It seems appropriate, after more than a year’s hiatus, to begin again at the start of the year. I’ll say “Hello” to a new year “Good Friggin’ Riddance” to 2017, please let the door hit you on the ass on your way out! There’s no fancy Latin title to start this year – this time it’s French. Heh!
“Why French?”, you may ask. Because I have also put South Carolina in my rear-view mirror and moved to Vermont! As such, I am currently hip-deep (not quite) in this year’s wintry high jinks. I haven’t seen this much snow since I was in Japan more than 35-years ago. It’s been good, though, and I have no complaints – much.
I’ll get to the shortcomings and nonsense I see in the world eventually, it’s cathartic, you see, but for this installment of the Digression, I’ll touch on a few things here and there and, perhaps, address certain topics more completely at a later time. I suppose I’ll just lay into the belly of the beast and scatter the snowflakes of both left and right. Here it goes:
After an election between two of the worst candidates imaginable, America elected a narcissistic idiot. All I can say is that we, both left and right, live in an age of government control; no, not the kind of government control you’re thinking about, but the kind of control that encourages people to think “we can elect any dumbass we want and it’ll be all right”. No matter how imbecilic Trump is or how flawed his policies are, someone in government will clean up his mess and kiss our boo-boos and make it all better. It just isn’t going to happen that way and you better get used to it. Actions have consequences and America fell for a snake oil salesman. Trump promised jobs he can’t get back. He’s promoted the worst people to his cabinet positions, likely by design. And he lies: about showing his tax returns (whether you think he should or not, he made that promise), about the shady characters in his staff, about voter fraud, about Obama’s citizenship, about state’s rights, and about the size of his inaugural crowd (as if that brag really meant anything at all); he lies about reality.
I’m not going to pore over every stupid thing that Trump has said and done, but America, you elected this nincompoop, so you deserve the misery. You elected the supply-siders’ wet-dream candidate and every bad idea the Republican Party has ever had is now in danger of being passed because they have the numbers to ram it down everyone’s throat and a willing signatory in the White House. You’re not going to get jobs when there is no market (the only economic law that means anything is “supply-and-demand”) or when profits are at stake. You’re not going to get more affordable healthcare. You’re not going to be safer by building some ridiculous wall or treating immigration as would the House UnAmerican Activities Committee. There is a lot of frustration in America – and hate; Trump tapped into that and played his supporters like a fiddle. If you think there’s a Nero allusion there, it may be apt.
Does anything about this strike anyone as strange that these guys, who are wealthy, who run multinational corporations whose concerns are only with the bottom line and their shareholders, who pay their executives obscene salaries, are saying that the tax system, under which they, themselves, became wealthy, is broken and needs to be fixed? I think “fixed” is the operative word here. Do statements like these that the Republicans continually trot out not smack of a con? I know you Trump supporters don’t like being called stupid but, as Bill Maher put so well, “you gotta meet me halfway and stop being so stupid.”
The only silver lining I can see to this comes from Dave Chappelle’s latest Netflix special where he recounts the obscenity that was the Emmitt Till murder trial. Out of that injustice came civil rights legislation that was supported by people who demanded that this nation do better by all its citizens. Trump supporters probably think demanding this nation do better is exactly what they did, but they’d be wrong. What they did was give the affluent a tax break they don’t need or deserve, and this nation a leadership that does not respect science, facts, the Constitution, or the very electorate who voted for them. This nation has to do better than allow the self-interested greed of the wealthy and short-sightedness of those who oppose anything they deem smacks of liberalism or feminism to turn this country into just another failed empire that collapsed upon itself through its own inequity.
I am an unapologetic grammar nazi, as most of you who have dared traipse through my screeds can attest. It strikes me as astounding that people cannot grasp writing skills in a medium of communication that depends on clear, coherent, and readable thoughts and opinions. If anything, this state of laziness in writing has been so omnipresent in internet forums that it is being passed over, to the delight, I’m sure, of the “you know what I mean” crowd. Lazy is lazy and “you know what I mean” doesn’t change that one bit. “Comments aren’t a term paper,” you say? Maybe not, but if you think your opinion is correct, why not be just as correct with the way to communicate it? I’m not obliged to decipher your sloppiness and nothing you scrawl in a comment forum is going to be a revelation anyway. At the very least, make an attempt to want to not appear like you slept through school! If you can’t differentiate between you’re and your, or to, two, and two, or there and their, etc., I will skip over whatever you’ve written because I’m just not going to waste my time when you clearly didn’t give a shit. By the way, “etc” is the proper abbreviation – contrary to the way I’ve seen it written too many times – because it stands for “et cetera” not “ectcetera”! For those who don’t believe me, look it up in a dictionary (I’m certain that experience will be a new one for many of you!).
But even more irritating is that the constant bombardment of buzzwords and stupid phrases through the media, social and otherwise, is affecting how people speak and write and how obvious it becomes that they aren’t even thinking about what they’re saying. Listen to any show on television with someone who’s trying to be up-beat or “positive” and you will invariably hear them use the word “super” as a hyperbolic modifier: “super-excited”, “super-trendy”, “super-jazzed” (I nearly threw up in my mouth with that last one), and on and on. Is it not enough to simply be “excited”? Why does it have to be SUPER-excited? Are the people in charge of these shows marketing to pre-adolescent girls who draw circles over their lower-case i’s instead of dots? Or maybe they think the collective intellect of the viewing audience is merely that of little girls? You can tell the people speaking haven’t put one second of thought into what flows out of their mouths; they have to maintain a “positive” image because so many of these shows or the topics they cover are just so much fluff. Thanks, 24-7 programming! I definitely have more gripes on this subject matter for future articles.
This last part is about how the “troll mentality” that pervades every aspect of our lives now is ruining every aspect of our lives. The overarching lesson to be learned about the internet is that when people don’t want to admit they are mistaken, misinformed, or just backed the wrong side, in many instances, they will shut down any attempt to burst the little bubble in which their misconceptions live. I blame a lot of this on the “ratings and sensationalism is more important than truth” model, but a lot of it points back to simple laziness – again!
If you’re locking into Fox News or MSNBC or NPR or Rush Limbaugh or Alex Jones and not seeking to find information elsewhere to figure out if these guys aren’t just feeding you a line of bullshit, then you shouldn’t be surprised when you get dismissed. Just because someone has a “source” doesn’t mean that source is credible. The old standard in the newspaper business was to have three sources for a story. In this day and age of instant gratification and “breaking news”, that’s a hard standard to meet, but damn it, that’s the standard that needs to be met! Everybody in media today is so concerned about being “first” that speed to print or upload is primary and mistakes will be fixed later. That’s a great recipe for getting a reputation for being sloppy with the facts. The adage “speed kills” applies to reporting just as well as it does with idiot drivers. You go too fast and all you’ll do is drive right into a wall or over a cliff. A slower, more deliberate pace allows time for consideration and avoiding mistakes. Cooling off before responding? Proofreading? A dictionary? “Hot takes” are usually worthless, chatty opinions that serve as nothing more than programming filler. Reduce your fat intake; start with the garbage you feed your brain.
I realize a lot a what I scribble is ranting or complaining about something, but there are a lot of things in this world that are beautiful and worthwhile and I don’t want to see them go away. What I complain about largely are the things I see us doing to ourselves for no reason or selfish reasons. We have developed into a society that pays lip-service to a lot of ills and balks at the notion of getting our own hands dirty. Instead of the wrong-headed griping about Colin Kaepernick kneeling for the national anthem, we get off our asses and actually address the problem of the way police do their jobs (because stop-and-frisk is fine so long as it’s happening to someone else, right?). Instead of translating female “empowerment” into unrealistic action movies and TV shows (I’m looking at you, The 100), we acknowledge that there are places where we all are rightfully and sensibly equal and places where creating a false narrative to supplant reality is… chaos. Just because you want something a certain way doesn’t mean it can be – or should be – that way! As Joe Rogan once said about female MMA fighters to a guest, “They’ll fuck you up!”, which is fine if you aren’t trained to fight. But you pit a female fighter against a male fighter and reality will prevail. So things go in all areas in life. Some people, undoubtably, will say I’m being negative, but I say, if you want to call reality “negative”, why do you want to go through life with your mind so screwed up? “No limits” is just marketing fodder for those folks who have to have a buzzword to get off their asses. I don’t respect that kind of mentality, I pity it.
More than anything, as I traverse the melange of the superficial that is the internet, I will occasionally see the phrase, “get off my lawn” as a response to something that comes off as complaining about the younger generation. It seems to me that complaining about millennials is sport for all generations, not just the older folks. But, really, the “get off my lawn” response is just more trolling from people who either aren’t serious or don’t want their opinions challenged. Just because a person is old (or older) doesn’t mean they don’t have a good thought or opinion – so long as they can back it up! A lack of willingness to listen to an opposing view is what I’ve been talking about in this article. Don’t dismiss things out-of-hand unless you know the FACTS! Believing is not knowing. Faith is not knowing. Only seeking facts until other possibilities are eliminated is knowing. This is how logic works, how science works, and how our government should work. So what’s wrong with this picture?