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Archive for the category “Pet Peeves”

I’ve got something against you.

This post is purely aspirational for me because I have a very hard time doing what I’m going to propose. From what I observe, the same holds for a lot of people. So here goes: Be for things. Don’t just be against things. Sounds simple, right? Watch me go off the rails straight away……

The inspirations for this post come from a couple of online personae that I admire.

The first is Cleek’s Law.

Today’s conservatism is the opposite of what liberals want today, updated daily.

Pretty straight-forward, no? It also reeks of the truth. It’s quite easy to sit back and lob criticism at your ideological opposition but offer no solutions. These criticisms don’t need to be true or even make sense. They could be based on perception or potential perception of an issue. They could rely on all sorts of fallacies. Slippery slopes. Straw men. The intent is to invalidate the actions of one’s opponent by making a broad assertion and then force the opposition to defend itself.

Conservatism does not offer solutions. Sure, they trot out supply-side economics (trickle-down theory) and tax cuts that will pay for themselves, but these theories have an awful empirical track record. See, Kansas, State of, for a current example. Restating an ideology that has been shown not to work in the current operating conditions isn’t offering a solution. So we’re trapped in a zero-sum game. Everything that one’s opponent does must be wrong, because it comes from your opponent.

The second is related to Cleeks law and is called Davis X. Machina’s Law.

The salient fact of American politics is that there are fifty to seventy million voters each of who will volunteer to live, with his family, in a cardboard box under an overpass, and cook sparrows on an old curtain rod, if someone would only guarantee that the black, gay, Hispanic, liberal, whatever, in the next box over doesn’t even have a curtain rod, or a sparrow to put on it.

As a note up front, I get a lot of pushback when I quote this law. The substance of the pushback hasn’t ever been that people act this way. It is always about whether sparrows can fit on curtain rods to cook them. Whenever I hear this line of objection, I know that the criticizer is giving up on the merits of the law (the actions of the people) and trying to divert attention to the trappings of the argument. Basically, they’re trying to say that since a sparrow can’t fit on a curtain rod (or more accurately, they refuse to admit that they are small in diameter curtain rods), then the conclusion must be wrong. Ummmmmmm…no.

The point is that people will act against their interests as long as it hurts the “right” people. But why is this? As discussed above, it’s easy. It’s the path of less resistance. It is much easier to “punch down” on the people one wants to be disadvantaged than it is to “punch up” against the powers that be to obtain something for one’s benefit. Personally, when I see someone acting against their own interests in order to harm others it screams to me that the primary motivator for that person is hatred. It’s not a very good look. For anyone.

So what to do then? Try to make positive arguments and bolster those with negative arguments. By this I mean be for something, not just against things. I’m not saying one should never use a negative argument. Pointing out the deficiencies of your opponent is not necessarily a bad thing. However, over-reliance on negative arguments can be and is a bad thing because it is extremely difficult to find common ground. Only negative arguments is not a persuasive technique. I sometimes find myself painted in a corner and taking pot shots at an opposing viewpoint. I may even be making valid points about the weakness of the viewpoint. But in the back of my mind I know I’m not being constructive or persuasive.

I Know Too Much

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I know your wedding anniversary was last week and the lasagna you ordered was phenomenal.  Your child has pink eye, a stutter and likes purple.  Your husband has horrific gas in the middle of the night and often it keeps you up at night.  The neighbors on your left are loud and annoying and the smoke from their partying comes into your window. You have lost 6 pounds on your new weight loss program and typically work out at 6:30am before work.  Your youngest child has the flu and the vomit is horrible.  You and your best friend are fighting over the girl’s night out last Tuesday.  Your job sucks and you were late last week because of traffic.

You are my Facebook friend and I don’t have your phone number.  We don’t hang out; in fact, we met in passing.  When you are down the street from my house and check in at a local bar you don’t realize how close you are.  Even if you did I wouldn’t be invited.  After all, we don’t know one another and I don’t want to be real friends with you.

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I have almost 500 “friends” on Facebook and have relationships with possibly 75.  I check Facebook throughout the day and peek into people’s lives knowing details about their family, their day-to-day activities and their life.  I know their religion, their political affiliation and their music tastes.  Many of these people I haven’t spoken to for more than 5 minutes in my entire life.

For the few real friends I have my feelings get hurt when I see a post and realize I wasn’t invited.  I can tell when someone is annoyed with me because they don’t like my picture or comment on a post they would normally comment on. I worry I might make someone feel excluded when I update a picture or event and may have forgotten to invite a friend.    Before Facebook I wouldn’t know when a few friends had an impromptu get together or quick coffee date.  I would be oblivious to a friend’s mild annoyance with me.

I have been thinking a lot about Facebook and the impact it has on my days.  More important, I worry about the time I set aside to read update after update from people I barely know.

Having aged from a young single girl to a mother the updates are equally annoying.  The constant competition of other parent’s boasting their child’s advanced skills or perfect post baby body will leave any person insecure.  On the flip side I receive notes from people commenting on the person without the perfect body or phenomenal child.

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Then there is my favorite area.  Friends I might not be real friends with any longer but don’t want to unfriend on Facebook.  After all it would be childish, right?   I read posts of them boasting their best night ever with their newest friends or vacationing down the street.  According to Facebook their lives (or ours) is much better now and the passive aggressive dance ensues.

What is happening? Why has social media become the dominant presence in our lives? I have always defended my Facebook membership as a tool to keep in touch with family and friends who live far away.  However, I spend much more time reading updates about people I don’t interact with!  Why do we care so much about reading what people are doing? I find myself delighting in the mortifying admissions and the horrific posts people write.  I hear my disappointment because a friend forgot to invite me or another friend is annoyed because I missed an outing. This is not who I am and I am quickly realizing I have no interest in knowing so much.  Facebook creates insecurity in my friendships and encourages me to post nothing but what I want people to perceive is my life.

I am not done with Facebook. Yet.  However downsizing is part of my phase out program.  I don’t want to lose the years of previous posts because I think it will be fun to include in my kiddos scrapbooks.  Also our blog reaches all of my contacts.  But I am tired of too much information.  I am bored of worrying how I look in each picture to prove I am still a hot mom (thanks Photoshop).

For my real friends please just let me know when you are upset with me or just love me.  Please begin sending photos to my email address because I cherish them.  Remember I might not be available but invite me! Mostly, think about what you post on Facebook.  Know people are reading and might be hurt, offended or excluded.

What do you think? What is your social media pet peeve? I would love to hear your comments while I check Facebook 😉

Xo Mari

 

A cracked polystyrene man. Who just crumbles and burns.

Robin Williams’ passing is just terribly sad on many levels. Not going to get into most of them as I’d like to concentrate on the politicization of his death and hopefully provide some perspective for people.

The next time I hear someone say, “Robin Williams could have just chosen to be happy,” I’m going to start windmilling hammer fists until the cops show up. The presumption that clinical depression stems from lack of effort or unawareness or the wrong type of effort is just plain false. The majority of depressed individuals are acutely fucking aware that they’re unhappy every waking moment of every day. They’re endeavoring each day to feel happy. But a “mindset change” isn’t going to do the trick for the vast majority of sufferers.  I’m typically wary of “common sense solutions” to complex problems and have written a bit about it here and Marianne has here. One of the problems with applying a trite solution is that it ignores the myriad of different illnesses and treats them all the same. It also treats all people identically. Those are horrible assumptions.

Some people I see advocating for people they know little about to change their attitude are applying their beliefs to a medical issue. When someone proceeds in this fashion they are showing they don’t care about results, only process. I feel the opposite. I do not care how someone who is suffering gets better. I only care they get better. Medication, talk therapy, attitude change, exercise, meditation, whatever works for each individual. I will not trivialize their suffering and I will not TELL them how to do it.  This is about a person’s life not a validation of one’s belief.  Those utilizing political/social agendas by saying nonsense like “PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY” or “THE PUSSIFICATION OF AMERICA” or Rush Limbaugh saying “negativity is a hallmark of the left”. These illnesses know no ideology or tribe or political orientation. To say otherwise seems borderline-sociopathic.

Other people (who should know better) try to tell those suffering  the path they took is the only right path and what didn’t work for them are per se wrong. This is straight up narcissism trying to obtain validation.  If Anti-depressants didn’t work for you but meditation and exercise did, great!  Telling people not to try medication or therapy or any of the myriad of options because it didn’t work for you? NOT COOL. Again, this is not results-oriented and is instead process-oriented. It’s also another pathetic attempt for validation. One could share their own experiences without imposing their values. It’s a question of phrasing, really.

So there’s a simple fucking solution to this. Stop telling people what to do and listen. Sublimate your fervent beliefs to try to ensure that this person gets help. Don’t close doors or paths. Open them.

I need a fix. I need a front. I need a new approach, a new approach.

The mid-2000’s were a high-water mark in contrarian thinking.  “Out of the box” approaches dominated the business, policymaking, writing, and personal arenas.  2005, in particular, stood out for writing that advanced this phenomenon.  Malcolm Gladwell’s follow up novel Blink and Leavitt & Dubner’s Freakonomics were runaway best sellers.  I eagerly read them during that summer and noted a shared theme about thinking differently.  For Freakonomics, it is thinking differently about economics/culture and for Blink it was thinking differently about, well, thinking.

After I read those, I had a new arrow in my quiver.  I started to try to approach thorny issues by looking at them in a “completely new way”.  It’s not easy to do.  I found myself coming up with fantastical rationales (because they had to be different than conventional wisdom) to reach what was 99% of the time the opposite to the established understanding.  I was essentially picking an outcome and backfilling the justification with fluff and “thinking differently”.  I’m not saying that Gladwell, Leavitt & Dubner, et.al. do this same thing.  They’re far more rigorous in their investigation and methods.  They picked specific issues that lent themselves to the application of a different approach.  But I only applied their conclusion that thinking differently was beneficial and led to results.  Once I realized this my excitement was tempered.  Contrarianism can work but doesn’t always work.  The Freakonomics bunch went on to form a cottage industry based on the book.  There’s a movie, a radio station, and a blog that churns out more examples of how going against the grain of “mainstream” understanding can open one’s eyes to the “right” answer.  Over the years I’ve noted that they’re falling into the same trap I did.  I admit it’s got to be tough to keep coming up with subjects that prove their beliefs.   But sometimes (not all of the time) I suspect that they’re starting with a preferred conclusion and backfilling.

The legacy of contrarianism-mania is that we all have a convenient scapegoat if we see a conclusion that we don’t like.  “Yeah that’s the conventional wisdom, but have you read Freakonomics?”  I get that sort of argument quite frequently in the odd corners of the interwebs I visit and in good old meatspace as well.  Things really crystallized for me on this when I saw the following (paraphrased) comment in one of my online haunts in response to the assertion that contrarianism is a “brand”:

Contrarianism is not a brand. It’s more a business model to pitch that you can bash an egghead without doing the learning. It’s like gold ads for the willfully ignorant and conspiracy minded.

There’s something to that. I started to think about the people in real life that advanced the “did you read Freakonomics quasi-appeal to authority arguments to reach their preferred conclusion. Maybe you know these sorts. The guy who in his online bio states that he’s “Doing stuff better than you” and for education says “At the public library” but hates socialism with a white-hot intensity. Or the guy who never showed any interest in learning much about the world that got way into talk radio and now is a geo-political expert. I also noticed when and how they unleashed the argument. It essentially concedes the argument and asks to ignore all of the established evidence. It’s a suspension of belief argument. I’m extremely wary of those sorts of lines of thinking–just as I’m wary of appealing to “common sense”. But I’m still willing to be convinced. The existence of one “looking at things differently” or appealing to process just isn’t determinative in every case.

So if you hear this sort of appeal to the authority of “thinking differently”, have some pause. Is this the sort of issue that lends itself to the new approach? Are there some significant leaps of logic required to get to the proposed conclusion? Or are you being asked to forget what you know to be true just because that approached worked on another separate issue? Or are you allowing someone who doesn’t want to do the hard work of learning and knowing a subject to pretend they’re an expert?

Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby

I remember in high school riding in my girlfriend Kristen’s old Chrysler with a boom box in the center console. Her radio had long quit working and we would blare this song.  We had to keep stopping to buy batteries because the boom box at max volume was a real energy drain. It was so risque and fun and even though I had no idea what Salt n Peppa were actually talking about I happily sung the words.

Fast forward to present day and now I know all about those lyrics and have two little girls as a constant reminder of what happens when the lyrics are put into action.

Today Mike sent me an article about Colorado’s experimental contraception program. The article claims large decreases in teen pregnancies and abortion due to readily available, affordable contraception.  My first thought was, “Wow, way to go CO!” When I told Mike how pleased I was that Colorado was taking aggressive action he reminded me not everyone was as excited.  He reiterated the annoying claim I have often heard naysayers scream which is:

Available contraception leads to an increase in sexual activity in youth. It makes perfectly nice girls into SLUTS!! Ugh.

Really?? Think about it… what teenage girl says, “I didn’t want to have sex and had no plans to but now I can get birth control pills so I am going to roll in the hay with any guy who looks at me!”  None to very very few.

News flash, girls have sex because of emotion based reasons. Girls have sex because they want to fit in. Girls have sex because they want a boy to like them. They want to feel grown up and accepted. Girls want to feel pretty and to feel loved. They do not decide to have sex because they can get a low cost diaphragm or free condom. Girls wait to have sex because they are confident in themselves. They choose to wait because they feel loved and cherished by someone other than a boyfriend. Girls pick a different way to display affection when they are shown praise and encouragement and have a strong sense of self worth.

Before you roll your eyes and click close thinking I am another clueless thirty-something who doesn’t know what I am talking about… I am proof. A few of my friends were also.

My girlfriends and I were all able to get birth control and were not in private schools. We were of varying faiths, popularity and socioeconomic backgrounds. None of us were considered shy or dorky or prudish (quite the opposite actually). On the surface one would not see any correlation between our decisions. Dig deeper and you would have seen ONE major similarity. Every girlfriend I had (and women I continue to meet) who chose to wait until they were ready had a strong adult mentor.

In a perfect world a child is blessed with strong parental figures.  Unfortunately this is not something we can pick. My parents were awesome (still are). They taught me how important it was to be strong in mind and independent. They rewarded and encouraged my achievements without pushing me into areas I was no longer interested. My parents never considered I wouldn’t be successful. It was annoying. They praised my scholastic endeavors and celebrated every tiny accomplishment regardless of how trivial it may be.  They reminded me I was important.  I was and still am extremely lucky to have the support of my parents.

Not everyone wins the parent lottery and has support in the home.  So then what?  It takes a village friends!!   If you know a young person, why not take them to lunch? Why not offer to help with homework? Perhaps your neighbor/niece/friend’s child is struggling.  Make yourself the adult who takes accountability for our precious youth.  I work to encourage and uplift the young women I meet.  It doesn’t matter if they are my own children.  Bonus? You will feel like SUCH a badass when you know you contributed in some little way to a child’s future.

As a mother I am fearful of the challenges our daughters will face. I know they will be pressured to drink, do drugs and have sex. They will meet people who will teach them how to cuss(never from us of course-ha!) and bully and treat people poorly. They will also meet people who are better looking than them. Smarter. Wealthier. Cooler. I know my girls will feel insecure and want to fit in. The day they come home with their first crush will be exhilarating for them and nerve wracking for me.

What can we do? I don’t have the answer (If you thought I was going to bust out the perfect plan you were mistaken).

You know what I am going to do? I am going to love them fiercely.  I am going to remind them how smart they are and about life and traveling and the big world  waiting for them to conquer. I am going to encourage their goals and remind them how much they have to offer.  I am going to attempt to explain that they are at the very beginning of a long adventure and will have many more crushes(they will not believe me).  I am going to encourage them to value their bodies and discuss our faith.  Then, I am going to tell them about contraception.  I am going to tell them where to get it and be cool but firm, explaining one wrong move could give you a child or a disease.  Finally, I am going to have a panic attack in the privacy of our bedroom while telling Mike to load the gun.

When I think they haven’t listened and they come to me because their heart is broken I am going to hold them.  When I am rocking my little girl and hating the piece of crap that hurt her feelings I am going to support her and tell her how special she is.  She won’t believe me and I will certainly think it is falling on deaf ears.  But down deep I know she will hear me.  Maybe it will remind her how amazing she is.  Maybe it will make her stronger. Just maybe it will remind her how loved she is and give her the confidence she needs to choose differently.

I’m not like you and I don’t want your advice or your praise or to move in the ways you do.

Part 2 of the Supermarket Madness Series. Previous entry here.

We used to live in a little neighborhood in Oceanside tucked up on a hill behind a decent-sized shopping center. Due to some geographical quirks and freeway planning, we could walk to the shopping center in under five minutes but the trip by car took about 15 minutes and the use of two freeways. There was an emergency vehicle road that cut straight down the hill and emptied out into the parking lot about 5 houses down from our house. We didn’t use the shopping center all that often. It didn’t have the grocery store we like (but it did have a great taco shop for al pastor burritos). It also had a Walmart Super Center, and we went there to pick up things out of convenience. I’m not a fan of Walmart, for a bunch of reasons. I did (mostly) appreciate having it close by and using it as a convenience store.

Back then my lovely wife and co-blogger and I spent a lot of time in our back yard. We’d play backgammon, enjoy some cocktails and (GASP!) smoke some cigarettes. When we’d run low on supplies, the loser of the next game had to venture out. One day we needed some more wine and some smokes and I lost the chore-deciding game (likely due to some cheater-rolling of the dice by my opponent) so I sourly sauntered down the hill to Walmart.

As an aside, the emergency road hill was pretty steep and emptied out into a large parking lot. I loved to take the skateboard and ride down the hill and surf my way through the lot. I definitely frightened some people, either by almost plowing into them or they just feared for my safety. I also entertained some people. None more so than a group of kids (probably ranged from 13 to 17 in age) that were riding down the hill one day when I showed up at the top of the hill. They eyed me warily but saw I had the skateboard with me. We exchanged some pleasantries and I watched for a few minutes. They were taking off quite a bit farther up the hill than I was. I went down to the bottom of the hill to watch out for delivery trucks using the ring road that couldn’t be seen from the hill and for security. I finally took a turn, after saying something lame about how low I was starting, and cruised through the lot trying to carve some turns. Of course, to impress teenage skaters, I moved my start point up near the top of the hill. That was a bad choice. I started to get the “death wobble” because I was going too fast and was tentative. I tried to slow down by using the footbrake, but that was a bad choice. I promptly did the splits and heard my groin pop. The skater kids laughed and laughed and laughed. Eventually I did too and pulled myself and my pride together and went to the Walmart. Lamentably I forgot my ID and they refused to sell me smokes, even after I started shouting that I had grey hairs in my sideburns so I have to be old enough. I limped down to the Stater Brothers and then home so my wife could have a turn laughing at me. Solid day all around. Read more…

The dirtiest girl in town

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Nasty. Dirty. Smelly.

AKA, my daughter.

My friends, the books — everyone talks about the terrible twos. Bailey wasn’t terrible in her twos. But turning three.  Good Lord, what happened?

Almost overnight my precious angel has turned into a disgusting human being. Out of nowhere she is gross.  And clumsy.  She is so damn accident prone, my heart can’t take it. I try not to drink wine every day but it is virtually impossible with all the foul germs and accidents.

She has bad breath in the morning. She farts constantly. Her poop stinks. She has dried pee down her leg most days.  She gets boogers and thinks it’s funny to wipe them on me. She almost always has dirt under her nails. Even worse, she seems to delight in her repulsiveness.  She laughs every time her ass expels a nasty toot.  She is tickled with booger flinging, and thinks it’s hilarious to make me cringe.  I think she likes completely grossing me out.

I just don’t get it. She always smelled so delicious. She was meticulously clean and looked perfect (almost always).  Now, I have to tell her she stinks and to go away.  I have to tell her to wash her hands, to wipe…. to WIPE again, to wash her hands again — with soap.  She likes filthy stuff. She loves to throw dirty leaves in the air, to play in the mud and then suck on her fingers.

Today she sheepishly admitted she peed everywhere. I told her it was fine, thinking she was exaggerating. She wasn’t.  I casually glanced at her bathroom as I was walking down the hallway and something was amiss.  Upon closer inspection I realized her stool to get her to the potty was covered in pee.  I brought the bleach in and cleaned the stool thinking no big deal.  Then I picked up her princess potty to wipe the seat, and pee poured out the sides like it was a pitcher of iced tea.  Pee splattered everywhere — the toilet, the white rug, even in the grout of the tile. The best part was the combinations of old pee versus new pee. I had no idea there was a reservoir catching pee in her princess seat so when I picked it up various vintages of aged pee splashed liked waves onto me and the floor.

My only glimpse at my little lady is the fact she insists on wearing dresses every day.  In addition, she is the cutest dancer on the planet (I am completely unbiased). She dances to just about anything and when she is in her leotard and matching skirt and tights for dance class my heart swells.  In her dance outfit, one would never guess how repulsive she is(Headlining picture).

I can’t wait to tell her how disgusting she was later in life.  When she hits her teens and spends hours applying makeup and obsessing over outfits I am going to unleash the stories.  Until then, I will keep chasing her with hand sanitizer and hope the germs are making her tough!

One thing leads to another

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I hate the slippery slope fallacy. It is greatly overused and can be effective even though it is an informal logical fallacy. Many times I find myself itching to advance a slippery slope argument and it is difficult to stop myself. Recently I was discussing this issue online when a commenter that obviously went to a better school than I did said, “My law school professor said that a slippery slope argument is the type of argument one uses to divert attention while thinking of a legitimate argument”. I think that is spot on and remembering that piece of wisdom helps me to avoid using the slippery slope (for the most part–sometimes I have nothing else).

One source of consternation for me regarding the slippery slope is how the definition of the argument has changed over time. A slippery slope argument states that a relatively small first step leads to a chain of related events culminating in some significant effect, much like an object given a small push over the edge of a slope sliding all the way to the bottom. Traditionally, there had to be some sort of causal effect between the first step and the subsequent events. In modern usage, there does not need to be a causal effect. The first step and the subsequent events just have to be related somehow. Let’s look at an example of modern usage using some statements from perhaps the dumbest person ever to be a member of the United States House of Representatives, Louie Gohmert, on restricting ammunition capacities and same-sex marriage/polygamy/bestiality:

In fact, I had this discussion with some wonderful, caring Democrats earlier this week on the issue of, well, they said “surely you could agree to limit the number of rounds in a magazine, couldn’t you? How would that be problematic?”
And I pointed out, well, once you make it ten, then why would you draw the line at ten? What’s wrong with nine? Or eleven? And the problem is once you draw that limit; it’s kind of like marriage when you say it’s not a man and a woman any more, then why not have three men and one woman, or four women and one man, or why not somebody has a love for an animal?
There is no clear place to draw the line once you eliminate the traditional marriage and it’s the same once you start putting limits on what guns can be used, then it’s just really easy to have laws that make them all illegal.

Let’s unpack this statement to get at the fallacy. He almost gets to the fallacy on ammunition capacity but pivots to a popular argument on same-sex marriage to demonstrate a slippery slope. His argument is that allowing same-sex marriage will “make it easy” to allow bestiality and bigamy. He doesn’t demonstrate how this would happen, however. There is no causal connection between allowing same-sex marriage and bestiality/polygamy. These issues are just related in his mind. The slippery slope glosses over the fact that the justifications for allowing same-sex marriage are completely different from the justifications of allowing bestiality/polygamy. It also completely avoids the fact that there is very little support for bestiality/polygamy compared to SSM. In Gohmert’s world, a proponent for bestiality/polygamy would only have to argue, “But but we allow same-sex marriage, why not polygamy/bestiality????!” Do you really believe that the proponent’s argument would carry the day? We criminalize both polygamy and bestiality. We do not criminalize (with some exceptions) homosexual behavior. We treat these issues differentially. By using the fallacy, Gohmert gets to appeal to nihilism by changing the debate framing from same-sex marriage to the other two categories that are completely different. The merits of the arguments about SSM become immaterial. An SSM supporter would ostensibly have to support polygamy and bestiality in Gohmert’s world. That is ridiculous. Each of these issues should be taken individually.

So, what would be a proper use of the slippery slope? An argument where one can demonstrate the causality between the discreet steps. A leads to B which leads to C and so on to the end point of X. Gohmert’s example is that A leads to X but he doesn’t demonstrate how each step will do it (because he knows it won’t but wants to pivot to something that would scare people). The intervening events between A to X have to be factually based, not just alleged.

Keep an eye out for someone who uses the slippery slope in a fallacious manner. They’re deliberately and in bad faith misleading the argument. Ask them how the initial step leads to the end result. Make them get granular on exactly how the chain of events works. You’ll see that they have to make some sort of assumption or leap to tie it together.

My grammar be’s ebonics, gin tonic and chronic

A short listicle with comments of recent-ish grammer/speling/werd usage pet peeves** that compelled me to contact the offending authors:

1. Mano y mano: Typically used in sports to describe a one on one battle by people who don’t speak Spanish. What they should use is “mano a mano” which means “hand to hand”. Mano y mano = hand and hand–like they’re holding hands. It’s not just wrong, it means the opposite of what they’re trying to say. Ironic (see below).

2. Weary/wary/leery: Two of these words mean the same thing. Two of them rhyme. The two that rhyme do not have the same meaning. It’s tricky, but weary means tired. Wary/leery mean cautious. Yet I see a lot of people use weary when they mean to use one of the other two.

3. Use of an apostrophe to pluralize a word: It used to be the rule that one NEVER uses an apostrophe when forming a plural of a word. Some grammar guides today allow for the use of an apostrophe in the plural forms of letters, numbers and words used as words.
Examples of proper usage:
“How many number 1’s are there in line?”
“We put x’s on the wrong answers.”
“The no’s resounded in the classroom.”
Those exceptions make sense, but I see people using the apostrophe to form the plural of ordinary words. I notice this all the time in restaurant menus.

4. Lose/Loose: Those are still two different words with two different meanings. Yet I see people use loose in place of lose but I very rarely see the inverse. Why is that?

5. Irony: The word has a specific meaning. It does not mean “anything that is unexpected”. Granted, the specific meaning is tricky. The definition is “The expression of one’s meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect.” The definition signals that if the opposite is signified, you’ll be on solid ground. So I try to use the term irony only in that context. If you ever want to ask the intertrons whether or not a statement is ironic, this site provides that service.

6. Literally: I saw an ad for a shirt the other day that says “The misuse of literally is making me figuratively insane”. Couldn’t agree more. Sometimes when people misuse literally I think they’re trying to sound intelligent. Other times I think that literally has become a verbal tic for a lot of people. I’ll defer the rest on this topic to David Cross in the above video clip.

Any other of these types of pet peeves out there?

**Disclaimer: I freely admit that my grammar, spelling and word choices are not 100% correct. Feel free to point them out so I can rid myself of bad habits.

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