Lowering Altitude

Recent polls show that recent polling’s approval numbers are sinking faster than a canoe made of Swiss cheese.

Not only is public confidence in polls getting lower—now comes more bad news: America itself is getting lower too. We are no longer the tallest country in the world.

To be clear, it is not the country itself that is shorter than it used to be; it is the people within it. The tallest country would probably be the one that has all those Himalayan Mountains in it.
But the facts seem irrefutable. In fact, a study that first came out nearly a decade ago has become even more apparent: We simply do not lead in the vertical measurement department. We used to be tallest; we aren’t anymore. We’ve had shrinkage.

In the next United Nations group photo we may no longer get to stand in the back row, unless it is on tiptoe.
Apparently the Netherlands is now the tallest country in the world. In the past, they cheated at it by wearing wooden elevator shoes. But now—according to researchers—the folks in the Netherlands really do lead the planet in height. (Some skeptics say those researchers were paid off in Hollandaise sauce.)

Back in the 1850’s (the good old days of American physical stature) all the nations of Europe stood a full 2 1/2 inches shorter than us. We had citizens with fortitude, aptitude and altitude—like Abraham “The Stilt” Lincoln. He went 6 feet 4 inches. (6’8”in his stovepipe hat.)

Meanwhile, Europe had guys like Napoleon “The Teeny” Bonaparte. In truth, the French installed the Eiffel Tower just to deal with their height insecurities. They weren’t fooling anyone though.
Some scientists seem to think that the most likely difference in U.S. height these days has partly come about from the foods we eat. And ordering a tall latte in the morning is not solving the problem. Our nutrition is lousy.
As for the rest of our daily diet, it seems clear that shortbreads should be avoided. And shrimp. Oh, and also small fries.

OK, so what? If we Americans are getting shorter, does it really matter? After all, it is good news for the horseracing industry: There will be no shortage of jockeys.

But there is worry to anyone who ever saw the disturbing film (it might be a documentary), The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957, Albert Zugsmith, producer).

In the startling—and probably true tale—a strapping six-foot guy begins to notice that he is getting tinier, day-by-day. I would have to see the film again to recall exactly why he begins shrinking, but it’s possible that it happened on the job—perhaps after the hero fell into the vat at the “Preparation H” factory.

But before long, the poor shlub finds himself becoming so small that he is almost eaten by his pet cat. It is a terrifying scene, but luckily the man is so hairy the cat coughs him back up as a human hairball. (Again, I am writing about this from memory.)

By the end of the film, the guy becomes so small he cannot be seen by the naked eye. Not even a clothed eye can see him. Perhaps that is why the producer decided to end the film at that point—he camera simply could not locate him.

Another study appeared not long ago reporting that more Americans lie about their height, than their age. Can you believe that? In all my 24 years, I have never been more shocked.

In high school, I tried to make the varsity basketball team by fudging on my height—especially since I was undersized at the time. So I listed myself at 6’ 6”—a modest exaggeration of at least a foot.
After being cut from the team, I was devastated. But it turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because I then had time to take an after-school job. While other guys were playing basketball for no compensation, I got a cool four bucks an hour making mall appearances as Ernie, the Keebler elf.

Taller presidential candidates are said to have an advantage over their shorter opponents. So watch out Trump if Shaq decides to enter the race in 2020.
Some folks even tend to think taller people are brighter. It makes you wonder what
Einstein could have accomplished if he had worn lifts.

Nonetheless, who really cares if the United States isn’t quite as tall as it used to be?
And so what if the Statue of Liberty is a few inches shorter? She can just hold the torch higher.

Must wrap this up now. I don’t like the way my cat is looking at me.