Irritable Blog Syndrome

I’m having a really, really, really bad day. (Well, technically I’m not. I probably wrote this two weeks ago. Today I’m more likely to be back to my cheery self. But you get the picture.)

Today (the day I wrote this, once upon a time, whatever works), I had to deal with someone who is morally and ethically repugnant, two-faced, slimy, self-serving, and deluded. Naturally, that put me into a foul mood.

And then, already feeling foul, I had to deal with someone so steeped in ignorance that she was attacking me on Facebook because I believe the science about COVID-19 rather than her Fox news talking points. And then she went on to say that a vaccine is not going to help. Give me strength.

She probably also thinks that the sun revolves around the earth, as a horrifying 26 percent of Americans do. Heaven help us. I am so sick to death of stupidity. (And if you’re one of those believers, get thee away from this blog! I am in no mood to deal with you. There’s only so much I can take today.)

There’s a reason that “sick” and “tired” go hand in hand. I’m exhausted and in despair over the idiocy of some people. And they’re the very people who will never be enlightened.

And that makes it really hard for me to blog without sounding whiny and frustrated. Does anybody really want to hear me complain as they eat their Post Toasties? Highly freakin’ doubtful.

And so there you have it. Stupid people are the root cause of Irritable Blog Syndrome. I hate that stupidity has such a strangle hold on my writing.

So now I need to find a cure for stupidity. No pressure there. Better people than I have tried.

You’d think that education would be the solution. But stupidity seems to be the most education-resistant disease that has ever plagued mankind. I have nothing left within me to fight it.

I am just so tired.

pexels-photo-3790224

Read any good books lately? Try mine! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

Several Days of Bureaucratic BS

Pedestrian safety on drawbridges is a huge issue. Without naming names, I was asked by a certain organization to write some drawbridge do’s and don’ts that would help people increase their chances of actually surviving around a million pounds of moving concrete and steel, and I did so. They took these suggestions, sanitized them a bit, and made them into an oversized postcard with a gorgeous, souvenir-worthy picture of one of our drawbridges on the front side. They made several thousand copies. I was very proud of this work and knew it would make a difference…

Until someone further up the chain of command of that organization decided that they shouldn’t be distributed to the public. And now they’re gathering dust in some closet somewhere. No comment.

In other news, after I got married, I had my middle name legally changed to my husband’s last name. This caused a whole host of interesting bureaucratic encounters.

I had to pay a fortune to show up in court and swear that I wasn’t making this change against my will. (You can change your last name when you get married without the court hassle, but not your middle name.)

I went to the Social security office to have my information updated with them. I brought my court ordered name change with me. I had to wait an hour to see someone. While working on the change, he gave me a print out and asked if everything on it was correct. I said no, my mother’s maiden name was spelled incorrectly.

I was told that they wouldn’t be able to fix it in that office, and I was only given a vague indication of how it could be done, elsewhere, with more paperwork. Screw it. I’ve gotten this far in life with them having that incorrect information. And I did try.

I had to apply for a brand new passport, even though my old one was only a few years old, because now my middle name on my passport did not match my middle name on my ID. We went in with what we thought was all the necessary information, and met with a brick wall in the form of a bureaucrat who was in a foul mood. Rather than tell us how to jump through all the necessary hoops, he decided to tell us why we couldn’t accomplish our goal. We left there frustrated.

We came back the next day with everything we needed, and got the same guy. But this time he was in a good mood and everything went smoothly. See, now? Was that so hard?

But before that, we had to get a new passport photo at Costco. We went in, waited about 15 minutes for the lady in the photo department to get to us and take the picture. She said it would be about 20 minutes to process. So we went shopping, and bought a bunch of Costco stuff that we really didn’t need, as one does. Then we returned to the photo department. No photo.

There was a different woman working the counter, and she told me that the photo would have to be taken again, because with passport photos, you cannot be showing any teeth, you must have a neutral expression, and most of your ears must be showing. So we took the photo again, and had to wait another 20 minutes for it to be processed.

While processing the photo, we decided to bring our groceries outside to the car. The person who was checking the items against the receipt at the exit discovered that the cashier had forgotten to ring up one of our items. So we had to go back to customer service and have that straightened out. Good save on her part. We believe in paying for what we buy. But after days of dealing with stupidity, it kind of rankled.

Again, a certain organization is desperate for bridgetenders, and I know the perfect person, who would happily start tomorrow if given the opportunity. So we submitted the resume, and middle management would love to hire him. But upper management is being… well… You can imagine. Several of our positions have been vacant for more than a year.

I went to the county courthouse the other day with my husband, and we had to place our items on the conveyor belt and pass through the metal detector. I got yelled at for picking up my husband’s items in an effort to hand them to him and speed things up. Like I was some kind of criminal. Like I was stealing my husband’s wallet right before it detonated, or something.

So I made a point of walking on the grass on my way out.

Power to the people.

Zootopia Bureaucracy

Like this quirky little blog? Then You’ll love my book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

The Tasteless Tale of the Innocent Sexpot

My least favorite movie on the face of the earth is the Fifth Element. And that’s disappointing to me, because the cinematography and the special effects were amazing. It depicts a fascinating future world, and I’m usually engrossed by that. But along with all the good things about this movie, it crams a cliché down your throat to such an extreme degree that it can’t be overlooked.

I recently watched this video on this very subject, and while it’s 18 minutes long, I highly recommend it. You’ll never see this cheap writer’s device the same way again. I’m talking about the trope which the video aptly calls “Born Sexy Yesterday”.

Basically, it’s the overused theme of a full grown woman with the mind and inexperience and innocence of a child. That is exactly why I hate the Fifth Element. It is the most extreme example of this trope that I’ve ever seen. She speaks a childish language, like Betty Boop on steroids. She strips naked in front of men, not realizing that she shouldn’t do so. She has to be taught the most basic life skills. And yet she can kick your butt.

Once you know how to spot it, you see this theme everywhere you look. A classic is Marilyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch. What woman with sense God gave a goose is going to stand on a metro grate and let her skirt be blown up and have no idea the way that is impacting people around her?

Another one is I Dream of Jeannie. She can’t grasp the trouble she causes. And she absolutely adores her “master”, even though he spends the bulk of his time berating her. That’s another part of this cliché. The men involved are really nothing special. In fact, many of them are outright jerks. And yet these women adore them, mainly because they’re too stupid or sheltered to know better. Talk about every man’s fantasy.

I also have to grit my teeth during the scenes in Pulp Fiction where several of the women are as dumb as a box of rocks. One is madly in love with her criminal boyfriend, but nearly gets him killed when he has to retrieve his heirloom watch which she accidentally left behind when they’re running from killers. Another is a sexy cab driver who seems imbued with so much sexuality that she apparently can’t function on any other level. And then there’s “Honey Bunny”, who paints herself into a Mexican Standoff of epic proportions.

Oddly, the video I mentioned above does not cite any of these examples except the unavoidable Fifth Element. Probably because there are so many more to choose from. Tron: Legacy. Splash. My Stepmother is an Alien, Forbidden Planet, pretty much every Japanese Anime movie ever made, The Time Machine, Planet of the Apes, Star Trek, Demolition, Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid.

This theme is all about power over helplessly innocent women. It allows average men, despite all their flaws, to be viewed as the most amazing, most adoration-worthy things on earth. It remove’s men’s fear of rejection. Men are the experts, the leaders, the wise ones. They are to be admired. Women are sexy yet mindless machines, innocent objects, and passive, unjudging, idiotic worshipers who need to be rescued and protected.

In the Me Too era, this concept is particularly hard to take. And that annoys me, because darn it, I’ve loved the Forbidden Planet and Pulp Fiction and Seven Year Itch and Planet of the Apes and… sigh. Writers, please come up with some new ideas, will you?

7yearitch

Read any good books lately? Try mine! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

A Few Thoughts on International Women’s Day

First of all, happy International Women’s Day! It’s nice to be recognized and celebrated. I’m glad that organizations throughout the world will be using this as an opportunity to speak out about equal rights. I’m thrilled that this will open up dialogues that many people wouldn’t otherwise have thought to have.

But at the same time, it frustrates me that we still need a day like this. Aren’t we women every day of the year? Don’t we deserve basic human rights all year round?

Recently I was sitting at a table with 15 other women, so I took an informal survey.

  • Raise your hand if you’ve ever been touched inappropriately without your permission.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve ever been cat called.
  • Raise your hand if anyone has ever discussed your breasts, behind, or legs without your initiating that conversation.
  • Raise your hand if your opinion has been dismissed as trivial.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve heard a man singing the words “bitch” “slut” or “ho” along with the radio.
  • Raise your hand if you yourself have been called a bitch, slut, or ho.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve seen nude women calendars in public places.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been interrupted by a man who insists on explaining something to you that you already know.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been treated like an idiot by a mechanic.
  • Raise your hand if men have assumed that you’re not intelligent.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been rejected based on your weight, age, or shape.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been criticized because of something you were wearing.
  • Raise your hand if people have assumed you need to ask a man’s permission to do something or go somewhere.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been accused of not being feminine enough.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been accused of being too girly.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been told you do something good, “for a girl.”
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been criticized for not having children.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been criticized for having children.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been criticized for working.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been criticized for not working.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve ever had to drive behind a truck with naked women mud flaps.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been paid less than a male counterpart.
  • Raise your hand if men that you’ve trained have been promoted above you.
  • Raise your hand if a man assumed you needed his protection when you didn’t.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been told something was women’s work.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been accused of being emotional or hysterical.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been physically, emotionally, or sexually abused.

Try giving this survey the next time you’re with female friends. It probably comes as no surprise to anyone reading this that in the vast majority of cases, every woman at the table raised her hand. And that’s probably the most outrageous part of all – that it comes as no surprise.

The only reason that this happens is that we are not in the exclusive group of humans who sports a penis. That simple fact makes “us” not “them”. As far as I can tell, that appendage does not endow people with superior abilities of any kind. It just means we get to be easily identified as being on the other team. And society has arbitrarily decided that our team gets to be the losing team. It’s not rational. It’s not just. And it’s not acceptable.

I for one am sick and tired of being treated to micro-aggressions every single day. Case in point, I looked at my supply of Graphicstock pictures to see which one to use for this blog entry. This, below, is their idea of a good image for Women’s Day. Because we all should be depicted as naked, sexy, thin, with long flowing hair and luscious lips, arching our backs while floating with our heads in a flowery cloud.

Happy Women’s Day, indeed.

happy-womens-day-greeting-card_m1nzs5do_l

Check this out, y’all. I wrote a book! Not bad, for a girl! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

The Contradictory Metrics of Ignorance

I just came across a group on Facebook called Jewish Ritual Murder. It has 1057 likes. Its sole purpose is to perpetuate false stories that promote the myth of the Jewish blood libel. There’s an insane belief out there that Jews ritually murder Christians and use their blood for any number of nefarious purposes. This fiction has been used for centuries to justify violence against Jews. It has even been known to decimate entire communities. I’ve reported this page to Facebook. Many people have. It’s a hate crime. I hope it will be gone by the time you read this.

jewish-ritual-murder

Update: Facebook felt that this page does not violate its community standards. Please join me in reporting this if you agree with me that by perpetuating these lies it perpetuates hate.

It never ceases to amaze me that humanity seems to be becoming more ignorant with each passing day. That shouldn’t be mathematically possible. If we look at facts as a unit of measure, and assume people learn something new every day (I certainly seem to), then we as a species should be increasing in knowledge by leaps and bounds. And yet here are some more ridiculous and entirely false things a scary number of people believe:

  • Telephones cause brain cancer.
  • Humans never landed on the moon.
  • Evolution is a myth.
  • Humans once coexisted with dinosaurs or dinosaurs never existed.
  • Global climate change isn’t occurring, or if it is, it’s normal.
  • The earth is only 6,000 years old, give or take. Oh, and it’s flat.
  • The American Civil War had nothing to do with slavery or racism.
  • Benjamin Franklin was once president of the US.
  • People are gay by choice.
  • Africa is a country.
  • Blue moons are actually blue.
  • Barack Obama is a Muslim.
  • Elvis is alive.
  • The sun revolves around the earth.
  • Vaccines cause autism.

So why do we seem to buy in to all this stupidity despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary? Well, I have a few theories. Let’s go back to my “facts as a unit of measure” concept.

Unfortunately, in this day and age, it’s even easier to stuff your head full of false information. That leaves you little room to focus on the facts. The best way to combat against this is to fact check everything, but most people seem to be too busy waiting for the sky to fall or the next vampire movie to come out. Another way to avoid false information is to stop watching FOX news, stop assuming the scientific method yields mere opinions, and stop believing every meme that you read.

We also need to realize that, yes, we forget things we have learned, but that does not mean we should rely on the shorthand of sound bites to fill those voids. Knowledge shouldn’t be a spectator sport. We all need to make an effort to stay informed.

We also need to fight against this idea that “intellectual” is a dirty word. We need to emphasize education, not demonize it. How can knowing more facts ever be a bad thing?

An alarming number of children in the world today have little or no access to education. When you fill the planet with that many empty heads, there’s plenty of space for ignorance to thrive. Crime, terrorism, and violence do not come from a place of intelligence. Truly educating (as opposed to indoctrinating) people can only make the world a better place.

Take in as much information as you can, but learn the difference between fact and fiction. Read, but consider the source. Don’t blindly follow your leaders. Rely on logic. Don’t slide down the slippery slope of stupidity. Use your head for something other than a hat rack.

_______________________

Claim your copy of A Bridgetender’s View: Notes on Gratitude today and you’ll be supporting StoryCorps too! http://amzn.to/2cCHgUu

The Stupidity of Loneliness

One of the problems about writing a daily blog is that you’re always left with a vague sense that you’ve written all of this before. I could swear I wrote this blog entry within the past couple weeks, but I’ve searched and can’t find anything. So, if you’re a regular reader and are feeling a sense of déjà vu, my apologies. On the other hand, maybe I just thought about writing it and then never got around to it.

I had an epiphany the other day. Loneliness really makes no sense at all. It’s the mistaken assumption that someone out there, whom you’ve yet to even meet, holds the key to your happiness. How absurd.

First of all, from a mathematical standpoint that would also mean that I hold the key to some stranger’s happiness, and I’m keyless and clueless. So that formula is easily disproven. (And I don’t even like math.)

Also, loneliness means you’re giving all your power away. I don’t like that concept at all. I’m not going to live in some emotional limbo, on the off chance that some random person is going to come along and care enough and be capable enough to fill my every emotional need.

Ever since I had this epiphany about two weeks ago, I haven’t felt lonely at all. It’s like a weight has lifted off my shoulders. I sort of feel as though I’m back in the driver’s seat of my life. What a liberating feeling.

Not that I plan to go live in a cave in the wilderness, mind you. I still want friends. I still want companionship. I still have itches that I very much would like to have scratched. But suddenly the urgency is no longer there. The sadness is gone. I appreciate my life for what it is, and look forward to what it can be, in whatever form that may take.

I hope this feeling lasts.

[Image credit: wallpaperscraft.com]
[Image credit: wallpaperscraft.com]

More Money Than Sense

As a bridgetender, I often observe people in million dollar vessels doing the most idiotic things you can imagine. First of all, the price of the vessel seems to be directly proportionate to the lack of safety equipment on board. Rich people don’t seem to believe in marine radios or horns. They simply assume people will read their minds and get out of the way accordingly. They’ll casually drift into the path of 2000 ton barges and wonder why those barges aren’t giving way. They also seem to think that because they can afford a wet bar, this gives them license to drive while intoxicated.

This type of behavior isn’t restricted to boats. How often have you seen people in expensive sports cars driving recklessly? And don’t even get me started about private jets.

The more money you make, the more you risk suffering from what I call Do You Know Who I Am Syndrome. As in, I’m so special that the rules don’t apply to me. As in, I can now afford to stop taking anyone else into consideration.

So, you’re wealthy. Yeah, that means you might have worked hard at some point, and therefore deserve a cookie. It definitely means that you’re lucky. But it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re intelligent, Buddy-Roo.

dumbboat

[Image credit: messingaboutinboats.typepad.com]

Passive Aggressive Stupidity

If you ask me, one of the most annoying habits on the planet is acting stupid when you aren’t. I see people do this all the time. Is it because you don’t want responsibility heaped upon you, or are you trying to manipulate someone into doing the heavy thinking for you?

I particularly want to shriek when I see women doing this. Many of us are taught that this behavior is cute or that somehow it will make us seem less threatening. You almost never hear a man described as silly or ditzy or flaky. It’s bad enough that this stereotype is so firmly embedded in our culture without our actively confirming it.

When I hear someone say that they’d never be able to learn something, my gut reaction is to say, “Don’t be ridiculous. Of course you can.” You may not want to take the time. You may not enjoy it. It’s possible that it will take more effort for you to grasp than it does for the person sitting beside you. But you are capable of learning anything. Anything.

So don’t get into the habit of inviting stupidity in when it’s not already present. Before you know it, it may just make itself at home.

Edith-Sitwell-Stupidity-Quotes

That Place Beyond Logic

There ought to be a word for people who irrationally cling to their beliefs way beyond the point where they could possibly make any sense to anyone, including themselves. Some of these people are simply desperately stupid. Others are just so stubborn that they refuse to change their stance even when they themselves must realize that they look like fools.

Here’s an actual conversation I once had with an ex-boyfriend. Not only does it illustrate my point but it explains one of the many reasons he is an ex.

Him: “Anyone who has ever had alcohol is an alcoholic.”

Me: “Er… what?”

Him: “It’s true. Any alcohol of any kind means you’re an alcoholic.”

Me: “So the woman who has one cold beer a week to celebrate the weekend is an alcoholic?”

Him: “Yes.”

Me: “Even if she has never been drunk in her life.”

Him: “Yes.”

Me: “Even if during hard times she can’t afford that one beer and that doesn’t particularly bother her.”

Him: “Yes.”

Me: “How about your amazing Aunt Linda, who has only had the occasional glass of champagne at New Year’s?

Him: “She’s an alcoholic, too.”

Me: “She would be as stunned as I am to hear that, I’m sure. How about someone who partied pretty hard in college because that was the thing to do, but who outgrew it by the time he was 23, and hasn’t had a drink of any kind in the past 50 years?”

Him: “Alcoholic.”

Me: “Seriously? And someone who has never consciously partaken, but has had Nyquil, which contains alcohol, when suffering from a bad head cold?”

Him: “He’s an alcoholic, too.”

Me: “Nothing but communion wine about once a month?

Him: “Alcoholic.”

Me: “How about a fundamentalist (insert any religion here) who has avoided alcohol of all kinds since birth, but one day accidentally takes a sip of vodka, thinking it’s water, and immediately spits it out, but one evil drop manages to slide down her throat?

Him: “Yes, her too.”

Me: “What a scary world you live in. Every single person on the planet is an alcoholic. How about you? You had one drink your entire life, a glass of wine as we rode a gondola through the canals of Venice. Are you an alcoholic?”

Him: “I am.”

Me (after a long pause): “Do you have any idea how insane you sound right now?”

Defying logic is the worst kind of stupidity. I just realized that there is a word for this type of person: idiot. Or maybe it’s republican. Or maybe both.

brain

The Thing About IQ

I know a boy who despairs because his IQ isn’t as high as he’d like it to be. He thinks he’s doomed to failure. He thinks he’s stupid.

I heard in passing on NPR today (sorry, couldn’t tell you who said it or on which program) that IQ is not as good an indicator of academic success as discipline is. Someone who has a lower IQ and perseveres, gets his or her assignments done on time, and doesn’t put off studying ‘til the last minute is bound to do well. So, boys and girls, don’t let that IQ number get you down.

The reason I feel comfortable even discussing this without an adequate citation is that I’ve seen it with my own eyes. I’ve seen people struggle and plug away at various disciplines and come out on top because they really apply themselves. Their success is hard-won, but it’s still success. I’ve also seen people with genius IQs fail miserably in the working world because they may know their stuff, but they are incapable of communicating with others.

I truly believe that it’s much more important to be well-rounded than it is to be at the top of some arbitrary scale. I’m much more impressed with someone who has a lot of life experience than I am with someone who is so high up in his ivory tower that he cannot see the landscape.

So live your life. Take advantage of any opportunity for a new experience that comes your way. And most of all, don’t let some number dictate who you are or who you can be.

Q-Ivory.Tower

[Image credit: capecodtoday.com]