SoCS Ain’t Misbehaving

socs badge 2016-17Marian, over at Marian Allen dot com, recently wrote a post about when characters won’t behave. We were filled with empathy for her characters. Who are we? Well, we’re those ham-handed, as Dan is wont to say, voices which are confined all week because things have to written in an oh-so-special way. Things have to be easy to read, easy to understand. In fact, we’ve overheard that things should be written at an 8th grade or lower level. Pfft, you made it way past 8th grade, right? Thought so. Is this too hard for you to read? Thought so.

As a consequence of all these constraints: readability, politically correctness, light but not funny, facts not opinion – and no, no alternate facts, we don’t get to talk much. We like to ramble. We like to pull a thread and see where the thread goes. Not like the thread that is hanging off that button on your sweater, we all know where those go. Puk, puk, puk, puk, puk and button gone.

Then you pick it up and put it in that drawer where, 20 years later it’s settled next to the keys for that 1977 Dodge pickup. Taken out by the person looking for the tube of Super Glue that is a) in a different drawer, and b) dried out. The button will be examined and put back, ‘cuz you never know who put it there and what it’s from.

We’re more likely to follow the thread on the back of a tapestry. The kind where if you pull the red bit above the character on the right, the barn in the upper left starts to unwind.

Esther Holsen tapestry- front and back view
Esther Holsen tapestry- front and back view

Those threads are more interesting than the stuff you read in 8th grade. By the way, some of the stuff you read in 8th grade was written so a 4th grader could understand it. This is what’s wrong with the world, people want things dumbed down for them. This is why “newstainment”, yeah, that’s a thing, you can look it up, is so popular. We’d give you an example, but no doubt half of you would be offended. Dan made us promise not to offend anyone. Where’s the fun in that?

Anyway, if you look up ‘newstainment’ you’ll see articles that accuse every so-called news channel of focusing more on entertainment and pleasing their primary audience than facts and stuff. So – tip from the voices – look for an article that lampoons a network you don’t like and become more solidly convinced that you’ve made the right viewing choice.

Sorry if that offended anyone.

But, that is what people tend to do. They look for stuff that supports their existing viewpoint. That’s called, or at least it runs the risk of committing or perhaps it merely supports epistemic-closure. There’s a word you didn’t hear in 8th grade. Wanna know something? This isn’t the first time that term has been used in this blog. Check it out, we wrote about it way back in 2013. Here’ a link for that term, but beware, it’s Saturday and that link takes you to a page that says stuff like:

“…knowledge is closed under known deduction: if, while knowing p, S believes q because S knows that p entails q, then S knows q…”

See, don’t go there. And, if you want to be truly informed in these crazy times, don’t do the stuff that leads you to believe ‘q’ when you don’t know Jack about ‘q’.

Who is/was Jack? My mother used to say “I don’t know him from Adam.” When she was accused of knowing someone she didn’t know. Adam was Adam from Adam and Eve. That Adam. The original Adam, whom my mom did – not – know. I mean she’s old, but… But Jack? Jack isn’t even always a person.

Look up “you don’t know Jack” and you’ll find links to movies, online games and websites. If you think the answer lies there, you don’t know Jack about knowing Jack. ‘You don’t know Jack’ was an expression when we were young voices back in the 70s.

Oh no, we were supposed to talk about ham. Linda said:

“Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is: “ham.” Use it any way you’d like. Have fun!”

Hmmm, ham, ham, well, back in the 70s, we were living in Pittsburgh where they had Chipped Ham – oh that was good stuff.

Chipped ham was invented by Isalys. It was a really thin sliced lunch meat. So thin you kind of globbed it on a sandwich instead of laying out slices. Isalys also invented the Klondike.

We got out a lot more often when we were in Pittsburgh. Part of “maturing” was learning how to confine us in the corner. Anyway, back in the 70s, Jack, was the first part of ‘Jack sh*t’ which further emphasized how little you knew about something. Sometimes, it wasn’t even a something you didn’t know. “You don’t know  Jack Sh*t” was a saying all by itself.

If you want to know Jack; instead of newstainment, read stories from different points of view, analyze them, think about them, fact-check them and then decide for yourself which you believe.

Don’t think you know ‘q’ because you trust ‘S’ – For all you know, ‘S’ don’t know Jack about ‘q’.

We could continue down this road, but we’re getting dangerously close to offending someone. Dan doesn’t want that to happen, and Marian said something about using cattle prods to keep characters in line, so…

If the title reminds you of a song, here’s my favorite version: Sarah Vaughan: Ain’t Misbehavin’

63 thoughts on “SoCS Ain’t Misbehaving

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  1. You were on a roll when you “penned” this one!

    Yeah, the good old echo chamber. I’ll confess to creating my own. And don’t get me started on that whole news (or shopping) as entertainment! Drives me nuts. No offence?


    1. Thanks Maggie. I was on a roll, but I forgot the ham. (ham on a roll, sounds good). I like “echo chamber” and I think we all do it. I try to understand the other points of view, but I can’t deal with the news shows. I just can’t take it.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Please don’t tell me that :(

      One of the things I love about this community is that people share stuff that has meaning and makes me think, and let’s me explore places and concepts I knew little/nothing about from points of view I will never hear anywhere else. Thanks for stopping by.


  2. Felt like I was going down a rabbit hole a couple of times reading this but then you went to Isaly’s. Those ice cream cones look YUGE! :) I really do like Klondike bars. If only the rabbit hole lead me there!

    I’ll have to play the video of the song a bit later when the family is up. It’s O’Dark Thirty here and I as usual am the only one up…well Diva Dog is up if I’m up…she’d like some of that ham I bet.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry for the numerous detours, Deborah. I love the freedom of chasing those rabbits. Sometimes, I get carries away. Isalys had special ice cream scoops made to create the “skyscraper” shape. They were the best. My wife has chipped ham shipped here from PennMac (PA Macaroni Co.) and Maddie loves it when I’m making a sandwich and some “falls” on the floor.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. HA! The day you find me dumbing down what I write will be the day I no longer breathe. Politically correct? Sorry don’t know how. Intentionally writing to make sure my audience understands? Sorry again. I fly with my Heart and I don’t hesitate to write what it tells me to. I’ve never been “correct” about anything and I’m not about to start now. LOVED this post, Dan. Keep those voices coming. There was a time we were encouraged to tweak our writing to be brilliant, not dumbed down. Happy Saturday! :) :) :) <3

    Liked by 5 people

  4. newstainment

    It is what “the news” has come to. I can no longer watch the evening network news. It’s been reduced to 10 minutes of political gossip and mudslinging, followed by 20 minutes of fluff and pharmaceutical ads. When I turn over to NEWSHOUR, I get 20 minutes of political gossip and mudslinging, followed by 40 minutes of dry analysis and political correctness.

    Has the news really gotten that bad or am I just getting old and cranky?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Well said Dan! We really live in an era where everything needs to be ‘stupidly stupefied’ for it to be understood! Then again you still run the risk of not being understood – everything, especially when it comes to blogging, writing posts on any subject!
    I tend to use a very commercial ‘plugin’ in my business page and its blog to check my SEO & Readability. Well, I get ‘green dots’ the more simple stuff I write and red dots if I happen to make up a sentence that is a little more elaborate! My ‘readability’ score drops down the sinkhole…!
    This just proves your points – write for 4th graders…oops..sorry did I also offend somebody??

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Why did we bother to go to high school and college if we knew everything we needed at the ripe old age of 9? Keep it at a high level. Make me think, lest I forget how. You won’t offend me, even if I disagree with you, if you make an intelligent case. Thank you!


  6. I can certainly agree with it being “hard to watch the news without wanting to throw something.” I sure hope “newstainment” doesn’t make it into the dictionary. I’m all for new and creative words, but the definition of that one doesn’t deserve to exist. The news headlines are definitely something I MUST STOP reading first thing in the morning. Ruins the day.
    Have a satisfying Saturday, Dan. Hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. You’re messing with my attention deficit thing this morning. Dumb-down, jack sh*t, Adam, chipped ham, Klondike bars, 20-year old buttons and keys…not even sure how to comment on this one. I may need to go get a large cup of coffee first…

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I’m supposed to dumb-down my writing to an 8th grade level? I must have missed that memo.

    I agree with AmyRose. I remember being encouraged to write and speak intelligently … not to deliberately dumb it down, and I don’t plan to start dumbing down now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m with you and Amy, Joanne. Intelligence is a gift. We shouldn’t try to hide it, we should work to embrace it and improve our communication. I submitted an article I had written at work to a readability scoring service that knocked points off because it was “written to a 12th grade level” and suggested I shoot for 8th grade. I left it alone. My coworkers all graduated from high school.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t understand the dynamics of the US, but my experience has been that dumbing down isn’t always what’s needed.

        In my career I dealt with a lot of people who didn’t speak English as a first language (and I probably should include my own husband in there as well). They didn’t necessarily need the vocabulary simplified, they needed people to speak in a clear moderate pace, enunciating words properly, without using slang and idioms which are really challenging to learn.
        It’s not any different for me when I’m around French-speaking people. The better they speak, the easier it is for me to understand what they’re saying.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. People gain a lot of insight from context. I read a variety of material, from new and opinion to technical and scientific stuff. Good writers are easy to follow, even if I have to look up a word or two.

          The problem that I am more concerned with is that many people look to be given answers as opposed to facts that they can think about. We aren’t teaching critical thinking skills, and we aren’t teaching the basic fundamental courses that help people to understand logic and problem solving. People want answers, and a lot of them stop at the first answer they get, even if it isn’t accurate. Some of the stuff I see people sharing on social media makes my head spin. I want to ask: “did you even stop and think whether or not this could really be true?” But…


  9. Wondered “Where’s the Ham,” then it appeared! Loved the twist & turn journey! This must be fun for you to get on a roll like this, your other thinking is so precise. You’ll be brain strong for a long time, working both sides! Happy Weekend, Dan! 🎶 Christine

    Liked by 1 person

  10. My Dad made a delicious grilled cheese and chipped ham sandwich. Oh, by the way,he also grilled up chipped ham with barbecue sauce and called it “a different kind of sloppy joe.” My Dad was often in charge of Saturday lunches. I think his BBQ sandwich could be a sloppy jack or a sloppy Bob. ;)
    Dan, I like your rambles and I carry out conversations by myself (in my head) until after work where I chatter a lot. I think tech people and computer people have a red to talk while teachers and public employees probably want silence! :)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My mom made BBQ sandwiches like those, Robin. In fact, I sent my brother a gift basket for Christmas that featured 2 pounds of chipped ham and a jar of BBQ sauce. You might be right about the need to speak vs. the need for quiet. I can’t deal with quiet.


  11. Fantastic post! Great SoCS!
    I can’t say I’ve had chipped ham in any context, but my grandmother made chipped beef gravy and chipped beef bbq that were divine. I can’t seem to duplicate the gravy…I know Jack about gravy, really, quite a bit of Jack about gravy, but she had a special somethin there…mine’s okay, it’s not hers…the bbq I’ve mastered over time.
    I had no idea about Islay’s and feel, as I’ve read you all these years, that perhaps my student trip to Philly may have been sorely lacking.
    We all love Klondike bars, and when they go on sale, I buy as many as my stupid freezer will contain.
    It is really quite easy, with all this technology, to Google a headline and look for reputable sources. People would rather propagate their own agendas.
    Reading is poorly measured these days. I’m serious. Those of us who pay attention to lexiles and readibility can tell you it’s been dumbed-down substantially. I find I dumb stuff down from time to time, cause every single time I don’t, there are people who literally ask me what that means. I presume these are the same people who spread newstainment.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I don’t think Isaly’s ever made it to Philly, and they were more interested in making the best cheese steak than chipped ham. My brother is able to get almost chipped ham at Hy Vee in Iowa, close, but not quite Isaly’s thin. We can still get the chipped ham and BBQ sauce shipped from Penn Mac, which my wife does on occasion. I have to be careful about buying Klondike bars. I tend to eat them to quickly, Still, the Heath Bar variety, oh my goodness, yes!

      Unfortunately, I don’t think most people care about reading and certainly don’t care about finding reputable sources. It’s sad. People spout “facts” as if, and never think twice. I had to look up “lexiles” – I’ve learned something today – thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

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