complaints, condescending twatbags, modern problems, sexism

I really enjoy bitching about things…

This morning, I find myself with a touch of writer’s block. When that happens, I often go to my original Google version of this blog to find inspiration. I did write a few posts on the old blog that are chestnuts… or evergreen… or whatever. At the very least, I can find book reviews that I can repost, although I’m slowly running out of those.

I am working on reading a book right now, but as usual, I keep falling asleep before I can make too much progress. I probably should invest in a chair for reading, rather than reading in bed. Nowadays, I drop off at the drop of a hat if I’m lying down and comfortable. I have really excellent Comphy sheets on my bed, too, which makes for prime sleeping conditions. I don’t work for the company or get any kickbacks. I just really like the sheets, which I discovered on a visit to a B&B in Goshen, Virginia.

ETA: Many apologies, since I have already bitched about this particular complaint on the new blog… the original re-run repost is not exactly the same as this one, but it does include the same screenshots and basic story. Oh well. Maybe I’ll think of something totally fresh later.

Anyway, I came across a rant I wrote back in the summer of 2017. Looking back, that summer was pretty traumatic for a number of reasons. It wasn’t as bad as the summer of 2014, but it was a pretty tough time. One day, I got irritated because some guy, long gone from my friends list, had shared a fake meme. I wrote a post bitching about it. Note– the post was not specifically about the guy, it was about the practice of sharing falsely attributed memes. A lot of people don’t care that the deep thoughts they share on social media are bullshit. Some have rationalized that it’s the thought that counts, not the person who came up with the thought. Personally, I vehemently disagree. Especially when people falsely attribute things to the late George Carlin, who is one of my idols and whose wisdom has gotten me through some shit.

No… George never said this. And you shouldn’t imply that he did.

The guy who had inspired my rant shared the above meme, with the comment “Carlin pulled no punches.” I kept seeing this meme on my timeline and it annoyed me. So I decided to write about it. Former friend read the vent and got pissed off at me. He left a nasty comment on my OH Facebook page and blocked me. Then, he posted the article on his page and I soon had a bunch of right wing mental giants from the Deep South hitting my blog, racking up ad revenue. A mutual friend sent me a private message letting me know that he was riling up all his Trump supporting friends over this vent. From my original post:

Both times I’ve seen this meme featuring George Carlin, I’ve hidden it.  Why?  Because I am very certain that George Carlin never said this.  It pisses me off when people put words in George’s mouth, especially since he’s dead.  I loved and respected his work and I’m absolutely sure he never would have said anything like this.  Carlin’s comedy celebrated obstruction and fighting the establishment.  He was a champion of resistance and bucking authority.  It’s wrong to attribute these words to him or to insinuate that he said them by using his picture with someone else’s words.

Even if I agreed wholeheartedly with this meme’s sentiment, which I don’t, I would not agree that it’s okay to claim that these are George Carlin’s words, especially when there is ample evidence that they aren’t.

I went looking to see if Carlin had, indeed, said this. I found evidence that, apparently, GMTA. Morgan Freeman supposedly said it, too.

Hmmm… naw, I don’t think Morgan said it, either.

I went on to explain why this practice irritates me so much. From my old blog:

I’m sure many people think I’m being anal retentive about this issue.  They wonder what the harm is, especially since so many folks seem to think this is a good thought.  Well, I’ll tell you what the harm is.  The harm is that George Carlin and Morgan Freeman are legends, but they are (or were) also people.  A person has the right to free expression and freedom from being used to promote someone else’s agenda without their permission.  My guess is that people make these memes because they think Carlin or Freeman have the right persona to drive home this particular sentiment.  But what right does one person have to use another person like that, even if the person being used is (or was) famous?  And even if the person posting the fake meme is simply being a provocateur? 

Mr. Carlin is no longer alive to defend himself when someone falsely uses his likeness to express their ideas.  And while many people think this quote is excellent, the person who actually came up with it should be the one who gets attributed, not a random famous person who may or may not have even agreed with it.  

I continued searching for more evidence of who actually came up with these words. And I found these memes…

Jeez! Everybody was saying this in 2017!

And I continued with this idea, which I felt was neither unreasonable nor particularly offensive:

There is nothing wrong with sharing ideas or quotes on Facebook or other social media.  I just think that if you’re going to use a meme with a quote, especially when you use a famous person’s image, you should make sure the person pictured is the person who should be attributed.  You can still spread an idea by posting something like this…

What’s wrong with sharing something like this? Are people really swayed by a picture of a famous person like Carlin supposedly saying the same thing?

Maybe your plain meme won’t get as many “likes” or comments, but it will at least be honest and it won’t be stealing someone else’s famous image to promote an idea or agenda.  As someone who is camera shy and writes, I know I wouldn’t want my image used with someone else’s words, no matter how profound they are.  I’m sure most normal, non-famous people wouldn’t.  

I’ll never understand why some people assume that a famous person won’t mind when a stranger thoughtlessly spreads a Facebook meme using their image with someone else’s words.  Especially when it’s common for people with financial means to sue when someone uses their likeness without permission.  And especially since many famous people make their living by being paid promoters.  No one likes to be ripped off, right?

Maybe the above point annoyed the guy. Most famous people aren’t going to bother suing some random Facebook user over sharing a fake meme. Unless they’re like Richard Marx, or something. I understand he’s pretty uptight. Anyway, this post really upset my former friend, who felt like I had insulted him deeply for writing about this phenomenon. I never named him, nor did I specifically invite him to read this post. But he sure got upset about it. The next morning, I found the below photo and an angry comment from him.

Wow… BUTTHURT!

So I wrote another post, but that time, I DID call him out, not by his name, but by his behavior, which I thought was really childish:

So… yesterday I wrote a rant about “dishonest memes”.  It was inspired by a meme I’ve seen floating around featuring the late, great George Carlin.  I mentioned in that rant that I’ve seen that meme at least a couple of times and, when I see it, I hide it.  When I saw the meme posted yet again, I felt the need to write about it here on my blog.  I figured that would be better than getting into a Facebook argument with the person who posted it.  Those can get long and contentious.  Not as many people read my blog as they do Facebook. 

I will admit that had the person posted the meme featuring Morgan Freeman using the same words, I probably wouldn’t have been as bothered and likely never would have thought to write my rant.  George Carlin is kind of sacred to me.  He’s helped me get through some rough times. 

Anyway, this morning, I awoke to find the person who inspired yesterday’s post had unfriended me.  He left me a comment on the link to the rant on my Overeducated Housewife page.  It was yet another picture.  I like pictures!

Truthfully, this person was not someone I interacted with much anyway.  I’ve never met him in person.  I suspect we have different political leanings, so we didn’t do much communicating on Facebook.  If this person happens to read this follow up, please allow me to apologize for apparently offending you by indirectly calling you out.  It’s (almost) never my intention to be hurtful, although I know sometimes I am.  But I will not apologize for expressing my thoughts on my blog.  

I don’t think I’m necessarily wrong to write about the things that bug me.  That’s what blogs are for.  Moreover, misusing George Carlin’s memory is annoying and offensive to me.  It occurs to me that if we were real friends, you’d know that and actually care.      

I get my ideas from all sorts of sources, including friends, family, and anything I see on social media.  Most of the time, I try not to name people directly, unless they are famous people, people named in the media, and/or certain relatives.  I did not name this person, but he obviously read the rant.  I can only assume, based on the above picture comment he left me, that he was annoyed by it…  just as I get offended by people who carelessly take liberties with George Carlin’s memory.  

It’s okay.  We all get butthurt over different things.  If someone had vented specifically about me or something I did, I’d probably be annoyed and offended, too.  If they were an actual friend, I might care enough to talk to them about it.  Or maybe not.  It’s clear this person wasn’t an actual friend, though, so it’s probably for the best that he dropped me out of his universe.  Moreover, that post was not actually about him, but about the practice of sharing fake memes.     

The funny thing is, one thing I do know about this person is that he likes to write.  I “met” him on Epinions, which was a place that was full of opinionated people writing product reviews.  I didn’t like his Epinions nickname because of my phobia of mushrooms (his name was a play on fungus), but I did like his reviews.  In fact, I think he was even on my Web of Trust for a long time.  One thing I miss about Epinions is that it was a place where one could make money for being articulate and opinionated.

Anyway…  to anyone reading this, if you ever happen to find yourself the subject of this blog, I hope you realize that on some level that you have served as an inspiration to someone.  Sometimes people inspire others in a positive way.  Sometimes the inspiration is borne out of something negative.  Either way, inspiration usually leads to creativity and sometimes creativity leads to genius.  I’m certainly not saying anything on this blog falls into the genius category, but writing it does help keep me sane.  

As usual, this incident ended up fathering a bunch of posts, including one I wrote on “uppity women”. Not knowing the former Facebook friend that well, I still came up with the idea that perhaps he saw me as “uppity” for daring to bitch about his practice of sharing fake memes and falsely attributed quotes. I did point out that he’s one of many people who does this, and I know that my blog isn’t going to make a significant dent in the problem. And, in fact, in 2021, this is not really a problem worth writing about. We definitely have much bigger issues these days.

But in the third post that was partially inspired by that incident, I wrote this:

A former Facebook friend took issue when I wrote about my dislike of “dishonest memes”.  He happened to be the catalyst of that post, although I was not writing specifically about him, per se.  That post was about anyone who shares memes or essays wrongly attributed to people.  I have written about that phenomenon before; the person who inspired the first post is a female friend who, fortunately, wasn’t upset or threatened by my decision to express myself.  We’re still friends today.    

I have noticed that in the wake of that post, many people from the Deep South are now stalking my blog.  They repeatedly hit the post about Dishonest Memes and the one I wrote yesterday.  I’m intrigued by their interest in those two specific posts, which are really not that earth shattering.  It appears the posts are being shared among friends and family and these folks are looking for some kind of action on them.   

The funny thing is, the person who inspired my post about dishonest memes had originally expressed admiration for George Carlin’s policy of not “pulling any punches”.  Many people loved Carlin for telling it like it is and expressing himself.  Of course, a lot of people did not like Carlin.  My dad was one such person.  He found Carlin disrespectful and vulgar, especially when Carlin would denigrate the government, the Republican party, or the military.  He would get very offended by Carlin’s use of profanity.  Perhaps he thought George Carlin was “uppity”, too.  What right did Carlin have to criticize the government?  How dare he express his ideas in such vulgar and outspoken terms?  

It now occurs to me that by publicly shaming and condemning me for bitching about him and his practice of sharing fake memes, former friend made me bitch even more. I wonder if that was intentional on his part, especially since he sent his friends and family to follow my blog. Their hits probably contributed a few pennies to my Google AdSense account. I continued:

My dad had the same disdain for me whenever he thought I was getting too big for my britches and needed to be taken down a peg.  He would tell me that nobody cared about my opinions and that I had no right to say things that he deemed offensive or rude.  In short, I needed to be reminded of my station as a lowly female, and not a very attractive one at that… How dare I express myself?  In his opinion, I needed to keep my mouth shut and my legs crossed.

I’m baffled as to why it’s okay and even admirable for George Carlin to “pull no punches”, but it’s not okay for me to do it on a little read blog?  Is it because I’m not famous?  Is it because I don’t have a penis?  Is it because my comments are somehow “out of line” or wrong?    

My dad, who died in July 2014, put on a uniform every day for over twenty years, in part, to preserve my right to express myself.  However, he didn’t appreciate it when I said things he didn’t like.  He didn’t want to hear someone like George Carlin or Hillary Clinton be outspoken.  I think my dad loved the idea of “free speech and expression”, especially to certain privileged segments of the population, but he didn’t necessarily love the practice of it…  unless it was something he wanted to hear.  I don’t think that’s necessarily an uncommon position, by the way.  I often get angry comments from people who don’t like some of the things I write.  I, too, get annoyed when someone says something I don’t like.  I fully admit to being a hypocrite.  It’s just another one of those things I have to work on in my life.

One of the reasons I love most of George Carlin’s comedy is that he often made a lot of sense.  He enjoyed pointing out double standards and hypocrisy and got a huge kick out of pissing off people who take themselves and others a little too seriously.  I think we all do that from time to time– myself included.  

You folks who are stalking my blog should know that I appreciate the attention and the hits, but there’s really not much to see here.  I only expressed my opinion, which I feel very fortunate to be able to do, since I live in a free society.    

I don’t know if I come across as “uppity” to everyone… I know a lot of people, especially military and certain southern folks, think I do.  My own father thought I did.  But anyway, I really am just an “overeducated housewife” and I don’t have much more going on other than writing my blog, making music, doing housework, reading books and looking after my dogs.  

So I will keep on writing… though not on this subject.  I’m done writing about “dishonest memes” for now, so it may be time for you to move on to your next channel on the Internet.  Or stalk me if you must.  I profit from the attention.

Of course, now it occurs to me that I lied, since I obviously wasn’t done writing about “dishonest memes”. There I go with the hypocrisy again! I do enjoy bitching about things, though. I suppose I could have bitched about the latest mass shooting in the United States, and maybe I will do that, once I learn more about it. I haven’t gotten around to reading the details yet, though. Don’t want to spoil the whole day with more bad news… which includes the fact that Germany is now going to be locked down until April 18th, because according to Mrs. Merkel, we’re in a “new pandemic”. I’m beginning to think we should all just put ourselves out of my misery. I feel like this is never going to end. At least the TDY from hell is over, and I don’t have to bitch about that anymore.

But now I can bitch about the fact that I spent an hour writing this and I’ve already complained about this before on this blog… right down to the same anecdotes and screenshots. It’s not exactly the same, as the first rerun is shorter and includes some new content. But it’s pretty similar. I do wonder when Facebook was named the place where people feel the need to be inspirational or provide words to live by for other people.

Standard
book reviews

Repost: Suits Me: The Double Life of Billy Tipton

I originally posted this review on Epinions.com on March 4, 2012. It’s being reposted as/is.

A couple of months ago, I happened to see a Dr. Phil rerun about three adopted brothers who were estranged because the youngest brother had screwed the two older brothers out of an inheritance.  At first, I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention.  The subject matter seemed to be very typical for a Dr. Phil show and I generally find Dr. Phil and his ilk annoying.  But after the brothers started to elaborate on their story, I sat up and took notice.  It turned out this particular episode of Dr. Phil was about much more than just squabbling siblings and inheritance money. 

These three men were the adopted sons of jazz musician Billy Tipton and his “wife” Kitty, a former stripper.  Kitty Tipton was one of several women who had married Billy Tipton, who was a moderately successful entertainer in the first half of the 20th century.  By most accounts, Billy Tipton appeared to be a somewhat short but entirely heterosexual man.  What almost no one knew until the day of Billy’s death in Spokane, Washington on January 21, 1989, was that Billy Tipton was actually a woman! 

Though I was around in the 1980s, somehow I missed all the talk show hype about this case that came out after Billy’s death.  I was just hearing about the case for the first time as I watched that episode of Dr. Phil.  I immediately went to Amazon.com to see if anyone had written a book about Billy Tipton.  Indeed, in 1998, Diane Wood Middlebrook published Suits Me: The Double Life of Billy Tipton.  I’ve spent the last couple of weeks reading about Billy Tipton’s remarkable life and death through reading Middlebrook’s very thorough and well-written book.

Why she became he…

Born in Oklahoma City in 1921, Dorothy Lucille Tipton grew up Kansas City, Missouri.  Dorothy’s parents had split up, so she was raised by an aunt who insisted that she learn how to play the piano. Dorothy turned out to be very musically talented.  She could sing, play saxophone, and play the piano.  She was also a very capable bandleader and entertainer.  Unfortunately, at the time Dorothy was coming along, women were not commonly accepted as jazz musicians. 

At age 19, Dorothy initially started dressing as a man so she could play the kind of music she wanted to play.  Noting that movie star Joan Crawford’s real name was Lucille and people had called her “Billie” as a nickname, Dorothy was inspired to use her middle name Lucille as the basis for changing her name to “Billy”.  At first, some of her fellow musicians knew that she was just dressing in uniform so she could play jazz with them. 

As time went on, Dorothy’s original gender identity went by the wayside and she lived as a man 24/7.  She totally passed as a man, mainly because she was careful never to let anyone see her naked, and dazzled her paramours by being suave and debonair.  The different women who had relationships with Billy over the years somehow instinctively understood that Billy treasured his privacy and knew that they weren’t to touch him or barge in on him when he was in the bathroom.  Indeed, Middlebook reports that “Billy Tipton” was so convincing that even his several “wives” never knew the secret after their unofficial unions were consummated.  They were all shocked when the truth came out after Billy’s death because they had all had sex with him.  Naturally, the lights were always off.  One woman even called Billy “the love of her life”.

My thoughts

This book is absolutely fascinating.  Diane Wood Middlebrook does a great job writing Billy Tipton’s story and explaining all the angles of Tipton’s life.  Her writing is very readable and conversational.  I had no trouble falling into this book and getting engrossed in Billy Tipton’s amazing story.  Middlebrook also includes pictures, which I think are essential to this particular book.  Every time I ran across photos, I stopped and studied them just to examine how the people in Billy’s life were fooled.  Personally, I think Billy looked quite feminine, but I guess I can see how people fifty or sixty years ago would just take his word for it that he was a man.  People didn’t talk about such personal things back then as much as they do now… or so my mother often scolds me!

I will warn that there are a few topless photos in this book.  They aren’t of Billy Tipton, though, who never let anyone see his chest, which he had bound with bandages.  Tipton explained the bandages were there because he’d had injuries from an accident that had never healed properly.  As I look down at my own D sized breasts, I couldn’t help but wonder about how Billy handled the more personal aspects of being a female… like menstrual periods!  How on earth did Billy sustain marriages to other women and keep his periods a secret?  This is just one of many questions I pondered as I read this incredible true story.

Overall

Sometimes you really can fool all of the people all of the time.  This is a fascinating book for music buffs, show biz mavens, psychology fans, and people who just love outrageous stories.  I happen to fall into all four categories.  If you do too, I definitely recommend reading Diane Wood Middlebrook’s book, Suits Me: The Double Life of Billy Tipton.

A video about Billy Tipton.

As an Amazon Associate, I get a small commission from Amazon on sales made through my site.

Standard
complaints, language, rants

Double Repost: Fired for teaching about homophones and “Leave me alone”

I wrote these two posts in August 2014, days after we arrived in Stuttgart, Germany from Texas. I was tired, irritable, and not in the mood to argue. These posts are the end result of an argument I had on Facebook with yet another former Epinionator (explained in today’s previous post). And since these are related and I don’t want to do two reposts today, I’m combining them for those with a lot of time on their hands.

Bear in mind, both of these posts are about six years old and haven’t been edited to reflect today’s new information or current controversies. I still think getting upset over an innocuous word that just happens to sound like a racial slur is counterproductive, but I am also not in the habit of using the word “niggardly”, for precisely the reason that most people can’t properly define it and could get offended. I just think if people do use it properly, they shouldn’t automatically be branded as racist.

Yesterday, I read the very sad story of Tim Torkildson, a social media specialist at an English language learning center in Provo, Utah.  Mr. Torkildson had a blog and wrote a post about homophones, a staple of every young American child’s early language instruction.  Homophones are words that sound alike, but are spelled differently and have different meanings.  Meet and meat are homophones; so are so, sow, and sew.  Actually, when I learned about homophones, they were called homonyms.  But then I moved to another school and encountered the other term.

One would think homophones would be a completely innocuous thing to blog about, especially if one is teaching English to non-native English speakers.  Homophones can be pretty tricky for the uninitiated.  Unfortunately, Mr. Torkildson’s blog post didn’t sit well with his boss, Clarke Woodger, owner of the Nomen Global Language Center.  Mr. Woodger allegedly fired Mr. Torkildson because he fears the blog post will associate his school with “the gay agenda”.

That’s right.  A man who owns a language center tasked with teaching English as a foreign language is afraid to teach students about homophones…  apparently, because he is afraid his potential students will think his school teaches about homosexuals.  Woodger explained to the Salt Lake Tribune that his students come from 58 countries and many have only a basic understanding of English.  If that’s true, would they even necessarily know what the word “homosexual” or the shortened euphemism “homo” means?  

I posted about this on Facebook and remarked that it reminded me of the whole “niggardly” debate.  In 1999, David Howard, who was then working as an aide for Anthony Williams, the mayor of Washington, D.C., used the word “niggardly” to describe how he would have to manage a fund’s tight budget.  The word “niggardly” means miserly or parsimonious.  It sounds a little like the infamous n-bomb, but is actually spelled differently and has absolutely no etymological relation to the word “nigger”.  Mr. Howard used the word properly and not in a racist way at all.  However, a couple of people he was working with were not familiar with the word, which has understandably fallen out of fashion.  Within ten days of using that word, David Howard was handing in his resignation to Mayor Williams, who hastily accepted it.

I remember being pretty disgusted when I heard about this situation, even though I know the word “niggardly” is not exactly a word one hears every day anymore.  I learned the word in a vocabulary lesson when I was in the 9th grade.  Moreover, even if I hadn’t, it seemed to me that a simple conversation about intent and a quick consultation with a dictionary would have cleared up the issue before it ever made the news.  Of course that didn’t happen, and it was a national case…  a very embarrassing national case, especially since the people involved were D.C. government officials who should have known better or at least conducted themselves in a more professional manner.

The controversial word properly defined. I don’t think it’s particularly wise to use it these days, but I do think people should know what it means so they won’t be offended unnecessarily.

I understand that David Howard’s choice to use the word “niggardly” instead of miserly, stingy, or parsimoniously was probably a mistake.  However, I think the bigger mistake was made by the people who ignorantly took him to task for saying something he didn’t actually say.

A very liberal and, I think, terminally guilty Facebook friend of mine took me to task for defending Howard.  He wrote:

“The word “niggardly”, which is archaic, doesn’t mean anything “miserly” doesn’t, so anyone doubling down on the use of it is actually trying to be an asshole. “Homophone” is the only word that means what it means – AND, it doesn’t resemble any offensive word, anyway.” 

Not knowing David Howard personally, I have a hard time discerning if he actually intended “to be an asshole” or just decided he wanted to use a 50 cent word to express himself.  I told my Facebook friend that it was his opinion that using that word makes someone an asshole.

He came back trying to school me with a Wikipedia article about the controversies surrounding the word “niggardly”…  It was an article I had already read, along with an excellent book by Randall Kennedy about the word “nigger”.  The incident regarding David Howard and the DC government was discussed at length in his book, Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word.  Kennedy, by the way, is a black, left leaning Harvard law professor (or at least he was a professor when the book was published in 2002).  While I don’t use the n-word or even the word “niggardly” myself, I have to admit it was interesting to read about the history of the word.  I would recommend Kennedy’s book to anyone who wants an interesting language lesson.

In any case, while I respect my Facebook friend’s position about not offending people by using words they might not know or that may upset others, I also believe that people have a responsibility to educate themselves about their own language.  They also have a responsibility to stop and think before they react.  Anyone who reads this blog may already know that I am not a fan of “burying language”.  Offensive words that become taboo eventually get replaced by other words that end up needing to be made taboo.  Moreover, changing the language doesn’t necessarily change a painful condition.

I am a big fan of looking at intent, too.  You may hear someone use language that, taken at surface level, sounds offensive.  But I think it makes sense to think about what the communicator was trying to communicate before you react with offense.  As an English major in college, I read a lot of books by black writers.  The so-called n-word was rife in most of those books.  Should I have been offended?  I don’t think so… because that word served a legitimate purpose in what I was reading.  Do I think it’s smart to go around casually using controversial words that may offend people?  Generally not, though there are always exceptions to that rule.  An intelligent person looks at the situation objectively, though.  They don’t pressure a person to resign from a job over misunderstanding a word like “niggardly” and they don’t fire someone over teaching about homophones because they fear people might think they are promoting “the gay agenda” (not that I think that’s necessarily a bad thing to promote).

Of course I understand why people like my Facebook friend think it’s better to just not go there with words like “niggardly”.  It’s very easy to bury taboo words or symbols (or even words that sound like taboo words or symbols) and dismiss them as “offensive”.  It’s a lot more challenging to use your brain and determine the communicator’s intent and whether or not it’s worthwhile to be offended by their message.  I think it’s sad that more people aren’t more willing to use their brains instead of their emotions when they are expressing themselves.    

And here is the follow up post from a couple of days later in which I told the guy to “leave me alone”.

“Leave me alone…”

That’s what I ended up telling my Facebook friend yesterday, after our day long debate on whether or not it’s appropriate to use the word “niggardly”.  This guy, I’ll call him “B”, probably ought to be dropped from my friends list because, to be quite frank, I don’t really like him that much.

My disdain for B started many months before this latest incident.  I have never actually met him in person, but have had a number of online run ins with him.  We don’t tend to agree on a whole lot of issues.  He is much more liberal than I am.  That’s not the reason I don’t like him, though.  The reason I don’t like him is that he seems to think I’m stupid and treats me with condescension.

When I first “met” B on Epinions.com, we didn’t have that many issues.  Every once in awhile, he’d read one of my book or music reviews and leave a comment.  I remember he commented on a review I wrote about a book about military brats.  I was one and now I am married to a retired soldier, so I have also been a military wife.  For some reason, this guy seemed to think that was reason to pity me.  I remember the comment he made referenced how many times kids in military families have to move.   My experience as an Air Force brat didn’t include a lot of moving because my father retired when I was very young.  Moreover, when I was a kid, there were times I wished we would move.

Years after that, I started writing on a blog that he also writes on.  I noticed he would leave comments that on the surface seemed innocuous, but had a weird undercurrent of criticism to them.  It almost felt like he was upset that I was writing on the blog too.  I had been asked by the man who owns the blog to contribute to it, as obviously he was, too.  We have different tastes in music and different writing styles.  But I noticed at first, he would criticize my subject matter or make some comment about how I had written something.  I usually kept my few comments on his articles positive, though if I had wanted to, I probably could have been equally critical.  One time, he criticized me for writing about how to sing better online and the types of equipment you should use.  Then, many months later, he actually asked me for more information on the equipment I use when I make recordings.  Go figure.

I also noticed that a lot of times, I’d post an article and he’d post one too, within hours of my post.  He might not have written for weeks, but by God, he’d pick one of the two days when I almost always post and put new content ahead of mine.  I guess he figures that will mean more people will read his work, but based on what I’ve seen on Statcounter, it’s my articles that get more readings by people who aren’t personal friends or family members.

Because we were writing on that blog, we became Facebook friends.  And every once in awhile, I might post on a topic that he feels inclined to opine about.  That’s fine.  I want my friends to interact with me.  I don’t mind it when we disagree, either.  I just don’t like to be treated with disrespect, and that’s kinda how I felt like he was treating me.  Yesterday, he seemed bound and determined to school me on why my way of thinking is wrong.  It’s not that I didn’t understand him; I just plain disagreed with him.

He kept explaining why the word “niggardly” is rude and ought to be banned.  I kept explaining that “niggardly”, despite sounding like a racial slur, is a totally innocent word.  It honestly has absolutely no relation to the n-bomb.  It is spelled differently.  It has different etymological origins.  It’s actually a much older word that has been used a lot in literature.  And it just plain hasn’t a damn thing to do with the word “nigger”.  It just doesn’t!

Oddly enough, B kept writing that no one has been fired for using the word “niggardly”.  He was referring to my original comment that the post about the Utah homophone debacle reminded me of the “ridiculous niggardly debate” and that I wished people would check a dictionary before they resort to firing people for using words they don’t know.  Now, in B’s defense, I didn’t clearly specify that I was referring to the Utah homophone guy being fired and not David Howard, the D.C. mayor’s aide who was basically forced to resign over his use of the word in 1999.  But it was late; I was jet lagged; and frankly, I didn’t think it was that big of a deal.  I mean, obviously the guy teaching about homophones should not have been fired and it didn’t occur to me that someone on my friends list hated the word “niggardly” so much.

David Howard, unfortunate utterer of the word “niggardly”, also should not have lost his job, whether through firing or forced resignation (and he did eventually go back to work in a different mayoral office).  My position is that it’s hard to know how many people have been fired for using that word.  B’s is that there are apparently a bunch of right wing pundits out there who make it their business to write about such incidents.  But really, David Howard is hardly a right wing poster child.  He’s gay and worked for the D.C. government, a constituency that is over half black and consistently votes blue.    

B also brought up other examples of people who used the word “niggardly” and had offended people.  Several examples came from schools and universities.  I’m guessing he meant to sway me with those examples, but one of his examples included former University of Wisconsin English major Amelia Rideau, who became upset when her English professor used the word while discussing Chaucer.  She said it sounded too much like the racial slur.  The professor then explained the meaning and origin of the word.  B claimed the professor was doing his job “badly” because he offended his student.  He also brought up the fact that the professor was being paid for his work.  Ms. Rideau went so far as to try to get that word banned from the school, a measure that I find chilling in an academic environment, especially at a public university like the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  If you can’t have a free exchange of ideas without language restrictions in a university environment, where can you have one?  

My position is that Ms. Rideau was paying for an education and should have been open to actually being educated.  She does not get to dictate what words her teacher uses, so long as he’s not using abusive or derogatory language.  The word “niggardly”, despite sounding like a slur, simply isn’t a slur.  It’s neither abusive nor derogatory.  She needed to grow up and get over herself.  Moreover, as an English major, she should have realized that many works of literature include what may be construed as objectionable language.  Read anything by Mark Twain.  Read a slave narrative.  Read any book that tackles racism and you’ll run into truly derogatory language that actually serves a purpose.  Where would the study of literature be if every English major got upset over every encounter with hurtful or racist words?

The fact is, language changes all the time.  Most people don’t use the word “niggardly” casually anymore.  But hell, if you’re in an English class, particularly if it’s college level, where you might be reading literature that includes outdated words, I think you need to be grown up enough to accept that.    

Finally, toward the end of the day, B wrote:

We agree about the “homophone” teacher, firmly — I’ve said so three times. Now four. I’ve explained, as carefully as I could, why the situations are very different. Read it in a few days when you’re not jet-lagged. I’m bored with this too.

I was pretty exasperated by this point and found his final comment a bit insulting to my intelligence.  He basically implied that jet lag was clouding my sense of reason when actually, I just didn’t agree with him and his arguments weren’t swaying my opinion.  I also never saw any indication that he respected my right to disagree with him, while I took pains to explain that my opinions are my own and not represented as facts.  So here is my response:

Good. I’m glad you’re bored with this topic. I don’t think we have a miscommunication; I think we just disagree. Please quit commenting and leave me alone.

I’m sorry it had to end this way.  I really don’t like getting annoyed with people; but I also don’t like being browbeaten by self-righteous twits who refuse to acknowledge or respect a difference of opinion.  I don’t think I was unreasonable, nor am I fighting for the right to use the word “niggardly” in my own day to day conversations.  I just think people need to be more sensible and quit taking offense at every little quirk of the English language.  That’s why I don’t participate in campaigns to ban the “r word” or the “n word” or any other word.  Context and actual intent, people!  Let’s just focus on that instead of trying to eradicate words that may or may not hurt feelings.

As an Amazon Associate, I get a small commission from Amazon from sales made through my site.

Standard
complaints, rants

It’s piqued, not peaked, dammit!

In the interest of not ranting about my recently usual topics today, I’m going to revisit another tired subject… people who can’t spell. Especially when they are pesky spammers!

They visit every day… and I can almost bet there will be spam waiting for me…

I have a persistent spammer. Based on the fact that I get lots of hits from China, I’m assuming that is where this spammer is coming from every day, even though the screen name is in Thai. And every day, whoever is generating this spam leaves the same message. It’s probably automated. Sometimes I get this very same comment on several posts. One day, I had eighteen of these very same comments in the moderation queue.

From my travel blog. Every day, I get this same message at least once, but sometimes up to eighteen times.

Now… I get that spammers are gonna spam. BUT– I don’t understand what the purpose of this particular spam comment is. There’s no hyperlink in it, and it doesn’t seem to be selling anything. It just says “Like!!” There’s not even a hyperlink to the blog this spammer supposedly writes, which I would never visit because I know the difference between “piqued” and “peaked”. See below…

Granted, I don’t know Chinese or Thai. I am not particularly gifted in any language, including English. But I do think that if you’re going to spam people in a foreign language and compliment them on their blog, you should at least write something in your zone of competency. On the other hand, plenty of Americans don’t know the difference between “piqued” and “peaked”, either. Nor do they know other quirks of English.

For example, the other day, I was hanging out in the Fender Community on Facebook and someone wrote a post referring to a popular strong coffee beverage. What am I writing of? Why, espresso, of course! But this person didn’t write “espresso”. Instead, she wrote “expresso”, which I see from the squiggly red line in my text is incorrect. I know… I know… I’m being very picky. It’s one of my many quirks. But when someone writes “expresso” instead of “espresso”, it’s like nails on a chalkboard.

Don’t even get me started on “discreet” vs. “discrete”, “per se” vs. “per say” (Holy fuck, that one bugs!), “faze” vs. “phase”, or “hellow” vs. “hello”. Okay, so it’s not very often that people write “hellow”. It happened yesterday, when I was on Recovery from Mormonism and someone wrote a post about a book they’re writing. First of all, the post was one big wall of text with no breaks between paragraphs. Secondly, the very first word was “Hellow.” And that is exactly where he lost me.

When someone complained about the “wall of text”, the original poster made an excuse about his equipment. It reminded me of an extremely exasperating Epinions (a defunct review writing site) member who had a habit of downrating people for typos and differences of opinion, but expected other people to cut her some slack because she didn’t have a proper word processor or some other such thing. She once called me “finicky” for rating one of her reviews “helpful” because it was a wall of text with many errors in it. And yet, she did the same thing to me because there was one typo. This incident occurred just a week or so before Epinions finally went down in flames, and at that point , I was getting really fed up with some of the more “eccentric” people on the site. I also blogged about it. In the interest of killing time, here’s an excerpt from that piece, which I wrote in February 2014:

“…every once in awhile, you run into someone who is a bit “odd”… The truly psycho people usually end up leaving or getting kicked off the site.  But those who are just a little odd often end up sticking around and even gain some clout on the site.  They are usually minor annoyances that flare up occasionally, much like a hemorrhoid or a cracked molar (which is also troubling me this morning).   

Yesterday, I wrote a review of Preparation H with Hydrocortisone.  It was a simple review, less than 500 words.  I’ve started using this product because I’ve been experiencing some itching where the sun doesn’t shine.  I bought it for the itching, not because I think I have varicose veins in my ass (though for all I know, I might have them).  I wanted something that wasn’t going to irritate my skin. 

Because it’s a review of an embarrassing product, I injected a little humor in my review.  Well, this morning I got  a rating and this comment from this rather odd Epinions member who, over the years, had left me weird comments and the occasional lowball rating.  She wrote that she can’t use steroidal products and has to treat her itches homeopathically.  She suggests that I use apple cider vinegar, adding that she “say[s] it works better” than the product I reviewed. 

I will admit, this is the first thing I read this morning as I was just opening my eyes and her comment annoyed me.  If you can’t use a product because of your own idiosyncratic body issues, how do you know how it works for other people?  I can use steroidal products if I want to.  If you can’t, because you have sensitivities, does that mean that I should automatically do what you do?  The person also said that apple cider vinegar burns, even if it is effective.  I prefer not to apply something that burns to my asshole.  I’m not into that kind of thing.  I left a polite response indicating that I prefer to use something that doesn’t burn and I was glad she’d found a solution for her issues.

But then I go to another review, which this person rated “helpful”.  In the past, I would have been annoyed by a “helpful” rating; but before the standards changed at Epinions, “helpful” was still considered a good rating.  I probably would have just let it go.  Since the dumbing down of the Epinions rating system, the “helpful” rating is now considered akin to what used to be a “somewhat helpful” rating.  And this person who left me this shitty rating did not leave a comment indicating why, so now I’m left guessing why she apparently didn’t find my review acceptable.

Under normal circumstances, I usually ignore people like her.  I make a point of not engaging and won’t read or rate their reviews.  But this morning, because I was so irritated, I did go to her page.  I read her latest review, which happens to be a music review.  She had a string of inflated ratings, some of which I personally didn’t think she deserved.  I noticed her review was kind of hard to read, with no spacing between paragraphs and too much bolding.  She writes that it’s because she’s typing on a word pad instead of her computer.  That’s an explanation, but it doesn’t change my reading experience.  Besides, if she has her standards, then I must be entitled to mine. “

I ended up leaving her the same rating she left for me, and somehow I had a feeling that she’d take exception to it. And sure enough, I was right. Here’s an excerpt from a follow up post from that same time period.

A couple of days ago, I wrote about Epinions and an encounter I had with a rather odd person who annoyed me by suggesting I put apple cider vinegar on my asshole and rating a review of mine low without any explanation.  In my post, I explained that I’ve had a few encounters with this person and usually ignore her.  I find her a bit strange.  Others seem to have a similar opinion of her.

I made the mistake of reading this person’s latest music review.  I rated it “helpful”, and while my rating may have originally been inspired by early morning annoyance and the desire to take revenge, in actuality, I did not find her review to be very good.  Because she didn’t leave a comment for me explaining her low rating, I didn’t feel the need to leave one for her explaining mine.  I figured I’d probably hear from her and, sure enough, I did.  She sent me the following email this morning…

Hi fellow Epinions writer,

I was just curious why you were the only one that rated my CHERISH by David Cassidy a helpful . . .

What could of made it VH or Expert in your opinion ?

Have a nice day !
sharing the light, 

And this was how I responded to her. Bear in mind, Epinions had gotten very annoying by February 2014. If it hadn’t tanked days after this incident, I would have probably quit writing there. By that point, it was no longer worthwhile on any level.

Hello,

I rated your review helpful because I found it hard to read. There was a lot of bolding and no spacing between paragraphs.

Also, I didn’t think you offered much analysis of the music on the album. There is a lot in the review that came from the album cover, but not so much about the music itself or what you think of it. I realize you might have been trying to make your review fit into the lean and mean promotion going on this month. Personally, I find writing lean and mean music reviews difficult. Perhaps if you want to make the review under 500 words, you could remove your discussion of Shirley Jones and Jack Cassidy, which doesn’t really have much to do with the music on CHERISH. That would save you some words which you could then use to offer more of your opinion of the music.

All the best.”

Below is her response in italics.  My comments are in bold.  Given my complaints about excessive bolding in her review, I offer apologies in advance to anyone who finds the formatting hard to read.  😉  While I am somewhat tempted to respond to her email, I realize it would only cause a back and forth that would probably lead nowhere.  Unfortunately, I am still left with the desire to communicate, so I will respond in this blog post.  If she happens to read it, so be it.

Hi,

I had a comment written from myself explaining the inability to space properly after four edit attempts the paragraphs properly and using the bold where it was necessary (I did remove that comment before you came in and rated this) the final published draft now a review does look terrible but the platform of Epinions WOULD NOT and still won’t let me edit using proper spacing.

I did actually see the comment she left before she removed it.  My perspective comes from that of a reader, not as a fellow Epinions writer.  A visitor to the site is not going to know or care about her problems with the Epinions platform.  They may not even see the comments section or bother to read it.  If she’s going to explain why the formatting is not right, it would make more sense to put that information in the review where people will have a better chance of seeing it.  But anyway, while I do empathize and her inability to format correctly is regrettable, it’s not my problem.  It’s not an Epinions visitor’s problem, either; but it would likely affect their experience on the site.  

I do not have a word counter anymore as my old computer tower crashed (due to possible virus threats that came through last month and December in Epinions before my tower crashed) and I no longer have a Word Program that counts such things so if it does not make the lean and mean grade, so be it. 

Again, computer issues… not my problem, nor is her inability to count the words of her piece.  In all honesty, I don’t even care how long or short the review is, as long as it adequately covers the subject.  The only reason I mentioned the Lean and Mean promotion is because she mentioned it at the end of her review.   But the review’s helpfulness or lack thereof is entirely based on its content, not how many words are written.   Whether or not the review counts as Lean and Mean is of no concern to me.  Moreover, I bet if she looked online, she could find a word counter.

However if that is what epinions rates on instead of merit for knowing the material and knowing it well, then so be it also.

Knowing the material and knowing it well is very important in a review.  Based on what I read in her review, I was not convinced that she did.

The album CHERISH was and did have a lot to do with his dad and step-mom, which is why I added that info. I have been following davids career since I was 16 and have seen him twice in concert, I thought it would provide more oomph to the review. 

Okay, if the album’s concept really does have to do with David Cassidy’s relationship with Jack Cassidy and Shirley Jones, then that information certainly is useful and should be explained in more detail.  But in her review, I didn’t see much of a discussion as to why that information was important.  And again, include the information or don’t include it.  It’s her choice.  I honestly don’t care.  

My suggestion to omit information was simply to give her a way to economize on words so that she could add more of her own opinion while staying under the word limit challenge this month.  In my view, more of her own opinion would have made her review much more useful.  I would have also advised her to leave out the information she included on the artwork and liner notes.  Again, that would be simply to keep the review under 500 words and qualify for the sweepstakes.  Any other month, I wouldn’t have even mentioned word count.  

Instead it gets downgraded by only one finicky Top Reviewer . . . 

I’m really not that finicky.  In fact, I consider myself a very fair and even an EASY rater, the vast majority of the time.  This person’s analysis of the music on David Cassidy’s album consisted of a list of album tracks with four or five vague words about what each song sounds like and very little about her opinion.  The review told me almost nothing about what was actually on the album and I found it hard to read besides.  I stand by my rating, finicky or not.  

oh well epinions is not as much fun as it used to be and the rating guidelines have seriously changed the incentive to keep on plugging away on reviews EXPERTS find fault with.

I completely agree.  Epinions is not as much fun as it used to be.  I don’t consider myself an EXPERT, though.  I am just another Epinions user and reviewer.  Moreover, a few days ago, when she left me a “Helpful” rating on one of my reviews with no explanation, I didn’t go whining to her in an email demanding her reasons why.  In fact, she has left me many lone lowball ratings over the years with no explanations.  I have never once complained to her about them.  

Besides, the overall rating of her review is still “Very Helpful”; other members gave her high ratings.  In the long run, my rating means nothing anyway, other than an insult to her pride.  Would it make her happy if I just went back and changed my rating?  Maybe so…  It sounds to me like she cares more about ratings than the actual quality of her work.

And below, in italics, was my conclusion. Fortunately, since Epinions died just days after this incident, I didn’t have to make the decision myself.

Before anyone brings up the obvious, I do realize that my decision to go to her page and rate her review led to this.  I should have done what I normally do when it comes to this particular person.  I usually ignore her and seldom read what she writes because I don’t want to encourage interaction.  I probably would not have even noticed her rating this time if not for her comment that the product I reviewed was inferior to putting apple cider vinegar in my ass, even though I’ve read that it is a “miracle cure”.  I’d rather not exchange an itchy ass for one that burns.  But lesson learned.  I won’t be reading or rating any more of her reviews.  It’s too much trouble.  

Anyway, this is probably a sign that I need to take an Epinions sabbatical.  I’m going to give it some serious thought. 

I used to spend hours writing for Epinions. I actually made a significant amount of money there, too– I think it was about $12,000 over eleven years, which when you consider that I was just reviewing stuff around the house, wasn’t an insignificant amount of cash. Especially since I joined the site a couple of years after its initial heyday, when people were getting a penny per view, or something like that. I made some good friends writing there, found some good products, went to some fun parties, and scored plenty of schwag besides making some income. It was a great place for writers and it had surprisingly high standards. But yes, I did run into some strange folks… and some of them couldn’t spell or wanted to apply different standards to me than what they applied to themselves.

I’m sure the lady who inspired my rantings in 2014 was crushed when David Cassidy died a few years ago. Maybe it even inspired her to break out the apple cider vinegar and apply it liberally to her asshole or anywhere else the sun doesn’t shine.

Standard
silliness

When things mysteriously disappear…

I must be losing my mind. This morning, I stripped the bed so I could wash the sheets. I removed the pillows, the top and bottom sheets, the duvets, and their covers. I will admit that I was a little preoccupied this morning, thanks to the pain and numbness in my right hip and thigh. I remember pulling five of the six pillows on the bed to my side, leaving one on Bill’s side. I went to the other side to remove the sheets and the pillow… and sometime between taking the sheets off and removing the five other pillow cases, I misplaced the sixth pillow.

I’ve looked under the duvets, under the bed (where it couldn’t have fallen because the gap is too small), in the hallways, and along the route to the laundry room. The pillow is nowhere to be found. I’m sure it will turn up eventually, but it’s pretty creepy that I misplaced something that large and that random. I have no idea where it is or where it could have gone, even as I know it could not have walked off by itself.

This happens as a Facebook friend I met offline back in the early 00s shared a picture of me from 2004. I had red hair then, and I was short and stout, as I am now. However, I was a bit thinner at that time than I am now. Unfortunately, the person who took the picture elected to get a shot of my barrel sized butt, and the Facebook friend elected to tag me when she shared it. It’s not a good picture of me at all, although clearly I’m not the intended target of the photo. Why someone thought I’d want to see it and be tagged in it, I don’t know… although I realize we are our own worst critics. I mentioned my barrel butt and noticed later, this person shared a meme. It’s one I shared myself recently.

True, but that doesn’t mean I want to see a picture of it.

I suppose I could try to do something to make my barrel butt more like a keg, but if it looked like that fifteen years ago, the odds are it will look like that until I finally croak. I’ve been relatively good this week. Bill’s been out of town, so I’ve been on the wagon, despite the yucky weather. I think watching Intervention helps keep me drinking water instead of beer. Also, because it’s just me and I don’t feel like cooking a lot for just me, I’ve been eating somewhat less. But Bill comes home tomorrow, and the homecoming should be epic… if we don’t end up attending a mandatory fun Christmas party.

Maybe I should take heart. At least jerks like Tommy Callaway won’t be tempted to slap my ass on live TV. On the other hand, he’d have no excuse, since it would be impossible to miss it.

And finally, last night, I was trying to fall asleep because I made the mistake of napping yesterday morning (cold, dark, snowy weather does that to me). As I was lying there, wide awake, I posted a Facebook status update. “I need a girlfriend”. Now, when I posted that, I meant I need someone to hang out with locally… someone to go places with, drink wine with, gossip with, or whatever. But a guy I knew during my Peace Corps days posted an article from The Guardian entitled “Why it’s never too late to be a lesbian.” I was kind of amused by that, so I posted a gif from the 1989 film, Coming to America

A man’s got to put in overtime to get me off… Shit, it may be time to watch this again.

Ah well, these are minor problems in the grand scheme of things. I found out yesterday that yet another Epinions friend passed away. His name was Jeff, and I really didn’t know him apart from our writing pursuits. He was very well liked, as I’m now discovering by the many tributes left on his timeline. Jeff liked karaoke and doing stand up comedy. He was always nice, and very friendly, although I never got to know him very well. He’s the third Epinions friend who has died this year. All three succumbed to cancer, and at much younger ages than they should have. In Jeff’s case, it was brain tumors. He successfully had surgery to remove one tumor and an MRI picked up another tumor deeper in his brain that could not be removed. Because he was very weak, it was not possible to try radiation or chemotherapy. So, just a couple of days after his surgery, he journeyed to the great beyond.

I’m heartened to see what a positive impact Jeff has had on his vast array of friends. So many people are posting their condolences. I only hope he knew how much he meant to them before he passed. I think too many people withhold that positive regard until it’s too late. The well wishes are nice to read now, but they probably would have been even nicer a month ago. As far as I can tell, Jeff was still somewhat okay at that point. I see that he was posting on Facebook and doing stand up, anyway. It sounds like his death was a complete shock and totally unexpected.

On his journey to the Pearly Gates, Jeff joins Philip McKeon, who was Tommy Hyatt on the sitcom, Alice, Carroll Spinney, who played Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, Marie Frederikksson of Roxette, and a hapless raccoon who got drunk on Gluhwein at one of Germany’s many Christmas markets and wound up being shot. Actually, I could rant about the raccoon, but I need to see to my runaway bed linens. Maybe later, I’ll get to it.

Sure wish my fat ass would mysteriously disappear like that pillow did.

Edited to add: I just remembered where that pillow went. Bill took one with him on his business trip because German hotels usually have terrible pillows.

Standard