Curmudgeonish thoughts for 2021

Another year, another grievances list.


We’re in the eleventh month of this year, so welcome to the fourth annual edition of my “curmudgeonish thoughts” post, which I hope remains true to the ideas behind its original version. Pet peeves? I’ve got ’em. Let’s go.

Tech-y touchiness

  • If Zola could be Rust-based with plain-language templating, why couldn’t Hugo have been Go-based with plain-language templating?
  • In the This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things Department: all versions of Windows going back to 1990 have a Registry setting that auto-transforms Helvetica (including Helvetica Neue) so that it appears as the inferior Arial font. This makes trying to use nice system fonts on a website much more of a pain than it should be.
  • I once heard that, if you really hate a guy, you should teach him about typography. That way, he’ll spend the rest of his life seeing horrible things in everyday life, especially where signage is concerned. This translates to TV, as well. I am continually irked when I see on-screen text graphics which don’t use curly quotation marks, em and en dashes, and so on. I know the character generator devices have all that stuff built into the software, but their operators (and those operators’ bosses) apparently don’t care.
  • If you’re reading a URL to somebody, don’t say “forward slash.” That’s the only kind of slash that URLs have. Let’s keep that “backward slash” crap in Windows where it belongs.

General grumpiness

  • “So” is a word of transition. There should be a Part A before there’s a “So” followed by a Part B. For example: “I was hungry, so I ate a cookie” makes sense. However, if you ask, “Where are the cookies?” and someone replies, “So, they’re in a jar in the pantry,” that’s weird; yet, it’s become common to hear people begin statements with “So” but with nothing in front of it. Imagine if you knew someone who commonly began sentences with “Therefore.” That would be basically the same thing. And it would be weird.
  • Folks who think they’re being somewhat clever about one particular phrase should know that it’s actually mano a mano, not mano y mano. One engages in “hand-to-hand” combat, not “hand-and-hand” combat.
  • Even before I retired, I reviled open offices and, by extension, those who defend them for being productivity-enhancers. The unvarnished truth — especially for people like me who work far more effectively alone and, when possible, behind closed doors — is that open-office plans benefit only (1.) micromanaging bosses and (2.) companies trying to justify owning or renting office space. The work-from-home era which began in earnest with the COVID-19 pandemic is a genie that businesses will keep trying to put back in the bottle, but that’s a fool’s errand.
  • I go into full SMH mode when folks bitch about software subscriptions. Now, don’t get me wrong. They absolutely have the right to feel that way, up to a point. Where I draw the line is when their gripes incorporate the following kind of illogic: “I bought this ten years ago and don’t ever want to spend a dime on it again even though I want perpetual security updates; oh, and I also hate socialism.” I see this attitude quite frequently, often in the form of acerbic software reviews from people who clearly did no pre-purchase homework and, now, act as if they had zero idea the software in question was subscription-based. Please.
  • The phrase “err on the side of caution” is fine, but how people commonly pronounce it is not. “Err” rhymes with “sir,” not “air.”

That’s enough spleen-venting for this year’s “Curmudgeonish thoughts,” I think. Otherwise, someone will threaten to go “mano y mano” with me, force-show me bad on-screen typography, and spout endless out-of-the-blue pronouncements that each begin with “So.” Maybe you could call such an individual a so-and-so. Or maybe not.

Note from the future: I later decided that this fourth annual edition would also be the last of the series.