Category Archives: Rant

First time Burner impressions

I wash my face a third time, but the water still doesn’t run clean. I scrub at it, I use soap, I rinse… in the mirror I see the drops in my beard are still dirty.

I just got back from my first Burning Man, and the dust isn’t the only thing that’s stuck.

I am the joke, the parody of the first time Burner who can’t stop thinking and talking about this experience. I’m probably insufferable, but my family loves me and has listened patiently while I try to wrap my brain around this last week.

I want to talk about the communities I saw created out of thin air, the experiments in art covering the playa, the giant fire-breathing structures rumbling through the desert with 20-30 people onboard dancing or the tiny, one-person mutant vehicles made out of love, steel, and gasoline.

“How was it?” has been just a hard question to answer too. It was hot, it was cool, it was beautiful, it was ugly, it was physically uncomfortable and emotionally overwhelming. There were the smells that come with 70,000+ people camping in a tightly-packed mass in a waterless desert, there were also the ad-hoc families that formed and dissolved over a period of minutes. I talked and shared moments with folks I’d be intimidated to make eye contact with in the ‘real world’ for any number of artificial hang-ups and preconceptions, I pushed my own personal boundaries and challenged my hangups whenever I could.

I’m not trying to say I had a spiritual experience because I don’t think that’s right. Every moment was intensely earthly, where the physical (and often uncomfortable) reality was always front and center. There’s something unavoidably kinetic riding a bicycle in a desert with thousands of other people and vehicles on constant collision courses.

I had an experience and it was something I treasure. It was good, it was difficult, it was eye-opening, it hurt, it helped me reset some stuff, it showed me some things I’d never imagined, and, well, I guess it’s still stuck on me.

I think I might need to go back.

Spit-take

I have a secret talent that I’ve kept hidden long enough. I’ve been developing it since I was a child. It’s taken practice, required me to overcome social pressures that tell a kid they can’t do this, pressures that tell them they shouldn’t even TRY. Not just the practice required for building this skill, there’s also been the physical conditioning. Muscles need to be regularly exercised, physical body modifications that I’ve had to try and hide from my doctor because if they discovered what I’d done, they might try to fix it. I have developed this talent and this week for the first time as an adult, showed it to someone else. I can tell that they must be struggling to reconcile who they THOUGHT I was with the new reality. Imagine that you have a family pet that one day starts to speak english, you would be forced to go through your own adjustments, right? So when I did a Very Interesting Thing, I can only imagine something similar began for my son Alex.

The other evening, I was driving the two of us home when I realized it was Mouthwash O’Clock. This isn’t a time you’ll find on your watch, it’s that sudden knowledge that your mouth tastes like an appointment you’d rather cancel but can’t. It’s that special time where you think “I wish I had some mouthwash to clear this taste” and then curse the lack of forethought that kept you from putting a bottle of mouthwash in your central console. I don’t get to curse that lack of forethought anymore because one day, I bought a bottle of mouthwash that lives in my center console. It’s not a travel-size or anything because those are a rip-off and I’d be worried about emptying it after just a couple days of answering mouth-nature’s call. At the same time, it’s not one of those big industrial jugs of the stuff you pick up at Wally World because ain’t nobody got space for that in a car. It’s a very reasonable mid-size bottle that fits in the console and this week when that alarm went off in my head, I realized mid-swig that Alex was in the car with me and that my secret was about to be exposed because now I was committed.

If you’ve ever used mouthwash in your car, you know that the biggest problem isn’t the swishing or the gargling. It’s not the intense eucalyptus oils or peppermint flavors either because these are all challenges everyone faces no matter where they use mouthwash. Oh, it’s not the alcohol either because it’s 2019 and that’s just… just not a thing anymore. Those poor, dumb modern teenagers passing a bottle of Listerine around behind school… bless their minty hearts. No, the problem is disposal. Once you’ve finished swishing it around your mouth, you’ve got to spit it out. In no particular order, here’s what doesn’t work:

  1. Spitting it out the window. Even parked at a light, maybe half of it’s going out the window and the rest is splattering on the inside of your door. You might end up with some on your shirt and it’s bewildering because you’ve been spitting all your life, how can this fail so badly? One word: Volume. The half a cc of spit you usually hurl can fly free because there’s so little of it. You build up pressure, you expel air, there’s some lip stuff… gross story short, when you try this with a mouth full of mouthwash, maybe a fraction of that payload launches and the rest, well… it goes everywhere.
  2. Spitting it out a slightly open door. This seems obvious, right? You stop at a light, open the door a few inches, lean over, and… now it’s everywhere. Most of it’s on the ground and even if it looks like you’re barfing, you’ve largely gotten it free of your mouth except some is on the door sill, some might have stuck to your chin if you’re particularly incompetent, and also… it’s not ALL gone from your mouth. You’re now doing the frantic follow-up spitting that follows while looking up to make sure the light hasn’t changed yet. It’s a fiasco.
  3. Swallowing. Yuck. There are less unpleasant ways to coat the inside of your car with vomit.

This brings us to my talent, my special skill. For you see, I have learned a special way to spit. That’s right, I’ve unlocked an ancient secret that allows me to fire an uninterrupted stream of any non-viscous fluid up to 10 feet away, and there’s none of the volume limitations that come with normal spitting. If I can fit it in my mouth, I can firehose it with precision targeting until it is all gone. All of it.

This is my secret power.

This is my secret burden.

It is a burden because when you have a power like this, you might feel compelled to use it but… it comes with great responsibility because if I go around squirting fluids at things willy-nilly, well… they have words for that, and they’re unkind.

I’m not trying to suggest that my situation is “basically the X-Men Universe’s Civil Rights struggle for Mutants against discrimination by people without abilities” but if you choose to see it that way, that’s understandable. The thing is that I learned this when I was single-digit-years old and made the classic origin story mistake of doing it where someone could see me and they made fun of me for it for some reason so I learned the importance of secrecy.

Like the mutants, I learned to keep my ability hidden to protect both myself and those around me.

Please, I’m no hero, just another human who has to guard their special ability from making them or their loved ones a target. And now it’s the evening and now I’ve got a mouth full of minty freshness and now I’m sitting next to my teenager and now…. it’s time to expose my secret.

I realize that he’s going to learn my secret and see my power for the first time, so I take a careful deep breath and begin speaking.

“So, you’re going to see something-” I begin before some mouthwash pours out the side of my mouth by accident. I dart forward, slamming my mouth shut after catching the rest of it. The car hardly swerves out of my lane at all during all of this and Alex is gripping the door handle as I veer back into where we’re supposed to be. I can only imagine that at some level, he’s somehow picked up on the seriousness of what I’m about to tell him even though I was cut off by spillage almost immediately.

Tilting my face up so it doesn’t slop out the side of my mouth again, I take another shot. As I’m doing this, I’m rolling down the driver side window. We’re slowing down for a light so this will be about as perfect as a time as any.

“You’re about to see something totally normal”, I tell him in that special enunciation that people use when they’re speaking with a mouth full of mouthwash. We glide to a stop and he looks over at me skeptically.

“Behold!” I intone, then turn my head…. and let loose with an almost 5 second-long, 10+ foot stream of used-up mouthwash. Like some sort of curving laser, it arcs upwards into the sun before dropping down to the unoccupied land next to us. With one final special flex of perfectly tuned tongue muscle, I eject the last little bit and turn back for the amazed praise I know is coming. Friends, I cannot emphasis enough just how perfectly this demonstration went. My mouth: absolutely empty and fresh. The car, completely unmarked by the unsightly little specks or droplets of mouthwash a less-refined approach would leave. My mouth: fresh and pure! I turn to my son, ready for his questions. I know he’s going to have many. I’m wondering where he’ll start… will it be wanting to know how long I’ve hidden this from everyone? Or will he ask whether or not it’s too late for HIM to learn this skill? Maybe he’ll want to know about the different adventures I’ve had with this, the problems I’ve solved. I can’t wait to tell him about the-

“Gross.”

Wait, what?

“Did you just spit that all out the window?”

Ok, maybe I’d misheard him in the beginning, this sounds more like it. Enthused, I nod my head. “Yes, ALL of it!” I wanted to fill him in on the secret, that there was no followup spitting needed and I wouldn’t have to swallow any of it and to draw his attention to how I didn’t need to open the door or-

“Kinda gross.” He looks back at the car behind us where I’d noticed the wide-eyed, open-mouthed admiration from its occupants in the mirror after firing that glorious arc of mouthwash out the side window. “I can’t believe you just did that.”

Uncertainly, I think about what he’s just said. When he can’t believe what I did, is it… is it because he didn’t realize the human body was capable of such an achievement? Is he amazed by the… no, he’s giving me mixed messages because he also said it was ‘gross’. Perhaps this is slang. Maybe… he’s saying it’s 144 x cool? I’m going to roll with that for now. I laugh it off, best to stop while I’m ahead. There’s a part of me that wonders if I’m too late for that, but I ignore it.

The important thing is, he knows so when he’s finally ready to learn about the exercises and minor dental modification required, he can come to me. It feels like it would be sad if this secret died with me, after all, but then again, maybe it’s a lot of responsibility for someone so young. It certainly was for me, anyhow.

Since this happened a few days ago, I managed to somehow dump the entire mouthwash into my center console so my car smells like a koala threw up. Every origin story has downturns, that’s part of what shapes one’s character before they face that great challenge in life where their ability comes in handy.

Regardless, I have this talent ready and some day, it’ll come in handy in a way nobody can anticipate. Maybe I’ll save the day with a mouthful of something important. I’ve used it with flammable liquids to great effect, for instance, and only burned off part of my mustache. Perhaps a jet of water will arc out to extinguish a burning fuse that can’t be reached by hands that are tied to a railroad track or something! Ok, that’s probably unlikely, more of a cowboy/wild-west situation. I’ve got it, same scenario, but Monorail track.

Anyways, this talent will find uses that are more important than just mouthwash disposal from a moving car, and that day, everyone else will also recognize how ‘gross’-cool it is.

That Younger Ben who lives inside of me who was made fun of this will be happy to see that this skill has made me a cool guy after all and not just some weird little squirt.

A thought on Kaepernick Nike Ad Parodies

[Politics warning, it’s something I have been previously punished for talking about but feel strongly.]
 
There are clever remixes of the Nike Kaepernick ads out there, but I’m personally not gonna ‘Like’ any of ’em, and here’s why.
 
Someone who has a voice wants to make a statement against an undercurrent of white supremacy that’s infected some corners of society. It’s led to black people being disproportionately shot by cops under shady circumstances without any real consequences. Just this last weekend, for example, an officer pushed into a man’s apartment (mistaking it for her own), shot him in his home, then walked around free for days before being grudgingly arrested. She was out on bail within two hours. Try to imagine any of us receiving this same institutional benefit-of-the-doubt for this situation and it’s easy to start to see what the black community has known for decades.
 
A Green Beret reaches out to this protester and suggests he modify his protest slightly to take a knee instead, which he does. “Soldiers take a knee in front of a fallen brother’s grave, you know, to show respect”, the veteran says.
 
A nation goes mad. Conservatives smear the protester, the president threatens any players who join the protest, careers are ended and white nationalists lead the charge wherever they can. Big chunks of Middle-class white America buy into it and decide that protesting these shootings is anti-police for some reason instead of anti-racism. It’s uncomfortable to be complicit, maybe, and perhaps it’s easier to re-frame the narrative to something like ‘anti-police’ so that action isn’t required?
 
“It’s just a few bad apples” really only goes so far as an excuse, btw, because then shouldn’t the folks who honestly believe that be saying “YEAH, let’s fix these outliers!” …but instead, they either attack or ridicule the protesters.
 
So Nike, an imperfect company that has done a lot of shitty things, Nike has its own voice. It’s got the loudest voice in our culture, money, and like any company, it has to decide where it wants to put that amplification. There’s a roll of the dice and…. they publish this ad of Kaepernick.
 
The US goes mad again. “We’ve already talked about this”, the narrative goes, “institutional racism is over. You’re being ridiculous.” A man is shot in his apartment by an officer but “that’s a different subject”, the narrative says, “and not what we’re talking about”.
 
Mike Rowe writes an editorial that says basically “ignore this protest, let’s talk about real sacrifice like this white guy who died on 9/11.” The conservatives eat it up, this is way better than confronting a today-problem. FaithWire falls over itself to cheer how brilliant this is, it hits all the buttons: 1. Stop talking about racism, 2. Start talking about 9/11 again, 3. White heroes. The religious right absolutely loves this.
 
Then there’s the wave of parodies. There are some great ones, no doubt. There’s pop-culture characters saying outrageous things because that’s funny stuff. There’s the aliens from Mars Attacks and the Swedish Chef borking it up and there’s no doubt this meme has taken off. Thanos snaps his finger in another one, but instead of half of them disappearing, even more show up.
 
I love parody. I love it when smart people do funny things with the news or culture and I appreciate the talent that’s gone into these because humor’s my bag, my thing.
 
But I personally won’t click that little like button because I can’t get over the image of that man opening the door to his apartment. Of him becoming the next victim in a long line of essentially state-sanctioned killings. I can’t get past the fear that millions of my fellow Americans need to live with and teach their children to be careful of and the creeping, rotten smell of racism that some guy decided to speak up about and has the dead career to show for it. I’ve gotta believe we can do better, and making fun of someone who sacrificed so much by saying the same thing… that just ain’t my game.

How You May Be Accidentally Hurting People #3,715

"You have too much free time"

When you say this, do you mean to make someone feel smaller? Or is that just an accident?

It's a powerful method for making folks who create stuff feel bad. We're socialized to see working as good so this statement weaponizes the concept of free-time. Instead of recognizing that people have different levels of interest in different things, this places a clear border between 'useful' and 'screwing around' like they're objectively measurable things.

I build stuff, I create thing, I follow my passions and when someone suggests that I have 'too much free time' because I'm doing something different than them, I've got to disagree. No, we all have the same amount of fixed time, I'm just organizing how I use mine differently.

"Well, I don't mean it that way-" stop. For the sake of communication, your intention is not going to change how plenty of folks will hear it. Consider the possibility that you're unknowingly causing hurt with an innocent sounding phrase and that whether you intended to or not doesn't change that fact. Someone who slaves over a drawing or spends hours assembling a model or puts their heart and soul into an elaborate cosplay setup and hears an implication that it was just messing around because it's not Useful Work can't read your mind.

My request to you: stop accidentally shaming people (because 'too much free time' implies laziness) for making things. If you want to train people not to show you their creations and to make them feel bad about themselves, I guess this is a good way to do it. If, however, you'd rather _not_ be the person who punishes those around them for choosing to open themselves to a little vulnerability by showing you something into which they invested their hearts and souls, consider deleting this phrase from your vocabulary.

If you have the time, that is.

Grave commentary

Imagine that your highest rated social media comment at the time of your death… ends up engraved onto your tombstone. You commit to this as part of a self-improvement or self-help strategy because when the day comes, that’s your legacy.

Not everyone can make the same physical impact on the world. Wealth, circumstances, ability… these vary hugely. There can only be so many opera halls and libraries, only so many thriving industries, but the one thing that unites us all is death. We all die in the end (until we can be uploaded into the fabric of the universe, manipulating the quantum foam itself as a computing substrate maybe, but that’s a different post) so how can we leave a mark that’s US and not just who we THINK we are?

With grave markers, folks sometimes put a favorite quote or write something personal, but like a survey of self-selected survey takers, how representative can it actually be? Is it who we really are, or is it just our idealized presentation of how we want people to see us? That question is why I propose Grave Discussions.

Instead of picking a phrase out of a book or just filling in a form at a mortuary, let your ideas engage in mortal combat at the coliseum of ideas: The Web. On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog, but everybody sees your inner self. Sometimes it’s thoughtful, sometimes John Gabriel’s Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory takes over. Whatever way you decide to go, your contribution with the highest ranking at the time of your death becomes your WINNING IDEA, the one that’s presented to the world as your opus.

Will you change your life to put your best foot forward? Will you sharpen your skills and become a more effective you to bring about the legacy YOU want? Or will you let the tides carry you along to whatever’s popular at the time but isn’t really who you think you actually ARE?

Now take away the physical gravestone and you have… today. Your internet presence will probably be seen by more folks than almost any gravestone. Also, you don’t have to be dead for people to make judgments about who you are because shoot, they’re reading those comments now. Is a grave marker really where we tell everyone who we are/were? Maybe it was once, but now… now every comment and post we make is a little marker we leave that may outlive the planet. If we wanted to affect how the future saw our impact on humanity, is it too late? Or can we still take control and put our best selves forward?

Commit. Commit now, then start posting your best. Your legacy depends on it.

I need more Pandora in my Facebook this season

Pandora has this feature I wish was on Facebook. Sometimes there’s a song you really like that you…. just don’t want to hear for a while. You don’t want to throw it away and skipping past it doesn’t really help if it shows up an hour later, you’ve just fallen a little out-of-love with it temporarily. When this happens, Pandora has the ‘I’m tired of this track’ option.

It temporarily takes it out of rotation. You’re saying “I love you, song, but we need to take a break so I don’t end up hating you”. It’s great, it’s still in your life and influencing other song choices in your listing, you and the song are still friends, it’s just _elsewhere_ for a little bit.

Relationships with songs seem complicated, right? We associate them with events in our lives, the way they make us feel, a technical appreciation for their structure, all sorts of things. But compared to relationships with people they’re simple. Songs don’t change, but people change every second. Songs don’t turn nasty or associate themselves with vileness suddenly (ok, except for maybe some Wagner, tough break there) while still being the song you liked previously. Songs stay themselves and we’re the only dynamic one in the relationship.

So… how is it that a song for Pandora can offer such a useful feature for managing those rough patches while Facebook (“The Social Network”) doesn’t?

There’s something about this election (more so than others I remember) that seems to be bringing out the worst in folks. I’m sure others think the same about me, don’t get me wrong, but that goes back to the whole ‘people and relationships are complicated’ thing. These last few weeks, I’ve seen folks whom I like adopt shocking opinions and downplay some outrageous things. People whom I like have said things that knock me on my butt but… I still like them as People, I just don’t know how to deal with them as Participants In Election 2016.

Facebook has a few hamfisted tools for this. You can unfriend people, you can block them, and you can unfollow them. Each of these are pretty strong medicine and permanent without conscious effort. If you block someone, they’re goooooone until you remember to unblock them through some interface you’d probably have to google the instructions for. With unfollow, they disappear from your news feed and likewise will be elsewhere until you remember to track them down in settings and re-enable them. Unfriending people is pretty rough because if they notice, it sounds like you’re sending a message ‘we are not friends any more’. I’ve been unfriended before by folks who didn’t see it as a big deal and I still smart from it because it feels like rejection. For some of us, forming relationships is hard work and doesn’t ‘just happen’, having the other person make a conscious choice to no longer be ‘friends’ feels like a punch.

So what’s the solution? What can Facebook do to help people like me who feel like a kindergartner who accidentally wandered into the front of some terrible machine-gun battle?

“I’m tired of this track”.

It’d probably need a different name. Maybe…. “Temporarily mute friend”, or… “?” (Kikazaru, the monkey with the hands over its ears) or something clever. Basically, I’d like a feature in Facebook where, when I read that some friend of mine has one of those Election-Specific opinions about something on which I don’t want to battle, I can just not see their posts for a few weeks. It’d be great if it automatically deactivated after then so we can just continue as before. No out-of-the-blue friend requests, no chance to screw up and forget who you unfollowed, just a temporary break.

I don’t want to have to maintain some rolodex/action list of people to re-follow or re-friend after the election’s over because I’ll screw it up and the “wait, you unfriended me?!” conflicts sound pretty awful too.

I don’t think I have too many illusions here. Some of the things that upset me now might end up being deal-breakers. I think a few of my friendships are in some real peril now because of some pretty upsetting endorsements and excusals I’ve read recently. No doubt there are people out there who feel the same about me, too, but I’ve got to hold onto the hope that some of them are going to get better when this election is over.

Facebook and Pandora have plenty of functional overlap. Our actions and relationships affect suggestions and behaviors already, maybe it’s time to get inspiraton from another function for the sake of maintaining friendships.

Maybe this stuff is easy for the rest of all y’all, but this kindergartner’s ready to come in from the war for a little bit.

Track injustice

In elementary school, I was part of track. I wasn’t very fast or good, but I tried my darndest because it was something to do and it was a bunch of the physical activity I got.

At a trackmeet, I was in a 50 yard dash and I was in the far-right lane. The starter pistol fired, and we were off! The other runners pulled ahead because they were faster but I was still running as fast as I could. The crowd was packed up against the side of the track in a wall.

Then, disaster that I still think of 30 years later. As the main wave of runners passed, someone stepped out into the track to get a better view of them.

Stepped out in front of me.

I skidded to a stop so I wouldn’t run into them, defeated, then slouched off in embarrassment. The person who stepped in front of me didn’t even notice and I felt so bad about not being fast that I thought I was the offender.

Today, I wish I’d braced myself and just smashed right into that goddamn oblivious crowd-member. Just… BOOM. I still wouldn’t have won, but I wouldn’t be sitting here more than a quarter century later thinking about this little injustice against a kid who wasn’t very physical but was trying his goddamndest to get into better shape and turn things around.

I quit track that day.

Let your fingers do the plotting

A few weeks ago, a “Yellow Pages” suddenly appeared in front of my house. I know within 10 minutes of when it showed up because it wasn’t there when I went into the house, but when I came out… Boom, ancient relic.

Kanye West tweeted: “I hate when I’m on a flight and I wake up with a water bottle next to me like oh great now I gotta be responsible for this water bottle”. Deep down inside, I guess I’m like Kanye West, except with a phone book instead of a water bottle. Also, maybe not as talented or publicly ‘wacky’. Anyways, I didn’t sign up for this. I didn’t ask the world to be responsible for an outdated reference book that I’ll never use because it’s the year 2016 and I have the Internet. Deciding fast, I grab it and jump into my car. I know these books are distributed by someone driving through the neighborhood and throwing them. Like the Cylons, I have a plan.

I will give it back.

I will choose NOT to be saddled with this… burden. Driving, it’s easy to tell which houses have been hit by the phantom thrower. I glide quietly, my hybrid in “panther mode”, scanning back-and-forth. I’m trying to find a pattern. Am I heading towards them or just retracing the path that led them to my house? An old phonebook looks like a fresh one, there’s no way to tell.

I give up and decide to brute force the neighborhood.

I drive up and down every road, my head on a swivel. Every time I go through intersection, I do that thing we all do at supermarket when we’re looking for the person we came to the store with. A few times, I see something promising and look. Each time, it’s a false alarm and if there’s anyone in the car I’m checking out, they stare at me as I creep slowly past. What’s this LOOK like to them? Well, that’s a question that doesn’t occur to me until afterwards so I continue my mission, leaving a trail of freaked out helicopter parents and neighborhood watch enthusiasts in my wake.

About 15 minutes in, I finally realize this isn’t going to work. Either these people are way faster than I imagined, or we were the last house in the neighborhood. Maybe they’re halfway to Reno to blow their phonebook blood money on doing a gamblings or whatever it is physical spammers do with profits, I don’t know.

I give up. I tuck the phonebook in front of my seat and head back to the office.

A day or two later, my wife notices it on the floor of my car and asks what it’s doing there. I tell her, and she’s immediately practical. “Throw it away or put it in the recycling”, she tells me. “If your plan was to give it back and they’re gone, just get rid of it”.

This doesn’t sit well with me because I feel like then that means the world gets another victory over human decency. The kind of people who throw phonebooks at houses get a pass, and the rest of us need to deal with their anti-social behavior. It doesn’t seem quite right, like I’d would be giving up.

“Well, I was thinking”- I lie, having been doing no such thing, everything I’m about to tell her is occurring to me as I speak so nobody is more surprised than me when that sentence continues: “that maybe I’ll just wait until I see someone who’s parked terribly and maybe put the phonebook under their windshield wiper as some kind of silly, petty protest.”

Hearing it out loud, that actually doesn’t sound half bad. Out of the thousands of ways people have objected to antisocial parking over the centuries, this is a pretty inoffensive one. Yeah, I think maybe I could actually do this. It’ll be great!

Then I remember I’ve just been talking to someone, the level-headed practical bedrock in my life who keeps me together. I can sit here patting myself on the back all I want, but the woman whose opinion is important to me and whose judgment I trust would probably have some input on this grand scheme. I brace myself, this idea may not survive the cold light of logic and sense. These thoughts happen in a flash, she responds instantly.

“Then go get some more of those phonebooks from our neighbors”, she suggests reasonably, “there’s lots of bad parkers. If we’re going to do this, let’s do it right”.

Damnit, I love this woman so much.

Battles in orthography: Damnit vs. Dammit

I think English is wrong, but it’s not for the usual reasons. No, today it’s wrong for a different reason, let me tell you all about it.

For a few years, my spellcheckers have flagged ‘damnit’ as incorrect. Chrome just did it now as I typed this, in fact, because apparently the blessed spelling is ‘dammit’.

“Dammit”? What kind of broken down, toothless word is this? When I say this, I’m commanding “Damn it”. I am summoning the powers of whatever gods are listening to bring their damnation onto the thing or situation I’m thinking of, so DAMNIT makes sense. ‘Dammit’ sounds like I’m gumming out a word only because I’m trying to work up enough saliva to reach a spittoon withnasty chewing tobacco juice. It’s not a focused word and it’s missing all the good emphasis it needs.

To be clear, I am not saying that I wish to “dam” it. This is not a water-control issue. If I’m cursing this way at something, I am not requesting that a river be controlled to ensure proper irrigation during the off-season or something like that.

Coming from a different angle, whenever I express any opinion about how things in language change there’s always THAT PERSON who comes back with the response that ‘language is constantly evolving’. They argue that by its nature, words change over time and it’s unreasonable to fight this. This is usually in response to an objection over ‘figuratively’ being now considered a legitimate synonym for ‘literally’. I don’t like the change in ‘literally’, but if we’re going to just let that in then I want to make this open door policy work FOR me.

How? I want DAMNIT to be a completely acceptable spelling of ‘dammit’. For years, using the “wrong” letter there been one of my dumb little protests against life though I doubt anyone here has ever noticed it. Any time I’ve accidentally used ‘dammit’ or let autocorrect have its way I’ve felt dirty, but NO MORE. There’s a line going into the sand here.

Join me, friends whom I keep close and the enemies I keep closer (YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE), join me in driving the orthography boat up the right figurative river. Switch one of those ‘m’s out with an honest ‘n’. Don’t be spooked by Daniel Webster’s scowling ghost, this is something we can fix if we work together.

DAMNIT.