Greetings, readers, and welcome to TED's first annual Rant Day. Normally, I do my best to eschew negativity and attacks, focusing instead on tales of personal sluttishness and/or meandering meditations full of sound but no fury, and signifying nothing. But I've decided to give myself one day a year to write about the things that really bug me. And the Friday after the extended U.S. individual income tax filing deadline seems as good as any. I'd try to tie it into a lunar and/or solar calendar somehow, but I can't be bothered trying to figure out whether today is the first Friday after the first full moon after the autumnal equinox. Anyway, I think Rant Day is a fine idea, and I encourage you to celebrate your own, though perhaps on a different day. Of course, for some of you (I don't mean you, of course: I mean the other guy) every day is Rant Day, and in that case, I'd encourage you to lessen the frequency a bit. Maybe try only doing it whenever there's a fifth Friday in February.
One of the new Rant Day traditions is that I attempt to post especially pleasing pictures. So enjoy those if nothing else. Herewith a list of some of the things I despise.
Preemptive apologies. If you know something is likely to be objectionable, either don't do it or own it. Saying "I know this is bad, but I'm going to do it anyway" makes you a pussy. If, for example, you know a video's been all over the Internet, but you still want to post it, then post it. Or don't, but don't post it and say, "I know this has been all over the Internet, but I'm going to post it anyway." Knowing that you're doing a bad thing and doing it anyway is worse, not better, than simply doing the bad act. Isn't that why manslaughter gets you an extended stay in the big house and premeditated murder gets you the chair? I'm not, by the way, saying that if you post a popular video on your blog and apologize for it at the same time, you should get electrocuted. I much prefer lethal injection.
I know that the preemptive apologies are meant to avoid (or even preempt) negative comments, but just take them like a man. In fact, feel free to savage me for hypocrisy because I'm sure you can find a preemptive apology somewhere on my blog. A quick search indicates that I have used the term "apologize in advance" in three posts. One of the usages was ironic and another was not really an apology, but I promise to punish myself for the third. No braised cabbage for me this week. I'm sure you can all feel my pain.
Misspellings that are meant to be cute. They aren't cute: they're stupid. There may have been a time when using "teh" instead of "the" was funny, but that time was six years ago and it lasted somewhere between eight and ten nanoseconds. Any misspelling is objectionable, but any intentional misspelling is much worse. Refer to the above discussion about premeditation and getting the chair. Also: there is a special place in hell for people who attempt cutesy misspellings of sexual acts. I think instead of being held in Satan's claws or mouth, you wallow in Satan's smegma. Of course, if that's one of your fantasies, then have to.
Andrew Sullivan. The man is a fatuous, self-important blowhard. I have never been able to read very much of his blog, but during this year's primary season he went from being an insufferable bore to being a full-on douchenozzle. You can't on the one hand hold yourself out as someone who believes in reasoned discourse while on the other hand all of your opinions are based on your emotions. Especially when you have the emotional volatility of a crack whore going through menopause. I actually agree with many of Mr. Sullivan's opinions, though our areas of agreement are largely those that are not especially controversial (torture is bad, yep). And I hear that he's savaging Senator McCain the way he used to savage Senator Clinton, but the sense of personal affront he brings to political disagreements means that it's easy to dismiss what he says as the irrational ravings of, well, a crack whore going through menopause. What a tool.
Metablogging. If your blog started out as a place where you posted your own original content and transformed into a place where you started posting things from around the Internet, I have probably already lost interest in it. Linking to some original content on another site is cool, especially if you add some original commentary. Linking to a site that you found linked to on another site is pointless unless you're adding a significant amount of your own content to the discussion. It's especially pointless to post something that you found on a site with a much wider readership than your own. Anything that's really great on the Internet will eventually find its way to metafilter anyway. If you think you've found something that no one else has, then just post it over there.
Bottoms who don't kiss. I don't really need to say more about that one, do I? If you weren't expecting that one, read through the archives a bit.
Political discourse. I am referring both to what our politicians say to us and the way we talk to each other about politics. I routinely refuse to listen to anything said by or about politics on television (I made the mistake of going to the bathroom the other night, and when I came back, b&c had snuck into the living room and changed the channel from Top Design to the PBS after commentary of the last Presidential candidates' debate. The horror.) because it's almost entirely dishonest. Listening to a politician being interviewed is like buying a car: you know the guy's lying to you, but you have to act like you don't know. You go in with the expectation of dishonesty and you thereby give tacit approval to liars. I think that people have a responsibility to inform themselves on the issues and to vote, but trying to get information from the candidates or their surrogates is an exercise in frustration. Journalists are not much better. Television and print journalists seem to think that they've done their job if they let both sides of an argument or election present their arguments. They don't appear to feel any need to point out obvious or not so obvious deceptions, and they present both sides of an argument as if they had equal merit, even when they clearly don't (like, say, in a discussion of global warming). This is pretty much the journalistic equivalent of kill them all and let God decide.
As for the rest of us, I have no desire to squelch anyone's right to talk about politics, but so many people are so horribly misinformed and illogical when they do so that they really would be better off keeping their mouths shut. You have a right to your opinion, sure, but if your opinion is based on false information and faulty logic and mine is based on clear evidence and sound reasoning, then guess what? Mine is better. I occasionally discuss politics with b&c, mostly because I can't avoid it, but otherwise I avoid the topic socially because otherwise I'll end up rolling my eyes, like last night when one of the guys in the bass section would not stop talking about how Kerry actually won the election in 2004, but the Republicans stole it from him in Ohio. Puh-lease Maria. I wanted to give the guy a roll of aluminum foil so he could make himself a hat. I do read a lot of political web sites, and I may even read some of them obsessively, but I avoid the comments section. Josh Marshall over at Talking Points Memo is brilliant, but the people who comment on his blog need to get lives. What especially bugs me is the pretense that these people are somehow more serious than other people because they spend all their time writing comments on political blogs. You know what? If you get out there and knock on doors or work a phone bank or staff the polls on election day, then you have earned my great respect. But if you think that you're strengthening the fabric of democracy by commenting on a political blog, then I laugh at you. Ha! If you find arguing with folk on the Internet about politics enjoyable, then go for it, but you're not any more serious than someone who obsessively follows Madonna. (By the way, did something big happen with Madonna this week? I saw something on a blog that made it sound like there was a major event, but I couldn't be bothered to follow up. Where does one go to obsessively follow Madonna, anyway?)
The guy driving the acid green Testarossa in the lane next to mine on the way into work this morning. On one level, I'm jealous, because the guy's obviously loaded. On another level: dude, you're driving a Testarossa on Georgia Avenue during morning commute. And it's acid green. Clearly the guy is compensating. He's probably hung like the mouse that all the other mice laughed at in the showers after gym class. But surely there's some sort of enhancement surgery that he could have purchased for a tenth of the price of a Testarossa. I can't imagine having so much money that I'd want that car. Even if it had been in a less objectionable color, say black or silver, I don't think it would have been pretty. I can imagine having so much money that I'd want a vintage Jaguar, but only if my net worth were approaching eight figures.
Homophones. I hesitate to admit this, but the other day, I got an email from a reader of my cooking blog, and I had to look back over an old entry, and I had written "no" instead of "know." You cannot begin to imagine my embarrassment. I am constantly laughing -- to myself, at least -- at people who write "loose" when they mean "lose," but I routinely make typos that a fifth grader would catch. I blame the English language.
The greengrocers' plural. I've discussed this sufficiently in the past, so let me just say this: do not. Also, please learn the difference between "it's" and "its" and use whichever is appropriate for the immediate context. Failure to do so will result in punishment.
Operatic blog death scenes. If you want to stop blogging, then stop blogging. I mean, not everything has to last forever. Tolstoy eventually stopped writing War and Peace, right? Your blog's finished, well, maybe we'll miss it, maybe we won't, and good luck to you in your future endeavors. Just don't make such a fucking big deal about it. And -- I cannot emphasize this enough -- if you indulge in the high drama of any sort of death metaphor with the end of your blog, then stay the fuck dead. In fact, if you say, in any words, that your blog is over, then have the grace not to post again. If readers miss you and if you miss blogging, then start a new blog. If you've been posting regularly and you know you won't be posting for a while, then it's perfectly fine to announce a hiatus, but try to do so without drama. It's also perfectly fine to stop blogging, temporarily or permanently, with no announcement at all.
Log Cabin Republicans. I understand that it must suck to have been born into the kind of privilege that makes you think that the wealth you inherited is something you actually earned and that makes tax cuts more important than people, but stfu, ok? The Republicans don't want you, and most of the gay community wants you even less. You're never going to have a positive effect on the Republican party by identifying as a gay Republican, so either quit the party or go back in the closet and become a garden variety loathsome Republican (redundancy alert!). Finding a small group of like-minded individuals and having meetings with them does not make you or your point of view any more valid. Ten morons are no less moronic than one; they're just louder.
There. We're all done. Do you feel better? I feel better. And now I have a year before I get to bitch and moan again. But that's good, right? I mean, really, what are the odds of anything ticking me off between now and then?