As I have said before, I don't concoct New Year's resolutions for at least two reasons. The first — the primary one — is that I understand fully that no one out there in reader land has the slightest interest in my almost certainly futile attempts at self-betterment.
However, the second remains the most relevant — I don't make New Year's resolutions. I tell myself that to succumb to such tomfoolery would be an admission that I am not perfect as I am, a statement that would cause dismay among my supporters and provide new fodder for my critics.
The real answer though lies in the realization that at my age it is best to enjoy what I have. If I do something, it is because it pleases me, and at age 78, I see no reason to eschew pleasure for the sake of self-denial. How many of you remember Red Skelton's "Mean Widdle Kid?" His "If I dood it I get a whipping. I dood it anyway." has become my mantra.
Nevertheless, there are a few things out there of which I have seen and heard far too much. One might assume that these are merely minor annoyances of a crotchety old man — but, I wonder how many actually agree.
Although not necessarily in order, the first that comes to mind are those self-serving and unscrupulous television advertisements by what I like to call "ambulance-chasing attorneys." Instigating litigation for injury or death relating to asbestos, to medications, to automobile- or work-related accidents, malpractice, "abridgement of civil rights" or "the heartbreak of psoriasis," this annoying practice has turned us into a society suffering an overdose of litigation.
I understand the Supreme Court's 1977 Bates v. State Bar of Arizona ruling in favor of commercial speech as free speech, but the proliferation of televised engaging in "drumming up business" with unverifiable promises is not only a "video pollution," it also wounds the already unhealthy public esteem of attorneys. Is there a more obnoxious commercial than actor Robert Vaughn's "Tell them you mean business. Call the Hurt Line"?
Next among my pet peeves are the celebrity radio and TV ads for organizations claiming the power to clear credit-card and income-tax liabilities for virtually pennies on the dollar. Admittedly, MasterCard, American Express and the IRS are not held in high esteem by the public; however, where did the idea originate that we could incur indebtedness with little or no responsibility to pay?
Did it ever occur to anyone contemplating employment of one of those agencies that settling those debts at less than contracted is the proximate cause of high credit-card interest and lost revenues for government? Defaulting on personal responsibility seems to be the way of a more progressive country.
I am also extremely tired of the global warming/climate change controversy that has raged out of control for more than a decade. There is no question that climate change has and will continue to occur. The current Ice Age (Quaternary or Pleistocene glaciation), the latest of five separate ice ages, began 2.58 million years ago and, like all of the others, began its warming period without the presence of Homo erectus or any of its human ancestors.
Accordingly, the strident, holier-than-thou declarations that humans are the cause of the current period of climate change has, in my opinion, little basis in fact. Yes, we are inundated with manifestations of "scientific consensus" or "a majority of scientists agree," but to disguise reality as a scientific consensus is not necessarily factual. After all, was it not a scientific consensus at one time that the earth was flat and sailing ships dare not approach the edge?
Politically, my pet peeve lies in the playing of the race card in the often tacit but also overt implication that Republicans are, by their very nature, racists. Alleging that skin color was the reason behind holding Attorney General Eric Holder accountable for the "Fast and Furious" arms debacle, questioning U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice's account of the Benghazi failure and even implying that it was a major factor in GOP voters not voting for President Barack Obama, the accusations are preposterous.
Even more reprehensible is the claim that a GOP candidate's use of language such as "Chicago," "food stamps," "Keep America American," "incompetent" and "lazy" are code words to describe people of color. One would think that after a majority of Americans elected Obama to the presidency twice and Republican President George W. Bush appointed two black Americans secretary of state along with four other black Cabinet members, this would be a dead issue among intelligent politicians, media personnel and voters.
Locally, I am less than enamored of the arrogant, discourteous and outright ignorance/disdain for the rules of the road of a growing number of this city's bicycling crowd. I do applaud your lessening of carbon pollution, your penchant for physical fitness and your love of the outdoors; however, that does not accord you a special dispensation for ignoring safety, common courtesy or traffic lights.
Lastly, at the risk of alienating the Chamber of Commerce, some of the local newscasters and those who advocate a more sophisticated and cosmopolitan aura to our fair city, I say lose the affected "The District" to describe central Columbia. Downtown Columbia is and will always be "downtown" to us rustics and provincials who number the majority share of the population.
Those are my least favorite things of the year past. I am certain that many of you can add to the list.
Have a Happy New Year.