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July 20, 2014

Sunday Morning Book Thread 07-20-2014: The Use and Abuse of Language [OregonMuse]


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Good morning morons and moronettes and welcome to AoSHQ's stately and prestigious Sunday Morning Book Thread.


What's Worse Than PoMo Writing?

Corporate writing, that's what. You wouldn't think anything would be worse than that pomo gobbledygook, but as you can see from the following e-mail I received last week, corporate gobbledygook comes pretty close.

I have substituted my company's name with the word 'Butterfly' to protect those responsible from all the giggles, snorts, and guffaws they so richly deserve:

Team,

We're moving fast on the Butterfly Business Optimization project and I'd like to share a quick update with you before the upcoming U.S. holiday.

I'm confident that we've created a solid program framework to help us effectively conduct analysis and explore the opportunities that will help us create a long-term GTM strategy. We're looking to simplify and establish global consistency and ensure that we have the right organizational structure in place to create a sustainable business that can contribute to the long-term growth of Butterfly.

As part of that, we've held a productive series of meetings with various teams from both Shared Services and the Butterfly BU to discuss opportunities and how we'll take advantage of them. This information, as well as the insights we gathered during a recent workshop with the sales and marketing leadership, will inform the adjustments we make to our GTM strategy and how we can work together more effectively to execute the strategy.

What our exploration of data and discussions have revealed so far is that we have overall alignment on Butterfly BU strategic priorities and the long-term value Butterfly provides. It has also shown us that:

" Adjusting our operating model to better deliver on customer lifetime value (CLV) is a key priority, and we'll be communicating more around CLV during the course of the project
" We have an intricate Go-To-Market approach that is fragmented across teams, adding complexities in executing on a coherent strategy. We are looking at ways to address this and simplify how we execute.
" To capitalize on our investments we need to ensure robust coverage across multiple channels and territories that are aligned with the GTM strategy and strategic priorities
" Delivering excellent results means we need to align on priorities, and continue working to achieve alignment around KPIs and incentives

These insights and other information that we gather will help us refine our strategy and accelerate execution on that strategy as a cohesive team.

We are currently on schedule to complete the GTM design by the end of August and are implementing incremental changes as we progress. We'll continue communicating along the way, including an update on the results of our next workshop happening in mid-July, where we will continue working through our GTM opportunities, organizational model, and the implementation plan...

And blah, blah, blah. The funny/sad part is, when you wade though all the gobbedlygook, you discover that this isn't really saying much. It's all a bunch of, "yeah, we're going to sell tons of product by doing a bunch of neat stuff, just you watch." It's like a politician's speech, fluff and vague generalities.

Emails like this, when they show up in my inbox, get sent directly to the crapper.

I was very tempted to reply by cutting and pasting a bunch of text generated by one of those online corporate bullshit generators, but for all I know, that is how the e-mail was written in the first place.

Maybe we should have read this book first, as a reference: The Dictionary of Corporate Bullshit: An A to Z Lexicon of Empty, Enraging, and Just Plain Stupid Office Talk. I wonder if there's a similar lexicon of postmodern gobbledygook?



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More Language Abuse, Fake (But Accurate)

You all remember back in latter half of 2004 when CBS News made a last-ditch effort to get John Kerry elected, and how that news organization's partisan advocacy on behalf of the Democrat Party turned into Rathergate don't you? And what a huge embarrassment this was for CBS, right? There was a big independent investigation, names were named, fingers were pointed, people got fired, and even though Rather himself didn't get the boot directly as a result of this debacle, CBS sort of eased him out the door into "retirement" a short while later. The (fired) lead producer of this news story, Mary Mapes, then wrote an absolutely laughable defense of her collusion with Democrat Party operatives to defeat George Bush that they tried to disguise as "news reporting".

So what do you do when you're faced with a catastrophe of such epic proportions? Well, how about turning Mapes' execrable book into a movie and get Robert Redford to play Dan Rather and also cast Cate Blanchett as Mapes?

I wish I were making this up. But I'm not:

Mapes' memoir, Truth and Duty, was published in 2005...James Vanderbilt, the screenwriter behind The Amazing Spider-Man and White House Down, will adapt the screenplay, and make his directorial debut with the project, which Mythology Entertainment is producing. Brad Fischer, William Sherak, Vanderbilt and Mikkel Bondesen are producing.

So it looks like this project has been green-lighted and is moving forward. Wonderful. Just wonderful. And let me be the first to point out how appropriate it is that it's going to be produced by a company named "Mythology Entertainment"

On the one hand, this movie could backfire, because, face it, the progressives really got their heads handed to them on this one, and releasing a lying, partisan movie about it could just dredge it all up again and so they may wind up with their faces completely soaked with egg AGAIN. But on the other, I don't think most people outside of the internet know much about this story, or realize how just how badly CBS News made complete fools of themselves, and how obviously bogus the documents were. So the movie may be the LIVs' one and only exposure to this debacle. Remember what happened with the Tet offensive?

Want to see what a complete hack Mapes is? Read the transcript of this 2005 interview of Mapes given by ABC News' Brian Ross where she claims that, as a journalist, she is not obligated to authenticate the evidence she uses to support her story. Instead, the burden is on critics to prove her wrong.

If that has truly been her view all along, she should have been fired for incompetence years ago.


Firsties!

What do you suppose was the first book printed in English? I would've guessed the Bible or a psalter, or something along those lines, but no, it's actually the epic romance Recuyell of the Histories of Troye, which I had absolutely never heard of until I read that one of the 18 surviving copies went for over $1.8 million at auction:

"Troye" was originally a French work translated into English by William Caxton. Caxton was a leading merchant in 15th-century Britain, and became the first person to bring the printing press to Britain (though he did so a few years after printing "Troye" in Belgium). He started translating the French work (despite not having any prior translation experience) in 1468 and finished rendering the epic romance into his native English by 1471, according to the Express. The book was printed around 1474.


Books of Note

Over at The Other McCain, the cob-logger who goes by the nom de blog of Wombat-socho has come out with a new book, The Last Falangist: Essays on Culture and Politics in America:

A military history buff shares his perspective in The Last Falangist, a collection of essays and LiveJournal entries that encompass the period from 2004 to the present day.

The entries and essays are a slice of life by a former Army linguist who shares his thoughts on religion, society, science fiction, and affairs of the heart.

For more about this book, read Robert Stacy McCain's review.

Wombat-socho is also the author of several books on Buddhism.

Update: Wombat-socho informs me that he is, in fact, NOT the author of several books on Buddhism. Amazon just lumped another author with the same name together and I got fooled. Thanks for the correction.

___________

I just stumbled upon Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed by Jason L. Riley.

Riley examines how well-intentioned welfare programs are in fact holding black Americans back.

If the author is going to present this as a perplexing question ('why do efforts to help blacks always seem to end up hurting them?') I would suggest he would ask himself some hard questions about the "well-intentioned" part. The Democrats are only interested in making more Democrat voters, and they do this by swelling the ranks of the FSA. Once you see these "benign" welfare benefits as nothing more than parts of the FSA minority recruitment program, the mystery resolves.

___________

Here's a book I'm probably not going to read: Obama's Globe: A President's Abandonment of US Allies Around the World by Bruce Herschensohn. Don't get me wrong, it's probably a good read, and I'll tell you about the author in a bit, but with a title like that, I know it's just going to make me mad. Reading about Obama's multiple international derelictions will fill me with impotent rage, and send my blood pressure though the roof. So then I'll be really, really angry, but there's nothing I can do about it. America elected this malicious fool not once but twice and we're stuck with him until 2016. So for me, ignorance, if not exactly blissful, does serve to take some of the edge off.

I remember conservative Bruce Herschensohn from the 1992 election cycle when California Senator Alan 'The Cadaver' Cranston retired and his seat was up for grabs. Hershenshohn secured the Republican primary and he went up against Representative Barbara Boxer who was attracting media attention because of her involvement in the House banking scandal, and probably would would have been hounded from office if she wasn't a Democrat. She defeated Herschensohn by 4.9% after her campaign leaked to the press at the last minute that he had once went to a strip club. No, I'm not making up that last bit. All of Boxer's questionable dealings with the House bank were nothing, but it was of the utmost importance that Hershensohn once went to a sleazy bar.

These days of course, California has become so liberal that a conservative candidate like Herschensohn wouldn't stand a chance, but back in those days, he had a legitimate shot. Since then, he has been writing books, mostly on foreign policy.


What I'm Reading

Just picked up Jonah Goldberg's The Tyranny of Cliches: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas which I've wanted to read for some time. I got a chuckle out of this bit in the intro:

There's a kind of argument-that-isn't-an-argument that vexes me. I first started to notice it on university campuses. I've spoken to a lot of college audiences. Often, I will encounter an earnest student, much more serious looking than the typical hippie with open-toed shoes and a closed mind. During the Q&A session after my speech he will say something like "Mr. Goldberg, I may disagree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

Then he will sit down, and the audience will applaud. Faculty will nod proudly at this wiser-than-his-years hatchling under their wings. What a glorious moment for everybody. Blessed are the bridge builders.

My response? Who gives a rat's ass?

Ha. Other than the hipster being a complete dufus, Goldberg points out some problems with this:

First of all, my right to speak never was in doubt...Second, the kid is almost surely lying. He'll take a bullet for me? Really?

This is going to be fun.

Yeah, I know that the last letter in the word "cliche" is actually not an 'e', but rather an 'e' with an accent, but minx.cc seems to have problems displaying any characters over 128 in the ascii table, and I wanted to avoid peppering the thread with black diamonds.


___________

So that's all for this week. As always, book thread tips, suggestions, rumors, threats, and insults may be sent to OregonMuse, Proprietor, AoSHQ Book Thread, at the book thread e-mail address: aoshqbookthread, followed by the 'at' sign, and then 'G' mail, and then dot cee oh emm.

What have you all been reading this week? Hopefully something good, because, as I keep saying, life is too short to be reading lousy books.

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