Column on My Year End Pet Peeves

Year End Pet Peeves
Tibor R. Machan
Mostly I write on topics I suspect concern a wide enough audience.
Columnists don’t just write on anything that pops into their minds but
need to do a bit of service to reader-clients. But, if one has a regular
venue for one’s columns, it maybe fine, now and then, to indulge oneself
with a topic or two that’s more personal. Even these will, of course, aim
to please, if only by inviting reader-clients to know a bit of the writer.
In that spirit I am going to take the risky step of laying out some of my
pet peeves. These are not the most serious complaints I have about
culture, politics, religion, and other human institutions. Instead, they
are matters that tend to irritate me personally even as they may pose
nothing much objectionable to others and might not even need to, either.
Individualists like me will fully accept that some stuff is strictly
personal, amounts to likes or dislikes and implies nothing about what
others ought to feel, do, or pursue.
Take my favorite color, for an example. I am nuts about red-orange, the
color of the California poppy and the old Mustang and the setting sun over
the Pacific. This is, yes, the opposite of a pet peeve, more of a pet
love. It is, however, exactly personal and idiosyncratic.
What about a genuine pet peeve, then? Well, heavy bangs would serve as a
good case in point. Cannot stand them even if the face is gorgeous in all
other respects. Somehow these bangs even suggest something more generally
puzzling–why would someone wish to hide a forehead? Is there some message
afoot in that, like, “I don’t like my brain?” No, need not be, but it’s
somewhat intimated, at least for me.
Bad dancers get to me, those who go out there and gyrate without a bit of
rhythm. Sure, they could be having fun, though I cannot see how, given how
bad they are at what they are doing. I just cannot abide by it, maybe
because I am such a great fan of the likes of Fred Astaire and Gene
Kelley. And while I am at it, I should mention singing off key. Totally
puts me off, especially in some popular singers–for example, the late
Dinah Shore!
There is also that genre of painting, the very poorly executed abstract
work! I didn’t used to take to any abstract paintings but then changed and
began to like some of them as a form of design–shapes and colors and
intensity, all well coordinated. But when it is without the slightest
sense of balance it really sucks, as far as I am concerned. I even fancy
that I can spot one of these awful efforts at a distance. But I am not
confident enough to say I know they amount to bad works of art. Maybe some
individuals are really sent by just such stuff!
Pointless Jargon, the sort that reeks of having been manufactured despite
there being no need for it at all! I am nearly paranoid about this–some
folks write, it seems, to prevent their being understood. Again, I could
be wrong but I am awfully suspicious. (I guess one reason is that escaping
into jargon is a temptation of writers when their ideas aren’t clear
enough to them but admitting this isn’t cool.) At times it appears evident
that some of the most erudite folks, highly praised scientists from
prestigious institutions, will succumb to this temptation, at least in
regions of their discipline they are still confused about.
Cops who swagger really put me off, and this includes nearly all those
out there enforcing the rules of the road. Frankly I don’t even regard
these people as police officers or officers of the law because rules of
the road, however necessary, are just that, rules of the road, just a step
or several above rules of attire at some private school. Yes, yes, the
rules sort of aim at orderliness and even safety but more often they
appear to aim solely at revenue generation. So one is stopped for making
an “illegal” U-turn by a person wearing really scary outfits and
prominently carrying a menacing weapon! Tends to demean the very idea of
law, which is a general system of principles that is supposed to serve to
secure civilized conduct, protect the rights of individuals, not bother
about the specific details of various forms of life. But I suppose this
pet peeve stems in part from my near-anarchism, my fierce resentment of
all those who lord it over other people who are carrying on in mostly
peaceful ways. I won’t go into the types of driving that I despise. It
would fill a book. But here is at least a small sample of what I just
happen to like and dislike. It may say a bit about me, for better or for
worse.

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