WARNING! Do Not Heed This Warning!

Question authority, it may not know the answer

Warnings surround us in this modern life. We should follow many of them without question. Most of these unquestionable warnings are made through the sound judgment of trained professionals assessing indisputable facts.

For instance, the warning against consumption of alcohol during pregnancy due to the statistical likelihood of fetal alcohol syndrome is an unquestionable warning. It’s based on indisputable scientific fact. You may be the one-in-a-million whose developing child doesn’t succumb, but the warning is still unquestionable.

Another is the warning against operating heavy machinery while taking certain medications. We know as a fact how these medications affect the central nervous system.  You may think that your metabolism or your operating skills will save you from any bad outcome. But this warning is still unquestionable.

The warning to stay away from the third rail of the subway is also unquestionable. As is the warning to cook that piece of raw chicken thoroughly. These warnings may seem more anecdotal, but the scientific facts behind them still make them unquestionable.

But there are other warnings that surround us in this modern life that we would do well to question. Most of these warnings are made through the flawed judgment of mere conjecture by pseudoscientists. And many of these warnings come to us through our social media and online sources. Your FaceBook or Twitter feed needs questioning.

One that springs to mind quickly is the warning about vaccines and autism. The science behind vaccines and the efficacy of vaccination is indisputable. But in 2008 the medical journal Lancet published an article, later retracted, about a flawed study that purported to find a link between vaccination and autism, a mere conjecture that internet pseudoscientists judged as indisputable fact. Vaccination rates plummeted as the pseudoscience spread through social media and the internet. Naturally, rates of childhood diseases once relegated to the dustbin of history went up commensurately. This is a warning that should have been questioned.

Another such warning that comes to mind is the purported link between Wi-Fi and cancer. Your smartphone is giving you cancer. Oddly, there is a grain of truth in this. The World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified radiation from Wi-Fi devices as a Class 2B carcinogen, right up there with cancer factories like styrofoam, aloe vera, coffee, and your Aunt Sally’s pickled cucumbers. I think life, in general, is also in this classification. The warning that Wi-Fi causes cancer should be questioned.

So what should you do when we’re confronted with warnings from people on your FaceBook feed, or when that Twitter god you follow tweets some dire warning about some heretofore unknown danger? Well, you could do what I do. Think. Read. And most importantly of all: Do Not Heed This Warning!

Oh, but you should heed my warning, to never heed those questionable warnings. That just makes sense.

Throwback Thursday – March 29, 2018

All the content with half the work!

Greetings to all my Esteemed Reader(s). It’s rudyblues here, back with another edition of  Throwback Thursday! That time of the week when we meander most merrily down Memory Lane to meet a morsel from the mists of time.

ThrowbackThursdayAs some of you know (unwillingly, perhaps), Throwback Thursday is a recurring feature here at Rudy’s Ruminations. The intent is to reacquaint my gentle reader(s) with some of my lesser known earlier work. That and I’m looking for ways to keep slacking off.

Here’s how this Throwback Thursday thing works. I take this nifty boilerplate post I’ve created, add the date, add a short paragraph extolling the virtues of the previously unrecognized gem you have the opportunity to read, tack a previous post onto the end, et voila! Throwback Thursday! You get the Throwback Thursday post in your reader stream, scroll down to the previous post, and enjoy the (not so) great literary stylings of rudyblues. I get views, maybe clicks, and possibly visits. You get . . .  well, I’m not exactly clear on what you get, I was hoping to come up with something more for you, perhaps later. So here we go.

Here’s a second look at a rant. Just a rant. Sorry. Just can’t help it. It’s a rant. Originally posted January of 2016. I hope you enjoy it.


This is in response to the Daily Post prompt “Keeping up with the Jones’”, where they ask me to “Tell us about the one luxury item you wish you could afford, in as much detail as you can. Paint a picture for us.” Right. I’ll paint a damn picture.

Well. To borrow a phrase, “I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.” It’s not the nice things that I’m burying. Nice things are, well, nice. It’s what drives the whole “keeping up” thing that I’m here to bury. And it’s the cause of a lot of heartache and frustration.


[begin rant]

Ours has become such a consumer-oriented society that we rarely consider it any longer. It seems that so many of us must have the biggest house, and the biggest car, and the latest I-phone, and the hottest designer bags, and the Air Jordan sneakers, and the list goes on and on and on. And it’s never enough!

There are many reasons for this, including human nature, which we can recognize and control, popular culture, which we should recognize and control but don’t, and advertising, which is diabolical and ought to be outlawed entirely (apologies to any advert execs out there). Let’s consider each one of these a bit.

Human nature. Ah, that fickle fiend, human nature. Humans are one of the only primate species to display the emotion of envy (those who are anthropomorphically inclined interpret some behaviors exhibited by the great apes as envy). The word envy is derived from the Latin word invidia.

In Latin, invidia is used in many contexts, with various meanings. The most common use of invidia in an emotional context is for the sense of injustice and pain felt when encountering undeserved wealth, power, prestige or authority exercised without shame. The emphasis, in my book, is on the “without shame.” It’s how you feel when those who “got it” flaunt it openly and without guilt.

This human trait was recognized long, long ago, so long ago that it’s included in the fundamental teachings of all three of the Abrahamic religions.  I suspect it’s probably in the teachings of every “religion”, except the worship of the filthy lucre, though I haven’t studied them all. Envy is one of the “Seven Deadly Sins” in the Christian belief. It still doesn’t stop us.

The other side of envy is pride. Not pride in the sense of “I’m proud of you for winning the spelling bee” or “He took great pride in keeping his house tidy”. This pride is akin to the Latin superbia or the Greek hubris. It is first and foremost on many lists of the Seven Deadly Sins and is thought to be the most serious and the source of many of the other sins. Think conceit. Dante defined this kind pride as a love of self that is “perverted to hatred and contempt for others.”

If you flaunt it, if you’ve ever thought or uttered the words “those people”, you’ve exhibited this kind of pride. Shame on you. If it wasn’t for you, there would be no envy. There was a time in the United States, or at least in the parts I hail from when flaunting it was considered in poor taste. Think about Warren Buffet. He lives in the same modest house he started out in. That’s how it used to be. Not so much now.

And then there’s greed. How much more money do you need, Sheldon Adelson?  You couldn’t possibly spend all your money in what’s left of your life, even if you paid a boatload of accounts to find ways to spend it. And it’s never enough!

Let’s talk about popular culture. When we worship pop culture icons we force pride upon them to justify our envy! And when they refuse to display the pride we force upon them then we envy their non-pride! I would not want to be a pop culture icon today. It’s no wonder child stars often end up as they do. They haven’t been given the tools to deal with pride or envy, and then they’re thrust onto a pedestal and worshiped.

The same can probably be said for many of the children of the “helicopter” parents, who make sure that their children have no balance between self-worth and the worth of others. This is perhaps the most egregious child-rearing sin of all. I’m reminded of the punk in Texas who argued “affluenza”. What? We had to invent a disease to describe your sinful pride? And it’s never enough!

And don’t even get me started on advertising. Using psychological subterfuge to prey upon someone’s self-image to sell a product is wrong. Just wrong. I got nothing more to say on this.

And it’s never enough!

[end rant]

Just Another Day in Paradise

Back on the chain gang

It was my anniversary today. No, not my blog anniversary. My anniversary at work. I’ve been with the Soul-Sucking Mega-Corporation, Inc. for 12 years now. I didn’t realize it had been that long. It seemed much longer.

When I got to the office this morning there was an email from the receptionist. It was sent to everybody in our little sphere of the organization. No sense bothering corporate, they wouldn’t know me from Adam. It said I started working there 12 years ago today. Hmm, news to me.

This anniversary email thing is a new bit. It came in with the last reorganization. When I started you would get some actual verbal recognition from an officer of the company at a quarterly employee meeting. Now you get an email. This was the first work anniversary that I remember since the new email anniversary recognition scheme was enacted.

Apparently, the drill is for everyone to forward the anniversary email to the person who is being recognized so that their inbox overflows with emails the have the same subject line, each with a little impersonal message that needs answering. There was the barrage of forwards to me, some from people I work with and know well, some from people I don’t know and have never seen, except in those little Lync avatars. The corporate level avatars look like professional glamour shots. Mine looks like a mug shot. I spent the first hour this morning digging out.

In my 12 years with Soul-Sucking Mega-Corporation, Inc. there has been three reorganizations. You can read about one here. We’re about to embark on the 4th, or so it seems. The Head Mahout just announced he’s not going to reenlist after his contract expires. This announcement should make the business press happy, so the stock price should bounce up, and he can cash out his stock options on the upside and float happily away on his golden parachute.

I, on the other hand, will dig in for my next 12 years. That should come sometime around the 8th reorganization, give or take. That’s two quartets of reorganizations. I guess that’s actually an octet, right? Woohoo!

A Most Inefficient System

Explaining the 2016 U.S. elections to Commander Data

USS ENTERPRISE BRIDGE – STAR DATE 2938.73 – DARK

COMMANDER DATA stands next to the empty Captain’s chair observing stars whizzing by on the forward viewing screen. The bridge is alive with the usual Star Trek bustle. RUDYBLUES materializes, transporter style, on the other side of the Captain’s chair.

DATA

data2Hello, Mr. rudyblues. Thank you for responding to our request signal once again.

RUDYBLUES

Yeah, hey, no problem Commander Data. I saw the episode of you writing cat poetry again and I figured you needed to see me, so I zipped right over.

DATA

Thank you for using your WordPress time travel powers again to join me here to discuss the 2016 elections in the United States. We find your society’s system of governance most fascinating.

RUDYBLUES

You’re welcome, Commander Data. Man, I can never get over this. I’m on the bridge of the USS Enterprise! Woohoo! Imagine if they could see me now back at C2E2!

RUDYBLUES reaches for a multi-colored touchpad on the arm of the Captain’s chair.

RUDYBLUES

(Curiously)

Man, I can never get over all these gadgets. What’s this one do?

DATA

(Reaching to keep RUDYBLUES from the touchpad)

Please, Mr. rudyblues, I must ask you to remember to refrain from touching any of the gadgets, as you call them. Your curiosity is understandable, but it is also most inadvisable. That controls the forward weapons banks. I do not think you wish to launch a photon torpedo at this time.

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