Thursday, December 18, 2008

Warning: Religious Ranting

Good o'l PZ's blog, Pharyngula, led me to this wonderful little tidbit: A church in Jacksonville is threatening to air a member's private sex life (a divorced person having sex with a new boyfriend, btw) in the middle of church services in punishment for her 'sins'.

What is telling isn't that a religious organization is blackmailing a member to control their actions, nor that it sees nothing wrong with this kind of bullying, nor that the victim sees the particular church, not the insipid ideas that drive it, as the source of the problem and is ready to move on to a new church in response.

What is telling is responses to the story, in which the misanthropes that support branding a woman who is not married as an adulterer (gotta love that Bible-logic) claim that this news story is a plot to paint all Christians as lunatics and whack-jobs.

Attn Churchy-Type Folks: You believe in an all-powerful voyeur who manipulates your life and simultaneously hides from all scrutiny. If you didn't have thousands of people who share this 'belief' you would be in a sanitarium. There aren't 'crazy' and 'normal' religious beliefs. There's only moderately harmless and less-than-moderately harmless variations on the crazy.


On a second note, George Bush recently hacked off his religious base by stating that he wasn't a biblical literalist, even though that's what got them on his side. Now they feel all betrayed and tricked.

Man, what sort of religious figure would lie about religious belief to cultivate power, money and influence from the gullible?

Before we delve too deeply into that, maybe we should work on a more simple problem. Perhaps this: What sort of fish would stoop to obtaining its oxygen from water?


Friday, December 12, 2008

Attention: Your insipid giggling demeans us both

I'm accustomed to people not knowing obvious things when they call in for tech support. Typically, when someone calls in, they're aware of their own level of titanic ignorance and there are three common reactions. The first, and most common, is hostility. Confronted with his or her own lack of knowledge, the caller reacts with unveiled hostility and defensiveness. The second, and least common, is to simply accept the lack of knowledge and attempt to move forward. The third is to be apologetic and submissive.

You would think the third option would be the most pleasant for the person providing assistance. It is not. The apologetic ones tend to overlap the "I'm computer illiterate" group. These are the people who have no trouble admitting that they're cretins because they don't want to change. They're proud of it, because it means someone else can do the work. They keep tech support in business, but they also keep the techie's cardiologists and psychoanalysts in business.

Yesterday, I met a new subset of this group. I had several calls that all went the same. The caller, by the sound of her voice, was in all cases a woman in her late twenties to early thirties. In all cases she was utterly ignorant of basic computer processes (the star of this had her computer for eight months and just found out how to turn it off from the start menu last week. Yes, it was vista, but all it takes is one web search to find it out. For emphasis: Eight months.)

And in all cases, they'd make the statement of ignorance, and then they'd giggle. "Oh, I'm pretty much computer illiterate. Tee-hee-hee."

I didn't notice it much the first time but it kept on happening. It dawned on me that this person wasn't giggling nervously. They were attempting to be cute to compensate for being uninformed. I don't know that she was doing it on purpose and I suspect it was simply habit. The sheer gall of the tactic, however, was demeaning in a way the caller did not realize (or at least, I hope she didn't realize). The assumption was that I, as a man, would be lured into a more helpful position if she came across as a helpless twittering little girl. A secondary assumption was that acting like/being a bimbo would cause her mistakes to be more easily forgiven.

Sorry, you're just a user, I assume you know nothing and are are undeserving of both a computer and a share of the planet's precious supply of oxygen. You don't need to be forgiven, because I expect so very little of you.

This person, were I to guess, went through life using a tittering, vapid persona to avoid responsibility and to dodge expectations of competence. People were fooled by this. They were more than willing to let her play the airhead. After a time, this became a self-fulfilling prophecy. Denied avenues of self improvement by her giggling faux anti-intellectualism, reasonable human expectation far outpaced her dazzlingly stagnant mental abilities. In short, pretending to be a bimbo has made this woman into a bimbo.

So I say to my small audience, please, when something makes you feel unprepared or ignorant, don't try to brush it off with a giggle. It demeans the whole species. Instead, accept the situation and take the time to learn and overcome. You'll find it is far more rewarding.


Monday, December 1, 2008

A New Winner

I normally reserve the 'new winner' posts for truly idiotic calls, brand new levels of stupidity that defy belief. Well, today, the level of moronic failure is defined not by the crime, but by the context.

Most people who have a business should have a backup for any system they can't do without. Typically, they don't. Their fax machine is the core of their communication with the outside world but they only have one and they can't comprehend that a warranty replacement process might take time. despite the warnings in the freakin' warranty documents.

So "but our fax is our lifeline! We don't have another!" isn't epic stupidity.

Unless you're Barney Frank's Campaign Headquarters.