Saturday, April 05, 2008

Time Saving Tips For Today's Young Person On the Go

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You know, it's true that I have a lot on my plate these days.

Practicing law, writing books, raising a family, and of course the hours and hours I clearly put into honing this column to its rapierlike sharpness. And let's not forget, the Internet isn't goIng to surf itself.

How, people ask me, do I do it? How do I manage to cram all this living into a single 24-hour day? Friends, I tell you, it's not easy. But over the years, I've developed a number of handy, time-saving techniques, one of which I will share with you today.

This technique involves learning to recognize what can be safely and easily ignored when it comes to reading or listening to what passes for political discourse these days. It's very liberating once you realize that you really don't have to pay attention to every pundit or commentator.

But, you fret, what if I miss something important? What if someone makes an important, germane, or salient point that may very well change the way I think about an issue, or even about life in general? If I don't examine simply everything, I might miss that point!

Fret not, gentle reader. I will teach you certain key words and phrases that will indicate to the in-the-know reader or listener that the writer or speaker isn't ever going to say anything important, perceptive, salient, or even germane. These words and phrases indicate that the writers or speakers really aren't giving any thought to what they're presenting and that they may, in fact, actually be brain-dead. The pronouncements of such people can be ignored.

One clear sign is the careless use of the word "leftist" to describe people who are liberal or even moderate in their political beliefs. Hillary Clinton is not, nor has she ever been a "leftist." Neither has Barack Obama. And anyone who would refer to John McCain as a "leftist," as some far-right Republicans have actually done, needs an immediate EEG to see if there actually is any higher brain function remaining.

Another indicator is the use of the word "agenda" to mean "political belief." Example: "Mr. Jones clearly has a liberal agenda." No, Mr. Jones has political beliefs that could be described as "liberal." Describing a person's beliefs as an "agenda" is merely an intellectually lazy way to try to make perfectly legitimate convictions, held by millions of people, seem like the products of a sinister plot.

I trust it will not be necessary to tell you, O Perceptive Readers, that the use of the phrase "leftist agenda" should be translated as "Skip this part, this person is entirely too silly to be taken seriously." You may wish to put a mirror under the speakers' noses to see if they're breathing.

Anyone who's still making "definition of 'is'" jokes or chortling about Al Gore claiming to have invented the Internet obviously stopped thinking up new material at the end of the last millennium. One cannot logically expect any new insights in the rest of their communication.

Also feel free to bypass anything that repeatedly makes reference to "Barack Hussein Obama." Yes it's his actual middle name. But unless they're also using John McCain's or Mike Huckabee's middle name every time those two gentlemen are mentioned, it's very clear what the writer or speaker is trying to do, namely use Obama's Kenyan ancestry to create fear. Fear is the tool of the intellectually deficient, and the intellectually deficient are a waste of time.

Any reference to "Islamofascism" or "Islamofascists" just shows that the person is too ignorant to know what "fascism" actually means and too incurious to look it up. Again, it's just a cheap and lazy way to try to stir up fear by invoking the specters of the last century. I suspect it's also used because calling our enemies what they are -- "Radical Religious Fundamentalists" -- cuts too close to the right's own power base.

If someone feels the need to repeatedly drag out the fact that West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd was a member of the KKK before anyone in the room was even born, whether or not the discussion involves Byrd, then it is clear that that person has the intellectual wattage of a Christmas tree bulb. One will probably not risk missing anything illuminating by skipping over that person's "thoughts."

Using these simple techniques to identify the deadwood, one can skim through the average editorial page, letters page, or online weblog in a third of the time it would normally take. Learning when all useful content has gone out of the discussion on a talk show can save you literally hours of TV time that would normally be wasted and frees you up for really worthwhile intellectual pursuits. Like, say, "My Name is Earl."

You're welcome.

7 comments:

Bill Cameron said...

Even faster: if they say it on teevee, particularly cable teevee, they're idiots one can safely ignore.

Bill Cameron said...

Oh, except for Jon Stewart and and Stephen Colbert. But, of course, they're on the interesting part cable.

Phoebe Fay said...

Actually, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert will recap about 93 percent of what you actually need to know, so that saves a lot of time, too.

nathan said...

"Fear is the tool of the intellectually deficient, and the intellectually deficient are a waste of time."

Do they give out Pulitzers for single sentences? They should.

JD Rhoades said...

The real fun's going to be when readers of the paper start writing letters. Several of those "buzzwords" have been used in letters to the paper in recent weeks.

Mark Terry said...

"One clear sign is the careless use of the word "leftist" to describe people who are liberal or even moderate in their political beliefs. Hillary Clinton is not, nor has she ever been a "leftist." Neither has Barack Obama. And anyone who would refer to John McCain as a "leftist," as some far-right Republicans have actually done, needs an immediate EEG to see if there actually is any higher brain function remaining."

I love this. Since I am, as a matter of fact, a self-declared knee-jerk, bleeding-heart liberal, I'm often amazed to find someone refer to anyone currently running for president as actually being "liberal," let alone being a "leftist." And I'm oft-reminded of friends and former co-workers and acquaintances who call themselves liberal, but whose politics (er, perhaps it's their "agenda") make me look positively reactionary in comparison.

But do I love it that the hard-core Republicans are calling John "McNasty" McCain a "liberal" or a "leftist"?

Oh, giggling wildly to myself, I do, I do.

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