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New PhD Graduate

There’s a new PhD graduate here in Shalampax, a young rapscallion named Roastedrat. (I don’t know what rapscallion means, nor am I going to bother to look it up, but I like the sound of the word. Besides, although I don’t know Roastedrat very well, rapscallion has the vague ring of something he probably is.)

I’m sorry. I just realized that saying “there’s a new PhD graduate here in Shalampax” is a bit misleading. There are no old PhD graduates here. Roastedrat is Shalampax’s first and, so far, only PhD graduate. My apologies if that misled you.

Now that I think about it, inserting “so far” before “only” may be somewhat deceiving too. I don’t imagine that too many, if any, Shalampaxians will want to shell out the dollars necessary to earn a PhD any time soon. I apologize for introducing that possible confusion as well. But I digress.

Despite not having successfully completed high school, and despite not planning to do so at any time in the future, Roastedrat was inspired to get a PhD by an article, The Ever-Elusive Goal: A Proof of God, which he stumbled on when doing a Google search for “truly divine porn.” At least, that’s what he verbally told me he searched for. However, knowing how badly he spells, he might have typed just about anything into the search box.

Because he hates reading, Roastedrat did not read anything beyond the title of the respected journal article. Scrolling down the Web page with reckless abandon and much unfulfilled anticipation, he saw that there were no pictures and, more specifically, no divine porn pictures, so he could not think of any reason whatsoever to study it more closely.

Nevertheless, the title alone was sufficient to set him off on his grand intellectual quest. Or, at least, it was a grand quest for a mind as feeble as his.

“How difficult,” he asked himself, “could it possibly be to find the necessary proof?” He thought it would be so trivial an exercise that he couldn’t believe that no one had been able to do it yet. Trivial exercises have always been one of his great passions—actually, his only passion. So he set out to write a doctoral thesis that would finally offer a conclusive proof once and for all.

Unfortunately, in addition to not enjoying literature of any kind other than picture books with trifling text, Roastedrat suffers from a severe reading disability. On reflection, I imagine that it is possible that his disability might be the underlying cause of his hate for the written word, but it’s much more likely that the reason he detests reading is that, in addition to being astonishingly physically lazy, he is also incredibly cerebrally lazy.

I could go on, but further discussion of Roastedrat’s various intellectual and other handicaps would not add much to this narrative. The relevant point here is that Roastedrat’s reading disability led him to see “God” as “Dog.” No one could convince him that it said “God.” Then again, nobody tried to convince him of that because, like Roastedrat, nobody else in Shalampax could be bothered to read the article. Moreover, no one else wanted to waste the time necessary to read even the title, so Roastedrat was one ahead of the rest of us on that score.

It is easy to understand why Roastedrat, having read the word in the title as “Dog” rather than the “God” that was plainly written there, thought it would be easy to prove its existence.

Roastedrat’s doctoral thesis consisted of 457 pages of pictures of dogs downloaded from the Internet without regard to copyright, along with a few quotes from stories about people and their dogs. He pulled the quotes from pages he found on the Web. He didn’t have the intellectual curiosity necessary to make the effort required to read the stories. Instead, he simply used the search function in his Web browser to find instances of the word “dog.”

He concluded his thesis with, “QED, Dowg [sic] exhists [sic].” I wonder who told him about “QED.” He got that one right.

Roastedrat’s thesis was dedicated to “real dogs everywhere, without whom this thesis would not have been possible.” Clearly, someone must have helped him with the spelling of that dedication. It was the only sentence in the entire thesis that didn’t contain at least one spelling mistake. Most had several.

Roastedrat submitted his completed dissertation, along with the required $750 tuition fee, plus $50 for postage and handling, to the Truly Super Online University, which, at time of writing, operated from a post office box somewhere in Texas, USA. He received his doctorate from TSOU seven business days later, as promised.

As a bonus, because Roastedrat was such an excellent student, TSOU also sent him a coupon valid for six months that would get him 10 percent off the regularly priced tuition for one additional degree, along with a coupon for 15 percent off all massively overpriced TSOU-branded merchandise. Now, that’s the mark of a truly great university!

There is an interesting sidebar to this story. Because of his poor reading habits, Roastedrat did considerably more work for his degree than the university required. He opted for the upgraded PhD package, which cost $250 more than the standard PhD package. He chose the upgrade option because it promised a degree edged with a faux gold-leaf border. (Roastedrat craved the gold leaf because he utterly adores shiny objects, a love that borders on insanity. And he’s undoubtedly on the wrong side of that border.)

Had he read the full description of the upgraded package, Roastedrat would have seen that, unlike the lower-priced standard PhD package, it did not require the submission of a thesis. The tuition fee alone was all that was necessary to be awarded a coveted upgraded PhD from TSOU.

So, boys and girls, the moral of the story is this: Reading skills are important. They can save you considerable effort.

By the way, congratulations, Roastedrat! You’re the first person in Shalampax to be able to validly put PhD after your name. Then again, the lack of a degree has never stopped the fine professionals in our spam industry from doing so anyway.

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