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Please don’t read this


I can’t sleep.  I’m angry.  About politics.  And when I’m angry about politics and can’t sleep and decide to write about it, I really don’t want you to read it.  Because you will learn things about me that I don’t want you to know.  So please don’t read this.  I just need to rant for a bit and I’m going to say some blatantly rude things, probably swear a lot, and definitely disappoint some of you.

Are you gone?  Good.

Before I say anything, let me illuminate you to an aspect of my character that you may not know.  I am a pessimist and, in general, a misanthrope.  I really and truly hate people.  A person is great.  A person I can talk to, discuss things logically, agree to disagree, or even agree to agree.  A person I can tailor my subject to or adjust my language for.  A person is a human being I can connect with and recognize as a fellow person.

People are noise and madness and stupidity.  They are simple ideas shouted out until nothing else can be heard.  People are inane catchphrases used to infantilize complex social problems.  People are Us and Them, not Me and You.  People are faggots and bitches and niggers and crackers and wetbacks and wops and micks and pinkos and ragheads and retards and squaws and rednecks and kikes.  Did I forget anyone?

But we don’t use those words anymore.  It’s not politically correct.

Let’s dissect that phrase.  Correct means right, yes?  And Political comes from the Latin politicus, which means “civil, of the state, relating to civil polity” according to wiktionary.org.  It just means being polite to everyone.

NO IT MEANS YOU ARE MUZZLING ME AND INFRINGING ON MY FREEDOM OF SPEECH.

The connotation of political correctness has come to mean not saying anything that might offend people who might be important enough that their vote makes a difference to you.  It means that politicians don’t say anything without talking to a board of advisors first.  They don’t make any statements or take any stances on anything without first doing half a dozen polls and town hall meetings and waiting until essentially everyone else on the planet has already said it first.

This muzzling of politicians is not political correctness.  This is actually a phenomenon called sucking up to the people who might get you your six figure paycheck for the rest of your life.  Politicians can’t say anything because whatever they say, however obscure or offhand or even in jest, will be scrutinized ten ways to Sunday by the media, social and otherwise.  There will be video sound bytes of that person contradicting themselves twenty years ago.  There will be mountains of proof that they are actually untrustworthy hypocrites.  The Obamas were criticized for having fried chicken on vacation because the First Lady had been the champion for healthier lifestyles for American children for the past eight years.  And having fried chicken on vacation made her FULL OF SHIT.  This level of scrutiny is NON-STOP.  All day, everyday, there are cameras and microphones in their faces.  There are people who spend their entire day following the social media accounts of people they despise in the hopes of finding ANYTHING to call them out on.  Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert made highly successful careers out of mocking the people who spend their entire days scrutinizing the tiniest actions of politicians by doing the exact same thing but as a joke.

It is kind of funny how people are so tired of “political correctness” when we are the ones who propagate it.  The politicians only do it because it works.

Surprisingly, though, people are sick of being lied to.  Which, in case you were wondering, is NOT polite and therefore not correct.  This attitude is so obvious among the common man that even politicians picked up on it, which is frankly a miracle.

The answer is (apparently) OUTSIDERS who aren’t politically correct.  (A political outsider is someone who hasn’t been corrupted by the system and yet still knows how government works.  An outsider in this reference is merely someone without any experience in the job field they are seeking to find employment.)  And strangely, the so-called “outsiders” aren’t outside anything except their depth.  They are still independently wealthy elites who have no actual concept of what life for a normal person entails.  On the plus side, being independently wealthy means that they aren’t beholden to shareholders, so to speak.  They don’t have to make deals with corporations and lobbyists to raise the monumental funds required to apply for a job that should be the one career option available to anyone in this country, according to our kindergarten teachers.  Funny thing is, that amount of wealth is also referred to as “fuck you” money, because it means you are beholden to no one.  Yes, even the voters.  What I’m trying to say is TRUMP DOESN’T GIVE A FLYING FUCK ABOUT YOU.  None of them do.  You are a means to an end and not even that.  At the end of the day, your vote doesn’t count for shit.  If you’re lucky, the people who make the vote for you in the Electoral College will pick the same person you did.  Or we’ll have another miraculous incident where the popular vote doesn’t match the vote that counts and oh well, isn’t that weird?

Every fucking election cycle it’s like this.  People get really fucking hyped about their candidate.  They post memes on social media that glorify their guy or demonize the other guy.  They cover their cars with bumper stickers to show their support.  They argue about how their guy is going to save this country and the other guy is the Antichrist.  And they wear their “I voted” stickers with pride as if it makes a difference.  It’s depressing.  The worst part is, this is the biggest scam in the entire political system.  They convince us that our voice matters.

I’d like to point out that the “most powerful man in the world job” that all these suits are trying for is not all it’s cracked up to be.  Congratulations, you’re the president of the richest nation in the world.  You made a lot of promises to get here and you’re going to spend the next two years arguing fruitlessly with the House and the Senate for all those changes you wanted to happen before giving that up because it is already time for you to start campaigning for reelection.  Oh, you’ve been reelected!  Congratulations!  You still can’t do shit because a few hundred people who have been running this government for most of your life don’t like you.  That’s the real joke.  It doesn’t matter who sits in that chair.  Our forefathers didn’t want dictators so they balanced one person against 535 people on one side and 9 judges on the other.  Sanders wants to give us free college and healthcare.  Yeah, not gonna happen.  Trump wants to bomb the Middle East to embers.  Good luck.  I don’t know what the other candidates want or say they want.  But I’ll say it again, just for clarity.  IT DOESN’T MATTER.  Hillary probably just wants us to like her.  And we won’t because she stayed with her philandering husband and she reminds us of our nagging wives and there’s something wrong with her emails.  And Ted Cruz is Canadian.  CANADIAN.

Sorry, I got off topic.  We were talking about political correctness.  The highest praise for Trump appears to be that he isn’t politically correct, which is absolutely true.  It is also why this aspect of his personality is the most highly maligned by his critics.  You see, when you make bigoted remarks, which are any phrases that insult an entire section of the human race based solely on one factor, such as your race, gender, cultural background, or nation of origin, you are not being politically correct.  You are being a bigot.  And what is scary as that the praise for such statements, for his honesty, is based on the phrase “he’s saying what I’ve been thinking but have been too oppressed to say.”  His supporters aren’t blind to his bigotry.  They share it on some level or another.  And I don’t mean to say that they are all evil or anything.  They see a complex problem and give it a simple solution.  Illegal immigration?  Build a wall.  Terrorist attacks.  Ban Muslims.  It’s all so simple, but no one wants to say it for fear of offending people.

Remember that phenomenon where politicians say what the voters want to hear in order to get elected?  And how that has come to mean being politically correct?  Trump is actually more politically correct than every other politician in the race, by that definition.  He’s saying exactly what the people want to hear.  Just watch him pander to the Evangelists by misreading the Bible.  It’s embarrassing, but he need their votes.  And yes, half the nation is appalled by what he says.  But those aren’t the people at his rallies.  And when you’re in a crowd of 10,000 people then you are no longer a person.  You are People.  The answers are simple.  The enemy is clear.  The heroes wear capes.  And you don’t have to see the PERSON anymore.  And it can’t be wrong if all these people are with you.

Oh, but at least he’s honest, right?  He doesn’t hide who he really is.

And that’s it, is it?  That’s all we need from a man that’s going to represent our country to the world?  And if who he really was turned out to be a transvestite, would you still praise him?  He’s not, but what exactly are you praising here?  That he doesn’t feel any shame over racist or sexist remarks?  No shame.  No remorse.  Nothing.  That’s just who he is.  Oh, so he’s that embarrassing uncle who’s always telling the lynching jokes and thinks women are asking for it.  Or that buddy who thinks that since you deployed to Iraq, that you might like his latest towelhead conspiracy.

And doesn’t honest mean more than just blurting out the first thing that pops into your head?  Doesn’t it include admitting your mistakes?

Do you understand that there’s a difference between refraining from saying things because their unpopular and refraining from saying things because their FUCKING OFFENSIVE?  Why is it offensive?  Usually because it is a gross generalization that isn’t true.

Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslim.  For instance.

My rebuttal: EVERY MASS SHOOTING IN THIS COUNTRY FOR THE LAST TWENTY YEARS, with maybe two or three exceptions.  The IRA.  Neo-Nazis.  And, if you ask any devout Muslim, anyone who uses the Quran to justify terrorism.  (I do not want to hear about the violence inherent in the Quran unless you want to hear about the entirety of Leviticus.)

Mexicans are rapists and thieves.  White people are entitled and racist.  Women are too emotional to be in positions of authority.  Gays are going to hell.  Hipsters are just yuppies with beards.  Southerners are all Bible-thumping lunatics.  People on welfare are lazy.  People with mental illnesses are weak.  Politicians lie.  Bikers are thugs.  Foreigners hate us because they’re jealous.

Not all men are rapists, but all rapists are men.  FALSE.

Not all bigots are Trump supporters, but all Trump supporters are bigots.  FALSE.

Not all dogs are pets, but all pets are dogs.  FALSE.

See?  I can do false equivalencies, too.

I’ve also heard it said that Trump has strong leadership characteristics.  He could be a benevolent dictator.

From what I’ve seen, leadership is not a skill required of any candidates.  And what people call leadership, the brash, forceful attitude that says, “I’m in charge, do what I say,” is exactly the kind of behavior that abusive relationships are built upon.

Why do women date assholes?  Well, they confuse the blustering behavior with self-confidence.  And the problem with blustering is that it is covering a fragile ego that needs to abuse others to maintain its superiority.

We have a man who debases instead of debates.  He insults rather than answering criticism.  He calls people names and refuses to play by the rules and complains that it’s not fair because they cheated.  He blames others for his failings.  Someone else wrote that tweet.  They stole the vote from me.  The moderator was mean to me.  The critics are all stupid.  They’re all liars and just jealous.  This is not leadership.  This is the guy you date because he tells you no one else will have you.  And when your friends say to leave him, he says they’re all whores and cows and fat pigs.  And when he beats you, he says it’s your fault because you made him angry.

Army Analogy:  I was taught many acronyms, but this one is true.  LDRSHIP.

  • Loyalty
  • Duty
  • Respect
  • Selfless Service
  • Honor
  • Integrity
  • Personal Courage
When you talk about leadership qualities, that is what you should mean.  Leadership isn’t yelling the loudest.  It isn’t belittling those beneath you.  It isn’t making promises you know you can’t keep.  It isn’t sitting there in your thousand dollar suit and telling me I was lucky I wasn’t raped in the military because that’s simply what happens when men and women work together.  It isn’t being my friend until I turn my back.  It isn’t talking about strong Christian values right before you tell the poor and hungry to look somewhere else for handouts.
There is no fixing this mess, the broken system, the corrupt politics, the infighting and bickering and complete inability to work.  No amount of money or bombs or glossy photographs will fix this.  Your reality TV circus, with the debates and the mudslinging and all the bullshit, won’t mean anything this time next year.
What do I want?  I want corporations to be corporations, not people.  I want the billions wasted in campaigning every year to go toward bettering our school systems and health systems.  I want people with mental illnesses to be treated, not marginalized.  I want a system that works instead of a mill for bureaucracy and greed.  I want power without corruption.  I want political correctness to mean being respectful instead of being muzzled.  I want people to be treated like PERSONS.
It bothers me a great deal that there are people out there who can look a person in the eye and decide they aren’t a person.  That they are a monster or an animal or an object.
I want the anger and the helplessness to go away.  I want to be rich like they are so I can stop worrying everyday.  That’s what they don’t have.  Nagging anxiety and self doubt.  At the end of the day, a pricey car repair or an ER visit won’t deplete their savings.  A surprise pregnancy won’t derail plans for higher education or a nicer house or a better job.  Despite all the money that goes into campaigning, none of them are going bankrupt because it’s not like they’re spending their own money.  If they fail to get the nomination, they’ll still be rich.  In fact, for some of them, all the attention they get now will only make them richer.  How exactly do they understand about making a living out of $7.50/hr when they can waste billions to not get a job?
All this is why I don’t vote.  So, by someone’s logic, I shouldn’t complain since I don’t do anything to change the system.  By participating in the system.  Which is rigged so that nothing I do can change the system unless it is a change the system already wants to make.
The problem with this subject for me is that there is no catharsis in discussing it.  Sometimes, writing it out makes me feel better.  But politics, the whole messy subject, just makes me feel defeated and angry.  It’s an awful cycle.  And I can’t seem to claw my way out of it.  It’s 4:30, I’ve written 2600 words, and I’m still not sleepy.

 

 

6 Comments

15AM00000052011 · 05:06

Minimum Wage


I’m certain many of you have noticed the debate concerning minimum wage.  I don’t know the figures, so someone please correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems the minimum wage has not kept up with inflation and cost of living increases over the last forty years.  This means that someone working full-time earning the minimum wage cannot afford to live in this country.  This upsets people because the idea of “minimum” should be equal to the least amount a person can earn and still support themselves, yet many are living below the poverty line in the riches nation on Earth.

Now, let’s take into account that since the 70s, almost all households have become supported by dual earners.  Everyone of working age in the home is expected to make money to support themselves.  So two minimum-wage workers in a house now should certainly be making as much as the a single earner in the 70s, right?  By that logic, raising the wage to $15/hr is ridiculous.  With dual earners, the house is already making that wage or close enough.  In reality, you’s be raising the wage to $30/hr!

Of course, not every home is headed by a pair of adults legally bound to each other for life.  Obviously.  So what do you tell the single parents out there?  Get married?  Well, no.  We tell them to get a better job.  Which is dumb.  First, find me one person in this country who wants to work min wage jobs.  It’s a job.  It pays the bills until my album goes platinum.  Every min wage job out there sucks.  It retail/service/dirty crap that we like to pretend is only good enough for teenagers and lazy people.  The amount of disdain we heap on the working classes is disgusting considering how much we rely on them.  Deciding that people don’t deserve to be paid a living wage just because their job is beneath us?  Is that what this country was founded on?

Someone is going to say that those people are just not budgeting properly.  They’re to lazy or stupid to get a real job, so they’re sitting back, getting fat on gov subsidies, and complaining because they can’t use their food stamps to pay for their new iphone.  Yes, and ENTIRE class of workers is cheating the system.  Does anyone have the numbers for how many people that would be?  While we’re talking about the lazy people doing an easy job and expecting to be able to live on their paychecks, how can anyone call fast food an easy job?  Is it only people who have never worked in the service industry who can say this?  In my experience, there’s no such thing as an easy min wage job.  They can be fun, rewarding, engaging, sure, why not?  But easy?  Standing over a hot grill for 8 hrs on a greasy floor.  Carrying fifty lb bags of frozen fries around.  Dealing with customers.

You know what I mean when I say “dealing,” right?  There are plenty of polite, generous, cheerful, or at least indifferent people who frequent establishments as customers.  But there are also rude, entitled a**holes, snappy, ungrateful b*tches, and people who are simply in a bad mood and don’t have the inclination or the ability not to take it out on everyone around them.  And it’s not like you can, I don’t know, smack the sense into them.  Beating customers is frowned upon.  So you deal with them.  You placate them by apologizing for things not in your control, you sympathize with their BS complaints, and you act upset when they explain how you’ve lost their business because you were incredibly busy on a holiday weekend.  Aw, we were making so much money from everyone else that we couldn’t dote on you!  Gosh, we’re sorry.

But here, let’s do a real world analogy.  I grew up in a double-earning household.  My dad was a college professor, which is the type of job one should be able to support a family on, but that’s another show.  In order to feed and clothe all five of her children, my mom worked at Hardees.  She got to be the asst manager, so not exactly min wage at that point, but there’s more.  At the same time, my mom also worked at a diner/restaurant down the street AND ran her own business teaching ballet and music lessons.  And we weren’t swimming in money, either.  Then dad got a job in the big city as a senior computer programmer for a big company (another job one might expect to be enough to support a family but somehow isn’t).  We moved.  Mom got another Hardees job, but eventually moved to the more genteel environment of Wendy’s before finding her true calling as a financial planner.  Moral of the story, I didn’t see my mom much in my youth because she worked long, unpredictable hours.  She missed concerts, competitions, and all manner of juvenile milestones so she could work an easy job.  So she could risk walking on grease-slicked floors on her artificial hip in shoes that hurt her feet because the heat and grease had curled up the toes like elf shoes.  So she could come home smelling like french fries.  So she could take crap from dumb teenage kids who had been raised to look down on service jobs but had to do them anyway to earn their way, pay their dues or whatever.  So she could have grown adults treat her like a failure.  Yeah.  Easy.  Exactly the type of crap a lazy person would go through to get a piddly paycheck.

“If you don’t like being unable to feed yourself, why don’t you get a real job?”  Oh?  How?  Ah, yes.  Go to college, get a degree, and spend the rest of your life digging your way out of crippling debt.  Provided you can get a job with a mere Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree in a job market bloated with fancy degrees.  That is also another show.

What really set me off today was an oft-repeated meme that compares the possible income of a $15/hr Johnny Fry-Boy with the pay rates of military personnel.

Why indeed should someone flipping burgers make more that someone sent to die in a war by old bureaucrats making six figures?  Well, first off, the math is wrong.  Yes, E-1s make sh*t.  However, s/he isn’t paying for sh*t either.  Single soldiers are put in barracks, for which they pay no rent or utilities.  They get meal deductions taken directly from their paycheck so they can have three-square meals at the DFac.  When they’re sick, they get free healthcare at the clinic.  They also get to have sick days and paid vacation.  Not to mention the lump sum they get every few years to buy new uniforms.  And if they’re married, they get extra pay for their dependents and they get a house on post, paid for by the Basic Allowance for Housing added to the regular paycheck, or they can find a place off post and the BAH boosts their pay enough that they shouldn’t have to pay for anything out-of-pocket (key word: shouldn’t).  No, they’re not living high on the hog.  But that’s why a private can make so little and stay off welfare.

What’s infuriating about posts like this is that it’s basically poor people squabbling against poor people.  Having lived on E-5 pay alone and as a dependent of E-7 pay, I can say categorically that our military is not paid enough to make up for the type of crap we put up with and the risks we take.  But using me and my friends as a foil against other poor people with sh*t jobs is frankly insulting.  I didn’t put my ass on the line so everyday Americans could starve because their job isn’t glamorous enough, while sleazy, bloated, patronizing, smug, over-grown children natter on about how entitled the poor are getting and then voting for their own pay raise.  Again.  Stop asking why we should suddenly double the min wage for “unskilled labor” and start asking why our gov has seen fit to continue raising the pay of people who only work 120-some days a year while ignoring the sky-rocketing cost of education, the crumbling infrastructure, and the staggering wage gap, not to mention archaic race relations, gender bias, global warming, and the increasingly pathetic and embarrassing reality TV show that is our political system and the lamestream media.  Maybe start comparing the paychecks and benefits of government officials to those of the soldiers/sailors/marines/airment they send to get blown up every day and stop picking on the people struggling to make it by while working two or three jobs.

In conclusion, minimum wage should be a living wage.  Not living with four other people, eating ramen and poptarts because how else will you afford the car you need to get to the job you have since [no one is hiring/you can’t afford school/your other entry-level job isn’t sufficient to pay off your student loans and the rent] because the public transit system is so inadequate as to be almost entirely useless.  Please, please, stop looking down your noses at people because the work they do is beneath you.  Those jobs are not “designed for a kid in high school.”  They’re jobs, plain and simple.  If you want to compare fry-boys with privates, why don’t you point out their similarities.  Both require a bare minimum in education, skill, and experience.  Both get paid the bare minimum as dictated by the gov regulations.  Both have to put up with a certain level of BS on a daily basis.  Both are demoralizing and demeaning in their own ways.  And while you chirrup about how our military risks their lives everyday, you forget that we signed a contract and took an oath to do that, which means it is a choice freely taken and with our full knowledge and consent.  Plus, we are financially compensated for hardships (as a single E-5, my paycheck effectively doubled when I deployed).  If anything, the above argument advocates for a higher min wage, or at least an increase in entitlements for min wage workers.  Here’s the deal McBurgertown, we’ll continue to work for $7.25/hr so long as you pay our rent, utilities, meals, healthcare, and buy us new clothes every three years.

Or we could continue to blame the poor for being poor in a system set up to keep them poor and admire the rich for being selfish, greedy gits.

Rage is spent for now.

3 Comments

15AM00000032011 · 03:48

Battle Hymn of the Republic


So this week, we are all offended by the Confederate Flag.  Either we are offended because it is still flying or because someone wants to take it down.

I’m going to be honest.  I’m glad to see it come down from government buildings, for reasons I will explain later.  First, the sides.

On the one side are people who claim it is racist and on the other are those who claim it is history.  Both are correct.

The flag we recognize as the Confederate flag was never an official flag of the CSA.  It was a battle flag for the Army of N. Virginia under Gen Lee.  There were many like it, but it isn’t the national flag of the South.

The resurgence of the flag in the 1950s was due in large part to the growing race tensions and the Civil Rights movement.  Some people felt that desegregation was a bad idea and they used the flag as a symbol to rally around.

Racist hate groups use the flag as their symbol.  Pretty sure we all know that.

Lots of not racist people own Confederate flags or paraphernalia.  You see, while the resurrection of the flag may have come from racism, or at least a desire to maintain the status quo, symbols have the ability to change meaning.  It’s what they do.  So 60 years ago, a symbol represented a proud southern culture that still considered blacks as lesser human beings.  Now, after three generations (at least) have been brought up to understand that the war was about more than any one issue, the symbol has evolved for many so be a memorial for thousands of dead soldiers and a devastating conflict between the state and federal governments, as well as a clear expression of the rich and often separate culture of the South.

Symbols have no set meaning.  Both sides are right.

But I still want the flags down from government buildings.

A lot of people are using the Nazi flag as a comparable symbol here, but I find they aren’t a good fit.  The National Socialist Party of Germany was the elected government.  They decided to conquer the ENTIRE WORLD and wipe out all inferior races and people.  If you want to talk about the subjectivity of symbols, look up what the swastika means to Buddhists and Hindus.  The Nazi flag and Nazi paraphernalia is illegal in Germany, because Nazi=genocide and I’m sure that is embarrassing.  Some people see that and say we should do the same, but even 70 years later, I still hesitate to take my civil liberty cues from Germany.

What’s my beef with Dixie, then?  THEY LOST.  OH MY GOODNESS, WHY ARE GOVERNMENT BUILDINGS FLYING THE FLAG OF A RIVAL GOVERNMENT THAT WE BEAT?!?

I mean, we are Americans, right?  (U.S.A!  U.S.A)  We are WINNERS.  We are OBSESSED with winning.  Think I’m exaggerating?  How many people do you know who were hard-core women’s soccer fans before last week’s World Cup match against Japan?  How many did you know who followed any women’s sports?  How many even considered soccer a sport?

We are so obsessed with winning that it took decades for us to forgive the Vietnam vets for losing (as I loosely interpret the utter neglect of those veterans), or to even acknowledge that Vietnam was a “war” and that it was “lost.”

We are so obsessed with winning that there are big suits in DC wanting to send my friends back into Iraq to win someone else’s war.  [Yes, ISIS is bad bad juju, but people have to fight for themselves and if they won’t, sending more of my friends there isn’t going to change that.  We have become the freaking Helicopter Parents of the Middle East.]   Apparently if we don’t send more troops in, “we” are going to lose this war.  He may have been using the Royal We, but it sounded a lot like the American We.

Too political for you, yeah me too.  How about more sports analogies?  Do you know someone who is a fan of a crappy sports team?  The Cubs or the Raiders or whatever?  Do you congratulate them on their steadfast loyalty?  Or do you tease them relentlessly for being willing associates with LOSERS?  I’ve seen a lot of memes featuring sports flags that have been deemed “offensive” and should be taken down.  To my reasoning, the Confederate flag has much more to do with the Cowboys flag than it has with the Nazi flag.

I see no reason to censor the Confederate flag, which is exactly what making it illegal does.  We cannot change our history by deleting the unsavory bits and we can’t fix our future be focusing on the symbols rather than the problems.  Let’s never forget the horrible people we came from (North and South alike).  Otherwise, we’re going to start changing stuff to make it more correct to modern thinking.  Ban books with the n-word despite it being in common usage for a huge hunk of our history.  Redefine slavery as “unpaid apprenticeships.”  Reduce the CSA to a bunch of evil racists instead of thousands of people fighting for their rights and their way of life.  Ignore the complete neglect of the former slaves by the sainted US government during Reconstruction.

MUST…HOLD…BACK…THE…RANT.  MUST NOT ALIENATE READERS.

You try reading the Slave Narratives and not get pissed.

So by all means, show your Southern pride.  Knit it into doggie sweaters and fly it over your gun rack.  Drape it like a cape over your KKK dress for all I care.  It’s only offensive if I let it offend me.  And I realize that it does offend a lot of people because it is draped about the shoulders of KKK members and it is the rally mark for hate and senseless violence.  But outlawing the flag doesn’t fix any of that.  Just makes those people martyrs.

By all means, though stop displaying rival government flags at our government buildings.  The only flags that should be flown there are those which show that government’s loyalties.  Unless we want to start putting up the Union Jack in DC.  Or the French flag in Louisiana.  Or the Mexican flag at the Alamo.

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15AM00000082011 · 08:24

PSA


Stop asking me how I’m doing/feeling.  As sincere as you might be in your concern, you don’t really want to know because it’s complicated and depressing and there’s nothing you can do except maybe stop drawing attention to my less-than-ideal situation.  In general, I am fine.  Obviously, I could be better.

Other ways to help:

Answer my texts.

Show up when I invite you over.

If you can’t make it, let me know.

Eat my food.

Also, if you are in need of a movie buddy, I am accepting applications.

 

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15AM00000062011 · 06:42

Zombies


It has recently come to my attention that zombies are the dumbest of the undead creatures and that people who indulge in zombie apocalypse hypotheticals are less than what Darwin might consider prime breeding material.

This was the essence of an angry rant that was posted in the comment feed after I posted the results of a quiz that ensured me that it could tell just from looking at my Facebook page how far I would travel, how long I would last, and what would get me killed in the event of a zombie apocalypse (Yorktown to Golden Gate, CA, 12 days, faulty shoelace).  Now, I take a lot of those dumb quizzes, primarily to ascertain how wrong they can be about me, but I usually don’t post results.  Why?  Because the results are often embarrassingly wrong.  Like, how could my “book husband” be anyone besides Mr. Darcy?  The quizzes are dumb, frequently easily manipulated to get the answers I want or far too simplistic to be trustworthy.  How exactly can they know what my dream life is based on 10 questions?  Especially when 5 of the questions are about my favorite color, my “spirit animal,” or my favorite way to spend a rainy day.  I mean, dumb.  But they take up my time, of which I have a lot, and they keep me entertained to a degree.  They also act as a platform for discussions on interesting subjects.  Which is why I posted the zombie quiz results.  I have pretty set ideas of my apocalypse strategy and it in no way involves a crosscountry trek or faulty shoelaces.  It was fun seeing people’s responses, especially from those who also took the quiz for equally bizarre results.  It was an intellectual exercise, which was ruined a bit when someone decided we were being serious.  There was some trolling and I had to dress down the troll, which took some time and effort, but which was certainly better than name-calling.  But it got me thinking, mostly because the troll’s argument was pretty weak, but his overall point was relatively valid if poorly defended.  And since I’ve done posts on vampires and werewolves, it seemed only right for me to complete the horror trinity.

First things first, we need to define our zombies.  Like all monsters, they have evolved over time.  I haven’t done much deep research into  the origins, so please correct me if I’m wrong, but from what I know of general knowledge, zombies started out in voodoo (probably far earlier, though) and they were primarily individuals risen by a powerful magic practitioner to be slaves.  I have read some versions where they are used as assassins, essentially given the name of a person whom they will tirelessly hunt down.  Once they have your name, there is no escape.  You could call it an allegory for the inevitability of death.

This is a far cry from modern zombie interpretations, except for the undead bit.  Modern zombies are more frequently the results of a disease and, of the undead trinity, have the least to do with supernatural forces.  This might explain their general appeal for hypotheticals.  Vampires and werewolves are steeped in mystical lore, but zombies are more and more scientifically explainable.  There is even some scientific basis for the original zombies (something to do with a neurotoxin n a plant or animal that can induce a zombie-like trance in living people).  Furthermore, while vampires and werewolves are popular, they aren’t good vehicles for apocalypse theorizing because they rarely come in the form of a pandemic, which is a genuine concern.  Just look at the panics we had about Ebola, bird flu, and AIDS.  The Zombie Apocalypse is the Black Plague of the modern age.  Here you have a disease which has no known cure, is extremely virulent, and the corpses are just as dangerous as the live carriers.  Plagues have a long history of being how population levels are reduced when they get too high, so as the planet gets more and more crowded, the basic anxiety about such acts of God become more  and more realistic.  Furthermore, in cases where the virus is man-made, zombies represent the dangers of scientific hubris.  Someone is trying to play God to a disastrous result.  So zombies are a very thorough representation of the conflict between science and religion, while vampires and werewolves are more indicative of the conflict between emotion/instinct and civilization.  Zombies are our modern Prometheus tale.  Which says a lot  about our society.  In every zombie story, there is a moment where the protagonist sees someone they care about turn from a rational, thinking person into a mindless monster.  This is something we can all relate to, right?  Any time a friend or family member succumbs to addiction or mental illness, we stand by and watch, feeling helpless.  When the victim is someone you know, you can instantly empathize.  If it isn’t a stranger, then it could be you.  Just think back again to the Ebola outbreak, which no one gave two figs about until some of the victims came here for treatment.  Suddenly, it wasn’t a disease in some faraway place.  It was on our soil and that much closer to being in our homes.  Panic.

Psychologically, zombies are an interesting subject.  The people who tend to get pulled into zombie stories are not your typical heroes.  There isn’t a Van Helsing leading the charge against an evil foe.  It’s usually just people running for their lives, trying to survive.  So the story isn’t about the monsters at all; it’s about how ordinary people handle crises.  The whole reason I watch The Walking Dead is because it isn’t really about zombies.  Yeah, they’re there, and it gets gory and violent.  Still, the journey and struggle of the humans is why I keep watching.  And World War Z (the book, DEFINITELY NOT the movie) is fascinating because it goes so far beyond the initial crisis which is usually the whole scope of the movies.  This is the plot of a standard zombie story: Group of people at the beginning of the outbreak running for their lives and either getting overrun or getting rescued by the military or something.  It stays on a very individual level to make the peril seem more immediate.  But TWD and WWZ both look at the further implications of an outbreak on the civilized world.

So, yeah, zombies are popular for good reasons.  But like all monsters, there are serious flaws in their mythos.  The first and most immediate issue is that they are actively decaying monsters.  It adds to the gruesomeness, sure, but also to the improbability of them as a serious threat for long.  I mean, how could they be that dangerous against whole, healthy people with full use of their limbs and fully functioning brains?  Well, numbers help.  That’s a major factor in every zombie story.  The living have limited resources and have to do things like eat and sleep, while zombies tend to keep going without either for long periods of time.  It’s the classic race between the tortoise and the hare.  The hare loses, though he is the faster animal, merely because the tortoise just keeps going.  Zombies have no higher brain function so they are driven by base instinct.  Nothing else matters, not pain nor exhaustion nor severed limbs.  And they will continue to be driven until the brain is destroyed, regardless of origins.  Even though scientific zombies still need some form of body to function, as long as the brain is functioning, they are driven until the body is burned out completely.  Zombies are obsession, the meth addicts of the undead.  Which is why it doesn’t actually matter if they are “fast” or “slow” zombies.  It isn’t really the speed or numbers that make them effective.  It’s the inevitability.

Still, as decaying monsters, that draws the question of the outbreak itself.  In many older stories, the zombies all rise from their graves (this is most often a mystical rather than scientific outbreak).  Now, this is very gross and creepy, but seems to imply that zombies have super strength since they are able to not only escape from their coffins but up through six feet (at least) of packed dirt.  Now, there is some validity to this argument, which is probably why modern stories are skipping graveyards entirely, but it does speak to a degree of ignorance about coffins.  Yes, we build them out of steel as well as wood but trends are leaning more toward environmentally friendly coffins which decompose with the body, so they’re not impregnable.  Moreover, as stated above, zombies are driven by base instinct, not higher brain function.  This doesn’t give them super strength, per se.  It’s more like the strength a normal person can get under a surge of adrenaline.  And since they don’t feel pain, any injury incurred while escaping the coffin that would cripple a normal person is simply shrugged off.  And, since this kind of outbreak is more likely of mystical origins, the bodies are not being operated by muscles and sinew but by willpower.  Regardless of how far the body is decomposed, if some of it is left it will strive to reach the surface.  That’s not to say there wouldn’t be a bunch of bodies stuck below, just that the assumption that none of them would make it is based on the strength of coffins is a weak argument.  The freshly dead, at least, would surely make it because they are the most intact and the dirt least packed.  Also, there is the question of people not buried properly.  I imagine the desert around Vegas would be swarming with victims of the mafia.  And finally, escaping from the grave is, if not an easy feat, then at least a probable means of survival for people in movies (think Kill Bill Vol. 2).  Right, that’s in movies, but if we were talking about reality, the topic wouldn’t be zombies, would it?  To be fair, though, the super strength does not seem to be limited to escaping the grave.  Zombies are capable of ripping a living body apart with their bare hands.  Usually this is seen when an individual is mobbed by a horde of undead (so strength in numbers), but individual zombies are apparently just as capable of detaching limbs by just pulling and biting though just about anything wrapped in flesh.  Part of this can be attributed to that “adrenaline” strength, however mostly this is movie magic bringing the expected gore.  Humans are no longer equipped to be carnivores and it takes more than brute strength to accomplish a dismemberment.  Without sharper teeth and claws, it is unlikely that they could be so very effective at this particular feat.

When the source is viral or scientific instead of mystical, coffins aren’t really a problem at all.  Most people aren’t buried immediately after death.  It takes a couple of days, which is more than enough time for someone to “turn” by most sources.  According to WWZ the movie, it takes 10 seconds from being bit to turn, but only if you don’t cut off the bitten limb in less than that.  TWD clocks it at no more than 2 hours from death of the host.  This is about the standard for the zombie films I’ve seen.  It takes an indeterminate amount of time for the infection to kill the host, but turning is within hours and even minutes of death.  This helps to explain the swiftness of the outbreak to some degree, but isn’t fully satisfying to me.  See, even in cases of normal diseases, the outbreak needs just the right conditions to spread as fast as zombie outbreaks do (usually from a single case to global pandemic in a matter of days).  The virulence of zombie-ism is mostly an expression of fears, like globalization and the dangers there of, but isn’t all that realistic, especially if you consider how obvious the symptoms would be.  Yes, some people would be able to hide bites for a time, but it’s not a disease that spreads before symptoms are apparent.  The worst diseases are spread through the air before anyone even knows they’re sick, so the fact that the zombie host has to die to become an active vector is a bit of a drawback.  AIDS is a far more effective disease and, while it is still a big problem, it didn’t take over the world despite years of free reign on society.  I mean, it passes the same way as zombies (usually interpreted as an infection via bodily fluids like saliva and blood, with the bite being just the most likely means of transmittance), but the initial spread happened because people didn’t have symptoms until later stages (HIV-positive to full-blown AIDS).  This simply can’t happen with zombies.  Even in cases when the infection has symptoms like fever, hallucination, etc, the person is not contagious until they die.  Plus, the point of plague is more than just population control.  The Black Plague in the 1340’s wiped out an estimated 3rd of the population and is the major reason civilization moved from the Dark Ages into the Enlightenment/Renaissance.  Besides having a major effect on how man viewed the world and how society was shaped, it did what all plagues do in nature: it made a stronger herd made up of survivors.  It wasn’t deadly to everyone, after all.  Despite how quickly it spread and the lack of medical understanding of the cause, some people were naturally immune.  Those capable of surviving or remaining immune to infection passed on their genes to the next generation.  Standard survival of the fittest.  Logically, the zombie disease would have the same natural drive and some people would be immune.  This is never the case in the movies, though this could be because the disease is most often a man-made one rather than something brought on by nature.  Again, this is evidence that a zombie outbreak is based solely on fear rather than real science.  The only source that seems to find a loophole is TWD.  If you haven’t seen the show at all, I’m sorry to give away spoilers.  In the show it is soon revealed that everyone living or dead is infected.  So even if you die of natural causes, you turn.  This is a brilliant way to explain the global decimation of the population.  There is no way to stop the infection, no way to avoid or contain it because everyone is a carrier.  There wouldn’t be a Typhoid Mary.  Just one day, there would be 56 million zombies worldwide who died of natural causes.  This is a level of horror unheard of in any other story.  It does return a bit of the mystical back into the zombie mythos (how else could the entire planet by infected all of a sudden?), which to me is a bit refreshing after all the strained attempts at “scientific” explanations.  But without that aspect of the myth, there is little chance of a genuine global pandemic, whatever the fear monger media says.

One myth that can be completely dispelled is the success of amputation to stop the spread of infection.  The zombie disease is blood-born and your heart pumps blood too quickly.  The time it would take you after a bite to remove the limb is far too slow to stop anything.  Even if you manage it in under 10 seconds.

Conclusion:  Zombies are not real.  They, like other monsters, are allegory for common, widespread fears.  They are rife with improbabilities and scientific inaccuracies.  They are obviously fantasies.  And when normal people engage in discussions about fantasy topics, they aren’t being stupid.  It is really only worrisome when people start building zombie shelters in their yards and stocking up on MREs.  And being a fan of something is an indicator of taste, not intelligence.  Which is why I try not to hate on other fandoms, even of those I find abhorrent.  I may have good reasons to despise them, but the minute I start throwing shade, I leave my own fandoms open to attack.  Amazingly, there are people out there who do not love everything I do.  That doesn’t make them dumb or inferior.  Just makes them different.  So even if they start hating on something I love, even when it would be so easy to make insinuations about the childishness/stupidity/inferiority of their own fandoms, I resist the urge.  Even when I can attack them on a personal level, I don’t.  Part of the problem with our culture is that we don’t argue.  If someone disagrees with us, we get defensive and immediately take the stance that the other person is stupid.  Instead of having a discussion which can enrich both sides even if they never come to an agreement, we attack the person in a downward spiral to hurt feelings.  Nothing is learned, nothing is gained, we are all reduced to assholes.  I admit that I don’t always act the adult, but I am trying to become more open to other viewpoints.  I may not like your stance, but I will endeavor to see the validity of it.

 

And in case of a zombie apocalypse, I would steal an LMTV or MTV from the Transportation Museum on post and head for the Appalachians, since I’m on the east coast.  I know most people argue for heading to the nearest coast, but since the traffic to VA Beach is impossible on a normal day, I’d rather not get stuck in tunnel traffic with a horde on my ass.  The Appalachians are ideal because they have a lot of low-population areas, they are fertile, and they aren’t as treacherous as the Rockies.  They still can have harsh winter conditions, but looting a Dick’s Sporting Goods on the way out of town would be a means of attaining winter survival gear, all of which would fit easily in my LMTV.  My vehicle choice is built on a few factors.  First is familiarity.  I need a vehicle I know how to drive.  Second, both vehicles are high off the ground, ideal for off-roading, fording, and relatively safe from attack from the ground, making them good for temporary shelter until a more permanent defense can be managed.  They’re large enough to plow through a great deal of debris/road blocks/traffic jams and can hold a great deal of cargo and personnel.  Finally, they’re older vehicles and I’m assuming that the local military would be using the more modern troop carriers to fight the zombies.  Drawbacks include how slow they are compared to commercial vehicles and they are not fuel-efficient.  However, given enough of a head start, I should be able to stock up on enough diesel fuel to get us to safety.  And you better believe the cab is gonna be packed with MREs and empty bottles for stocking up on water.  What about guns?  Nope.  While guns are highly effective for sharpshooters, I am not a sharpshooter.  They also make a great deal of noise, which can draw more zombies, and they run out of ammo.  I prefer swords and axes, though I might rig up a lawn mower shield ala Dead Alive.  If I have my husband and cats, we might make it a year or more.  Without my husband, I wouldn’t leave my house.  Then again, depending on the situation, we might be smart to just stay on post.

Honestly, though, I’d probably die in the initial outbreak for no other reason than disbelief.

 

Sources/Favorite Zombie Stories:

The Walking Dead (AMC)

World War Z by Max Brooks (book only, eff the movie => it sucked)

The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore (A Tale of Christmas Terror)

Shawn of the Dead (Simon Pegg/Nick Frost)

Dead Alive (Peter Jackson) => you will never look at pudding the same way

Zombie Strippers => don’t ask.

Planet Terror (Robert Rodriguez)

MythBusters (Season 11, Ep. 11: Zombie Special)

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Mercy Thompson Series by Patricia Briggs

Romero Zombie Movies (haven’t seen them all, but I have general knowledge)

 

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15PM00000032011 · 15:03

Not Sleeping


This is me trying to sleep.

Okay, got my sleep mask.  Got my water.  Got my knee pillow.  It is all dark and cozy.  Just need to close my eyes and let nature work.

Brain:  HEY WHAT’S UP WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL DAY I HAVE SO MUCH TO TELL YOU!!!!!

Me: Oh, hey, Brain.  Yeah, it’s been a long day so it’s time to shut down.  Tell me all about it tomorrow.

Brain:  OKAY JUST THOUGHT YOU MIGHT LIKE TO RECAP ALL THE THINGS YOU SAW/READ/SAID/THOUGHT TODAY AND MAYBE RUN SOME STORY IDEAS BY YOU AND THEN DWELL ON ALL THE MISTAKES YOU’VE MADE IN A DOWNWARD SPIRAL OF…

Me:  No, seriously, Brain.  I need to sleep.  I have a lot to do tomorrow…

Brain:  SPEAKING OF WHICH HAVE YOU THOUGHT OF ALL THE THINGS YOU HAVE TO DO CUZ SERIOUSLY YOU SHOULD CONSIDER ALL OF THE DETAILS AND PLANS DOWN TO THE MINUTE EVEN THOUGH YOU KIND OF WANT TO PLAY IT BY EAR AND ALSO HERE ARE A BUNCH OF WAYS IT COULD GO HORRIBLY WRONG AND YOU KNOW IT WILL GO WRONG IF YOU DON’T OBSESS OVER EVERY LITTLE THING…

Me:  Could you just stop yelling for a minute?  I think I’m getting a migraine…

Brain:  OH RIGHT BECAUSE YOU DID ALL THAT SWEATY WALKING TODAY AND I DIDN’T ONCE TELL YOU TO DRINK WATER BUT I DID INVITE THE MIGRAINE GNOMES TO START DRILLING ON YOUR CRANIUM AFTER YOU HAD LAY DOWN SO YOU WOULD HAVE TO GET UP AND CRAWL OVER BUDDY TO GET YOUR MIGRAINE PILLS IT’S YOUR OWN FAULT FOR DOING ANY KIND OF OUTDOOR ACTIVITY HEY YOU REMEMBER ALL THOSE CEREMONIES YOU USED TO DO WHICH REMINDS ME OF ALL THE ARMY STUFF I LOVE REMEMBERING THE ARMY STUFF OH AND DON’T FORGET TO BE SAD BECAUSE YOU’RE HEADING HOME SOON AND YOU REALLY NEED TO START LOOKING FOR JOBS AND WHY HAVEN’T YOU HAD ANY BABIES YET AND…

Me:  What?!?  Could you just calm down–

Brain:  HERE’S SOME MORE STORY IDEAS SINCE YOU ARE SO FAR AWAY FROM ANY WRITING UTENSIL THIS IS REALLY GREAT STUFF SO I HOPE YOU REMEMBER IT OH AND DO YOU WANT TO DO A RECAP OF ALL YOUR FAVORITE SHOWS BECAUSE I CAN DWELL ON ALL KINDS OF USELESS STUFF FOR SIMPLY HOURS AND HEY WHAT IF YOU AREN’T A GOOD MOTHER OR CAN’T FIND A JOB OR THE PLANE BLOWS UP OR HIS PLANE BLOWS UP OR THE APOCALYPSE HAPPENS OR ZOMBIES…

Me:  HEY LOOK!  SUDOKU!!!

Brain:  ooo feeling drowsy think i can sleeeeee–  HEY WHY’D YOU TURN IT OFF THIS BED IS UNCOMFORTABLE HOW DOES HE ALWAYS SLEEP SO WELL I’M GONNA MISS HIM I MISS THE CATS BET THEY ARE ACTING LIKE BRATS OH YOU’RE GONNA HAVE TO MOW THE LAWN WHEN YOU GET HOME…

Me:  Sigh.

Brain:  OH WHAT WAS THAT ANNOYING SONG YOU HAD STUCK IN YOUR HEAD IT WENT AWAY A COUPLE DAYS AGO BUT I BET IF I JUST THINK FOR A MOMENT THERE IT IS TOO BAD YOU DON’T KNOW ALL THE WORDS CUZ THAT MEANS I JUST HAVE TO REPEAT THE REALLY LAME CHORUS GOOD LUCK DROWNING OUT BRATTY POP MUSIC!!!!!!!!!!

 

Later that evening:

Subconscious:  Hey, Brain!  Are you sleeping?  Ever wonder what would happen if Big Bang Theory and Walking Dead combined?  Let’s find out.  In the form of Pins.  MWAHAHAHA!

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15PM00000012011 · 13:41

I am a Picky Eater. Honest.


We all know picky eaters, right?  They won’t eat something for reasons incomprehensible to you.  No corn unless it is on the cob.  Potatoes only in mashed form.  Milk only in a certain glass.  Most of the time, we hear specifications like this from kids.  I knew a little girl who, for a time, would refuse any food that was a combination of ingredients.  This may seem completely impossible, but she was young and didn’t understand that almost all prepared food is a combination of ingredients.  All she knew was if there was an “and” in the description, she wasn’t having any.  “What’s in the rolls?”  “Butter and bread.”  “No, thank you.”

By the next Christmas, she had grown out of it, as most kids do when their parents get sick of catering to such habits.  One can only put up with so much.  Still, there are plenty of adults out there who could be classed as picky eaters and they are a bane for people like me.  I am a Feeder.  My self-esteem is linked to how people receive the food I offer them.  Rejecting my food is rejecting me.

I realize this is a little extreme and I am working on it.  Taste is unique to everybody and just because someone doesn’t like chocolate doesn’t mean we can’t be friends (though I’m sure we’ll never be close).  I do have to actively remind myself that turning down the cookies I’m offering is not a comment on the quality of the food or myself as a person.  This is especially true for what I call the “legitimate” reasons, i.e. dietary needs and allergies.

It is still a challenge, though, because there are all those “illegitimate” reasons.  The “I just don’t like it” or the “I don’t like the texture” or the “I’ve never had it before.”  As a food snob, I admit to some amount of scorn for people with mundane palettes, those who won’t try something just because it is new or different.  Simply put, I don’t like picky eaters.  I don’t like when people refuse the food of their host because they just don’t like it.  I hate when people quibble or complain because there’s nothing for them to eat.  “I would have eaten that, but they put pepper on it.”  “Oh, I only eat Velveeta cheese.”  “I’m sorry, I don’t like vegetables.”  “No, I don’t eat fish unless it is in stick form.”

Sadly, this makes me a hypocrite.  As it turns out, being a food snob makes me a picky eater by default.  I turn my nose up at food if it wasn’t made from scratch from fresh ingredients.  I snub processed foods like fish sticks or Hamburger Helper.  I despise anything that contains a “processed cheese product.”  And fast food is pure evil.  Cafeterias/buffets are out of the question.

While my parents were visiting, we had to pick up some fast food before doing some sight seeing.  I obstinately ordered some grilled chicken nuggets and planned on getting something more substantial later.  Except I couldn’t find anything.  At first, I felt like it would be rude to have a nice sit-down meal in front of others who weren’t eating, then because the eateries I saw didn’t suit me, and finally because I couldn’t find a food truck or similar small meal dispenser.  Mom pointed out the irony that I would eat from a food truck, but not fast food, to which I replied that food truck food isn’t fast food.  And then it hit me.  I am full of sh*t.

I was looking for food trucks because they are trendy now.  There are innovators out there turning food trucks into classy yet inexpensive cuisine, but that doesn’t mean that all food trucks are making good food.  I am just as picky as those people who bring their own food to parties because they can’t be sure if there will be food they can eat.  I worry that I’ll show up to a gathering where all there is to eat is junk food that I can’t stomach.  I’ll admit to going hungry and fervently wishing that I’d eaten something before venturing out.  I have (shamefully) thought less of my host for not making food to my standards.

Unfortunately, my dietary choices put me at odds with normal people, but refusing junk food doesn’t make me better than anyone.  I admit to being a picky eater, but that doesn’t have to make me a bad guest.  As a Feeder, I see the cardinal sin of a guest to be refusing the food of the host.  In ancient times, such a refusal could be seen as a grave insult or a declaration of animosity.  In The Count of Monte Cristo (one of my absolute favorite books), Edmund makes it a point not to eat the food of his enemies, even as he pretends to be their dearest friends.  So I am only picky when it isn’t rude to be so.

The reason people don’t like picky eaters is because it’s rude.  When someone makes food for you, you should eat it without complaining.  This is a lesson many of us learned as children when Mom gave us the old “there are starving children in China” speech.  We all have foibles about food, but unless those foibles will put you into anaphylactic shock, then it is best to smile and shut your mouth just for courtesy’s sake.  Another tip for picky eaters when meeting with new foods is to just try it.  You may need to engage a poker face to hide how horrible something is, but refusing to try something just because it is new could mean missing out on stuff you may actually like.

Ah, but the testament between guest and host is not a one-way deal.  When hosting, you have an obligation to provide for your guests, which seems kind of obvious.  Except that this obligation isn’t always fully understood.  I’m not saying that you have to make a special dish catered to the tastes of every guest.  That would be ridiculous.  But there are some things one must keep in mind when providing food for a crowd.  The first is timing.  If the party falls during a meal time, then people will show up expecting more than finger food.  Easiest thing to do is have burgers and hot dogs ready to grill -OR- have pizzas ready (frozen or otherwise).  Any other time of day, snack foods are fine.  For finger foods, chips and dips are classic, but I always recommend a fruit or veggie tray as well, especially with the number of people on specialty diets nowadays.  You can always ask your guests to bring stuff, too, if they want.  Then you get lots of variety without stressing yourself out.

The key to party feeding is not to get anything you won’t eat because there will be leftovers.  That means, I don’t ever by chips because I don’t eat them regularly.  Most have too much salt for my taste and corn-based chips tend to give me migraines.  People will still bring chips and often leave them behind, but I just stow them away for the next party.  If I decide to put together a veggie tray, I’m only using veggies that I cook with regularly or have for snacks, so no radishes or jalapeños.  If you don’t like veggies, don’t put out a veggie tray.  If you don’t like salsa, don’t buy a big jar of salsa.  You are obligated to provide enough food for your guests with some variety of choices, that is all.  Provide for picky palettes only so far that it doesn’t actually inconvenience you.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that there is a social contract we must adhere to regardless of our personal tastes.

1.  The host will provide enough food for guests, accommodating to dietary needs (allergies, diets, etc) within reason.

2.  The guest will eat food when and if possible.  If no food is edible (for whatever reason), the guest will politely decline.  There should be no complaining, especially if food is being declined for any reason other than allergies or medically prescribed diets.

Now, let’s say we aren’t talking a serve-yourself buffet-style party but an actual sit-down dinner.  Social contract says that you eat what is put in front of you unless it will kill you.  This is not always easy, and I understand that.  It isn’t always about taste.  Sometimes it’s about health.  Sometimes it’s about cooking methods or cleanliness or quality of ingredients.  Sometimes it’s about cooking skill.  And, yes, you may have to stomach food you don’t like in order to be polite.  But let’s say you don’t like someone’s cooking and it’s someone you eat with frequently.  It’s Grandma or Father-in-Law or Spouse or Best Friend.  You don’t want to hurt feelings, so you claim picky eating as an excuse.  Don’t.  Honesty in this case is very important.  Picky eating to many is a childish excuse and not to be tolerated.  And lying about your reasoning will only add tension to a relationship.  So find a way to talk to this person, face to face and not over a meal.  It may not make any difference, but it’s better than lying.

I’ve rambled a bit, I know.  I’m trying to get back into writing habits.  Plus, I wanted to set the record straight.  My Mom, like all Feeders, has a thing about picky eaters.  Refuse her food and you will never be her friend.  But she is so proud of me for not being picky, just because I’m always willing to try new foods.  The fact is, I think everyone is picky about their food and with good reason.  It’s just a matter of balancing personal preference with politeness.

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15AM000000112011 · 11:39

Ups/Downs


Yesterday was a good day.  Which made me begin to wonder what makes a good day.

If I were to melt down all the elements of a good day, would it separate into good things and bad things, with more good than bad?  Because, well, it doesn’t seem to matter so much what happens as my mood when it happens.

If I’m down, everything pulls me down.  Whatever I try, be it shopping or chocolate or reading, the down stays.

If I’m up, then even sleep deprivations, expensive car repairs due to the incompetence/neglect of the dealer,  and an ill-fitting leather jacket that must needs be returned won’t bring me down.

Of course, sushi will always switch a down to an up.

Not really interesting, me pointing out that attitude is everything, but I think it’s a misconception that positive attitudes can be forced.  I don’t decide my ups or downs.  I just ride them, trying to maintain an even keel as well as I can.

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15AM00000012011 · 01:02

Today.


Today, I turned in my last paper.  Then I wandered campus looking for people to give eggnog truffles to.

Then I did some Christmas shopping.  And I wandered Barnes & Noble.

And I didn’t have to read anything or write anything.  I didn’t have to do research or take notes or trudge through some brain-sucking analysis that might be total crap but feels like the most brilliant thing I’ve ever thought of.  No studying.  No brain whatsoever.

It felt great.

I’m excited to start baking again, especially holiday baking.  And sleeping at normal hours.  And writing because I want to, because I have something to say.

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15PM000000102011 · 22:56

Letter from a Reformed Grammar Nazi


IMG_20130130_193155 Take a second to look at this photo. What you are seeing is a cold-hearted, cruel monster, a villain of the highest order. I am a member of that elite dark order of cyber bullies about which you have been cautioned. I use my assumed superiority to publicly shame friends and enemies alike under the guise of helping them. I lurk in comment threads with daggers of indignity, waiting to pluck at the failures of my fellows. I am that creature who cannot allow even the smallest infractions to pass, eagerly poised with an asterisk at my fingertips for the least grammatical mistake. That’s right. I’m a Grammar Nazi. Or I was.

It all started when I became an English Major. I’m certain many of you understand how such a descent into malevolence can begin with such a choice. After taking so many classes on the “proper” use of English, I began to feel that I was master of all words, which was great for my own confidence. Unfortunately, that supposed mastery made me feel entitled to judge others, to correct their mistakes regardless of the context in which we interacted. I corrected status updates and clucked over spelling errors in blog posts. I shared memes that explained how English grammar is so simple, one must be an utter moron to confuse “your” and “you’re.” I scorned the practices of text-speak as base and pitied those who foolishly ended a sentence with a prepositional phrase. I was embarrassed by the ignorantly written posts by my own family. I’m an English Major and my own brother doesn’t know how to use capitals and punctuation! How could I ever show my face if people found out I was related to someone who used “lol” as a period?

This snobbery leeched its way off the computer and into my life. I was most critical of my fellow English Majors, who should certainly know better. How could they expect anyone to take them seriously if they talked like that? Ums and uhs and likes and you knows and, the most hated of all phrases, “I was just gonna say.”  You probably said that exact phrase today and perhaps caught the look on my face of utter contempt. Forget the fact that “just” implies that you are apologetic about your own opinion and that it is obvious you’re “gonna say” something as your mouth is open and words are falling out. I can’t stand the “I was.” It implies that you are correcting your own assertion (I was going to say this, but now I am going to say this), which isn’t what you mean at all since you never correct yourself. What you mean is that this is what you think but it is probably wrong and you just wanted to point out something you thought was significant fully aware that it might not be. You’re asking permission to speak your mind and it drives me out of mine.

It was all going so well. I was fully entitled to label others as dumb or ignorant at the drop of an apostrophe. Then I started taking linguistic-based classes and my world of supremacy began to crumble. As I learned more about the history of English as a language, my certainty that there was a wrong way to use it eroded away. It seemed that correct spelling and grammar was an invention of xenophobes looking to protect the “purity” of the mother tongue from the scourge of foreigners. Further study of English showed that it was a fluid language, evolving over hundreds of years in clear linguistic patterns until we reached its youngest incarnation, African American Vernacular, which turns out not to be some broken conglomeration of English and slang but a legitimate dialect with its own grammatical structure. It became ever clearer that not only is there no wrong way to use English, there may not even be a right way, either. Language is for communication, so as long as someone is communicating it doesn’t matter whether she says “it’s going good” instead of “it’s going well.” I can believe I have been so petty that I will deliberately misunderstand someone’s post if it isn’t written to the same standard as my formal essays.

When I see a bigoted rant about how foreigners should speak English if they’re going to live here, I feel truly smug because there is always some kind of grammatical or spelling error. But is my editing any different from people complaining about having to press “1” for English? My claims of superiority over others based on language use, I now realize, is no different from bigotry in other forms. Racism, sexism, grammarism: all ways to make people in power feel that they deserve to be in power.

It will take a lot of work to reform myself of this unfair bias. I will probably always mutter “well” under my breath every time “good” is improperly used and I will flinch at misspelled or confused words. However, I will try to keep my proofreading to academic papers and resist devaluing people according to arbitrary linguistical rules, allowing such insignificant errors to distract me from the glory that is expression through language. Language is the greatest gift of the human race and I am ashamed that I ever saw it as a tool for belittling other human beings.

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15AM00000092011 · 09:42