In the search for meaning

We often come up empty-handed.  There are always a lot of words being said and written, but the far less meaning.  Our job is to search for the meaning.  It’s fun.

Seen on a paper grocery bag;

“[Big grocery chain] has partnered with [presumably Obama stash money-funded green energy company] to convert their waste into power for the community.

This initiative will help produce 3 mega-watts of power.  Enough to power 3,000 homes for one year!”

What does that mean?  It’s only a one-year project?  What happens after that?  Or is it that someone flunked their high school physics classes and doesn’t know the difference between power and energy? 

Then there’s that all too convenient, catch-all word in there; “help”.  Let’s say for sake of argument that all the Columbia hydroelectric projects combined produce on average 100 gigawatts.  All by myself then, I could help produce 100 gigawatts by pissing in the river.  I could help produce 100 gigawats for one year, each year, by pissing in the river once per year.  Hope and Change.

In fact it doesn’t mean anything as written, but either we are supposed to believe that it means something anyway, and love them for it, or the people who wrote it are ignorant and can’t be bothered with looking things up, or both.  And among the listed items of “output” from this “initiative” are “green power” and “carbon credits”.  Oh goody.  I guess the recycling of the paper into new paper is no longer good enough, and the use of food waste as animal feed is no longer a good thing.  So we can burn this stuff, cut down more trees and use more farmland.  For carbon credits.  Hope and Change.

Then there was this “Halftime in America” ad from Chrysler that many people thought meant something really great.  It’s one of the more artfully meaningless, and/or misleading bits in television.  In fact, if it means anything at all, it means that the government bailout and takeover of Chrysler, using taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars to hand a company over to the unions, is The Way to get out of an economic downturn.  It also implies strongly that if one auto company goes into receivership, we stop making cars– a wildly ignorant idea if ever there was one.  In fact there is the very real and very well-proven concept of “creative destruction” wherein one badly-run company goes out, making the way for the next, better-run company to flourish, the end result of which is more and better, and more affordable cars, with more stable car-making jobs as a side benefit.  “Halftime in America” conveniently ignores all that, instead using pure (false) assumption and building on it with innuendo.  And if there is a “halftime” provision written into the U.S. constitution, at which time we were presumed to have entertained the Central Planners for 100 years, started going broke as a result, then regrouped with more central planning to fix the destruction from the earlier Central Planning, then I am Karl Marx’s uncle.  In fact we are under attack by the Progressive movement and the only way out is to rid ourselves of it and get back to our beautiful American Principles of Liberty.

The arena with probably the least meaning of all is politics.  When millions of people were swooning over Sarah Palin during the Palin/Whatshisname campaign, I went over to her personal web site to see if I could find any meaning.  I have to hand it to her– she is very, very good at combining words, thousands of them, into sentence after sentence, without a scintilla of meaning.  Total blank-out.  Very impressive.

At the same time, Obama told us he wanted “Redistributive Change” and that “When you spread the wealth around everybody benefits” out of one side of his mouth, while telling us he would have the most transparent, open and fiscally responsible administration ever.  Right there, at that moment, he proves to the whole world, with just those two assertions, that he is a lying piece of shit.  Then we elected him.  I guess searching for meaning isn’t a hobby for many people.

Make a point of it.  Next time you see a politician speaking, or an advertisement, or anything really, try to see if there is any meaning, and what, exactly, is the meaning.


6 thoughts on “In the search for meaning

  1. “I have to hand it to her– she is very, very good at combining words, thousands of them, into sentence after sentence, without a scintilla of meaning. Total blank-out. Very impressive.”

    That’s nice.

    So! Mere speechifyin’ aside, what’s her actual record in office like? What did she actually get done?

    Because that’s the metric that really matters.

  2. I remember reading an article a long time ago that said something just under half of people like to talk mostly about other people (essentially, gossip, either local, celebrity, or whatever), and about the same percentage like talking about events (football games, crashes, etc), and only a very small percentage like talking and thinking about ideas . Just like some people like plaid, and some are repelled by it, most people really don’t like discussing more consequential things like principles and ideas because it’s difficult, you can be wrong, and to do it well it requires a lot of time and focus. There is no “seriously wrong” answer about a forest fire, or the weather, or who in Hollywood is pregnant, or who won the game, like there is perceived to be with the more substantial issues like gun control, abortion, taxes, welfare, etc. When you try to talk about these events or people and elevate the conversation to the underlying issues or principles, people freak and run away or call you divisive (been there, done that :-). So, when you talk about these things, you either scare a lot of people, or you dance around them while sounding profound (which is what most politicians do). As I get older, I’m getting better at biting my tongue when surrounded by the non-idea sorts.

  3. Rolf; I like the idea of applying basic principles to daily events or proposals. It really helps add clarity and to understand what you think about things.

  4. I know almost nothing about house construction. But when my home was being built, I visited the work site daily to see how much progress was being made. I saw things that looked odd to me, like the electrical wire cable tied to the gas line, and the lack of any security/alarm wiring as the drywall was being stacked up in the living room. I asked about stuff like this and got several potential problems fixed. What worried me was the stuff I really could not tell about – the laying of the plumbing in the poured foundation, for example.

    Because I could tell that there were things wrong that the builder was not catching and not correcting, I had to worry about what was wrong on an even more fundamental level.

    I feel the same about politics and political speeches.

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