Dear Brits

First, I need you to take a look at this Buzzfeed post!

http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/things-british-people-hate-about-americans

Now, here is my response to each item!

Here we go…

1)It’s more efficient and we don’t want to confuse the Spanish speakers who might read it as “trave’y’ing”.

2) “September Eleventh” as opposed to “The Eleventh of September”… again, more efficient!

3)Some pants are trousers, some a slacks… they are all pants… and british “pants” are underwear, or boxers, or briefs or boxer briefs or (in parts of the South) drawers (pronounced “draws”… get mad about THAT!)

4)Again, more efficient and more accurately represents how the word is pronounced!

5) really!? why?

6) we can get stuff for 99 cents… (plus tax)

7)I hate the way everybody who isn’t German pronounces German words!

8) Gen-You-Win, Root (we could take out the “o” to make it more accurate and more efficient), H-erb (sound out the “H”) what’s to hate about that?

9) Sick!? that’s the word you chose!? I’m going to be sick all over the back seat of your car! Still American!

10) (From a friend of a friend on Facebook) – Fall is actually the older word… that was used by Brits before they swapped to autumn.

11)If someone says “y’all” after every word… they’re faking a Southern accent… and we hate that,  just like y’all hate it when someone tries to do a British accent… speaking of which.

12) That’s fair… but what about when they succeed at doing a British accent!?

13) We don’t all say “howdy”, drink shitty beer and eat giant hamburgers… screw you too!

14) No, you just watch our shows… also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_British_television_series_based_on_American_television_series  (liar, liar, trousers on fire)

15) I hate Brits, why do they call cookies biscuits. and who ever heard of muffins and gravy!?

16) I’ve never sat on the bonnet (hood)… I have, however, sat on many tailgates…y’all!

17) First, I know you’re not all posh and don’t all talk like the Queen… but if you’re not posh, why do you think you’re better than us?

18) When I do a British accent I sound like David Mitchell… and I think he would consider himself relatively intelligent!

19)They’re sturdier than Styrofoam, they’re cheap, they’re available… and also, sometimes we use the blue ones!

20) We call them “VyTamins” because they contain “vital” elements and nutrients… but if you want to take it back, we can all start calling them “VEETAmins”.

21)…that’s fair… but if we start calling “soccer” “football” we both have to start calling “Pineapples” “Ananas” like the rest of the world!

Words Have Power

People, to the detriment of society, do not think in the same way they once did. They don’t contemplate and formulate philosophies, strategies, hypotheses or treatises. People “Tweet”. In terms of conversational communication or dissemination of information, there’s nothing wrong with that. But, in a world where we have, at our fingertips, access to the sum total of human knowledge, is it truly in our best interest as a culture to lower the level of our discourse? Why is it socially acceptable for me to employ my grasp of the English language in print when to do so in conversation would be seen as arrogant or pompous? I’m not saying that I personally feel any pressure to abjure florid vocabulary. It does, however, concern me that so few people seem interested in utilizing our language to the fullest extent of its potential.

Please, don’t misunderstand. I am not suggesting that EVERY person in the past thought and spoke like a poet. But certainly, those individuals fortunate enough to be privy to an education, which is to say “the rich”, had a sizable vocabulary. Certainly they made use of it. More often than not their extensive vocabularies spanned multiple languages… even some dead ones! Not everyone is rich these days but, the access we have to the information is unparalleled in human history, and the fact that we don’t make greater use of this opportunity is plangent if not outright shameful! I suspect the reasons why more people don’t take advantage of this access are extremely complex. A variety of socio-economic, cultural, historical and psychological factors that I simply don’t have the time or energy to delve into here and now. Of course, that last statement is perhaps the best explanation available. I’m lazy!

We are all lazy! We are driven, as all mammals are, to achieve the greatest possible efficiency in life. Lest I confuse you, allow me to clarify, as it will undoubtedly be necessary for some, that efficiency is not synonymous with industriousness. In truth, the majority of the bell curve which represents humanity, strives to do as little as possible to maintain a particular level of comfort. Even if the level of comfort requires a great deal of a particular kind of work, we do as little as possible. For example, your favorite musician may spend countless hours practicing and rehearsing and producing albums and performing on tour. However, in order to achieve a degree of efficiency, they collaborate with others. This is something which humans, as a social animal, are adept at doing. Your favorite singer won’t go on tour and play the guitar and the drums and the bass and set up the stage and drive the bus and choreograph the dancers and work the pyrotechnics and… et cetera. Of course, in this example, to do all of those things alone would be impractical to the point of unfeasibility. Still, the point remains the same with language. We do as little as possible, because we are inherently lazy. Of course, I, and likely anyone else who has seen the 1989 classic Dead Poets Society feel that language is an area of endeavor in which, for a particular purpose, laziness simply will not do.

Then again… I don’t talk like this (everything written before this sentence) every time I speak. Every discussion doesn’t merit highfalutin pontification. Talkin’ wit yer’ buddies ‘bout titties don’t require nuthin’ but a understandin’ ‘tween you n’em ‘bout how awesome titties is! <ahem> Of course, from that perspective, we free ourselves from lingual constraints and wander into the realm of more inventive discussion… more inventive language. Shakespeare, if you will permit a touch of hyperbole, invented tons of new words… especially in the arena of sex and sexuality. And invention is not a lazy process.

I suppose the point of all this, if there is one to be made, is that I’d like people… average people… to try harder. Not to master technical jargon but rather, to strive for a more ambitious measure of expression… at least from time to time. Because, I firmly believe that the task of selecting the perfect word for a specific situation, to pause and ponder its rhythm and timbre, to mull its meaning and consider its connotation will make the world a better place. Because, “No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.” Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a movie to re-watch again!

Apocalypse Cult

First… a comment regarding my writing style! I tend to editorialize my own editorializing in parentheticals. I concede that this can make my arguments (somewhat) difficult to follow depending on the length of the parenthetical statement. I would encourage you to re-read the sentence without them if you become confused.

I’ve always had a problem with people proclaiming that “The End is Nigh”. Partly because they’re always wrong! But more disturbing to me than that is how there seem to be so many people willing to believe that it’s true. Personally, I’ve lived through Y2K and the end of the Mayan Calendar, not to mention a whole slew of half-assed Armageddon predictions (at least one of which I’ve talked about before HERE). On none of these occasions was I particularly worried about the world actually coming to an end. Historically speaking… individuals and groups have claimed that the end of the world was going to happen on just about every day since they crucified Jesus. And, historically, absolutely none of them have been right. The Large Hadron Collider has yet to create a black hole that will swallow Earth, the Mayans probably just went out and bought a new calender… maybe with sexy ladies… or sports cars… or those 3-D Magic Eye pictures on it, they either fixed all the Y2K programming errors or (as I believe) the computers didn’t give a shit in the first place and just kept right on working, and time after time Jesus has been a no show to the party. But people still believe… and that’s definitely not a good thing!

The way I perceive these “End-Times Fetishists” is clearly not positive. At best, they’re misguided! At worst, they are responsible (admittedly, only partially) for the failure of humanity to progress in any meaningful fashion since… let’s say… December 19th, 1972! Instead of looking to the future… to expand the Terran horizon… these people (and by “these people” I am specifically referring to Christian End-Times Theorists) seem intent on preparing for the arrival of some sort of spiritual cataclysm! I’m sure they would say it will be a glorious moment that will usher in a thousand years of heaven on Earth. My problem is that they are 1) assuming a lot of variables in their favor in their own purported time line of future events, and 2) betting on that purported time line to actually unfold as they claim it will in the first place. That seems like an awful big gamble to me… and what’s worse, they claim to be betting on my behalf.

So, let’s break it down a bit. And, for the sake of argument (ONLY), let us assume that these things they claim actually will come to pass and their beliefs are (generally speaking) correct. First there will (according to their story) be an Anti-Christ. A charismatic figure that will bring seven years of peace to the Middle East. (Good fuckin luck with that!) He (and it is a “he”… which would beg the question why there aren’t more female heads of state except these people are actually looking forward to all this) will become the leader of a One World Government at which point he’ll stamp “his number” (the number of the beast… commonly thought to be “666″) on your hand or your forehead. All the while persecuting those true believers who were left behind (hence the title of a tremendously popular series of Christian speculative literature) after “The Rapture” (an event that, incidentally, is never mentioned in The Bible… which I have an entirely separate blog post worth of issues with). THEN, the second coming of Jesus and a big battle (like with swords and armor and shit…because much like the Founding Fathers of the U.S.A., the people who wrote this stuff couldn’t conceive of machine guns or B-2 Stealth Bombers with nuclear payloads or any of the million ways we have since the time of their first publication learned to kill one another) at a PLACE called Armageddon. By and large, these people think that they are so good and holy and deserving of the mercy, peace and joy of their all powerful and all knowing creator that they will be brought unto the bosom of God in the Rapture… prior to any of this shit going down and thus avoiding the suffering that will be sure to follow. While I don’t know all (or more than a few, really) of these people… I think I can say with relative certainty that if there were to be a Rapture… an all knowing God would probably judge most of them as not being “up to snuff”, as it were. So all that “holier than thou” would be wasted as only The Dalai Lama (maybe) and a handful of others would actually be spared the horrors of The Anti-Christ’s (surprisingly brief) reign on Earth. And if that’s the only reason to “be a good Christian”… to avoid the suffering that immediately precedes the Final Day of Judgement… it’s a shitty reason.

Besides that, they’re just being supremely arrogant in their dismissal of every other version of a claimed afterlife (and I have to admit… Valhalla sounds kind of awesome… I mean, If I had to pick one). And arrogance seems awful close to pridefulness… which I do believe is a sin in its own right. 

Returning to the point! This particular belief… that “we are living in the end times” (and have been for at least a century now), is detrimental to humanity as a whole. It goes against the ethos of so many things we learn in our lives. Sports, for example… as a player, you play until the final whistle blows… as a fan, you stay and support your team until the clock reads “00:00″ (even when they’re losing). These are concepts of Effort and Loyalty that we’re all familiar with. End-times theology then feels like an effort on the part of some to give up on the play or leave in the third quarter to beat traffic. They’re keeping the human team from playing to its full potential. If they didn’t think that the game was as close to over as mattered to them, if they stood with us in solidarity…maybe we’d already have a moon base. Maybe we would’ve discovered a reliable and clean energy source that could power our exploration of the stars. Maybe we wouldn’t experience hunger or illness because those are problems of limited resources and understanding… two things we wouldn’t have to deal with if some people weren’t always looking to jump ship and instead put in the work to improve, master, explore and understand the world we all share. 

Of course, if they’re actually/eventually proven correct (in my lifetime), I’m gonna look like a right proper D-bag!

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