Posted by: Harold Knight | 01/25/2010

A Percieved [sic] negative stimulus (Urban Dictionary)

Disclaimers:
1.    However one might perceive the writing below, the subject is not me or my (assumed) brain and/or emotional disorders.
2.    If anyone can tell me why inserting pictures here used to be so easy before my PC died but is now impossible because I use my laptop (they come out as empty boxes with the little red X in the corner), I would certainly appreciate some help. 

Anyone who has read what I write knows that I have a mild incarnation of hypergraphia (I don’t keep a minute-by-minute diary of my life), caused, perhaps, by my mild case of Temporal Lobe Epilepsy, aggravated (the jury is out) by Bipolar Disorder, complicated by sleep deprivation (this is absolutely true). 

What a kick in the pants! as we might have said when I was the age of the college students who do their level best to keep me young. The Urban Dictionary online says “Kick in the pants” means  “Percieved [sic] as mostly negative external stimuli intended to have a lasting impact on the subject.” Whether it’s percieved or perceived as a “mostly negative” stimulus (the libertarian in me rejoices in the [almost] total freedom of press and speech on the internet; the English professor thinks no one should be allowed to show her ignorance, at least of basic language tools such as spelling) makes a huge difference. 

I will vouch for the “mostly negative” stimulus of the combination of brain and/or mood disorders I’ve named above. Or, conversely, I cannot ignore the possibility that the mostly negative traps I allow my mind to fall into cause or (at the very least) aggravate these conditions. 

However, fifty years ago in the plains of Western Nebraska we would have meant something quite positive by exclaiming, “What a kick in the pants!” (I must admit I didn’t look at all of the hundred or more phrases beginning with “kick” in the Urban Dictionary, so perhaps it’s there). A “kick” was something fun, something exciting (“I get a kick out of you”). And, if it was “in the pants,” it was not only mentally and spiritually exciting, but downright physical as well. Sometimes, when I’m thinking somewhat rationally, all of these disorders are a “Kick in the pants” because I get to see things from very strange perspectives. 

Now that I have that settled, I can move on to what I really intended to write about. That’s a lie—I’ve been writing for quite awhile this morning and just now molded the above into sentences that might be decipherable to anyone else; sentences, yes; ideas, I’m not sure. Intentions for writing “about” are not why I begin writing. But an intention to think about perciptions has developed as I’ve been writing. 

Perhaps we can’t “percieve” ideas because we simply can’t spell “perceive.” Think about it. If you are going around thinking a word means something when, in fact, it doesn’t exist, how can you be thinking anything using that combination of letters? If one can’t spell “sectarianism,” or “obstinacy,” or “avarice,” or “xenophobia,” one cannot think about those spiritual illnesses. One’s “perciption” of any/all of those defects of character is likely to be skewed beyond recognition (skew [v.] c.1470, from O.N.Fr. eskiuer “shy away from, avoid,” O.Fr. eschiver.  Meaning “depict unfairly” first recorded 1872, on notion of being slanted. Statistical sense dates from 1929. The adj. meaning “slanting, turned to one side” is recorded from 1609; noun meaning “slant, deviation” first attested 1688—Online Etymology Dictionary). 

I’m not saying that all sectarian or obstinate or avaricious or xenophobic people live in ignorance of the proper spelling of those words. I will, however, say that not being able to think about those character defects has some “mostly negative stimulus.” Perhaps the stimulus is as simple as not being able to spell. More likely, the negative influence is something much more insidious (“stealthily treacherous or deceitful,” Dictionary.com). 

What Americans “don’t want is a Washington takeover of health care along the lines of what we’ve already seen with banks, insurance companies, and the auto industry. Americans don’t want a government-run system that puts bureaucrats between patients and doctors.” Does that mean that Americans want an insurance-company-run system that puts totally unschooled and medically ignorant “customer service” employees, paid by a large corporation, between patients and doctors.

Avarice: This statement was made by Senator Mitch McConnell, the Publican Leader in the Senate, who received more money for his campaigns from Kindred Healthcare between 2005 and 2010 than from any other single source: $108,200. He also received contributions totaling $722,500 from healthcare professionals in the same time period.  (http://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/summary.php?cid=N00003389 )  

“There are jobs available in this country with rates of pay that are far in excess of those of Third World countries. We have on our southern border people who aspire to come to this country. In order to protect our way of life and our standard of living and to protect jobs, we have quotas.” Xenophobia: Senator Mitch McConnell on the proposal for a guest worker program. 
http://www.ontheissues.org/International/Mitch_McConnell_Immigration.htm

It seems so noble to say we need to “protect our way of life.” As someone who works in Farmers Branch, Texas (Google it with “immigration”), I can say without question that phrase only marginally refers to the economics of protecting jobs. It is about language, lightness versus darkness of skin color, country of origin, and family traditions. 

I know better, perhaps, than most people about not being to think straight (no pun intended) because of activities of the brain that cause bizarre feelings, thoughts, and even actions. When I am in the middle of a depression (either caused by TLE or some other “disorder” or not), I can act irresponsibly—most often, but certainly not always—irresponsibly toward myself. The causes of my irresponsibility either to myself or to others are, as with all of us, complex and difficult to determine. 

However, spelling is not my problem. I know how to spell most of the words I use. That’s not my ego talking (perhaps it is my irresponsibility): I have spent a lifetime dealing with words, trying to find the exact spelling of any given concept I’m thinking about. That gives me a fighting chance to use words to think rather than to bandy about ideas that have nothing to do with the real meanings of words. 

I have not singled Senator McConnell out for special treatment. All politicians are, sadly, in the business of not knowing how to spell the words they use.  Let’s pertect our way of life. Let’s put boreaucrats between us and our doctors. Or perhaps they use words knowing perfectly well how to spell them, but substitute them, for nefarious purposes, for words that mean something different to the rest of us. 

What it comes down to is this. There is a difference between a “Kick in the pants,” as most people in my generation might have used the phrase to mean some excitement or something to be happy about, and a “Swift kick in the ass,” which is what our collective thinking (led by our politicians) needs in order to learn how to think with real words.  Let’s learn to spell correctly. 

We have forgotten how to spell one particular word in the interminable debate over health care reform. “Ethical.” Or, perhaps, its kindred word, “moral.” The debate about health care should be about the ethical treatment of members of our society. It should be about moral behavior. Instead of about ecunomics. We need a swift kick in the ass—and not the fun kind.

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