Off-kilter online

What fresh hell is this? Kernel data inpage error? Is there corn in the computer? Image found on Cute Overload.

What fresh hell is this? Kernel data inpage error? Is there corn in the computer?
Image found on Cute Overload.

As many of you know, I’ve been having computer problems of late, which made writing and posting both my column and my blog an “adventure” (why, yes, those are air quotes, thanks for asking!).

I finally ended up having to buy a new computer—because obviously I hadn’t had enough unexpected expenses this year—and have spent the last few days setting the new one up and deciding what I must salvage from my old laptop. And then there’s all that catching up on feeds.

Whoa ... how could I have possibly missed this much?? Image found on Cute Overload.

Whoa … how could I have possibly missed this much??
Image found on Cute Overload.

While I don’t really participate in social media much beyond my blog posts, I do follow several bloggers, many of whom, if they weren’t already, have become friends. Since all I had at home was a mini-tablet with limited memory, I was more or less cut off from updates.

Getting back online was an eye-opening experience. My WordPress feed was no surprise except for some of the developments in online friends’ lives. The Google+ feed, on the other hand …

I only check Google+ a couple of times a week at most because once you get started reading comments on some posts (generally anything on politics or from CERN or NASA), you’re down the rabbit hole … and with no cute baby bunnies to make you feel better.

 ... or maybe call me a moran? Image found on Funny And.

… or maybe call me a moran?
Image found on Funny And.

Trolls abound, as well as hard-line ideologues who brook no disagreement and spout an endless stream of beyond-tired talking points and insults (drinking the Kool-Aid, Rethuglicon, libtard) at anyone who displeases them. Sure, some of it is highly entertaining, but more often, it’s just sad, especially when the “debate” devolves into “did nots,” “did toos,” “moron,” or “idiot” … or starts out that way.

I’ll admit I do find it amusing every time I read partisans’ descriptions of the other side, especially from those who pronounce absolutes that, from a realistic perspective, well … have no relation to reality. Well, at least no reality any sane person wants to be a part of …

A few things I’ve learned:

  • Some people just don’t get sarcasm and will always take it the wrong way. And their reactions usually are not funny, unlike when Sheldon is confused by it on Big Bang Theory.

    Yes, Sheldon. Yes, it was sarcasm. Image found on imgarcade.

    Yes, Sheldon. Yes, it was sarcasm.
    Image found on imgarcade.

  • For hard-core partisans, “far-left” or “far-right” is anybody even slightly left or right of their position. The more oblivious among them actually believe that the other side is never described in such terms by their side. Um … yeah, they are … even moderate liberals are often called, if not far-left, then “leftist,” “socialist,” “Marxist,” or “communist”; on the right, there’s “Teapublican,” “fascist,” “Teavangelical,” etc. It brings to mind that admonition about removing the plank from your own eye before trying to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
  • Science is cool, exciting, mysterious, political, conspiratorial, heretical, dangerous, bunk, apocalyptic, etc. … at least judging from the comments generally left on the NASA and (especially) CERN feeds. It makes me truly sad for the state of science education. For that matter, English/grammar education is in bad shape too, judging from the ubiquitous spelling and other errors. Then there’s math, history, civics …

    Preach, Neil! Image found on CueTheRant.

    Preach, Neil!
    Image found on CueTheRant.

  • Fear of various conspiracies (New World Order, ISIS invading through Mexico, Building 7, fluoride, etc.) is epidemic … and a lot of these people apparently can neither take a joke, nor understand how CapsLock works. And no, it’s not a good idea to present evidence disproving said conspiracies … they won’t believe you’re not a government plant. Besides, all that “evidence” is obviously fake anyway.

    Reality shall not intrude on my perfect little world! Image found on Mobius Engine.

    Reality shall not intrude on my perfect little world!
    Image found on Mobius Engine.

  • An awful lot of people out there must have terrible peripheral vision, what with those blinders they have for everything that falls outside their realms of belief. That might explain a lot of traffic accidents, ya know. There are at least a few writers I suspect of having to drive in circles simply because they can’t turn left, or maybe have their shoes specially made so they don’t have to wear a “left” shoe, which is, of course, in league with the devil.
  • Cats (especially mine) are adorable and hilarious. But you knew that. And so are baby bunnies, and baby ducks, and …

If you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll go see if the bird-chasing baby bunny (yes, seriously) in my backyard has returned. I need a dose of cute.

Here I am! Feel better yet? Image found on pixgood.

Here I am! Feel better yet?
Image found on pixgood.


The USS Hope hospital ship, where my grandpa was stationed during World War II.

The USS Hope hospital ship, where my grandpa was stationed during World War II.

And now, let me be serious for a moment. Like probably most of you, I have family members who were in the military, and I always think of them on Memorial Day. Most were lucky to serve in peacetime, but my maternal granddad’s time in the Navy was during World War II, on a hospital ship. While he was at sea, my grandma, mom and uncle lived in California.

With that sly smile, that's the Grandpa I knew.

With that sly smile, that’s the Grandpa I knew.

Grover Pinkney Terrell was stationed on the USS Hope in the Pacific (although a handwritten ledger of crew members records him as C.P., rather than G.P. Terrell), but like many veterans from that era, he wasn’t given to talking much about his experiences on the ship. A few years after he died in 2003, my brothers and I found a small notebook in a cache of foreign bills and coins Grandpa had saved from various ports. In that notebook, we found a short, spare accounting of events on the ship; even with those few words, though, it felt like he was there with us. It made me miss him all the more.

Hug a veteran on Monday. Heck, hug one every day.

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2 thoughts on “Off-kilter online

  1. Brenda –

    I have enjoyed your column from the very first one. I, too, am a word-nerd and a grammar-fanatic. From the very first reading, I could see that you were someone who was as attentive to proper grammar as was I. It was not until later that you admitted to being a word-nerd, a condition with which I am also afflicted – not that I really consider it to be an affliction. It’s just what I am. Many years ago, Doug Smith had a column in the old Arkansas Gazette. It was called simply “Words” if I recall correctly. I miss that column.

    I am perplexed by quite a few things that I see and hear every day. Perhaps some day you could work some of these into your column. Maybe it would start moving us on a road to a more literate community. Nah – people who do these things are probably beyond help, but maybe the English teachers out there will try a little harder to impress upon their students that how they speak reflects greatly upon how people see them.

    1. I am amazed at the number of people, and not just teenagers and young adults, say things like “Him and me are going to …”.
    2. Many if not all of these same people have no idea about the use of prepositional phrases. I cringe every time I hear someone say “from John and I” or “with Jane and I” or “for Bill and he”. And it’s not just the people around me that are doing this. It’s also becoming prevalent on television where they have the opportunity to edit the scripts. (And of course the notable example by the spokesperson for the Department of Education.)
    3. I continually see and hear the phrase “. . . going to try AND [insert verb here]” when the correct wording is “to try TO [insert verb here]”. This has happened numerous times in your own newspaper.
    4. I am not sure about this one, but when did it become correct to say “he graduated high school”? I was taught (many years ago) that you graduated FROM high school. Has proper usage changed?

    Well, that’s my soap box for today. I hope you continue to recover from your stroke (another thing we have in common – mine was minor, with only slight problems with vision still persisting) and keep on entertaining and educating us readers with your well-written, grammatically correct, insightful, humorous, sometimes sarcastic weekly column.

    Doug Rawn
    Little Rock

    Like

    • Thanks, Doug; it’s always great to meet a fellow word-nerd, and I’m glad you recovered from your stroke as well. One of my lingering tics is that I’ll sometimes type a homophone in for the word I mean to use (I first typed “meat” instead of “meet,” for instance). It’s annoying, but at least I’m noticing when I do it. 😀
      I miss Doug’s column, too. I didn’t get to read it as often as I would have liked, but I always enjoyed it and learned something. I agree with all your quibbles wholeheartedly, and not just because I have a retired English teacher in the family. A lot of the time, I just have to put the paper aside because I’m cringing over the errors (grammatical and otherwise) that I see. Having been a news and features copy editor, I feel a sense of ownership for what we put out, and it disappoints me when we disappoint readers.
      I’ll do my best to help educate the non-nerds, and we can hope for the best.

      Like

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