The Hate List – Volume 14

(Originally published on 13th April, 2008)

  1. People who read their phone numbers out loud and break them down into the wrong groups of numbers, eg. “072 814 67 89 4”, leaving you mentally floundering. How hard is it to read the code followed by two trigrams?
  2. Posh crisps, particularly ones which try to make the flavour sound gourmet when really it’s just cheese and onion. The worst I’ve seen so far is “mature cheddar and lyonnaise shallots”.
  3. Anything which advertises itself as containing “Ylang Ylang”. Or anyone who has ever uttered the phrase “Ylang Ylang”.
  4. Collective nouns. Specifically, the belief that every type of living thing (or human profession, inanimate object, etc) has its own collective noun, and that these constitute objective facts and are suitable topics for quizzes. The oldest collective nouns for animals (“terms of venery”) were invented by hunters as poetic names for their quarry, so I might, at a stretch, accept the legitimacy of a question such as “What is the traditional term for a group of hogs? A parcel,” although it would require careful research since “a passel” is a regional variant therefore equally “traditional”. Such terms are still essentially made-up and only have a de facto “correctness” to the extent that they’ve been used to the exclusion of others by a particular group of people (the hunting community) for a few hundred years. Any others are modern inventions which, while I have no problem with people using them, have no legitimate claim to being “the correct” terms for their relevant groups. Next time you hear someone (likely a quizmaster) stating as much, ask the following questions: According to what authority? And if you mean by the authority of common usage, when was the last time you either used an obscure collective noun yourself or heard anyone else use one, other than in a quiz or to impress with trivial knowledge?
  5. When a bar is showing music videos on its TV screens, but for different songs than the songs being played in the bar. Especially when the videos you are watching are for better songs than the ones being played.
  6. Wilful misuse and misrepresentation of science in advertising. Eg., in the John Lewis Christmas 2007 catalogue: “HoMedics PM-35 Atom massager. This battery-operated massager emits positively charged energy for instant pain relief. £9.95” What, it’s an alpha radiation source? Surely that would bring, not instant pain relief, but instant skin burning, delayed nausea and eventual death?
  7. The CGI in cosmetics adverts which demonstrate the bogus science being used to sell the product. Shampoo molecules gliding through strands of hair, magically fusing the cracks back together. How is this allowed? It’s deception and fraud.
  8. The Davina McCall adverts for Garnier hair dye. ‘Don’t worry mum, it’s Nutrisse. “Nutrisse” means “nourish”.’ Oh yeah? In what fucking language exactly?
  9. People who say that atheism is a religion, because it’s just as dogmatic as believing in God. It’s true that some atheists are pretty dogmatic, but there’s still one fundamental difference. If there’s no evidence that something exists, then by default one should assume it probably doesn’t. Dogmatically insisting that it doesn’t is a little over the top. Dogmatically insisting it does is lunacy.
  10. Imagine the following: you’re out walking in a dense crowd. You’re holding in your hand an upright stick, from the top of which protrude a number of two-foot-long pointed metal spikes. The spikes stick out horizontally in all directions, extending into other people’s personal space, at roughly eye level. And rather than handling this absurdly dangerous object with the care it warrants, you’re blithely waving it around within the crowd, paying no attention to where you’re poking the spikes. Assessment: you’re a social menace; you need to be stopped immediately, and possibly charged with willful endangerment of others; the object should be destroyed, and if there are others, they should be banned. Why then, if a canvas sheet is stretched between the spikes, is this behaviour regarded as acceptable? By carrying an umbrella you are making the following statement to the world: “I would rather risk facially disfiguring countless other people than let my own hair get wet.”
  11. Trivia smugmerchants who’ll tell you that, for example, Mars isn’t actually red, it just looks red because red light is reflected by the dust in its atmosphere. If something reflects red light, thus causing a red sensation in your visual field, it is by definition red. OK, so the rocks forming the surface of Mars, if viewed in ideal conditions, are brown. But you didn’t ask, “What colour are the rocks forming the surface of Mars, if viewed in ideal conditions?” You asked, “What colour is Mars?”, and the dust in Mars’ atmosphere is as much a part of Mars as anything else. Another annoying example is, “Polar bears aren’t white. Their skin is black and their hairs are transparent, although they reflect white light so appear white.” A single polar bear hair, viewed under a microscope, may well be transparent. But when it’s with several million other hairs in a coat, they reflect white light – HENCE THEY ARE WHITE. And hence, in turn, polar bears are white. The fact there’s a black layer somewhere underneath doesn’t make polar bears, as a whole, black, any more than I am red.
  12. The depressingly large percentage of our time and effort which is spent simply countering or slowing entropy.
  13. People who drive at 40 mph down single-carriage A roads and open country roads, and then when the road enters a village and the limit drops to 30 mph, continue to do a steady 40 mph through it.
  14. People who loiter in nightclub toilets and expect you to tip them for turning on the tap.
  15. Shaving companies which roll out one useless gimmick after another under the name of innovation. Moisturing strip? Because my skin just can’t wait those few more seconds while I apply it from a bottle. Number of blades? Really, you’ve got to stop cramming them in now. Vibrating handle? I can’t think of anything I’d want my razor to do less, than wobble about in my hand while I’m using it. And the business model which says, I’ll sell you a handle at £15, and replaceable heads at £2 a go… until 12 months from now, when I’ll discontinue that line of heads, and force you to buy a new handle compatible with the latest absurd, 7-bladed vibro-heads.
  16. People who don’t look after your CDs and DVDs properly when you lend them out, and when you go to get them back, they retrieve the loose discs from a pile of shit on top of their desk, and then have to scrabble around behind a chair to find the cases.
  17. Arguments over whether men or women have a higher pain threshold, inevitably including the statement, “men have a lower pain threshhold than women – I’d like to see a man endure childbirth!” That’s funny, because I’d like to see a woman ENDURE the pain of childbirth, i.e. grit their teeth and patiently bear it. I’ve only ever seen them screaming and wailing like they’re about to die. Perhaps men might be able to endure it better? But we’ll never know, because you’ve conveniently chosen the one form of pain upon which it’s impossible to test the hypothesis.
  18. Arguments over whether men or women are better drivers, which inevitably reach the opposing statements, “women are better drivers because they have fewer accidents,” and, “men are better drivers because they are more spatially aware.” I’m not going to dispute whether the factual generalisations are borne out by statistics; that men have more high speed smashes, while women have more low speed parking/reversing bumps. Even if they are, it’s pointless to infer from them that one sex or the other is “better”, because their value systems are just as different as their driving capabilities. Men think skill and manoeuvre are more important; women think safety and caution are. The argument will always be at cross-purposes.
  19. Women who smugly say, “men can’t multi-task.” Odd how they never mention the converse. Yes, in general women are better at coping with several different concurrent tasks. But at the expense of being much less able to focus continuously on one single task.
  20. Women who smugly say, “women are more in touch with their emotions than men.” Apparently, for women, “being in touch with your emotions” means “existing at the mercy of every slightest hormonal fluctuation.” Women are so proud of their self-proclaimed superiority and yet they’re all emotional trainwrecks. Personally, I prefer to be “out of touch with my emotions,” meaning, “able to control your emotions and still have rational thoughts at the same time.”
  21. People who jocularly refer to William Shakespeare as ‘Will Shakespeare’.
  22. People who ‘humourously’ observe that the phrase, “you can’t have your cake and eat it,” doesn’t make sense. It makes perfect sense. “Having your cake,” in this context, means preserving it in pristine, whole condition, and admiring its perfection qua cake. You can’t do that if you’re going to enjoy it as a cake is meant to be enjoyed, by eating it. And vice versa. It’s an interesting dilemma which crops up in real life all the time. “Huh huh, surely you have to have the cake in order to eat it!?” Shut up, you moron.
  23. People who are politically and historically ignorant enough to be manipulated into believing whatever the powers that be want them to. Like Scots who think that the history of their country is of all Scots being oppressed at all times by all Englishmen. And Muslims whipped up into a fervour by imams showing them Danish Muhammad cartoons, but with extra super-offensive ones that they’d added in.
  24. The idea that everyone has a right to float blissfully and ignorantly through life without ever being confronted by something with questions or offends their naive, delicate sensibilities. And that everyone else should tiptoe around them for fear of infringing that right.
  25. When a good film and an excellent sequel are ruined by an utterly wank third installment. The studio execs, who simply see the profit in continuing an established series, and are therefore successfully following the principles they live by, I actually hate LESS than the writers and ‘creatives’. These people, I strongly suspect, genuinely believe that two films are ‘incomplete’ and need a third to make the series artistically sound. What’s artistically sound about tacking on a new plot after a natural resolution? Nothing. NOT EVERYTHING HAS TO BE A TRILOGY.
  26. Companies which still base their business model on the idea of withholding information except to those who pay for it. And governments who believe that controlling and restricting information is a way of retaining power. These ideas used to be valid – until around the mid-1990s. We no longer live in a world where information can be controlled. That’s just a brute fact. A lot of people haven’t yet come to terms with it, but there’s nothing that can be done to change it now. The People’s Republic of China, the RIAA, et al, you should cash your stock in now and quit. You can paper over the cracks for a while but fairly soon you’ll have to accept that the world you thrived in is gone. Seriously: just give up.
  27. Soo from Sooty and Sweep. You are worthless. Sooty and Sweep just want to get up to a bit of harmless mischief, and I say good for them. What do you fucking achieve? You contribute nothing. Take your smug, self-proclaimed maturity and mawkish, whiney moralising and shove it up your furry arse.
  28. Sports punditry. People who are paid to analyse the significance of, say, a team losing its third game in a row. And then call for the manager’s resignation. Has any of them analysed statistically how many teams you’d expect, by random chance, to lose three games in a row at some point in an average season? And then resigned themselves in shame at their pointless existence?
  29. Thieving sluts who work in advertising and spend their lives looking for clever, creative things that other people have done, and stealing them. And then invading your brain with evil marketing filth.
  30. Paul Burrell. Lord Justice Scott Baker said in his summary at the 2007 Diana inquest that “it was blindingly obvious that the evidence that he gave in this court was not the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.” Why is he still in the US filming American Princess? Someone extradite the fat leech so he can face criminal charges.

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