Timing is, if not everything, a lot of things, and friend-of-the-blog Owen Dunne drops this You Damn Kid strip just as I have silenced a particularly bothersome voice on Facebook, which, come to think of it, could have happened any number of times.
I've accepted that there is so much errant twaddle on the Internet -- and it really doesn't matter whether it is actively vicious, purposely deceptive, intellectually lazy or simply moronic -- that you really can't take up the lance and shield every time, as Randall Munroe pointed out, lo, these many years ago, xkcd being ahead of the curve as always.
And at this point, snopes.com has become so swamped that I think they should start a new page entitled "Things You'd Have To Be An Idiot To Believe."
While it used to be funny when someone was suckered into falling for a clever piece in The Onion, there are so many "funny" news sites these days, and so many mooncalves who will believe anything, that the debunkers can't possibly keep up.
The benefit of the Internet has been that it allows left-handed table-tennis players and collectors of 16th century crumhorn music to find each other. That's a good thing.
But it has also allowed village idiots and crackpots, once gently watched over and tolerated by friends and family, to find each other and reinforce each other's delusional world views.
What was eccentric, charming and a bit pitiable in small doses has become a freaking plague.
Two encouraging thoughts:
1. Despite the noise of these empty-headed grasshoppers, as Burke noted and the last two presidential campaigns confirm, they are neither the only inhabitants of the field nor are they a majority. Though, when they are the ones who turn out for off-year elections, they can wreak a little havoc.
2. While it is futile to attempt to reason with them, that pointlessness means there is no reason to let them disturb your own peace. You can quietly unfollow them on Facebook (which is less obvious than unfriending them) or block them in your email program.
Unless, as Dunne points out, they are family members, because, while you don't want to hear about how the presence of surface ice in the Arctic means glaciers are not melting, you do want to know if your cousin had her baby and who is coming for Thanksgiving.
Even, in the latter case, if only so you have sufficient warning to come up with an excuse not to be there yourself.
An excuse less transparent than the truth, of course. I adore the third panel and recognize that you won't fool your nearest and dearest, but they are very likely to back up your alibi, unless the crackpot in question is from their side of the family.
Speaking of family members
Rhymes with Orange also comes up with a timely gag, because last night saw the opening of the Eighty-Kabillionth Westminster Kennel Club Show, which I watched long enough to be sure that the Rhodesian Ridgeback wasn't houndy enough for the judge.
Whether or not dogs are comfortable with the topic (and, yes, it made me laff), the trend for rescues and odd mixes, which is a good thing, comes with some caveats beyond offending their tender sensitivities.
I am uncomfortable with enabling lax dog regulation in the South by trucking their unwanted dogs to parts of the country where they can be adopted. But I don't object to saving dogs' lives, and I suppose that, as long as we're talking about the futility of trying to make the Internet more intelligent, we might as well deal with the futility of getting people to spay and neuter their pets.
So, we rescue. And we speculate and it's fun to try to pick out attributes and body types, though the fact that you can do that is because of responsible breeding.
The benefit of a purebred is that you have a pretty good chance of knowing what you're going to end up with. However, if you rescue a purebred, you're in danger of ending up with a puppy mill/pet shop victim of poor genetics, dismal prenatal care and bad early nutrition, plus whatever neglect and poor early training it had before the thrill of an impulse purchase completely wore off and they dumped it.
At least a mutt born behind the garbage cans in an alley had a mother with survival skills.
Some of my dog's best friends are rescued mixes, but they are a self-selected group who can come to an unfenced park to play.
We've known dogs who only show up a couple of times, don't fit in and then disappear, and some who are sociable and delightful until they turn about three, and then disappear.
I've also got a neighbor saddled with a yappy little rescue who is a terror and a trial and will probably live 15 more years. She'd never dream of bringing the little monster to the park.
Whether you adopt from a shelter or purchase through a breeder, you need to meet the pup and spend some time playing and interacting before you commit. Adopting a dog based on a photo and a cheerful description from some distant shelter is like marrying someone based on their Match.com profile.
So, back to Westminster and hoping the ridgeback doesn't do well.
Watching Westminster is like watching mixed martial arts or boxing. You have to pretend not to know what is happening to people's brains to enjoy those sports and you have to pretend not to know what happens to popular breeds in order to enjoy a dog show.
The breeders I've worked with are responsible people, but ridgebacks are becoming more popular and that will bring more breeders and less ethics to the party.
Westminster becomes scarier every year.
And then there's this:
Joel Pett on one more piece of futility, this one an environmental tragedy.
I agree with leash laws for dogs, as long as rural areas are content with control laws, and I laft at today's Off the Mark. (My boy wears a leash in town, an electronic collar when we're out in the country.)
I also agree with scooping, though in our rural park, the general rule is that what the dog does in the deep brush stays in the deep brush, and, no, we don't have a dense enough canine population to make it a problem.
And I agree with licensing of dogs. In fact, I think licenses should cost more, as long as the money goes to additional animal services and control, not simply into town coffers.
What I don't get is why cats get a free pass.
I like cats, but their poop is more apt to contain harmful parasites and their devastation of songbirds is an established fact: A cat running loose is an invasive species.
As noted here:
Oh well. Sorry, birds. Just one more example of foolish things we're never gonna step up and get a handle on.