February 2010


The phone is broke. It has been broken for a whole day now. My neighbor’s phone is not broke. So it must be my system. I have a TeleZapper, which eliminates computer dialed phone calls and tells the computers that my phone number is disconnected. I disconnected that and I still have a broken phone.

Your call is important to us

But I have a cell phone. I can use my cell phone. To call the phone company. And my call is important to them. But my call may be recorded for quality assurance. I was told, gleefully, that the telephone system has recently upgraded their help line and made it completely automated. I got to talk to a computer generated smarmy voice.

Please say your phone number, said the smarmy computer voice. I did not understand that, said the smarmy voice. Did I understand your phone number, said the smarmy voice – repeating my phone number. Please say yes. I said yes. I did not understand that, said the smarmy voice. Yes, I said. I did not understand that said the smarmy voice. YES!!! I screeched. Ok, said the smarmy voice.

Please spell your first name, in case we have to contact you, like S-a-m [just in case people operating phones do not know what the term “spell” means]. So I spelled my name. Understood on the first try! Please enter using the keypad or say another phone number where you can be reached. I speak my cell phone number. Is this a good number to reach you at, in case a technician has to enter your home to fix the problem, says the smarmy voice. Yes, I scream. I did not understand you, says the smarmy voice.

What I really wanted to say to the stupid computer generated system is that of course I would give them an invalid phone number to try to call just because I enjoy playing practical jokes on humorous computers. Knowing that computers do not understand sarcasm, thereby creating a sarchasm, I yelled YES again.

My phone will be repaired by 6-P-M on August-8-2-thousand-6. If I need that repeated say “repeat” says the smarmy voice. If I need more information, say “more information” says the smarmy voice. If you are totally delighted with this system, says the smarmy voice, say goodbye. Where was the term I really wanted to use in closing? It’s in the dictionary under the letter “f.”

I don’t know if my call was recorded, but if it was, I will probably be yelled at for swearing while smarmy voice rattled on and on about stupid shit. I used a wide range of profanity while being irritated by the smarmy voice, using my minutes from my cell phone, waiting for smarmy voice to computer generate data.

I hope they ask me how much I liked their service. We complain about outsourcing jobs and then when a person would be nice to talk to, we have a computer generated voice, or someone from Delhi answering the phones. No wonder there are so many unemployed people in the US. The computers have the jobs.

First published on August 8, 2006 on my other blog.

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Women wanted equality. I understand the same pay for the same job and equal opportunity to perform that job. But … what is that other stuff? Equal treatment in history books? Equal presence in literary works? Equal mention in science? What is up with that?

You go, girl.

The problem with demanding an equal number of women as men mentioned in textbooks is twofold. First it completely distorts history, science, and literary works. Many very important white males aren’t making it into textbooks because they are 1.) white and 2.) male and that is seen as a double sin. They might make it if they were varicolored and definitely if they were female, but we have too many white males.

We have too many white males because white males did a whole bunch of important stuff. Most of the big discoveries were made and recorded by white males. There is a reason for this. Women were not allowed to be educated which sorely limits one’s ability to produce new ideas. People of various colors were in the same uneducated boat.

By placing innocuous inventions by women and minorities into textbooks, we skew history and – and this is important – make it seem like women and minorities weren’t ever oppressed. This is bunk. It also means that some very important inventions and thought processes are eliminated in history because they were made by white males number 6 and greater and we can only have the first five white males and then five women and five minorities. Just because the most important discoveries are not taught should not be worrisome. There is nothing to see here – move along.

Literature is not evenly distributed between male and female writers. There is no female Shakespeare. Or even a female Boswell. Women were not allowed to write, so George Sands had to hide behind a pseudonym. Where is a female Shaw? Can we get half credit for Oscar Wilde? Probably not. Cicero didn’t have a wife who wrote, too. Nor did Seneca. Socrates credits having a harridan for a wife with his philosophy, she being too horrible to stay in the same house with, so he went out and thought deep thoughts.

It isn’t that women in history are absent. Helen of Troy made men fight, but she didn’t think of the Trojan horse. Jezebel has a sort of cachet, too.

The ancient Greeks and Romans had both gods and goddesses. Pagans seem to have been willing to incorporate women into their pantheon and grant them the honor due to people who give birth to the next round of men.

Then something happened. One might credit Christianity with reducing women to a secondary role. Early Christians were supposed to have held women in the same regard as men and even allowed them to be priests. However, somewhere along the way, at some point in Western history, women were relegated to the back seat of the wagon. It took us a very long time to get back in the driver’s seat.

Right now, the way history is written in modern textbooks, it seems that women were just as busy making discoveries as those pernicious white males. But that wasn’t true. To forget the important discoveries and literature of second tier men in order to publish fourth, fifth, etc. tier discoveries and literature just because women or minorities were the authors is a total disservice. It denies how far we have come in such a short time. And it also ignores some very important discoveries. Shame on the process that made this possible.

Originally posted on May 7, 2006 on my other blog.