leave here today with a pretty good idea of where you’re going and what you’re going to do. Some of you have no clue and you’ll just have to move back in with your parents, if they haven’t rented out your room already. But others among you may have charted a course or had one charted for you that you know is wrong. And you may feel some creative energy coursing through your body. Don’t ignore it. If you feel the urge to create and discover and do something that will bring you fulfillment and happiness, do it now while you’re young. You will never have more energy or enthusiasm, hair, or brain cells than you have today...

Ray: I just want to encourage you to never get so involved in your work, whatever it is, that you forget to have fun... And I’d like to leave you with some words of a wise man, a wise man from the East my brother and I know...

Ray: And this wise man is -- his name is Depak Fonzarelli. [LAUGHTER]

Tom: He’s quite a man.

Ray: He is quite a man... And we went to him recently and Tommy and I sat with him and Tom asked him how he could attain immortality. Deepak sat for a minute. He got up and turned off the TV. Baywatch had just ended. [LAUGHTER] And he said, my son, if you wish to attain immortality, you must do the following: You must work hard every day seven days a week, never taking time off. You must attend no social functions. You must not smoke. You must not drink. And you must not go with women. Never have we received a definitive answer to any of our questions. We were astounded. And Tommy asks, and Tommy asks...

Tom: I say to Depak, you mean if I do those things I will live forever?

Ray: Oh no, my son, he said, it will just seem like forever. Have fun. Enjoy the ride and don’t drive like my brother. Congratulations

Tom: Don’t drive like my brother.

[APPLAUSE]