Don’t read this post

awful-clipartIt’s not a terribly common thought for me to have, but this is probably beneath you floated through my head as I was contemplating writing this post earlier.  Let it never be said that I have any standards for what I’m willing to whine about over here, guys.

To wit: I’m at the point where I’m seriously considering contacting my local radio station and begging them to move their stupid advice column segment to literally any other time than the fifteen minutes or so where I am driving my son to school and am thus guaranteed to be in the car five days a week.

Yes, I know I could listen to something else.  This particular local morning show is terrible.  It is the worst station in the universe, except for every other station I could be listening to, most of which are less “radio programs” and more “war crimes.”  Sometimes I don’t feel like screwing around with my phone because I’m in a hurry to get the boy to school and choosing something to listen to makes my brain hurt.  And therefore just about every weekday morning I’m exposed to a crowdsourced advice column, starring a question by the stupidest people on earth and responded to by people who think those people need their help.

This morning’s question was about whether the flu vaccine was “propaganda,” for example.  Earlier in the week someone wanted to know if she was terrible for asking half of her bridesmaids to lose weight before she allowed them to be in her wedding.  These are always questions that a sixth-grader with a modicum of emotional intelligence should be able to answer easily, only apparently there are no sixth-graders with a modicum of emotional intelligence listening to the radio in the morning.  It is terrible and it ensures that I begin every single day by questioning the worth of civilization in general and American civilization (my opinion of which is lowering on a daily basis anyway) in particular.  I need them to stop and I need them to air their dumb program at any other time, or at least restrict the advice-giving to the hosts and not the howling apes who are calling in.

Also, I need to start an advice column, most of which will consist of me telling people that they are morons who should have solved their own simple-ass problems before writing to me.

In which there’s some lint in there

jocks_3962_1430228730WARNING: This is the whiniest, most inside-baseball ridiculous no-one-who-matters-will-ever-see-this whiny blog post of all time, so either click away while you still can or brace yourself.

This is Irish Dave.  He has apparently decided on his own that he wants to be called that; I didn’t come up with the name.  He’s the new morning DJ on the radio station that I usually listen to on my way in to work.  (Left aside for now: why I bother listening to terrestrial radio. I have reasons; I don’t know that they’re any good.)

Anyway, he’s the new morning DJ, and they’ve completely redone the show now that he’s on it.  It’s called the New Fun Way to have Fun Fun in the Morning while You’re Having Fun and Waking Up To Have Fun, or something ridiculous like that, and Irish Dave is the host.  The previous morning show had a stupid trivia question segment that happened to coincide with my morning drive in to work; they’d basically quote a statistic (“40% of women say this never happens to them… but it does!”) and challenge the viewers to come up with the answer and give away some stupid prize.

On Irish Dave’s show, they’ve done something similar, and in the same time slot, except it’s appreciably dumber.  He calls it the Whiz Kid segment, but the ads and promos call it Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader, because god help us if we want to be original ever and the best thing to do is to steal other people’s dumb ideas.  Here’s the problem: there’s no actual being smarter than the fifth grader; it’s just a kid reading the question, and frankly she’s reading it poorly– her delivery is syllable-by-syllable and halting as hell, and as a teacher I think she really needs to work on her fluency.  It’s awful.  But she’s not competing at all, they’ve just got a little kid asking the question for some entirely unclear reason.  Occasionally Irish Dave pretends she’s calling in live.  This is obviously not true at all and I don’t understand why he bothers.

This was this morning’s question, rendered word-for-word:

“Between 1845 and 1847, three fourths of one million people and hundreds of thousands of others emigrated to the United States.  What caused this tragedy?”

couple things about this.  First, the style of the questions now make this shit much less fun.  I knew right away it was the potato famine, but it’s not fun guessing if you don’t immediately know.  That was the fun thing about the previous segment– the stats were always ridiculously generic and the answers could really be just about anything.  This is a history question.  You either know it or you don’t.

And it’s a horribly phrased trivia question.  First of all, the kid’s reading the question badly, because no one ever says “three fourths of one million.”  It sounds weird, but it’s written as a fraction on the sheet of paper she’s reading from and she’s a fifth grader so she doesn’t know to say quarters.  Second, what the fuck is the deal about “3/4 of a million people” and “hundreds of thousands of others“?  What the hell are these “others”?  Are they people?  Horses?  Lice?

Finally, the actual emigration isn’t the actual tragedy.  The famine was the tragedy.  The famine didn’t cause the tragedy of emigration, the famine was the tragedy that caused the emigration.  Did the fifth-grader write the question?

Fucking dumb.

On an entirely unrelated note, all of my books for the signing have shown up.  I don’t know that I ever officially announced this, but I redid the cover and the interior for Skylights before printing the 30 copies that I’ll have with me for the signing.  Here’s what the new cover looks like:

2nd ed print edition cover

Pretty, innit?  So if you order the print edition of Skylights (or buy it at the signing) it’ll look a bit better than the earlier version did.

This one has some bad words in it


(First things first: if you need context on the picture, go here.  This post is gonna be sorta grab-baggy; it should make sense by the time I get to the end.)

Let’s start by griping about nonsense.  Y’all know the song OPP, right?  If you don’t we can’t be friends anymore.  One of hiphop’s classic anthems; it came out when I was a sophomore in high school and therefore I will have it memorized until I die.  The whole song is about infidelity, but because it doesn’t have any bad words in it and the writing is clever it got played at high school dances all the time.  Combine that with the call-and-response and what you end up with is hundreds of teenagers hollering about penises and pussies in public with none of the adults noticing what’s going on.  It’s wonderful.  It contains this verse:

As for the ladies, OPP means something gifted
The first two letters are the same but the last is something different
It’s the longest, loveliest, lean– I call it the leanest
It’s another five letter word rhymin’ with cleanest and meanest
I won’t get into that, I’ll do it…ah…sorta properly
I say the last P…hmmm…stands for property

It doesn’t stand for property.

I was listening to the radio on the way home from school when I encountered a picture-perfect example of why I bloody fucking hate terrestrial radio:  they played OPP, and they bleeped out cleanest and meanest.

They bleeped two words that rhyme with the actual name of a human body part that half of the human race has, in a song that is entirely about infidelity.

This makes sense on no levels at all, and makes me want to punch the shit out of everyone involved– like, “hit you until my hands break off at the wrists” level of pummeling.  I goddamn hate bleeped songs.  I feel like if you think as a corporate entity that you need to bleep part of a song you shouldn’t be playing it at all.  Ideas are more dangerous than words, you stupid dumbasses.  But this is a new level of stupid– even if I was willing to entertain the suggestion that the word “penis” needed to be sanitized from the airwaves, the suggestion that words that rhyme with penis should also be sanitized is so damn dumb that I’m literally in pain right now while I’m complaining about it.

Stop making me use italics, U93.  I fucking hate you.

New item!  I bring in the mail when I got home, and there was a flyer from our new wingnut Congresscritter in it.  Jackie Walorski is enough of a discredit to humanity that I’m not even terribly interested in describing why; she won her last election largely on the backs of 1) redistricting; 2) the incumbent deciding to run (successfully) for the Senate; and 3) disgusting, pathetic accusations of carpetbagging against her opponent, who grew up here (I went to high school with him) and then moved from the area to go fight in Iraq and start a veteran’s charity in DC.  It was literally true that he hadn’t lived in the area for several years, but his family still lived here and he spent the majority of his time gone on active duty and fighting in a foreign country.  Even if I wasn’t against her politics– and believe me, I am– I’d think she was scum for that.

Which made it interesting to me that most of the flyer– the bit that wasn’t a slanted short questionnaire– was all about trumpeting her bill extending whistleblower protections to sexual assault victims in the military.  Protecting rape victims isn’t generally something that Republicans are big on.  Crowing about having done so isn’t either.  Which leaves me to wonder if a) she’s trying to moderate herself a bit; b) she actually is more moderate than I’d thought; c) she’s just trying to look more moderate; or d) this is an interesting bit of microtargeting– since the flyer in question was addressed to my wife, and there wasn’t one in the mail for me.  Generally when we get these sorts of things (and they come frequently enough) there’s either one of them for each of us or it’s just addressed to the household and not to either of us specifically.  This one just had my wife’s name on it.


Last but not least:  I just got into an interesting discussion on Facebook about Mike Krahulik’s latest bit of dumbassery.  (Be aware: if you don’t know who Mike Krahulik is, you probably ought not to read this part, as I don’t intend to provide a lot of context.)  The person who started the thread was saying that he was done with Penny Arcade on account of not being able to support Mike’s actions any longer, and while I agree with him that the man has gotten incredibly tiresome in a lot of ways I’m not able to pull the trigger on that just yet.  Which got me wondering about exactly what gets me to cut something I enjoyed out of my life on account of not agreeing with its behavior.  I can think of four examples:  Mel Gibson, Orson Scott Card, Dan Simmons, and Chik-Fil-A.  In each of the four cases, I have previously really enjoyed their work (or their chicken; I hate Chik-Fil-A as a corporation but I will fight you if you denigrate their chicken.  We can hate them for their politics but let’s not get stupid here) and am no longer willing to support them in any way because of their beliefs and/or behaviors.  I kinda want to include Tom Cruise in here, too, but I was never really a fan of his so it’s not quite the same thing.

I guess the difference is hatred.  Mel Gibson hates everybody.  Card and Simmons and Chik-Fil-A are open in their hatred of gay people.  I don’t think Mike Krahulik hates anybody.  I just think he’s a sheltered geek with a short fuse, and spouting his mouth off about shit he knows nothing about frequently gets him in trouble– but I don’t think he hates anybody and I don’t think he’s trying to be an asshole most of the time.  My Facebook friend made a good point that once you’re past a certain age you either need to get better about things or own your own bullshit, and he’s right about that– but at the same time I’ve fucked up in my own personal feminism in who knows how many different ways, so I’m not always inclined to jump down the throat of somebody who seems to be trying to get better about sexuality and gender issues.  I’m just not sure how much more slack I’m willing to cut the guy if he’s not smart enough to figure out that “never talk about this shit extemporaneously, and have someone smarter than me read over my shoulder whenever I talk about it in print” is a sound policy.

Within minutes, a link to this article appears in my inbox.  For those of you too lazy to click, it’s about how Not Intending To Do That appears to be a magical fucking power that not only insulates the Unintender from owning the negative results of their actions but causes others to defend them as well.  It’s… right.  It also includes the word “kyriarchy,” which means something bad, which is sad, because it’s a fun-sounding word and I’d like opportunities to use it in public.

Thinking about this more: the bit of me that wants to defend Mike is related to the bit of me that refuses to give up on certain kids (I can’t honestly say all of them) in my classes who are for one reason or another generally assholes but seem saveable to me.  I think Mike’s saveable.  I might be wrong, and he’s a grown-ass man with a long, long cultural reach and not a fourteen-year-old, but I think that’s another part of the difference here as to why I’m not willing to lock the door on PA just yet.