Escalation of Obfuscation
J. Kent Sprague on 02/17/2012
Either I am getting dumber with age or more and more things are being expressed in terms that are barely decipherable. Many lawyers have earned a good living by writing the fine print that nobody reads because doing so is not within a normal citizen's grasp. It isn't just the fine print on the back of contracts and sales agreements that protect corporate America from the liability of everything short of attacks by flocks of flying monkeys, either.
The last time my pickup truck went to a repair shop for maintenance, I tried to read the bill that itemized the work that they had done. I don't remember the exact wording, but it was either about re-calibrating the differential timing belt sensors or changing the oil in the hub cap roller bearing assembly. Whatever they did was expensive, and required three days to finish.
Our shop has several copy machines that occasionally require maintenance by a technician. Recently, I asked the Xerox technician what he had done to cure a paper jamming problem. I think he told me that he had re-aligned the imaging unit drive train with the fuser section pick-up rollers so paper would not catch on the guide rails of the copier finishing module.
We know a local artist who recently described his work as kinetic, abstract expressionism bursting with emotional energy. The last sentence of his personal summary explained that the search for representation and detail will only obscure the gestalt – the greater veracity of the image's essence. I don't know exactly what that means, but I like the vivid colors of his paintings.
Even sports are not immune from evolving trends in new terminology. Baseball pitchers who throw hard are now power pitchers with good velocity. A pitcher's control is frequently referred to as his accuracy. We now have 2-seam fastballs and 4-seam fastballs that didn't exist years ago. In football, a block now needs an adjective to make it a drive block, shield block, cut block, chop block, crack-back block or illegal block in the back. Basketball players no longer jump, they elevate. One of the most annoying things that I've heard crop up in sports lately is an announcer stating that a player has brought heightened physicality to his team.
The other day I was watching a weatherman on TV to try to find out if it was likely to rain the next day. He had a nice big weather map that showed a stratospheric anomaly near the jet stream that was pushing the barometric pressure down to produce an unstable weather pattern with an occluded cold front approaching from the west. I believe that his conclusion for the next day's weather was that it was either going to be partly cloudy or partly sunny.