We here at the Department Of Pointing Out The Obvious (DOPOTO), like much of the rest of humanity, read the newspaper and internet news and hear radio and television news reports just about every single day. Our highly skilled research team has long since concluded that the reports are often incomplete, and that certain phrases or words are code for something else entirely. For example, what is a “highly placed source” but a disgruntled employee who’s input has been rejected and has found a reporter to publicize their agenda? Those who do have the ear of the boss sure won’t risk their position by going behind his back to the press anonymously. And doesn’t “former beauty queen” always seem to mean vengeful wrinkled old hag? And there are a thousand more examples of newspeak that say something other than the obvious, an anathema to an organization like ours dedicated to pointing out the Emperor’s new cloths. Consider the following:
When the leader of a nation or his spokesperson says “our position is clear,” invariably that means they are sticking to an unreasonable policy and won’t listen to reason for all the cheese in Wisconsin.
When huge banks announce that they have bounced back from the grievous self-inflicted hemorrhages of last year so quickly and are reporting huge profits once again, what they really mean is that it’s okay again to transfer billions of their shareholders’ dollars (read that: someone else’s money) to the wealthy elite executive corps in the form of obscene bonuses.
And when these princes of high finance announce they have found another Golden Goose called “High Frequency Trading,” they are letting the cat out of the bag that they are cheating again and will move heaven and earth, fielding legions of attorneys and lobbyists, to find a loophole in any law or regulation designed to level the playing field and punish unfair insider trading.
When scientists worry that the machines they build may soon have the ability to outsmart man, they seem to have forgotten that VCRs, DVD players, phone answering machines and home computers have been doing this for decades. Who worries about robots and drone airplanes when you can’t even figure out what the hell the F12 key really does?
And speaking of scientists, when archaeologists uncover some new dinosaur skeleton or ancient human implement and say that this “probably” or “almost certainly” was this particular kind of creature that lived and ate this particular way or this specific tool was used for this or that exact purpose, what they are really saying is: “Your guess is as good as mine.” Nice work if you can get it.
When savage killings and open warfare breaks out between Muslims over the proper practice of the Islamic faith and Christians smugly announce how barbaric a faith Islam is, what they are saying is that they cut every single history class in school. No faith has been responsible for more bloodshed, torture, brutal oppression and widespread warfare than that of the followers of The Prince of Peace. Islam has a way to go to catch up to Christianity’s body count. To a whole lot of Muslims’ credit, however, they are trying their best in the critical Tyrannical Oppression and Senseless Killing departments, so there’s still hope for them entering the mainstream. Special kudos from The Department go out to them for the innovative and diabolical twist of talking young men in the prime of their lives into blowing themselves and others to smithereens in the name of a religion that means “Peace.”
When Charles Taylor, former brutal dictator of Liberia now on trial for war crimes in Sierra Leone (where he tried to conquer their diamond mines) pleads not guilty to the many charges against him, he is especially vehement in denying the charges of cannibalism. Which doesn’t look good for his prospects of acquittal on all the other charges of diamond smuggling, gunrunning, war making and the murder and mutilation of half a million human beings. When your only defense is: “At least I’m not a cannibal!”, your case is problematic at best and your chances of winning quite slim.
When China and Taiwan approach one another though official diplomatic channels, what that means is that China has finally given up the ghost of reclaiming the island, figuring, “Do we really need another 23 million citizens to go with our 1.3 billion, especially when those pesky Taiwanese are used to voting and having all those decadent Western human rights and liberties? They’ll just fire everyone else up and we’ll be having another Tiananmen Square incident every six weeks. That darned tank ammo is very pricey!”
When a species of frog previously thought to have been extinct is found somewhere, that means that nature has been pretty thorough in producing enough varieties of frogs so that their functions overlap and when one kind disappears the world doesn’t notice they are gone. Perhaps they take turns disappearing and reappearing to spread the frog workload equitably. What that also tells us is that there are people in this world who are on the ball with keeping tabs on frogs so that the rest of us are pretty much off the hook with frog counting. Reassuring, that.
When you read about billionaires still wheeling and dealing well into their 70’s and 80’s, your realize that the accumulation of that much wealth is as often as not an all-consuming compulsion rather than a means to an end. At an age when most men their age have relinquished the running of the world to younger hands and are enjoying the fruits of their labors in the restful and leisurely pursuits of retirement, what these obsessive control freak geezers are telling you is that they are Ebenezer Scrooge, afflicted with a severe mental infirmity and unable to help themselves. And as any first year intern at DOPOTO can confirm, there are no Ghosts of Christmas Future handy to save these poor wretches from themselves.
When Republican Party operatives mount an intensive campaign to remove President Obama from office because he was really born in (!) Kenya, what they are really saying is “We’ve got nothing, not a damned thing in our pointy little heads.” Calling the followers of their movement “Birthers” isn’t helping their lost cause either, conjuring up images of inbred, isolated religious cults or Nadya Suleman, the Octomom. Calls to Birther headquarters in Brainfreeze, Idaho from The Department Of Pointing Out The Obvious have gone unanswered due the Birthers’ fear of the “witchy voices” emanating from their telephones, which they have declared to be instruments of Satan.
When sport writers and cycling fans gush over bicyclist Lance Armstrong’s 7 wins in the Tour de France, they never mention that bicycle riding is something that most of us master completely at around the age of 7 or 8, and yet receive no accolades for our advanced skills or athleticism. It’s pretty much an unspoken assumption that someone who rides a bicycle 10 hours a day will get giant thighs, deep lungs and not much else. Which researchers at DOPOTO have discovered is why the Tour de France was originally invented, as a consolation prize devised by social scientists to boost the self esteem of French people whose only skill was bike riding and were starting to feel inferior to people who won accolades for actual athletic prowess or winning their wars. Somewhere throughout the ensuing decades it got out of hand with the Yellow Jersey that was originally the entire jackpot for the race becoming a symbol of actual achievement. One result is that Armstrong is a wealthy international star.
This has been a report from The Department Of Pointing Out The Obvious.