Category Archives: Pet Peeves

The defining generational shift

Thanks Justin for all the kind words about my blog and for pointing out so many great blogs and sites to check out.  Duff&Nonsense: entertaining, erudite, chock full of that British understated ruthlessness – love it.  Gypsy Scholar: covers the gambit and not easily pigeon-holed into a particular category – a well-written, eclectic mix of commentary.  Just this morning I started reading waka, waka, waka, Malcolm Pollack’s blog:  plan to spend days reading through his archives – the writing is top-notch.  I’m sure their blog lists contain many more blogs worth perusing. I’d like to venture out on a limb about Gypsy Scholar’s recent post.

Gypsy Scholar posted a piece, “Nonlinearity: E-Books vs. Physical Books“, which delves into the pros and cons of e-readers, when matched up against physical books and it led me to ponder this matter a bit further and after I pondered this a bit, I thought about how truly spoiled we, who bask in the modern world of luxury, are to have so many varied ways to access information, great literature, connect with other people around the globe.  Certainly, anyone who has ever tried to find the index or bibliography of an e-book, knows the frustration of simply flipping through the pages of a physical book and trying to do that with an e-reader.  As technology improves, my optimistic nature leads me to feel confident that glitch will eventually be ironed out.

Writer’s warning: Proceed at your own risk, the following rambling post is this writer’s “oh the demise of American culture” rant of the day.

The trickier problem seems to lie in the sad fact that there’s no cure for stupid and the handing tech toys to most of the world’s inhabitants seems to spread  a “too-dumb-to-exist” virus faster than 4G access.  Yes, it’s been a long time since I posted a pet peeve, but here goes.  Everywhere you wander in America (even perhaps around the globe, if news footage is reliable) you see the masses, preoccupied with their cell phones, iphones, tablets, etc.  Often my mean-streak breaks loose and I wonder, “these $%^#!* morons can’t even string together a coherent sentence, so what in the Hades can they be texting about all day long?”  Yes, I really do think things like this and on occasion, my nice, demure self lets thoughts like this slip from my lips…….. accidentally, of course.  American culture teeters toward the end of a three act play, where no one remembers the first two acts and we’re zooming to a climatic final scene, curtains poised to drop and there we slouch slurping our big drinks……..  glibly unaware.

For the bibliophiles, an e-reader offers us one more way to indulge our obsessive passion for acquiring books and just the knowledge that I’m carrying around a small home library’s worth of books in my purse makes me feel giddy.  No longer am I left flipping through outdated, grubby magazines,  while waiting to see the doctor nor do I have to suffer making or enduring aimless small talk, with lengthy rambles about the size of one’s kidney stones or some undiagnosed “rash”.  It’s so convenient to pull out my e-reader or tablet and block out the other inhabitants, so yes, technology serves as a very useful barrier to unwanted social interaction.  But for all these wonderful uses, I work and interact with ordinary people and way too often I hear people tell me they bought an e-reader and haven’t really used it yet or worse I’ve heard the following comment more than a handful of times, “I bought a kindle, but I don’t really read books”  Yes, acquiring these gadgets is about acquiring these gadgets – not really expanding one’s reading options.

In the early years of owning a PC, one bright morning my children were getting ready for school and living in a very temperate Southern state, we don’t get much in the way of cold weather (although Southerners bundle in big parkas as soon as the temperature drops below 60°F).  One of my sons rushed to the PC and he had to go online to find out if it was cold enough to wear a jacket.  In dismay, I blurted out, “Are you stupid?  Just step out on the front porch and find out!”  He looked at me, affronted by my ignorance, and said, “Mom that’s not as accurate as the weather online.”  Many times I’ve thought back to this as the defining generational shift in America – those who lived before computers and actually had to rely on their own brainpower to figure things out and the PC generation, where if someone wrote about it online it trumps even trusting you own up close and personal experience (even if that weather info came from several hundred miles away).

The love of books seems a more full-bodied experience than ownership of an e-reader.  There’s something awe-inspiring to meander along rows of books in a beautiful old library or even to find a small makeshift library tucked into a few fourth-floor rooms on a tiny US Army kaserne in Germany.  Often, I would bundle my youngest daughter into her car seat and we’d head to this library on Schloss Kaserne, after I got my other children off to school. I’d find some story books for her and some books for me and we’d find a comfy seat and spend several hours at a time reading.  Very few people used that library and my husband and other children turned their noses up at this tiny library, but for me it brought back childhood memories of sitting for hours in our old pastor’s attic, where his wife kept all her old magazines and excess books stored on neat shelves, in perfect order.  She had every edition of some magazines going back to the 1920s, when she had married our pastor.

The first thing I notice about any book is the binding.  I admire lovely bindings and that’s before I even open the cover.  An e-reader can never copy that feel of a book between your hands, but the ease of accessing so many classics, histories and information so easily offers a huge trade-off.  Would that we could copy good teaching methods as easily as we copy books to digitized formats.  Our pastor’s wife (mentioned in several previous posts) spent her time being a good pastor’s wife – helped in the church, helped in the community, helped us with our many reports and school projects.  And yet, by training she had attended Teachers College Columbia University in the mid-1920s and I most assuredly benefited from her many years of informally teaching me.  My brothers, sisters and I  would run across the road to the parsonage whenever we needed more information than our books at home offered.  She would stop whatever she was doing and devote as much time as needed to help us find information and offer advice.  This lovely woman would bookmark passages from books, pages in magazines and write notes of things she thought I should read.

I think that the issue confronting us is lazy self-indulgence, where failing schools is just a small part of the problem – just walk into any big box store, where the majority of Americans shop.  The book section rarely is crowded, yet the electronics area, particularly the gaming section usually swarms with young men.  What are the girls shopping for – mostly clothes, freakish hair color, looking for “as seen on TV” merchandise.  And it’s the rare shopper who isn’t otherwise preoccupied with his/her cellphone.  There, I’ve said it, we have the laziest, most self-indulgent culture on planet earth and that’s what’s ailing America.

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Pet Peeve #2 – Too Stupid To Survive

We Americans love to believe we’re the greatest nation on earth and at some point I believed this too, but as things go from dismal to dire, such delusions might well prove to be our undoing.  Since President Obama took office every step he’s taken pushes us closer to a point of economic collapse from whence we won’t be able to recover.  He deflects attention like a political  Wizard of Oz, waving his hands, telling us to pay no attention to that man behind the curtain, while he systematically dismantles (transforms) our country into a country ruled by executive fiat.  Republicans run around in disarray with only enough discipline to form a circular firing squad when the Democrats lob the next legislative fire bomb .  No need to wait for impact, these GOP clowns shoot each other long before then, making this era of democratic scorched earth policy an unnecessary redundancy.  Both sides provide a decidedly sickening display of gutless, self-serving antics that is it any wonder no problems ever get resolved?  We’re stuck on a endless political hamster wheel,  round and round and round we go with phoney fiscal crises, fabricated doomsday hysterics, all pasted together with the brainwashing chant of some new catchphrase the media willingly repeats thousands of times a day.  A couple months ago it was “fiscal cliff”, today it’s “sequestration”.   The Democrats perfected this technique of public brainwashing decades ago and it works – repeat the same hypnotic talking point, using the same phrases and all of a sudden the general public follows along , not even caring where they’re being led.

Our government loves to warn us about China and Russia.  Beware they’re doing all these dangerous things that run counter to our American interests.  Well, yes they do and what does America do?  We run around creating a fiscal plague, poised to wipe out life as we know it and we want to take the moral high-ground???   China has been buying up US real estate for decades and American companies, but we pretend it isn’t happening.  We want all the cheap consumer goods, because our lazy, slovenly citizenry can never have too much junk, yet we mouth hollow rhetoric about how great we are and how evil they are.  There’s enough scary stuff written about Putin to fill a library and yet, as I watch how he leads, I sure wish we had even one leader in America with his backbone – just one!  It’s time to pay attention and realize that the leaders in Russia and China watch us and frankly they’re worried that we might pull the entire world into a financial tailspin.  They’re  unloading foreign exchange currency (US dollars) for gold, in hopes of boosting their chance of survival (here, here, and here).   They’re seeking secure energy resources, while we have this President and his EPA albatrosses wrapped around our necks, strangling the last breath of economic freedom from us.  They have leaders and we have this sorry excuse in Washington and sometimes I laugh at how ridiculous it is to hear American officials, like our illustrious former Madame Secretary of State railing about Putin or lecturing the Chinese.   In my heart, I long for real leaders in America again.

What  does it say about us when our most popular export isn’t our American values, but Honey Boo Boo?   She’s the perfect face of our American decline:  a chubby, rude, beauty pageant queen, prone to temper-tantrums and embarrassing public displays.  As a child, I loved watching re-runs of Shirley Temple movies and comparing real talent beside this bratty child, being exploited on TLC (The Learning Channel) of all places makes me cringe.  It’s a perfect example of American culture.  We have  a History Channel where no real history can be found, but you learn about the pawn business, trucking in Alaska and  alien visits.  We have music channels where they play no music and  news channels with more punditry than news reporting.   Since words no longer carry concrete definitions it seems quite fitting that we prefer to live in a perpetual state of national delusion, believing our financial Armageddon can’t happen to us,  – we’re so great.  So, while we slouch, sag, and vegetate and our elected officials point fingers at each other, many other countries have leaders preparing for the future.  Are we too stupid to survive?    Sad to think that we just might be…..

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Pet Peeves Post #1

Hi everyone!  Since this topic is sure to warrant many additional posts, I’ve decided to designate this post #1.  In the past decade it’s become socially acceptable to wander about in public in pajamas.  I’ve seen this same  customer meandering in our local big box store numerous times wearing a long flowing nightgown that trails on the floor by about a foot on her 5-foot tall frame.  The hem of this nightgown has more holes than Swiss cheese, and needless to say,  from about her knees down the gown is filthy.   Oblivious to the stares, she prances along, head held high, as if she were a beauty pageant contestant.

This afternoon my husband and I were eating at an Olive Garden when I beheld the sight of a lady at a nearby table.  This rather large woman decided her bright pink Mickey Mouse pajamas were appropriate attire to go out to lunch.  What are people thinking???  At first this trend seemed to be lazy college students and other young people, but now I see people of all ages, out and about, in public wearing sleepwear as outerwear.

Judging by my views on this subject, maybe, I’m out of date.  Here is a Slate piece championing pajamas in public.  And apparently wearing pajamas in public (here) has been in vogue in China for years and under attack by many public officials trying to burnish the Chinese image globally.  Now, I’m not for banning pajamas in public and considering the state of American culture, pajamas rank pretty low on the offensive meter.  Still let’s hope this fad passes quickly.  It ranks right up there with my disgust of tattoos, earlobe stretching, sagging britches and flip flops worn as dress shoes/sandals with dresses.  I’ll console myself that at least this bright pink Mickey Mouse eyesore wore a bra, so at least we were spared a more jarring image.  Understandably, this carbon dates my fashion sense to almost antique status.  I grew-up having my mother drill it into my head that a slip was a must under every dress or skirt.  Now, I often see slips worn  in lieu of dresses and bras worn as tops, which is a whole other topic.  So, in the spirit of bad taste, I’ll post one more link (here).   Smile, despite this minor annoyance,  it’s still great to live in America!

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