Category Archives: Social comment

The decline of message boards

While I do not think they will just go away, I think they are fading overall.  It came to me today while reading a post I thought was fairly misguided, though not offensive.  For whatever reason, I posted that the poster was missing the point.  He of course challenged me to prove my point.  I thought about it, and then I thought:  Why would I care? I don’t care to make him agree or see it my way, and I don’t care what he thinks especially to begin with, and I don’t care if anyone else on the board looks down on me because I didn’t engage him.  I simply do not care.  So I just told him it wasn’t worth my time, and left it at that.

It’s not that he was stupid, or that it wasn’t a debatable point.  It was that the whole message board environment simply has worn down my ability to care what he or anyone else says there.  And I am wondering if others sort of passed through a message board phase and lost general interest in them, as I have.  In many ways, Facepalm walls and posts and comment threads seem to have taken over, and often with even greater idiocy, though at least some greater need for circumspection how one points it out.  One never wants to hear from a liked friend, “Uh, that’s my brother-in-law, and while I agree he’s a fairly dim bulb, I’m not having fun reading you sending his BP into triple digits over triple digits.”  Or worse:  “I’m sorry about my brother-in-law.  He wasn’t always this way.  He got caught in an IED blast and has never recovered.  Before that, though, he won the Silver Star, and was the best Little League coach ever.”

Anyway.  Am I the only one out there who nowadays only bothers with message boards when he has a specific question for a specific group/subject, asks it, thanks them for the answer and then vanishes for two years?


Business accountability

Why do we hold mom & pop businesses more accountable than Dow 30 corporations? If a local mom & pop sent us deceptive advertising personally created for us, we’d be outraged.  Yet a major corporation may do the same, impersonally, to millions–and people just accept that as normal.

How are mom & pop more culpable? Or, for that matter, why are the largest companies not culpable at all? If mom & pop don’t return our call, they get a black mark.  If the largest companies don’t return our call, it’s “what did you expect?” If mom & pop said, “sorry, that’s our policy,” we’d hold a stupid policy against them.  If a huge company has a stupid policy, we accept that same answer in ovine fashion.


Thinking about Dixie

I’ve long had a fair bit of affection for the South and its people, which is odd because I doubt I could ever live in the South in comfort except in carefully selected areas, maybe not even then.  It’s nothing by any means common to most Southerners; rather, its vocal minority is simply more vocal than would enable me to live in peace, me being not particularly prone to withstand certain things in silence.  It’s a rough situation for the vast majority, whom I find a diverse, thoughtful, friendly and self-honest bunch.  They are sick of being caught up in broad generalizations, and I completely get that because I’m a Kansas boy.  I get the same sort of crap, and by and large, Southerners seem to deal with those broad generalizations based on minority viewpoints better than I do those about Kansas.  I guess they’ve had long practice.

Thus, there’s more than one reason a son of Kansas roots watching twisters tear the living hell out of Dixie can feel pretty badly for them.  Hang tough, folks.  My condolences for your losses, which are appallingly grave.  You have a lot of good people, a lot of tough people, and you’ll rebuild.

Do you promise not to put my tires on someone else’s car?

We had that conversation today down at Les Schwab.  Last fall I had to buy new studs for my wife’s car.  Les Schwab put my tires on the car of a mediocre local news anchor.  The only credit they earned occured when the supervisor came out to the waiting area and enumerated this event to me.  Too stunned to speak at first, I just stared at him with the you could not possibly be this stupid look.  Moreover, I was in no way compensated for the extra hour and a half I had to sit around waiting for them to fetch her car back, get my tires, put them on Deb’s car, etc.  Sorry.  You’re screwed.  You will be delayed another hour and a half; no, it is not your fault; no, you will not get that time back, nor anything for it; yes, we really do expect you to just meekly accept this.

I don’t do ‘meek’ too well.  I am resolved not to let them forget it soon.  If that’s the only compensation I get, besides sinking this particular banderilla, very well.

This led to today’s odd conversation as I had the studs swapped out for the regulars (required soon by law).  I went to the counter, and asked how long it would be.  I explained what had happened last time, and asked if she could promise they would not give someone else my tires.  If she would promise, I would dare go eat some guilty pleasure lunch across the street.  Otherwise I would stand there and never take my eyes off my tires.  This was the part where she was supposed to show shocked disappointment and wonder what could be done to restore my confidence.  I didn’t think very much of her attitude, quite frankly; she acted almost as if I were making it up.  She didn’t quite eyeroll, but Les Schwab got another black mark for that.

Guess they’ll just have to wear it.  It’s not like I would tell the story on the Internet or something.

Facebook Slacktivism

If you’re on Facepalm, you’ve seen them:  profile posts pressuring you to change your status to something.  And yes, it is pressure, often coupled with a guilt trip.  To gather these, I had to go unhide a whole bunch of people who have done them so often I finally just tuned them out:

Put this dog on
.//^ ^\\ your status
(/(_•_)\) to show
._/”*”\_ that you are
(,,,)^(,,,) Against Animal Cruelty

If I don’t, does that mean I’m for animal cruelty?

Who says Facebook friends aren’t real friends? They enjoy seeing you on line everyday, miss you when you aren’t, send condolences if you’ve lost someone, give you wishes on your Birthday, enjoy the photos & videos you post, put a smile on your face when you’re down, make you laugh when you feel like crying. Re-post if you love your Facebook friends. ?

And if I don’t, does that mean I don’t care for them?

Tell me if this makes any sense. I’m still scratching my head at this one. Homeless go without eating. Elderly go without needed medicines. Mentally ill go without treatment. Troops go without proper equipment. Veterans go without benefits they were promised. Yet we donate billions to other countries before helping our… own first. Have the guts to re-post this. 1% will re-post and 99% won’t

So if I don’t accept your premise and parrot what you say, I’m gutless?

Doesn’t make sense, does it? Homeless in the US go without eating. Elderly in the US go without needed medicines. Mentally ill in the US go without treatment. American troops go without proper equipment. American veterans go without benefits that were promised. Yet we donate billions to other countries before helping our own first. 1% will re-post and 99% won’t. Have the guts to re-post this. I KNOW I’M IN THE 1%

For this one, evidently, I’m gutless again, plus unkind to our needy?


So if I don’t make a mindless repetition in ALL CAPS, it’s because I’m afraid of offending someone?

Very sadly, most of you probably won’t copy and paste this. Will you do it and leave it on your status for at least an hour??? It’s Special Education week, and this is in HONOR of all the children who need a little extra help, patience & understanding. Proudly, I will! …Thanks!! ….’Here’s to all the kids who need just a little bit…… more

This one switched message a bit, leading with the guilt trip.  So now I don’t like learning-disabled kids?

Now you see why I just block anyone who does too much of this.  Maybe some people can be insulted into making a show for others, but the idea has no appeal for me.

Why I don’t wear green on March 17

It’s something I get every year, especially with a last name that’s more Irish than a spraypainted sheep.  It’s easier to just explain it this way.

  • St. Patrick’s Day is not merely a Christian holiday, it celebrates a Christian victory over paganism. I’m not a druid (though some of my dear friends are), but I’m a Germanic Heathen–more akin than not. For me to celebrate this would be like UCLA fans getting together to remember and celebrate all the times USC beat them. In what universe would I be glad for this?
  • It’s more an Irish-American holiday than an Irish holiday. I have that on good authority from the Irish themselves, who surely are greater authorities on Irishness than Irish-Americans. One Irishwoman told me about her horror at an Irish festival in California, watching people collect money for ‘the struggle.’ She called them ‘the shamrock people.’ Remember, these are her words, not mine. Her further comment:  “Either the shamrock people are Irish, or I am, but we both can’t be.”
  • Because of that, what you get is millions of people going as overboard as possible on what they see as Irishness: leprechauns, green beer, green stripes on roads, green clothing, red hair, freckles, alcoholism, and so on. There are bits of truth in that, sure, but it’s not how I see Ireland. I see Irishness as hospitality after a brief period of caution, eagerness to talk to strangers, a passion for all arts (musical, literary, visual), and yes, a history of suffering and in some cases terrible violence. Leon Uris got it right: a terrible beauty. To me, St. Patrick’s Day doesn’t look very Irish.
  • Speaking of alcoholism, do we really need to push that stereotype harder? In the past, it was part and parcel of oppressive stereotyping by the British occupiers (and the Americans who looked down upon Irish immigrants: the drunken Mick, face shaped in simian fashion, feckless, slumped in an alley, presented as proof that Irish were a lower form of life. Here’s one for you: alcoholism in Ireland has all the same consequences it has in the United States. Shortened lives, failed commitments, bad decisions, battered wives, beaten kids, damaged families, avoidable road fatalities, cirrhosis, addiction battles, stupid sayings, and so on. It might seem funny from here, maybe not so much so if you think about the families it harms.
  • What of the Irish whom the orange bar on the flag represents? They too are Irish. How can they be left out? How can one think this will help promote unity in the old country? If you care about Ireland, how can you not want its differing faiths and ethnicities to get along, united in Irishness? St. Patrick’s Day claims to represent all things supposedly Irish, and all the Irish groups make a big deal of non-sectarianism. Ask an Ulster Protestant how really part of it she feels. When she does feel like part of it, it’ll be a win.
  • Irish-American nationalism is often bound up more than a little bit with support for terrorism. Yeah. Sorry, but it’s terrorism when you terrorize civilians. It’s one thing to attack the enemy’s armed soldiers; if you want to declare war and prosecute it, do so, always remembering that it has consequences and they may be fatal (perhaps to you). But when you carry your war deliberately to noncombatants, you are more organized criminal than freedom fighter. It’s just as true of the Protestant terrorists as the Catholic terrorists. Would I like to see a united Ireland with a truly non-sectarian leadership and equal rights and peace? Without doubt. Is it worth killing civilians to bring about? Not in my view.
  • Finally, I’m not much moved by part-time Irishness. Therefore I am prone to say: “Tell you what. I understand some Irish (Gaelic). If you can lecture me in Irish as to why I should wear green, I may not do it, but I will hear you out. If you want to get down with your bad Irish self, study the Irish language in all its complexity and beauty. And when you do, and you want to pressure me about this, we will have that discussion. In Irish.  Until then, I’ll pass, thanks.”

Not to be a stick in the mud, though. If you’re observing the holiday, have a happy one. Honestly.