So I tend to be cynical. No shit, Sherlock. I cannot abide stupidity and the tendency to make the obvious seem so deep, revelatory and new.
Since I have a strong distaste for massacred language, let me start there. Overuse can be just as abused and thus, meaningless, as misuse. Have you noticed that in today’s world of food, just about everything is represented as "artisanal?" Pasta, sauces, and other foods prepared with the total integration of its cook are labelled this hip term. Whatever happened to homegrown, home-cooked and honestly represented victuals? Artisanal foods are nothing more than going back to basics in food preparation as if our desire for fattening up ourselves never took hold. But it did, so now producers and preparers have hit on a new word to re-package the most simplest of principles in healthy food preparation and consumption.
The other word that is way too overused is "iconic." This word implies a convention, whether pertaining to an object or an idea, that is superlative in nature. Thus, if everything is described as iconic, as a new-fangled innovation, nothing is actually iconic. Just another example of America’s quest for the superlative which, in reality, makes things just run-of-the-mill.
Back on the subject of food, a study came out this week showing that a person who gets more sleep has less of a tendency to become obese:
This may be attributed to two cute little hormones called leptin and ghrelin. Hell, what about the plain fact that when a person is sleeping, they cannot stuff their face with food? Hormones, shmormones. The relationship of more sleep and less weight gain seems rather apparent to me, sans a degree in medicine and rocket science research.
When an idea is a good one, it will hit you right across your face. I have been so slapped by the UPS commercials that use the word "logistics" to the tune of "That’s Amore":
With my penchant for reason and order, I love this ad. Then, throw in a catchy tune and I am in Heaven.
Now on to my fave topic for discussion: politics —– and how the obvious is usually anointed as something new in that arena. Starting at home, in Virginia’s Eleventh Congressional district (my crib), Gerry Connolly is running to tack on another term to his first. He is a Democrat and I will vote for him. However, it is a tough race against Keith Fimian in a district that oftentimes is neither red nor blue, but purple. I received a phone call from one of Connolly’s henchmen the other day asking for a pledge. I denied him that donation, so then he asked me to work their phone banks for a few hours. I likewise refused that offer. While Connolly has my vote, he will not get my money or my time. As I explained to this campaigner, Connolly was playing cutsie when mulling over his vote for President Obama’s financial reform package. Connolly hemmed and hawed, seemingly playing out his vote a la Senator Ben Nelson during the health care debate. Connolly gets my half-assed support because he did not support his President whole-heartedly when it was needed. Believe me, there was not one part of my argument that this campaign worker did not understand. Pretty obvious it was, and he got it.
On the subject of the recent Mideast peace talks, perhaps you can explain to me why Netanyahu even agreed to initiate and participate in the discussions when, within two weeks of their beginning, he did not re-instate the building moratorium on the West Bank. Why would he waste his time, our President’s and Secretary of State’s time, when he knew from the get-go that this hot-button issue would kill the talks as surely as his hawkish political position kills Israeli kids?
It is as clear as day to me that we need another WPA administration to right our infrastructure and provide jobs for our people. A crumbling infrastructure coupled with a very high unemployment rate just screams for a new public works program:
Is this hypothetical wedding between what we need and what we have at hand just so obvious that our geniuses in government haven’t picked up on this yet? Hard to believe.
Finally, the Nobel Peace Prize was announced yesterday honoring Liu Xiaobo, a Chinese dissident who has been relentlessly fighting for human rights since the Tiananmen Square debacle in 1989. The Nobel prizes are supposed to be above politics, but his one, thankfully, was an "in-your-face" admonition to the Chinese government. Edward Wong of the New York Times wrote an insightful article on the prize award and called the Nobel Committee’s action a "rebuke" to China:
My favorite paragraph, once again pointing out a principle that is as obvious as the day is long, is:
Few nations today stand as more of a challenge to the democratic model of governance than China, where an 89-year-old Communist Party has managed to quash political movements while creating a roaring, quasi-market economy and enforcing a veneer of social stability.
While China thinks that it is all well and good to be the world’s number one economic power as they deny their citizens human rights, the global opinion might be very different. This Peace Prize just might be the smack across their heads that the Chinese need to bring their restrictive people policies in line with their financial dominance. Don’t hold your breath though. The obvious is sometimes so damn obvious that it is ignored in the hope that it will just go away. China may still be able to laugh all the way to the bank, but eventually, when their war on personal freedoms encroaches on their economic potential, things will change. And Liu Xiaobo will have had a large part in that turn around, as well as the Nobel Committee for having the guts to bring Liu’s work to the table.
Is everything new really old hat? Not quite, but the there is a lot to be said for the obvious.