Mysteries still linger as year ends


As we approach the end of another year, I suppose I should be just that much smarter. But, I find there are still quite a few things I don’t understand. Here are just a few examples.

I still don’t get jazz. I mean, just play it the same way every time. I know it’s an art form, and I can’t really read music anyway, but I find all that improvising annoying.

I can’t figure out how leaders of other countries can kill their own citizens. In Syria, for example, the death toll in the uprising there has climbed to 42,000. Yes, we have plenty of hostility in our nation’s capitol, but our government would never dream of trying to wipe out its citizen critics.

I still don’t understand the appeal of smoking. Even when the tax on a pack approaches $4 in some states, people still insist on lighting up.

I can’t fathom how some people believe we can solve our immigration issues by trying to “send back” the 11 million human beings who have crossed our borders illegally. Perhaps we should, as a few enlightened souls on the conservative side of things have suggested recently, offer a path to citizenship for those who have contributed positively to society here in the States. Let’s look at this thing from a practical standpoint.

I fail to see how people can still deny that the climate is changing. We can argue all we want about whether the weather is affected by the activities of mankind and if we have the ability to stop it, but the undeniable fact is the world is warming, and the icecaps are shrinking. Unless, of course, you believe satellite images taken from atop the poles are fake.

I have never understood why the products I use most often tend to be removed from store shelves. My favorite type of dental floss is no longer stocked. The aftershave I have used for years is no longer being made. It will take months to find a scent that will satisfy my wife’s sensitive sniffer.

I am puzzled by parents who fail to place their young children in seat belts and by teens who refuse to buckle up. The evidence is beyond dispute: a large percentage of people killed in vehicle wrecks are thrown from the car or truck and then crushed by the automobile. Why take that chance?

I don’t get why March of Dimes keeps calling, often two or three times a day? Is it not obvious we have caller ID and will not answer when we see “MOD”? It’s not that we have anything against the organization or saving babies. But, we don’t want to do a neighborhood canvass for the group, even if we have participated in the past. Now, the game’s afoot. Who will blink first?

I can’t see the logic behind our nation’s unflagging support of Israel. I get the strategic importance of the country in the Middle East. But, we continue to supply military aid to the tune of more than $3 billion per year at time when our deficit continues to rise. That makes no sense to me, especially when that aid helps perpetrate a conflict that continues to kill civilians on both sides. I am obviously not an expert on foreign policy, nor do I pretend to be one. If we as Americans are so adamant about supporting our friends in the Jewish state, why do I get the sense most of our residents would not back a Jewish U.S. presidential candidate?

Neither do I understand all the money we spend on the military. Our own Dwight D. Eisen­hower predicted our current economic troubles when he warned against buying into the military industrial complex’s goals back in the 1950s. We didn’t listen.

I am baffled that so many people are befuddled by the use of apostrophes. While I have admitted I have no real business talking about international matters, I fancy myself an expert in grammar and punctuation. It’s really quite simple: if there is possession (not including pronouns) or a contraction, the apostrophe is in play. Any other use is extremely rare.

I see people use several plurals in a sentence with seemingly random application of apostrophes, often when the plural in question ends in a vowel, such as “pizzas” or “commas.” People also mistakenly apply apostrophes to family last names. My house is the home of the Woelks, not the Woelk’s.

Then, there is the problem of lack of apostrophes. I recently saw a pair of bathroom doors labeled “mens” and “womens.” There is no English universe in which that makes any sense.

Finally, I am perplexed by the mistaken notion that National Public Radio is somehow slanted toward favoring liberal causes. NPR has become my principal source of national news, and during the recent presidential race, I paid particular attention to the coverage given both major candidates.

I am convinced that, had I put pen to paper and counted each time a news item focused on one side or the other, the resulting tally would have shown about as close a 50/50 split as possible in terms of coverage, both positive and negative, for each political party. I don’t know of many informational sources that these days could make the same claim.


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