#10 – Ignorance is apparently a virtue nowadays: I’ve known people who thought Brazil was in Spain. I’ve known people who’ve protested that they had no idea where the Chelsea Flower Show was, or what they did there. I’ve heard people who claim if ‘Darwin was so smart, how come he never won a Nobel Prize’?
I can cope with people who don’t know stuff. No-one knows everything, after all, and they’d be a little boring if they did. What tends to irritate me are the people who cherish this ignorance, who are somehow pleased they never had any ‘fancy book learning’, and yet still feel they’re qualified to have an opinion on a subject. Which, I suppose, leads into…
#9 – Organized religion: It had to go in here somewhere. If I had to pick a sole cause for human suffering and misery over the centuries, this would be up at the top of the list somewhere. I’m not discriminating against one particular religion or sect here, because I’d be hard pressed to pick a leading contender. I will exempt some of the eastern philosophies such as Taoism, and I will allow for some of the greatest works of art ever created had a religious slant… But generally speaking, I’d rather live in a world without Bach than one with religion.
#8 – People don’t walk anymore: I’ve seen various statistics for this. I remember Bill Bryson citing the average distance walked by Americans in a week as being something like 650 yards. And that includes the walking they do around the house, at work, etc. People will jump in the car to go a single block. People will complain that there’s no parking spots at their gym half a mile away, which makes it difficult for them to get their hour in on the treadmill.
#7 – Self indulgent behaviour: To paraphrase Ambrose Bierce, an egotist is a very boring person; someone who’d rather talk about themselves than me. In all seriousness, people are far too wrapped up in their own little worlds to give a damn about anything around them. I’m generalizing a little, perhaps, and I’m certainly guilty of it myself, but still.
#6 – What happened to USENET?: Showing my age a little here, perhaps. But I can remember when these newsgroups were the bastion of intelligent (or at least amusing) discourse online. Nowadays I’d be hard pressed to find a group that wasn’t flooded with spam, often eight or nine posts in a row. I don’t want to enlarge my penis, I don’t want a competitive mortgage, I just want to read about Nethack.
#5 – Life’s too short: “Is it not worthy of tears that, when the number of worlds is infinite, we have not yet become lords of a single one?” – Alexander the Great.
This one annoys me. Let’s just pick a (not so) random activity: Reading. I could spend my life reading pretty continuously, and not get to even cover a fraction of the things I’d like to read. Chances are that by the time I die, I’ll have actually lost ground, and there will be even more books I’d wished I’d read. I could spend my life travelling the world, and not see everything I’d like to. Life’s a /Canis lupus familiaris/ of the female variety sometimes.
#4 – Aluminum. It’s ‘aluminium’, folks.
#3 – A culture of litigation: Spilled coffee into your crotch? Sue McDonalds for not warning you that coffee was hot. Too fat? Sue them again for not warning you eating six Big Macs at a sitting would do this. Too stupid? I’m surprised no-one’s sued their high school for this one yet. Or their parents for having deficient genes. It’s about time this stopped, then we could do away with warning labels like ‘do not use in the shower or while sleeping’ on hair dryers.
#2 – Clowns: Aside from the creepiness of them (which I don’t think anyone can deny), I really can’t stand these guys. I think my underlying resentment towards them is that they’re just not funny, not even slightly. And everyone knows this, too. But people still laugh anyway, out of fear.
#1 – People who compile lists of 10 things, under the impression that someone, somewhere, will care.