Dear CNN,

I’m sure you have been inundated with emails and comments during the current news cycle, however, it would be remiss of me not to point out a detail that has been palpably overlooked in your commentary regarding George Floyd, Derek Chauvin and the other officers involved in the incident and the ensuing protests.

While this has been a tragic episode with lamentable consequences, I fail to see any mention of the fact that the officers performed their alleged* crime on camera. It was obvious they were being filmed and it makes me seriously doubt their intelligence.

I’m dismayed that your network is not addressing this fact as it is yet another example to prove that no problem is so insurmountable that it can’t be solved through education.

Roger L. Main

* I say “alleged” as a legal technicality as they have not yet been tried and convicted. Under American law a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Buzz-terms we should avoid

A lot of buzz-terms have cropped up in our modern technological world. Not buzzwords; most are phrases, thus I refer to them as “buzz-terms”. I suppose that would make “buzz-term” itself a buzz-term or, rather, it will be if it catches on. Not all buzz-terms are bad. Some suit a very specific purpose, filling a void in the language but some have been created to replace already existing terms. So here they are, buzz-terms that should be avoided:

Human Resources

Once upon a time, not so long ago, the department responsible for employees was called Personnel. It had a nice ring to it; it was soft and warm. At some point, someone, somewhere, for some reason unknown to me, decided to coin the term “Human Resources.”

You’re not a person anymore. You’re still acknowledged as human, as opposed to cattle or xerox machines, but you’re a resource – a thing to be used. The reasoning behind this comes from project management where man-hours are, indeed, considered resources and estimates are based on human output. Fair enough. Such is needed to do that job. As for the rest of us, we’re people, not things and should be addressed as such. I find this term highly offensive because of its callous utilitarianism.

Phone Screen

Equally offensive is the term “Phone Screen.” They used to be interviews, which had a friendly sound to it, kind of like being on Conan. Now they want a fifteen minute “phone screen.” You’re going to be “screened” like the parasite you are.

This particularly dehumanizing expression comes from an innate believe on the part of management that everyone is as slimy and dishonorable as they are. Clearly, because they did awful, deceitful things to get where they are they assume that everyone is like that. As a result, such people must be “screened”. There are two rules for tyrants: seize power and prevent others from seizing power.

Best Practices

Apparently, we must all adhere to them. But, as anyone who is familiar with commercialism is aware, anything that purports to be the best, usually isn’t. Furthermore, in many cases where the term “best practices” is used, whether or not it is “the best” is entirely subjective, particularly in my industry. It’s just a dogmatic way of derailing any alternate opinions, usually by people who can’t justify their own enough to provide a coherent argument.

In some cases there are actual, proper, established and proven procedures that one should follow; preserving forensic evidence at a crime scene, for example. Didn’t there used to be a term for that? Wasn’t it “proper procedure?” Proper procedure allows for improvement. Best practices are as good as they’re ever going to get. After all, they are The Best!

Enough Said

Enough said. There will be no further discussion or debate. I have had the final word. People who use such terminology should be ridiculed into humiliation. Just because you are tired of debating the issue doesn’t mean that you win by terminating all conversation. It doesn’t close the conversation, it just makes you sound like a dogmatic jerk (probably the same dogmatic jerk who dictates “best practices”).

Tour

I’m not a shift worker so I might off on this one but when I see it used in Blue Bloods it has a chilling effect on my own blood. There are three shifts to cover a 24-hour period, yes? Day, Swing and Graveyard. To my knowledge none of them are called “tours”. That is a military term. It comes from “tour of duty” which refers to a soldier’s period of active duty in a foreign location (for example, a tour of duty in Vietnam) and it usually refers to an extended period of time.

But somehow, someone got it into their head that this is a synonym for a “shift” which, of course, it is not. Where are they touring? Lower Manhattan? Actually, most of the time they’re touring their desks. They’re not touring the Internet. There’s a perfectly good buzz-term form that which was needed to fill a void: surfing.

Final Thoughts:

Language evolves; English is a particularly rich language because it borrows from so many other languages. But the commercial world has a tendency to mindlessly jump on the bandwagon of the latest and greatest in an attempt to stay ahead of the curve (which is usually where all the money is) without thinking about whether the latest and greatest is necessarily the best from all angles, including how it is received.

In some cases these buzz-terms have a reason for existing, such as “surfing the web” or the term “yuppie” to describe a young, up-and-coming (or urban) professional; they were needed to fill a void in the language. But why create an ugly and offensive term when a perfectly good one exists? I prefer to be interviewed rather than screened and to be personnel rather than a resource. As I leave you to start a tour in the bathroom, I suggest thinking carefully about mindlessly using buzz-terms – it just isn’t best practice.

Enough said.

Fun with socks

I took a hospital tube sock that I got during one of my recent surgeries…

(Actual socks not shown)

…and filled it with polyester fiber-fill; the same stuff that I use in my knitted creations:

I then tied off the end to make a mouse wrist support:

Naturally, the Cat With No Name wouldn’t leave it alone, so I took the other sock and got out the sewing machine…

…and with some ornamental rope that I had that I was going to use as a sash (but it was too short), I made a hanging cat toy!

I have many odd socks. What else will I come up with?

World War V

That is, World War V; V for Virus, not World War V; V for Roman numeral “5”. It’s only the third world war but make no mistake, it is a world war. I justify this assertion, thusly:

The world has not seen such widespread cooperative action against a single enemy since World War II (both Axis and Allied), nor more people directly or indirectly influenced by it.

All wars carry a civilian death toll. Healthcare workers – the soldiers on the front lines – are particularly susceptible to injury or death but the civilian count is higher with Covid because, unlike the previous wars almost all Covid victims are civilians.

Every day there is a mounting death toll and casualty count, rising inexorably in a battle fought in inches with little or no victory in immediate sight. We are frantically working on the superweapon that, definitively will tip the balance but until such time we’re knee deep in the trenches and there’s no Lusitania or Pearl Harbour to prompt America’s saving grace into the war; they’re already here and as deep in it as anyone else.

As with during the world wars the world has shifted gears towards production to support the troops – munitions during I and II, medical equipment in III. While we haven’t reached the stage of severe, government enforced rationing, at least around where I live the supermarkets have started to put a limit on the sale of certain products. If production continues to be strained governments may step in. People had to get used to the change in lifestyle caused by this disruption to the supply chain (perhaps not as much of an adjustment for the World War II generation, having just come off of the Great Depression).

In addition, paranoia takes center stage – loose lips used to sink ships, now they spread a toxic poison. I’ve already spoken of the psychological ramifications of the Covid Pandemic – already we see people with Cabin Fever (that exact term being bandied about by the media) and when it’s over we will see a chronic agoraphobia epidemic. Survivors of wars suffer “shell shock” or PTSD; a condition not limited to wartime and one we can expect to rear its ugly head during this war.

Just like I and II we don’t know what the landscape will look like when it’s all over. I have no doubt that we will overcome our foe – it’s in our nature to survive – just as we overcame our foes during I and II. Had the opposition won either world war I would have said exactly the same thing. With all due respect to T.S. Eliot, the world ends with neither a bang nor a whimper (a conclusion he was later to admit, himself). Someone has to win and it isn’t going to be SARS CoV-2.

But how will things look afterwards? No doubt the economy will spring back with a vengeance but the psychological damage will be severe, and the political damage. China is already being viewed askance with Xi Jinping facing criticism for his skepticism and coverup attempt that allowed the virus to spread beyond Wuhan Provence and, subsequently past Chinese borders into the international community.

An already traditionally xenophobic America, pushed further by Donald Trump’s border policies (incidentally, as far as border security is concerned, this crisis must be Trump’s wet dream as it allows a further justification for his border walls) may be sent over the edge, becoming even more internalized and recalcitrant.

It’s inevitable that the international landscape will shift as happens after every war but how? Attitudes will change and habits of paranoid hygiene will probably last and the Covid Generation (Covidgen? Coronagen? Generation V?) will, like the Baby Boomers, be defined heavily by a major event and the subsequent attitudes of the generation before them – an event that will influence every generation with a living memory and beyond.

Reference:

T. S. Eliot at Seventy, and An Interview with Eliot in Saturday Review. Henry Hewes. 13 September 1958 in Grant p. 705.

Baby Bust

I predict a leveling of the population in nine months.

Why? Hint: “social distancing” is the buzz-term at the start of the new ’20s.

I predict that the repercussions of the Coronavirus COVID-19 will be felt for decades and may possibly mark the momentous event that defines the next generation after the iGeneration – the successors to the Millennials who are now starting to produce families of their own (Covidgen?).

All of that may be on hold due to COVID-19. Of all of the ways to contract a disease, sexual activity is one of the most efficient. People will always have sex but the casual sex that accidentally turns into a pregnancy is probably less likely to happen. Even married couples may curb their activity for the duration of the crisis.

The Baby Boom generation was marked by soldiers returning from World War II and starting families. The Millennials were marked by the start of the New Millennium and iGen by being born in the new Millennium. My generation, Generation X, has the most fuzzy delineation of the three is sandwiched between the Boomers and the Millennials.

In market terms, the opposite of a boom is a bust (which is also a current danger – a recession does look to be on the horizon) and, while people are confined in voluntary quarantine, the likelihood that they will be engaging in sexual congress is decreased due to contagion.

Furthermore, Snopes.com refutes the argument that being confined due to a disaster leads to a baby boom so we can’t count on that mythical phenomenon to counter the effects of “social distancing”. Not only will there be less hookups and less social meetings leading to match-ups, there won’t be a rush to jump into bed due to boredom.

Perhaps the effects will be too small to be noticed. Perhaps the disease will fade into history like smallpox and cholera. However, I have never seen anything like this before – even bubonic plague (which, despite speculations about my age, I was not alive for) was geographically isolated and while AIDS spread across the world you couldn’t get it by breathing the same air as someone else at the supermarket.

If the dictum is to stay six feet away from each other I don’t see many people jumping at the opportunity to reduce that distance to full physical contact. New pregnancies will slow down and in nine months, a baby bust.

In other prediction news, I predict more companies moving to cyberspace even after the crisis. When business owners notice no change in productivity for letting their employees work at home where possible, they will begin to question why they’re paying for office space.