Archive for category Etiquette
Kristin Booker would like everyone to stop asking her where her ancestors came from. It gets old when you get the same question every day:
“Where are you from?”
“Charleston, West Virginia.”
“No, I mean where are you FROM? What’s your racial background?”
“No, I mean which one of your parents is white/Asian/other? Because you can’t be ALL black.”
This is where the compulsive pedant in me rears its head and says something about how probably a sizable majority of African-Americans have some proportion of European ancestry, so “you can’t be ALL black” is a brainless thing to say. There’s a difference between genetics and cultural identification, and when Booker answers with, “I’m black,” she’s making a cultural identification based on the fact that all of her parents and grandparents make the same identification. I could go on talking about the one-drop rule and what I like to call the “walking down the street test,” which is an important factor in race relations. (For example: when people see me walking down the street, they see a white person without ambiguity. This is simple enough for someone who looks like me, but a person of multiracial heritage could get a more varied reaction, which is where the annoying conversation comes in.)
“Thank you for your patience” has become one of those expressions that makes me cringe whenever I hear it.
The idea itself is not bad. The problem is that it’s invariably used to refer to situations in which the “patient” person didn’t have a choice about being patient. Like, when the Metro operator says “thank you for your patience” while pulling the train into the tunnel after being stuck at the platform for 20 minutes, that doesn’t really make sense. We weren’t being “patient” by sitting nicely in the train cars while going nowhere. We were taking what was given to us. The alternative would be to get out and walk, which tends to be a net loss in terms of getting to work on time.
The question is: “If I were not patient, would you do anything differently?”
If the answer is “no,” then “patience” is a meaningless concept. If you’re not going to move any faster regardless of someone else’s ability to stay calm while they wait, then there’s no meaningful communication in saying thank you for their patience. The sentence boils down to, “Well, look at that, you’ve been caused some inconvenience.” I’m aware that we Americans tend to say “thank you” compulsively, but we could still stand to be honest about what the phrase actually means.
I’m not quite sure why there is a Debate going on about what Jessica Simpson named her daughter.
It was, perhaps, inevitable that we’d all make a federal case over the fact that Jessica didn’t give birth a month ago (she carried big at an early stage, I guess?), and there’s going to be ridiculousness over the mode of delivery whatever it was, but…we’re getting all upset over the name Maxwell for a girl? Really?
As celebrity baby names go, a girl named Maxwell is pretty well within the range of normal. As long as it isn’t YOUR kid having to show up at elementary school with that name, I don’t see why it has to be a problem. While we’re on the subject, I’ve seen some mostly normal couples give their kids some really obnoxious names, and if you’re one of those parents who gave their kid a name that looks like the alphabet vomited on a cheap linoleum floor, you’re in no position to throw stones.
There are apparently some people who think they’re supposed to insert an apostrophe before ANY USE OF THE LETTER “S” AT THE END OF A WORD. Including a PROPER NOUN.
(And by “proper noun,” I mean someone’s NAME.)
You assume the error in question was at least attempting a possessive, right? No! It wasn’t even a possessive!
There is just no excuse for this. How much longer until someone writes out my last name as “Mier’s”? Come to think of it, I think it’s already happened, but then at least it was someone trying to use the possessive.
If you’re overwhelmed by the rules of apostrophe usage, here’s a handy rule of thumb: when in doubt, don’t use an apostrophe. It’s not error-free, but it’s a step in the right direction. Better to neglect than to abuse.
If you like independent fiction and care about halfway-decent grammar, please check out my Challenge.
For the love of Pete, please, people, do NOT stand still, or stop short, just in front of the foot of an escalator. Even if it’s going up. That’s only mildly less offensive than blocking up the foot of an escalator moving down. Get your directions straightened out with your friend BEFORE either of you get on. Otherwise, you are standing in the way of people who are trying to get home from work, and there is just no upside to that.
Now that Beyonce and Jay-Z have allowed smartassed celebrity-watchers to joke about how they’ve just produced the Greatest Newborn of All Time, we have diva-esque paranoia and highrolling jackassery going on at Lennox Hill Hospital, where little Blue Ivy Carter was ushered into the world. That’s not the part that I think is funny, though. Celebs acting like the world revolves around them? Yawn.
No, what I think is…fascinating…is the idea going around that Beyonce faked her pregnancy while a surrogate gestated her daughter. I am firmly skeptical of this theory; I think it’s a fairly substantial claim and it’ll require some substantial evidence. (Although IMO she looks remarkably non-pregnant here. I have no obstetrical history and my non-overweight belly is bigger than that.) Much of the evidence for the “secret surrogate” theory feels like the mirror image of Bristol Palin supposedly having carried Trig. If I’m expected to believe something as extreme as “Beyonce wasn’t really pregnant with the baby girl who was just delivered,” then I want something more definitive than some carefully curated photos showing her abdomen in completely different lighting and angles.
Aside from the “substantial claim/substantial evidence” standard, I find it rather far-fetched that not only would Beyonce and Jay-Z hire a surrogate, but that they’d lie about it. Here’s the thing: plenty of celebrity mothers have had children through surrogates. It’s not so stigmatized anymore. Granted, those mothers tend to be quite a bit older than Beyonce, so I suppose she might still not want to be seen hiring another woman to birth her child, but still. Pretending to be pregnant for all those months seems like an awfully elaborate scheme to hide the fact that you’re doing something that’s becoming increasingly normal for your income bracket.
All that said, however, I can see where the conspiracy theorists are coming from. The rumors have been circulating for months, admittedly, but as of now, Jay and Bey are acting like they have something to hide. It’s fair to say they basically took over the maternity ward to keep the paparazzi away and protect their newborn from uncontrolled media exposure, but if they wanted to hide the fact that Beyonce was not actually recovering from childbirth/C-section (whatever mode it happened to be), they’d be doing a good job of keeping that much under wraps. If they were trying to hide a completely different woman occupying the postpartum bed in the suite they rented out, they’d be successful.
It is fair to say that their behavior, in this case, is indistinguishable from the behavior of people who have something to hide. I’m inclined to think it’s more a matter of the celebrity mentality and less about covering something up, but for this example, behaving like a celebrity is a good way to look like a liar. For those who are already inclined to think they have something to hide, the current business of restricting movement around the maternity ward is just fuel on the fire. Assuming the new family is totally above-board and there was never any surrogate gestation arrangement, there’s still something to be learned here: if you don’t want to draw attention to your family, then don’t keep other parents from seeing their preemies in the NICU.
I come home on a fine Friday evening and what do I find buzzing all over Twitter? Why, it’s another author who makes a total ass of herself at the sight of a negative review of her book!
Julie Halpern, published through Feiwel & Friends, which appears to be a perfectly respectable imprint of MacMillan, woke up this morning to find a less-than-positive review of her novel, Don’t Stop Now. The blogger, Allison Dayle, included in her “nasty” review such vicious bon mots as:
To be frank (and slightly mean), Josh is a sorry excuse for a male MC. He is a total jerk. (Take my word for it. I’ve already given my copy of Don’t Stop Now away so I can include specific examples.) Lillian was funny, mostly intelligent (other than in her choice of friends) and incredibly nice. Girl: you can do better. I promise.
If you have read and enjoyed it – make sure and let me know what I missed! I love talking to people with different opinions.
Okay, so those are just edited highlights, and I’m leaving out most of the criticism, but still. This is what we’re looking at. And because she found this in her morning Google-herself ritual, author Halpern threw a hilarious temper tantrum on her blog, which attracted some sympathetic attention for Allison Dayle and some not-so-sympathetic attention for Julie Halpern. When the heat got to be too much, Halpern deleted the blog post…but not before the blogger of Good Books and Good Wine screen-capped that sucker. For our copy-paste convenience, The Book Vixen saved us some Google-cache goodness where we can see Halpern’s “insights” including but not limited to:
And, like I noted in my other post, the blogger goes there: “A plot line made up so that a road trip could come into play.” Ugh! I didn’t make it up, beyotch! I had a friend who faked her own kidnapping! Grrrr. She insults my main character and writes this amazingly insightful line in her “review” : “The plot of Don’t Stop Now is totally weird.” Wow. Great. Okay.
Because what you’re doing is DISCOURAGING PEOPLE FROM READING. Even a negative review, when written well and from an open-minded perspective, can give readers insight into whether they, no matter how the reviewer feels about a book, might like it. As a librarian, I may hate some books, but I would NEVER stop someone from reading a book. I even suggest books I hate to people because who am I to say whether someone else should or should not read a book? So, Ms. Blogger, you say you’d like to get your Library Science degree? Time to start thinking like a librarian.
Yeah, so…THAT happened, and when shit started getting real in her comment section, Halpern dug that hole a little deeper:
And if you think my blog was not cool in some way because I used the word “beyotch” then you obviously wouldn’t find my books funny anyway. All of y’all who said I was mean because I mentioned things from the blogger’s bio: you are correct. But one can never assume that what an author writes in their fiction is “unrealistic” or “ridiculous” because SHIT HAPPENS.
Let us note the difference between an “assumption” of plot inspiration and “assessment” of storytelling ability.
But I hope this is a wake up call to bloggers that AUTHORS ARE READING YOUR REVIEWS. That doesn’t mean you need to like every book, but try to be a little more thoughtful about the way you see things. I wake up and google myself because I love to read NICE things people say about my books.
“OH MY GOD! AUTHORS ARE READING OUR REVIEWS! THIS IS TOTALLY NEW INFORMATION!” No, they don’t need to like every book. Just every book by Julie Halpern. Got it.
So all you book bloggers out there, try to make your next review a positive one about a book you really liked. Let’s get more people reading instead of spewing hate.
Let that sit there for a moment: “Let’s get more people reading instead of spewing hate.” The self-unawareness is strong in this one.
This is why we have LiveJournal: there are times when you need to blow off steam and say things you won’t be proud of, so you put it under a friends-lock. It’s okay to behave like an asshole…where only your friends can see. A negative review of your book doesn’t have to hurt your sales figures. Making an ass of yourself where all of the Internet can see you, however, isn’t doing you any favors.
I’m all finished talking about Iggy (or at least I’ve posted all the pictures I ever took of him), and there’s another 5 days until the next Sunday afternoon. Unless you want to see me use this blog as therapy and talk about how I was harassed almost daily by some of the neighborhood kids for more than half of my Peace Corps assignment (and you probably don’t want to hear about that), I’ll just have to go back to making fun of ignorant bigots.
For example, there’s this little nugget on Microaggressions, aka The Daily WTF:
“I hear these Spanish and Oriental kids speaking and I think they must speak English because they go to school and have to communicate with their teachers.”
Oh, for Pete’s sake.
First, there’s the matter of vocabulary. Do we still need to say this, in 2012? RUGS are Oriental, people are ASIAN. And when the perpetrator labels kids s/he obviously doesn’t know as “Spanish,” you should assume that most or all of the youngsters in question are not actually from Spain.
More importantly, this is the kind of complaint one only hears from monolingual Anglophones who’ve never visited another country. The issue is not that the Asian and Latin@ kids in question can’t speak English and therefore are not integrating into American society. The issue is that they can sometimes be heard speaking languages other than English.
It must be so, so difficult, to have to live in a country that allows people from non-Anglophone countries to immigrate and doesn’t force them to give up their native tongues altogether. It must be so uncomfortable to hear young people saying things you don’t understand, and demonstrating abilities that you don’t have. (I mean, they speak more than one language. Scary.) It must be so confusing to be reminded that other countries with other languages exist, and that people do not always stay where they were born.
How dare they.
“Patience is a virtue” can roughly be translated as “You should be SMILING when someone else’s stupidity is wasting your time!”
Fuck this “patience” bullshit. The problem is not with the person who is visibly (though not vocally) annoyed about a needless delay caused by someone else’s obliviousness. The problem is with the obliviousness. Either get out of the way or don’t make it any worse.