Hey, Kid, Get Your Nose Out of that Book!

One of the worst parts about complaining is that there is so much to complain about, so many things that need somebody to say, “Hey, kid, [stop doing whatever it is that annoys me today]!” Sometimes it’s paralyzing; what do I spend my dwindling time on Earth ranting about? As a result, I try to limit myself to things I know about–but sometimes I go looking for things, simply because the Internet is such a fertile hunting ground. And that’s what happened, except that I got so caught up in the arguments and counter-arguments and dreadfully silly goings-on that I forgot to add my two cents to the din, and this space sat fallow.

Well, we’re going to remedy that right now, mister!

Today we’re going to talk about Hugogate.

What? You don’t know what Hugogate is? Have you been living under a rock? Of course you haven’t, because it you had, you’d know what Hugogate is. Ironically, it’s those of us who have a life who are in the dark.

Briefly, Hugogate is the new uproar about the perceived gaming of the ballot to choose the next Hugo awards, which are the science fiction equivalent of the Oscars. Apparently, one set of sci-fi fans who see themselves as the rightful inheritors of the mantle of people like Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov, have assembled a slate of nominees they think ought to win the Hugos because for the past few years the awards have been highjacked by some kind of leftist cabal. I kid you not. A bunch of nerds who probably don’t know Obama from Osaka are arguing the politics of their precious little awards–like it matters.

And when I say, “like it matters,” I mean they are screaming at each other that the future of literature is at stake, if not the future of free expression in America. I kid you not.

Now, let’s run down a few numbers I’ve gathered from the far-too-deep research I’ve done on this subject. Hugos can be voted on by members of the World Science Fiction Convention, which runs about 10,000 people in a good year. Of those, about 2500 actually vote. There are roughly 250,000,000 people in America. Even given the dismal voting turnout in most elections, 2500 people (not all of whom are even Americans) are not about to ruin free expression in this country.

So who cares? Why spend all your time arguing about irrelevant nonsense? Even in this blog I try to complain about things that matter: If people insist on crossing the street against the light, for instance, somebody’s going to get hurt. There ‘s a point to complaining about that. But this?

Come on, sci-fi fans. You’re supposed to looking out for our future. You want to get on your high horse, try arguing about climate change, or overpopulation, or government surveillance, not who wants a trophy enough to ask his friends to vote for him.

And while you’re at it, see if you can invent a few term for scandals that doesn’t end in “-gate.”


Hey, Gramps, Get Outta My Street

You know how they put those “Walk/Don’t Walk” signs at intersections? And you know how they count down the seconds until you shouldn’t cross the street, just so you know enough to keep you safe? And you know how they say “Don’t Walk” in red letters just so you won’t miss them and walk in front of a turning car and, say, die? Sure you do.

Then why in the name of all that’s holy don’t you PAY ANY ATTENTION?

The other day I saw a woman step into the street when the sign was flashing “3.” Bad enough that she couldn’t possibly cross the street in under three seconds. Bad enough that I was waiting to make a right turn and couldn’t because she was in the crosswalk. Worse than all that, she wasn’t alone.

She was pushing a stroller!

Never mind that she was risking her own life and that of her child, I almost had a stroke from wanting to jump out of my car and scream at her.

But hey, let’s say it’s your life. You can die if you wanna. No nanny state. Forget all that. Just stop infringing on my rights.

I’m not talking about the right to freedom of speech, which I had to curtail because yelling at some idiot woman would only have startled her in the middle of the street and made me look like a psycho. I’m talking about my right to drive. The reason these signs tell you not to walk is because people are driving on those streets, and you are stopping them. Every time I see a little old person totter off the curb when the light’s already blinking, I think, “Great. Now I’ll have to wait till he gets to the other side before I can go.” Of course I do. You do too.

Because that’s selfish. These people are putting their own safety (and your driving record) up as collateral against not having to wait sixty seconds for the light to change in their favor. Because, hey, their time is more valuable than yours.

Well, guess what? It isn’t. So stay on the damned sidewalk until it’s your turn. If I can’t run red lights, you shouldn’t be able to either.

And don’t even get me started on jaywalkers…

The Difference between Going to Burning Man and being One

This is it, my “Hey, kids, get off my lawn” moment. I have a good reason, though. I don’t want the kids setting fire to my lawn when they set fire to themselves.

Sure, your teen years are when you express yourself, when you start discovering who you are, when you–in simple terms–spend six years acting like a complete idiot. You’re a jerk. You talk back to your parents. You protest a war or two. It’s what you do.

Oh, wait, that’s what we did. We wore our hair too long (and sometimes didn’t wash it often enough–you know who you are). We sulked and we snuck around and we smoked a little pot (or a lot of pot. Your choice.) But we never filmed ourselves doing all this stuff, because we knew that if you left evidence, you might get caught. We sure as hell never put ourselves on the Internet doing stupid and quasi-legal things, and we never set ourselves on fire just because we could film it and SHOW THE WORLD how incredibly stupid we were. I mean–really? Who told you that self-immolation was a good way to become famous? When they say your star will burn brightly, it’s a metaphor! ˆThere’s a difference between going to Burning Man and being one.

But then again, maybe this is all for the best. Because in a few years, when you’re looking to get married and (God help us all) have kids, your prospective mates will check out your Internet history, because, well, your entire life is on the web, so why not? (Don’t complain you have no privacy if you live like a reality show celebutante.) And your future spouse will see that, once upon a time, you jumped into a swimming pool to put out a person who was on fire, and lo and behold that person was you. And you had done it on purpose. And your future spouse will delete your number and marry some kid who isn’t a suicidal loser.

So, yes, please, stay off of my lawn. My fire insurance won’t cover you. And while you’re at it, stay out of my swimming pool, too. The pool guy doesn’t come until Friday and I don’t want to have to skim your ashes out of the water.

You Are What You Eat, and You’re Eating a Pig

So it’s come to this. We now have a pepperoni pizza wrapped in bacon. Why, because we weren’t fat enough? Because we don’t have enough salt and nitrates in our diet that we had to go out and double them? Because the aliens aren’t trying to kill us off fast enough?

Maybe we’re all just lab rats. Maybe our suicidal ways are helping some higher race solve its own problems. Maybe it’s all for a reason.

Or maybe we’re just dumber than dirt.

America, the land that wraps its pizza in bacon (and yes, there are other countries that have food just as ridiculous, but we invented the deep-fried Twinkie), is the same land that doesn’t want free health care. Obviously, we don’t want to go to the doctor because he might tell us the truth about ourselves, and then we’d have to stop eating bacon, and pastry, and cheese, and everything else that the food companies can put high fructose corn syrup into–which now includes coffee cups. At least they’ll reduce litter…

“Hey,” you object, “I have the right to put whatever I want into my body.” Sure you do. This is, after all, America, land of the fat and home of the bypass. You have, in fact, put your finger squarely on the problem: Americans have too much freedom.

When you were a kid, your mom was responsible for what you ate. If she was any good at her job, she didn’t let you eat all the crap you wanted. But now you’re an adult, and you can do what you want. You don’t want Big Government telling you what to eat. But you know what? Father Knows Best. Jack Nicholson had it right: “You can’t handle the truth.” Because the truth is we all have more freedom than we know what to do with. Maybe we need somebody to tell us what to do.

Or at least somebody to tell us to put down that bacon-wrapped pizza and go take a walk.

You Can Get Anything You Want…

…at Alice’s Restaurant. (‘Ceptin’ Alice. Go ahead, kids, look it up.) But this is my restaurant, and although you can get anything you want here, too, there are rules. Maybe if more restaurants would adopt my rules, more people would go out to restaurants.

Rule No. 1: We have a special area for families with small children. It’s called “take-out.” Really, folks, leave your kids at home. If you can’t, we’re running a special: Fussy children eat free. Honest. If you have a fussy child, we will pay you to eat. In fact, we insist on it. We will even box up your food and help you to your car. In fact, we will insist on that, too. Other diners have the right to eat in peace, and there are more of them than there are of you. Which brings us to…

Rule No. 2: If you plan on using your cellphone at your table, you might as well make it a long conversation, because your food ain’t coming any time soon. In fact, it may never come at all. We will, however, charge rent on the phone booth you’re occupying.

Rule No. 3: Take off your damned hat inside the restaurant! This ain’t a damn ballpark!

Rule No. 4: Always be polite to the people who handle your food. If you have a problem, please bring it to our attention, but if you’re rude to the staff, you take your chances.

Rule No. 5: Don’t linger over an empty plate when people are waiting for a table. They want to eat, too. If you want to continue your conversation, either order dessert or move to Starbucks, where you can stare at others taking up tables with their laptops and empty cups.

Yeah, these are all common-sense rules, and any civilized person should be able to follow them with ease. But just sit down at any family restaurant these days and you’ll see violations of at least three rules. And I’m sure none of these folks means to be rude, they’re just thoughtless morons.

And that would never apply to you, would it?

So Much to Complain About, So Little Time…

People annoy me. Not everybody, of course. Not you. But in general, people are annoying. They’re in too much of a damned hurry to care about anyone else. Is it that hard to use your turn signal when you change lanes?

This is where I can come to vent about such things. You can, too, if you want. Leave me a comment. What bugs you? Seahawks fans? Reality stars? Anonymous bloggers?

Me, I don’t know where to start–oh, wait, yes I do. Stupid people. I don’t mean those of lesser intelligence, but those who are willfully ignorant, especially those who accept what they know to be wrong just because it profits them to do so. (Yeah, politicians. How did you know?) There are people in power who accept that the world is screwed up, screwed up in ways they could try to fix, but they don’t because they’re in the pockets of corporations who are themselves willfully ignorant or careless of the harm they are causing us all.

You know these guys–they deny global warming even though 99% of all climate scientists believe in it, even as the world is experiencing unprecedented natural disasters, and they aren’t even scientists. Or the companies trying to defeat net neutrality because they claim treating the Internet as a utility will stifle innovation. Stifle? The Internet? Besides, they made the same argument about cell phones, and look how that ended up.

I wish there were more to be done than complain, but people keep re-electing these morons–sorry, these evil puppets–even though they know the evil puppets don’t give a damn about them. Why? You tell me. Those people are being willfully ignorant, too.

And you know how I feel about that.

Welcome – Now Get Off My Lawn

Welcome to my blog, “Fifty is the New Cranky.” I’m starting this because (a) I’m well past 50, (b) I’m far past cranky, and (c) I have the right to say so. (Even though some would argue that you only have the right to complain if you fought for your country. Bull. You only have the right to complain if you vote. You don’t like my opinion, write your own blog.)

If you’re going to go on reading this, you have the right to know a few things about me: First, I hate the 21st century. Mostly because of cell phones. Get rid of cell phones and this century wouldn’t be half so bad. I could live with that. Second, I hate willful stupidity. This is not to say I hate stupid people. God gave each of us different strengths and weaknesses. If you weren’t gifted with a 125 IQ, it’s not your fault. (You’re not stupid, either.) You’re just you. On the other hand, if you were gifted with a 125 IQ, and you act like an idiot, then you are actively practicing stupidity, and I hate that. Stupid is forgivable, ignorance is pathetic, and willful ignorance is inexcusable. (I’m looking at you, anti-vaxxers!)

Talk radio and Fox News want you to believe there’s a War on Christianity. Bullshit. There’s a War on Science. Vaccines causing autism is a medically-proven fraud. 99% of all climatologists believe that global warming is caused by Man. Everything we’ve learned over the past 150 supports the theory of evolution. Why do people insist on believing the opposite when the only proponents of these concepts are not scientists?

I hope that after you’ve read some of my posts, you’ll agree with me and you’ll get cranky, too. 99% of us don’t have the money to influence anything, but on the Net we count for as much as anybody. So get out there and get cranky.

And get off of my lawn.