All of that is to say that I’m embarking on some commentary about language, and there will no doubt be an embarrassing and hilarious typo or two in the blog. If you feel the need to point it out, just don’t be a jerk about it, okay?
I don’t want to talk about typing and spelling, per se, today, but rather certain phenomenon about the way people perceive and use language that is often lumped in with spelling, grammar, et cetera.
What got me thinking about this was a particular short conversation on twitter this weekend. A person noted that their local Walmart had a huge banner up that said “The Fourth of July this year is Thursday July 4.” Which struck him as a particularly dumb thing to put on a banner. I pointed out that at more than one time in my life I have been in a conversation where another person asked, in all seriousness, “What date is the Fourth of July?” One of the people who has done that more than once is a relative—a relative who is known in the family for asking and doing things that are not well thought out, let’s say.
But it isn’t that the people who ask that question are ignorant or stupid—they are simply processing the language in a different way than some of us do. When someone like my online acquaintance or myself sees the phrase “Fourth of July” we process it mentally as “the day in July which comes immediately after the third and immediately preceeding the fifth.” Because we see the words and associate them with the individual and literal definitions of each word.
But for some people, the “Fourth of July” is not perceived as a string of words—it is processed as a single word. By which I mean, “Any of the sequences of one or more sounds or morphemes (intuitively recognized by native speakers as) constituting the basic units of meaningful speech” (to quote Oxford). Yes, it is written out and it originated as a string of three words, but these people encountered the phrase often enough in their earlier years, before they learned to spell, always together, so that their brain processed it as a single word, “forthuvjoolie” that in the United States refers to the holiday in the middle of summer during which we celebrate the Declaration of Independence by holding picnics and barbecues and eventually shooting off a bunch of fireworks.
And it doesn’t matter that the person has subsequently learned that the word which they think of as a single noun synonymous with “the Independence Day Holiday” is actually spelled “Fourth of July.” On their deepest level of understanding, they conceive of it as a single word.
There is also the complication that, well, sometimes, in certain circumstances, the “Fourth of July” holiday is observed on a day other than the fourth. Because of the Monday Holiday Act (and a lot of corporate policies), government offices and many businesses (including banks) will be closed for business on Monday the fifth or Monday the sixth if the holiday happens to fall on a Saturday or Sunday that year. Nobody moves the barbecues and fireworks to Monday when that happens, but there are other holidays that we observe on a Monday rather than the anniversary of their traditional date, and all of that can get conceptually tied up in people’s minds.
It is especially true if the person in question, like the relative I mentioned above, has come to expect people to correct her all the time because she misunderstands, misremembers, or just gets details mixed up. Especially when a portion of their lives was spent with an abusive parent, partner, et cetera. For someone like that, the question “What date is the Fourth of July?” has an element of defensiveness to it. There is an implied, “I know that I should know this, and please don’t bite my head off for asking what you think of as a stupid question. I just want to make certain I have it right.”
Because people aren’t computers. Our neurological system isn’t naturally compartmentalized. And we all have learned things in different ways both because our brains don’t all work exactly the same way, and because our experiences during formative years were not identical.
Think of it this way: a couple weeks ago I laughed really hard during a panel at the science fiction convention I was attending when a panelist, who has multiple graduate degrees and works in a language related field, mentioned how it wasn’t until his teen years that he realized that the word “rendezvous” that people used to mean a meeting at an appointed time and/or place was exactly the same word as the one he pronounced in his head as “ron-DEZZ-voys” which also meant to meet up. I laughed because that was one of those mistakes I made as a kid, too. Because I encountered the word in print and either inferred the meaning from the context, or if I did look it up in a dictionary, didn’t parse out the pronunciation notation.
Throw in a very slight tendency toward dyslexia, and I leave as an exercise for the reader to parse out why I ended up being laughed at in school one day when I talked about a character being “detter-minded.”
First, last night my husband and I saw Avengers: Endgame at the nearby theatre where you can get real food and drinks brought out to you. They make an nice Old Fashioned, by the way. Anyway, we had just gotten seated in the crowded theatre before the advertisements started and my phone buzzed—and before you say anything, I always shut it off before the Previews start and I put my watch into theatre mode, so I’m not one of those guys. Anyway, I check it and there is a panicked text message from one of my aunts who is scared that my husband or I are dead. Or something. Why, because she saw this news: 4 dead after construction crane crushes cars in Seattle.
I refrained from pointing out that since the greater metropolitan Seattle area has a population of about 1.5 million, the probability that Michael or I were part of an incident were four people died and three more were injured was about 0.0000046%. And statistically there is a traffic fatality in the region about once every three days. And we don’t actually live in Seattle, any more, and tend to spend our entire weekends up in Shoreline and Edmonds and the other neighboring suburbs. But I understand that it’s a very grisly image: you’re driving along, minding your own business, and several tons of steel fall out of the sky, crushing your car and several around you. As it was, the crane had fallen several hours earlier, when Michael and I were eating a late brunch in a Family Pancake restaurant in Edmonds. And at the time my aunt heard the news and panicked, we were sitting in a theatre in Mountlake Terrace—we weren’t in Seattle at all.
Today in follow-up news I learn there is kind of a connection: one of the four people killed was a student at Seattle Pacific University, where I attended years ago. I am happy to learn that the baby and mother who were among the injured were released from the hospital last night. I hope they have a speedy recovery.
Now, we go from tragic accident to another horrific mass shooting. On the last day of Passover as a synagogue, no less: Woman killed, 3 injured in shooting at California synagogue. Just horrifying the people think walking into a house of worship with an automatic weapons is a reasonable response to anything. And that the only thing that we could possibly do in this situations is the old thoughts-and-prayers BS: ‘The blood spilled today is on your hands’: Trump slammed for ‘thoughts and prayers’ comment after synagogue shooting.
Hate crimes are up since the alleged president was unduly elected. And they are being committed by angry white men who are often literally citing the pussy-grabber-in-chief during the execution of their crimes. This isn’t tragedy, this is part of an active campaign of hate and terror, encouraged by the person currently occupying the White House: Opinion: Why Poway Proves Again That Trump Has To Go. But also aided and abetted by the vast majority of the Republican Party. Yesterday I linked to a story about why Twitter doesn’t mass ban Nazis (Why Won’t Twitter Treat White Supremacy Like ISIS? Because It Would Mean Banning Some Republican Politicians Too), but there’s more to it than policy. The algorithms which work perfectly fine in other parts of the world to identify and ban Nazis and Nazi sympathizers to conform with local laws, sweep up a lot of Republican politicians, including the president. Not because the algorithms are less perceptive than humans, but because those politicians are saying, promoting, and encouraging the genocidal beliefs and policies of the Nazis.
And I will say it again: this isn’t a new phenomenon. The Republican Party has been the home of white nationalism since the sixties.
And those white nationalists are just getting bolder and bolder: Self-Proclaimed Nationalists Interrupt Author, Chant ‘This Land Is Our Land’ at Politics and Prose Bookstore. They’re completely oblivious to the fact that the land all of us U.S. citizens live on was stolen from Native Americans, who were massacred and driven off. It’s stolen land. I’m also irritated at them stealing lyrics from the guy who’s guitar famously sported the slogan, “This machine kills fascists.”
They were there because Jonathan Metzl, a professor of sociology, medicine, and health at Vanderbilt University, as at the store to do a reading and discuss his recent book, Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment Is Killing America’s Heartland. The protestors are apparently all former members of Identity Evropa, another white supremacist group many of whose members were recently identified as members of the military and police officers—who began losing their jobs because of some of the illegal activities associate with the group. The new group calls itself AIM (American Identity Movement), and was insisting that they had nothing to do with the old group, but that’s already been shown to be a lie.
In another act of thievery, I have to point at the the initialism AIM is also the name of the American Indian Movement, an group that advocates for Native America civil rights and so forth. So it’s not enough that they try to assert ownership of stolen land, but they’re operating under a stolen name, too.
But we can’t let all this hatred turn us into haters ourselves! Neither can we allow these acts of terror and intimidation to succeed. I agree with Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein: The rabbi injured in the shooting wants Jewish people to ‘fill up the synagogues’.
“We’re not going to be intimidated or deterred. Terror will not win and as Americans, we can’t and won’t cower in the face of this senseless hate… A little bit of light pushes away a lot of darkness. We need a lot of light now.”
On Monday morning, after our fourth night sleeping at the con, my husband was up and had already carried some things out to the car when I woke up. Most other mornings he had gotten up before me, gotten dressed, ran off to do his staff job, and sometimes came back as I was getting moving to see if I wanted to go to breakfast. So Monday was the first morning he was there the entire time I was doing my initial get up and get ready shuffle.
He kept expressing concern, asking if I was all right, a lot during the process. I attributed it to him feeling tired because he never sleeps well away from home, and he had been very busy all weekend. So I thought it was a bit of projection: I didn’t feel quite right, so he assumed I didn’t, either.
But when we were almost done loading the car, he asked again, with a really concerned tone of voice. So I asked him did I look bad? Why was he asked.
“You were complaining a lot while moving around this morning.”
I explained that that was just the usual thing: my joints are always stiff when I first wake up until I’ve been moving around for a while. And I always mutter to myself while doing certain tasks. “I just had that in my hand a minute ago… oh, there you are!” and so on.
“You weren’t just groaning! You were dropped the F-bomb several times”
And I had an epiphany. On weekdays, he leaves for work about three hours before my alarm goes off. Then on weekends, he sleeps in. So he’s almost never around during that time when I’m just getting up and moving. Apparently in the last couple years I’ve gone from just groaning when I reach for something and my shoulder protests. I now mutter bad words along with the groaning.
Now, I probably did it a bit more than usual Monday, because I also don’t sleep very well when I’m not in my own bed, so by the fourth night of sleeping at the hotel, I was also feeling less than fully rested. I was also trying to pack, which meant lifting and moving a lot more things than I’m usually handling during a typical get-up-and-get-ready-for-work routine.
The truth is I am getting older, and parts of my body just don’t work as well as they used to. I own several folding canes and keep them stashed around. This started in the early days of my pre-diabetic treatment. When I started eating a low-carb diet I started having random gout flare-ups where suddenly just trying to walk on whichever foot was having the flare-up was extremely painful. I almost never have random flare-ups any more, thanks to more adjustments to my diet and medications, but some days the ankle that had all the torn tendons a few years ago starts hurting when I put weight on it. Or the knee (in the other leg) that got banged up really bad a couple of different times gets a little unreliable.
Those are more likely to happen in certain kinds of weather, or when there has been a significant weather change. Someone watching might notice me having a slight limp on one side or the other for part of a day, or if it gets bad, I get out one of the canes.
Similarly, because of scar tissue in one inner ear, when there are fast changes in the local barometric pressure, I get to hear all sorts of buzzes and clicks and whistles and pops on one side only. That one can get particularly surreal, since ordinarily that’s the ear I can barely hear anything with.
Of course, I’m not the only person who mutters while doing things. Michael does it, too, and it can get particularly comedic if we’re both hurrying around the house trying to get something done. “What did you say?” “Nothing, just talking to myself.” Over and over and over again.
When we got home and we were both doing it again while unpacking–it was worse because home is much bigger than the hotel room, and so we’re often further apart and in different rooms making it even harder to tell whether the other person is trying to get our attention, or just talking to themself. I had to tease him about it, particularly since today is his birthday. For the next five months, he’s only nine years younger than me, instead of the usual ten.
Catching up with me!
Easter means many things to many people. For instance: On Easter, as on every Sunday, hats have a deep significance for black women.
Or less seriously: 5 ways Easter is much more queer-inclusive then you realize.
Whether you’re celebrating this as a holiday to eat chocolate, or a fertility rite to welcome spring, or a holy holiday, or a day to be out in your community showing your finest hat, or if you just like bunnies, I hope you have a wonderful Easter!
At the time, the pair were depicted as the victims of bullying who might of been driven to their horrific crimes by video games or music. The truth is that they were deeply enmeshed in Nazi and white supremacist thinking. They weren’t so much the victims of bullying as they were fairly ordinary middle class white straight boys who had come to see a world that didn’t treat them as superior to people who weren’t white, male, and straight, as a form of bullying.
Yes, they were alt-right white supremacists. They weren’t poor, misunderstood victims. They were Nazis:
The day he attacked Columbine High School, Eric wore a shirt that read “Natural Selection.” Eric often wrote and spoke about survival of the fittest and natural selection. In his mind, this meant eliminating “unfit” people from the planet. This desire was similar to what Hitler and the Nazis sought to do.
In the fall of his senior year, Eric wrote a research paper on the Nazis. One of the themes he focused on was the Nazi goal of eliminating people who were deemed unfit for life. In his paper, Eric wrote about “the euthanasia program that led to the killing of approximately 100,000 lives that were ‘not worth living.’” He also wrote, “in Nazi Germany, all mentally disabled people or ‘incurable mental defectives’ were killed.” In addition, “Arithmetic was used to show how ‘wasteful’ the mentally challenged were and how much money could be saved by euthanasia.”
—Peter Langman, Ph.D., “Influences on the Ideology of Eric Harris” https://schoolshooters.info/sites/default/files/harris_influences_ideology_1.2.pdf
In the months leading up to their crime, they scribbled swastikas and SS symbols in their journals. They praised Nazis, calling the Nazi annihilation of various ethnic groups, disabled people, on so on, as a smart and efficient way to improve society. They committed their crime on the anniversary of Adolf Hitler’s birthday (and their journals indicated this was intentional), for goodness sake!
They were not victims. They were murderers.
They were not victims. They were domestic terrorists.
They were nor sweet innocent boys who were driven to commit their crimes. They were entitled man-babies who thought someone that freedom was a zero-sum game; that equality for others somehow took something from them that they thought rightfully was theirs.
They were precursors of the current alt-right adherents and apologists who have taken over the executive branch of government.
And we didn’t recognize the warning for what it was. Just as we continue to treat individual angry white men who burn down churches and go on shooting sprees as trouble individuals, instead of recognizing the terroristic fascist movement that it is.
The Columbine shooters were white supremacists. Their shooting was an attempt to enact a genocidal program similar to the Nazis. Don’t let anyone tell you different!
In case you’ve already read more about it than you like, I’ll put it behind a cut tag. So don’t click if you don’t want to see… Read More…
What does a self-loathing closet case anti-gay ex-Congressman do after somehow getting a sweetheart deal on his financial crimes prosecution?
So, disgraced former Republican Congressman Aaron Shock is in the news again: Former GOP Congressman Aaron Schock spotted at Coachella making out with a guy and What Happens at Coachella Doesn’t Stay at Coachella (If You’re Hanging with a Gay Right Wing Republican). He was a public official who voted for and campaigned on anti-gay causes. He tried to make it legal for people to fire folks merely for being suspected of being gay. He voted against amending federal hate crimes laws to include crimes where the victims were targeted on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, gender and disability. He voted against the repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in December 2010. He has never renounced those positions, even after resigned from office while he was being charged with a lot of financial malfeasance.
Last month prosecutors reached an agreement with Schock where all charges against him were dropped in exchange for him paying $42,000 to the IRS (taxes owed on a fraction of the money he illegally obtained while in congress) and $68,000 to his congressional campaign fund. As part of the deal, Schock’s campaign committee pled guilty to a misdemeanor count of failing to properly report expenses.
For years rumors circulated around about the anti-gay congressmen, because of his unusual fashion choices and the years of being unmarried and wealthy but always having unmarried male “roommates.” But things hit mainstream media after someone reported that his personal Twitter account and Instagram account was following hundreds of gay models and male athletes who were always known for posting pictures of themselves scantily clad. Shock abruptly unfollowed those hundreds of accounts en mass when a major news site finally mentioned the gay rumors
Then on a taxpayer-funded trip abroad Congressman Shock had this guy who was listed as a staff photographer (but he never took pictures) put in a hotel room with a door adjoining his, get upgrades and other things using programs that are usually meant for spouses, and so on. The supposed photographer sat with Shock at banquets similarly to the spouses of other congressmen on the trip, The supposed photographed posed in pictures standing beside Shock like the spouses of other congressmen and the American service members abroad they met with on the trip. Read that again: the official staff photographer didn’t take pictures, he posed as if he was the congressman’s spouse in the pictures.Let’s not forget the time when when he was walking around a gay neighborhood with reporters during Pride week where he was supposed to be talking about some urban issues but he kept getting distracted on camera with his eyes following the hot shirtless men who walked by. Those are among the many, many, many reasons that everyone with a lick of sense had been saying for years that the anti-gay (ex-)Congressman is probably a closeted gay man.
I’ve seen people–gay people–posting on some sites that Shock’s private life is his business, and if out gay guys want to hang with him, we shouldn’t judge.
He used the power of his office to cause harm to queer people. He used the power of his office to argue that anyone should have the right to fire, evict, or refuse to give medical services if they even suspect that person might be gay. He argued that employers and private citizens should be able to pry into other queer people’s private lives and discriminate against them. Until he makes amends for that by coming out, apologizing for the harm he caused, and make some kind of significant contribution to pro-queer causes, he has forfeited any right to a private sex life of his own. And I can absolutely judge any other queer people who friends with the douche who enabled hate crimes and more.