language

Veracity

Posted on April 23, 2012. Filed under: Humor, Journalism, language, Piss Ants | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Olfactory, optical, auditory, tactile…   (Awright!  Smell, sight, hearing, touch!  Happy now?)…   all are senses used to communicate information.  All organisms — fungi, plants, microbes, animals — use one or more of these tools to send and receive information vital to its species’ survival.  Every transmittal is a signal to another that it should respond in kind, do nothing, or initiate an  appropriate complementary action.  All of these signals and responses are, in essence, words, sentences, and paragraphs in that great big story called LIFE.  Consider these basic abilities as hardware essential to each living entity. 

And the CPU?  Easy enough to describe in anything with a recognizable nervous system, but, in anything below that, speculation becomes the sport of the day.  In my mind, since everything we call living must follow the “acquire or avoid” protocol, then everything must have some kind of information processor to determine the appropriate course to follow.  The extent to which this is applied to any one organism is up to the biases of individual observers.

Application of the garnered information may be information specific (a given input always resulting in the same output or action) or situation specific (a given input is weighed against several possible actions, each with a different outcome, before one is decided on).  In essence, through memory and manipulation of available and remembered data, the entity is considering “What if?”

With apparently little in the way of reasoning abilities, plants have been lying to insects for…   well…   a very long time.  Pitcher plants scream out to little bugs, “Hey, I’m just a nice piece of delicious carrion,” and the little bugs jump right into the plants’ stomachs, and we all know how that ends.  Male bees, eager to jump the bones exoskeletons of very receptive female bees, excitedly land on the petals of devious, cross-dressing plants, and, instead of contributing to their own species’ future, wind up artificially inseminating the plants relatives.  Insects, fish, snapping turtles and a host of others practice this prevarication.  A little misinformation can go a  long way toward furthering the liar’s goal.

All life-forms predate humanity, and, story telling is integral to that history.  Deception, based on understanding another’s probable response to received information, rivals it for longevity.  It should be no surprise that humans also are capable of taking an elemental trait and retooling it for self-benefit. 

Knowing our own innate predilection for manipulating data for personal gain, it is easy to attribute such behavior to others of our kind.  Thus, it becomes essential that we get pretty good at ferreting out deceptive intents.

Veracity of content is an elusive shape-shifting phantom, being defined only by the view points of both the story teller and the reader (recipient).  If news is being reported, it can be related straight up as a blow-by-blow account, or, a colorized version can be presented in several ways, such as the use of words that impart opinions, like:   Mr. Wilson questioned the Mayor, who responded with “Absolutely!” vs. Mr. Wilson impatiently questioned the Mayor, whose reply, “Absolutely!”  belied his 4-year track record in office.  A little extra here, some more over there, and, before you know it, a news item becomes a political commentary.   What more can you expect?  Brian the Anchor’s motto echoes through the industry:   “We have to interpret it for the stupid masses (that be us, their audiences) so they can understand it the way we want.”  (Brian didn’t actually say that directly.  I just processed what he did say through my own personal antipathy toward his ilk — and the track record of that ilk.)  And, I really hope that I am talking to people who didn’t believe that tabloid account — with photograph — of the ET presenting a bouquet of flowers to President Clinton.

Next up:  “Freedom of” does not mean “responsibility to…”

 

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All The World’s A Stage

Posted on April 6, 2012. Filed under: Humor, Journalism, language | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

DEFINITIONS FROM THE WINDOWS XP DICTIONARY (because I don’t feel like walking across the room to the real dictionary, picking it up, and then have to turn all those pages by hand)

Journalist:  a writer or editor for a magazine or newspaper, or t.v. or radio

Columnist:  a journalist who writes a regular column for a newspaper or magazine;  a gossip columnist.

Reporter:  someone who finds out facts and reports them for a newspaper, magazine, or t.v., and uses the print or broadcast media to tell others of it.

Correspondent:  someone providing special reports from a particular place or about a specific subject.

Anchor (person):  announcer on a news program providing links between studio and reporters on site (Like, “Now from our correspondent in Bay Root!”

Thespian:  someone who acts on the stage.

Emote:  Display  exaggerated emotions, as in playing a dramatic part.

DEFINITION FROM COLUMNIST MICHELLE MALKIN (just because that sweet baby rocks)

Anchor person:  A teleprompter reader.  (See also thespian and emote above)

Ouch!  That has to hurt an over-inflated journalist’s ego.  I mean, c’mon, Michelle.  Are you implying that those guys and gals (or gals and guys, whichever is politically correct) are nothing more than actors acting like they really know what they are reading talking about?  That, when Brian Williams says he has to find out all that stuff that is happening and then interpret it for all the rest of us, he really means that reporters and clerks assemble their information with their conclusions, print it out on the teleprompter (probably in giant letters so the suave anchor doesn’t have to squint or wear bifocals), and then, keeping a straight face, he reads it out while emoting like a method actor?  Oh, Brian, say it isn’t true!

Literally everything that has a federally licensed frequency and broadcasts (what it says is) news employs the journalist ilk.  Any printed media taps into that same labor pool, all graduating from some college or technical school that touts the electronic marvels of the industry or the more vain celebrity of it.  Anyway, it’s a paying job, and in our overpopulated societies, those gigs are in big demand.  And, the schools pump out those cub reporters like ants from a disturbed mound.

These junior Jimmy Olsens make the piss ant list every time they show up at a neighborhood tragedy, home in on a shocked, grieving relative, shove that microphone in her/his face and ask such relevant questions as “how do you feel right now?”  They do a real good job, too, at polluting potential jury pools by airing off-hand, unsubstantiated impressions of an accused neighbor’s character.  Just adding color to the story, eh, Jimmy?  And, those local anchor persons just read that drivel blithely while grinning idiotically, then laugh at some poor citizen’s misfortune, and, in the span of a changed camera angle, become somber and reverent about “the untimely death of…”  Whether journalistic Anchor or circus Ringmaster, there is one truth:  neither has his own act, so they shill the glory of the real performers.

Next up:  Reporting is optional, but a story is required

 

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Cynicism Redux

Posted on March 25, 2012. Filed under: General Interest, History, language | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

All hands on deck…   All hands on deck…   All hands on deck!

What we got here is an OFFICIAL COMPLAINT from a (gasp!) bona fide reader.  She is Mary**** @ some college.  Mary****, who found the RSS and Comments feeds before I did, checked “follow future comments,” an action she now deeply regrets.  Seems she is now innundated with multiple emails of the same comment.  She wishes to “unfollow” them, but, I don’t know how that is done.  Thus, this appeal to blog spammers.  (I know this doesn’t help you, Mary****, but, I have over 300 such comments to winnow through and delete, all arriving in the last two weeks.)

Geeze, people, didn’t you see my post where I said I’m highly skeptical of everything?  For example:  There is a recent television ad about quitting something-or-other, and the happy convalescent brags, “I quit something-or-other in just 2 weeks on this program.”  The Program Voice cheerfully chimes in and says, “Yes!  We’ll send you a free 30-day supply just so you can try our successful program.  If you like your results, we’ll sell you more of this stuff.”  See, right there, doubts creep in.  Look at the time-line:  2 weeks after starting that free program, I am cured of my malady.  I now have 2-weeks’ worth of free snake oil left.  The seller has given me a month’s supply, and I’m not going to buy any more because I am cured.   How is the seller going to make money to pay for that television ad?  Surely, the advertiser is not lying about quick results.

Look, all you virtual stowaways, I read that book on blogging for money tips.  I know about back-links.  I know you can do them manually, as in an honest reply to WHAT YOU ACTUALLY READ, or you can get a plug-in to your blog to mass produce “relevant comments” to other blogs.  It’s okay, I mean a few of them sounded genuine, but, I got wise when I read the identical comment three times in succession with only slightly different URLs.  Also, thanking ME for the USEFUL information in the OMG postings was another give away:  those two postings contain NO information, useful or otherwise.  I know, because I WROTE THEM.  Please, for mine and Mary****’s sakes, take your comment blaster and set it to SEMI automatic.  And, take aim before you fire so your comment sorta matches the “awesome” posting your spam machine detected. 

Can’t hurt either to set your timer to about 100 seconds before your “new post” detector detects a new post.  Really, it’s just another clue to spamming when, 45 seconds after I hit “publish” my smart phone alerts me to an e-mail that Yo-Yo Spin liked my post and thought it was awesome.  (I hope there is no one out there calling him-/herself “Yo-Yo Spin.“) 

Next up:  To Be Announced (That’s not the subject, just a note that I haven’t decided yet.)

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How A Little P Became A Big P

Posted on March 24, 2012. Filed under: History, Humor, language, Mythology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

No!  Definitely NOT a physiology class.  More of a chemistry thing.  Previously, we left Yohan (as his buds called him) nursing a world-class hang over, possibly resulting from a bad guilt trip over his soon-to-be-realized ripple effect on global societies.  Or, maybe, from a cheap wine called Thor’s Thunder Juice – 100% Natural.  Can’t corroborate that because history, like expensive PC software today, does suffer considerable “corruption” of its records.  Unlike software (a planned obsolescence product) you cannot buy an upgrade of historical data because — like the software license disclaimer states no one is taking responsibility for lost data.

Judging from the long-term nausea engendered by printing on demand, I have to conclude that Yohan took time out from his copy of Victoria’s Secret (the cookbook) for a late-night assignation with a mysterious vixen called Dora, only to find out later when he clumsily knocked her “jewelry” box off the bed stand that her full name was Pandora, of Greek descent.  Thunder Juice or no, Yohan got down on the floor with her and they both groped around trying to get those little squirmers back into the box.  Yohan did notice that one of the escaped critters seem to blow him a kiss as it disappeared from view.  He described it later as having button-like studs all over it and a little window displaying the letters “xoxo” (there is but one brief account of this in a moldy, later edition of Victoria’s Secret (the cookbook) under “Letters to the Chef).  Yeah.  That’s my story, and…

Now, about the pP thing.  Back then, it was guys that made the world go around.  And, always with guys, size is important.  In the printing business, I’m sure those inkers were very keen on owning the biggest press available, and, over at the local watering hole that catered to printers, et alia, the boast “my press is bigger than your press” got a lot of laughs.  Rapid printing meant that you could get away from printing slow-changing text books and those old and tired authoritarian government edicts and actually blab about something in almost real-time.  These new blabbers called themselves reporters, an obvious ploy to redecorate the term gossip-monger.  Vying to get the best gossip,,,   story...    to the public first, caused an epidemic of swollen egos floating their pride in lots of suds at the local pub.  But, the competition did not end with the longest belch; out back, at the walled trench that passed for a public rest room, the contestants lined up to see whose puddle had the biggest head of foam on it.  The prize:  the winner could now truthfully boast, “My pee is bigger than your pee!”

Back in the press club, this spore group that would propagate like fungus to become reporters, paparazzi, columnists, anchor persons, journalists, bleah, bleah, bleah, came to a common conclusion:  they were BIG in every way.  Big printers, big egos, big pee, big mouths.  It was inevitable that one of them would see the word press and subconsciously realize that “since my pee is bigger than Ed’s pee, the p in my press ought to be bigger than the p in his press.”  So, whenever you see the phrase “The Press,” you are not seeing a claim to elite status, but a brash boast that the touter has come out on top in an ancient, drunken male ritual called a pissing contest.

Next up:  An update on my cynicism

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Pismire: Getting The Handles Right

Posted on March 19, 2012. Filed under: General Interest, language | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Pismire is the archaic term for ant.  Pronounce it any way you like and make it yours.  I like it because of its origin.  Ants utilize formic acid as an agent of defense or as a means of disabling a potential meal.  The greater the number of ants nesting in a given area, the stronger the odor of the acid, which, incidentally, is the same as urine.  Breaking the word down, mire is an old term for ant, and pis meant the same as our familiar term piss.  Put ’em together and you literally get…

Piss ant, a designation we use disparagingly to mean insignificant, obnoxious, ubiquitous, troublesome, vexing abundant, irksome…   I could go on, and probably will later, but, let’s stop there for now.

PAU.  Acronym for Piss Ant University.  There just seems to be a special place that turns out hordes of aspirants to obnoxity (might be a made-up term), people whose sworn duty in life seems to be to just piss you off.

PU.  By enunciation, that could refer to the malodorous presence of these critters, but it’s a new acronym I’ll use for pismire ubiquity.  Feel free to think “P-U” whenever you see it.

Ubiquity, by the way, means, “They’re everywhere, they’re everywhere.”  I’m not talking down to you on this term, it’s just that I heard it a number of times before I was curious enough to look it up.  When talking about the prevalence of something, ubiquitous just doesn’t jump off the tip of your tongue.  Be thankful  this term has yet to be used as frequently, and as inappropriately, as passion.

Piss’ant-ism is a condition that is endemic to many segments of our social infrastructure;  neither Orkin, Terminix nor any other exterminator can rid us of these pests.  The afflicted really seem to think they are pursuing relevant matters and issues that must be fixed for the rest of us (ala VICKI of the Will Smith movie, I Robot?) whether we want it fixed or not.   It is, after all, for our own good…

Or, as my cynicism assures me, for the financial good of the piss ants, who pursue their chosen shticks with the fervor of religious zealots in the premeditated intent of making a buck off us compliant sheep, who frequently confuse the skulking jackal with the shepherd.  (Ooooo, I finally did it — a one sentence paragraph.)

Next up:  Meet the press

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Agenda: 50-50 Foresight

Posted on March 17, 2012. Filed under: Humor, language | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

Procrastination.  That’s a word.  It means, “Not now.  Maybe later.”  But, you already knew that.

It also means I should have started working on this post 3 hours ago, but, I got side-tracked surfing for a white wolf sculpture;  no luck yet.  So, I guess I had better hop to it if I don’t want to delay this next post yet another day.

My itches are many.  While it’s true that I’m crabby, it’s not crabs causing that chronic itch; it’s those obnoxious pismires.  Those things are everywhere, in horde-like numbers.  And, socially, they smell bad.  Possibly, it is mainstream media that has caused the harshest rashes I’ve had to endure (heretofore) meekly over the years, so guess who gets to go first in my commentaries?  Whoa!  You came up with that real quick.  And, they (the media) said you were slow and couldn’t even think for yourself.

Anticipated direction of my scratching is thus:  Media, experts, litigators (yeah, lawyers yucca-pa-tooie)…   Beyond that, it’ll be itches of opportunity.  All of it, you understand, out of a sense of community service and not out of festering spite, resentment, or any #%*@! thing like that.

On the light side, is a container — at 50% capacity —  half empty or half full?  What is the sound of one hand clapping?  If a tree falls in the forest…  SID (Ship’s Inane Digresser) said he has a few thoughts along those lines.

And, since I will have more than a few of them, I should include a page devoted to acronyms and abbreviations.  I’ll work on that.

That RSS feed thingy.  Yeah, IWOT.

New Year’s Resolution:  Figure out how to respond to comments.  It seems impolite not to.

Next up:  Bookends

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Quicksilver

Posted on March 11, 2012. Filed under: Humor, language, Mythology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

I suspect that recognition of his tattle-tale talents took all the fun out of it for Hermes, so he loaned those winged boots and caduceus to Mercury, his Roman cousin (face it, they had to be related in that little Peyton Place) and let him take all the press as messenger of the gods.

And that explains how the winged Mercury (Quicksilver to his buds) became so intertwined with the messenger business…   that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

But, it doesn’t explain why you were subjected to this strange little stroll through ancient mythology.  Pleas, let me count the ways:

  1. I truly was stranded just short of inspiration for the next segment of this cruise.  What I needed was a segue (single syllable) between Mercury (the god) and the Press/Media (self-proclaimed gods).
  2. The 9 Muses ploy did get me moving on a train of thought.  I didn’t even know about Hermes, or who the heck all those muses were, until I punched in “mercury” on my smart phone.  So, none of this was really my fault; blame Wikipedia and Mobil Britannica.
  3. It was basically just a lot of fun stringing all those thought snippets into a story of sorts.
  4. Now, really, aren’t you glad you came along for the ride?

Mercury, a lesser god, enhanced his stature by being a go-between for the big gods.  As we continue our cruise, I will use that relationship as a metaphor for present day media-expert relations.  You are in for a treat, because, in this pursuit, we will encounter such terms as litigation, pismires, journalists, reporters, pismires, yellow journalism, pismires, lawyers (yucca-pah-too-ee!  Sorry.  That was a reaction, not a noun), and even pismires, all of which put the itch in my woolen long johns.

Next up:  Ship’s itinerary – a quick review.

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Passion: The Intervention

Posted on March 4, 2012. Filed under: General Interest, language | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

C’mon!  Get outta here!!  PCs got passion?  Sneakers got passion?  If you doubt that, pay attention to those television ads.

The “how to” guide I read that introduced me to this blogging thing makes the innocent observation up front that, at some point, I must get passionate about this pursuit if I wish to be “successful” at it.  Fair enough, I can concur with that usage, but, the author almost lost me a few paragraphs later when, in lieu of the word interests, he plugged in passions — repeatedly.  Within the context of that author’s point, I — like the cheetah — would have “checked out all the interesting choices, made a selection, then broke into an all-out passionate sprint toward the goal.”  Actually, had I written the manual, the words passion and passionate would not have appeared at all.  There are too many other words available without resorting to perfunctory HYPERBOLE.  The use of passion here is way overstating the effort.

Passion, it seems, is perceived as being a mere synonym of interest, but, passion is not a synonym for anything.  Using it as such says, “Look, everybody, I’m ignorant but Bertrand Russell used the word wrong decades ago, and he is a Great Learned one, so it must be a refined word, and, by using it indiscriminately myself, maybe you will mistake me for a Great Learned Refined Person.”  Maybe that sounds a bit mean-spirited, but, I just get riled up over this repeating-by-rote-because-it-sounds-refined thing.  And, it’s not my fault either, because PBS is the one that sensitized  me to it.

Passion is not a choice.  It is an imposed condition, a restless beast caged within, responding only to the command of its master, the mysterious Psyche.  We do not schedule its release, it is just suddenly there like a lightning-torched forest fire, and we succumb to its power, either in anguish or mindless exhilaration, so long as it rages.

How about it, writers and speakers?  Let’s get Passion off that street corner, pandering that which defines it to every trite expression that walks by and every product or service looking to really appear relevant.  Have you no sense of shame?  (I shouldn’t have asked that question; I know the answer.)

Next up:  I dunno.  It’s a new week, I’ll think up something.

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Passion: Can A Word Pimp Itself Out?

Posted on March 2, 2012. Filed under: General Interest, language | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

A block or two from the wharf where my blog (a.k.a., The Queen Mary) is laying over, I noted someone on the corner who looked a little familiar, someone from the far past.  I must admit, that bright red outfit looked hot, and, when Red motioned me over, I pulled over.  Turned out to be a little bizarre, but our verbal exchange sort of went this way:

     Me:   Do I know you?  Red:  Of course you doI’m Passionate. Me:  ??  Passion?  Is that REALLY your?  Red:  Don’t act so surprised.  We all change a little over time.  Look at you.  How do you explain all that?  Me:  What are you doing out here on the street, pulling people over?  Red:  A word has to turn a phrase somehow.  Me:  So indiscriminately?  You used to be so pure, describing both the depth and exquisiteness of suffering.  Red:  Hey!  It’s NOT my fault!  Your modern civilizations just aren’t into public mass executions and global poverty anymore, so where is all the suffering?  I’ll tell you where — no big name sneakers for Christmas, that’s where.  We turn that wish list into a “passion parade” and I get plenty of work in this town, Mr. High and Mighty.  Me:  So, you are no longer a Puritan but have lost your meaning, the very thing that defines you, to that Western Hyperbole Operation Revamping English?  (No way I’m going near that acronym.)  Red:  I am what I am, buster.  Now you got a gig for me or not?  Need to convince someone that his big passion is a new wart removal system?  How about PC’s?  The right one guarantees your path to passion pasture.  I can’t say enough about these athletic ambulation systems (a.k.a., sneakers), how they let you spring into that pursuit of your favorite passion.  And, this….

I left Red in mid-babble, all alone on that dark corner.  Well, not quite alone, ’cause there seemed to be a line forming to sample the wares.

Next up:  Passion:  The Intervention

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Passion: All Cheetahs Have It

Posted on March 1, 2012. Filed under: General Interest, language | Tags: , , , , , , |

Passion, then, is best described as an extra-normal condition that manifests itself in normal people from time to time.  It is a temporary condition that is all-consuming, full of angst, and selectively justifies everything in accordance with the demands of its very narrow goals.  A passion that does not abate is an ongoing condition called obsession.  (Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think that resides just a few doors down from a place called Madness.)

Cheetahs got passion?  An ongoing concern for the cheetah (your standard African house cat) is a daily need to eat.  It spends much of the day looking over the available menu items, and, while almost every thing is appealing, there is a slight problem:  none of the juicy tidbits is eager to join him for din-din.  That means serious take-out, along with all the associated problems.  Our spotted tabby makes a selection, moves in as close as possible, and then — pedal to the metal — sells out its entire energy supply to sate an uncompromising need.  Whether successful or not, the big cat cannot reproduce this extreme effort until its energy stores are replaced.  This all-consuming need — survival at its most primal — moves through the cat like the rhythm of the tides, now ebbing, now surging, manifesting itself in all-out effort, heedless of the cost to SELF; the goal is all there is.  Passion, by definition, is a trait of the cheetah.

When it comes to passion, my antipathy toward it (or, at least, toward the current tendency to overuse the word) has its roots in a year 2011 PBS series about a former US president, Woodrow Wilson.  No problem with Woodrow, you understand, rather with the repetitious use of the word passion to describe seemingly everything about him.  Numerous blurbs about his interests, attested to one after the other by various attestants, each oozing the word “passionate” from between their lips as they lovingly caressed every syllable.  I lost count of how many passions he pursued (simultaneously?) before I passionately pursued a quest for a barf-bag while fumbling desperately for the remote channel changer.  (Honest, I would have taken notes had I known I was destined to be plugging away at this blog.)

I point you to my two previous observations about obsession and the personal cost of the cheetah’s pursuits.  Either Woodrow was a mad man, or, me thinks, the attesting attestants attesteth too much.  (Yeah, I should apologize for that, but, I think it’s pretty cute.)

Next up:  Can a word pimp itself out?

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