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Faux Outrage

Literally the most important blog in the universe since 2010.

Monthly Archives: October 2010

(Author’s note: My dad made me agree not to send him a gift for his birthday this year, so I am offering this blog post as a way to contain my self-imposed guilt.)

About a week ago, my toilet broke.

When your toilet breaks, you have a few options:

(a) attempt to fix the toilet
(b) when (a) fails, call a plumber to fix the toilet
(c) when (a) and (b) fails, accept a non-toilet lifestyle
(d) cry
(e) all of the above

Those are your options when your toilet breaks.

When my toilet breaks, I don’t think about any of those things.  I just pick up the phone and call my dad.

Nothing is broken until he says it is.

When he answers, I tell him everything I know about the porcelain god in my bathroom.  I tell him about the do-dad that fills up the thingy, the chain dealie that connects to the plastic ma-bob.  I tell him about how the water goes out and fills up through the white circle tube.  Like I said, I tell him everything I know.  Which is to say, I tell him as close to nothing as possible without sitting in actual, pin-dropping silence.

Toilets are not my thing.

In fact, toilets aren’t my dad’s thing, either.

He doesn’t have “a thing.”  He has things.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a toilet, refrigerator, a gold 1998 Saturn SL2 that hit a fox en route to Florida in 2003, or anything else made of plastic/metal/wood/circuits.  If it breaks, it can be fixed.  If it can be fixed, it will be fixed (no matter how old that dish washer was, Mom).  You can even ask my college roommates, who still bring up the time he made an unholy potion of dish soap and sand from the dorm volleyball court to magically remove a permanent marker mural I had hand-crafted during the Spring semester.

His expertise in all things has led to the development of a very simple, comforting catchphrase: Not a problem.

(Side note: I’m not sure if he knows that this is his catchphrase.  If this is true, he will find out when he reads this on his birthday.)

Let me tell you, it’s pretty easy to go through life when your dad’s slogan is “Not a problem.”  (I’ve known of other fathers to have the exact opposite theory of life.  “A problem!  A problem!  A problem!”)  Since things that could be fixed by my father were always classified as non-problems (after, in one instance, some pointed questions about my decision to drive for several hundred miles instead of immediately stopping to call him right after Car-Plus-Fox-Equals-Yikes-Fest), I’ve lived a relatively problem-free life.

So thank you, Dad.  And happy birthday!

And as for me writing a blog post just for you?  Not a problem.


“Zach!  It’s been a week since the last Faux Word of the Day! I demand another fake word to add to my real vocabulary!”

Okay, okay.  I have heard your (completely fabricated) voices.

Today’s word is fauxjectivity.

fauxjectivity (foh-jik-tiv-i-tee)

a manner of communication whereby the speaker intentionally and maliciously attempts to mislead the audience by presenting him/herself as undistorted by emotion or personal bias.

For example: “If I have to read one more fauxjective OpEd in the Washington Post, I’m going to…realize why the newspaper industry is dying a slow, horrible death.”

The best examples of fauxjectivity — besides the obvious/aforementioned “OpEd” — are being texted (and possibly even sexted!) right now to cellphones across the universe.  In these text messages, you will find clear and present fauxjectivity where an interested party pseudo-earnestly suggests that the receiver should most certainly break up with their current squeeze for reasons related to undeniable facts X, Y, and Z.  And then they pounce.  Like a panther!

All things considered — and I’m not just saying this — I think fauxjectivity is one of the most exciting new words of the year.

My last post was an homage (of sorts) to something (horrible) that I wrote for my tenth grade English class.  This entry is inspired in part by a piece my eleventh grade English teacher posted on her blog this week.  I am in a “High School English” kind of mood, apparently.  Also, “High School English” is a type of mood, apparently.

In her blog, RASJ (with irony) asks the universe, “Am i the only person who cares that folks dont seem 2 no how 2 rite or speak proper any moor?”  The answer, of course, is: “No.  There are approximately eleven other people who careAlso, there are seven million and three teenagers finger-typing ‘OMG boyz r soooooo dum’ into their iPhones while driving behind you blindfolded on the highway.”  (Although, to be fair to those seven or so million, it is true that boys are, in fact, quite dumb.)

Without doing any meaningful research (or *cough* any research at all), I think it’s fair to say that we as a society are in a constant state of assuming that the next generation is completely clueless when it comes to [VERB/NOUN].  We wonder how the darn kids these days can even dress themselves — and then when they do manage to put cotton to skin — we wonder why they’ve picked out such awful, slutty clothes and why they’re listening to such awful, slutty music. But I don’t think the next generation is any more doomed than the generations preceding.

That’s not necessarily good news, though.

We are doomed, too.  We have always been doomed.  We have always been at war with Eastasia.

Truth be told, we haven’t been making sense for awhile now.  (“I mean, with the economy these days, you’d be lucky to make even one cent!”)

For example, consider the advice you might hear from a well-meaning, well-educated, polite citizen of the world alerting you that there is a crazed panther charging toward you at high speed.  The person might shriek in your general direction, “Run like you’ve never run before!”

This is terrible advice. (But at least they didn’t text it to you?)

The last thing you should do if being chased by an anything is to run as though you have never had the experience of running.  Do not, I repeat, do not run like you’ve never run before.

Now is not the time for experimentation.

In the alternative, you might want to consider running exactly as you have run before.  It’s probably your best bet, even though that panther does look pretty hungry.

Maybe later, after you have outsmarted the panther with your opposable thumbs and ability to empathize, you can try all kinds of new running styles.  You can run with your knees kicking up to your chest!  You can run on your arms!  You can run backwards while balancing a tray of papaya on your head!  Do whatever you want!

But please, if you are being chased, do not run like you’ve never run before.

The Sick Rose by William Blake

O rose, thou art sick!
The invisible worm
That flies in the night
In the howling storm

Has found out thy bed,
Of crimson joy,
And his dark secret love

Does thy life destroy.

The following is a (completely unedited) review of William Blake’s “The Rose” (above) that I wrote in 1997.  I was 15.

I can’t say enough about this piece.[1] Unfortunately, the words that I would use aren’t that complementary to the author.[2] “The Sick Rose”, in my opinion, needs to find a cure for the writing.[3] That may be a tad on the harsh side, but after examining this poem, I realized that there was no order to this poem what so ever.[4] It does not rhyme (which I enjoy) and did not tell a clear story.[5] Also, the metaphors chosen are weak in that they really do not have much to do with one another.[6] The first stanza is lacking a clear description of what is going on.[7] The author jumps from a sick rose, to the “invisible worm that flies in the night.”[8] Maybe I’m missing something, but this makes no sense at all.[9] After analyzing this poem, I came to realize that I did not gain a single thing by reading it except confusion.[10]

Other than that, I loved it…[11]

[1] Off to a great start, Zach!  I assume this assignment involved some kind of minimum word count?

[2] The words that you would use?  What about the words that you will?  In either case, I’m sure the dead-since-1827-Blake is heartbroken.

[3] But first, we need to figure out how a poem can “find a cure” for anything.

[4] No order!  Who knows where to begin!  If only our written language evolved over thousands of years into a system with very clear rules about how to read lines of text!

[5] To be fair, it’s completely understandable to get lost in the storyline of an 8-line poem.

[6] Yes!  The metaphors!  They are weak!  Weak!  They are so weak, in fact, that I will not even bore you with examples, apparently.

[7] Right, who knows what is going on!  “O rose, thou art sick!”  What can that possibly mean!?

[8] A quote!  Finally!  A quote that…seems like a reasonable transition from the sick rose.

[9] Maybe, Zach.  Maybe you are missing something.

[10] Clearly, the problem is either William Blake’s or mine.

[11] Take that, one of the most influential poets of all time!



The physical manifestation of things-have-been-accomplished!

Staring into the abyss that is an empty laundry basket is one of my favorite pastimes, if only because I can — for one magical moment — convince myself that I will never actually have to do laundry again.  To live in denial.  To pretend that everything I have learned about time and space and socks will not apply in the days and weeks that follow.  For one moment, I have forgotten everything I know about reality and begin to marvel at the width and depth of my laundry basket.  I can’t imagine ever filling it again, no matter how long I live!  No matter how many puddles I trudge through!  No matter how many times I eat strawberries without a plate or napkin!

But alas, time will pass, undershirts will be worn under shirts, Febreze-infused cotton will acquire other, less profitable smells, and (speaking of less profitable) newspaper print will almost certainly find a way to be smeared into my newly-pressed chinos.  That is life.

And then, time passes.

And then, once more I will be separating lights from darks like a Jim Crow water fountain, I will do my best Baatan impression (note: horribly inappropriate analogy), marching up and down five flights of creaky stairs, and then folding everything in sight like I’m playing cards with Daniel Negreanu.  I will despise it.  I will grind my teeth.  I will wonder why we lack insta-fold robotic technology.  I will recall fondly the days when Ali C. would save me from this sadness (for $5) because she “actually likes folding.”  I will be on the verge of tears.  I will match my socks.

I will finish.

I will never have to do laundry again.

Eli Whitney is about sixty thousand times more famous than he should be.

Does anyone know who invented the microprocessor? (Ted Hoff)

Does anyone know who invented the steam engine? (Thomas Savery)

Does anyone know who invented anesthesia? (William Thomas Green Morton)

Does anyone know who invented radio communication? (Guglielmo Marconi)

Does anyone know who invented insulin? (Sir Frederick Grant Banting)

Does anyone know who invented penicillin? (Alexander Fleming)

Then why oh why oh why oh why must everyone know who invented the cotton gin?

One of the only reasons I can think of is that American schools focus a great deal of time on American slavery (in the North, anyway) and Eli’s gin o’ cotton fits well enough into that discussion and takes a day of instruction away from that parade of horribles.  Now, before this gets out of hand, I want to make clear that I do not believe that Eli Whitney was a no-talent hack or that the cotton gin wasn’t an important invention — it was!  It’s just funny to me that the same people who don’t know who their senators are can tell you who invented the cotton gin.

Eli Whitney was on a stamp, has a museum, and a big-ass gravestone.

“But Zach!” you cry (weirdly), “The cotton gin led to the environment that started the Civil War!”

Did it?

The cotton gin was so influential in starting the Civil War that the states took up arms against each other 68 years after it was invented (1793), 36 years after Eli Whitney died (1825).  That would be like saying the invention of the jet engine (Frank Whittle and Dr. Hans von Ohain!) in the 1930’s was one of the causes of 9/11.

And before you squeal that “68 years wasn’t a long time in those days,” let me put this whole ordeal into perspective: Eli Whitney was born before the Revolutionary War.  He was 10 years old when Paul Revere went galloping through Boston.  That’s a long, long time before the American people ask what’s civil about war, anyway? To say that it was “it wasn’t a long time in those days” to explain away the 68 years it took for this cotton ginned “cause” of the Civil War to actually cause the Civil War is the kind of weird attachment to Eli Whitney that I just do not understand.

I recognize that the cotton gin was crucial in creating an economically powerful American South and created an environment where slavery was expanded greatly (since demand for slaves was tied to the economic prowess of cotton), but the causal relationship between the cotton gin and the Civil War is completely overstated. The C-Gin certainly led to a demand for more slaves which undoubtedly was the very real cause of the Civil War, but I’m pretty sure that a time machine and cyanide pill with Eli Whitney’s name on it would not have put a preemptive end to the War of Northern Aggression.  (Side note: if you ever find yourself going back in time to secretly murder a historical figure, I do not recommend labeling your evidence with the target’s name.  That’s just bad form.)

The cotton gin is a notable invention in American History, but I think it’s pretty clear that Eli Whitney is way too famous.

Thanks in part to a link from Lessons From Teachers and Twits, this little blog o’ mine has surpassed the 1,000 view mark in under two weeks.  While this number does not include the plethora of times I’ve checked the site for one reason or another, I have no idea what the total would look like if you removed all of the visits from my mother and other folks who are duty-bound to read my ramblings. 

So, thank you!  Thanks to everyone who’s clicked through as a result of my (annoying) Facebook posts, who randomly typed into their address bar, and especially to the one poor soul who somehow found this blog by searching for “inspecteur gadget” on Google.


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