Airline behavior

What parts of “discontinue the use of personal electronic items and cellular phones” and “return your tray tables and seat backs to their upright and locked position” are hard to understand? I just want to know why most airline travelers seem unable to comprehend these simple instructions. Or is the problem that people just think these instructions don’t apply to them?

Well, I don’t much care about seat backs and tray tables, but the cell phone thing is a real sticking point for me. Those things really do interfere with aircraft instruments, which puts everyone on the plane potentially in danger. Just because you, the compulsive cell-phone yammerer, are too stupid to live, does not mean you have the right to endanger or delay the rest of us. I’d like the maximum chance of getting there on time and alive, thank you.

Next airline beef: One of the reasons it takes so long to load airplanes is people in the aisle loading luggage, which half the time doesn’t really fit, into overhead bins while people are trying to get by. This is why they start loading from the back of the plane. This is not a difficult concept. Why, then, do so many rocket scientists insist on going up there before their row numbers are called? For an extra couple of minutes of that lovely cabin air? The luxurious seats? What? Again, all this behavior does is inconvenience other people. Wait for your damn row.

(original date: 1999.09.17)

Language Nazi for Today

You know, normally I’m not all that opposed to using nouns as verbs, but it really can get annoying when the appropriate verb already exists. The currently grating example is the word “defense,” which in my dictionary is a noun. This word need not be used as a verb, because there already is a corresponding verb (that would be “defend” for all you idiot football announcers out there who have obviously never heard this word before).

(original date: 1997.10.22)

Journalistic Competence

OK, it’s really been a while now but I’ve had this rant smoldering for quite some time, so I’ll vent it now: journalists. Why is that every time I read a piece of journalism that covers topics in which I’m reasonably knowledgeable (I’ll limit that claim to computers and cognitive psychology, since I have graduate degrees in both), I find the article riddled with misconceptions and inaccuracies? It’s unconscionable! But I think I’ve discovered the answer. If these people actually knew anything about computers or psychology, they’d be in the computer industry or a research psychologist, not a journalist–actual domain experts have work to do in their fields and don’t write for newspapers or TV. So now I’ve come to expect incompetence from journalists, rather than being surprised and annoyed by it. (Well, OK, I try not to be annoyed, anyway.)

(original date: 1997.08.05)

TV Morality

A rant I’ve had brewing for many years: television and morality. Why is it that in the U.S., it’s OK for people to be dismembered on prime-time television, but it’s completely taboo to show a <gasp> bare breast? In Europe, it’s quite the other way around: minor nudity is no big deal, but violence is hard to find on television (other than football–err, soccer–spectators). Is it any wonder the U.S. is so far ahead in violent crime and so Medieval about the human body, when this is what we’re fed over the tube? I think the Europeans have this one way ahead of us here in the States.

(original date: 1997.05.07)

WebTV commercials

OK, advertising pet peeve: the new Phillips/Magnavox “Web TV” commercials, where they say “What’s missing? That’s right, the computer.” Hel-lo, but what the hell is in that little box on top of the TV, little green men? Could it be… a computer? Morons…

(original date: 1996.12.16)