Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Follow the Shoe

I have been asked why I am so interested in religion when I am so scathing of dogma, and so very outspoken against excesses and atrocities done in the name of God. Well.......

There are a few things I am interested in. History, mythology, philosophy, metaphysics, mysticism, art, music, architecture, sociology...should I continue? All of these things can be, and often are very closely related to religion.

It's not unusual, for example, for me to listen to Gregorian chant when I'm working. I love everything about it, the simplicity, the melody, the harmony, and the echo - very much the echo. If it were not for the religion of the writers and performers of this music it would not exist. I don't share their beliefs, but I can enjoy it just the same. Do I enjoy it in the same way as those for whom it is religious music? I would say not. Do I enjoy it any less? I would say no to that also. When music touches you, it touches you. It doesn't matter why.

But most of all, I am interested in people. Why they do what they do. I have always had that fascination. I spend more time observing and analyzing people than I do liking or hating them, and I prefer it that way. Perhaps people would rather be liked or hated than observed or analyzed, although my guess is they'd really rather be liked. But I'm no good at hate, and I can't like everyone, so I'll just stick to the observing and analyzing.

I think if we spent a bit more time observing and analyzing, there'd be less judgement. Of the wrong kind, that is. Judgement isn't wholly bad. It's a natural thing we do. You know the kind of judgement I mean when I think a bit less of it would be a good thing. It's when it comes without any thought, there's no observation or analysis, just a quick reaction, a snap decision. I think people deserve more than that.

And when it comes to religion, whether a person follows one, whether it's one that meets your approval or not, or how they follow it, or if they don't follow anything, or however they approach the entire topic - is jolly interesting.

Some years ago, when I still hadn't quite got the hang of the balance between honesty and tact in discussing such things (because you know, I've REALLY got a handle on that now.........) I suggested that some religious practice was not mentally healthy. OK, that's not quite what I said, but you get the idea. Of course, I was put in my place. Rightly so. These are opinions best kept to oneself, but that speaking your mind thing often takes me by surprise. O.o. I was set upon, really. Anyway, I made a mental note not to call deeply religious people mad.

And then I met someone who was mad. Totally bonkers. I'm no mental health professional, but I'd say this one was severely delusional. Here's where we have to see which end of the cause and effect tube we are looking down, and this applies to things other than madness, as I shall make clear.

Was her illness the reason she developed her particular brand of religious belief, OR was it her particular brand of religious belief that had made her delusional? There has to be a sort of tipping point.

We often ask ourselves whether arseholes are drawn to extremist religions, or whether extremist religion causes people to become arseholes. Think of a suicide bomber. Would he have been a suicide bomber if he was NOT part of an extremist religion? I know the whole political aspect is mixed up in there, but you need to be pretty devout to take your own life.

OK, look at it the other way then. Does religion make a person nice, or are nice people drawn to religion because of the opportunity it gives them to serve the community?

Draw your own conclusions.

When all is said and done I believe that a person is a mixture of their innate personality AND the result of their life experiences. But I don't know how much of each. Maybe stronger personalities are less affected by outside effects. Or maybe really bad experiences crush what would have been a strong personality. So, there's probably some variation there.

It follows, one way and another, that religion itself is inert. It doesn't necessarily make bad people good, or good people bad. What can happen though, is that the charisma of its existing devotees can have a powerful impact on others. So that IF you are a disaffected person seeking answers and you run into another human being who says he has them, and they are found in said religion, that could be the tipping point.

And that's what's interesting. The why. It's all part of the bigger why, because people are that complex.

I have read all the holy books. I'm not big on holy books. They're too damn vague. I like simple messages that can't be argued, that do NOT lend themselves to interpretation. Interpretation is the first step towards bias and motive and dogma. And I have no time for dogma.

I'm told that people need guidance, and they probably do. But who has the right to do it?

Friday, 24 January 2014

Reality Check

My grandsons can be drama queens. When told they are not allowed to do X at any given time (even if maybe it's not a banned thing, and they can do it later) they can be heard to emote "I'm never, ever, ever going to be able to....." (with the back of the hand to the brow, sorta deal). Words like "never" are often tossed around by small children, for whom an hour's wait is an awfully long time.

But when you grow up you learn the real meanings of words, and the reality of life's events and possibilities, so that sort of thing doesn't happen anymore.

Yeah, right.

I was explaining to Tom yesterday the meaning of hyperbole. He loves to collects long words, and has an awesome vocabulary for a young man yet to have any tertiary education, but that one hadn't arisen before. He loves it. He says it also explains a lot. He has had to work hard at understanding this sort of thing.

But the whole value of hyperbole lies in the fact that everyone knows it's hyperbole. It's not supposed to be taken literally. If I say I could eat a horse, I don't expect anyone to stand and watch me carve one up. Only the very youngest Aspie would get that one wrong.

So why is it, please tell me, that normal, intelligent adults can be constantly heard to use words like "impossible", and "never" when it's absolute rubbish?

It's not even in throwaway speech. It's in writing. There are others:

"I can guarantee..." (No, you can't)
"There will always be..." (Really? Even after the Sun swallows up the solar system?)
"It was the last time..." (Another one you can't guarantee)


"It was the very last time" (What is the last time if it's not the very last time?)

Then there's words that do not mean what you think they mean. Used for effect but wrongly like decimate and apocalypse. But the one that's currently doing the rounds is:

"They literally took the roof off with the volume". No. They didn't. You mean figuratively.

And if I hear the word "finite" used wrongly one more time I'm going to eat my hat (q.v. hyperbole).

Now, I am not suggesting that we pick apart all written statements in the way a lawyer would. Apart from anything else it would make things terribly dull. English is rich with metaphor and simile, and that's why it's so much fun. But I think a little caution could be applied.

Instead of never, consider "rarely", "unlikely",  or "not on my watch", possibly.
Instead of impossible, try "extremely difficult", or "cost prohibitive".


Wednesday, 22 January 2014


I write a lot about non-standard use of language, and try to differentiate between that and "wrong".

For example there are dialects where the use of unusual grammatical forms are standard within that dialect. So they are not wrong, not exactly. They are correct within that dialect, and only wrong outside of it. Casual observers sometimes cause offence by not understanding this.

But there's something that's even trickier, personal, and.....a  minefield.

Incorrect spelling of names.

You see, some people deliberately spell their child's name "creatively". That then, is the correct spelling. No matter how strange it looks, it was chosen that way.

What when the parent was just bad at spelling?

Believe it or not, I have run into this a few times. Two of them I can even tell you about as all those involved are now dead.

When I was a little girl I knew a lady named Maybel. Being a child I had the nerve to ask her her why she spelled it that way, and she smiled. She said her parents couldn't read very well, and that was how they thought you spelled Mabel. Maybel is quite pretty, don't you think? I can imagine a "creative" person going further and making it Maybelle.

And then there was Jhon. He was teased right through school, and as an adult would spell it John for casual use, but of course it was on all his official documents. There's no getting round it, it was an error. Everybody knows it's an error. It's like wearing a neon sign that says "My parents were illiterate". Embarrassing and not funny.

I know two young people whose names are one letter off a common, normal name, and there is no way of knowing if it was deliberate or not. I suspect not. Their parents could read and write, but let's be honest and say not particularly well. The parents in both cases now use social media and they demonstrate their lack of ability in English very clearly.

Nobody with half an ounce of tact would point it out. But I wonder how often it is accidentally written correctly, if you see what I mean, and the poor kid has to say "No, actually I spell it............."

Monday, 20 January 2014

Language Geeks Only

This blog is published primarily for the link it shall be given from a group I belong to on Facebook, the Language Pedantics Association, and will probably be of no interest to anyone else, but you never know.

Now, as I've said before, I'm not really as pedantic as they say I am. I like to have fun with language. I don't believe it's necessary to write in formal English at all times. This is not a thesis. And perfection is absolutely not necessary. You should not need a degree in English to write a blog. Nobody cares if you don't know how to use a semi-colon, or if you can't spell phthisis.

If you deliberately use non-standard English for fun, then it's fun. In social media slang is perfectly acceptable. I have no issue with dunno, gimme, wassat, etc. But I honestly think some people do value the help they get with little tips on how not to make actual grammatical errors.

I have many times mentioned the error of "I use to" instead of "I used to". I see very highly educated people make this mistake. Spellchecker won't pick it up. The reason people write this, is because in fast speech the two sounds of D and T can't both be heard.

If you substitute other words, you quickly see that a D is required on the end of use.

I used to go to Paris.
I wanted to go to Paris.
I loved to go to Paris.

(The two distinct D and T sounds can't really be heard in loved either, but for some reason, you don't see that one written wrongly.)

So, I have passed on this tip: try substituting a different word, if you're not sure.

But it's not that people are not sure. They don't stop and ponder over it. They write quickly, and don't notice the error. They may do if enough annoying people like me point it out, but I'm never rude enough to do so at the time, only in blogs like this. So, you may be a culprit, reading this, oblivious to it.


This cropped up on a forum and it was pointed out to me that it is a bit confusing because when it's in one negative form, the D ending is not correct. I'll explain.

"Didn't you use to go to Paris?" is correct. Apparently this is confusing. Well, no it isn't, and it's also not a big deal.

How often do you say things like that? Seriously, I don't think I've ever asked that in my life.

But if you do, just substitute another word to check!

Didn't you like to go to Paris?
Didn't you want to go to Paris?

No D.

I can explain why this is, with verbs used as adjectives, and the complexities of auxiliary verbs, but honestly, you don't need to know all that, just know that despite all the weirdness of English grammar there is a certain amount of regularity that helps you.

"I use to" is wrong. There are no exceptions to this.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014


Every so often I prove that I'm either brave or stupid by writing about something highly controversial. I don't expect everyone to agree with me, but I do expect them, if they read it, to read it properly, and not object before they've finished. Today I'm going to tackle the gun thing.

I'll start by making one thing quite straight. I'm not anti-gun, and alas, I'm not a pacifist. I'm a bit too pragmatic for that. I do own a gun, and I am quite a good shot. I once belonged to a rifle club, and I did manage to shoot myself there. I have also shot someone, thankfully right in the buttock, but that's what happens when bored teenagers have access to guns. So there's a few factoids for you.

The argument goes that you are safer if you own a gun. I think that's debatable.

I read a story this week of a man who was shot dead in a movie theatre for texting on his phone.

Now, while we probably don't have the whole story here, I think a few things are obvious. One of them concerns the mental state of the killer. Something is not right when a person gets that angry, that quickly, and resorts to such means to deal with it. In other reports (I don't know if this is accurate) the deputy sitting beside this incident was armed, and this did not prevent the shooting. It happened very quickly. But perhaps the saddest thing about it are the comments on a number of the sites where people show approval of the killer's actions. That is to say, they believe it was justified.

What has happened to a society that it believes such a thing?

In the United States any conversation on "gun rights" tends to bring up the Second Amendment to the Constitution, the right to keep and bear arms. Americans are notoriously protective of this, and oppose any effort to change it or moderate it. The fact that it is an amendment suggests that changes can be made to the constitution, or to its interpretation, and indeed in 1876 there were limitations applied to this, and there have been ever since.

But at the time of the original amendment, 1791, it was a very different world anyway, and the whole point of this was to provide a standing army to defend the nation, not to pick off one another. I am absolutely certain, that nobody at the time ever intended it to be used to settle a petty argument.

Of course, we know from the history of the "Wild West" it soon fell to that, but you'd think in 2014 people would have collectively evolved from frontier mindsets. No. There is still an idea deeply rooted that there is an innate right to shoot someone because he annoys you. Mindsets cannot be changed by laws. That said, laws can and do help speed up the process of changing cultural attitudes. When you grow up in a society that restricts the use of guns, it seems normal, it seems right, and generally it is accepted. Therefore, placing restrictions on gun ownership does help reduce tragic incidents like the one above.

Now, there's a cute idea going around in the gun control topic where a man's answer to "guns kill people" is "spoons made me fat". It's funny. It's a silly analogy though. As this one keeps cropping up, I'll spell it out why it doesn't actually work like that.

The comparison is delivery systems. A spoon is a food delivery system. A gun is a death delivery system. That's pretty much where the comparison ends.

You see, a spoon can easily be substituted. You can use a fork, serves the same purpose, and if the food is too runny, just sup it straight from the bowl. If all else fails, use your hands. It's a bit messy but it does the same job. Food is necessary for survival, so it must be delivered, one way or another. What makes you fat is too much of it, if you restrict the quantity it won't happen.

A gun substitute is harder to find. You could use a knife, but it requires close contact. Unless you are good with a throwing knife, or possibly a spear, or a bow and arrow. A cursory glance at the history of warfare will demonstrate the superiority of the gun as a means of delivering death, even with very skilled and brave opposition in large numbers. Delivery of death is not usually necessary for survival, except in times of war, or other situations of self-defence, and indeed even then, it is sometimes possible to avoid it. And you can't have a partial death. Either the gun kills or it doesn't. And there are no diets that bring people back.

So, no, a spoon is not like a gun.

So if guns are efficient, then doesn't that prove we should all have one. Well, no, not really. Because they are only useful in one very clear and precise set of circumstances, as follows:

1. The threat you face is seen coming, giving you time to react.
2. You have a clear shot, and you are skilled enough to get it right first time.
3. Your gun is loaded, and in your hand.

How often does that happen, in reality? Usually, the threat catches you by surprise, you don't have time to react, and in any case you can't, because your gun is locked away, or simply elsewhere. Even if it's in a holster on your person, how fast can you draw, are you Billy the Kid?

And if you really are that good, are you sure it's the right thing to do? What if you discover afterwards that the "threat" was not real, that the other guy was unarmed, and it was all much ado about nothing?

I have heard women tell me they keep a gun in the drawer beside their bed to shoot rapists who break in. It's one reason boyfriends get accidentally shot in the dark. It's also a way for very quiet burglars to acquire guns. I would also ask, are you sure you could pull that trigger? Some could, some couldn't. Could you hit him, if you'd just woken up, your hands were shaking and he was moving towards you? Or would you miss, or panic, and give him an opportunity to grab the gun off you? Until you've been there, you don't know.

Still, I do understand a woman doing that. Humans live in fear of one another.

It's not just Americans though.

In Switzerland, another place where every citizen is required to own a gun to defend the nation if need be, the rate of death by gun "incidents" is also very high. Yes, in peaceful old Switzerland. It's higher than any other European country. It is 16 times higher than in the UK, for example. In fact if you study the relationship between gun ownership and gun deaths around the world, with a few exceptions, there is a close correlation between availability and use. Possibly more importantly, in places where gun control has been put in place, deaths by gun do tend to reduce as expected. It's not 100%, because obviously illegal weapons still exist. Nevertheless it's shown time after time to be a worthwhile thing to do.

The problem really, in trying to demonstrate whether you are safer with more or less guns around, is that it is easy to count deaths by guns, and not so easy to count deaths from lack of a gun. Would the texting gentleman in the movie theatre be alive if he'd had a gun? Maybe. But it's utterly impossible to say. It's possible that the dead man would simply be the one who drew first. This does not reduce deaths, it just changes the names. Possibly both of them would have been killed. Possibly bystanders too. Nobody can say, because it wasn't what happened. It's so easy to second guess an event, and much harder to make accurate predictions.

Having considered all of this and more, it seems clear to me that there are too many guns, and many of them in the hands of the wrong people. I don't believe we can do away with them, at the very least police officers, soldiers, zoo keepers, farmers, and certain other people need them. In an ideal world it would be restricted to these. But it's time that restrictions were in place for the general public, it is far too easy to legally obtain weapons and ammunition and use them in a hissy fit.

But it doesn't end there. We have a society that is broken when this is happening. When onlookers cheer. When killing is seen as justified. I agree that the people holding the guns are the real problem, and I don't see ANY efforts being made there.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Imperfect People

I watched a great movie yesterday, called "Nowhere Boy", about the teenage years of John Lennon. It was recommended to me as being reasonably accurate, based on Paul McCartney objecting to the original script, and actually being listened to. I had watched a previous movie on the same topic "In His Life" and it was interesting to compare the way the characters around him were portrayed.

Apparently what Paul had especially tried to get across was the complexity of the personality of John's Aunt Mimi. We all have strange relatives, and different family members see them from different angles, so there isn't always a consensus of opinion. Few of us have a relative portrayed in numerous movies, like this lady. Anyway, it fell to Paul to try to set the record straight, because she's often described as quite an unsympathetic person. He insisted this was not how it was.

From the little I can glean from stories and movies, this lady was a "survivor". A woman doing her best, sometimes making mistakes.

That's all any of us can ever do, our best. None of us have all the answers. We can't predict the future. Sometimes we make mistakes in our judgement of what to do, say, or refuse, when it comes to the people we care about. Our own background experiences and upbringing come into play. Our fears, our own needs, and our lack of understanding often affect our decisions.

Is that an excuse?


I have a mantra, and I make no apologies for repeating myself. Excuses and explanations are two different things.

It is a good idea to seek an explanation for bad behaviour. It helps you understand why. It may make you more understanding. It may allow you to forgive a person.

There is always an explanation. It may not be logical, it may point to foolishness rather than wisdom, and any number of human weaknesses. It may not be an explanation you like. But there is always one, somewhere.

An excuse is different. It says that the explanation more or less demands that the behaviour is forgiven, and that to not do so would be unreasonable. Excuses are quite rare really.

We are a funny bunch. I've never met a perfect person. I don't believe they exist. They almost can't exist by definition, because a person who never made any mistakes in judgement or behaviour would almost certainly be unsympathetic to those who do, thus negating their perfection.

And it's possible for a very flawed person to be very lovable. In my life I have known people who I could easily have written off as "wrong 'uns" who in fact I found to be people of depth, warmth, and humour, and who I was very fond of. If required to give character assessments, I'd be honest, but balance the negative with plenty of positive.

The question remains really as to where the limit lies. At which point does a person become so "bad" that you remove them from your life?

As many of you know, somebody I care about has been forced to do this with his mother. She's not a wholly bad person, because humans are far more complex than that. But she is a very foolish person, and a very manipulative person. Her son is a very forgiving person, and she took advantage of that.

It is a very big step for a man to remove his mother from his life. Especially when he has children. It is very sad that it has to be done. But there comes a point when her behaviour is hurting him and his family too often, and too much, and the only way to prevent that is to draw a close to the relationship.

I believe she is a deeply unhappy woman. She has made many mistakes in her life and they have compounded, leaving her in a bad situation with her own life. But these were her choices. I believe she is now "stuck", and her pride and fear is stopping her from changing her situation. That is no reason to treat others badly, to tell lies, to let people down, break promises, and repeat bad behaviours over and over, expecting to be forgiven again, and again, and again. It is the repetition that wears others down. The same bad behaviour, many times. She has been given so many chances. There has to be a limit.

Because at some point, and only you know when, if you allow a person to continue to treat you badly, repeatedly, then you are as much to blame as they are.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

And Nothing Else Matters, this whole topic of health came up again, and not the paying of it, that's a separate issue.

No, once again I was asked, in a roundabout way, whose side I'm on. I've been asked this more times than I can count, and I DON'T TAKE SIDES.

I think it's silly. No, it's absolutely ridiculous.

What sides? Those of modern and alternative medicine.

I utterly refute the concept that they should be opposed to each other. And I won't even be patient or tolerant with those who wholly embrace one and eschew the other.

What I want to see, is practitioners on both "sides" working together, sharing their experience, ideas, and research, and finding the best solution in each situation. Because to do anything else is stupid.

Look, what works, works. Isn't that what health care is supposed to be about, treatments and cures? Efficacy? Doesn't it make sense to do what works best, rather than shunning solutions that don't meet your agenda? I'm sorry (no, I'm not really) but that is just asinine.

Right now I see plenty of articles trashing "the other side", rebuttals, and just........... slagging off. This gets us nowhere. Calling people stupid for not following the same tactics as you do doesn't help anyone, this is as bad as the ad hominems in religious arguments. If a person has a strong belief in something, calling them names isn't going to do anything except antagonize them - no wonder the battle lines are drawn up.

I have had good health for most of my life, and I credit this to a combination of luck, genetics, and lifestyle choices. But shit happens. When my gall bladder became an issue I had surgery. Many people tried to talk me out of it, told me to drink milk thistle juice and olive oil. Indeed, my mother-in-law seems to have kept her gall bladder issues under control for over ten years doing just that, and power to her. One could deduce from this that it is a safe and effective alternative.

On the other hand, I had a friend who followed the alternative route and ending up in emergency surgery as she turned yellow from jaundice when bile from her gall bladder backed up into her liver. There is no place for milk thistle and olive oil then. It's time to cut you wide open, get it out, and clean it up, or you die. 

How do you know which it's going to be? You don't. It could go either way. I chose the "let's get it out the easy way" route and have not looked back.

Because you see it's all about what works. Nothing else matters. Pride is stupid. Even professional pride. If you have written books claiming that nobody needs modern medicine, for 20 years, and have staked your reputation on it, and then you need a life saving surgery, if you refuse it based on pride, that is your affair. Die proud then.

What I would object to is that you convinced others to do the same.

Or, if you reject and dismiss alternative remedies that actually do work, just because you are a doctor, you are equally a problem. You made a promise to heal. So heal. If that means that the correct prescription really should be something still considered alternative, swallow your pride and prescribe it.

But it doesn't stop there. Research is where it's at. Research funding should be available for everything, not just profitable drugs. We will not move forward if ideas are dismissed out of hand just because they don't suit the agenda. It's no secret that many pharmaceutical drugs have been developed from botanicals, so why not look at others?

The over prescription of antibiotics is a problem, the bacteria are becoming resistant. We were warned about this a long time ago but it was dismissed. Now it's a real issue. So when I was using garlic oil for my kids' ears 30 years ago, and being ridiculed, I was just doing what is now being recommended by doctors. Had we listened to the naturopaths on this occasion, we might not be in this situation. It was sensible advice.

I'll repeat myself to make a point. An effective remedy is an effective remedy is an effective remedy. The rest is details.

EDIT: Just remembered something. Talking of nonsense spoken by those with an agenda. I read an article suggesting that people should only eat NATIVE VEGETABLES. That is to say, vegetables that originate in the area where you live. Well, good luck with that North America. There is only one vegetable native to North America, and that only grows in the warmer parts, it is the artichoke. So if you hear of anyone recommending this, please remind them to do their research before such impossible recommendations.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

For Irene

That's not her real name. Irene represents that person you know who thinks socialized health care is socialism. Irene is not very smart. She doesn't even know what socialism means, and I don't have the year or so it would take to teach her. But I'm going to explain something for her in very small words.

Pretend there is a big bucket. You have some potatoes. In fact you have a few potatoes you can spare, so you put them in the bucket. Your neighbours all put potatoes in the bucket. Everyone in town puts potatoes in a bucket. There are lots of potatoes in the bucket.

One day you have no potatoes. So you take some potatoes out of the bucket. Now you have potatoes.

This is how insurance works. Lots of people pay in, and when one of them needs some, they get some out.

Now, pretend you and all your neighbours have a big bucket. You have some potatoes. In fact you have a few potatoes you can spare, so you put them in the bucket. Your neighbours all put potatoes in the bucket. Everyone in town puts potatoes in a bucket. There are lots of potatoes in the bucket.

One day you have no potatoes. So you take some potatoes out of the bucket. Now you have potatoes.

This is how socialized health care works. Lots of people pay in, and when one of them needs some, they get some out.

Obviously, it is VERY different to insurance.

Friday, 3 January 2014


Why can't debates include beliefs?

Here's a simple explanation to begin with. I've mentioned it before, so forgive me, and I've spoken about it humorously, but, read it carefully and see what the problem is.

My husband is part polar bear. I am a tropical animal. I am always too cold, he is always too warm. We do annoy each other with this, as it's hard to compromise on a temperature we are sharing. But that isn't the REAL problem. The REAL problem is how it gets spoken about. It goes like this:

I say "I'm cold".

He says "It's not cold".

See the difference there? I am making a statement about my feelings. He is stating what he considers to be a fact.

I could argue with his fact, because "cold" is a relative term, but I'm not really trying to argue that. I'm talking about my own experience.

He, on the other hand, cannot argue about my experience because he isn't me.

Who is right, and who is wrong? This cannot be answered. Or, the answer may as well be "orange" because a fact can only be argued as a fact, and an experience can only be experienced.

He COULD say "I don't believe you are cold" but that doesn't solve anything. It is my heartfelt belief that I am cold. Nothing is going to stop me believing that. You can't talk me out of being cold. Even if I pretend I'm warm, I still feel cold.

I COULD tell him that his idea of what is or is not cold is wrong, but I can't prove it, because I'm only basing my theory that it's wrong on my own feelings.

Facts and data are one thing. Feelings and beliefs are quite another. They don't work as opposing positions.

This Blog Is NOT About Dog Treats

Over the last few years there have been so many articles, rumours, recalls, reports, and worries about dog treats that I have lost count. Dogs have died. Vets have given out warnings.

People are still buying dog treats.

I am sympathetic, but I still shake my head.

But if you read the title carefully, this blog is NOT about dog treats. It's about cause and effect, and I am desperately concerned about my species and their apparent inability to follow "If X, then Y".

If you like, you can look at human treats. Perhaps this sort of thing could be a basic primer. Again, this blog is NOT about human treats. But riddle me this:

Humans know, because they've been told often enough, that certain foods are healthier than others. Some folk are extremist about it, and that's their prerogrative, while others ignore any advice on nutrition completely. Somewhere between the two, most people know that some food items are best eaten rarely, as a treat. This is because they know that "If you eat junk treats all the time, then you will get sick." It makes no sense to opt for sickness, so most of us remember that. Nevertheless, some people eat far more junk treats than the human system can deal with and they get sick. And then they complain about it.

There's this old joke, where a man goes to his doctor and says "Doc, when I do this (action) it hurts!" so the doctor says "Well, stop doing it then." Ha ha ha ha ha. (O.o)

OK. If the action is walking, it's hard to avoid. If it's guzzling 4 litres of pop every day, maybe a lifestyle adaptation could be made. Oh, the unfairness of it.

I currently see one of my key roles in the life of my grandchildren as that of a teacher. The wise elder deal. Evolution prefers children to have grandparents, otherwise we'd all die as soon as our kids were of breeding age. Some research has been done on this, there is an obvious advantage to having older people around or there wouldn't be any. Nature is not wasteful.

And one of the things I aim to teach them is cause and effect. they teach it to themselves in a way, but sometimes pointing it out speeds the process up. I am especially keen on teaching #4 grandson that climbing on unsteady objects is a bad idea after what he did to his head last week.

But with the oldest two I can sit and discuss this sort of thing. I find it necessary to do it several times, but they are listening, because you can hear them warning each other: "If you do that then........"

"If you break Nona's pot, she'll kill you."

Sage advice.

The point is, chldren do learn this. They pick it up pretty fast. It does save their lives. It's what stops them touching hot things, running in the road, or getting murdered by their grandmother.

So why do adults have such a hard time with it? Hmm?

I don't think a day goes by that I don't see, hear, or read about somebody who is a perfectly sane, intelligent adult who is COMPLETELY ignoring the laws of cause and effect, as if it doesn't apply to them.

I am not going to furnish you with examples, just in case you recognize yourself among them. That would be awkward. Because IF I call somebody out on their stupidity THEN they tend to be offended and unhappy.