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Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Words and Meanings

Words have meanings. Words are how we communicate our thoughts to other people. Words are important and we often forget how important a word really is. Of course, a word is nothing without a meaning. Meanings are what is really communicated through words after all. If you use a made-up word to express something to someone else, your meaning will be lost if the other person isn't aware of the word. It remains nonsensical if either party doesn't know the meaning of the words you are using. Duh, right?

The English language is the most versatile language on the planet. It is easily adaptable to new technologies, new contexts and new spellings. It is littered with exceptions to rules and even exceptions to the exceptions. No other language has the ability to transform itself as easily, especially in regards to context, which is most often picked up in slang, eventually making its way as new meanings in the dictionary.

I love this about the English language, at least the Americanized version. Need a new word to describe something new, make one up. It's no problem and you can pick your choice of spelling. If it catches on, it will become known by all and Webster will soon recognize it in their publications. Technology uses this technique and is one reason why English is the preferred language of science and computers. Try to add new words to French or Spanish. Pretty hard and you mostly get words that sound sort of like their English equivalents. Dare you to try in Japanese or Chinese.

But politicians have brought words and meanings to new lows. Why would we expect otherwise from this group of people. Need to promote your party's spending plans? How about calling it a stimulus? Or even better yet, call it re-investment? That will get positive attention and make the sheeple think you are really doing something positive.

Trying to make a point that the economy is not as good as you think it should be? Call it a depression. It doesn't matter if it fits the economic definition of a depression. This is America and we will change the definition as we see fit, whenever it suits our purposes.

Let's call a bill to eliminate secret ballots for a union election "The Employee Free Choice Act". Never mind that there is no free choice being exercised in this bill. Quite the opposite, it eliminates your choice to vote on allowing a union in the workplace entirely. But that is irrelevant. The general public is oblivious to details, they only hear sound bites. So if the bill is totally misnamed, so much the better for the unions trying to force their way into a workplace.

How about forcing private businesses in radio and television to air ideas and attitudes and opinions that they do not agree with, advertisers don't want to pay for and their watchers and listeners don't want to see or listen to. Let's call that one The Fariness Doctrine. Sounds so grand, doesn't it. But who decides what is fair? Government, of course.

So much of this change of meanings can be blamed on political correctness. When a janitor was a janitor, the meaning of his title was fairly standard and known to most everyone. When he became a sanitation engineer, the meaning became less obvious and less standard. And politicians love disguising their real intentions behind high-sounding names that play well with the public.

Do not be fooled. You can call a pig a rose and vice-versa, but it doesn't change the true essence of either the pig or the rose. Words and phrases have meanings but you better not take those words and meanings at face value without digging deeper into who is using them first. When someone says turn the AC up, are you sure they mean to make it warmer or cooler?

Remember that sometimes bad means bad and sometimes bad means good.


Wednesday, January 07, 2009


Open Mouth, Insert Foot

It is simply amazing how often I see, hear or read about this happening to public figures, particularly, politicians. Some big news event happens and all the politicians and analysts and reporters are trying to be the first one to state their opinion on the matter before all the facts are even known. You'd think they'd learn by watching it happen to other people but it doesn't seem so.

Recently Harry Reid, Senator from Nevada and Majority Leader of the Senate, decided to voice his unmistakable will that Roland Burris would not be seated in the Senate, that no one appointed by Governor Blago would be seated in the Senate. Dick Durbin chimed in with equal sentiment. Within the week both of them are backtracking on what they said and most probably will complete an about face on the matter and Burris will be seated.

Why the big hue and cry in the first place. It made them look like complete idiots. Open mouth, insert foot. Amazing. Does Harry Reid learn from that? No. Today he stated that Norm Coleman, recent apparent "loser" to Al Franken in Minnesota, would never serve in the Senate again. Open mouth, insert foot? We'll wait and see.

A few years ago Congressman John Murtha from Pennsylvania said the Marines charged with killing innocent civilians were guilty of murder. Later all were found to be innocent. No apology was ever offered. Open mouth, insert foot. He also called his own constituents racists. And when the uproar came about being called racists, he changed that to rednecks. Much better Congressman. Open mouth, insert foot.

Former president Bill Clinton stated in front of the world that he never had sexual relations with that woman, Monica Lewinsky. Later investigations revealed a completely different version of the facts. Open mouth, insert ....?

Mr. Clinton also stated on his first campaign trail run that he had smoked marijuana but he didn't inhale. He said he didn't like it. No way to prove the validity of that statement but come on! Why does someone even think to say something like that with the public spotlight on them?

John Kerry, Senator of Massachusetts, who by the way also served in Vietnam, stated that he had actually voted for the war in Iraq before he voted against it. What is he trying to say about himself? That he is a loosely principled man who rejects his convictions depending on which way the political wind is blowing? Amen brother. Open mouth, insert foot.

I can never forget former Governor Gray of California when the state was faced with a huge budget shortfall stating that the problem was not a lack of revenue but rather a lack of funding. Those beliefs led to him being recalled as Governor and to the election of former actor Arnold Schwartzenegger. Open mouth, insert foot.

Nancy Pelosi said the House of Representatives would be a better, cleaner, more efficient place when the Democrats took control in 2007 and they would tackle all the big issues and end the culture of corruption the Republicans had established.

Since then their approval rating has been the lowest ever recorded, dipping into the single digits, even lower than the hated George W. Bush, gasp. They passed no single piece of legislation that they had intended. They couldn't even pass a budget on time, their major priority for the year. And they have recently managed to self implode by creating their own culture of corruption after another resounding victory at the polls, including total control over the House, Senate and the Presidency. A partisan politician's dream turned into a partisan politician's nightmare. Rod Blago, open mouth insert both feet.

George Bush 41 said on his campaign trail in 1991, "Read my lips. No new taxes." And then turned around and raised taxes considerably a year or two later. Open mouth, insert foot.

The politicians are constantly astonishing me with their haste to judgment and their hurried, impromptu thoughts on virtually any subject. They love the grandstand acts when they get to hold hearings, always televised and well-covered by the press, on whatever outrage they deem popular enough at the time. Using the bully pulpit to promote their holier-than-thou attitudes, tongue-lashing grown citizens, ball players on how to conduct their lives, car executives on how to travel and run a profitable business and lecturing oil company executives on how to run a business but not too efficiently or make too much money or we'll take it from you. Lots of open mouths in the US Congress. And lots of wet feet, too.

A wise man once said, "It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt." Why don't more people listen to this wise man?

My nickel.

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