Border Agent Smarts

“So, you allege that the vaccination certificate you uploaded to our app is yours?” a Canadian border agent asked my sister.

“It is mine,” she said. “See, it has my name and all the information.”

“Yeah? Then how do you explain the fact that the person holding the certificate in this picture has green fingernails while yours are blue?” asked the agent triumphantly. “We are trained to notice such things, you know.”

The poor schmuck must think that women are born with colorful fingernails that stay that way forever.

Verbal Tics

At this point, anybody who says “to save lives,” “stay safe,” or “the new normal” is a certifiable idiot. Not for any ideological reason but because you’ve got to be able to notice when a widespread verbal tic has turned into a cliche that makes everybody cringe.

Also, nobody says “Karen” anymore. Or “OK, Boomer.” Everybody has moved on. And please stop saying “at least there are no mean tweets.” It was very funny at first but 7 months in, honestly, that joke has become so old it’s ready to die from COVID.

I’m sure I’m forgetting some recently popular verbal tics that now date one as a hopeless old fart. Please list them if anything comes to mind.

What You Can’t Buy

I’m writing this post in response to a comment by reader Cheryl. I started it as a comment but I want to put it up as a separate post.

When my friend died at the age of 53 from lung cancer, every single person I mentioned it to asked if she smoked. She didn’t but that didn’t make her any less dead. And if she had, so what? Does it make the death any less tragic? I understand that this is a self-soothing mentality of “if I do everything right, nothing bad will happen to me” but this mentality is dangerous. Because bad things will happen to everybody. That’s what being human is like. And then instead of trying to face the damage, people blame themselves and sit there wondering what they did wrong to deserve the calamity.

My friend lived for 4 years after her terminal diagnosis. She spent them asking what she had done to deserve the illness, parsing her every move to see how she had caused the illness. It was heartbreaking. I think she died earlier because of this by taking more morphine than she needed because she couldn’t take the shame and the guilt any more. It was terrible to watch. She had absolutely no symptoms or pain until the last couple of months (caused by a needless operation) but the pain in her soul destroyed her.

We need to abandon this mentality of making every misfortune into a moral issue. You can’t buy your way out of suffering by good behavior. You can’t buy it at all.

Magic Words

A study is being widely shared online that putting different sets of words on a math syllabus (more touchy-feely instead of stricter stuff) improves the performance of female students from average to almost genius-level. Not only is the idea of students reading the syllabus quite ludicrous, this belief in “magic words” is wrongheaded and dangerous. You can’t change reality by doing magic incantations.