complaints, condescending twatbags, expressions

“Not the sharpest knife in the drawer…”

Yesterday, The Washington Post ran an article about how the declining birthrate in the United States is going to be a problem and outlining how other countries have tried to encourage people to have babies. This isn’t the first time I’ve read about how the declining birth rate is causing concern. However, after years of hearing how overpopulated the world is and how our natural resources are dwindling, it does surprise me that now people are being encouraged to breed more. I get that it’s mainly because a steep decline in the birth rate will cause a shortage of people available to work as our population continues to age. However, I think that’s a pretty stupid and selfish reason to encourage people to have children, particularly when the world is so completely fucked.

After I read the article, I checked out a few of the comments on Facebook. Someone posted about the lunacy of encouraging people to breed and a guy named “Ken” made a crack about how we’ll have robots working in nursing homes.

God bless the people who are willing to take care of the elderly, especially if they enjoy doing it and are good at it, but it’s not right to expect people to do it if that’s not what they want to do with their lives. Moreover, the sad reality is, if a robot does become available that can do the work of caring for the elderly, chances are the robot will be made. Robots don’t have to be paid; they don’t need to take vacations or maternity leave; and they can be programmed. Companies that make money by hiring robots to do jobs humans once did will do just that, because money is more important to them than putting humans to work. Having a surplus of babies will not change that reality. It’ll just be more people to feed, clothe, educate, and find work for.

I know I should have kept scrolling, but I couldn’t help myself. I posted that the prospect of robots working in nursing homes is a dumb reason to have kids. I didn’t add this part, but I was thinking about how selfish it is to have babies with the expectation that they’ll grow up to do a specific job… like wiping my ass when I’m an old lady.

Children should be wanted and loved by their parents. They shouldn’t be born simply to fill a quota. It’s not right to expect people to have babies if they don’t want them or can’t have them. Note– I did not call Ken “dumb”, I said having babies simply for the sake of making bodies is a “dumb reason” to have children. Especially when there are families like the Duggars who are having enough babies for many single people.

“Ken” then proceeded to tell me that I’m “not the sharpest knife in the drawer”, then demanded to know if I’d read the article. Uh… I ALWAYS read before I comment. So I responded, explaining to Ken that I’m definitely “sharp enough”. I criticized the idea of having babies just to boost the population– especially since there’s no telling how the people resulting from those births will turn out in the future. I also advised him not to insult total strangers.

He came back and insulted me again, claiming that I’m “ignorant” and “obtuse”, and inviting me to go visit nursing homes so I could see the true state of things. Of course he doesn’t know anything about me at all, and obviously doesn’t want to know. He just lashes out with random insults and assumptions about complete strangers. I wonder if he has any friends.

I was tempted to rip “Ken” a new one, but decided to block him instead. Because when it comes down to it, there’s no point in getting into a war of words with someone who feels the need to insult people they don’t even know. In two comments, this total stranger called me “not the sharpest knife in the drawer”, “ignorant”, and “obtuse”. While I know that none of his comments about me are true, I was really inspired to rip his head off and shit down his neck. Fortunately, I realized that not only would that be unproductive, but it would also make me a hypocrite. I don’t like hypocrisy, or getting into pointless arguments with people I don’t even know. Still, I would be lying if I said his words weren’t offensive, even if I know they shouldn’t matter. They’re not personal, because he would have to know me for them to be personal. He obviously isn’t interested in knowing me or making a connection. He just wants to be rude to people who don’t agree with him.

I am grateful I had enough sense not to waste time arguing with “Ken”, who really should go out and get pregnant, since he’s so worried about the future. I wanted to ask him if he routinely responds to people with such tackiness. I guess he thinks I should have gotten pregnant a couple of times instead of wasting my time on higher education. Maybe he’s right, although if I’d had children, my life would probably be very different. Either way, arguing him would have been a waste of time, so I decided to just block him and move on. Obviously, no one taught him any manners or regard for others, and that’s sad. But it’s not my job to give him a clue, nor should I be spreading the epidemic of incivility on the Internet.

I’m not sure if the stresses of the last year have made people more insufferable and disrespectful or I’m just worn out by the stress and have a much lower tolerance. It could be a bit of both. I did catch myself feeling hopeful yesterday as my arm twinged with the slight pain of my first COVID-19 vaccine. I had a red, slightly swollen oval around the injection site– maybe two inches wide and an inch tall. My body is mounting an immune response to the vaccine, which I hope, after my second Moderna shot, will mean I can finally have some fun again. Maybe the prospect of a trip will have a good effect on my mood.

Actually, the COVID-19 news seems to be getting better, even here in Germany. Last month, there was all this doom and gloom about how no one could get vaccines, and the illness was killing people and overloading the hospitals. Angela Merkel was wanting to lock everything down indefinitely, even though we’ve been locked down in some form since November. But now, about the vaccines are finally being rolled out and there’s talk that the restrictions could be loosening soon. I am dreaming of a trip to Stuttgart to see our dentist and get a cleaning, at long last. Noyzi the rescue dog needs a test run at the boarding facility, too. I suspect in a few weeks, we’ll be able to get out of town and maybe even take a short trip to another country. I’d settle for a short trip in Germany that isn’t in Hesse.

It’s hard to learn the lesson that what other people think of you is none of your business. However, it’s also hard not to know what’s “none of your business” when people like “Ken” so freely share their negative and uninformed opinions about people they don’t even know. It bothers me that a perfect stranger feels perfectly okay calling a total stranger “dull”, “ignorant”, and “obtuse”, simply because of a disagreement. But when it comes down to it, saying those things is more revelatory of Ken’s character than my level of intelligence. He just happened to hit a raw nerve. My whole life, people have underestimated me and called me “silly”, “giddy”, “giggly”, “blonde”, or “jolly”. Then, when they eventually realize I’m not *just* those things, they give me another label– usually a negative one. My father used to say I was “arrogant”, as he added that I would never make more than minimum wage. Then he wondered why I didn’t like him very much and wasn’t interested in spending time with him.

I suppose my run in with “Ken” makes me glad that I married a man who values a woman with a brain. Bill does listen to my opinions and think I’m plenty “sharp”. So even though it stings when I run into people like “Ken”, it probably is best to just block people like him and go on with my life. What he thinks of me is none of my business. The fact is, he couldn’t be more wrong about me, and he’s not interested in learning the truth. So his opinions about my intelligence or lack thereof are irrelevant… and his opinions about the birthrate in the United States are irrelevant to me, too, especially since I’m not tasked with procreating with him. If he’s wrong about my intelligence, he’s probably wrong about a lot of other things. Moreover, he clearly doesn’t understand that there are real people behind the computer screens. The fact that he and his ilk aren’t sharp enough to get that is just one more reason why it’s better not to reproduce.

Sorry… I know this is kind of a “brently” post. I’m just fed up with a lot of stuff. I realize I’m luckier than many people are, but the older I get, the more I think that having a bunch of children is a foolhardy thing to do. Give me my rescue dogs and that’ll be fine. If that makes me “dull”, so be it. At least I haven’t spread any of my defective DNA to any unsuspecting descendants.

Standard
condescending twatbags, healthcare, overly helpful people

Asshole detectors…

Yesterday, I read an article on The Atlantic entitled “Are Outdoor Mask Mandates Still Necessary?” Written by Derek Thompson, this piece was exactly what it sounds like… an article about whether or not people should be forced to wear face masks when they are outside. Here in Germany, we aren’t obligated to wear a mask outdoors if we can “socially distance”. I have noticed that despite the rather anal retentive and uptight rule following stereotype that seems to dog the German people, folks here are not too jazzed about wearing masks 24/7. I never see people wearing them when I’m walking my dogs through the neighborhood, although people do wear them at bus stops because it’s required.

Thompson included statements from respected public health experts from around the world, explaining why the zero tolerance/100% enforcement attitude could backfire in getting people to comply with the rules. Thompson wrote:

Requiring that people always wear masks when they leave home, and especially in places with low levels of viral transmission, is overkill. As mentioned, the coronavirus disperses outside, posing little risk to people who are walking alone or even swiftly passing by strangers. In fact, almost all of the documented cases of outdoor transmission have involved long conversations, or face-to-face yelling. The risk calculation changes if you’re standing in a crowd: Some uneven evidence suggests that the Black Lives Matter protests last summer increased local infections. But that’s an easy carve-out. States can end blanket mandates and still recommend outdoor masking by anyone experiencing symptoms, or in crowds. (Extended conversations pose their own risk, but when people are vaccinated, the odds of viral transmission are probably somewhere between microscopic and nonexistent.)

Outdoor mask mandates might also turn people off from obeying better rules. “Given the very low risk of transmission outdoors, I think outdoor mask use, from a public-health perspective, seems arbitrary,” Muge Cevik, an infectious-disease and virology expert at the University of St. Andrews, in Scotland, told The Washington Post. “I think it affects the public’s trust and willingness to engage in much higher-yield interventions. We want people to be much more vigilant in indoor spaces.”

Makes sense to me. If I’m alone in the woods or swiftly passing someone on my walking route, I don’t think wearing a mask is as important as it would be if I was in a huge crowd of people who are shouting. Also, there are quite a lot of people who just plain resent being “nannied” and “nagged” by others. If we let people exercise their free will in less risky areas, they may be more willing to cooperate when they’re indoors. And yes, to me, it makes more sense to wear a mask when indoors with strangers than it does out on the street, when you can be far enough away from people not to risk sharing germs.

Thompson continues:

Julia Marcus, an epidemiologist at Harvard Medical School, spoke with several male mask skeptics last year for a piece in The Atlantic. When she explained that masking wasn’t as important outdoors, the men became more amenable to wearing them indoors. By connecting rules to reasons, she got them to see the value of covering their nose and mouth when it actually mattered. Last week, Marcus told me that she’s baffled by the notion that the best way to get people to wear masks inside is to mandate that everybody wear one when they’re alone outside. “We don’t recommend condom use when people are enjoying themselves alone to get them to wear condoms with their sexual partners,” she said.

The argument that outdoor mask mandates create a warm and fuzzy feeling of social solidarity confuses a personal definition of etiquette (“I think my mask makes everybody feel safe”) with a public defense of population-wide laws (“everybody should wear a mask everywhere, because it’s the only way to make everybody feel safe). Masks send all sorts of messages to all sorts of different people. To some, they’re beacons of safety; to others, they’re signs of imperious government overreach. As Marcus argued, mandating a public-health tool that’s not needed can drive away people who might otherwise be on board with more important interventions. “I think there’s a proportion of the population that believes restrictions will last indefinitely,” Marcus said, “and they are probably one of the hardest groups to keep engaged in public-health efforts.”

And I also liked that Thompson considered that not everyone has the same reality. A lot of people– myself included– are lucky enough to have backyards or balconies. But many more people are not so fortunate. In our previous house, we lived next to a large naturepark. But we didn’t have balconies or a yard with a functional fence, where we could let the dogs out free. The fence at our last house was more of a decoration, and would not have allowed us to safely sit outside with the dogs untethered. I know a lot of other people in Germany simply live in flats with no private spaces at all. As Thompson says:

Finally, mandating outdoor masks and closing public areas makes a show of “taking the virus seriously” while doing nothing to reduce indoor spread, in a way that often hurts the less fortunate. To deal with its COVID-19 spike, for example, the Canadian province of Ontario instituted a stay-at-home order and closed many parks and playgrounds. “These policies are made by people who have yards,” Marcus said. “If you live in an apartment building and have no yard, and are required to wear masks at all times outdoors, you never get to be maskless outside. And then, where do people gather maskless to socialize? Inside their homes”—where the risk of transmission is higher.

I thought Thompson’s article was fair and balanced, and the information within it was reasonable. I especially appreciated the comments from Julia Marcus, who came right out and said that there are people (like me) who worry that the mask mandates will turn into an indefinite rule. Allowing for some easing of the rules outside gives people hope that we won’t have to tolerate these rules forever, and that will make it easier to keep being vigilant. A lot of us just PLAIN don’t want to live this way for the rest of our lives, and we resent other people insisting that this is the way it HAS to be from now on. The fact is, many people feel that this is NOT how it should be. We should be working hard on a solution that makes mask wearing obsolete for most people. Or, at least that’s my opinion… but it seems like more and more people, especially in the United States, feel like only one opinion is the correct one. Anyone who disagrees is automatically an “asshole.”

One thing I take comfort in, at least here in Germany, is that it’s pretty obvious to me that people here are not going to accept being forced to wear face masks forever. In fact, I have noticed that even rule loving Germans are starting to rebel. There have been more protests lately, especially as Angela Merkel has pressed for stricter lockdowns. People are really getting tired of the crisis and they’re becoming more apathetic and lax.

I know there are people in some countries that are forced to wear veils whenever they are outside, but the rest of the world isn’t the Islamic world, where those kinds of oppressive rules are okay. And Thompson then ends with this uplifting conclusion:

Hyper-neuroticism is a mitzvah during a pandemic. But we really don’t have to live like this forever, and it’s okay for more people to say so. We can learn to look at a well-populated beach and not see a gross failure of human morality. We can see somebody unmasked in a park and not think, I guess that one doesn’t believe in science. We can walk down an uncrowded street with a mask, or without a mask, or with a mask sort of hanging from our chin, and just not really worry about it. We can reduce unnecessary private anxiety and unhelpful public shame by thinking for a few seconds about how the coronavirus actually works and how to finally end the pandemic. Let’s tell people the truth and trust that they can take it. Let’s plan for the end of outdoor mask mandates.

BRAVO! And let that be the FIRST step in eventually ending ALL mask mandates, because COVID-19 will be under control, like most infectious diseases usually become after time passes and science advances. Or, at least that’s what I think we should be aiming for. That’s what makes the masks different from seatbelts, which I don’t think we’ll ever get rid of, at least in my lifetime.

I felt pretty good as I read Derek Thompson’s article. But as I finished reading about how there’s a weird dichotomy between hyper-neurotic mask police types and vehement anti-maskers, I had sinking feeling that there would be tons of comments left on the magazine’s Facebook page. Sure enough, I was right. So many people, clearly folks who didn’t bother to read, left comments regarding this article. And one person wrote that non-maskers are his personal form of an “asshole detector”. Behold:

At this point I think of them less as masks and more as asshole detectors. Even if the chances are small, it’s the very least you can do for your fellow man. How damned privileged is our society that this is a hot button issue? If it happens to save even a few extra lives, it’s worth it. Buck up buttercups.

Seriously, dude? I think YOU are an asshole for taking this attitude toward your fellow man, especially as you pat yourself on the back for being so “considerate” as you judge people you don’t even know. And I think people who comment on things they haven’t read are assholes, adding unnecessary and uninformed noise that everybody else has to wade through.

and…

I live in southern Georgia and literally no one wears masks in stores, etc. All asshole behavior. I literally got into a verbal argument with a man that refused to stand on the 6 ft marker on floor in grocery store check out line. No mask. Even the clerk was like, “Sir, stand back!” It’s like the non-maskers get off on being a bully.

Why get in an argument with someone? Just get away from them. Arguing with a stranger is “asshole behavior” too, isn’t it?

There were more comments like that, along with the usual chorus of people writing things like “just wear the damn mask”, which I find pretty offensive, myself. I don’t think it helps compliance when you swear at people. In fact, people who swear at perfect strangers are probably assholes, right? I actually feel like telling them to go fuck themselves, but because I’m a lady, I don’t do that. 😉 Instead, I just think it to myself… and if I get angry enough, I vent about it in my blog.

I mean, I do wear a mask if I have to. But I go out of my way not to be in situations where I have to wear a mask, or deal with assholes who take it upon themselves to determine what perfect strangers are or are not doing as “asshole detectors”. Here’s one that made me laugh…

But it doesn’t matter. Wear the mask. It’s not an inconvenience in any way. It’s the least difficult thing that has ever been asked of us to do collectively. Articles like this only lend credence to selfish, broken people. Wear the mask until the pandemic is over. Simple. And until then, STFU.

Dude… to some people, it truly IS an inconvenience. You may not think it is, but they do– and they get an opinion and a vote, too! And telling someone to STFU, sorry, is also “asshole behavior”. You don’t get to tell people to STFU, simply because you claim to agree with the opinions of “experts” and you assume they don’t. There are all kinds of people out there who really are experts, and most of them have more balanced, fair, informed, and sensible opinions than yours. This lady had a sensible comment, in my opinion…

As a biologist, I can confirm that masking while outside was only suggested if you would be less than six feet from others (the transmission distance for errant coughs, sneezes or loud talking); it was never required by science to mask all the time outside. I carry or wear it and put up/on as I approach others on a path etc. ps I would warn against dining inside until one is vaccinated: the author’s point about the indoors being highest risk is valid.

And this guy also has reasonable thoughts, in my view…

I agree with this. The problem with outdoor mask mandates with fines for noncompliance is it becomes something law enforcement can selectively enforce. Look at what Miami was doing. They passed an ordinance that said everyone had to wear a mask at all times indoors or outdoors even when social distancing is possible. Miami police basically set up mask traps and stood outside supermarkets just waiting for people to come out of the store and take the mask off or wear it under their nose so they could ticket them. A woman was walking through an empty parking lot without a mask and was ticketed. Someone was in a barbershop and pulled his mask down for a few seconds to take a drink of water and a police officer happened to be walking by and that person was ticketed. I think a reasonable person would agree that this enforcement was overreach. I get the seriousness of the virus, but you have to give people a little breathing room. If a person is walking in an empty parking lot or on a back residential street and is not wearing a mask, but has a mask with them in case he or she comes to a situation where he or she can’t socially distance, then I don’t see the problem.

Sounds to me like Miami has found a great way to fill its coffers by oppressively fining people over mask wearing. Glad I don’t live there, especially as hot as it gets.

It baffles me that so many people have gone to such extremes on this issue. It should be perfectly okay to hate wearing a face mask. It should be okay to say it out loud, and hope for the mandates to end at some point. It should be alright to expect and fervently hope that we’ll get to a point at which this nightmare is either ended or mitigated. Otherwise, why go on living? I HATE living this way, and I don’t have it as bad as a whole lot of people do. Telling people that they don’t have the right to their feelings is toxic, and labeling them as “assholes” because you make assumptions about their character based on their masking habits is extremely limiting and offensive. Obviously, people who feel this way about other people are assholes themselves. Are there really people out there who think the whole world should be expected to accept living like this from now on? It blows my mind! As long as people are complying, what’s it to you, anyway?

I particularly love it when people compare mask wearing to wearing a seatbelt, or they compare going outside maskless with drunk or reckless driving. It’s absolute lunacy. I think, if seeing someone’s bare face outside in a sparsely populated area makes you compare them to drunk drivers or reckless people, you should simply do your best to avoid them. That’s what I do when I see someone on the road who drives erratically. I let them go ahead and get away from them. I don’t fan the flames by flipping them off or cursing at them through my window. Doing that in Germany can get you a pretty stiff fine, actually. It’s against the law to insult people or shoot the bird at them. Seems like doing one’s best to avoid problems is the better way to get through life. But… that’s just me.

Sigh… I really think Derek Thompson’s article is a good one. It gave me hope to read it. And, if people had taken the time to read it, they’d find that he consulted “experts” before he shared his thoughts. He’s quoted a Harvard educated epidemiologist, for Christ’s sakes, yet so many people feel the need to claim that Thompson is being “irresponsible” by giving people hope that things will get better! I would certainly listen to Julia Marcus of Harvard Medical School talking about COVID-19 and mask wearing than I would some jerk commenting on The Atlantic’s Facebook page.

Anyway… if you read all of this blog post and don’t think it’s an “asshole detector”, I thank you. I really think these hyper-vigilant, hyper-neurotic, nagging mask cheerleaders are how we wind up with right wing nutjobs like Marjorie Taylor Greene and straight up narcissistic creeps like Donald Trump in charge. There needs to be balance in all things… and that includes mask mandates. But maybe I’m just an asshole who needs to STFU. If you honestly think that about me, I hope you will take it as a cue to find someone else’s blog to read. 😉

Standard
complaints, disasters, mental health

What’s the point?

This morning, as Bill and I were waking up to another day of COVID-19 life, I read a couple of articles in The New York Times about the plight of today’s youth. The first article was about how the United States might hope to reopen schools soon and why it’s so necessary for the mental and emotional well-being of young people. The second was about the youth of Europe and how many of them are becoming despondent because of the toll the pandemic is taking on their budding lives. In both articles, mental health issues were cited as major reasons why young people are suffering so much right now.

Both articles hit home for me, even though COVID-19 was not on the radar when I was young. I remember my teens and twenties as an especially difficult time for me. I suffered significantly from anxiety and depression during those years, mainly because I wasn’t sure what my place in the world was. I didn’t have tons of friends or boyfriends, so those years weren’t especially fun for me in terms of a social life. I did have some fun, mind you, and compared to a lot of people, I was fairly privileged. But I wasn’t doing what most young people do when they’re young. I worried excessively about the future and dwelled a lot on the past. It all kind of came to a head when I was in my mid twenties. I had a crisis and felt compelled to seek psychiatric help. I remember wondering back then what the point of living was.

Remembering what I was like in those days and how anxious and hopeless I felt, even if I did appear to be resilient, I think about what it must be like for the young people of 2021. These young folks have been raised in very anxious times. For most of their youths, they’ve had to worry about violence in the form of school shootings and foreign and domestic terrorism. Today’s twenty year olds were born around the time of 9/11, which is when the world really seemed to change a lot. They grew up hearing about people being kidnapped and beheaded in faraway lands. Maybe some of them saw their parents go off to war, never to come home again. All the while, the cost of living kept rising.

From the very beginning of this COVID-19 crisis, I’ve had a soft spot for the young. This should be the time when they’re allowed to be free… to explore relationships, try new things, travel, make life altering decisions. They should be enjoying school, dating, learning to drive, starting their first jobs, taking field trips… But thanks to the pandemic, along with the chaos that comes from having incompetent and criminal world leaders like Donald Trump, those normal milestones are being curtailed or delayed for most of them.

In my day, if young people couldn’t find a job in a field they enjoyed, there was always restaurant work. Waiting tables is a great skill– one that’s usually portable and plentiful. But thanks to COVID-19, a lot of restaurant and retail work has been sharply curtailed. And while some young people might be glad for the extra free time, bills still have to be paid. Some of these young folks are halfway to earning college degrees that they may or may not ever get to use or be able to pay for. In the case of the article about the European young people, a lot of them were saying they didn’t see the point of continuing their educations, given the lack of jobs. Many of them report feeling suicidal, and those who have mental health issues are having worse problems. Some of those who were mentally healthy are developing depression, anxiety, and eating disorders, and mental health experts are hard pressed to be able to help them. Inpatient beds in psychiatric wards in European hospitals are full.

I think about athletes who have been preparing years for the 2020 Olympics. The Summer Games were postponed until this year, and now it looks like they could even be canceled. I think about someone like Simone Biles, who is a great gymnast who’s fighting the same enemy of all great gymnasts… time. She’s in her early 20s. This is when a lot of female gymnasts retire because their bodies don’t cooperate as well as they used to. She was hoping for another Olympic bid, but may not get her chance if the pandemic doesn’t come under control soon.

I think about young ballerinas who have trained their whole lives to be great dancers. But the pandemic forced live entertainment to shut down. What do they do now? The same goes for budding musicians and actors who have spent their whole young lives preparing for a reality that, at least for now, has radically changed. The virus has made it a lot harder for young people to do things like date. This morning, I read a truly nauseating comment on an article about how caution has become “sexy”. Someone said they think masks are “turn ons” because it means a person who is wearing one isn’t a sociopath and cares about others. But face masks cover up the face, which takes away a significant conduit for non-verbal communication. The masks are further isolating and a visible reminder of how fucked up things are today.

For the record, I don’t agree with the idea that a person who doesn’t want to wear a mask might be a sociopath. Mask wearing isn’t normal. It’s not comfortable or convenient. It makes perfect sense to me that many people don’t want to wear them. Not wanting to wear masks doesn’t necessarily make people sociopathic, and while the articles about this phenomenon go into more detail as to why some vehement anti-maskers may have sociopathic tendencies, a lot of people never read beyond the headlines. While I can see the idea that a person who flat out refuses to wear a mask could be considered a sociopath if he or she has other sociopathic traits, I don’t think that’s always true. I think it’s a mistake to promote the idea that anyone who wears a mask is “caring”. That’s also not necessarily true. It could be that they simply don’t want to be fined or harassed. Likewise, I don’t think that all anti-maskers are necessarily people who are uncaring and sociopathic. Some of them are, but not all.

Then there are the mean spirited comments by people who feel the need to shame and lecture young people who are complaining about these unusual and unpleasant conditions we’re living in right now. Frankly, I think anyone who can’t see how difficult this situation is for the young should have an empathy check. It’s true that generations before us have had to deal with terrible adversities. And they dealt with the adversities without the benefit of the technology that we have today. But times were different in those days. The people of the past had some things that we don’t have. I don’t think, for instance, that there was as much pressure to perform or achieve. A person could get by with less. People had closer connections with each other, and there was more of an emphasis on family.

When you’ve grown up in a hyperactive society like ours, where both parents work just to keep the lights on and you’ve been taught since birth that you have to achieve to get into college or find a job– and then all of that is taken away because of a virus– it can be very difficult to cope. It can make anyone wonder what the point is. Especially when, in those other times of adversity, people could literally lean on each other for support. Now, they have to do it on a Zoom call because being in close contact with others is a no no. Humans were meant to touch each other. It’s a need that most of us have. But right now, it’s forbidden, and that’s causing people some real angst.

I understand it, although I wasn’t living in pandemic conditions when I was in my 20s. I felt like I was trying to do so much to make it in the world. I made some good choices that led me to where I am, but I was also very lucky. I have been feeling kind of depressed and hopeless lately, but I also realize that I’m lucky to be dealing with this now, instead of back then… I would have absolutely HATED being locked down with my parents. And even given the fact that I was pretty reclusive when I was single and I relied on my jobs for human interaction, I think I would have HATED dealing with lockdown in my 20s. I was always worried about making ends meet in those days. I think it would be even harder now.

Count me among those who feel great compassion for the young. I think they should get more priority in the vaccination drive. And I am one of those who isn’t going to tell them to “suck it up and drive on”. I don’t think that’s a particularly good or helpful comment in most situations. It often comes from a place of privilege and a lack of empathy for others. Dare I say it? The hyper anal, mask-wearing, middle-aged person who shames a young person for feeling sad and hopeless is probably more of a sociopath than they realize. Personally, I think we should make more of an effort to help the young get back into life. My husband’s daughter is a young mother of two. She and her husband need to be healthy because they have small children to support. The 21 year old college student should be given a chance to launch– to finish their education and get to work. Those of us who have already had a chance should be more mindful of how hard this is for the young.

Once again… I feel kind of grateful to be childless.

Standard
complaints, narcissists, poor judgment, rants

“A man’s got to put in overtime to get me off…”

If you happened to notice the three book reviews I reposted this morning, you might have noticed a theme. This morning, I have sex on the brain. It might be because of a spam message I got on messenger yesterday.

This is just one of thirteen spam messages I got yesterday, but it’s by far the funniest of the lot.

Lately, I’ve been responding more to comments on newspaper sites. I think that has prompted spammers to send me messages like the one above. The vast majority of people write “Hallo” or “Hello” to me. I especially get tickled by the ones who think I’m German and attempt to write to me in Deutsch.

I usually just delete these messages without a second thought, but the one above cracked me up. I shared it with my friends. One even responded by inviting me to share her page with this guy. She’s kidding, of course. We shared a laugh. Laughter is a good thing right now.

Last week, I got two spams from the same guy– clearly someone from Ghana who had hijacked someone’s Facebook photo and location and was sending out these random invitations to chat. On that particular message, he referred to me as “Bud Queen” and congratulated me for looking “clean”. That one cracked me up the first time, but then he came back!

And the rest of the funny ones I’ve gotten over the past couple of weeks and shared for my friends’ amusement appear below…

As I was thinking about these “invitations” to chat with strange men, I remembered a funny scene in Eddie Murphy’s hilarious 1989 film, Coming to America. He and Arsenio Hall are in a bar meeting women, and they’re all very strange or annoying.

So much to love about this scene. I miss going out. And I relate to the woman who can’t be satisfied, starting at 35 seconds. So… I don’t think James Michael and I would be a love match.

I watched that clip again as I was writing this and it made me laugh. That’s a good thing, since I was getting pretty annoyed by the news last night. First off, I read a very pathetic article about a bunch of people who stormed the Capitol last month. In the article, it stated that many of the people who got in trouble are folks who have serious financial problems. Case in point, 50 year old Texas real estate broker and life coach Jenna Ryan, who projects an air of success and supposed sexuality is, in reality, broke. A couple of weeks ago, she was accepting donations for her legal defense fund. Then she wrote that she didn’t “need” the donations, but people would be “blessed” for helping her. Now, come to find out, she’s actually in pretty serious financial trouble and has been for awhile…

Now, y’all know me. I try to give a lot of people the benefit of the doubt. I’m not a big fan of prison. I try to realize that everyone makes mistakes. However, I am also not a big fan of narcissism and, frankly, Jenna kind of reeks narcissistic tendencies. I was about to share her Twitter, which until yesterday, was on full display. But I just went to her page and it looks like she’s deleted her account. I found my way to Jenna’s Twitter account (which should have been deleted weeks ago) after reading an article describing her as “gorgeous”.

A bunch of people were calling her out for her “attention seeking” behavior.

Most people, when they get called out like this, retreat into the shadows. But at least until yesterday, Jenna was still engaging the masses, who were not falling for her sob story. From the Washington Post:

Despite her outward signs of success, Ryan had struggled financially for years. She was still paying off a $37,000 lien for unpaid federal taxes when she was arrested. She’d nearly lost her home to foreclosure before that. She filed for bankruptcy in 2012 and faced another IRS tax lien in 2010.

And yet, just a couple of weeks ago, as she begged for donations for her legal fees, she tweeted this:

So… basically, besides being pathetic enough to fall for Trump’s bullshit and getting involved in criminal activity, Jenna is also a liar and a fraud. She’s not unlike those spammer scammers who try to engage middle-aged broads like me, thinking flattery and the promise of a sugar daddy is a “blessing”.

Jenna Ryan also recently whined about how she doesn’t think she deserves a prison sentence for doing what “her president” asked her to do. She hoped Trump would pardon her, but wasn’t smart enough to realize that Trump doesn’t reward failure. The attempt to “stop the steal” wasn’t successful and made Trump look even worse than he usually does, so he’s not going to reward anyone involved with that. Anyway… having read that story about how Ryan and her rioting pals are mostly people with no money and no hope, I was left feeling pity… for Jenna’s two mini goldendoodles, who will have to be rehomed if she winds up in prison. From the Post:

Ain’t she cute in her Trump hat?

“We just stormed the Capital,” Ryan tweeted that afternoon. “It was one of the best days of my life.”

She said she realized she was in trouble only after returning to Texas. Her phone was blowing up with messages. Her social media posts briefly made her the infamous face of the riots: the smiling real estate agent who flew in a private jet to an insurrection.

Nine days later, she turned herself in to the FBI. She was charged with two federal misdemeanors related to entering the Capitol building and disorderly conduct. Last week, federal authorities filed similar charges against two others on her flight: Jason L. Hyland, 37, of Frisco, who federal authorities said organized the trip, and Katherine S. Schwab, 32, of Colleyville, Texas.

Ryan remained defiant at first. She clashed with people who criticized her online. She told a Dallas TV station that she deserved a presidential pardon.

Then Trump left for Florida. President Biden took office. And Ryan, at home in Texas, was left to wonder what to do with her two mini-goldendoodle dogs if she goes to prison.

“Not one patriot is standing up for me,” Ryan said recently. “I’m a complete villain. I was down there based on what my president said. ‘Stop the steal.’ Now I see that it was all over nothing. He was just having us down there for an ego boost. I was there for him.”

Poor baby. My heart is breaking for her. Sounds to me like she and Trump are birds of a feather, only he’s a more charismatic and successful con man than she is.

After I was done reading about Jenna Ryan’s legal and financial woes, and those of her fellow insurrectionists, I moved on to a trio of articles that appeared in the Washington Post and The New York Times about the benefits of double masking. I’ve already vented my spleen on how I feel about being expected to “double mask” (wear two face masks at one time). I’m not going to do it again with this post. Instead, I’m going to offer an observation.

I read some of the comments for the double masking articles on The New York Times and The Washington Post. I am now left with the impression that there are a lot more obnoxious assholes per capita in the D.C. area than in New York City. Or, at least the readers of the two papers are different. The comments for the Washington Post were mostly of the virtue signaling, shaming variety, with people getting downright rude and nasty when someone dared to even joke about this subject. Or, if someone rightly pointed out the face masks don’t stop COVID-19 (and they DON’T), people would indignantly share pro mask articles.

To be clear– face masks help slow the spread of disease by preventing some of the droplets from getting into the atmosphere. They don’t actually stop the virus. Lots of people have gotten sick while wearing a mask, gloves, or anything else. What works best is physically staying the fuck away from others, which is very difficult for most people to do. Hence the need for masks.

And, as I have pointed out many times, wearing a mask does present legitimate problems for some people. Most people can wear the mask just fine, but there are some people who can’t. They have a right to be heard, too. But God forbid you dare write that in any comment section for the WaPo. You will quickly be labeled a “Trumper” or a “COVIDIOT” or something else by perfect strangers. People will immediately pile on to tell you that whatever your issues are with the masks are 100% bullshit– or they will ask you for your “qualifications”. I dare someone to ask me that. They’re usually very surprised when I tell them that I actually have a MPH from a real and accredited university, rather than the Google School of Public Health.

By contrast, on The New York Times‘ comment sections, I noticed people were much more tolerant of those making light of the suggestion to wear two masks (as opposed to simply wearing a better fitting or better quality mask). The comments were more even-handed and some were legitimately hilarious. There weren’t a lot of anti-maskers there. Instead, it was people who were a little bit more open to having a discussion without attacking. It was kind of refreshing. But then, I have spent some time in the D.C. area and I know for a fact there are a lot of self-absorbed and self-important assholes who live there. And I have visited New York a few times and I always come away with the impression that New Yorkers are a bit more cosmopolitan and sophisticated. It’s much more of a cultural melting pot than D.C. is. D.C. is a place where narcissistic people gather to get into power, and they often do it with dirty and dishonest tactics.

And finally, just before I went to sleep, I saw this photo… Many people love it. They think it’s cute and funny. Let me go on record to say that I don’t love it. If I saw this sign, even while properly donning a face mask, I would turn around and walk the other direction. Being rude and insulting is not a good business practice, in my view. Lecturing people and calling them childish or stupid is not going to change their minds.

I hate this sign. If I saw this sign, I would NOT give this person my business. It’s not because I’m “anti-mask”. I’m “anti asshole”. I don’t think this kind of confrontational and belligerent attitude is helpful. But anyway, I don’t live where this food truck is located, so I doubt this guy misses my business. My response to him would be a hearty “Fuck off.” But I would say it with my RBF.

Anyway… I apologize for the obvious tension in this post. I am a bit angsty for a lot of reasons. Germany will stay locked down until at least March 7. I’m bored and depressed and tired of all the stupid bullshit. I’m wondering what the point of living is. I think most people are assholes, mainly because I read too many comment sections and get yucky spam scams in my messenger. And I’m just tired of all the negativity, insults, and directives from perfect strangers who know about as much as what they’ve read on CNN… as well as clueless twits like Jenna Ryan, who thinks she should get a “pass” for doing incredibly stupid and self-destructive things in the name of “patriotism”.

I probably ought to go find myself a good video game or porn site and lose myself in fantasy for awhile. Maybe that will help me cope as I fantasize about my next journey out of my neighborhood. But, as I pointed out earlier, “a man’s got to put in overtime to get me off.” It’s probably a good thing my vibrator is German.

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law, modern problems, rants, sports, stupid people

Idiot proofing…

Back in September 2015, Bill and I had the experience of a lifetime. We went to Tarrenz, Austria and swam naked in a big vat of hot beer.

Okay… so it wasn’t beer like you and I might think of it. It was actually wort that was in a huge vat that was once used for brewing Starkenberger beer. It was just the two of us. No lifeguard was on duty. We were allowed to drink as much beer as we wanted. All we had to do was be done by 10:00pm… and even that was negotiable.

There wasn’t a single sign on the wall warning us of no lifeguard on duty. I don’t think we even had to sign any legal disclaimers or waivers. We just handed over the 250 euros it cost for our experience, and off we went. It was glorious! We had a great time. I will NEVER forget it. I distinctly remember thinking it was refreshing to be treated like someone with a brain and common sense. It occurred to me that over here in “the old country”, people are expected to take some responsibility for themselves. That’s what keeps things fun for everyone.

Do people over here get sued for negligence? Sure, they do. But generally speaking, I have noticed that people are also expected not to be idiots. If you do something stupid and get hurt, you can expect little sympathy. It seems that in the United States, people are often looking for reasons to sue, even when they’ve been partly at fault for their own misfortunes. Consequently, there’s a lot of “idiot proofing” that is done in the United States. Companies and, inevitably, their lawyers, are always looking for the next potential lawsuit and taking steps to guard themselves from them.

Strangely enough, our experience swimming unsupervised in warm beer wort came into my head this morning as I read about Salvatore Anello being sentenced for his part in a negligent homicide. Salvatore Anello made the news in July 2019, when he accidentally killed his 18 month old granddaughter, Chloe Wiegand.

Anello and his family were cruising on Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas cruise ship on July 7, 2019 when they were docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Chloe liked to bang on the glass at the hockey games her brother played in Indiana. For some strange reason, Mr. Anello decided to place Chloe on a railing near a window in a children’s area on the ship. Thinking there was glass in the window, Mr. Anello tried to let Chloe “bang” on it, as if they were at a hockey game. But there was no glass, and before he knew what had happened, Chloe had fallen to her death, eleven stories below.

Mr. Anello was arrested by Puerto Rican authorities and charged with negligent homicide. However, Chloe’s family maintained that the cruise line was negligent, because they thought there was glass in the window. The family decided to sue Royal Caribbean, claiming that Chloe’s death is the cruise line’s fault for “not having a safer situation on the 11th floor of that cruise ship.” Chloe’s mother, Kim Wiegand adds, “There are a million things that could’ve been done to make that safer.”

Perhaps that’s true. However, the number one thing that could and should have been done to keep the toddler girl safe is not making the decision to put her on the railing in the first place. Clearly, the railing is NOT intended for children to be climbing on or set upon, and clearly glass windows were never meant to be banged upon. Why in the hell would anyone ever encourage their child to bang on a glass window in the first place? At best, it’s noisy and annoying. At worst, it can lead to a terrible injury or death.

Let me be clear. I am glad Mr. Anello is not going to be serving any jail time. He took a plea deal, so he will be on probation for three years in his home state of Michigan. I think that’s a just punishment. I don’t think he’s a bad person and I don’t think he will reoffend. And I am absolutely certain that this accident has been devastating on many levels. However, I do think it’s in very bad taste to sue Royal Caribbean, unless the family is ONLY doing it to get the cruise line to change policies, and not looking for a payday. There is no doubt in my mind that Royal Caribbean executives are already doing what they can to idiot proof their ships even more against people like Salvatore Anello, who apparently lost his grip on common sense while cruising. He says he wasn’t drinking. Thank God for that. If Anello makes these kinds of decisions while sober, I would hate to see what he does when he’s been drinking alcohol.

Chloe Wiegand would probably still be alive if her grandfather had not made the poor decision to put her on that railing… a place that is clearly not intended to be sat upon or walked on by anyone, especially children. She probably would not have died if he hadn’t decided to encourage her to bang on glass, as if she was at a hockey game. My God… they were on a mass market cruise line! Couldn’t they have participated in some other safe, kid-friendly, cruise line approved and promoted activity?

I have only cruised on Royal Caribbean once, but I know from that experience that there are many child friendly activities. If Chloe had gotten hurt or killed while taking part in a child friendly activity that was previously deemed safe, maybe I could see her family’s decision to hold Royal Caribbean responsible. But she wasn’t. She was doing something that she shouldn’t have been doing, mainly because the adult responsible for her care was negligent. Or, at least, that is the impression I get when I read about this sad case. Nowhere have I read that Royal Caribbean encourages people to put toddlers on railings eleven stories up from the dock. Most people have enough common sense not to do that. Most people don’t need that much idiot proofing.

Having written all of that, I do feel very sorry for Chloe’s family. I’m sure this was heartbreaking for them. They will never, ever forget it, and life will never be the same as it was. I’m sure they feel guilty. Or, I hope they do. If I were one of them, I think I’d be very ashamed of myself on many levels. But I would also feel sad beyond belief and, if I know myself, I’d probably wonder if I wanted to go on living. Hell, I wonder that now, and I don’t even have children. I might be angry that there was no glass in the window, but when it came down to it, I think I’d know that I shouldn’t have put a toddler on a railing and encouraged her to bang on non-existent glass. That’s just stupid. But, if the family’s goal was to make cruise lines dream up more disclaimers and liability waivers for passengers, I think they succeeded. And, if it makes them feel better, I’m sure Royal Caribbean will make sure to put glass in all windows… and hang more signs and make more rules. That’s if the business survives the pandemic.

Speaking of idiocy and the pandemic… this morning I read an opinion piece in The Washington Post by Michele L. Norris, who seems dismayed that there were a bunch of optical illusions and cardboard cutouts of people in the stands at the Super Bowl. Ms. Norris expressed disapproval that the show was engineered to make it look like the stadium, which holds 65,000 people, was packed with happy fans cheering at the annual football game.

This year, thanks to COVID-19, there weren’t many people watching the game live. Norris writes that there were only 25,000 fans at the game, 7,500 of whom were vaccinated healthcare workers. Fans who weren’t able to make the game were allowed to pay $100 to have cardboard cutouts of themselves put in the seats. They could then check the “fan cam” to see their cardboard visages on camera.

Norris writes that this plan, which was supposed to give the illusion of a packed stadium, caused America to “suffer a loss”. She writes that we’re long used to not seeing packed stands. And the message should have been to “stay home and stay safe”. Evidently, this is more important than ever, since the game was played in Tampa, Florida, where people have been very lax about COVID-19 guidelines.

I don’t actually give a shit about the Super Bowl. I don’t watch it, even when there isn’t a pandemic. And I agree that people should be encouraged to be safe and responsible about preventing the spread of COVID-19. But I want to know– does Michele Norris really think that seeing stands with cardboard cut outs of fans is encouraging Americans to break COVID-19 protocol? Really?

I don’t know about you, but I have about had it with all the preaching and shaming about COVID-19. I really have. That’s not the same as not taking the virus seriously. I do take it seriously and have from the beginning of this fiasco. It’s true that I hate the masks and rarely wear them, but that’s because I’m ALWAYS AT HOME. If I weren’t always at home, I would follow the rules. I would hate following the rules, but I would comply with them. And it would not bother me at all, if I cared about football, to see a bunch of cardboard cutouts of people at the Super Bowl, nor would I care that the sound of the crowds were augmented to enhance the effects. We know a pandemic is going on. It’s been hammered in our heads for months. I don’t think seeing cardboard cutouts of fans is going to make the COVID situation worse. That’s just dumb.

I think, if I was going to complain about something related to the Super Bowl, it might be the creepy jockstrap halftime show. Yes, I know they weren’t jockstraps on the performers’ faces, but so many people thought they looked like jockstraps. I saw photos of the spectacle. It doesn’t look appealing to me. But then, pretty much everything about live entertainment and sports events has been fucked up this year. I don’t think I would be outraged over the illusion of a packed stadium. People are starved for fun. I know I am. But then, maybe Michele L. Norris has a point… maybe Americans really do require idiot proofing more than other people do. After all, a company is being sued because a grandfather wanted to let his 18 month old granddaughter bang on glass while on an eleventh story railing.

Featured photo is of me, in the buff at an Austrian death trap. We had a ball! No lifeguard on duty… and none required.

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