Although I do try not to be sexist, I don’t apologize for any terms or expressions used in any of my blog articles that may be considered by some to be offensive or politically-incorrect. Either I think that it’s no big deal myself, or I use certain words to make a point. Now, if you should notice a grammatical or syntactical anomaly anywhere, it’s not because I don’t know any better. I am up on all my rules of English grammar and spelling, but every rule isn’t always logical and practical. If it is, I will abide by it. If I think that it’s pointless or stupid, then I won’t.
I do think that verb agreement with nouns and pronouns and proper punctuation are important, and I do make the attempt to avoid ending sentences with prepositions when it’s feasible, but sometimes it just sounds better the other way. And I don’t mind beginning sentences with conjunctions, but I am careful about adverb placement. (# You only live twice… #–# …I only have eyes for you… #) In these lyrical examples, it should be “You live only twice,“ as the adverb is denoting how many times you live, not that living is the only thing that you do. Do you have eyes for me alone, or am I the only reason that you have eyes? “I have eyes for only you.“ Oh, well, then. A subtle distinction, maybe, but it still makes a difference in meaning.
For myself, I still consider split infinitives to be a no-no, but judging from the preponderance of them these days in spoken language and published print, I’m not sure whether the rule has been officially changed (although I never received the memo about it) or all the people who are guilty of it just don’t know any better. I would tend toward the latter. Some of these English grammar “mal-literates” are probably the same ones who unknowingly use the wrong pronoun forms, double negatives, misplaced modifiers and don’t know the difference between plural and possessive and contractions, in some instances.
A split infinitive, by the way, in case you, too, are one of the uninformed, is when another word or phrase, usually an adverb, is inserted between the two-part verb form, the infinitive. It probably was TV’s “Star Trek” which popularized it years ago with their promo slogan, “…to boldly go where no man has gone before.” The infinitive verb is “to go.” Any other accompanying words or descriptions should be placed before or after the verb, not in the middle. It’s “I would like you not to make the same mistake again,” not, “I would like you to not make the same mistake again.” The same thing is done with verb phrases. Someone will say, “I would have most certainly said something, if I had only known,“ instead of “I most certainly would have said something…“ The verb is “would have said”. Don’t split it up. Always put the describing adverb(s) before the verb, or even after it in some cases.
You might say, “Aw, that’s nitpicking. It’s so minor, it doesn’t make any difference.“ Well, of course, they’re not earth-shattering infractions. But for myself, since it takes the same amount of thought and effort to put the words in the right order, why not just do it that way? I just don’t understand why people purposefully choose wrong over right when both choices involve equal effort.
(“…To be or not to be…“–That is the construction.) William Shakespeare knew the correct way when he wrote Hamlet’s famous speech. It’s probably too late now to reprogram everybody into correctness, just as we have had to accept the use of got as a regular present tense verb, as in # I got rhythm… #, and even the dictionaries now acknowledge “ain’t” as acceptable colloquial usage. But “ain’t” is only a bastardization of “am not”, not a grammatical infraction.
Another grammatical error occurs in the popular Burt Bacharach-Hal David song, “One Less Bell to Answer.” The lyric should go, # One fewer bell to answer / One fewer egg to fry / One fewer man to pick up after… # It is a common mistake, but less refers to the amount of something, whereas fewer denotes the number of items. “There is less sodium in that tomato juice and fewer calories as well.“ As wonderful a lyricist as he was, Hal David should have known the difference.
I was disappointed that Dan Brown’s editor(s) did not catch a glaring error in his Angels & Demons novel (my favorite of his books; I’ve read it three times!). Brown’s recurring lead character, Robert Langdon, is supposed to be this brilliant scholar and professor who teaches Religious Iconology at Harvard. He has a vast knowledge of world history and cultures, word origins and languages, and is an expert of symbology, puzzles and codes. In the story, Langdon is on an artistic quest, searching the churches of Rome to find a certain Bernini angel statue which has to do with fire in some way. When he does find it, he notices that the angel is holding a fiery spear, and its head is emanating rays of fire.
I quote: “Even the type of angel Bernini selected seemed significant. ‘It’s a seraphim,’ Langdon realized. Seraphim literally means “the fiery one.” (!) I was flabbergasted. A seraphim? Even if Dan Brown didn’t know that seraphim is the plural form of seraph, somebody else should have caught it before the book went to print. And Robert Langdon himself certainly would have known better! And seraphim can’t mean “the fiery one” anyway. Also, in the Kevin Smith film, Dogma (1999), Alan Rickman appears as an angel and announces to the other characters on hand, “I am a seraphim.” Oh, really? You and who else?
TV and movie scripts constantly have actors using the wrong form of personal pronouns in their dialogue, for another thing. “Between you and I,” it always annoys “Lloyd and I” when someone uses a nominative pronoun in a prepositional phrase or after a verbal action. It is so prevalent in written and spoken communication, the people who do it as well as the editors who don’t correct them, must not be aware themselves that what the writer or speaker is doing is grammatically wrong. I have made the discovery, watching old movies (pre-‘70s), that the dialogue grammar is more correct than it is nowadays, which indicates a generational decline in American English grammar education. Even “Boy” in the Tarzan series has impeccable grammar, and he grew up in the African jungle and was taught to speak by one person, his foster mother, Jane!
My grade school teachers insisted that we use correct grammar and punctuation in our writing and speech. But then, that was because they knew what the correct usage was. I think that the current problem may stem from the fact that the younger generations, including the teachers, don’t know any better themselves to correct anybody. I know schoolteachers who make grammatical errors all the time. On a recent Teachers’ Tournament on “Jeopardy!” I was dismayed by what some of the teachers on there did not know. They missed popular literature clues, those of general knowledge, and of course, music categories always baffle them. I would think that to qualify to be a schoolteacher, they should have a high I.Q. and a vast knowledge of all subjects. They should know more than their students at least. When I was substitute teaching, I monitored classes on a variety of subjects. I expect any teacher of mine to know who Holden Caulfield is, the derivation of “antarctic” and who wrote Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks.
I have acquaintances (I would hope that my real friends are more appreciative) don’t even want to know when they have made a grammatical error. They hate it when I try to correct them. They consider it rude. They would rather go through life letting people know how ignorant they are, rather than have the likes of me attempt to educate them. I don’t understand that. I am a firm believer of The Golden Rule. I never do or say to another person that I would not like done or said to me. For myself, when I utter an inaccuracy or cite some item of misinformation, I expect someone to call me on it and set me straight. I know that I don’t know everything, and I am always willing to learn. But apparently there are those who don’t feel that way. If they don’t know something, they consider it not worth knowing. That seems to be the common prevailing attitude about education in general in this country–the unwillingness to learn anything new. I learn something new practically every day, and it’s a fun and exciting thing for me. Keeping up with celebrity gossip and the sports statistics seem to be more important to a lot of people (not that there’s anything wrong with that) than spelling and using correct grammar.
I mention all this to make this assertion. We seem to be experiencing an age of some sort of “linguistic anarchy,” because very few are doing anything to address it. Maybe I just need to accept people’s verbal choices, regardless of their grammatical correctness. I apparently don’t have the power or influence to change anything, so I guess I’ll just have to live with it. Then why don’t we just do away with language rules and standards altogether. People can spell anything any way they want to, use whatever words they want to, whether they are the right and appropriate ones or not. This is certainly evident with the present preponderance of texting. Those who do it have created a new language, made up of abbreviations, short cuts and new spellings of standard words. Of course, it adds to the already confusing state of communication, which is one reason why language rules were set up in the first place. Most words in themselves have more than one meaning, so without certain guidelines, like punctuation, spelling and syntax, who knows what anybody means?
Try this little exercise. See if you can punctuate this series of words, without changing the order, so that it makes some kind of sense: that that is is that that is not is not is that it it is // The answer can be found at the end of this article.
Many of my generation and after either missed out on or have forgotten much of their knowledge of basic American history, too. Some are oblivious of any cultural items (literature, music, movies) that came about before they were born. They use the excuse, “Oh, that was before my time.” So then, all personal knowledge has to be confined to one’s lifetime, and to hell with history? If a 30-year-old, for instance, knows only what has occurred since 1988, how much can they know? There is not a whole lot that has happened since then. World War II and the Great Depression were before my time, but I know something about them. That’s why we have reference books, the Internet and our forebears to enlighten us about certain things. If they were not already born here, most of these Americans would not be able to pass our citizenship test. Canadians, for example, seem to know more about the United States than we do about their country or even our own.
Watching TV game shows, like “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” for one, is a real eye-opener and giveaway. I am constantly amazed and appalled by the ignorant, ridiculous responses to basic, general knowledge questions asked your average, American contestants. I suppose that we tend to measure other people’s intelligence against our own, and I guess I shouldn’t expect that everyone else received the same schooling that I did, but really now! They don’t know simple word origins or their meanings, and how did they miss out on how to distinguish the parts of speech, for example? One girl on the show and well out of high school, could not pick the nouns in a given sentence, did not know what an article is and did not know to which the word lunar referred. Another older girl has not yet grasped the concept of fractions. She thinks that one-quarter of anything is always 25.
The questions asked on that show are supposed to be actual 5th grade knowledge. I expect that these uninformed contestants either forgot what was taught back in grade school or they never learned it in the first place. I believe that true learning requires retention. So if you do not remember the basics, like reading, writing, arithmetic, language and vocabulary skills, for example, things that may be useful to you and occur throughout your life, then you never really learned them, did you? “I used to know how to do long division, but I forgot.” “How do you distinguish between ‘who‘ and ‘whom‘”? That’s why I don’t take much stock in grades and degrees and such. Maybe you passed your tests in school and did what was required to graduate, but if you can’t put that at-the-time learning to practical application later in life, then what was it all for? I don’t care how many degrees you have. Can you do the job at hand?
Just recently on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” a spelling question came up. Being a multiple-choice format, they gave four different spellings of the word “misspelled” and asked which was the correct one. The contestant himself wasn’t sure, so he asked the audience to help him. Only a few chose the right answer, but 98% of the audience got it wrong! Maybe even those who picked the right answer were only guessing. It could be that nobody really knew the correct one. I was both surprised and appalled. This was a typical, across-the-board, group of Americans who don’t know enough to pick out the correct spelling of a simple word, even when it is given to them! That is just sad.
When I was in school, I didn’t have the benefit of a computer or pocket calculator. I didn’t even know what those things were. We didn’t have “Sesame Street” or the type of children’s educational programs that are on TV today. But I managed to learn how to read and count and cipher all on my own, without any modern appliances. So why, in this age of high technology with computers and other great learning tools at our disposal, is the rate of functional illiteracy in this country higher than ever and continually rising, it seems?
But that might be part of the problem right there. Now I am all for the new gadgets that help our everyday coping, but maybe that’s what is holding us back mentally, in some cases. I admit that I do love having a calculator on my computer and is a great convenience when I have figuring to do. But it is just that, a convenience. If I don’t have access to my computer, I am able to figure out a mathematical problem myself, using pencil and paper. Store cashiers have it easy as well. They don’t have to figure out in their heads change for their customers. They just enter the amount of money given for the purchases, and the machine will tell them exactly how much change to give back.
We now have these geographical locating systems for motorists, which especially for your younger drivers, precludes the need for maps. So there are those who have never learned how to read a road map. What if they are lost or stranded somewhere and a map is the only thing they have to determine their location? Shouldn’t they at least have knowledge of such a useful tool? Whoopi Goldberg related on “The View” one day that her grandson asked her what time it was, and she told him to consult the clock on the wall. Well, this boy was used to digital clocks and never bothered to learn how to tell time the normal way. I think that’s pretty sad.
The country also aids and abets in promoting functional illiteracy among its citizens by displaying non-verbal signs and instructions. All the time we see these signs depicting a cigarette, for example, with a red line through it, meaning “no smoking.” Others forbid other activities without ever using the actual words. So it seems it is possible to get through life on a modicum of basic education. But this aiding and abetting is not such a good thing. Is that the way we want to go for the future?
The public schools’ education system must be pitifully remiss as well. It doesn’t help that constant budget cuts are affecting the curricula. Many school boards have done away with music and art programs, for example. I relate in another article, (You Better Work!) that I very briefly taught at a public school that did not have a music program at all, and when they called me in to start one, it was for only one day (and one hour) a week. How is a child with no musical training whatsoever supposed to learn how to play a musical instrument, for example, if they have access to it only one hour a week? Those school boards just don’t care, I guess.
Overcrowded schools are compelled to decrease physical education, for another. The students at these schools get only one day a week of gym class, if even that. As a result, they don’t get enough exercise, and along with their unmonitored dietary choices, may account for the prevalence of adolescent obesity nowadays. When I was in high school, we were made to perform daily calisthenics, which I certainly would not have done on my own. It was the same in Basic Training. If they hadn’t made us exercise, I wouldn’t have. It was certainly for our own good. But that’s no excuse. If students aren’t getting the proper instruction and activities in school, then they should find a way to help themselves. Parents should assist in their children’s education, rather than leaving it to the schools alone. But the problem may be that a lot of parents don’t know enough themselves to teach their children anything, which could be another reason.
During his reign of terror George Bush Jr., in order to establish some kind of “historic education reform,” promoted his “No Child Left Behind” campaign, which prompted a lot of schools to pass students through to graduation, even if they didn‘t pass their courses. As a result, teenagers today are still coming out of high school not being able to read or figure math. The mere fact that anyone would even go along with such a ridiculously-irresponsible suggestion should tell you something about how education is regarded by them. I wish that this policy had been in effect, however, when I was finishing high school, when one of my teachers prevented my graduation by flunking me in a minor (in my opinion) course. See my blog, School Days for the specific details.
It seems that most people claim math as their poorest subject in school. But many seem to be quite remiss with their basic grammatical skills, too, as we discussed earlier. I am more readily aware of someone’s grammatical knowledge than I am of their math skills. This is quite evident from internet postings, e-mail and chat room banter that I have witnessed, for example. We have all sorts of tools and aids to do our mathematical problems and computations, whereas grammar and language skills are personally verbal and literary. If you can’t add or multiply in your head, just use your calculator, but please learn how to spell and punctuate correctly.
U.S. and world geography is another area of deficiency among a lot of Americans. They don’t know where anything is, whether it’s right here at home or abroad, land or sea. Many don’t know the state capitals or the names of all the states themselves or even what their own home state looks like on a map! It makes me wonder what exactly are they teaching the kids in the public schools these days? If it’s not the basics of reading, writing, arithmetic, history and geography, then what? And why are there so many adults who don’t know how to cook?
Eating is a lifetime, everyday activity. How can anyone grow up never learning how to prepare a meal for themselves? If your mother (or father, in some cases) doesn’t teach you, then take a home economics or cooking course. Even if a kid plans to be taken care of their whole life, they still should learn how to be self-sufficient. Undoubtedly, there will be times when they will have to fend for themselves. Are you going to sit here and starve, because you don’t know how to boil an egg?
Okay, here is my conspiracy notion that I have been leading up to. Was it Mr. Bush’s, and others with the power and influence to pull it off, intention to dummy down America’s citizens in this and future generations to become a nation of idiots? We seem to be headed in that direction, aren’t we? Since we learn what we know from our elders, if they are not teaching us anything, we in turn don’t know anything to teach our children, and the vicious cycle continues. Realize that knowledge is power, and the person who would be able to take over the country is the person with the smarts and the intelligence to rule the imbeciles. They will believe anything they are told because they don’t know any better. There is already some indication of that with the most recent Presidential election. Despite what some might think about certain presidents’ intelligence, it turns out that many of our chief executives (Kennedy, Nixon, Reagan, Clinton, the Bushes, Obama, the list goes on) have/had very high I.Q.s, so I am puzzled why education was not a major priority with these guys. It must have been, and still is, intentional neglect.
There is a 2006 satirical comedy called Idiocracy, in which Luke Wilson’s character, himself not so bright to begin with, due to a military experiment, gets sent 500 years into the future (at the rate we’re going, it won’t take nearly that long) when the entire country is populated by morons! When Luke is deemed the smartest man among them, they elect him President. I always contend that life imitates art, and vice versa, and there have been indications of that throughout my life. I can imagine a future world–well, this country, at least–where stupidity predominates and is the norm. If things don’t change drastically, that’s exactly where we’re destined.
Of course, as there are always exceptions to everything, I have noticed and am pleased that there are more than a few child prodigies in existence as well, born geniuses who display incredible knowledge and skill at a very early age. Some are able to talk by the time they are two or three, can read by four and are already performing and entertaining by the age of five (like myself). So I am encouraged that the situation is not completely hopeless at least. Most often these amazing wunderkinds are the products of smart, caring parents who begin to educate their children as soon as possible, instead of waiting for the public or private schools to initiate a learning regimen. I therefore believe that parents who consider education to be of the most importance are going to instill that same concept in their children when they are still young and impressionable. They will encourage the child as soon as they detect a spark of curiosity and interest in something. It seems that educational apathy, on the other hand, just inspires more apathy.
Instead of always focusing on defense and foreign aggression, it would behoove our leaders to make education our primary objective. The mere fact that it isn’t already, makes me think that it is their plan all along to bring about the scenario that I have just laid out. Just like when our Government ignored the AIDS epidemic for all those years, I suspect that the reason this serious problem has not been addressed is because they are behind it all and don‘t want to do anything about it. I can’t believe when things are so obvious to me that they are totally oblivious of it all. They must be aware. I can’t be the only one who is concerned about this issue. Or maybe Americans really are as naïve and clueless as to what is going on around them.
Because I am one that does not regularly watch the news on TV and I don’t read the newspapers either, some of my friends chide me for not being more informed about world events. My defense in way of an explanation is that when something that is newsworthy happens or something that has to do with me directly, I will hear about it soon enough. I don’t live in a vacuum. I just don’t enjoy listening to all the doom and gloom in the world and how people maliciously treat each other on a daily basis. The local news is basically neighborhood gossip, reporting personal business about people that I don’t even know. I don’t care who got mugged this morning or whose house burned down. As long as it’s not me, I don’t need to hear about other people’s sorrows and woes, especially since I can’t do anything about it.
I think that this also creates social apathy in people. The daily and constant bombardment of human’s inhumanity to humankind understandably would instill a certain degree of impassiveness and indifference in someone’s psyche. I get my news from such shows as “60 Minutes,” “20/20” and “Entertainment Tonight,” that reports industry news, which I am more interested in. I get the celebrity obituaries and film and TV reviews. I try to look at the bigger picture. I am more concerned about whether our American youth are getting a good education than about our getting involved with every war and national conflict that comes along.
Another possible national conspiracy for which “Big Brother” may be responsible is the gradual taking away of our personal freedoms and rights, which includes privacy issues. Of course, all of these inconveniences and compromises have been implemented for our own good and safety, even though we never requested to be looked after. It seems like whenever somebody does anything now, it sets a precedent for the Powers-That-Be to prevent the rest of us from doing the same thing. Airport security is a prime example. Once upon a time travelers could get through the security gate without much trouble. I don’t mind the metal detectors checking for firearms and other weapons. But then somebody hid some kind of bomb in his shoes and another in his cap, so now everybody has to remove their shoes and headgear when they go through security. So one person did that and now they think that it will become a regular thing? Somebody tried to put an explosive device in a bottle of water, or at least that’s what we were told by the media. Did anybody really do that? What real proof do we have?
At any rate, now we are all penalized, and nobody is allowed to take containers with any kind of liquid through security. One person does that one time, so do they actually think that we all will now follow suit and try to smuggle bombs onto the planes that we are flying on? Give us some credit. Just the fact that they were caught the first time they tried it, I think would deter anybody else from trying to do the same thing. So why the concern? But instead of confiscating suspicious items, why don’t they just test those items for their dangerous potential, and if there is nothing wrong with them, then it should be all right for travelers to retain said items. What they don’t seem to realize, or don’t want to, is that once one method of terrorism is accomplished and that method is then scrutinized and guarded against, the saboteurs will no longer use that particular tactic but will find another way to get us. If I know that my shoes and bags will be searched, I’m not going to put a bomb in either of those places. I will put it somewhere I think they won’t check.
As a result of the bombs set off at the Boston Marathon in April 2013, the media tried to create more paranoia among the people. We are now supposed to report any “suspicious-looking packages” to the authorities. So if anyone ever encounters a package or bag lying around somewhere that is not their own, it should be regarded as “suspicious.“ Maybe some absent-minded person walked off and forgot their bag. I have done that myself. And it didn’t even have a bomb in it either!
Then we had that bombing in Manchester, England, which killed people attending a pop concert. At the follow-up tribute concert at the same venue, security measures were greatly enhanced. This time attendees were not allowed to carry with them any kind of bag or purse. Now, come on! So now I can’t go out in public with my shoulder bag because I might be carrying a bomb with me? Again, how can they believe that everybody will follow suit with every terrorist act that occurs and send a representative to every public event that happens all over the world and set off a bomb to kill a lot of people?
Right here on the home front, in our nation’s capital, no less, there was the recent gun attack on the Republican congressmen while they were playing baseball. Nobody was killed, but there were some injuries. The shooter was not some foreign insurrectionist with a religious agenda, but a plain, ol’ B-flat, American WASP from Illinois, who was discovered to have a strong hatred for the Republican Party. The incident occurred on a Wednesday morning in June. I am one who believes that everything happens for a reason. I can’t help but think that if all those men had been at work tending to the important affairs of the country and its people, like education and health care concerns, for example, doing what they are being paid to do, instead of outside playing baseball, this would not have happened. Most, if not all, of those delegates have personal bodyguards, which seemed not to make any difference. I have said before that there is no surefire maximum security. They can always find a way to accomplish what they want to do. We just have to continue to take our chances in all of our daily endeavors. All these excessive and inconvenient safety measures don’t amount to a hill-o’-beans.
Remember the guy in Colorado who shot up a movie theater on the day that The Dark Knight Rises (2012) opened nationwide? As soon as it happened, we received news reports that our mayor had ordered police security at the theaters here in New York as a precaution, as if what happened in Colorado would inspire other nuts to do the same thing here. Then it was suggested that metal detectors be installed and have all patrons be thoroughly searched when they attend movie theaters in the future. I mean, come on! Are they serious? Is there such little trust in people that they think that temporary insanity is so contagious that if just one person goes off his nut, then everybody is compelled to go off theirs as well? Maybe they do think that we’re all stupid! “Hmm, I never thought about that. That’s a good idea. Let’s go all over town and shoot up the cineplexes, so that we can receive a lot of national publicity, too!”
I heard a news report about an action film in production that was toning down the violence in it, in deference to the incident in Colorado. Okay, I am not so keen on such gratuitous violence depicted in a lot of movies, but do they actually think that if they stop showing crime capers and killing on screen, that everyone will stop doing it? Films are not the cause of real-life crime. There are probably hardened career criminals who never even watch TV. I, and everybody I know, view these same films on a regular basis, and not once have we been inspired to pull a heist or go on a shooting and killing spree. Movies should not be blamed for people’s actions.
It seems that now even metal detectors have been rendered undependable and ineffective. I don’t mean to give anybody any ideas, but I read where this is already happening, so I am not giving away any secrets. It is now possible to create your own 3-D polymer and ceramic firearms by computer, and since they are not metal, when concealed properly, they don’t set off the metal detectors. So it is possible to smuggle guns through security checkpoints. No lock is pick-proof. They even know how to circumvent those laser detectors used in museums and other heavily-guarded venues. I have said before that the concept of absolute maximum security is virtually impossible. When there is a strong enough will, they always find a way.
I had once contended that to get rid of all firearms would solve the problem. But we now know that one does not need a gun to terrorize and kill people. Right here in Manhattan recently some nut plowed down a bunch of cyclists and pedestrians on the street with his truck. He didn’t even have a gun. The city’s law officials said that they would increase the security. How is that possible? What’s stopping somebody from driving on a crowded sidewalk if they decide to do so? They would have to stop people from driving their vehicles altogether. And you know that will never happen.
What has made me so suspicious about all this is that they seem so quick and eager to implement these so-called safety measures any time somebody does something. I don’t believe that anything is accidental or coincidental. Is somebody putting these people up to committing these acts of violence and terrorism just to give them an excuse to monitor our comings and goings and strip away what little privacy we have left? We can hardly do anything now. Check out my blog, America: Land of the Free? for more examples.
So, I do admit to being paranoid and suspicious about a lot of things, but that doesn’t mean that my fears are unfounded and that “they” are not really out to get us. If I can think up these theories that I have mentioned, there must be others who have considered the same notions. Be aware that everyone does not have good intentions. There are always evil individuals in the world who will use whatever means possible to carry out their nefarious ideas. The Devil is always working.
There are people who make it their fun hobby creating viruses and worms and then set about to infect and destroy people’s computer systems. Then you have your hackers who invade people’s privacy and then use the gained information against them. Scam artists are everywhere conning people out of their hard-earned money, even those who don’t have all that much to relinquish.
Here is another one that recently occurred to me. There is this service now–it’s called MyHeritageDNA–that is purportedly able to determine one’s ethnic breakdown. For a mere $79 (order from Ancestry.com, if you want to pay $20 more), they will send you a kit by which you swab your cheeks, send the sample back to them, and in 4-6 weeks they will give you the results of the test. These results tell you from what country or area of the world your ancestors originated.
One flaw that I find in that assessment is that a specific country is not a true indication of one’s genetic ethnicity. Genetic classification should denote racial delineation, like Caucasoid, Mongoloid and Negroid. A person can be born anywhere, depending on where they are at the time. If I were born in China, for instance, because my mother was there working or merely visiting, that doesn’t make me or her people Chinese. I have Negroid DNA, obviously, but that doesn’t pinpoint exactly where in Africa my forebears came from. For instance, is Kenyan DNA any different than Ugandan, which is right next door? I have Caucasoid DNA in me as well, as my great-great-grandmother (on my mother’s side) was a white German woman, but how does that prove that her ancestors came from Germany originally? They could have been from anywhere. Maybe she was the only one born in Germany.
And why does it take so long to get back your results? If I needed this information as soon as possible for some reason, it shouldn’t take up to six weeks for them to get it for me. I would think that their findings would reveal itself right away.
The other thing that gives me pause about this testing thing is the fact that you are giving your DNA to somebody who you don’t even know. They will tell you that they protect your privacy, but how do you know that for sure? Who else might have privy to this information? They now have your DNA on file, so if you are ever in trouble with the law, they can use that to exonerate you, perhaps, but it can also be used to convict you of something. Don’t you think that if the FBI showed up with a subpoena to obtain your DNA information, they wouldn’t readily give it to them?
And then too, how can you be absolutely sure that the results they send you are really yours alone? You were not there to monitor the testing procedure. They could tell you anything. They already have your money (which is their main objective anyway), so why should they care? There is a probability that some genetics experts are able to alter and manipulate DNA.
This, dare I say “racket”?, seems to be more than just a service for us to use. Ancestry.com is now even on a recruitment campaign. In addition to their TV commercials, they have gotten “The View” for one–there may be others as well, I don’t know–to get their viewing audience to give their DNA kits as holiday gifts. On the day that I first saw this, everyone in the studio audience were given one as a consolation prize. So they are foisting this thing even on people who did not request it. Why such generosity, and why do they want our DNA so badly? What’s in it for them, I wonder? I guess that I am not so trusting as a lot of people seem to be. You might be saying that in life we have to trust somebody. But do we? I have found that you can only be betrayed by somebody you trust. See my blog entitled, “Trust Me” for a discussion of other trust issues.
What about this new Google Echo information robot (“Alexa” and the like) that is on the market now? It is your own personal search engine, similar to “Ask Jeeves” from some years ago. You ask this unit any question, and it will search its database and give you an answer. Oh, what a fun toy, and how useful besides! What the owners of these things don’t seem to realize, or maybe they just don’t care, is that this machine is hooked up to the World Wide Web and is monitoring your every move and listening in on everything that you say. In other words, “Big Brother is watching you!” The thing records all interactions with it, so it has your search history and knows all about you and your household members. And as the Internet is controlled and maintained by somebody, that Somebody is also all up in your business.
It has even been suggested that the recent controversy about the feature film The Interview (2014) is fraught with conspiratorial intrigue. First of all, I thought from the very beginning that Sony’s decision to pull the film from commercial release because of a terroristic threat from North Korea was suspicious in itself. If the movie wasn’t out yet, how did they know the content and what was said in it? The thing about Korea’s hacking into Sony’s computers, or whatever it was, is utterly preposterous. Are they in the habit of monitoring every movie that is made, or did they target only that particular one because it was about them? So what if the actors mentioned the North Korean leader by name? I would think that he would feel honored. I certainly would be! To be mentioned by name in a major motion picture, what’s wrong with him? As I said in another post, there is no bad publicity, really. Whatever it is that was said about that guy or his country is not going to change anything on our part. Is he doing something that he doesn’t want anybody to know about? Why should he care what any of us think? We can have an opinion, but we can’t or won’t do anything about it. We will watch the film, laugh about it (or not), and then go about our business. Life goes on.
I always suspected that it was just a big publicity stunt to promote the film. Movie-making is a business. I didn’t believe for a moment that a production company would spend millions of dollars to make a film and then accept to lose all the potential profits because of some alleged idle threat. And sure enough, only days after Sony announced that they were going to shelve the film and prevent its release, they changed their minds and decided to release it after all. Really? Quel surprise! And of course, now with all the buzz that was created about it, everybody wanted to check it out, which was their intention all along. This was a way for them to get some of their money back, by creating all this hype about it and hoping people would flock to see it, which they apparently did.
So because of this incident with Sony, our Government feels that they need to get involved. All the movie studios, companies and distributors have corporate ties with the Internet, which is supposed to be free public domain to the world-at-large. But Big Brother wants to control the Internet, too, and decide for the rest of us what is suitable and what we should, or more importantly, should not have access to. It’s George Orwell’s 1984, only thirty years later. Everything happens for a reason, and it’s all carefully calculated and planned.
So don’t you now think, as I do, that they have something to do with creating all these situations just to give them an excuse to intervene on our behalf and protect us from the evils of the world? Who has the power or ability to protect the entire world from personal harm, bodily or otherwise? We all have to be responsible for our own safety. We shouldn’t expect anybody to protect us 24/7. It’s not possible. We often hear the admonitions, “Be careful“ or “Take care now.” But why should I be careful if I know that the Government is always looking out for my welfare and best interest? Well, honey, it’s not! You need to look after yourself.
Movie buff that I am (Who, me? Really?), I try to see everything eventually, so when The Interview came out on video, I rented it from Netflix, expecting the worst. Well, I am pleased to report that I think that the film is much better than I thought it would be. It has a brilliant, hilarious script, a good and plausible story, and the stars, James Franco and Seth Rogan, are a comedy team that rivals the veteran teams of yesteryear. It’s thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining and most likely will receive multiple viewings by me. If “Supreme Leader” Kim Jong-un is at all offended by the film, then he needs to get a sense of humor.
At least the writers gave his character some humanity and even tried to explain why he is the way he is, if that is the way he really is. I don’t know for sure whether they lied about anything. We know only what we are told by the media, which is the whole point of the movie. The titular interview was to determine if any of what has been reported about the guy was true. If he is, in fact, guilty of the accusations cited therein, then I say, ‘If the foo shits, wear it!’
I hope that my thoughts in these posts don’t get me in trouble, like poor Mel Gibson‘s character in the movie Conspiracy Theory (1997) did. When he published his ideas, the big guys came after him. He apparently struck a nerve with certain people. It turns out that his paranoid ramblings about certain Governmental mischief weren’t so far-fetched after all. I know that I can’t prove any of this, but a theory does not require proof. It only indicates that there may be another explanation for something other than the generally-accepted one. There is always more than one side to every story, so I am merely suggesting other possibilities. It all comes down to believing what we want to, regardless of the actual truth. If any of my ideas are pure bullshit, then I should be safe, no harm done. But as none of my suppositions are entirely my own–I couldn’t be the only one who thinks this way–there is no reason why the Powers-That-Be should come after me specifically. I am just reporting what some people probably are already saying or thinking.
Solution to the Punctuation Poser–That that is, is. That that is not, is not. Is that it? It is.