Tag Archives: Rant

That Time We All Begged Obama To Help Syrians

Got a little steamed up on Facebook this morning. Posted this in response to an asinine comment on a friend’s wall. Posting it here because I want to hold onto this outrage. Unlike our outrage at celebrities, this one is, I think, worth nursing.

The Background

  1. Bashir Al-Assad has attacked his people with chemical weapons. Again. Or maybe he hasn’t, and we need to investigate it further before we act1
  2. The Russians are blaming the rebels. The US is blaming Assad. Trump is saying it hurts his heart and we should probably Do Something.
  3. A friend posted this heart-wrenching BBC story about a young man who lost his entire family, including his 10 month old twins. (You don’t have to watch it. You can imagine.)
  4. And in the comments someone my friend allows to communicate with her for some unknown reason, turned it into an advertisement for the Idiot-In-Chief.
Quote: Trump did what Obama couldn't and finally we are taking a stand as a strong country again

“Trump did what Obama couldn’t and finally we are taking a stand as a strong country again”

I couldn’t even.

And then I could. (Before I knew that Trump had ordered an attack)

Reposted below.

That Time We All Begged Obama To Help The Syrians

I agree. Obama should have taken action when we concluded in 2013 that Bashir Al-Assad had used chemical weapons on his own people. But if he “couldn’t”, let’s ask why.
Was it because the American people, sick of 12 years of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (which had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks) demanded the president bring troops home?
 
Was it because, in 2013, the Republicans in congress shut down the government, rather than compromise over the budget? If we couldn’t even agree on a budget, how were we going to pay soldiers we sent into a new war?
 
Was it because the citizens of the great United States of America, that grand experiment in liberty and democracy, were too busy being outraged by Miley Cyrus’s twerking to read about the strangers across the globe being gassed by their own government?
 
Was it because that president understood that he was there to do what we told him, and we did not tell him to intervene in Syria?
 
Was it because he didn’t love his Muslim buddies as much as we thought he did, after all?
 
Was it because the Republicans were, in the wake of Sandy Hook, too busy opposing gun control measures that would expand background checks and limit who could buy military-style assault weapons?
 
Or was it because he–and only he– didn’t care?
 
That’s right, I remember how everyone was talking about the Syrians’ suffering.
I remember how Congress pleaded with him to help the burgeoning humanitarian crisis.
I remember when Doctors Without Borders begged for our help to keep a maternity hospital open so that those conjoined twins (among others) could get help and we told our government to help; and I remember how the twins (and all the other babies) went on to live  happy and full lives.
I remember when we opened our doors to the refugees fleeing this crisis, and when we housed and fed hundreds of thousands of them.
 
Oh wait. No I don’t.
 
We didn’t care, so he couldn’t do a thing.
WE didn’t care, so we encouraged this president to ban them from seeking refuge here.
WE DIDN’T CARE, until it suited us to use it as a political football.
 
Shame on President Obama for not acting. Shame on President Trump for turning away the refugees. Shame on us for ignoring this slaughter for years and years and years.

[Updated 1: 35 pm 7 April 2017] Some More Things

Retweeted by @SolomonJones1

Trump tweeting about NOT attacking Syria

“He calls it as he sees it”

  1. Bearing in mind that a, I wrote this before I knew Trump had sent missiles, and b, Kennedy spend WEEKS deliberating what to do about the Cuban Missile Crisis….

Words And Phrases You Will Only Ever Hear Me Put In The Mouths Of Loathsome Characters

ScreamIt has come to my attention that people are attempting to invent the word “conversate” as in: “I was conversating with Bob…”

Wh—ugh.

When I Am Linguistic Queen

I will be a benevolent dictator. Unless you do any of the following things, in which case I  will turn up at your door with a copy of Strunk & White and the collected works of Ernest Hemingway. And I will hover over you, menacingly while you read and absorb each spare sentence of both.

Yes, language evolves. Yes, we need new words. Yes, we are free to invent cute, clarity-enhancing new terms for things.

But let us not simply replace existing, perfectly-good words simply because we are too lazy to find out that they exist.

And before you go correcting my grammar,  I’m perfectly aware that I started these sentences with prepositions and you know what? It’s fine. It’s a conscious stylistic choice. It does not obscure meaning. It reflects modern structures and modes of communications. It does not, to the vast majority of the population make me sound like an unlettered oik. It’s fine. Get over it. (This is my fantasy and I am Linguistic Queen, remember?)

Making up words that obscure meaning is not OK

Language is about communication. Communication requires that we all share a pool of commonly-used words, the meanings of which we all understand. It is also about throwing in the occasional unusual word because it makes things more clear, or illustrates a concept perfect, even if someone has to go to the dictionary to check the meaning. Dictionaries are easy to get nowadays. My Kindle has one built in so I don’t even have to page away from the book I’m reading if I need clarification (not “clearness“).

Words And Phrases You May No Longer Use In My Absolute Kingdom

Conversate

Instead of using conversate why not try converse? Better yet talked to. I’ll even give you speak to as long as you do not use it in the following ways:

1. “Can you speak to the problem of binge drinking?”

No, Mr. Interviewer. I cannot speak to the problem of binge drinking. Binge drinking is a concept. It is a problem. It is not a person. It has no ears. I can, however, speak about it.

2. “The decline in piracy speaks to the rise of  global warming.”

No it doesn’t. Global warming, likewise, has no ears. The decline in piracy may indicate a subsequent rise in global warming (except it doesn’t. That’s a logical fallacy: a subject for a different rant.).

Note: A word that sounds a bit like conversate that you may still use with impunity is conversant. If someone is conversant with a topic, it does not mean they are talking with it or about it, it means they are familiar with the details. Use at will.

Utilize

Seriously. Why? Just say use.

Supposubly

This is not a word. This was a punch-line in Friends.  The word you want is supposedly. My eight year old may stumble over this. If you are older than him, you may not.

Addicting

Drugs are not addicting. Neither is Game of Thrones. They are not going out and hunting you down and addicting you to them. What ever it is you are addicted to, the thing itself is more passive than that. It is addictive. You are addicted. It is addictive. Addicting? Not a word.

There, They’re, Their

I know. They sound the same. You only need to know the difference when you’re writing. But we’re all writing and reading much more than we used to (thank you, Internet). If you want me to know what you mean, and not have to stop and wonder why it looks wrong, thereby losing all sense of what you are trying to communicate to me, use the correct form.

There is related to place. I don’t have a trick to help you remember that. Sorry, but it’s just one word. Commit it to memory. There=place.

They’re is a related to them (they are. It’s right there, in how you spell it. They, them, they’re, they are).

Their is the weird-looking cousin of the there/they’re family. No other word really looks like it. It can only be used when talking about people and the things that belong to them, for example, their weird-looking cousins.

Note: Likewise, if you’re not sure which homophone of a word to use, look it up. It’s easy to make a mistake. I’m not judging you on that. I’m judging you if you don’t care that you’re making the other person work too hard to understand you. Don’t be inconsiderate.

Examples: I don’t want to sore (ouch), I want to soar. I don’t want a peak  (mountain top) at your work. I want a peek.  I don’t want a roll (fall down and writhe) in your movie, I want a role.

You’re welcome.

The Problem Is, Is

The problem is you’re repeating yourself unnecessarily. The problem is. Not the problem is, is.

People say, “The problem is, is I’m going to be out that night.”

You wouldn’t say, “Is I’m going out that night.” so why say, “The problem is, is I’m going out”?

It’s a stylistic tic that I hear all the time and I’m alerting you to it now, so you can cut it out.

The problem is [state the problem]“. Done.

Wa-la

It’s French. It’s literally “see there” (voire: to see,: there). It’s spelled “voilà” and pronounced “Vwah-LA”. It’s a real word used to express satisfaction, approval or sudden appearance. Use it with joy, but use it with a v.

Things I Have No Problem With

It’s not all judgment and dictatorship, as Linguistic Queen. I’m really quiet laid back. There are many non-traditional words, phrases and language evolutions I’m totally cool with. So really, am I asking too much?

Dialect and Accent

If, in your local dialect people reliably say “aks” instead of “ask” or “liberry” instead of “library“, that’s just an accent thing. If everyone around you says it the same way, you might have some trouble spelling it properly, but you’re not obscuring meaning.  Carry on, as you were.

If you come from an area with distinct dialect patterns that don’t follow standard English, feel free to use them. They’re part of your heritage. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re wrong. Even me (OK, maybe me).

However, you will probably also benefit from knowing how to use standard English for those occasions that call for interaction with people from other places, or a more formal setting. (In fact, in my experience, people who have a genuine dialect pattern, tend to be able to drop into standard English with more precision than people who just don’t use Standard English because they just don’t care.)

Noo-cular

Yeah, the word is nuclear (new-clee-ar), but if you say noo-cular, everyone knows what you mean. Don’t sweat it. (But do spell it properly.)

“Guys”

As an informal group-collective that has, arguably,  become non-gender-specific, I call this one of the ways language has evolved. Sure, you could use people or everybody, or all. None of these are particularly grammatically sound and not everyone can get away with shouting “Ladies and Gentlemen” before beginning a sentence. I vote we move over to “guys”. Except this is not a constitutional monarchy. I’m Linguistic Queen and therefore “Guys” is now decreed an acceptable gender-neutral collective noun. Deal with it.

 

And that’s it for today. I’m all out of outrage.

What words get you riled up? Share the horror in the comments section.

 

Everything I Need To Know About Economics I Learned In Kindergarten

So I’m sitting here listening to people on the radio rant about Class Warfare In America.

Uh-huh.

I know about class. I may carry a US passport, but they didn’t take away my British one, and that’s where I grew up. Class is not about income. Class is about hierarchy and exclusion. If you’re not perceived as being from the same class as someone else (upper, lower or middle) you are never trusted by the groups you don’t belong to, and you are looked down upon if you try to get out of that group (to be fair, the UK culture is such that you’re mocked pretty much constantly for anything you do, but it’s all ‘just a joke’ so you’re not supposed to get upset about any of it, but that’s a different rant…)

In the US there are social strata tied to income, no doubt, but if you can claw enough money out of the economy to buy the big house and pay the country club fees, you’ll be accepted on your merits and your behaviour and that’s all there is to that. If you fall to the bottom of the heap, there is a prevailing mood that, hey, we might not like you but it will be because of what you do, not where you come from (until we tip into issues of immigration and race. But that’s not about class either.).

Of course, these are wild generalizations and it’s never that clear cut, but whatever the Occupy movement is talking about, it’s not Class Warfare.

Call it Income Equality, call it Socialism if you must, but it’s not class warfare.

No-one in the US is talking about redistribution of wealth to the point where everyone lives in a state-run apartment complex and receives equal wages for an equal number of hours worked. That would be Communism and I think we’ve all realised that that’s not a perfect system anywhere. It’s ridiculous to even worry about something like that in a country of rampant consumers (where people are, to my frugal horror, actually told to go and Buy More Things when money is scarce. Eh?!).

Some Truths About Income Equality

1. It is harder to live on not-very-much money than it is to live on slightly-less-than-you-used-to-get-excess-wealth.

In a time when people are jobless and hopeless, it’s hard to look at people with ridiculous excesses of money and not feel like maybe things are a bit unfair. Especially when the system is set up to make it easier to save and accumulate money if you have pots of the stuff to begin with, and don’t mind pretending you have less money than you have, so that the government can’t take away more of it for things like libraries and medical care for the poor – things that might help your family claw their way out of poverty.

2. The tax system is kinder to the rich than to the poor.

When our family’s joint income was half of what it is now, we couldn’t afford a house, we had no investments or savings of any kind, and we often made up the short-fall in our income by carrying a credit card balance, complete with outrageous interest accumulation. We paid the standard tax rate for our income bracket, no deductions, no discounts: every penny in our possession (however briefly) was subject to federal, state and local tax.

Now that we are much, much more comfortable (complete with house and children we wouldn’t have had if we hadn’t had a generous medical benefits package thanks to the husband’s good job), we get to take a chunk of that extra income that we no longer need just to feed and clothe ourselves, and — before our tax rate is calculated — we get to hide some of that money in a pre-tax investment scheme. (Sure, we’ll pay tax on it when we withdraw it, when we’re older, but the whole system is set up to let us cheat: don’t pay tax now, when you’d be in a higher tax rate. Pay it when you’re older and have no income, and avoid paying as much tax on it. Nice for us. Not so nice for the social schemes that might have used the money to help everyone in society.)

So we do, because we can. And by hiding that money, we can, potentially, stay out of a higher tax bracket.

We get to deduct our mortgage interest from our taxable income figure too (although that might have gone away, but we did get that benefit for ten years). We also get deductions because we have children. We also, because we can afford to sock away some money at the start of the year, get to put money, tax-free, into a medical spending plan, which means any prescriptions and our vast expenditure on eyewear decreases our taxable income figure. This would not have been the case fifteen years ago when we really could have used the help.

If you’re rich enough to be on the borderline of going into a higher tax bracket, you can bung some money to a charity, and claim a deduction on your taxable income there, too. Who cares if the charity is actually doing any good? As long as they meet certain accounting criteria, you get your deduction. Hooray!

This how people like us, who aren’t living off investment income like Warren Buffet, still pay less as a percentage of total take-home pay, than we did when we were living off credit cards (the interest on which is never tax-deductable).

It’s Not That I WANT To Pay More

I’m just saying that taxes represent something totally different to a rich person and an, ahem, less rich person. 25% of a $50,000 paycheck is very much different from 33% of $370,000, especially when that $370K is probably fiddled down so that they’re only really paying 33% on , say $200K. You can live on $310,000 and still feed your family. It gets substantially harder when that figure is $37,000.

Calling this a bit unfair, is not a call for class warfare.

(And if you have never lived on overdrafts and credit card debt, then you would have to have super-human insight and empathy to be able to understand what a huge, grinding difference it makes to your life. I know, because I’ve been there, and I still forget.)

What The Solution Isn’t

I don’t know what the solution is. But I know what it isn’t: pretending that people who question the reasons for the income gap are waging a class war. That’s not a solution. That’s obfuscation. It’s insulting and it’s harmful because it precludes reasonable discourse on the issues.

The real issues are:

  • Poverty vs. wealth and whether or not we live in a society that is OK with leaving the poor to flounder and the rich to dispense charity (or not) as the mood takes them.
  • Whether we want to offer a safety net and who pays for it.
  • Whether or not we’re happy with society in which the tax code institutionalizes the idea that it’s OK to cheat as long as everyone else (that matters) is doing it.

If that’s class warfare then put me in the class that says it’s not all right to cheat; that it is desirable to share with people who don’t have as much as you; where it’s great to succeed but it’s no sin to fail; where we help each other up when we fall down; and where, when one person is sad, everybody cries.

Oh yes. That would be Kindergarten.