Sunday, November 28, 2010

Chow Puppy

He was apparently abandoned on our dead-end street by a bad sort of person. He needs a good home, as my neighbor and I each already have more dogs than we can handle.

He is, incidentally, VERY sweet natured.

UPDATE: Rocko has been adopted.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Honing In on Meaning

"Honing in." I paid attention when suddenly the expression's use was criticized. Perhaps I used it once or twice myself, in hurried conversation, trying to express something but subconsciously trying to jam two concepts into one phrase. It ends up seeming a stupid phrase; an error.

Although writers Bob Greene and George Plimpton have used it.

Because one "homes in" on targets or destinations, but one hones a knife or blade.

"Hone" seems to come from Old English, a word for "whetstone." This seems like a tautology. (What about "wet?" That is, a wet stone? Unclear, but possible.)
"Home" comes from words such as "haims" (Gothic) and "khaim" (Fris. [I guess they mean Old Frisian])

So to examine this, I got out the old scalpel of logic and went to work. Another writer mentioned it but didn't go very far into it.

Get a knife and cut the tiniest slice possible. You will be limited by two things, the sharpness of the edge and your ability to see. You can make a sharper more perfect lens if you sharpen your blade. (to make marks on your calipers). You can sharpen your blade better if you have a new more perfectly cut lens. Ad infinitum.

So "hone in on" is not completely daft. Still, its chain of logic is too obscure and the phrase is doomed.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Choice

I hear people griping about things like "regulators," and "lawyers & politicians," and outrageous lawsuits and a general feeling that taxes and fees are wasted and inflated, giving the citizen too little for his tax dollar, and unnecessary things that are being done with funds the individual must fork over to either lawyers, accountants, regulators, or tax revenue collectors. It's probably even true.

I came up with a solution to end the complications of all arbitration. According to your own preference, choose one of the following:

1. Everything will be made legal. There will be zero law enforcement whatsoever; no laws; and anyone can do anything at all that they can get away with, including all theft, personal violations, savage murderous retributions at any time, economic frauds, consumer frauds (let the buyer beware), pollution, immigration, even slavery if you can handle it on your own, etc.

2. Everything will be made illegal. No more need for politicians and lawyers. Every possible human act will be considered illegal; even sitting and doing nothing. Prosecutions will be selective. Every complaint gets sent to court directly, and the judge and jury will hear each and every complaint of anyone anywhere, decide each case; not by law, but by opinion, and tax the population directly. The courts' massive growth will be offset by the shrinkage in all other mediative government and private bodies and professions.

Now this simplified example of a bi-polar populist political continuum models reality, although only very basically. Thus we can develop a simplified profile of the third decision often actually seen:

3. Purport to believe in Theory #1 to some people, and purport to believe in Theory #2 to other people, using discretionary case-by-case judgment. Cover your ass, in other words. On first glance, those who choose the third option appear to be cowardly, indecisive finaglers. until you realize, as I have, that options #1 and #2 are, in the end, exactly the same choice.

(from the archives - August 2001. Written by me, Jumper, under the byline Paavo Dekker and appearing in QZ magazine)

Today's Art Project

Trying to illustrate the last post, I just got lost. So instead, I decided to play with Rachel Maddow's interesting and pretty face. I imagine she looked somewhat like this in her twenties or so. Extra points go to anyone who identifies the background.
Sqirlz morph


I got a call this morning from the Telemarketer Who Can't Speak.

I find this deliciously ironic. I said, "Hello," and she said:

"HizthzmistDekkr?" which I sort of got, so I said, "Yes," and she gives me the spiel:


At this point I just hold the phone out in front of me like it's a mutant frog, and stare at it in amazement. I still can't believe it, even after several similar episodes in the last few years. Her job is, after all, to do one thing: talk on the telephone. I'm pretty sure it's even dialed automatically for her. Apparently there's no oversight at all, because her masters have not noticed that they have hired someone to talk who can't even speak. I gently replace the phone in its cradle, shake my head, and go on about my business, knowing that no one on the other end of the phone even knows why I really hung up.

A few minutes later, another one calls. Still cheerful from this morning's coffee, I listen to another woman, who although not speaking clearly, says she's from a "Business Advisory Group."

"What are you selling?" I ask politely.

"I'm not selling anything," she begins, and then proceeds to try to sell me some health insurance.

"Not interested," I say loudly (and clearly), hang up, and again I wonder if anyone on the other end of the line understands that the immediate reason I'm not interested is that I don't want to deal with anyone has told me a direct lie in reply to the very first question I have asked.

(from the archives - August 2001. Written by me, Jumper, under the byline Paavo Dekker and appearing in QZ magazine)