With a new year, comes a look back at the last year. So I present to you this collection of my best posts of 2021, listed in no particular order.
In mid-2019, I switched from posting daily to posting Monday through Friday. That means I produce about 208 posts per year. So when I sat down to make a list of my best posts of 2021, I still had many posts to consider.
How do you determine your best work over a year’s time? Some posts are always going to be better than others. After more than 17 years of running this blog, there are still posts I go back and look at and cringe.
We can all be our toughest critics. I suppose for bloggers, that will often be true.
In selecting the 10 below, I tried to find posts that said something important, explained something you may not have known, or were at least entertaining in their attempt to do one or the other.
The topic that I always consider excluding is the one that tends to get me the most page views: grammar. When I write a typical grammar post, I tend to write a shorter, “how-to” style post about writing. While they’re apparently instructional enough that they garner a lot of page views, they’re not what I consider to be masterpieces. They serve their purpose to be sure, but for the “best of” content, I tend to look elsewhere.
In the meantime, you can find all grammar-related posts right here.
Now, on with the list, and again, it’s in no particular order!
The cult of Trump can’t seem to resist the opportunity to thank our former president for his work in expediting the development of a vaccine against COVID. When they aren’t dropping in a juvenile “Let’s go, Brandon,” it’s “Thanks, Trump!” That’s exactly the point where things get interesting.
Some of his most ardent supporters are only too happy to publicly praise Trump for the vaccine. But many of those ardent supporters won’t take it themselves. Some have even booed their president when he urged them to take it.
So what’s the point of the praise?
If you believe COVID-19 is a hoax — and clearly some still do — you can’t believe Trump should be praised for speeding up the process to fight a disease that doesn’t exist.
If you believe the vaccine is untrustworthy — and clearly some still do — you can’t believe Trump should be praised for speeding up the process to add that same vaccine to our nation’s arsenal.
In either scenario, Trump can only come off looking like a con man, not someone who did something great.
For the record, I absolutely credit Trump for cutting the red tape to get the vaccine distributed faster than it otherwise might have been. I do believe the vaccine is safe and I do believe it was sufficiently tested.
I also believe COVID-19 is a real disease and that the vaccine and other precautions like face coverings help stop its spread.
If you don’t believe any of that, stop praising Trump for anything to do with the vaccine. You only succeed in making yourself look ridiculous.
Every February, we celebrate Black History Month. A few of the more ignorant — and racist — among us, always chime in with their demand.
“When is White History Month?” they snidely ask.
It’s getting old. It has been getting old now for decades. Even a skim through American history would indicate to most people how much discrimination can be found through the pages. Some history courses easily skip over contributions by people of color in this country. Each new year’s Black History Month reveals new stories we hadn’t heard before.
As I said in the post, when we learned about American history, it was almost always told from the white perspective. I suspect most whites wouldn’t want to sit through a course told from the Black perspective. That would be far too uncomfortable for most of us.
And maybe that’s the best answer as to why we don’t have — or need — a white history month.
As I said in the post, you can count on a 100% chance that you, no matter when you read this, will die at some point in the future. No one escapes this life without a death.
But to suggest, “Well, everybody dies,” as an answer to a report about yet another person dying of COVID-19 makes you sound like a remarkably flippant, remarkably ignorant human being. The majority of people who toss that little saying around do so as a justification for avoiding the COVID-19 vaccine or dodging commonsense steps like face coverings designed to slow or stop the spread of the disease.
But what does that mean?
Everybody dies. But we visit doctors to ensure our continued health. We lock our doors to prevent danger from entering our home. We even use seat belts and obey traffic signals to make sure we’re not involved in a deadly crash.
Why do we do any of those things if everybody dies?
It’s clear some value life far too little these days. In life were fair, they might find themselves being the first to go. I hope they’re at least glad that life isn’t fair.
What does a Crock Pot full of beef stew have to do with crafting a blog post? That’s what you might wonder when you click that link.
Long before I begin typing up a post, I try to give the notion time to “simmer” in the back of my head for a while. Every person’s writing process can vary greatly. As the popular saying goes, your mileage may vary. But this part of my writing process seems to work pretty well for me, so I presented it in the hopes that it might inspire others.
The phrase, “Let’s Go, Brandon” entered our culture through a reporter’s misquoting of a fans chanting at a NASCAR event. You must decide for yourself whether you believe that misquote was intentional or accidental. But which you believe remains irrelevant. The phrase — because of the misquote — has become a euphemism for a vulgarity I won’t print here directed at President Joe Biden.
The people who happily drop the phrase everywhere would have gotten their underwear in an uncomfortable bunch if a similar phrase had been dropped against the previous president. But they have no problem using it against the current one.
Even worse, some Christians, who should certainly know better, have no issue using the phrase. That brought me to a topic I’ve touched on before: Christians and their growing use of profanity. Some who feign outrage when they hear profanity don’t mind using Brandon-like euphemisms when it’s convenient. A growing number, particularly among the Progressive Christian movement, don’t mind using profanity on podcasts and even in book titles or Christian-themed clothes.
The defense always seems to bring Jesus into it, reminding everyone that Jesus hung out with sinners and this use of profanity is merely a contemporary example of spending time with the sinners. The Bible, however, does not state that Jesus sinned while hanging out with the sinners. In other words, Jesus was in the world without being of the world.
Maybe today’s Christians should spend a bit more time thinking of that a bit less time trying to be “hip.”
It always astounds me how little logic and imagination some religious people possess. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve seen overly-religious folks claim God will “take care of them” through the pandemic.
They scoff at the vaccine and the concern over COVID-19, convinced that just because they believe, they don’t need to worry. They don’t need to wear face coverings and they certainly don’t need that vaccine they distrust.
Former presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg raised the question. What if God planned the vaccine and guided the vaccine developers who worked at “warp speed” to create it? What if God saw this terrible plague and provided us with the vaccine to save lives?
If you think that’s impossible, I wonder how you can believe how more seemingly outlandish stories in the Bible could be even remotely plausible.
You might also explain, while you’re at it, how each believer came to meet their death at the hands of the pandemic? Why didn’t God “cover” them?
I don’t do sponsored posts on this blog. I make that more than clear on my contact page, but that doesn’t stop people — some of them likely scammers — from scrolling right past that to inquire about them.
But someone sent me a request for pricing for a sponsored post that I would have to run without noting it as sponsored.
One of the key things we bloggers hear should be a priority with our site is integrity. We should be authentic in everything we do on our blog.
How authentic would it be, then, to post content written by someone else that you were paid to post without being transparent about the payment?
I consider that unethical. Some bloggers, apparently, wouldn’t. It makes me wonder what their definition of “being authentic” might be.
Early last year, singer Demi Lovato announced the adoption of they, them and theirs for personal pronouns. That again brought up the grammatical conundrum about singular they.
Some people get seriously bent out of shape when a plural pronoun is used to describe a single person. Others suggest that even William Shakespeare used singular they in his writings.
The fact is we use it whether you care to admit it or not. But when we use it, we’re describing a single, though non-specific person. (I provided an example in the post.) But when you use a plural pronoun to describe a specific named person, it gets awkward. It gets confusing.
I think we have to be respectful of people’s gender identity. I also think, however, we have to be clear in our writing to avoid confusing our audience.
The two, unfortunately, are not always the same.
I’m the type of guy who holds doors open for people. There was a time when we called that chivalry or just plain politeness. I hold doors for people of all ages, shapes and sizes.
And genders. That last one seems to be an issue for some people. I’m not sure why that is.
If I hold open a door for someone, most of the time, I don’t do it because I think they can’t get the door themselves.
Once in a while, I might make that assumption. But then, you see, I would still hold the door even if I didn’t make such an assumption. And I never say anything to indicate any assumption either way.
I do believe men should hold doors for women. But I’m not the only one who believes the reverse isn’t so terrible, either. It’s a matter of who gets there first and common courtesy.
But, you know, it’s the 21st century…so what am I thinking?!?
I don’t typically include something to recent. This post, after all, just went up last week. But I include it as a tribute to one of my closest friends who lost a long battle with cancer a few days after Christmas.
After her initial diagnosis and surgery, she received good news from her doctor. But the cancer returned. Her oncologist recommended a cutting-edge treatment to which she did not respond. Thanks to medical technology, there was a Plan B on deck. To this, her body responded quite well. A look at PET scans taken a few months apart — from before to several months after she began the second medication — showed a near miraculous clearing of the cancer.
Given how aggressive her cancer was, it was about as extraordinary a result as anyone could have dreamed about.
She was adamant that no one ever say she was beating cancer. She knew quite well that cancer, sooner or later, would beat her. To her, it was a matter of “kicking a can down the road.” Postponing the inevitable.
But the rest of us assumed — we allowed ourselves to assume because we needed to assume — that she was beating cancer. That road, we believed, would be a lot longer than it turned out to be.
We should never assume when it comes to something as precious as life or those we hold dear.
Maybe, in 2022, we can all do a better job of showing how much we value those folks in our lives. We never know how long we’ll have.