Peri-pathetic Cell Phone Users

People who know me well, know that I walk about the house or office when I am on a phone call using a mobile phone; cordless or cell. I don’t know why I like to walk about because I am equally comfortable sitting down if I have to use a phone that has a cord attached to it. In loose terms, I am peripatetic; a wanderer. Not a follower of Aristotle.

Now that I work in San Francisco, and travel to and from work by train (BART), I no longer witness the travesties of Californian drivers. Instead, I witness an entirely different group of idiots; cellphone users. Back in the day in London when I traveled by train everyone was silent as they sat, or tried to stand while the train stopped and started and rattle down the tracks, and read the morning newspaper. No electronic devices back then! If you were standing you could look down the long rows of seats and see nothing but the front and back pages of papers being held by a pair of disembodied hands. No faces; just hands and newspapers. But when the train stopped and people hurried off the carriage, they folded their papers, stuffed them in their briefcase or handbag, and hustled off to work.

Today: no such phenomenon. Not a newspaper in sight. Everyone seems to have a cellphone. They are either reading, listening to music, playing video games or sending messages to someone; probably the person sitting next to them. After all, texting is the new conversation with close friends and family over dinner so why not the colleague next to you on a train.

And when it’s time to get off BART, the only change is the posture of the people; not what they are doing. They get up, get off the train, head for the exit, and all the while continue reading, listening to music, playing video games or sending messages to someone. They barely look up to see where they are going.

“And your point is?” I hear you mutter. The point is, these idiots are so engrossed in their little electronic world that they frequently fail to see where they are headed: mostly toward someone with the same double-digit IQ and equal lack of attention. Truth be told, I don’t care if they bump into one another, walk into a post, or trip over the edge of a water fountain. In fact, I sometimes dawdle in the hopes of witnessing an event like that. It would brighten my day. But I care when I’m the one they are walking toward and I have to doge out of their way.

Once in a while I’m taken by this flight of fancy wherein I just stop and watch to see if the moron walking toward me playing Candy Crush will at some point – before the collision – actually notice that there is another human on the planet. And at 6’ 3” weighing 210lbs, I’m not someone easily missed or knocked over. No one has yet bumped into me but they have stopped short and looked at me alarmed and irritated. “How dare there be life outside my little world and standing right where they shouldn’t.”

That they walk into one another for my amusement is of no consequence but I get pissed when they look indignant at me for apparently being in their way when they are texting and walking. I may be peripatetic at home or in the office when on my cellphone, but these self-indulgent, lemming-like, cellphone users are nothing short of peri-pathetic.

Use Your Head To Think Ahead

As of September 30th I have been traveling to and from work, along CA 680, for a year. And I have discovered many things about human nature. Most of what I have witnessed has come as no surprise; merely reinforcing what I knew or suspected of motorists. I don’t know if this technique is taught to students of driving anywhere in the USA but where I’m from, and when I was taught to drive, we had to demonstrate the ability to “read the traffic” and adjust our driving speed and path accordingly. For the best part of this past year, the only thing I have seen drivers reading is their newspaper, email or text messages.

Adding to the long list of things that have always distracted drivers, texting, emailing, web browsing, and speaking on smart phones by dumb people has increased the danger of being on the road. As if unwrapping burgers, rooting for CDs, lighting cigarettes, rummaging through handbags, putting on makeup, brushing hair, shaving, and reading the newspaper isn’t enough – and women are just as bad – drivers are now so distracted by cell phones, they can’t drive straight. Their heads are bobbing up and down as if they are – well, you figure it out – and weaving all over the road.

I’ve never considered the Californian “only slow down for a stop sign” drivers to be particularly good, but with an ever shorter span of attention is further divided between household chores in the car, cell phone usage, and actually driving, these pinheads have even less time to plan their journey or react to traffic conditions. Drifting left and then suddenly barreling right across 3 lanes of the freeway to reach their exit is no longer uncommon. Lane discipline was always rare and so too was making sure you were in the right lane in advance of changing direction. The difference between then and now is the smart phone. Necessary turns and exits now take the driver by complete surprise. They react to them much like waking up late for work; except of course for the 80mph difference in speed and other cars.

Other than shouting at people who I spot on their bloody phones while they drive, or hold up traffic while they finish bobbing, is it too much to ask that people use their heads to think ahead; just a little?

-ist, -ism and –ish

Last night I was channel surfing and came across the tail end of a conversation between the program anchor and her guest. The topic piqued my interest, and instantly raised my ire, because it mentioned “gender inequality” and the fact that a chivalrous man is sexist; albeit there are two kinds: the “benevolent sexist” (holding open a door) and the “hostile sexist” (a wolf whistle). Really? Tell me more. As it happens I was too late to hear all the details and my ears where anyway ringing. So today over lunch I went a-lookin’ for word of the study that had just been published. Why I decided to upset myself on a Friday is a mystery but I suppose it’s based on my instinctive and defensive reaction to being categorized as sexist simply because I practice chivalry as often as I can. It’s in my blood.

Manners Mattered

I was raised by my mother and father to be chivalrous: to be a gentleman and treat any woman – including my mother – as a lady; not just as a member of the opposite sex. It never occurred to me that chivalry was a public statement by a man (nee gentleman) of his private view that a woman (nee lady) was inferior. It all seemed to fit with a seemingly gentler age when politeness was a strength rather than weakness; when people seemed to me to be more courteous toward one another. Not just men holding open doors for women, but people being pleasant to one another. Call it idealistic but that’s what I remember of my childhood and I still find no fault in it. So much so that I open every door for my wife: house, office, restaurant or car. And by doing so I am not reflecting an opinion that she is somehow inferior. I’m not suggesting that she’s incapable of getting into a car without me; that she is frail. Far from it. She drives more than I do now that I’m back to commuting by train to work each day. And I am sure she manages to get in and out of her car quite well without me.

Chivalry Is Sexist?

Anyway, back to the point. I found the article published in the Huffington Post. It was a synopsis of a study co-authored and published by psychologist Jin Goh and psychology Professor, Judith Hall. The article is boldly entitled “Chivalry Is Sexist, Says New Study”. You can read the article and make up your own mind, but one of the quotes from Judith Hall, “benevolent sexism is like a wolf in sheep’s clothing — [it] perpetuates support for gender inequality.” deserves a little analysis. More specifically the part that mentions “gender inequality”. Yes, gender inequality. The two predominant genders on this planet are unequal. What a revelation.

When in the history of humanity have men and women ever been equal? When in the history of humanity have any two people been equal? We are all individuals; we are each unique. No two of us are alike. We are therefore unequal to everyone else. If by gender inequality Ms. Hall is euphemistically referring to gender inferiority, then she should just say so. But I suspect she would be instantly pilloried by men if she dare suggest that they, as a group, look upon women as inferior. They don’t. We don’t.

It’s In Our Genes

Inequality is inherent in our genetic makeup and millions of years of evolution hasn’t brought men and women biologically any closer. There are certain defining characteristics that separate us; and not just our plumbing. We are physiologically different. We think differently. We react to situations differently. Our brains are physically wired differently. We are not equal. We are simply different. Now that I’ve declared my position on equality, I’d like to point out to feminists that I cannot recall ever offering a woman my seat on a train, or holding open a door and allowing her to walk ahead of me, and was accused of being sexist. They have all too willingly accepted, and with few exceptions shown gratitude for, my chivalry. As I approach 60 years old, I have many years of knowledge and experience of these matters so when I say with few exceptions, it’s based on my very large sample. Peter Glick, apparently the author of the original “benevolent sexism” study, says “the intention is not to make men feel like they should stop being courteous, but rather knowing when they are crossing the line.”

Stop! Well, maybe not …

The article goes on to say that, “In his 1996 report, Glick said people in general find benevolent sexism more desirable than detrimental, but it still promotes gender inequality.” But here’s the rub. I don’t have time to interview every woman I come across where I might otherwise want to display chivalry. I haven’t the patience, or enough years left to live, to spend time figuring out how a woman may interpret my politeness. It used to be easy. You opened the door and she walked ahead of you and said “thanks”. She, by the way, might have been the CEO of a company in the building and earned more money than you could imagine. Inequality? Get a grip. So in the end if men must now be nervous of showing politeness to women, or have to instantly examine their motives before acting, then chivalry will die. It will become too difficult. It is anyway already on life support. If proving I am not a sex-ist, or that I am not in some way exhibiting sex-ism, toward women then I may just abandon chivalry altogether and live with the risk of accusations of being self-ish. Ladies … the choice is yours.

Just An After-thought

Have you ever wondered where this will end? If you believe gender equality (and I’m still not sure what that means) can be achieved, how will women feel when men look upon them as little different from their buddies and treat them the same. Is that what women really want?

1984: 30 Years On

I regret not making the most of my excellent education. It was an interesting blend of science and the classics. At the time I tended to scoff at the “Arts”, believing the Sciences were worthy of study but arguing about what an author was thinking when they wrote a particular book seemed pointless. Nonetheless, I spent 4 years at high school reading English Literature in addition to my science studies. Of all the literature I read few books can I remember in any detail, save Lord of the Flies, Animal Farm, several Shakespearean plays, some Dickens, DH Lawrence, and “1984”. Oddly, the current shenanigans in Congress and histrionics from the White House can all draw parallels from the events unfolding in the books I remember. I first thought about entitling this blog Bleak House. It reminded me of the pall hanging over the White House. Congress mirrors Lord of the Flies and you can pick your favorite Shakespearian play to match the way Democrats behave; mine is Hamlet. From what I remember of DH Lawrence’s “Lady Chatterly’s Lover”, I feel the same way every time Obama opens his mouth; but without being kissed first.

With all that said, Orwell’s “1984” became frighteningly real when recently I heard El Presidente repeat his oft repeated assurance that “if you like your healthcare plan, you can keep your healthcare plan, period” but looked down at his notes and followed that comment with, “if your plan …” God in heaven! Orwell was right but 30 years late. Despite dozens of recorded examples of what Obama actually said, there’s the Liar In Chief actually telling us that what we heard him say time and time again, was wrong because what he actually said was … not what we thought. We all had hearing problems. He was actually re-writing a small part of history. Forget the crap Democrats and their lemmings say to justify the President’s lies, there was never an “IF” in his promise. Forget about what he should have said; what he meant to say; that your plan was rubbish but now you’re better off. The President DID NOT follow “period” with an “if”.

More surprisingly, few pundits, journalists, or news anchors have said much about this. Yes, they argue about his lie, but no one has actually compared his attempt at a do-over to the tactics of those armies of human drones in Orwell’s book whose days were spent literally republishing past news to match the all-powerful government’s – Big Brother’s – propaganda. His performance was stunning. I’m really quite worried by this. It’s not WHAT Obama said, it’s THAT he said his remarks on national TV and few have commented on the implications of a President having the audacity to believe that we’re all too dim to realize what he’s doing. So here we are, 1984: 30 years on. / December 5, 2013

60893249 People Can Be Wrong

voteIt’s been quite some time since I last posted something on my blog. It’s not for the lack of things to say; those who know me understand that I always have something to say. Instead, I’ve been absent many weeks because I’ve a new job. And I’m very grateful to have one. In stark contrast, something like 23 million do not; or at least if they have one it’s nowhere near as good as the one they had before the great economic down-turn. By all accounts a large number of unemployed have simply given up looking for work. If for no other reason than those millions less fortunate than me, I am humbled by being employed and I try every day to not grumble about silly pin-pricks of daily life. Given the choice, I’ll deal with silliness in the workplace in preference to the far more serious matters that unemployed people face; not the least of which is facing your family with the same news as yesterday: I didn’t get a job.

And that segues quite nicely into the subject of the country’s recent election. This blog is devoted – as the name implies – to the daft things people do and say; things that cause me to ask “what’s wrong with people?” Usually my interest is captured by an individual –sometimes even a small group of people – that demonstrated they were thoughtless and quite possibly genetically stupid. People who, if laws of nature were allowed to operate, would have long since been removed from the gene-pool. But on this occasion the group is large: 60,893,249 to be exact. They are all those who renewed our previous President’s 4 year lease on the oval office. “WTF” is an obvious and simplistic reaction; “YHTBFJ” (you figure out the acroym) was actually my response to the news, that Wednesday night, when it became obvious that a slim majority of the voting electorate decided we needed to go Barakwards for another 4 years. Although I remain baffled and confused by their choice, the fog of bewilderment has lifted as I read, and listen to, daily analysis of “what went wrong?”; even weeks after the seismic event.

The Wall Street Journal – to which I subscribe – had an interesting opinion piece on Wednesday November 7th in which they tried to make sense of what had just happened at the polls. Setting aside what arguably was Sandy’s October surprise for Obama, and the love-fest with Governor Christie, I get the impression several single-issue demographics help Obama: young voters, single women, Latinos, African Americans, and the gay community. Each appeared to have a narrow agenda for which they perceived Obama was their champion. I think it’s safe to assume that African-Americans vote overwhelmingly for Democrats (odd given the history of racism by Democrats against Blacks in this country) so they would have helped any Democrat, not just Obama. But they have – as far as unemployment goes – done worse under Obama’s rule than his predecessors’. Young voters – who could be forgiven for their choice because they haven’t yet learnt to think outside their dorms – seemed enthralled by the President’s idealistic stance on education. Single women appeared to think they have the right to unlimited and unfettered access to abortions on demand, and that tax payers ought to pay for their birth-control methods. Latinos were bothered by the idea that Republicans want immigration laws to be enforced and that 12M illegal immigrants ought not to be here, let alone encouraging more of the same by offering all many of enticements and government emoluments. And gays have this truly strange idea that Obama’s flip-flop – sorry, “evolving opinion” because only Republicans can flip-flop – on gay marriage secures them safe passage past the electorate to wedding bliss.
Allow me to now summarize some of the more important (at least to me) statistics that exemplify the result of Obama’s first 4 year reign:

1. $16T in debt and counting fast with current expectation that we’ll see $22T by the end of Obama’s 2nd and, thankfully, last term.
2. With the debt we have now, and projected to have, plus spending on Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, the Federal government will spent 92c for every dollar it receives in revenue; leaving of course a mere 8c to cover all other costs. Can you imagine an average household with an ever-increasing credit balance spending 92c of every dollar from take-home pay on the mortgage and credit card interest only; leaving 8c to buy clothes, food, gas for the car etc.?
3. Gas is nearly 4 x the price it was when Obama took office.
4. Home-owners – for those still lucky enough to have one – are smaller in number and in many cases their homes are still worth less than they owe the bank.
5. Healthcare costs increasing several times faster than inflation; try annual increases of 30% or more!
6. Un/Under-employment is higher than when Obama took office; 7.9% vs. 7.8%.
7. Economic growth has been shrinking each year since 2009 when Obama and economists declared the recession was over and we had apparently turned the corner.

There are many more examples but those items will do for now. So in light of the above I have to ask the following unfashionable questions of 60,893,249 brain-dead voters:-

1. Young voters: I know you think Obama is “qewl” and you follow him like any other celebrity, but if you graduate from what you hope will be your tax-payer funded education, remember that your demographic has the highest unemployment rate in the country. So your vote for Mr. Qewl will lead you back home (which is why you and your buddies are called Boomerang kids) where you will continue to sponge off your parents because 50% of you can’t get a job. Like, you know, good choice dudes.
2. Single women: do you seriously believe that your right to commit the murder of an unborn child, and flush the evidence down the toilet, is more important than 23M people in need of work so they can feed the children they preferred to keep rather than kill? Are you honestly so selfish you reckon tax-payers should be on the hook to pay for your sexual proclivities and the prophylactics you want? Do you honestly believe that Mitt Romney would suddenly have the power to repeal abortion laws and force a rape victim to carry the child to full term? Seriously? Are you that narrow-minded?
3. Latinos: Why do you think it’s morally – let along legally – right to steal your way into the USA, take advantage of tax-payer funded benefits, and expect to be given free-passage to citizenship in addition to your extended family? If you think you offer the USA skills we don’t already have, try applying for a work permit and proving your worth before arriving! Oh, and if you are here illegally and have managed to get a forged Social Security card, you might want to keep quiet rather the bitch about the taxes you’ve paid that you reckon you’ll not collect. And another thing, when you protest about all the rights to which you reckon your illegal butt deserves, try waving the American, not the Mexican, flag.
4. African Americans: Your unemployment is significantly higher than any other minority – by about 2% – and the gap has grown since Obama was elected. How’s that “hope and change” working for you? Tell me again what exactly Obama has done for you that warranted you reelecting him? Do you not realize that political representation isn’t tied to economic success? Asian immigrants are THE most successful minority in this country topping the number of college graduates and per capita income. Yet they have next to no representation in Congress. So why would you think voting for an “African-American” President 2nd time around is going to make any difference to you?
5. Gays: Do you think your “right” to wear a ring on your finger trumps the economic plight of millions of people? Can you honestly say your vote for Obama because he changed his stance on gay marriage – and you have to know it was contrived – is worth the economic misery we’re all going to suffer?

As a middle-aged WASP perhaps I’m used to not having the attention of an elected official. My demographic is not considered “endangered” or discriminated against so I haven’t the luxury of voting on a single issue because it won’t get anyone’s attention. With all the fiscal and business challenges that face this country, it would have been nice if you single-issue folk had thought a little more broadly about the wider implications of your vote for Obama. His policies have made matters worse for pretty much everyone – including yourselves if you had only paid attention long enough – and current trends indicate we’re heading for yet more financial pain. The cruel irony in your vote is that your specific issue isn’t likely to be Obama’s top priority anyway. Gay marriage is a States’ issue; women were never in danger anyway (it was just a typically Liberal ploy to demonize Conservatives) so your vote was wasted; college kids ‘aint going to find a job; black voters will remain disproportionately unemployed; the Latino community isn’t going to get citizenship for 12mm illegal aliens (they have already rattled their sabers when Obama recently used the words “Legal Status” instead of citizenship).

All in all, I have to wonder, what’s wrong with 60,893,249 people?

The Truth Is What I Say It Is

Obamacare, now called the Affordable Care Act because the chief architect no longer likes the piece of crap carrying his name, is giving the entire population of the USA so much to talk about, it’s difficult to keep up. I like following political dialogue. It’s a form of addiction for which there is no cure. Obamacare now fills the airwaves and has saturated my reading and watching TV. There are so many aspects to the Orwellian approach Obama is taking to defend what he has said that it’s tough to know what to write. But wait. Today I heard that someone else was to blame for what’s going wrong with the implementation and roll-out of ObamaCare.

Not surprisingly, Obama is directing blame for cancelled policies at the insurance companies. Of course their decision had nothing to do with the new rules and regulations ObamaCare has imposed on them. Oh no. It couldn’t be that simple could it. Apparently insurance companies are at fault because they didn’t need to cancel policies. All they had to do was issue policy change notices. Canceling policies has spooked the consumer. It’s frightened the consumer and made Obamacare look bad. “Crap” I hear the insurance companies say. “If only we’d thought of that.” Boy, this Obama fellow sure is smart. If only the world would do as Obama says. We’d all be locking arms and singing Kumbaya. Oceans would recede. The globe would cool. Polar bears would multiply. Seas would part. There’d be no more wars. And everyone would have what they need. Cats and dogs would live together in perfect harmony. If only …

Back here on earth I’m wondering if I heard the President correctly. So let me see if I correctly understand his position by using an analogy. I bought a car last year. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted but at the price it pretty much gave me what I needed. My wife and I had researched our choice over the course of many weekends and we visited several dealerships. After comparing cars, prices, and features, we finally settled on a vehicle that suited out needs and met our budget. A year later, Obummer imposes new safety and environmental standards on cars. As our year old car doesn’t meet these new standards, the dealer contacted us to advise that we needed to return our car and buy a new one that would meet these new standards.

Apparently vehicles must now have an electric motor, a solar panel instead of a sun roof, mileage of 50mpg, velour seats instead of leather, low profile alloy wheels, 18 air bags, cross brace seat belts, and run flat tires. We, like many others, are pissed. Word reaches Obummer on the golf course that millions of car owners are seriously bent out of shape over these changes. His answer is to respond by saying that the dealers are wrong to recall “sub-standard” cars. They should have told owners they needed to bring back their cars for an “upgrade”.

To any clear-thinking human, these changes amount to a bloody re-build of your freakin’ car, but Obummer wants to call them an upgrade. Anyone not saying so is not telling the truth. They are undermining Obama’s grand, global, plan. True to form, he thinks “the truth is what I say it is.” (With apology to Ned Beatty in the movie “The Shooter”)

The Unaffordable Don’t Care Act

The debate has been raging for years about how the ACA was going to affect every person living in the USA. Now we are starting to see the fiasco unfold and I for one have started to see the practical, and adverse, effect on my wife and me. Not content to poke a finger in the financial eye of millions of Americans, those acolytes and Democratic lemmings following King Barak Hussain Obama add considerable insult to injury by suggesting that those of us who spent hours of our lives analyzing and comparing dozens of healthcare plans, chose poorly. That the plans we ultimately chose were crap and we were too dumb to know it. That we were living in ignorance until the light of our Democrat savior shone upon us, and delivered us from the evil of self-reliance and knowledge.

Rather than admit the President lied through his back teeth about us being able to keep our plan, “period”, the left wing apologists divert attention and impugn the intelligence of the American people. They try to convince us that we’re better off with ObamaCare and that we’ll get a much better plan; even if it costs a lot more. In recent days I’ve witnessed the best example of Orwellian behavior in the form of Democrats actually trying to suggest that Obama’s “you can keep your plan, period” promise had a “provided …” caveat we apparently missed. It seems the entire nation was suddenly afflicted with narcolepsy just as the President started to explain what “period” meant. Could it be that Obama had his fingers crossed behind his back when he made these promises? That’s the wonderful thing about 7 x 24 news, Twitter, Facebook, Youtube etc. There’s no escaping what you actually said. There’s no legitimate way anyone can claim the President’s comment was taken out of context.

I’m sorry to be the one to break this piece of news to the left, but use of the word “period” implies end of story; nothing to follow; no qualifications; no caveats; nothing more to add. The statement is unequivocal. “If you like your healthcare plan, you can keep your healthcare plan. Period.” means just that. You can keep it without conditions. But apparently not. I may lose my plan because it doesn’t meet standards the Democrats have decided I need. I can’t fight this so I may as well enjoy the features my plan will soon offer. After all, if – as a 58 year old man – I have to buy a plan with coverage for things I didn’t know I needed, I may as well take full advantage. Last week I had my 1st pap smear test. I had no idea what to expect, so it came as a surprise when I was told to drop not only my pants and underwear, but I had to place my feet in stirrups.

Exposing my wedding tackle was bad enough, and had the nurse been more attractive the outcome could have been better. But Nurse Brunhilder (Yukon arm wrestling champion of 1898) wanted to use something called a speculum; and that’s when the fight started. There was no way on earth that piece of equipment was going anywhere near my cavities. Mary mother of Jesus, there has to be a better way to do this. I’m not sure if she got what she needed but I’ve only just started walking again in a straight line. Next, the mammogram. I’ve heard that small breasted women have a more difficult and painful time of it. I’m nervous. My chest size is 44″, but I have broad shoulders and a wide back. I reckon I’m an A-cup at best and can look forward to a painful experience.

If all goes well with the mammogram, and after the pain goes and I can once again comfortably button my shirt, I’ll be scheduling my pediatric dental care visit. I’m struggling to find the words to describe how much I’m looking forward to a speech impediment and to picking food out of a mouthful of shrapnel for the next three years. By the way. The result of my home pregnancy test was negative. I shouldn’t have worried. My healthcare plan covers pre and post natal care. Had the test been positive, I’d have started to drink rather heavily. But that too wouldn’t have been cause for concern. I’m covered for addictions too.

When all is said and done I’ve paid a lot more for this plan and I’ll be damned if I’m going to waste it. Having been forced to buy an Unaffordable Don’t Care Act healthcare plan, I may as well use every stupid provision.


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