The Inconvenience of Convenience

Okay, it’s not a rant, exactly. It’s more like letting off some steam to keep my blood pressure within limits set by the NP at the cardiologist’s office. Anyhoo, given the day we had yesterday, the decision for dinner was to order delivery from a place we like but from which we’ve never ordered takeout or delivery. It just seemed the convenient way to obtain a halfway healthy meal.

Boy, were we wrong! First, the website was not the easiest I’ve run across recently. It was pretty, but navigating it was only slightly less difficult than learning programming in the 1970s. Those punch cards were a pain in the lower part of your backside to learn and use.

Then, beyond navigating the site, the design was not user-friendly when tweaking your order. Of course, that took second place to setting up an account so you could finally place the order. Yep! There were no guest orders allowed; you had to sign up.

Since I did not want to start completely over in someone else’s system, I battled my way through setting up an account, validating it by email, and checking out. Whew, I was exhausted.

The good news was the delivery service did a great job keeping me informed. The better news was the quick response once I had jumped through all the hoops necessary to place the order. The notice of the delivery being en route came shortly after the order was confirmed. Even better, the order showed up a few minutes later and was delicious.

Thanks, Doordash!

So my point here? Convenience comes with a price. Sitting on my couch watching NCIS reruns while ordering dinner was convenient. Avoiding driving several miles to pick up the meal was convenient as well. Those conveniences almost outweighed the final inconvenience.

That inconvenience or disappointment was the order itself. The food tasted as good as it did the last time we stood in line to order and eat at the restaurant. However, I ordered with the expectation of leftovers, as I always asked for a to-go container when I dined at the restaurant. That was not the case this time.

These were the smallest portions I’ve encountered in years, anywhere. Also, the lettuce in my wife’s salad included a huge chunk of the core, which was inedible. Had we been in the restaurant, we could have complained, but hey, if we’d gone to the restaurant, we would have been inconvenienced.

Convenience has its price.

© oneoldcop.com 2022

Posted in Daily Life, family, Humor, Writing | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Speaking Of Attribution

I’m writing this on a Saturday and the end of a busy week. The active part did not end until noon today, when we wrapped up a three-hour orientation and rehearsal for this year’s Christmas Cantata.1

Now, I’m back home, catching my breath, watching golf, and checking up on friends from neighboring towns to other continents via social media. Okay! Not all of my old friends live on a continent. He lives in the South Pacific, almost 1,800 miles from the nearest continent.

More locally, a friend posted something which reminded me of a Twilight Zone episode. Another’s post shared that he’d happened to run into two other marines while having a cold one the other evening. Still, another shared a bit of wisdom, triggering this piece.

The post was simply the alleged quotation pictured above. Adding the photo and making a potential meme out of it came to mind while I was researching the matter. The observation highlighted in the phrase cited makes great sense; attributing it to someone such as Ralph Waldo Emerson doesn’t.

All right! I was judging based on my own biases about the writings of famous philosophers, authors, public figures, etc. I was also basing my judgment on years of experience separating fact from fiction and myth from reality.

According to two sources, this is a simplistic paraphrase of something Emerson wrote many years before this phrase was attributed to him. It is also an example of something I learned quite well during my years as an adjunct professor at the University of North Texas.

Plagiarism and misattribution are common within professional, academic, and theological circles. In the years I taught, I reviewed numerous papers, reports, and other work that were far from original. I have seen my work used without permission or attribution.

In one case, I wrote a blog about a wonderful sermon delivered by a pastor I know and admire. I blogged about the sermon, and a few weeks later, someone commented on my blog that their pastor had just delivered the same sermon. Of course, the pastor did not mention me or the pastor I wrote about.

My point here, other than venting a little, is this. If you want to be taken seriously, use some common sense. Don’t share everything that sounds neat and is attributed to someone famous without verifying the source. If you just like a phrase and want to share it because it makes sense, share it and don’t attribute it formally.

There is nothing wrong with sharing a post or thought from a comment with a simple acknowledgment you saw it somewhere and liked it. Attributing it to a famous poet, writer, politician, etc., isn’t essential to making your point unless your point is dependent on the quotation coming from the person to which it is attributed.

Take this quotation from my youth, for example. It humorously makes an excellent point, and the person making this point was highly respected by his peers and others. Still, attribution is not necessary as the statement stands on its own.

Starting in the late spring, he would begin to complain about summer and long for winter. Invariably someone would ask him why he was so looking forward to winter. His reply was always the same, ” When it is cold, you can pile on layers, but you can only take off so much when it’s hot!”


1Here’s a link to last year’s if you’ve never been to one of our Cantatas. December 5, 2021

© oneoldcop.com 2022

Posted in Daily Life, Higher Education, Journalism, social media, Uncategorized, Writing | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Newest Pejorative: Community?

If you do not pay attention to the click-bait and so-called news links on your browser’s home page, you may find yourself out of the loop on so many things you might as well become a monk. Take my experience a few days ago.

First, I learned that a female American celebrity once passed out and ended up in the hospital while “being intimate” with her spouse. She revealed that piece of personal history by including the incident in a recently published book. Of course, the person creating the post’s caption made it sound like the celebrity might have been the victim of domestic abuse or assault. That is not the case, thankfully; just a medical problem.

Not only that, but I was also able to find out about something that might reduce my chances of dementia by 50%. Additionally, I was introduced to the best mayonnaise to use for tuna salad, and I was tempted to check out the results of the current season of Bachelorette. Not really, but the headline was eye-catching!

The thing that got my attention was the story about Chick-Fil-A being a racist organization. Yes, according to an online media outlet, which will remain nameless, the Chick messed up big time. In doing so, the company may have launched a new attack on a commonly used word.

You see, someone commented on their disappointment that the Chick did not offer spicy chicken nuggets. In reply to the criticism, someone noted they would make certain the individual’s community would be the first to know if spicy nuggets made the menu.

I don’t know if these are spicy or not.
Please don’t hold that against me.

According to the article, that initial response caused a handful of comments, less than ten, complaining about Chick’s inappropriate response to the disappointed customer. Then, management decided an answer to those folks was required.

The company assured them the use of the word community was not intended to be offensive. It was just the word they used when referring to the city, town, area, or neighborhood their store served. That did not go over well with a bunch of people.

Yes, you guessed it! The profile picture of the individual grousing about the nuggets was not great, but it appeared the person was other than Caucasian. So, hundreds of people quickly accused the restaurant chain of being racist, and using an objectional term, community, was proof of their racism.

So, if you are tempted to use the term community in your blogging or writing, you may want to reconsider. Here are some alternatives to keep in mind: neighborhood, city, commune, hamlet, town, village, denizens, dwellers, inhabitants, residents, citizenry, culture, people, populace, public, and society!

I might be tempted to skip village, denizens, culture, inhabitants, and one or two others. Still, Merriam-Webster advised that those words were related to community and did not flag any as outdated or offensive.

© oneoldcop.com 2022

Posted in Civility, communication, Journalism, Manners, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Soylently Speaking!

Wondering what the heck the title means? It means you’re not an old sci-fi fan like me, and neither are your social media friends.

Soylent Green was a 1973 sci-fi thriller starring Charleton Heston. It became a popular meme and joke reference recently, as the story was set almost 50 years later, in 2022.

However, this piece has little to do with the movie’s setting. Rather, the basic premise of the film and the tragic death of the actress Anne Heche inspired this piece as well as my last post, Speaking of Drivel. If you’re unfamiliar with the movie and have not clicked on the link above, here is why it triggered my writer persona.

Soylent Green is the story of a society that devolved into what one might call modern-day cannibalism. Due to the mismanagement of the world and its resources, society became dependent on recycled humans for packaged foodstuff labeled Soylent Green.

While we have not fallen to that level of desperation, we may be much closer to the age depicted in the movie than anyone would like to believe. No! We do not take the old, the lame, and ne’re-do-wells and turn them into the foodstuff which sustains society. On the other hand, there may be concerns in other areas of our culture.

If you did not pay attention to the death of Ms. Heche, you likely do not know there was a bit of confusion surrounding her death. It was not the confusion one might expect. The initial cause of death was clear, and it was not suicide or homicide. The confusion concerned when she truly died.

Under California law, she was ruled “dead” on Friday. Medically, in the minds of many, she was not deceased until Sunday. The definition of brain death is the reason for this confusion, which has existed for many years.

In 2016, a doctor published an excellent article on the problems related to the rather malleable nature of the concept of brain death. This article, Brain Death and True Patient Care, clearly lays out the concerns surrounding situations such as Ms. Heche’s death. Of course, it is quite long and written for academe, not normal folks, but there is a “Layperson Summary.” To help things along, I have summarized the summary to a degree below.

The problem is simple. The definition of death could be manipulated to assist in harvesting organs for transplant. No! No one is saying that people are intentionally being allowed to die to provide such organs. The concern is that, given human nature, it might be possible that some are putting a thumb on the scale when deciding if there is any chance the donor might recover.

If something like that is happening, the reason would be the desire to provide potentially life-saving viable donor organs to recipients. That means the question becomes simple. Are doctors encouraged to overlook the possibility that a legally “brain-dead” person might recover?1

One would hope not. Still, as the article referenced above argues, the definition of death has been altered over time in ways that make it easier to prioritize the recipient’s life over the donor’s.


1 While there has been some progress since the 2016 article, similar concerns were expressed in other professional or medical articles since then, and a 2020 article I reviewed indicated efforts to clarify this point may not be answered completely. However, one online journal made an intriguing point, “Patients who are brain dead, however, are considered to have a complete loss of brain function, and there is no way to overturn this – yet.”

© oneoldcop.com 2022

Posted in Daily Life, Ethics, Food, Medicine, Morality, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Speaking of Drivel

As I write this, I am waiting for the AI monitor to flag the word drivel. It flags so many words I use that I wonder if I’m losing my touch when it doesn’t. It will call me out one day for using terms its algorithm feels some readers might not understand. Then, it will praise me in its regular feedback emails for having a large vocabulary. Now, I feel like I’m slipping if I cannot thumb my nose at a suggested change, at least in every other post.

Okay! Sarcasm aside, the drivel about which I write today, again, is social media content. As noted in previous blogs, I am amazed to see so many people, intelligent folks I know personally, falling into the “if it sounds good, share it trap.” Or the “it must be good if so-and-so shared it” trap

Of course, these posts, blogs, shares, comments, whatever, will concern the hot-button issue of the moment. Whether one is speaking of violence, abortion, rampant crime, or anything else that might trigger a reader, someone will post something that is total drivel.1 Then, others will share their nonsense hundreds, if not thousands of times.

The incident triggering my chain of thought here was the death of the actress Anne Heche. In case you missed it, she died twice, at least according to the media.

Some sources posted she died on Friday, and others posted she died the following Sunday. And, wouldn’t you know it, they were both right, technically at least. Still, that is not the strangest bit of news that helps make my point in this piece.

Consider the case of the dead woman who returned to life at the mortuary. Yes, a hospitalized woman was declared dead and transferred to a mortuary. As the mortician prepared to drain the blood from her body, he realized she was alive!

Okay, there were extenuating circumstances in both cases, as in other cases. My point, however, is this. Media sources, from social influencers to major newspapers, are in a hurry. They want to be first! They want to attract an audience. They want to get noticed. So, they will risk looking foolish to be the one getting views.

However, that is not the only point I want to make here. Another is this. We want to be the first to know as a country and a world. In attempting to achieve that goal, we’ve forgotten the dangers of jumping to conclusions.

So, we’ll share the drivel that masquerades as information these days without considering the truth. This becomes especially problematic when discussing laws, practices, behaviors, and desires that could lead to tragic consequences. I know that to be the case from personal experience.2

As the cases mentioned above show, the question of when someone died, or if they are truly dead, can be a problem. As the young woman’s case in Michigan showed, even the medically trained do not always know that someone has really died.

Okay, my final thought on this matter. Our arrogance and biases lead down dangerous trails in other situations as well. We cannot be certain 100% of the time when a human’s life ends. Yet both sides of the hottest button issue today seem to feel comfortable claiming they know when a human’s life begins.


1 I should note that the program did flag the use of the term drivel by suggesting I use nonsense. It hates repetition, even when the repetition is to make a point.

2 If you’d be interested in the story of that particular incident, I wrote about it some time ago, Survival of the Fittest? Warning! It is a bit long-winded as I was trying to make a social and theological point in the same piece.

© oneoldcop.com 2022

Posted in artificial intelligence, Medicine, Morality, Political Extremes, Politics | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Falsely Speaking?

Like many of you, I have friends who regularly share quotations, significant dates, or other information they feel is interesting or informative. Being the analytical type, I often investigate those piquing my curiosity.

The one showcased here got my attention because of the term “false knowledge.” At first, it might seem the phrase makes sense. However, it felt a bit oxymoronic to me. After all, the definition of knowledge seems to preclude its use here. So, I did some research.

If one accepts the phrase as written, false knowledge could be anything from a mistaken belief to a bald-faced lie. It could also be the result of fate or chance. For instance, if someone tells you zinc speeds up healing, they probably mean well and are being honest.1

On the other hand, they could be wrong. At least wrong, in your case. Does that make it false knowledge? Possibly, but the truth is the practice of medicine is not an exact science. What helps one person may not help another. If the world has learned nothing else from the COVID pandemic, it should have realized that.

So, what in the world does the quote above mean? For that matter, did George Bernard Shaw share that piece of so-called wisdom? Once again, we are in the gray area of understanding the term.

Shaw did write the phrase above. Or, should I say, he wrote the play in which the thought became public. Or, to be even more precise, Shaw wrote the production in which one of his characters authored the quoted sentence.

The play was subtitled “A comedy and a philosophy.” So, this little piece of so-called wisdom originated in a theatrical work that included numerous amusing and sarcastic quips. Also, as noted above, the definition of false knowledge is far from clear.

So, is this so-called quotation itself false knowledge? Or could it be ignorance on the part of the person first spreading this meme around social media? Either way, it is of little use.

The only way to be somewhat confident that something is false is to be knowledgeable in that area. On the other hand, if you accept something someone says as true when you don’t know anything about the subject, it could make the second part of this so-called quotation true. In that case, an altered version of another misused phrase comes to mind. Ignorance is not always bliss.


1. Does Zinc Accelerate Healing

© oneoldcop.com – 2022

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Nostalgically Speaking: Blood, Sweat and Beer

I wrote Blood, Sweat, and Beer just over ten years ago. It was a tribute to some of the best years of my life and the ragtag bunch of guys who helped make it so great. Yes, as I said in BSB, those guys became family in many ways.

Over the past decade, my relationship with my rugby family has become more distant in many ways. Yeah, I sometimes made some matches of the current club and hoisted a beer or two with some of my old teammates at others. However, for the most part, we maintained our relationship through social media.

Speaking of sweat, me, Dave and Tennyson: Austin 1992.

That changed, at least briefly, on July 16, 2022. Some of our crew spent months planning a reunion to celebrate fifty years of rugby history in Denton, Texas. Of course, as with any reunion that covers decades, things changed over the years.

Beer was still a big part of the weekend, but the blood and the sweat were not as evident. Of course, as Texas and much of the northern hemisphere are experiencing unusually, if not record-breaking high temperatures, simply walking from your car to the venue could cause you to break a sweat. Still, the only blood I shed was while shaving. Looking at everyone else, I think it is safe to say they also experienced minimal bleeding.

Sadly, my commitments elsewhere and lack of partying stamina limited my participation. I could only attend one event, but it was a great time. It was great because the organizers did a great job, and some of the crew I had not seen in person or online in years showed up.

One of the clubs we played while in England.

It was great for another reason as well. When I wrote the piece in 2012, one of my closest mates responded he thought the days I remembered of rugby brotherhood and camaraderie were fading away, if not already gone.

He thought rugby, like other sports, was becoming too commercial and professional. It was no longer a bunch of clubs that happened to field teams. It was drifting toward a business model of a sports team that called itself a club. Even the old established clubs were changing.

As with any human endeavor, rugby has evolved. It will continue to evolve and change, but at the moment, it seems to have still the feeling I loved. It felt like a bunch of friends getting together to swap lies, have a beer, recall their gloried pasts, and look forward to seeing the current club members pound their opponents before buying them a beer once the season started.

© oneoldcop.com-2022

Posted in Family Vaules, Humor, Rugby, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Inane Wisdom?

The image to the left is a bit of “wisdom” making its way around social media. As with many such posts, it is intended to be a pithy way of making a point.

In my mind, a similar-sounding word might be more appropriate when describing the message. And, yes, I understand my position on this may not sit well with many folks. Nevertheless, the meme is nonsense!

If you cannot recognize the problem, let me see if I can help. The meme responds to those who say we shouldn’t blame the gun but the shooter.

The image’s creator implies they understand you don’t blame the gun. Then they make it clear they feel guns should be taken away from everyone. Yes, I know! In the meme context, they remove the stick to prevent the child from hitting anyone else. If it were that simple, it might make sense, to a degree.

However, even in this simplistic aphorism, it should be clear that simply removing the implement used in the assault is not enough. If the kid wants to keep hitting people, it simply picks up another stick.

Someone needs to deal with the behavior in a manner that clarifies one does not hit others with a stick. Of course, the child may have been trying to defend itself with the stick. Taking the stick away, in that case, enables the attacker. As I wrote that last sentence, I could almost hear the wheels spinning in the heads of those who disagree.

Responses appear in their minds like popcorn in the machine at the movie theatre. “That’s a false comparison!” “Guns and sticks aren’t the same!” “Adults will protect the child!” “The parents should teach the child how to avoid people that might harm it!” And! The list goes on.

Of course, the most common complaint will be that guns and sticks aren’t comparable. There I can agree, but not the way they think. Guns and sticks aren’t identical. That is why I feel the meme is more one p-word than another.

A kid can find plenty of sticks lying around, ready for use. Guns are a bit harder to come by, but anyone who truly believes it is possible to eliminate the availability of firearms is living in fantasy land. They may not be as available as sticks, but if you feel you need one, you’ll be able to get it.

As I write this, I live in a “safe” middle-class neighborhood within a few minutes of areas where one can illegally buy guns, ammo, drugs, alcohol, and almost anything else.1 In one case, the area in question, is within walking distance.

If you skimmed that last sentence, it contained the term “illegally.” Anyone believing that changing laws will change the way things are in this country, or the world, today is fooling themselves.

Despite what the talking heads in Washington and the activists across the country say, there is only one certainty if the feds find a way to make it harder for citizens to buy firearms and ammunition legally. It will create another source of income for bad actors while increasing the number of people willing to break the law to protect themselves.

_____________________________________________

  1. I added quotation marks to highlight that our neighborhood is not crime-free. We have our share of porch pirates, car break-ins, sporadic home burglaries, and occasional domestic disturbances. Some years ago, we even experienced a grisly homicide. By the way, firearms were not used in this homicide.

© oneoldcop.com-2022

Posted in Daily Life, Law Enforcement, Politics, Self Protection, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Groupthink and Social Media

There was a time when the term groupthink brought something like the image below to mind. Everyone went along to survive. Sadly, that image is as antiquated as the floppy disk operating system. Today, groupthink might be more appropriately associated with TikTok and Twitter.

You may think, here’s another nut case who believes people can’t think for themselves. If so, feel free to move on and check your favorite social media platform to see what you’ve missed in the last few minutes. Okay! That was a bit snarky, but your reaction to my comment would say a lot about where you stand in the new groupthink society.

Yes, I said groupthink society. The reality of that term came into focus while finishing up another post, Conspiratorially Speaking. The constant and draining coverage of the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard circus helped solidify my position.

To be clear, I have written about the troll effect that social media brings out in many users before. Many people feel it is okay to say almost anything through social media when they would not say it to someone’s face. At least one would hope they would be more civil when criticizing in person.

The sad thing is that even within their trollism, they live in a groupthink reality. I don’t follow many people on social media for many reasons. I do follow some folks who love to stir the pot at times. The comments some of their followers and friends make are amazing, in a “let me fit in” way.

When a friend complained about property taxes, people rose to support his position in droves. Most supported a state income tax or another form of taxation to fund local public services. Some even referred to other states with lower property taxes as examples of how to support those services properly.

Of course, they completely overlooked the number of people fleeing those states for places such as Texas and Florida. The handful of people who tried to point out flaws in their logic were ignored or chastised for their support of excessive property taxes.

Consider this if you are still reading and feel I am on the wrong track here. Who decides how federal income tax revenue is spent? Who decides how and where state income tax revenue is spent? In both cases, the answer is the central government.

Sure, elected officials are in control of the central governments, to a degree. Theoretically, they are also accountable to the citizens electing them. Often, the reality is most elected officials only pay attention to the electorate when they are running for office or need money for their campaigns or pet projects. The rest of the time, they closely follow the advice of bureaucrats and lobbyists.

At this moment, some who are still reading are nodding their heads knowingly. They are thinking about the money spent by big this and big that to influence politicians. Yet, these head nodders are often side by side with the rest of the lemmings headed for destruction because of false narratives, slanted news, and innuendo pushed on social media.

© oneoldcop.com-2022

Posted in Daily Life, Humor, Leadership, Politics, social media, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Language War: Confusing the Issue?

A few weeks ago, I posted a blog criticizing a grammar program’s caution that I might offend someone with my narrative. It suggested I change the wording of a sentence to be more inclusive.

If you’re interested in the details and the discussion that evolved around it, click the link below to see the blog in question. However, this piece will stand on its own, even if it is a continuation of the rant from Artificially Speaking.

Recently, I was working on a draft for future publication concerning some of the so-called bits of wisdom shared on social media. It is one of those pieces that needs to age a bit before being shared, or deleted. However, as I was trying to wrap it up, the grammar algorithm raised its ugly head again.

The piece in question comments on a meme using the term child as the object of discussion. The meme used the terms “the child” and “a child” to make its point. Accordingly, I used the term child several times without any indication of pronoun preference when referring to the message in the meme. Nothing in the meme, comments about the meme, or my blog referred to gender in any fashion.

The meme’s creator discussed a hypothetical incident involving a hypothetical child. I might have been one of these kids or one of a million others. I analyzed the meme in the same way. Yet, someone, or more likely something, decided that was a problem, and sent the suggestion below.

To me, the suggestion came completely out of left field! The program suggested a pronoun when nothing in the meme or my draft alluded to gender or sex in any way. And, the “Learn more” link simply opened a section that rehashed what anyone with a background in writing would know about pronouns. There was no allusion to why itself would not suffice in this situation.

Please keep in mind that this was a meme discussing a hypothetical person’s response to the actions of a hypothetical child. In analyzing the meme’s message, I used the word child five times, as that was the term used in the meme. Again, “child” was used without any suggestion regarding gender, age, ethnicity, or intellectual level.

It was when I made the mistake of trying to make the child even more of a hypothetical figure the stuff hit the fan! I wrote, “…it is possible the child was trying to defend itself…” The suggestion above was the response to that phrase.

At first, I was a bit confused. My favorite writing aid changed from inclusive to biased in a few weeks. After all, the only thing in the meme or my writing that might suggest gender or sex was the child’s behavior as laid out in the meme.

My first thought was the program or some human accessing the program decided the behavior was masculine. Being the curious, analytical dork I am, I looked into the matter.

It was then I discovered why the program came up with this suggestion. When I searched to find out if the term “itself” would be considered gender-neutral, I discovered the English-speaking world is somewhat divided.

Some writers, educators, and others opined that using “it” when referring to a person is dehumanizing. Others thought it was okay to use “it” for a “baby.” Of course, there was no discussion about when a child was no longer considered a baby.

When does a baby become a child? Can it be referred to as an “it” until it crawls, until it walks, until it can eat solid food, until it can speak coherently, or what?

The bottom line is this. The program wasn’t biased. It, like much of the rest of the world, is confused.

© oneoldcop.com-2022


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