Providing a snapshot of the world scene, Comments on the Human Condition offers a collection of aphorisms, a series of wittily worded opinions, penned by author William J. Cone, a self-described unrepentant curmudgeon.
Providing views on an array of controversial subjects, Cone calls attention to the silliness in everyday life through his amusing, frustrating, and outrageous opinions on a range of subjects applicable to today's world. Topics include "Three Men in a Bar," "Women Reporters in Men's Locker Rooms," "Somali Pirates," "Messages on T-Shirts," "English Accents," What's Wrong with Profiling?" "Buddy, Can You Spare a Dime?" "Contemplating Pompeii," "More Political Stupidity", "Gay Speak in Sports" and "CornHole Tournaments."
An eclectic collection of rants and ravings, Comments on the Human Condition offers one man's thoughts and ideas, often humorous, on a host of topics facing humans today, and he's not afraid to tell you how he really feels.
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COMMENTS ON THE HUMAN CONDITION
By WILLIAM J. CONE
iUniverse LLCCopyright © 2014 William J. Cone
All rights reserved.
|1| Old People
What are we to do? We don't want a computer, and we don't have e-mail. The nineteenth century is peaceful. We're not sure what a Facebook or a blog is. We frankly don't give a damn, Scarlett!
When we are ordering something on the phone (a landline—yes, they still exist) and are asked for our e-mail address, we respond that we don't have one. The person on the other end often says, "That's all right, honey." "Poor thing" is implied.
Our friends with computers often have to buy something for them or replace them. The computer needs to be faster or—bless its heart—it has a virus. Its e-mail box runneth over.
Thank goodness—we have avoided these electronic problems.
|2| Laundry and Sunshine
How about a solar dryer? For those who still wash clothes at home, the aroma of sun-dried clothes is a huge perk. No fabric softeners, no pine scent—just a wonderful, sun-dried, clean smell.
I'm told some communities don't allow laundry lines in the yard. It's time to move.
|3| Words and Phrases—They Change
Language is always evolving, but sometimes it seems to evolve backward. Perfectly descriptive phrases are changed to more obscure language. An intention tremor (a shaking of the hand as it tries to grasp something) is changed to an essential tremor (as opposed to a nonessential tremor?).
Manic-depressive (describing a person's mood and behavior) is changed to bipolar. Are we to think of polar exploration?
Dope fiend is changed to chemically challenged. Sounds as if one is not doing well in organic chemistry.
Alcoholic is changed to chemically imbalanced. Does that mean one has more sodium and potassium in one leg than the other?
|4| Zero Tolerance Is 100 Percent Wrong
We tolerate no bad behavior. No infraction of the rules. Hormonally hyped teenagers and five-year-olds who hug and kiss a classmate must be charged and dismissed. It sure makes life easier for the principal and teachers, but it can ruin a child's chances of getting into a good school or winning a scholarship.
We have all done things that we have regretted—acts that were foolish during our school years. Part of our learning process is predicated on profiting from our mistakes. Teachers need to counsel and direct students when mistakes are made. It is as much a function of the school administration as making sure math and English are understood.
Come on, folks! Let's put discipline and instruction back in the schools and stop abdicating this responsibility by saying, "You're out."
|5| The Spelling and Math Gene
Where art thou? People who have the math and spelling genes don't understand folks who don't have them. My grammar school teacher would say, "If you don't know how to spell a word, look it up." Duh. If I could look it up, I could spell it.
Have you ever used algebra or analytic geometry? I haven't and still don't know what they do. I was once told that bridges are built by using imaginary numbers. If that's not a scary thought, what is?
A life-changing and calming event happens when one recognizes there are certain abilities one doesn't have. One is freed, then, to utilize what one can do and not be frustrated. "All people are created equal" is one of the most disingenuous statements ever made.
[|6| My Mother Never Had Any] Children of Her Own
Because I was an only child, I tried to call my mother fairly frequently—but not enough, according to her expectations. Until I was in my forties, anytime I would call and say, "Hello, Mother!" she would say, "Who is this?" Finally, I asked, "How many children do you have that I don't know about?" She never asked, "Who is this?" again.
But what was the answer? Hmmmm ...
This is what the waitperson wants and hopes the customer is generous enough to give. Two of my daughters have been waitpeople and have learned that the worst tips come from a group of women wearing lots of gold jewelry.
It was once thought that tip meant "to ensure promptness," but other thoughts prevail these days. In any event, if it is to elicit good service, it should be given at the beginning of the meal.
|8| Old People Get Picked On
There is a list somewhere of old people. They are solicited by all sorts of con artists (politicians included) for money. "Just send five dollars and we will tell you if you're in the final four for winning a new car or a vacation in Europe."
"Please send money (for whatever political party) to help keep Communists off our college campuses." We thought it would be more pertinent if our elderly parents sent money to keep their grandchildren on the college campuses.
These folks are persistent. They only stop when you write deceased on the envelope and drop it back in the mailbox.
|9| Things I Wonder About
Do you know that fleece comes from polyester, not sheep? What does virgin wool mean? Does it come from sheep that outran the shepherd?
Who ate the first oyster and the first artichoke? Was this guy near unto death from hunger?
|10| You Deserve It
Rarely so. It is a catchphrase that is very common these days. One can work for something, one can inherit something—but to say one deserves something is as if some great feat has been accomplished, which is most often not the case.
We all want things but rarely deserve them. Along this same line are people who say they want respect. "You disrespected me." Respect is earned, not given.
|11| Things Change—For the Better?
A five-cent ice cream cone can cost four dollars, and you can't get six Cokes for a quarter. Regular mail was twenty-two cents. (I still have trouble deciding if anything I write is worth forty-six cents.) In the 1940s, a movie with a cartoon, a continued serial, and a newsreel, along with a Coke and popcorn, was eleven cents. Five dollars would fill the backseat of the car with groceries. Comics were a dime. Bubblegum cost a penny and was wrapped in a cartoon.
Inexpensive cars now cost more than houses did in the 1940s. It certainly is change. What will these things cost in seventy years?
|12| Withering Feminism
Women want to be equal. The he/she thing. There should be words that define women, not just the male word used for both. These words do and did exist.
Lately, women have been referring to themselves using only the male equivalent. What's going on?
|13| Tennis Commentators
Why must they jabber on and on? Most of us are not interested in interviews while play is in progress. Do these people get paid by the word? Please, just show the action.
Despite what some might believe, cybersex is good. Where else can one have a sexual experience without worrying about pregnancy or acquiring a sexually transmitted disease?
|15| Somali Pirates
Shoot them! Blow them out of the water! The international maritime community is "solidly against armed guards and the firing of weapons on vessels at sea" (somebody needs to tell that to these pirates). We have become so politically correct about so many things that we have become nonfunctioning. The maritime community is worrying about mistreating these miscreants. Why isn't it worried about the ship's owner and the kidnapped crew members?
The Barbary Coast was cleaned up years ago. Let's do it again.
|16| Who Are You?
Try cashing a check. I was a customer of my bank twenty years before the teller questioning my identity was born. They want to see your insurance card, grocery discount card, picture ID, etc. For a while, they wanted to take your fingerprint. "Never give your driver's license or your social security number to anyone." Yeah! Try to avoid it. Soon, these items will be required before you can use the public restroom.
If the check being cashed is for cash, the bank wants your signature on the back to see if it matches the one on the front. If the check was stolen, even the dumbest thief will have practiced the signatures, so signing the back is no problem. It makes little sense, but to get cents, one must follow illogical rules.
Any business that requires a driver's license or social security number will insist your identity is safe with them. How, then, do hackers get into the bank computers, the Pentagon, and hospital records?
Try to fight this foolishness—good luck.
|17| "You Go Too Fast—Gotta Make the Moment Last"
Not anymore. This stove boils water in ninety seconds. This car hits sixty MPH in three seconds. This computer is faster than a speeding bullet. Why do folks need all this speed, and at what price? Dear God, give me patience, and do it right now.
Univac used to fill a room. Now these digitized thingies don't fill your palm. How much time would be saved if we didn't spend it fiddling with these new toys? What happens to the time saved? Will fingers evolve to a point from pushing these tiny keys?
There was the War of Northern Aggression, or the War in Defense of Virginia—or the Late Unpleasantness. There was World War I and World War II. People have tried to win these wars, but lately, wars are run by committees and politicians. Each decision is predicated on getting somebody elected.
Is this any way to win a war? No. Is this any way to run a country? No.
|19| Buddy, Can You Spare a Dime?
Calling a depression a recession doesn't change the economics of the situation. It's just more "doublespeak." There is a solution to credit-card and mortgage debt. Don't spend and buy. Do without. We don't "deserve" anything.
If we don't live within our means (the reality of our situation, not the hoped-for lifestyle), we are in trouble. Wake up, people. Hard work and discipline will get you where you want to be. Ask any immigrant.
|20| Women's Fingernails
An emery board is so much cheaper than going to the nail salon. Why don't more women utilize this simple and inexpensive tool?
Square nails just look peculiar. The long, talon-like ones appear to have escaped from a Charlie Chan movie. The ones that are painted with scenes, squiggles, and brown, black, and blue polish might be all right for Halloween but not for general viewing.
Again we must ask, "Whatever happened to class?"
|21| Let Us Talk
How soon will our "talker" be worn out? Some people keep a phone device plastered to their ear. They talk on buses, trains, planes, in grocery stores, while walking, and probably in the shower.
Some bright young guy needs to invent a patch like the one for nicotine so these addicted people can be weaned. The multitasker can talk and text at the same time. Lord, help us!
There are about as many diets as there are people who want to lose weight: the North Mongolian diet, the kiwi diet, the "eat only mashed potatoes" diet. We want someone to tell us how to lose weight and make it happen with a magic pill and no effort on our part.
Our population is too fat. Do you want fries with that? Of course I do! Hamburgers are so big they can throw your jaw out of joint. I'll have an RC and a Moon Pie.
Use restraint, people. The growling stomach is the sound of success, not a signal to eat. I want what I want when I want it—but this philosophy takes years off your life. Slow down and smell the lower calories. Practice eating quality food that tastes good. Don't gorge your gullet.
|23| More News to Accentuate the Obvious
Still another much-needed study found that parents play favorites with their child. "Children who are cheerful, self-reliant, and got along well with others by the age of twelve received more financial aid and gifts from their parents." Gad, what a breakthrough!
Is there anyone who thinks this form of favoritism doesn't occur?
|24| Letters I Wrote That Weren't Acknowledged
A letter of appreciation for some special service received. A letter of praise to a car dealership. A letter of praise for an enjoyable stay at a resort. A letter of praise for someone's excellent accomplishment.
Does one expect a thank-you note for a thank-you note? No. But from a letter of praise—yes.
|25| Frugal Me
Different levels of frugality can be observed. As Ms. Isabel Gardner stated, "I don't have a lot of money—I can only afford to buy the very best." It shouldn't be called Starbucks, but Five Bucks. It is said that Mr. Rockefeller Sr. tipped a dime if he tipped at all. His embarrassed son would often follow behind and be more generous. When told of this happening, Mr. Rockefeller Sr. replied, "Well, he didn't make the money."
Old Ben said, "A penny saved is a penny earned." At whatever level one lives, it is best to save, and then a rare extravagance will be even more fun.
Pay for it. Never go into debt to bring pleasure to yourself.
|26| Things That No Longer Matter and Are No Longer Known
1) Placing a letter in an envelope (do you remember envelopes?) so that it is right side up to read when removed.
2) Not dating a check on a Sunday because the banks are closed.
3) Putting a line on the check after the written dollar amount so that no change can be made.
4) Saying "you're welcome" instead of "no problem."
5) Using the little clips to hold the bra strap to the slip or dress strap (ask your great-grandmother).
|27| Tornado Chasers
I guess somebody has to do it, but it seems all too often, the tornado does the chasing. When seen on television, these daredevils are dodging flying cows, houses, and trees. God bless 'em, but this is one job I don't want.
|28| Guest Towels in the Bathroom
Do they ever get used? They are pressed, have lovely embroidery and designs, and are just too pretty to use. Guys usually shake their hands or wipe them on their pants. Nobody wants to be the one to desecrate these towels.
|29| Some of the Dumbest Political Statements
1) "We have to pass this bill so that we can read it and see what's in it."
2) "You can't run a government like a business." Somebody needs to, because our country currently has a $17 trillion debt and a $44 trillion projected debt by 2015. The interest on our debt is more than $9 billion a week.
Who will be our savior?
|30| Prostate Cancer
Please don't waste time and money trying to diagnose it. "Many cases are slow-growing (mine or yours?) and will not be a problem." Tell that to the guy who has metastatic disease when first diagnosed. This is more statistical juggling by the government bureaucrats. Just think of all the insurance and Medicare money that will be saved if there is no testing.
After one doctor told his patient that the prostate biopsy showed cancer, the patient was then told his office time was up and to check the treatments on the Internet.
Our brave new world is here.
|31| A New Twist in Medical Practices
Most doctors are in a group these days. All doctors aren't created equal. You pick one, perhaps see him or her a couple of times, and you find you just aren't simpatico.
In some practices, patients are being told they can't change doctors within the group. What an incredible lack of understanding, and frankly, I find this somewhat unprofessional. It must relate to patient charges for the individual physician, but with this bad will and insensitive approach, the entire group will not enjoy a good reputation or payday.
|32| Shortening Words
Even before texting, speech was becoming abbreviated. It must be hard for some people to pronounce phenomenon instead of phenom. Congratulations instead of congrats, precipitation instead of precip, Christmas instead of Xmas, not to mention i.e. instead of this is, or e.g. instead of for example.
Also remember, if just the initials of some organization are used in a text, somewhere in the article, the name must be spelled out for clarity.
Excerpted from COMMENTS ON THE HUMAN CONDITION by WILLIAM J. CONE. Copyright © 2014 William J. Cone. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse LLC.
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