1. Two factor authentication. I’m just a simple man from a simpler age, all I want to do is log in to a website or application, do what I need to do, and go on about my business. Instead, what I more often end up doing is navigating to a site, getting redirected back to my inbox to click a link that may or may not show up, entering another code, looking for text message, determining whether the wind is blowing from the east, consult tide tables, and send off a blood sample for analysis prior to being allowed access. It seems like more effort than should be necessary to log in to Twitter, but there we are. If we expect people to take online security seriously, it’s one of those things we need to simplify rather than make increasing more of a pain in the ass.
2. Tantrums. I disagree with a lot of the decisions that come out of the local county courthouse. It could be the laughably short sentences handed down, the 10x convicted drug dealer who gets slapped on the wrist one more time, or even the grand jury that opt not to indict when the publicly available evidence makes guilt “obvious.” I wasn’t aware, though, that disagreeing with those outcomes was justification for rioting down Main Street and taking pot shots at local deputies. It’s probably my fault for thinking like a responsible adult and not like an overly indulged child.
3. Random axes. One of the Baltimore news channels was covering a local interest story earlier this week. I don’t remember what particular cause they were supporting, because the coverage itself was utterly distracting. Every single person involved in that story kept mentioning the need to perform “random axe of kindness.” Look, I know pronunciation is a minor thing to be hung up on, but in that moment, in my under-caffeinated state, I had several other, less charitable ideas about things that could be done with the aforementioned random axe.
1. Language. There are times when the English language fails to deliver words of sufficient force to reflect what I’m trying to convey. No matter how shrill, “I told you so” lacks the kind of punch you’re looking for when you’re screaming wildly into the void. There really should be a more succinct and dramatic way of saying “This thing has turned into an enormous flaming shitshow that’s almost certain to collapse under the groaning weight of indecision and apathy.” Yeah. We definitely need a word for that in English.
2. Versioning. I’m now tracking the third or fourth iteration of documents that should have been approved weeks ago. Some have been kicking around for months. One in particular just took on significant enough changes to warrant shifting from v.7.2 to v.8. Good times, that. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that my employer is ever criticized for being the poster child for bloated, bureaucratic inefficiency. This week, however, is not one of those times. This week, the reasons why are perfectly clear and on display for all to see.
3. Delete me. At the grand old age of 41, I’ve had the good fortune to develop friendships with people whose views place them firmly on all parts of the political spectrum. I’ve got friends who are socialists, libertarians, social liberals, economic conservatives, hawks, peaceniks, and run of the mill Republicans and Democrats. It’s only with the rise of social media that I’ve found the attitude of “if you support x, we can’t be friends and you should delete me” has become prevalent. I’ve never picked my friends based on their politics and nothing else. It strikes me as an awfully narrow basis for friendship, but I accept that’s just me. To date, I’ve deleted no one because of political views or affiliation and I don’t intent to start now. If your friendships and world view are so fragile that they can’t withstand a differing opinion, I suppose you’ll have to do what you have to do… but I’ll keep picking mine based on criteria that is a lot more open and inclusive.
I’m a bad speller. I have always been a bad speller. My mother would be happy to regale you with stories from elementary school to illustrate that my spelling was, is, and forever after will always be just miserable. I love words, it’s just that I’m not always so good with putting their bits into exactly the right order. I like to imagine it’s an issue of my brain working faster than my fingers, but that sounds like a pretty dull excuse.
The magic of word processing should, in theory, have helped me with this little spelling issue of mine. It surely couldn’t have exacerbated the problem. Of course, it can and often does.
Take last night for instance, when I thought I was posting the last and final revision here on the blog. What ended up there instead was the un-spellchecked version that is run through with errors that even I should have been able to see unaided by 21st century computing. I didn’t see them though, so there they were, hanging there posted for 24 hours for the world to see… at least they were hanging there until I noticed a glaring error and looked a bit closer.
It’s fixed now. At least I’m pretty sure it’s fixed. Spellcheck is telling me that everything is fine. That should probably make me deeply suspicious, though.
1. Three things at once. At several points during the day I found myself trying to do three things at once – something on the right screen, something, on the left screen, and something on a paper copy between the two. Technically it might have even been four things if you count attempting to vaguely pay attention to the conversations swirling around the room or to the occasional person asking me a direct question. I won’t testify to the quality of any of the things I did, but I’m quite certain none of them were getting the kind of attention they probably should have received. My powers of multi-tasking are just fine as long as no one is expecting any level of attention to detail.
2. Roadwork at rush hour. Seriously, there’s nothing you can do to that goddamned overhead sign at 4pm on a Thursday that couldn’t have been done at a time when people were less apt to need to use the road. One might be forgiven for speculating that the State Highway Administration didn’t put a lick of academic rigor into their planning process.
3a. Information. Ok, look. My general hatred of the 21st century is public knowledge, but it does have a single redeeming quality – the availaity it original source information which one could use form imreasonably informed opinions. So please, before you fake news this or impeach that can you please take a few minutes and read the source documents. They might just be more informative that the interpretation you’re getting processed through your favored news outlet.
3b. Impeachment. It’s not a synonym for removal from office no matter how many news sites use it that way. Read the Constitution. It’s the damned owners manual. When it comes down to a fist fight between the political branches of the government, knowing what the words mean would serve us all well.
I’ve been told on a number of occasions recently that English is a precise language and we must use it precisely. I’m good with that. I like precision. I like to use words to cut through the clutter and mean exactly what I say. Except the problem is, most people don’t. Most people use the language as just another avenue to be vacillate and be throughly indecisive.
Don’t be surprised then, if you ask me “Do you want to do Activity X?” and my response is an immediate no. I’m answering your question honestly and directly. No, I do not want to participate in Activity X. In fact, generally I’d rather stake myself on an anthill covered in honey than engage in Activity X. However, if you changed the question slightly, by saying “Will you do Activity X?” or a more directive “You’re going to do Activity X,” I’ll probably shrug, possibly roll my eyes, and get on with dealing with whatever X is in our little equation.
See, the social contract depends largely on people doing things they don’t want to do. But when you frame the question as whether I “want” to do something or not, you’ve given me the option of saying no, because that’s the honest answer. I spend most days doing things I don’t particularly want to do, so when given the option to avoid adding one more to the list, I’m not sure why anyone would be surprised when I opt out… because frankly life is entirely too short and it’s already too filled with random pointless activities that we don’t really want to do in the first place.
Gonnaherpasyphilaids is actually one of my personal favorites. I find it to be an excellent all-purpose word basically meaning that the individual in question has a high likelihood of carrying one or more diseases of the naughty regions that are non-responsive to penicillin. This word came into usage during my sophomore year as a response to the choruses of “I’d do her” that accompanied almost any chick of even modestly attractive features. That is to say, “Yeah, you’d do her, but you’d probably end up with gonnaherpasyphilaids.” This term is still regularly in use.
At the request of a dear friend, I have undertaken a small project to catalog many of the “Tharpisms” that have evolved over the years. Many of them have their origins high atop Cambridge Hall in the land of single rooms and honors students. Others are more recent additions to my personal lexicon, but nevertheless, they will be familiar to anyone who has spent any amount of time anywhere near me in the last 10 years… If there are any particular favorites, feel free to make a request. I’ll start you off with two that top my list in the coming posts.