Things just get funnier and funnier. Actually, no. It isn’t funny. It gets weirder, more absurd, but I’m not laughing, although that might be a natural reaction sometimes, a human reflex responding to something that’s just over some threshold.
One little minor item was the response to an email I had sent to someone who I thought would be interested in what I pointed out, along with a relevant short comment of my own about it. I got a replay back telling me I was rambling on and on, and what was my point?
I checked, and the email was a total of 149 words, if you didn’t count the recipient’s name at the top as a salutation and signing my initials at the bottom, as I always do, to close.
What you just read preceding this sentence totals 130 words, according to Microsoft Word.
The reply was basically “yes oil is tanking and producers are worried… so what’s your point?“. My point was certainly not that, which is something I already knew that he knew very well, so it wasn’t necessary to explain that part.
The point was what I had already explained, in what I thought was really short form.
The item I pointed out in that email was the radio news story I mentioned the last time here, an extended program segment discussing the slide in crude oil prices. One part of that, which I mentioned in the email (the “rambling” part, evidently), was the portion of the discussion that was startling in its failure to understand some basics. The item consisted of talking about how reduced selling prices would affect various oil producers on the international scene, specifically Saudi Arabia versus US oil production. What came out of that was about some vague notion that the lower prices would affect US oil production less than the Saudis, because, so they thought, US oil production was “more efficient”, with this notion coming from the idea that’s floating around that current US oil operations have modern technology.
This, as I wrote before, is seriously misguided nonsense. The basic point is that anybody paying any attention to the story of the hyped up “oil boom” in the Bakken formation in North Dakota should know by now the nature of the “tight oil” deposits locked in shale rock, and that to get that stuff out requires that “modern technology” in more and more complex and expensive operations, and more of it, to get smaller and smaller slurps of oil out of the rock, with rapid depletion of wells. In shorter form: more and more required to get less and less, the very definition of the idea of diminishing returns.
My point in the rambling email was, simply put: this is what we get for news. It’s worse than useless, it actually makes things worse.
One part of the segment I don’t think I’ve mentioned is one of the speakers going on about how things were looking so grand because of what they proclaimed as the good news of superior American motoring fuel efficiency. This, of course, is expressed in terms of fuel used per distance travelled. That’s the measure of “efficiency” (or “the metric” as it goes in lingo these days, from people who “speak to” ideas and inanimate objects and love to ramble about paradigms). There’s not so much attention given to raw consumption volume, and considering the question of how much fuel is burned up for what’s actually accomplished.
As always, these days, there is a lot going on, and addressing any of it is tough when people think that saying more than a couple of short sentences is a rambling epic, and the subjects at hand are often complicated, and require some facts and explanation. It’s even worse when so much of the noise flying around makes things worse by confusing people with sheer bullshit.
Obviously, just one portion of all that is, as I’m getting tired of saying, the dense layers of confused nonsense and raw blatant lying in the realm of politics.
A passing item a few days ago was a text crawl on the bottom of the screen on cable TV news reporting a statement by congressional representative and former Brand R candidate for Vice President Paul Ryan, saying that “climate change” is not caused by human activity. The twist of irony is that I could swear that Paul Ryan is one of those Brand R political creatures always yammering on about “personal responsibility”.
Obviously not everything is all about politics, but that circus somehow manages to work its way into everything. The statement from Rep. Ryan is a pretty classic example of that. Right now, turn on CNN at any given moment, and it’s more or less a sure thing that they will be in the usual mode of “the one thing happening in the world”, with that being “ebola! ebola! ebola!”. Part of the circus that everything seems to become is that today apparently brought a new farce of theater, some congressional hearing on ebola. Looking into what that accomplished is probably a question that would be a waste of time to even ask. I caught snippets of the dog and pony show, here and there, on C-Span, catching sound-bite clips on the infotainment news, and the gist of it, especially as presented by the infotainment shows, was some mix of bureaucrats droning on saying little of any use or insight, and Brand R political sports players performing their script about everything being worse because Obama is president, being all ineffectual and useless as a leader, unless of course he actually got a handle on the situation and led, and then he’s an out of control dictator.
In the big picture of the ebola trouble, there’s probably a whole topic of its own in just examining the posing and theatrics going on while the people involved in positions of importance manage to mismanage everything. When the news broke that the first ebola patient in Texas had died, a part of the news reporting was a press release statement from the hospital cranking out something about how sad the hospital as an organizational entity was, how they felt the family’s pain in their time of this and that and it was just pointless and empty nothingness that does nothing of any useful good. Along with that comes an endless stream of chatter about procedures and management and ass-covering and more PR press about how careful and diligent they are, even as what seems to be the actual truth slips out, about nurses trying to deal with things as management fouls up the works and generally makes things harder and worse for people actually doing the work caring for the ill. In this kind of thing, it probably will not come as an unexpected surprise to see management/administration type people yapping vacuously about investigating and studying and reviewing and revising procedures and all the usual bullshit that afflicts everything these days in America, getting in the way of seeing and assessing things as they are, understanding, and thinking and acting as needed.
We can probably all have a great long discussion about this saga of emergency as a tale with two plot threads; the pompous posing and bureaucratic incompetence of government and the pompous posing and bureaucratic incompetence and misdirected priorities of “healthcare industry” or “market” as a profit-center enterprise under the inept control and greed of corporate management types in charge (rather than, say, oh, I don’t know, physicians, perhaps?).
Hey, breaking news! I was just about to move on here (rambling on and on, evidently), when fresh news popped up! It was announced that, in response to the ebola problem, President Obama has appointed a new… wait for it… Ebola Czar!
Seriously. Apparently there is nothing in the current structure of the federal government of the United States that deals with large scale health problems arising. The bonus, and I’m not making this up as a joke, I swear, is that the background professional qualification of said new “Ebola Czar” is being… again, seriously… a lawyer.
I switched on CNN and, predictably, found chief buffoon Wolf Blitzer holding court with another CNN staff talking head playing their assigned role in the theater there, of “reporter”, who was saying that the new “Ebola Czar” (“Ebola Response Coordinator”, possibly) was being put in place with the idea, at least according to the report, being that their main task and problem was “managing public fear” (not dealing with the disease), and that the new character is, and I quote directly, “a message guy“.
You just can’t make this shit up.
Hearing that reminds me of past instances of hearing somebody spewing corporate management groupthink that basically says “perception is everything”, expanded upon with notions that what matters is not what something is, but rather what you can get people to believe it is. There’s a fast track (hey! more lingo!) route to disaster and madness for you, and, tragically, that seems to be a standard principle for too many people now.
It’s probably an appropriate moment to segue into mentioning yet another new example of the spectacular douchebaggery of New York Times columnist and occasional book author Thomas Friedman, that I noticed only because of a Facebook “share” of a new column published in the Times and posted on their website. That might be a topic for another time, still another case of a subject all its own. The simple summary is that Friedman decided to take on the subject of the market decline in crude oil prices, and, to put it simply, just published another example of Friedman talking out his ass.