condescending twatbags, language, overly helpful people, social media

No, I’m not gonna get on the word “ban-wagon”…

In May of 2013, Bill and I were sitting at a train station in Venice, Italy. We were waiting to catch our ride to Florence on Italo, a then brand new private Italian train company. As we were waiting, we heard an announcement in Italian about a train that was significantly delayed. The pre-recorded announcement did not use the word “delay”. Instead, it included an Italian incarnation of the word “retard”, used as an adjective.

Bill turned to me and said, “Now you see… there’s an instance in which the word “retard” is used in a completely non-offensive way.”

I have never forgotten that conversation, especially as more and more “woke” types feel the need to outright ban certain words from the English language. I am all for avoiding deliberately insulting others, especially those who suffer from any kind of intellectual disabilities that are beyond their control.

However, as I realized when we were at the train station in Italy, words have many nuances, usages, and definitions. Some words are inherently offensive, and almost always used in a hurtful way. And sometimes, people deliberately take offense at the use of a “taboo” word when absolutely no harm is intended. That causes problems that could just as easily be avoided if the person would simply be more mature and stop being willfully ignorant.

It’s been many years since I last used the word “retard” in the taboo way, although I will admit that in the 1980s, it was a word that was flung around on playgrounds and school busses with the greatest of ease. It was also used in plenty of 70s and 80s era comedies, both on television and in the movies. I can think of two films off the top of my head– very popular movies that still remain popular today–in which characters use the word “retard” as an insult.

Today, those films would probably not be made with the word “retard” used as an insult, although I would not be surprised if some incarnation of the word “douche” was used in its place. Personally, I find the word “douche” offensive for several reasons, but I’m not campaigning to have it banned. In many cultures, the word “douche” just means “shower”, and is perfectly useful and non-offensive. So rather than trying to get the word “douche” banned, I simply avoid using it myself.

As a lover of language, I can’t quite bring myself to jump on the “ban-wagon” when it comes to any word, even the ones that can start riots. I never think of words as things that should ever be banned, even when they are deemed very “offensive”. Instead, I am more concerned about context and the attitude behind the use of language. And yes, that means that I think words that people routinely campaign to have struck from the language are sometimes acceptable to use in certain contexts. To avoid being offended, it’s up to people to grow up and not be deliberately obtuse. Otherwise, they’re doomed to stay butthurt.

This morning, someone shared the below post on Facebook. If I had already had my coffee, I probably would have just rolled my eyes and ignored it. But instead, I left a response. Basically, I wrote that the word “retard” is only a slur if it’s used as an insult. There are other ways to use it that are totally neutral.

I knew I might regret leaving that comment, but the friend who shared this is usually a very understanding person. I figured she’d get what I mean. Besides, while I understand people being aggravated by insulting, demeaning language, I am aggravated by people who presume to tell me what I can or cannot say or write.

I think people should be responsible for their own use of language; most of them don’t need the language police to remind them to be “politically correct”. Frankly, I’m fed up with people who use social media as a place for that kind of soap box activism, particularly when all they’ve done is shared someone else’s viral post. Facebook was originally supposed to be fun, wasn’t it?

No, thank you, I won’t be teaching anyone that the word “retard” is worse than the word “fuck”. That’s someone’s “absolutely ridiculous” opinion… at least in MY opinion. I still get to have one, right?

Sure enough, it wasn’t long before someone came along and tried to school me about how the word “retard” is never acceptable. This person wrote that it’s no longer used by professionals and it’s outdated, etcetera, etcetera.

My response– simply because I was feeling stubborn and my verbal restraint reflex was somewhat “retarded”– was that yes, in fact, sometimes the word “retard” is perfectly acceptable and unoffensive. That word has other meanings besides the insulting one. The word “retard”, when used as a verb, means “to slow or delay”. That was how it was used at the train station in Italy. No one got offended when it was used in that way. I can think of other ways the word “retard” can be used that shouldn’t cause offense to anyone.

The person who challenged me came back and posted that she’s got autism. Actually, I believe she wrote that she’s “autistic”, and has an “autistic” child. I was a little surprised that she put it that way, since I thought the emphasis was supposed to be on the person rather than the condition. Like– I thought it was more politically correct to say, “I have autism” rather than “I’m autistic.” But I am not in that world, so I don’t know, and I wouldn’t presume to tell someone who is in that world how they should refer to themselves.

Besides, I don’t think of autism as something inherently good or bad. My husband’s older daughter is supposedly on the spectrum, but we know she is a brilliant artist and she’s proven that there’s nothing wrong with her intellect. I don’t know if she’s sorry she has autism. She no longer speaks to Bill. But, based on what I know about her, she’s got plenty of things going for her besides the condition of autism.

I responded to my friend’s friend that I was sorry that people have used the word “retard” in an offensive way, and that she is offended by its use. But I am not going to be told that I can’t use a word that I know is perfectly acceptable in many situations, simply because some group says it’s “offensive”, in and of itself. That’s wrong.

The challenger then asked me to use the word “retard” in an unoffensive way. So I wrote something along the lines of, “I see no reason to retard the development of languages by banning specific words.”

She then wrote that my answer was “stupid”. There was more to her comment, but I quit reading, because she made it clear that respectful communication and education weren’t her goals. Instead, it appeared that she wanted to disparage my intellect by referring to my answer as “stupid”. That’s brilliant, isn’t it? I guess she didn’t see the irony. She’s lecturing me about not ever using the word “retard” because it’s disrespectful and hurtful, but then she uses the word “stupid” to describe my comment and, based on her perceived tone, my intellect.

I truly didn’t want to get into a pissing match with this person, since I don’t know her and she doesn’t know me. If she did know me, she might be surprised by how “not stupid” I am, at least compared to the average person. Even if she did still think I’m stupid after meeting me, that would obviously be her uninformed and incorrect opinion.

I realized, however, that my time would probably be wasted trying to continue the conversation. As I didn’t want to get into a legitimate argument, I wrote “So now you are insulting me. That’s very nice. Have a good day.”

Normally, when a person writes “Have a good day.”, that means they’re done with the discussion and are politely trying to bow out. I figure that’s a more respectful way of leaving the conversation than telling them to “fuck off” is. But, as this person says she has autism, I guess she didn’t pick up on the social cue. She came back and wrote, “Feeling insulted, huh?” then continued with more insults…

I guess, if I were going to assign an emotion to how I felt about her response, it would be “annoyed” or maybe “puzzled”. It does seem strange to be preached at by a stranger about not offending people with intellectual disabilities by calling them “retarded” (which I never did), and then, in the next breath, having that same person refer to my comment as “stupid”.

If I had written that I thought her comment was “retarded”, what would her response be? Isn’t “stupid” just as offensive as “retarded”? At least the word “retard”, even when used an insulting way, indicates a medical condition that a person can’t help. Stupid just means a person or thing is dull-witted and unintelligent, whether or not they can help being that way. I can’t think of many ways the word “stupid” could be used that isn’t negative.

I wrote something akin to, “No, I’m not ‘feeling insulted’. You’re being hypocritical, and I have other things to do. So kindly enjoy your day, and I will continue to speak and write as I please.” I truly wasn’t “insulted” by her comment, because I would have to care about her opinion to be insulted by it. But I will admit to being annoyed by her comments and her erroneous presumptions about me. Especially, since I truly didn’t attempt to insult her.

Then she wrote some sarcastic remark about how I can keep “offending” people with special needs, but at that point, I used my block button. Because I do actually have better things to do with my time today than argue with a perfect stranger about my vocabulary. Hell, cleaning the lint out of my belly button would be a better use of my time than continuing that unproductive discussion with someone whose mind is currently closed. She obviously didn’t see my point, and wasn’t going to try to see it. Instead, she was hellbent on “winning” the argument, and doing so in a disrespectful, non-empathic way. Still, she failed to convince me, so I guess she can keep fighting the good fight with someone else.

Some people might point out that I probably “asked” for this unpleasant exchange. I would agree with them that it’s mostly pointless to point out these kinds of language discrepancies among friends. A person who would share an image like the one above probably has strong feelings about the subject matter, but hasn’t thought very long and hard about them, and is just looking for likes and loves, rather than actual commentary.

On the other hand, I do get annoyed when some busybody presumes to correct my language. I’m an adult, and fully responsible for what I say and do. If I say something egregiously obnoxious or offensive, it may be appropriate to call me out for that. But I don’t really need my friends to pre-emptively instruct me on the proper way to use language.

Moreover, I think my opinions matter as much as anyone else’s do. I’ve spent my life being told that my thoughts and feelings don’t matter, so I tend to be strong-willed and argumentative about these things, now that I am an adult. I realize it’s hard to be assertive about such things without still inadvertently offending people. Such is life.

I do get irritated when people try to tell me how I’m feeling or what I’m thinking. I think it’s disrespectful to try to read people’s minds, especially when they’re strangers. Maybe I would be happier if I just “let it go”, but I think that people who are able to do that often don’t think about much more other than what’s right in front of them.

Either that, or they’re like that Japanese monk Bill and I ran into a few years ago, who just radiated peace, serenity, and calmness. I have seen very few people like that in my lifetime. I would actually LOVE to be like that monk… although I realize I am ASSUMING he is actually as calm as he appeared. For all I know, he’s got a hot temper.

Perhaps today I will go out of my way to use the word “retard” in non-offensive ways. Of course, around here, most people speak German and don’t speak to me, anyway, so that effort might be lost on them. Also… when it comes to grammar policing, all bets are off.

Standard
complaints, condescending twatbags, language, LDS

“Triggering” things you shouldn’t say, according to ivory tower “intellectuals”…

Last night and this morning, Bill and I have enjoyed a stimulating discussion, partly inspired by an article I read in The Atlantic yesterday, and partly inspired by my being “triggered” by something that popped up in my Facebook memories. The article in The Atlantic was entitled “Even Trigger Warning Is Now Off Limits”. It was written by John McWhorter, a man who doesn’t mind that people are now being encouraged to refer to everyone as “they”, rather than referring to them by their apparent gender. McWhorter is fine with replacing gender specific words like “actress” and “waitress” with “actor” or “server” or maybe “waitron”. But he stops short at forbidding terms like “trigger warning”, “walk-in”, “insane” or “dumb”, all of which are now deemed “oppressive” by some people.

Mood music for this post. I must offer a “trigger warning” though, for those who don’t like profanity.

Brandeis University’s Prevention, Advocacy & Resource Center (PARC) has taken the time to compose a list of “oppressive language” terms that need to be replaced by the considerate and “woke” among us. And McWhorter, who clearly thinks of himself as a thoughtful and considerate person, has taken issue with some of the words on the list. As I read his article yesterday, I let out a big groan and said, “That’s ridiculous.”

Then I started ranting to Bill about how it’s unreasonable to expect people to completely change their way of speaking– the way they’ve been speaking and writing since birth– just to appear to be more “sensitive” to supposedly oppressed people. What right do these “woke” types have to pressure people into changing their language, as if they are the authority on what is, and what is not, respectful? What about people doing the best they can to show consideration for each other?

I’m all for being respectful and kind to others, and if someone tells me they’d rather I refer to them with different pronouns or adjectives, I’m happy to try to oblige. But some of this stuff is just plain lunacy. PARC is hoping people will, for instance, stop using terms like “triggered” (because of gun violence), “rule of thumb” (because of an old British law that permitted husbands to beat their wives, as long as the implement used was narrower than one’s thumb), or “freshman” (first year student is supposedly less offensive). They don’t like the term “walk-in”, because not everyone is able to walk, nor do they like “crazy” or “insane”, because those words might offend people who have psychological problems.

PARC wants the word “slave” to go out of style. Instead, we should say “enslaved person”, because it puts the person first and recognizes that the condition of slavery was imposed on a person, and shouldn’t be used to define them. And they also claim it’s wrong to refer to “African-Americans”. Instead, we should refer to them as “Black” (with a capital B) because the term African-American can be interpreted as “othering”– as in not recognizing that a dark skinned person who has never been to Africa may not want to be grouped in such a way.

But doesn’t it also hinder communication to take the time to worry about such things to excess? Why should we assume that a person will be offended? Isn’t that kind of presumptuous, in and of itself?

Personally, I don’t like the trend of capitalizing the word “Black”, but not doing the same for the word “White”… because I think people should try to think in terms of equality as much as possible, even if equality is still a long ways off. We’ll never get there if we’re granting special conditions to certain groups… not that I expect to see true equality in my lifetime. I appreciate that the Washington Post does capitalize both “Black” and “White”. I wish The New York Times would do the same. No one can help what racial group they were born into, so no group should be granted special deference. If you’re gonna capitalize the word “Black”, you should do the same for all racial groups, as far as I’m concerned. I realize that some people may feel the need to try to “correct” my opinions about this, but I doubt my mind will change. Maybe I’m just too old and rigid. 😉

The African-American designation, in my opinion, really never should have been in style. I have always resisted it. When I was growing up, Black people were referred to as “black”. But then that became problematic, because some folks felt that the term black was offensive, since the shade black sometimes has negative connotations. For instance, if you watch old movies, the good guys wear white and the bad guys wear black. So, back in the 90s, it was considered better to refer to Black people as “African-American”, even if they had never been to the continent or, in fact, weren’t American. And it also didn’t take into account that there are people from Africa who are not dark skinned. Actually, according to the intellectuals at Brandeis, it’s also wrong to generically refer to “people of color” when one is referring to specific groups. I’ll be sure to make a note of that.

The people at PARC also want you to stop saying “Long time no see” or “No can do”. Why? Because those two expressions are “broken English” that originated from making fun of non-English speakers. I think that’s interesting, but I also think it’s ridiculous for people to be seriously offended by those expressions. Not when there are people who don’t have enough to eat, adequate healthcare, or a roof over their heads. Overly politically correct people are not much fun to be around or talk to, in my experience. They’re usually too busy being focused on the language used and its style, rather than the substance of what is actually said and the overall context. That means the politically correct among us usually miss the point.

Frankly, I would love to see the end of the word “douche” used in a pejorative way. In many parts of the world, a douche is a shower… and even in the United States, a douche is really a box of cleanser used mostly by women on a certain part of their body. To me, it’s illogical to call someone a douche, so I refuse to do it. Some people hate it when someone says something “sucks”, which was originally an offensive sexual expression that really only applied to women and gay men. Of course, so many people use the words “douche” and “sucks”, that they are now kind of removed from their original meanings. The same could be said in reverse about words like “faggot”. In some parts of the world, a faggot is a sausage or a bundle of sticks. A fag is a slang term for cigarette. But a group of Americans have deemed that word “offensive” and “taboo”, so we can’t use it… or the word “retard”, for that matter, even though “retard” is a perfectly useful word when it’s not being used as an insult that refers to a person’s intelligence level or lack thereof.

I don’t have a problem with the concept of being more thoughtful and kind about one’s language. However, I do have concerns that too much emphasis on language policing can have a chilling effect on communication and the sharing of ideas. I think people should be encouraged to communicate. Yes, they should also be encouraged to be kind and sensitive about offensive language as much as possible, but it’s more important that they talk, even if what is said is uncomfortable. Effective communication leads to mutual understanding and, hopefully, ultimately some respect.

I read some of the Facebook comments about how PARC may be overdoing it in the politically correct language police arena. Quite a few people seemed to have the same impression I did, which was pretty much a big sigh and rolling of the eyes. It takes time and effort to change language. Some people will resist it, because it’s annoying to have someone– particularly if they’re young and academic– correcting language one has been using since toddlerhood. Moreover, Brandeis University is a famously liberal school in Massachusetts. The thought police residing there don’t represent all people from around the world. I’m aware that there are groups in the United States and Europe who think it’s important to stop referring to people as “he” or “she”, but I also know that there are many people who are simply focused on survival. The last thing they give a fuck about is whether or not someone is offended by gender specific pronoun use. There are also a lot of languages that have feminine and masculine words as features of the language itself. It would be a hell of a chore to change those constructs simply to make politically correct people happier.

So then, once Bill and I were done with our conversation last night, we went to bed. I woke up this morning to look at my Facebook memories. This time of year is actually kind of historically shitty for me, as July is a month in which I’ve endured a number of setbacks. In different years, July has been the month during which I lost my dad and my grandmother (the only grandparent I ever really knew personally). It’s also been a time of year when we’ve had to move, or gotten terminal diagnoses for beloved pets of ours. I probably shouldn’t look at Facebook memories in the month of July… but anyway, I did look this morning, and was immediately “triggered” (there’s that forbidden term again).

One year ago, I posted this:

“Why do people send memes via PM? Especially without comment?”

I don’t like getting PMs from people unless the PM is regarding something important. I find PMs distracting and annoying. Historically, I’ve gotten abusive or obnoxious messages from strangers via PM. If it were up to me, I’d turn off that feature or open it only to certain people.

But anyway, what happened was that a year ago, I was complaining about face masks. It wasn’t that I wasn’t following the rules. I have never not worn a face mask when one was required. I was simply complaining about them on my Facebook page. If you read last year’s blog posts, you’ll find that I bitched a LOT about masks, which apparently led some people to think I needed “re-education” on this matter. For the record, I don’t. I have a master’s degree in public health and am quite well aware of science. Science told me to STAY HOME and away from other people, which is what I did. So far, it’s successfully kept me well. I’m also fully vaccinated and, even though Germany is finally opening up, I still stay pretty socially distanced, mainly because people annoy me.

A person– supposedly a friend– passive aggressively sent me a meme about wearing face masks and how selfish “anti” maskers are. She didn’t comment on the meme. She just passed it along to me via PM, leaving me to wonder how I should take it. Was she trying to share a funny meme with me, or was it a dig? Frankly, the fact that she sent it without comment pissed me off, so I posted about it. Another “friend”, whom I promptly unfriended that day, continued the passive aggressive trend by leaving a cryptic comment and “laughing” at me. This “friend” left the impression that she and her meme forwarding pal had been talking amongst themselves about what was on my page. And instead of actually acting like friends and addressing it directly with me, felt the need to send me their passive aggressive crap via PM.

A year ago, I was pretty much fed up with everything, so I was happy to remove a lot of people from my social media. Seems odd to me that such evolved people wouldn’t have taken it upon themselves to spare me the trouble by unfriending me themselves, since they didn’t like what I had to say, and didn’t want to talk to me about it. And yes, I did rant about it. I’m childish that way.

I see in last year’s post, I ranted about how the woman I unfriended also used to give me shit because she was offended by my comments about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I suspect she assumes I’m a bigot because I don’t like the LDS church. But instead of talking to me about why I have these opinions and hearing what I have to say, she just dismisses me as a “bigot”.

I have what I think are very good reasons for my negative opinions about the church. And my feelings are about the church and its doctrines and practices, not so much the specific members within it. My opinions were also not formed in a vacuum. I didn’t just decide that I “hate” Mormons… and I don’t actually hate them, by the way. I just have a problem with the way many of them behave, particularly when someone decides it’s no longer for them and they want to leave the faith. I also realize that Mormons aren’t the only ones who do this. They just happen to be the specific group who affected me personally.

I don’t like that Ex used the LDS religion in her parental alienation campaign against Bill. While the church may not specifically encourage divorced people to engage in alienation, many of its practices do encourage it to happen. It doesn’t take a genius to see it. Non members can’t, for instance, see their faithful children get married in the temple. People have gotten custody agreements amended over whether or not a parent takes their child to church. People– including children– have even killed or been killed over this issue.

The fact that LDS teachings and practices can easily be used in parental alienation tactics is one reason why I don’t like the religion. I should be allowed to say that, especially since what I’m saying is based in reality. I’m not picketing or writing letters to get Mormonism outlawed. I still respect everyone’s rights to believe whatever they want in terms of religion. But I should have the right to say that I don’t like Mormonism without someone automatically making negative judgments about my character. Have the basic decency to actually listen to and consider what I have to say before you decide that about me– especially if you’re going to lecture me about being respectful and considerate toward others.

I also know that this particular former online “friend” has issues with Scientology, which is also considered to be a religion by some people. She was fine with criticizing Scientologists, openly claiming that their beliefs are “nuts”. But she doesn’t want to hear criticism of Mormonism because it’s more “mainstream”, and she thinks that criticizing religion is “disrespectful”, even if there are some legitimately fucked up things about said religion that people are discouraged from openly discussing, for fear of alienating or offending them. And she assumed that she was more evolved and “woke” than I am, simply because she believes she’s more open to religion than I am.

I highly doubt this woman knows nearly as much, or has as much personal experience, with the fallout of leaving Mormonism as Bill and I do. It would be one thing if I had simply decided not to like the LDS church without knowing anything at all about it. But I know a lot about Mormonism, and my feelings about it are based on things I’ve personally seen and experienced.

I’ve actually spent years studying the church, and I know many members and ex-members. My opinions weren’t formed out of ignorance. But this former online acquaintance treated me like an ignorant person and didn’t bother to hear me out. Instead, she lectured, shamed, and engaged in passive aggression. That’s not how a friend behaves. Moreover, if she had taken the time to have a serious discussion with me, rather than just assuming I’m a bigot, she might find that my opinions make some sense. Or she might not… but at least she would have granted me the consideration of trying to make my case without just dismissing me as ignorant, inconsiderate, and ill-mannered.

I’ve found that the older I get, the less time and interest I have in engaging with people who want to tell me how to think, what to say, or how I should behave. If the snarky chick from last year had enough respect for me to hear and respect the reasons why I feel the way I do about Mormonism, maybe she’d understand me better. Maybe she might have even found and been a real friend, rather than someone who lurks and stirs up shit on other people’s social media accounts, and then acts holier than thou about showing “respect” for people’s religious beliefs and COVID etiquette. I find her behavior to be hypocritical, at the very least.

The bottom line is, people should certainly try to communicate with each other. We should listen to each other and show as much respect as we can muster, whenever possible. But respect is a two way street. Being overly concerned about certain so-called “outdated language” being offensive to other people is as much of a barrier to communication as being overtly offensive is. Sure, it’s ineffective to swear at people, because they’ll just tune out your diatribe. But I think it’s also ineffective to nitpick at what people say, calling their words offensive when it’s clear that no offense was actually intended. I think it’s important to listen to what a person is actually saying before dismissing what they say as “offensive”, “bigoted”, or “ignorant.” In other words, some woke people aren’t really that woke, if you know what I mean.

As for the existence of ivory tower intellectual infested PARC, I’m sure if my hero George Carlin was still alive, he’d be having a field day with that. As one Facebook commenter wrote yesterday, “That’s absurd. Fuck those people.” Ah, what the hell… here’s George. I know I’ve shared it before, but it bears repeating.

God, I miss him.
And more on cultural crapola…
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communication, complaints, language

I don’t care if “it’s what’s for dinner”… especially since “I ain’t been nowhere”.

I think Bill and I are on the verge of insanity. The last few months have been rather difficult for both of us. Bill has been working very hard, traveling for long stints to the same place in Bavaria, and working extremely long shifts– sometimes overnight, which is not a good fit for his early bird personality. I’m not physically and mentally exhausted like Bill is, but I’m feeling the strain of being socially distanced and not having any fun. We both really need a vacation. It’s not that we’ll die without one… it’s more that we both seriously need a change of scenery. Lately, I’ve found myself daydreaming about day trips to the Rhein, which we used to enjoy before the pandemic struck.

Don’t get me wrong… I know the pandemic is still going on and people are still getting sick and dying. But it’s good to see the infection numbers going down and rules starting to relax a little bit. I’m finding myself less interested in reading about COVID-19 or reading the shrill opinions of neurotic people who think we should be wearing masks forever. I hope to score a walk in appointment this week so I can get my second shot and be “street legal” by my birthday on the 20th. If that doesn’t happen, I’ll get pricked on the 9th. I think Bill is already trying to come up with something for us to do… When we finally do get to break out of here, I suspect it will be a nice trip. Or… I hope it will be. You just never know what’s going to happen in the wonderful world of contracting for the U.S. military.

A few friends managed to get away for the holiday. They’ve been posting photos from Belgium, Luxembourg, and Iceland. I’m happy for them that they got to travel. I hope to join them very soon. I think it will do wonders for my disposition. Lately, I’ve been a bit crankier than usual. I’m sure I’m not the only one, either. Even Rhonda Vincent agrees, having just released a brand new album with this fabulous COVID-19 inspired parody of “I’ve Been Everywhere”… because she, like Bill and I, “ain’t been nowhere” because we’re doing the “responsible” thing and staying home… avoiding masks and annoying busybodies who think we should live this way forever– and if we disagree, we need to be “corrected” and “reeducated”. (I need to quit reading The Atlantic, for sure!)

I love Rhonda Vincent… and I love her song, “I Ain’t Been Nowhere.” I ain’t, you know, and it’s making me even bitchier than I might otherwise be.

Yesterday, I posted a crabby status update about how much I hate the old beef ads from the early 90s… you know, the ones that used Aaron Copland’s “Appalachian Spring” and gave us the ever annoying slogan, “Beef! It’s what’s for dinner!” I don’t remember hating that ad when it was new. It was aired during a time when a lot of Americans had turned away from eating red meat because of the heart risks. Instead of eating beef, people were eating poultry and fish or pork, “the other white meat”. Beef farmers were concerned about their lagging profits, so they came up with this ad, which has led to a highly irritating catchphrase that many people still use today.

On one hand, this was a wildly successful commercial. On the other hand, it’s still irritating the fuck out of me almost 30 years later.

I wish I had a quarter for every time someone says or writes “it’s what’s for dinner”… I would be a much wealthier woman than I am today. Today’s featured photo is a picture I used for my last blog moan about this trend… which I wrote almost five years ago. Yes, this also annoyed me in 2016… and probably before then, too. And in five years, nothing has changed, because people haven’t come up with anything catchier or more clever to say about their evening victuals as they share them with everyone on Facebook.

I bitched about this yesterday, and a friend who is a teacher and also likes to say “kiddo” (another word I can’t stand because it reminds me of a rapey stepfather on the Guiding Light), stopped by to tell me why the beef ad from 1993 is good. I have a feeling she might have felt offended that I was complaining about it, since she’s said she thinks it’s a great ad and apparently uses it as a teaching tool. Look– I am all for people using whatever they can when they teach children. Teaching is a tough job. However, the fact that it’s a good ad for use in the classroom has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that it sets my teeth on edge.

I love beef, too. I would happily eat steak or a burger or barbecue with anyone, unless I’m in Armenia, where the beef wasn’t very good. I wouldn’t say German beef is that awesome, either. I’ve got nothing against beef as a food, even if procuring it does involve killing animals. I should probably like it less than I do.

I just don’t want to hear about “it’s what’s for dinner”… because I just don’t give a fuck. I’d like to be having dinner somewhere where I can order something off a menu and take photos of it for my blog. And the fact that today’s kids like that ad is irrelevant. They weren’t around in the early 90s, when it was shown incessantly on TV– back in the days before the Internet, getting into ridiculous conversations about annoying cliches, and wondering why I shouldn’t be able to say I don’t like something without having my opinions corrected.

As for the word “kiddo”… Yesterday, as I was telling Bill about how much I hate the old beef ads, I introduced him to the sordid tale of Bradley Raines, played by the late James Rebhorn on Guiding Light, a soap opera that lasted for over 70 years and has the distinction of being the only daytime serial that ever held my attention. Back in 1983, when I was about eleven years old, the iconic power couple of Phillip Spaulding (Grant Aleksander) and Beth Raines (Judi Evans) was born. Phillip’s original girlfriend, Mindy Lewis (Krista Tesreau) was in the hospital because she got bucked off of a horse named Boss. Beth was in the hospital because she was abused by her yucky stepfather, Bradley. She called him Bradley, even though he had adopted her and she used his last name.

Bradley Raines was a creepy character. James Rebhorn was a great actor, and he portrayed the part of a narcissistic abusive pervert to the hilt. However, thanks to Rebhorn’s turn as Bradley Raines, I’m left despising the word “kiddo”. Every time I hear it, I think of him, and the way he treated his adopted daughter/stepdaughter, Beth, who was portrayed as fragile and sweet… at least in the early years of her character’s existence.

Phillip and Beth meet, after Beth is hospitalized after Bradley threw her down the stairs.
Rapey stepfather!
Kiddo again, at 9:36. Yuck! At 11:00, he’s abusive to Beth’s mom, Lillian, and at 12:30, he hits Beth.
He says that damnable word, “kiddo”, at 9:59. Looks like a mean motherfucker, too. Incidentally, he was a motherfucker, since he fucked Beth’s mother. Most men are motherfuckers, aren’t they?

Ever since the 80s, the word “kiddo” has made me cringe. I feel the same way about the cutesy term, “doggo”. Ick. One time I mentioned hating that word, “kiddo”, and someone decided to correct my opinions about that, too. Why can’t people just let someone express a thought or an opinion without trying to correct it somehow? It’s just an opinion. If everyone agreed, the world would be a very boring place. I won’t be writing any letters demanding that the word “kiddo” is struck from the everyday American lexicon. I just hate hearing it because it makes me think of Bradley Raines.

But really, I mostly think I just dislike cliches. I am more impressed with people who come up with fresh ways to say things. I think the people who made the beef ads were very good at their job… but they were too good, if you know what I mean. Because people are still parroting that annoying cliche many years later, reminding me of dead cow flesh and Aaron Copland. I used to like Aaron Copland’s masterpiece, but now I feel the same way about it as I do the “it’s what’s for dinner” slogan. If I never hear it again, I’ll be pretty happy. 😉

A classic George Carlin routine on cliches… and how fucking annoying they are.

Ah well… I think I will be a lot less cranky when I can no longer say “I ain’t been nowhere.” I think Bill and I both need to get away and unplug for awhile. I don’t know where we’ll go. Europe is opening up… but, like I said, one never knows what will happen in the wonderful world of military contracting. Bill has been working very hard and needs a rest, though. So hopefully we’ll get a temporary one very soon… and even if it’s not outside of Germany, that will be fine. I would be happy just to have a new hill to photograph and a rainfall shower in a stall that I won’t have to clean. Plus, Noyzi needs to meet the dog sitter.

I ain’t been nowhere in way too long… today, my big plans involve going to the backyard and enjoying the sun while drinking myself into a stupor. Bill plans to barbecue chicken… not beef. Because at our house, beef is what’s NOT for dinner… although wine probably will be. Not that anyone cares. If you don’t care, I don’t want to hear about it… or be corrected… and I don’t want to know “what’s for dinner”.

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complaints, Duggars, language

Stinkin’ heck!

Bill has to leave in a few days to work distantly for three weeks. Meanwhile, I’m a bit worried about Arran, who doesn’t seem like himself. This is the third year Bill has had an extended TDY at this time of year. It seems like every year, something causes angst. A couple of years ago, Arran had worms that were causing some similar symptoms that he’s experiencing now– gas, intermittent vomiting, and lethargy. He recently has had a mast cell tumor removed and sometimes they can cause stomach upset. Of course, he might also have worms. So, on top of everything else that has to be done before Bill leaves on Saturday, we have to get him to the vet for a checkup.

Meanwhile, I’ve been continuing to watch Growing Pains and I am convinced that at least one of the writers had a prejudice against overweight people. Not only were there many fat jokes directed at Tracey Gold’s character, Carol Seaver, but there were also a lot of fat jokes in general. For instance, yesterday, I was watching an episode in which Alan Thicke’s character was giving therapy to a guy whose wife had decided to go back to work and that was upsetting to him. He asks the guy what had changed in five years and the patient says, “She got fat.” Then, later in the episode, he says something about how she “waddled” home from work.

Another thing I noticed is that post Kirk Cameron’s conversion to Christianity (alliteration extraordinaire!), the word “hell” was used very seldom. Instead, they all say “heck”. I could probably turn it into a drinking game. “What the heck is this?” “What the heck is going on here!” “Heck no!” And all of the characters speak like this. They also all say “stinkin'” a lot. Indeed, there is a minor character named “Stinky Sullivan” who apparently farts a lot or wears dirty underwear. In real life, people wouldn’t all speak the same way like that, which makes me think the writers were getting a bit lazy. I mean, I could see someone say “stinkin'” as a habit, but an entire cast? One person must have been doing all of the writing or editing, or something.

And finally, Growing Pains was obviously ABC’s answer to NBC’s Family Ties. And Kirk Cameron was supposed to be their answer to Michael J. Fox, who gets mentioned a time or two on the show. However, instead of making Kirk’s character smart, like Fox’s Alex P. Keaton was, they make him a poor student. And instead of making Carol Seaver “dumb” like Justine Bateman’s “Mallory” was, they make her super smart. Ben, like Jennifer Keaton, is kind of lovable and offbeat. And then they had the bonus change of life baby, only on Family Ties, it was partly because Meredith Baxter was pregnant in real life. She had a boy, and Joanna Kerns’ character, Maggie Seaver, had a girl.

I realize I’m expending a lot of mental power on an 80s era sitcom. Growing Pains was a show I thought I didn’t like that much. I remember losing interest in it before it ended in 1992. I think I do prefer Family Ties for a lot of reasons. But it has been interesting to watch the show again. It’s better written than I remembered it, but not as well-written as Family Ties is. And all the misogynistic jokes about looks and weight are kind of disturbing, especially given that Tracey Gold did end up with a pretty serious eating disorder.

As is my habit, I’ll watch the rest of the episodes and move on to my next binge watching marathon. Hopefully, that will help while away the time I’ll be alone, worrying about Arran. He is about twelve now, so it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility that he’s sick with something scary. On the other hand, he’s not been totally debilitated. He’s still eating, playing, sleeping, and taking walks, for instance. But his behavior is still a bit odd.

I’m pretty irritated that Bill has to go TDY, especially since Germany is supposedly in another wave of COVID-19. I will be completely alone, except for the dogs. In another era, I wouldn’t have minded so much, but the older I get, the more this kind of stuff bothers me. And I have to admit, I’m worried that Arran is not well.

And finally… I wrote yesterday about how Kendra Duggar was still pregnant. Well, it turns out she had her baby girl on February 19, 2021. The new baby is named Brooklyn Praise. I guess we should be glad she didn’t name her Saint or Psalm. However, when I think of the name “Praise”, it makes me think of this…

Yikes… it does look like fun!

The Duggars now have 20 grandchildren and half the kids aren’t married yet. That is one hell of a quiverfull of Republican fundies they’ve got there.

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condescending twatbags, language, social media

For the love of Christ, stop nagging!

Thanksgiving is coming, and that means there are lots of articles on the Internet about holiday travels. This is nothing unusual. Every year, there are articles aplenty about that annual trip to Grandma’s house. It’s the busiest time of the year for travel. But this year, traveling is ill advised, thanks to the coronavirus. Experts are “begging” people to stay home, socially isolate, and love their family and friends enough to stay away from them for however long it takes to tame the virus. Lots of people have heeded the call and are staying home. Others are ignoring the advice and have made travel plans, COVID-19 risks be damned!

Well… given that an ocean and several countries separate me from my family, I have no problem heeding that advice. Bill and I haven’t been “home” for Thanksgiving since 2014, even though Thanksgiving is a pretty big deal in my family. Most years, there is a big reunion in Natural Bridge, Virginia. It’s gotten so huge that I don’t even know everyone who attends anymore. My aunt sensibly canceled this year’s event anyway, weeks ago. I suspect some of my relatives will be gathering in spite of the pandemic. While I don’t necessarily condone ignoring health and safety tips from the powers that be, I also know these folks well. Many of them are devout Christians and Trump supporters, and they’re simply not going to let a virus stop them from being with each other at Thanksgiving. And they’re sure as hell not going to let someone on the Internet shame them into changing their plans, either.

I will bet my Georgia relatives, in particular, will get together this year, because their sibling and my oldest cousin died last weekend and they will feel the need to gather and mourn. This branch of my family is unusually close-knit. Before their eldest sister died, there were four siblings. Among themselves, they had eleven children, and some of those children now have married and had their own kids. They all live somewhat close to each other and see each other often. One of my cousin’s daughters is about to have a baby, and another is engaged. Besides needing to mourn, they have a lot to celebrate. So I bet they’ll still gather, in spite of all of the expert advice against celebrating holidays in groups. I’ve seen them posting photos and videos of themselves living life as normal– sans masks or social distancing. Nothing I can say or do will change that reality.

Barf. Thanks so much for the stale PSA. Do you really think sharing something like this changes anyone’s mind, other than those who already agree with it? Are people who read this really saying, “Gee, maybe I should cancel the holiday after all. What a wise social media post!”?

My relatives aren’t the only ones who will probably be together. I just read an advice column in The New York Times entitled Ask Real Estate. Today’s question is, “Do I Really Have to Quarantine if I Visit Family for Thanksgiving?” I’m not sure what this question has to do with real estate, since it’s about visiting family during the holidays, not buying or selling a house. I guess it’s because the person lives in an apartment building in Manhattan and buildings have rules about quarantines. I actually like the answer this person got from the columnist. It’s reasonable and civil, with advice on how to lower the risks of contracting COVID-19 and running afoul of building management.

Of course, the comments are something different. COVID-19 is definitely a scary thing, and a whole lot of people have gotten sick and ended up dying. Quite a lot of people have also gotten the virus and are suffering from “long hauler” syndrome, meaning they can’t shake those lingering symptoms after the acute illness has passed. There’s also no telling whether or not the virus will lay dormant and re-emerge during times of stress, like the herpes virus does. What if, years from now, after you’ve forgotten about having had COVID-19, it roars back after you’ve had a cold?

And so it seems that a lot of people just can’t resist. They have to leave annoying, preaching, holier-than-thou comments, along with all knowing statements like “this is why we’re in this mess”. And then there are a few other statements like, “No, you don’t have to follow these ridiculous rules. We live in a free society.” Those statements always inflame the virtue signalers and shamers, and they feel compelled to respond in the most irksome way possible.

Naturally, the people who dare to post something other than, “love your family enough to stay home this year” are getting smacked down by those who insist on cajoling, pleading, demanding, nagging, and whining. I’m sure it makes people feel better to post these responses. I just wonder what good they do. Have you ever met anyone whose mind was changed because some stranger on the Internet insulted them? I don’t think I have. I know that when someone insults me, I usually withdraw from communicating with them. Even if someone doesn’t insult me by calling me a name, I probably won’t be too interested in conversing with them if they respond in a condescending manner.

I’ve seen a lot of people pointing to Asian countries as societies to look up to in this mess. One commenter on The New York Times piece wrote a lengthy story about how her son, who just moved from China to Thailand, has had to put up with all sorts of restrictions on his freedom to stop the spread of the virus. She wrote that Americans need to do what they do in Asia. I fear it will never happen because, on many levels, Asian cultures are not like western cultures. Moreover, I don’t think Asian cultures are necessarily better than western cultures are.

I mean, yes, they do some things much better than we do. In other ways, their culture is not so good. For instance, a couple of days ago, I read about how dog owners in one Chinese county aren’t allowed to walk their dogs and must keep them tied up or in a pen. Failure to comply with the rules can get the dog killed. I’ve also read about students and workers being so ashamed of not measuring up that they commit suicide. Some others die due to overwork. Or how about the guy in Singapore who was arrested for having a one man protest? It consisted of just him in a mask holding up a cardboard sign with a smiley face on it. These are just a few examples off of the top of my head.

They have a different mindset over there. Personal honor is a big deal. Some Asian ideas are well worth considering, but hard to emulate. Some Asian ideas are just plain bad– like working so hard that you die, like the young woman in Japan who clocked 159 hours of overtime in a month and then promptly dropped dead. Yes, some Asian countries are getting on top of the coronavirus by aggressively locking down and forcing people to wear masks. But their citizens are dying of other things that are less likely to be a problem in the United States or Europe, like extreme overwork or suicide because they didn’t get perfect grades.

Still, I understand why people feel the need to school others and scold them for living their lives on their own terms. Right now, the virus is spreading like wildfire. Healthcare workers are stretched to the limits. Bodies are stacking up in morgues. People have lost their jobs, their homes, and loved ones. However– it’s not just coronavirus that is killing people. Natural disasters are also deadly this year. I seem to remember a lot of people in California having to run for their lives as wildfires swept through their neighborhoods. I’ve read about hurricanes and tornados and all manner of other disasters upending and ending lives this year. And goddammit, I think some people just feel like they deserve to eat turkey and mashed potatoes with their parents and children this year. Some people think that living in solitude is worse than the threat of catching and spreading a potentially deadly communicable disease. Nothing you or I say will make a difference– except maybe if they or a loved one actually gets sick and/or dies.

Either way, it takes time for attitudes to collectively change. I suspect there will either be a treatment or a vaccine before people voluntarily start deciding to adopt the draconian rules imposed in some Asian countries. In any case, drastic changes in American attitudes are definitely not going to happen this year. Many people are bound and determined to have their turkey. They have already made up their minds and made their travel plans. And no amount of nagging, virtue signaling, and insulting from strangers on the Internet will change that reality.

Oh… but people still think their pithy, sarcastic, shaming, scolding comments will change hearts and minds… or they just feel better for having written them. I suppose it comes from feeling helpful in the face of something so tiny, yet so very powerful. There’s, maybe, a bit of a rush that comes from telling someone off. I wonder how many stop to think about how the person on the receiving end feels. Frankly, at best, they very likely won’t care. At worst, it will make them angry and more resolved to do what they want anyway. Or maybe they’ll pass along that anger to someone else. In the end, all that nagging turns into more noise that makes living through a pandemic even more annoying and soul sucking.

I’m probably wasting my time by writing this piece. People are going to do what they’re going to do. I guess what I’m trying to do is comment on a behavior I see as mostly futile and highly irritating. I think it’s very unlikely that I’m going to change anyone’s mind about their plans for the holidays. I might be able to convince someone who has any regard for my opinions… that would most likely only be Bill, and that’s just because he has to live with me. I can’t think of too many other people who care that much about what I think or want to avoid disappointing me. So I don’t tell other people what to do… I mostly try to avoid giving advice, unless they ask for it. When I do, on occasion, offer unsolicited advice, I often apologize, because I think most people are irritated by it. Sometimes you can’t help yourself– and I get that, too. I also realize that people are going to do what they’re going to do, no matter what I think or say or post on social media.

But yeah… I think the holiday season is often annoying even during normal times. It’s especially annoying this year. It’s a good thing there’s booze and ibuprofen.

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