January 2008

One of the things that bothers me the most about American society today is a pervasive “I don’t care” attitude. It seems that most people today really don’t care about the things our country used to stand for - patriotism, accountability and good grammar among those that stand out most.

Patriotism used to be so important to our citizens that it was never in question. People from: http://www.grandview.mccsc.edu/mlk2k3/IB/eagle.jpgstood up when the Pledge of Allegiance was recited; now, many schools don’t allow a recitation of the pledge. Similarly, people stood up when the flag passed by in a parade or color guard. Now, for the most part, only elderly people still honor our flag that way. Everyone else just doesn’t care.

Many companies and private citizens who display our flag no longer follow the rules of care. Even at the building at which I work, the flag is left up in rain, sleet and snow. Its white stripes are a dingy gray, its ends worn and tattered. I stopped and looked at the mast the other day. They have moved the tether up so far that someone would actually have to stand on a ladder to change the flag. I think it’s simply shameful, but the powers that be obviously don’t care.

At my old job, they treated the flag a little better — it was put up and taken down every day, flown at half mast when appropriate, removed during inclement weather — but even then, it was wadded up in a box while it rested instead of folded appropriately. It was allowed to touch the ground, even though, traditionally, that is a no-no. When I brought it up to facilities, I got shrugs and blank stares. They really didn’t care one way or the other.

Even at my alma mater, The University of Oklahoma, a lack of patriotism is sadly evident. At sports events, many people don’t stand for the Pledge of Allegiance or the national anthem. Most talk right through it. What’s worse, many people who do sing along have replaced the words “home of the brave” with “home of the Sooners.” Some people who still believe in God and Country are appalled by this behavior, but for the most part, people are pretty laissez-faire about it. It’s the football game that matters, as for the patriotic trappings, well…they really don’t care.

Personal accountability has been tossed out with the trash along with patriotism. People just don’t seem to take pride in their work anymore, and if they can blame a personal error on someone else, they will do it in a flash. Similarly, many parents, when confronted with their children’s bad behavior in school, back up their child rather than the teacher, ostensibly pulling the rug out from under any hope that their kids will learn to take responsibility for their own actions. They don’t seem to care that their son or daughter is a teacher’s nightmare, nor do they seem to care that their child isn’t learning anything about discipline or a positive work ethic.

As a result, “half assing” work assignments has become the norm in the corporate world. Some companies are built on the foundation that mediocrity is a way of life, and sadly,from: http://www.edfast.ca/assets/accountability.jpg some of these companies still do well. Why? Because they’re competing against other companies who half ass things. (Great…I’ve used the word “ass” twice now. Let the porn spam comments begin!) People with good work ethics come into these environments believing they can affect change for the better, but what usually happens is that they either quit in frustration or are fired for rocking the boat. (Ask the superintendent of Oklahoma City schools who was just railroaded out of his job, because over the past six months, he’s fired several people who weren’t doing a good job. This was exactly what the school board wanted him to do, but when it became apparent that no one was safe from his scrutiny, they decided to protect their own asses instead. [There’s that word again!] I guess they decided that they didn’t care as much about reforming the school system as they thought they did.)

Finally, Americans don’t seem to care about our own native tongue. As a student of grammar and linguistics, I’m fully aware that, through linguistic shifting and rubbing, languages evolve over time. If they didn’t, we’d all still be speaking Sanskrit. I’m also from: http://static.flickr.com/105/309587491_3c7a6c33db.jpgaware that every language in the world is weaker than its predecessor. Each language offshoot is more disordered than its parent and has less power of description. Modern English, at its best, is nothing but a series of labels attached to ideas and objects — the words have no intrensic meaning of their own. That said, our language has always been very ordered. You could take any sentence and diagram it, no matter how complex it was. Today’s English is becoming dirtier and dirtier. Just try to diagram the sentence, “Get a new TV for free!” It can’t be done.

When I was a graduate assistant at OU, one of my greatest disappointments was when I was told, “Don’t worry about a student’s grammar; focus only on content.” (Frankly, I couldn’t do it. My students were taught correct grammar and punctuation.) Just knowing that the administrators didn’t care about grammar hurt. It was even sadder to learn that their opinion that grammar didn’t matter was shared by almost every major university in the country. It’s no surprise that our language has degraded so quickly since university English departments adopted this “We don’t care” attitude.

I believe that our country’s downfall will be a result of our lack of passion for excellence in all we do. “I don’t care” will, eventually, drive us down the path of the Roman Empire, the Persian Empire and other great societies that fell. To survive it, we must adopt an “I DO care” attitude. And I don’t just mean a few of us — I mean all of us. Parents must be good role models for our children and demand only the best from them, teachers must be allowed to teach and grade on the things that matter and the rest of us must strive to achieve to the maximum of our abilities. If the majority begins to show that it DOES care, the minority will, for the most part, follow suit. It’s up to each of us to take a stand for excellence!

So, ask yourself…do you care?

2008 is a presidential election year, and I have been doing my part, keeping busy trying to educate myself on the issues. These range from the usual — death penalty and abortion - to the less common — waterboarding and the Kyoto protocol. 

As a writing instructor at the University of Oklahoma, I wouldn’t even let my students from: http://events.stanford.edu/events/43/4387/gibbs_death_penalty.jpgwrite papers on the first two issues. They had been done so many times that not only was I jaded, but there was no way that anyone could write anything fresh on the subject. In addition, both issues are such hot topics for everyone, and the arguments for and against are so wide, that it’s hard for many of us to make up our minds one way or the other. So, as I’ve worked through this year’s issues, those are the two that were the most difficult for me to rate. Am I for or against?  In truth, there are times when I’m for both and an equal number of times that I’m against.

Because this is an election year, and because I’d finally like to make an educated choice — basing my vote not on who I like better but on who agrees with me on the greatest number of the issues at hand — I’ve had to go with my gut and just decide.

There’s a great website for those of you who are interested in the same thing. The address is http://www.vajoe.com/candidate_calculator.html. There, you can see this year’s hot issues, read the reasoning behind being for or against each issue, and finally, vote how you feel about each one.  When you are finished, the site will match you up with the candidate who agrees with you most.

Imagine my surprise when I was matched up with Hillary Clinton!  At 65.8%, she came closer to anyone else to agreeing with me on the issues. 

Now, I have nothing against Hillary. As a matter of fact, I have great respect for her. She’s intelligent, committed and caring. She’s able to put up with a lot of crap while from: http://a.abcnews.com/images/Nightline/politics_brain_071015_ms.jpgbeing in the public eye, and she’s done so with dignity and humor.  But in all honesty, I never considered voting for her. As a middle of the roader, I expected to vote for someone who fit that category. Now, I have to rethink that strongly.

The question I’m asking myself now is why I balk at the thought of voting for her. Is it because she’s a woman?  No; I don’t base my vote on someone’s genetalia.  Is it the fact that she’s Bill Clinton’s wife? No; that might actually be a plus for me for reasons I don’t have room to go into right now. Is it because she’s a democrat?  Could be.  I don’t like ultra liberal polititians, and I’ve spent the past few years putting her on the fringes of that camp.

In truth, I don’t know why the idea bothers me so much other than to say it messes with my identity — the way I identify myself to myself…who I am.

All I know is that it bothers me enough that I’m going to have to think long and hard before I can cast my ballot.  Darn that website for opening my eyes to the fact that I agree with her almost 66% of the time!

Though it might do the same thing to you, I urge you to check out the website for yourself, if for no other reason than learning about the current issues that face our country today. If, like me, you find that your political leanings are not what you thought they were, I’m sorry for the angst that will cost you. But do it anyway.  I think you’ll be glad you did.

I received a lot of emails about my last post, most of them agreeing with me that, with the ever present idea of “anal leakage” always in the forefront of their minds, they could never imagine taking a drug that lists those side effects as common ones.

I also got several website comments on the post, including my first “come to my porn site” comments (probably as a result of using the words “anal” and “ass.” Go figure.) Thank goodness for the ability to deny comments like that.  (It still creeps me out to know that some guy is out there searching for words like that just so he can post porn come-hither comments on other people’s sites.)

On the not creepy at all end of the spectrum, one of my work buddies, a forthright and funny dude named Troy who sits about 20 feet from me (and is right now assailing my ears with the purposeful squeak-squeak-squeaking of his chair) sent me the following clip that fit right into the theme of the day.

Be forewarned that this video clip contains adult language, but frankly, it wouldn’t be the same otherwise! ;)



When drug companies first started advertising their new offerings, I thought, “Oh, no…now along with ads for feminine protection, birth control options and attorneys, we have to listen to endless ads touting the benefits of medication. Joy.”

What I didn’t realize at the time was how entertaining these little jewels could be. Don’t get me wrong, the commercials themselves are painfully boring; it’s the disclaimers I enjoy.

Have you ever listened to those things? Like car ads that speed through APR and licensing disclaimers, drug ads’ side effect disclaimers are nothing more than quick little additions to the end of the real messages. Unlike the car ad disclaimers, though, side effect and drug interaction disclaimers can be hilarious.

Case in point - Alli. This drug sounds like a God-send for overweight people. It blocks fat, allowing them to slough off up to 1/3 of the fat in the foods they eat.

Sounds great; right?”

It sure does…that is, until you listen to the disclaimer being read by a peppy little narrator, who acts like the side effects are no big deal. She sounds so happy reading her lines, “Potential treatment effects may include gas with oily spotting, loose stools and more frequent stools that may be hard to control.”


Yep; the side effects can be so bad that GlaxoSmithKline, the drug’s maker, suggests first time users take a day off, wear dark pants or bring a change of clothes to work to avoid potentially embarrassing consequences. Keep in mind that we’re not talking about a little accident here — those “dangerous consequences” can include something they refer to as “explosive diarrea.”

Imagine you’re standing around the water cooler with friends when it hits you. Something called “explosive diarrhea” is not going to allow you to save face by escaping quietly to the restroom. Oh, no! You’ll be standing there, one second discussing global warming with your coworkers, and the next blowing chunks out of your ass while everyone around you hits the floor to avoid collateral damage.

You have to admit that this is a pretty funny image, as long as it doesn’t involve you! :)

Even funnier are some of the comments on the drug’s website, www.alli.com that prove beyond any doubt that, when taking this drug, your sphincter is no longer your trusted friend.

One favorite says, “I’ve pooped my pants three times today, and sorry to get descriptive, but it even leaked onto the couch at one point!”


Another says, “Ya know how when you start moving around in the morning ya pass a little gas? Well, I did and then went into the bathroom, and to my horror, I had an orange river of grease running down my leg.”

Okay, yewwwwwwww!

With comments like this, I think we can conclude that, in some cases, Alli is not your ally!

These are not experiences one wants to hear about much less share! It sounds like a Stephen King novel happening in your drawers! Thanks but no thanks! I’ll just read about it instead.

So all comedy aside, I’ll just stick with Weight Watchers and hope for the best. I may lose my extra weight 50% more slowly, but at least I won’t have to wear diapers or change jobs every few weeks!


P.S. For those of you who are interested, I’ve lost 23 lbs in about eight weeks, all without crapping my pants once! Goooooo Weight Watchers!