Tag: stupidity

Like THAT’S Gonna Work

Like THAT’S Gonna Work

I know when I post something political I’m not going to change your mind. I know it and I still can’t help myself from posting about the current occupant of the White House.

If, after four years of watching a malignant narcissist sow chaos around the world; attempt to bully and degrade anyone who does not agree with him; flatly refuse to accept scientific fact because it does not jibe with his own self-centered worldview; actively work to degrade the government by denuding it of expertise and experience; glorify his own ignorance while denigrating those who worked hard to gain knowledge; showcase a profound lack of empathy for anyone other than him; those who serve something greater than themselves; encourage violence by his supporters; force an entire government to do everything in its power to fellate his fragile ego; enrich himself, his family and his cronies at the expense of the country; scream and rant like a three-year old denied a sweetie, you can’t see for yourself that the man was, is now and ever will be unfit for any kind of public office. . . I know knowing I say is going to change your mind.

And, yet. . .

And, yet, I still post about political issues. Why do it when I know it’s only going to be seen and understood by those who already see and understand?

Mostly, it’s because I can’t afford to hire a good handyman and my own drywall-patching skills aren’t where I’d like them to be. Despite the frequent practice I’ve had during the last four years trying to learn how to smooth out head-size dents in my walls, I still have head-sized dents in my walls.

Those dents just keep showing up. And I have no idea where they’re coming from. All right. I know exactly where they’re coming from. Sometimes, I just can’t take the triumphalist denial and willful ignorance I see in the world any longer. When that happens, the only thing I can do is smash my head against a wall for a little peace and quiet.

That’s the thing, see? I attempt to live by and with logic. I think the power of well-chosen words can change minds, can open minds. It’s happened to me. I’ve been absolutely convinced of something, only for someone to point out an error in my thought process, or a flaw in my reasoning using facts and logic, and I’ve changed my mind. I’ve seen it happen in others, sometimes even in response to my own words, well-chosen or not.

That doesn’t seem to happen much these days. Not since the rise of right-wing identity politics. Another word for it is tribalism. It’s all about teams and, if I’m not on your team, there’s no point in listening because I’m, by definition, wrong. After all, if I were right, I’d be on your team. Circular illogic that guarantees you don’t have to give any consideration to differing opinions or other ideas.

In identity politics, it’s no longer about free-flowing ideas or working together to overcome differences, it’s only, “Fuck yeah! My team!”

Well-reasoned arguments, drawn with logic from a series of accepted facts no longer work because facts are now “facts” and can be labeled fake if you don’t like them. Reality is malleable, if only you can put your fingers in your ears and scream “Nah nah nah nahnahnahnahnah” loud enough.

And when I’ve had enough. . . When the stupid in the world burns so hot I just can’t stand it any longer. . . I’m going to post something about it. I’m going to bang my head against the metaphorical wall instead of the literal wall. Because I have to get it out somehow.

I have been told in no uncertain terms by the Lovely Lady of my Life that subjecting her to numerous rants at high volume and an even higher word count will not continue. So Immna get it outta my system here.

I think of it like lancing a boil. I’ve got to get the puss out or the pressure will keep building and the pain keep increasing. I’ll lance it a little onto the keyboard, relieve the pressure and move on with my life.

I am almost certain the inexorable, undeniable logic with which I write will not change your mind. Nor the pretty, flowery words. Nor the bad jokes. What makes me so certain my words will fall on blocked ears? If the past four years of chaos and division and death haven’t changed your mind, what hope for a few words? The mental impermeability to change and logic shown these past four years makes a rather persuasive argument against future change.

There have been some who have shown up in the comments of my previous political posts who disagree with me. I used to get into it with them, to argue with facts, to point out sources and concurring opinion. I don’t do that any more because it does not work. Logic is derided. Facts are ignored. And I start thinking, “That wall over there looks like it could benefit from a nice head-shaped depression in it.”

It’s not that I don’t think I could be wrong. Or that every opinion other than mine is de facto incorrect. It’s just, when I post something political, it’s from a reputable source, which has an institutional imperative for getting it right. I might enjoy watching shouty, angry people making fun of those with whom I disagree on occasion, only I don’t get my facts from them.

I’ve been wrong about a lot of things in the past and will be wrong about a lot more in the future. To convince me, you’re going to have to be more than contrarian, more than loud. Just saying, “You’re an idiot” or screaming the “Lamestream Media” is lying won’t do it. Explain with facts from reputable sources, not just some guy on YouTube, why I’m wrong and I’ll listen. You might even change my mind.

So the next time you read one of my posts with a political bent and want to yell, “Fuck yeah! My team!” at me, save it. I don’t respond to ad hominem wailing. You wanna debate actual facts? I’m down for that. Though you better be sure you’ve got facts and not “facts.”

Well, that’s one more drywall patch job avoided.

Examining The Snake . . . And Other Stupidities

Examining The Snake . . . And Other Stupidities

There aren’t many things that shock me any more.

I reared three sons while my wife was away working hard, stamping out diseases and delivering babies. Being boys, they got into things that are best left undiscussed. Even by people like us who make a habit of talking about things no one else will even contemplate.

Trust me. You do not want to hear the possum story. I mean, once we get to the bit where I’m reaching my hand inside just to get out the– No. Never mind. I don’t want to remember that part.

Anyway. My point is, I can take almost anything. Take it so much in stride that you’d think I was strolling naked (Is he going to keep talking about that forever?) down the promenade secure in the knowledge that the finest tailors in the land had clothed my kingly body in robes of the most astonishing quality.

thank FSM!
Not my snake, though still scary.

I don’t startle, is what I’m saying. Well, that’s not quite true. There are some things that will startle me. There are even less things that will make me straighten up, drop a laundry basket full of clean clothes onto the floor and sprint towards the back door, yelling.

Hearing my middle son, a recent college graduate, shout at me from the upstairs family room, “Holy crap, Dad! There’s a huge snake up here!” is definitely one of them.

What Happened Next. . . 

I dropped the laundry basket full of clean clothes onto the floor and sprinted towards the back door, yelling to my son, “Don’t touch it! I’ll be right there.”

If I’d been smart, I’d have kept on running down the steps, across the driveway, into my car and just driven away, secure in the knowledge that I’d have to stop sometime. Instead, I went outside, grabbed a seven-foot length of stout bamboo that I keep for just such an emergency (as far as you know it’s true) and raced upstairs to the room we so quaintly call the Creature Cave. The boys are our creatures. The room is the cave in which they congregate and destroy armies and civilizations.

Although, apparently, the sighting of a real snake was a bit much for these killers of digital zombie hordes, these destroyers of worlds. Honestly, when I went running up the steps, picking up the laundry basket as I went, I still thought my son had . . . exaggerated things. Just a tad.

“Holy carp, Zippy The Graduate Boy. There’s a huge snake up here.”

My son, perched on the seat of the couch and keeping a very sharp eye on the unmoving snake, quickly looked away from the snake and glared words at me before turning back to the reptile. The words glared at me were indecipherable, but probably went something along the lines of, “Geez, Pater. What is your damage?”

You Want A List Of The Damages?

I saw something twitch out of the corner of my eye. I saw my son levitate to the back of the couch out of the other corner of my other eye and immediately wished I had some chameleon in me because that hurt. I decided to follow the less amusing movement and turned to see the snake s-ing slowly over the carpeted floor.

Moving quickly, with the decisive firmness that already landed me several guest slots at the local Emergency Room, I lowered the lanudry basket to the floor, open end toward the snake and began poking at the slithering being, gently guiding it to the laundry basket.

It wasn’t all that hard, really. The snake seemed almost eager to be away from the gibbering young man making with the motions. I’ve a feeling the snake was equally as eager to get away from the slower-moving hairless ape with the long stick that kept poking at it.

This, I thought, was not going to be a problem. Certainly not like the last time I’d mixed it up with a snake of unknown provenance. My stick wobbled a bit when my body shuddered at the memory. The black snake paused and flicked its forked tongue into the air, perhaps tasting the memory of fear sliming from my pores.

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Hairless ape with long bamboo stick and towel

I shook my head, clearing room for more rational thoughts, banishing the memory of that snake, the one that caused such a ruckus and led to me claiming a spot in a Charlotte emergency room in the midst of all the shouting and whatnot.

 

Of course, this was different. It had to be different. I’d learned a thing or two since the last snake. This time I’d thought ahead. I’d brought my laundry basket. My long bamboo pole and my towel. That last bit was the most important.

A Towel Is A Massively Useful Thing To Have Whilst Hitchhiking…And Snake Wrangling

As soon as the snake was inside the laundry basket, I gently tilted it upright and covered the opening with the towel. Problem solved. Snake on the inside, me on the outside and not a single fang in sight.

Turning back to my son, I motioned him to come down off the ceiling and, yes, off the back of the couch. I moved toward the door and the stairs, which ended just before the door to the outside and the back yard.

“Come on, son,” I said. “Let’s let this confused beast loose and back into its natural habitat. Maybe we’ll get really lucky and it’ll grow big and strong and drive the local squirrel population to extinction.”*

“But, Dad. . .”

“Come along, son,” I said. “It’s perfectly safe. I’ve got the snake in the laundry basket and a towel over the top. What could go wrong?”

Yes.

I really said those words out loud. You’d think being a media-savvy consumer of pop culture media, I’d have known better. I did not.

“But what if the snake slithers out of one of the many, many holes in the mesh laundry basket?”

I kept moving down the stairs, my brain mulling over his last sentence. Something about that was ringing a distant bell. Something about plastic laundry baskets and holes and suchlike. I admit it. He had me puzzled.

Straightening my arms, I lifted the towel-covered laundry basket up higher and found the snake staring at me, the tip of his forked tongue flickering millimeters from the end of my nose.

Oh.

Those holes

I opened my mouth to make a cogent comment on the inadvisability of attempting to move snakes of unknown etiology in a laundry basket constructed like a giant plastic sieve, but what came out was, “glub? Glarm? BlaaaaaaaaAAAARRRRRRGGGGHHHH!”

Next: Instantaneous Translation Fail

signature

 

Squirrel joke

 

*I have a justifiable hatred of all things squirrly. There is a reason for this. They all should be destroyed as painfully as possible.

Examining The Selfie

Examining The Selfie

No one ever sets out to take a bad selfie.*

Which isn’t to say that there are not a metaphorical crap ton of bad selfies clogging the tubes of the Internutz out there. Because there most certainly are. A lot. Of bad — really bad — selfies.

Think about that a minute. People don’t want to look bad. They will take a bad selfie, though. Usually it’s not because they mean to take a bad selfie, only that. . . Well. . . Stuff happens. And it’s usually stinky.

The strange thing is, rather than discretely dispose of a bad selfie, lots of folks will publish it on the Intranutz for everyone to look at.

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Yes, that is a snake and *sigh* yes that is my head within easy striking distance.

Even stranger? If you google something like bad selfie and great selfie, you’ll find plenty of the same pics on both lists.

Sometimes, the difference between a good selfie and a bad selfie is all in the perspective. If you’re the person in the selfie, it’s horrifying. If you’re someone else seeing the selfie from far away in space and time, it’s fantastic.

I suppose at this point, some of you are wondering why a blog dedicated to personal storytelling and memoiring is going on and on about selfies. If you’re not, you should be. Go on. Say you are. You are, aren’t you?

Yes, I thought so.

I’m going on and on about selfies because what is a memoir but a written example of the selfie. It’s a snapshot of a time in your life, taken by you and then shown to others. Excepting the fact that you’re not using a camera, it’s exactly the same thing.

Sort of.

In a way.

Approximately.

In a manner of– I think you get the point.

Getting To The Point

And, like a selfie, there’s something important to understand about getting metaphorically naked (See? Told you it was a metaphor.) in front of the mirror and then telling everyone who’ll listen about what you see.

Personal's not the same as important. People just think it is. -- Sir Terry Pratchett, Lords and Ladies

Just because it happens to you, that doesn’t mean it will be important or interesting to anyone else. It’s up to you to not only make that decision, but also make sure that when you trot out your prose version of a selfie, it’s something that people will want to read.

The best way to do that is to make sure that what you write isn’t focused only on the naked parts of yourself you’re exposing to the world, but also shows why other people should be interested in what you’re saying.

Take a look at the selfie I took of me yesterday. There is, as you might expect, a story that goes along with that picture. It’s a sad story, full of head shakes and wonders about how I could have made it to my current age, much less have been able to successfully breed and rear three children.

In The Beginning. . . 

The story starts with my middle son — a recent college graduate — going upstairs and then shrieking, followed by a lot of cursing. None of which really made me look up from my work.

I told you. . . I reared three children — three boys — so I’ve heard a lot of shrieking and cursing and large thumps and loud bangs in the last decade plus. There’s not much that really bothers me any more.

“Holy crap, Dad! There’s a huge snake up here!” is definitely one of those things that will bother me.

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The snake: In Happier Times