My “ ” pet peeve

It irritates me when I hear a layperson say a particular phrase. But it really gets on my nerve when someone who speaks for a living says it. A professional should know better than to use this spoken phrase but I still hear it all…the…time. The phrase that peeves me to hear is “quote unquote.”

To be clear, I have no problem with people quoting others. It’s the spoken construction of the quote that bothers me. When someone speaks the words “quote unquote” followed by the quotation, it’s confusing and makes the speaker sound dimwitted.

The spoken words “quote” and “unquote” should be used the same way quotation marks are used in writing. When you write a quotation, you write the open quote character followed by the quotation and then end with the close quote character. That way, the reader knows the words between the quotation marks are a direct quote.

But you would never write the open quote character followed immediately by the close quote character then write the quotation. If you did, it would look like the way I intentionally titled this blog as an example of what not to do. The way I titled this blog is confusing and makes me appear to be dimwitted. Instead, you would write the open quote character followed immediately by the quotation then write the close quote character at the end of the quote. It would look like this: My “pet peeve.”

Speaking a quotation should work the same way. Say “quote” in place of the written open quote character, state the quotation, then say “unquote” in place of the close quote character. For example, the correct way to speak the title of this blog would be “my quote pet peeve unquote.”

Of course, you don’t always have to say “unquote.” If it’s clear from the context of the quotation where it ends or if you stop speaking at the end of the quotation, you can drop the word “unquote” from the end of the quotation. But you should always precede a spoken quotation with just the one word “quote.” That’s all it takes to make me unpeeved.

Spectrum deception

Spectrum offered me cable TV service unsolicited by mailing me the flier shown below. It seemed like a reasonable offer for the price they quoted. As you can see in The Spectrum Advantage column of the table showing the terms of their offer, they assured me there would be “No added taxes or extra fees with Spectrum TV.” Confident that Spectrum would charge me no more than $39.99 for cable TV service, I signed up.

Flyer from Spectrum offering cable TV service
Spectrum offer

Upon receiving the first bill, I discovered that they were not honoring their offer. Instead of a flat $39.99 for the cable TV portion of my bill (see image below), Spectrum was billing me $55.93 per month! That total does not include the cable boxes and the DVR service—I have no problem with Spectrum charging me additional fees for them. But I do have a problem with them charging me a total of $8.44 in three extra fees under the Spectrum TV service. They also snuck in a $7.50 “Broadcast TV Surcharge.” But calling it a “surcharge” didn’t fool me. The word “surcharge” is literally defined as an extra fee—just the thing Spectrum assured me would not be billed in their offer of “no added taxes or extra fees.”

Cropped page of Spectrum bill showing section with extra fees
Spectrum bill

So I contacted Spectrum’s customer service representative to have them honor the terms they offered me and remove the extra fees from my bill. But all I got was double-talk. Regarding the surcharge, she tried to tell me that “it says added fee and that’s not part of that category. If you remove cable service it will go away.” If you remove cable service and it will go away, that means it is an extra fee specifically on Spectrum TV—exactly what they said I would not have. She was trying to justify not honoring their offer with a fallacy called begging the question. And regarding the other fees, she simply insisted that they could not remove them. I suggested giving me a credit each month to reimburse me for the extra fees if they could not be removed but she refused that suggestion as well.

What Spectrum did is lure me into subscribing for their service with a standard price of $56 per month by telling me they would only charge me $40 for it. But after they connected the service and without any notice, they billed me $56 anyway—the classic bait & switch. It would have been acceptable if I had known going into the deal that they were going to charge me their standard rate but it is not acceptable when the only reason I subscribed is because they approached me unsolicited and offered it to me for $39.99. The moral of the story is that you cannot trust Spectrum to honor the terms they agree on with you.

Even a dog has the sense to get out of the rain

I’m watching NBC News report on Hurricane Irma making landfall near Naples with a life-threatening storm surge on TV and I’m getting irritated. In all fairness, the hypocrisy of the reporting is not limited to NBC.  Just about every major news broadcast is guilty of what I’m watching. Nonetheless, it’s folly and it’s unfair to first responders.

NBC’s Kerry Sanders is reporting from the exposed top deck of a parking structure where the eye of the hurricane is about to make landfall. The wind is blowing so hard that he can barely stay on his feet. Rain is falling almost horizontally and I can see debris flying through the camera shot.

Sanders can barely hear the anchor through his ear monitor and the roar of the storm is almost drowning out Sanders’ voice in the broadcast. But I can hear he’s reporting that the wind is blowing very hard and the rain is falling in a deluge. He’s telling us that the ocean is beginning to rapidly rise onto land and it’s going to be a record storm surge.  It’s very dangerous to be outside, so everyone should have evacuated the area, he says.

Meanwhile, who are the only people cavalier enough to be out in Naples? That’s right—the NBC news crew (and I’m sure other networks’ crews). But we don’t need to see Sanders standing outside in a Category 2 hurricane to realize that the wind is blowing very hard and the rain is falling in a deluge. It’s a hurricane and that’s what they do. NBC has been telling us for days that the storm surge could be twenty feet high when Irma makes landfall in Florida.

The local authorities have already told everyone to evacuate because of the extreme danger in riding out the storm. The authorities warned that anyone who chooses to shelter in place should not expect any response to emergency calls that come in while the winds are high and the waters rising. They have been warning residents that there will be no rescues during the brunt of the storm because doing so risks the life and safety of the first responders. Police officers, firemen, and other emergency workers will need to be healthy to move into the devastation as soon the winds die down.

However, you can bet that Sanders and other news crews would expect immediate treatment in the overburdened hospital if one of them got struck in the head by the debris we can see flying by at over 100 miles per hour. Even though these reporters willfully and knowingly put themselves into this danger just to make a report that is no more informative than it would be from a hardened shelter, they would call 911 if they suddenly found themselves in an emergency situation. And they would want a Coast Guard rescue helicopter to be there if the storm surge took them by surprise and swept them away.

If they were acting responsibly, news agencies would mount unmanned camera feeds out in the storm and have their reporters report the latest news from a safe and secure location. Nowadays, the most up-to-date information comes through telecommunications that would be most reliable indoors out of the storm, so their best reporting would come from such a location anyway. There’s even a possibility that reporters already on location during the storm could obstruct or distract the rescuers’ ingress. Hurricane reporting would actually be more valuable to viewers if the reporters moved in just after the first responders than it is when they are on site before the storm.

The True Gentleman

“The True Gentleman is the man whose conduct proceeds from good will and an acute sense of propriety, and whose self-control is equal to all emergencies; who does not make the poor man conscious of his poverty, the obscure man of his obscurity, or any man of his inferiority or deformity; who is himself humbled if necessity compels him to humble another; who does not flatter wealth, cringe before power, or boast of his own possessions or achievements; who speaks with frankness but always with sincerity and sympathy; whose deed follows his word; who thinks of the rights and feelings of others, rather than his own; and who appears well in any company, a man with whom honor is sacred and virtue safe.”

— John Walter Wayland

Terrorist is the new N-word

Until recently, the provocative media and politicians liked to label a person they disagreed with a “Nazi.” Yes, even President Obama has been accused of acting like a Nazi, as absurd as that is. It didn’t matter if the person they accused of being a Nazi opposes everything the Nazis stood for—it only mattered that the accuser disliked the actions the supposed Nazi was taking. But now there’s a new word that has replaced Nazi: terrorist.

Just like the media and politicians frequently called people who behaved in no way like a Nazi “Nazis,” they have now taken to calling people “terrorists” with no regard to what the word means. Let’s take a closer look at that.

  • terrorist: noun, a person who uses terrorism in the pursuit of political aims
  • terrorism: noun, the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion

That means a terrorist must act in a manner that strikes fear into the hearts of the people he or she opposes. And the terrorist must intend for their actions to coerce the people to act according to the terrorist’s political aims.

The latest people that have been accused of being terrorists are the Citizens for Constitutional Freedom who recently occupied a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon. However, this militia has explicitly stated that “we have no intentions of using force upon anyone…this is about taking the correct stand without harming anybody.” Without any threat of force or harm against the people, the Citizens for Constitutional Freedom lack one critical element to be terrorists: terror.

Robert Lewis Dear, who shot a dozen people in a Planned Parenthood facility, killing three, last November is a terrorist. He intended to coerce Planned Parenthood into ceasing abortions by terrorizing its staff and consumers. Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, who killed fourteen people at a San Bernardino county holiday party last month, are terrorists. They intended to coerce “infidels” into converting to Islam by terrorizing people who were presumably Christians (or, at least, not Muslims). The Citizens for Constitutional Freedom and the Bundy brothers who lead them are not terrorists—they are traitors.

Oregon militants: Patriots or Owl Qaeda?

Independence Day

“I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty; it ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”

Excerpt from a letter by John Adams to Abigail Adams written July 3, 1776

A tale of two Americas. And the mini-mart where they collided

Forgiveness means the most when it is the most difficult to give. This TED Talk reminded me of the only time I faced Leslie Karen Rush (at least consciously), the woman responsible for making me quadriplegic. It was at the hearing sentencing her for felony drunk driving and the judge permitted me to make a statement before the court. I told Leslie that, although I held her responsible for what she did, I forgave her for it. I went on to say that I wanted to address her that day because I didn’t want her to go through the remainder of her life (we were both only in our twenties at the time) thinking that I hated her.

The censors screw up

What is this country coming to? TV has become a wasteland. No, not because of what is shown on it nowadays but, rather, because of what is not shown on it.

After the halftime show at the big game Sunday, the Rolling Stones announced through their spokeswoman that the censorship of their music was “absolutely ridiculous and completely unnecessary.” Although their performance was as weak as the play that preceded it, I have to agree with the Stones. Janet Jackson‘s now infamous “wardrobe malfunction” a couple of years ago seemed to have triggered a mad dash by the FCC to feigned sexual and verbal propriety.

ABC rejected a Quiet Agent commercial that would have been the most entertaining of the game because it shows a dog squatting and an old man’s butt. Yet, it accepts a GoDaddy.com commercial featuring a buxom beauty who loses her top and a network-sponsored Dancing with the Stars commercial that’s basically a striptease act.

I was watching a piece on TV a while ago about a man who got breast implants on a bet. When they showed a picture of him, they blurred out his nipples. Yet, when they broadcast a piece about that syndrome where men develop female-like breasts, they can show it without blurring the nipples.

The latter case is more akin to showing women’s natural breasts on TV because in the former case, the “breasts” only had bulk from plastic sacks of saline solution. But it was the natural “breasts” they could show and the saline sacks on a man’s chest that had to be censored. Does any of this make sense?

The other day, a “guy” was on TV…at least it looked like a guy. He/she looked like a burly, shaved-headed, goateed, muscular biker/convict type. It was a porn star who had “gender reassignment,” female to male, except for the penis. They showed this person walking around with the shirt off, pierced nipples, and ink everywhere. Yet, even though he/she had female XX chromosomes and a vagina, it was okay to show her breasts without pixelation.

To me, it’s the whole persona that I find offensive, not the pierced nipples. But I’m not one to say that the censors should’ve blurred him/her out from head to toe. I’m capable of switching my TV to one of my score of other channels if I don’t want to see it. I don’t want the censors deciding for me what is “safe” to watch. Yet, even though the FCC is staffed by the nation’s biggest prudes, they would permit me to see dozens of heinous murders on prime time TV each week. The censors’ sense of taste is screwed up and clearly not guided by any morals, ethics, or other “family values.”

Top 5

My brother listed five of his eccentricities in his blog, then encouraged others to share theirs. I thought, just five? That’s way too easy for me! So just for fun, I’ll whittle it down to my Top 5:

  1. I have not walked in almost eighteen years.
  2. My IQ is well into the genius range.
  3. Other than Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving, Independence Day, and Memorial Day, I observe no days (even birthdays and religious holidays) as special.
  4. I’m a pantheist.
  5. I use big words in everyday speaking.

I’m just getting warmed up, but I’ll leave it at that. I invite any of my friends to post more of my eccentricities as a Comment.