Hi there! Welcome to my very miscellaneous blog. Here, I write about everything from mis-used words to gardening, to bad habits in society to going places and seeing things! Enjoy my ramblings.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Censorship Must Go!

Censorship of so-called ‘bad’ language is both rampant and pointless. Everyone knows exactly what those so-called ‘bad words’ are, including and especially those who rant against them, and are in favor of censorship in the first place!

When you see a TV show, and the ‘bad words’ are bleeped out, no one is fooled. Anyone watching knows perfectly well, or can make a reasonably good guess as to the exact word(s) that were bleeped!

The same goes for the written word in cyberspace. There are oh, so many internet sites that ‘do not tolerate’ what is termed as ‘foul language.’ No matter. There are a myriad of work-arounds, and again, most everyone knows them, and no one is fooled.

“Oh, hell,” is probably one of the most common and least offensive of the lot. But who among you does not know perfectly well that seeing “h-e- double hockey sticks,” or “h-e- double toothpicks.” is exactly the same thing? Ass is another that is frequently seen disguised as “a**,” or, if the entire and usual phrase is intended, then “A-H” is a common substitute, as is “A-hole.”  In any event, it is the use of the word that is in error, and no fault of the word.  An ass is a donkey,  while the original (from British origins) term for one's derriere is 'arse.' 

I’ve been in chats at sites where they censor the most ridiculous things, and instead of just 'blocking' the so-called 'bad word' and leaving a blank space, or "...." they substitute a 'correction,' as if to say, "we're sure this is the word you really meant!" One such chat room, (if someone should be so "horrible" as to type out the entire a-hole word),  inserts in its place, "...fantastic whole." 

This more often than not alters the entire meaning of the sentence or statement, e.g.,  "That man is an asshole," has a fundamentally different--(polar opposite!)--meaning than, "That man is a fantasic whole."  Not to mention the substitution does not actually make any sense.  This truly is an insult to folks' intelligence! 

(Besides, this is not a site used by kids--we are all adults there!  [No, not "that kind" of adult site], but one where you are responsible for carrying out your end of a contract made with a buyer, so must be over 18 to do so.)

In this same chat room,  I once thought I had made a typo, because “dorkens” came up on the screen. HUH? I tried again, being very careful. Nope. No typo. Same thing! Hmm… so, I was not allowed to make the statement, “I had a dickens of a time….”   it came out, "I had a dorkens of a time."  There is no such word.

Apparently, the internal censor picked up on the first four letters in the word. Well, excuuuuuuse me!  Have the programmers who decided to flag that never heard of the author, Charles Dickens? Are they unaware that ‘dickens’ is an alternate of ‘devil.’ (I could have as easily said that I’d had “the devil of a time…” ) Do they not know that “Dick” is a legitimate man’s nickname? Yes, it is. In fact, I had a geology professor whose name was Dick …. and no, he did not go by “Richard,” or “Rick.” (WHY ‘Dick’ evolved as a nickname for Richard, I’ll never know, and is not the point of this article), but it is in the mix, and the "workaround" is "D*ick."  Pretty lame, eh?

It is no one’s fault today that someone long ago decided to use the personal name as a euphemism for a part of the male anatomy, and thence to an insult applied to calling someone out by that term. The name was there first. Ergo, it should not be subjected to such silly censoring! 

Among the newest work-arounds that easily sneak by is “WTF,” found in wide circulation on the internet and in text and instant messages. Virtually everyone knows what it stands for, yet the ‘propriety programs’ don’t catch it. See what I mean? You cannot see that set of letters without your brain filling in exactly what each individual letter stands for. So much for censorship: might as well have spelled it all out.

We also hear about "f-bombs" as the latest euphemism for that well-known word.  Again, everyone knows exactly what word is meant, so what's the point of using the euphemism?  Now, before I get accused of being someone "...who wants to hear or see that kind of language," no, I'm not in search of it.  I simply don't care.  I don't let it bother me. I say it myself if the occasion demands (such as when striking the thumb with a hammer). There are more important things about which to get incensed.  I do not, in fact, enjoy a steady stream of so-called "f-bombs." 

Years back, I went to see a movie that was supposed to be a comedy, titled, White Men Can't Jump.  There was not much of a plot.  Instead, it seemed to be an exercise in how many times the writers could cram "the f-word" into a single sentence, almost every sentence, throughout the movie.  Was I offended?  No.  What I was, was bored.  It was stupid, and made the writers and characters appear stupid for having no more extensive vocabulary than that.

If the whole point of censoring content is to ‘protect’ overly-sensitive people from seeing/hearing ‘objectionable’ words, that goal is in vain, precisely because of all these well-known substitutes.

As far as ‘protecting’ children? Oh, please! Most kids hear and see far worse at school (yes, even at private schools), and could actually educate their parents as to new vulgarities!  My 13-year-old grandson let slip with one just recently. He referred to a world-traveling slut well known to all males by the name of “Palmula Handerson.” I’m sure you can figure it out!  And that was actually mild. Many people would be shocked to learn of what their kids actually know, and at what young ages they know! Those pro-censorship folks live in denial, (and I don't mean a river in Africa).

We need to wake people up, and learn to live and let live. Some people are going to say words others don’t like. Too bad! Get over it! They are just words, and can do no harm. Remember the antique saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me?” It’s the same exact principle. If the dialogue in a TV show offends, we can change the channel ourselves. It’s easy--we have remote controls these days--we no longer have to get up and walk across the room to do so. If the website or chat room contains language we don’t like—it’s as easy as a mouse click to escape;  no need to hang around posting rants and raves about it--just leave!

Having rules and regulations and laws to “protect” people from things they can very well do for themselves is both cumbersome and counter-productive. It is a waste of energy, resources and money that could be far better put to use elsewhere.  This so-called "protection" is actually an erosion of our first amendment right to freedom of speech.

To expect the government, or any of its agencies (in the case of TV shows, the FCC is the guilty party), to prevent anyone from hearing already well-known words and phrases is not only dangerous, but the height of laziness. Remember what has been said: “A government big enough to give you everything is big enough to take it away.” Let’s not give up our freedom of speech to those who like to live in a bubble.

To sum up, in the end, any attempt at censorship of ‘bad language,’ ‘bad words,’ vulgarities, or what have you, is a ludicrous exercise in futility.

I go into a bit more detail on the FCC role in my article on Hub Pages: (click here)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Parking Lots...Lots of Stupidity


As we all know, in this day and age of the near impossibility of getting anywhere without a car, especially in 'the burbs,' parking lots are a fact of life and an expected facility at all shopping centers.  Many, if not most of these lots are "beautified" with trees and plants, making a pseudo-oasis in the middle of the asphalt desert.

The shopping centers that have multi-level parking structures are, in a sense, better, even though they may be more massive and it is easier to fall victim to the, "'Now, where did I park my car???" syndrome.  The single-level outdoor ones have a serious design flaw.  Think about your last visit to an outdoor shopping center with an outdoor lot.  Think hard.  Where did you park?  Was there any 'beautifucation' nearby?


Take a hard mental look at the design of these lots.  Almost down to the last one, the designers have failed to figure out that a nice strip of trees and plants down between the rows of parked cars would be just lovely.  They have missed the concept that cars Do not arrive on their own and do the shopping remotely.  No, real people must navigate their cars to these lots, and once there, must exit the vehicle, if they are to actually do any shopping.

Now, think again back to the design of the last lot you were in.  Where was the landscaping?  Yep.  At intervals throughout the lot, protruding into spaces between parking stalls.  What's up with that?  Sure, it looks pretty, but what of the poor drivers or passengers who find themselves in the spot right next door to one of these planting protrusions?  You open the door, and step--perhaps fall--right into the plants or bushes.  There has been not one inch of extra space alloted to those stalls!!


Not only is this annoying, it is dangerous!  Especially stupid is that these planting strips are also frequently found right next to handicapped-access parking spots.  Doubly idiotic and doubly dangerous!

Either all the landscaping should remain between the lengthwise rows of cars, or, if  the designers insist on 'breaking up' the monotony of row upon row of stalls, then the protrusions between should be simply sidewalks, with a decorative pattern, if  'beauty' is truly the aim.  I have seen at least one person stumble, another fall, and I've nearly landed in the bushes myself a couple of times.  (Granted, I do have something of a predisposition to klutziness, but that is not the point.)


Once, the spot was so tight (I drive a truck) that I had to slide across and exit the passenger side.  Really??!!  I could not even open my driver's side door because of the bushes!  I have a bum knee, and if I'm having a bad day and need my cane, I now and then make use of my handicapped parking permit. Truly, it is hard enough to navigate--what would a person confined to a wheelchair do?  Planting strips should certainly not be located next to handicapped parking stalls--this, on top the fact that there are rarely enough 'blue' spaces to serve the need, especially in very busy areas. 

How about a letter-writing campaign?  Phone calls to the shopping center management?  Pickets?  I know!  Let's hire a group of actors to stage trip-and-fall scenes to scare the designers into some sense!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Letter to Myself at Age 22--Would I Have Listened??

Dear Younger Self:

     At this point, I know it is already too late to caution you to postpone your childbearing until you gain further education as to what makes small children tick. Since you saw fit to get married and have your first child just shy of age 21, now, a year later, you are already stuck in the ‘mommy’ role for which you are so woefully unprepared.

     Let me give you some advice. Go back to school. Take some college classes in early childhood education and development. You were raised as such a miniature adult, and had no real friends in your own peer group, that you are sorely lacking in this vital bit of knowledge. You didn’t even do any real babysitting, for pity’s sakes! How do you expect to raise a child without knowing these things?

     Your own upbringing as an only child, the daughter of a much older father, left you unable to relate to children. Bear this in mind, however: your mother allowed friends in to play, both in the house and in the yard. True, things might not always have gone as you would have liked, but at least you were at home, and if things got out of hand, the friends could be sent home.

     Be the mom at whose house the kids want to hang out. It is better this way, trust me. I’ve been there—on the wrong/opposite side of that bit of advice. With the kids at your house, you can hear their conversations, keep an eye on what they are up to, and generally supervise their activities. Get to know the parents of their friends, also: be sure they are on the same parenting-wavelength as you are. If not, then your kids don’t need to be ‘best buds’ with their kids. That’s how you keep them on the straight and narrow track.

     Taking them on trips is good—that is education in itself—don’t stop doing that, as I know you plan to do when they are older. But take a few more trips to kid-fun places. They may bore you to tears, but the kids will enjoy the chance to be kids, and be silly, and run and jump and climb and explore on structures made just for them. Let them see the silly clown shows. Yes, they are stupid, but kids like stupid humor. It is your job to humor them, so as not to stunt their imaginations and creativity. If they learn to be silly, they will be more outgoing, and less self-conscious. Encourage dramatic studies.

     But above all, take on more education for yourself, and learn to teach at home. Home-school your children, so they will always be able to find the fun in learning, and not have it become a drudge as it does in the formal public school system. That system is badly broken, and can’t be easily fixed. By home schooling, you keep your values front and center, and they learn lessons at their own pace, and the lessons can all be integrated with each other, so that less-enjoyable subjects get slid in almost unnoticed while the kids think they are having fun!

     By all means, enroll them in Girl Scouts, or any other extra-curricular clubs and activities for their social development. And learn patience much earlier! Let them do it! Don’t take a task away because it is faster or easier for you to do it yourself. This is counter-productive in the long run: it undermines their self-confidence.

     You are still a very young mother, and I hope you will listen to and heed this older, sadder, wiser, now a grandmother--speaking to you through the tunnels of time.