Blog # 46 AN OBSERVATION ON ATTRACTIVE LANGUAGE

Unlike wooden puppets on a  stage, totally lacking volition and completely dependent upon skilled,  human  manipulation, people, while not suffering  comparable dependency, do have an all pervasive  “legal” impediment to their movement.

The Law of Gravity, eternal and timeless, unlike man made law, is not subject to revision, interpretation or, amendment. In keeping with such overarching and fixed authority, it would appear that the only intrinsically relevant direction or movement on the planet is “up” and “down”; travel on the planet’s surface to any point of navigation on the compass, regardless of the distance of the expedition, would pale by any comparison.

In fact, the attraction of gravity is so much an ever-present “given” in the geometry of our lives that we seem to act and think in such a way that one could conclude that we expend little or no energy thinking about the subject.

Strangely and interestingly, while we would appear to take no overt notice of the force of the planet’s attraction, a contrary conclusion may well be entertained by merely taking the time to examine our everyday vocabulary and speech.

“Up” and “Down” being the operative words, it may be pointed out that our “up” words (directionally resistant to the authority and direction of gravity) are in the positive or aspirational context, while words in our “down” category (submission, obedience) are noticeably less positive in tone and meaning.

Such words as, “upbeat,” “upgrade” ”feeling up,” “uplift.” “upturn,” “upward and onward,” “upward mobility,” “uppity,” “up with….,” “holding up” and so many other words of positive or progressive context.

“Down” words, are less positive, less aspirational: “down size,” “down in the mouth,” low spirits,” “feeling low,” lower class,” low turnout. “down- tick,” “heading down,” “downtrodden,” and so many others of unhappy or disappointed   aspect.

Gravity language then, utilized to express mood or perception, reveals that we are, subliminally, well aware that our existence completely and continuously depends upon the continuance of earth’s attractive properties. Perhaps we are a bit too fearful to consciously dwell on a life and death subject over which we have absolutely no control.

Go Gravity!

 

 

Blog # 45 THE PARKING LOT

Finding an available slot in a very busy parking lot is normally a trying experience; but not at the subject parking facility. Here, despite the countless numbers of occupied parking  spaces, and prominently posted  signs at each entrance  declaring in red letters ,”FULL,” there are unlimited numbers of  vacant spaces for the choosing. Moreover, all parking at this lot is anonymous and free of charge.

No established route nor directional instructions exist as to this facility; a GPS would be irrelevant and there is no local resident available to offer corrective advice. It is therefore no less than uncanny that the location and the route respecting this location are universally known. Free and easy ingress is available to everyone, all ages, levels of education, all ethnos and social and economic classes.

Without question, the most singular feature is its location which will not be observed to be on any parcel of real estate, but instead, is situate in the mind. More specifically, it resides where confidence, initiative and the desire for self-fulfillment are located, running quietly in neutral gear.

In 1904, when the great philosopher, Ralph Waldo Emerson, famously penned, “Hitch your wagon to a star,” he was counseling the cultivation of personal aspiration to attain great accomplishments in life. It should be noted that such goals would contemplate, in addition to laudable discoveries and creative developments for the benefit of mankind, the attainment of knowledge of the self and the meaningful direction of our individual lives.

The routes to such destination would vary in light of the myriad obstacles and demands in the individual case, imposed by life and circumstance; in this regard, significant accomplishment should be determined upon a flexible set of criteria. Those who are beset with impediments, physical, mental or economic, may be entitled to gold medal status upon a fair and equitable calculation, encompassing differences in innate capability as well as social and temporal  environment.

The drivers, young and old, who park their cars in our lot, with the rewarding realization of self-fulfillment and consequent self -worth, know as they walk from their car that they have completed a successful   journey and may already be planning others.

By contrast, the vast number of drivers who have, abandoned their vehicles or have prematurely vacated them, having suffered a lack of aspiration and hopelessness, are accordingly, and deprived of the chance at an enhanced life experience. Their journeys have not been satisfying and unhappily, lacking in the realization of life’s potential for meaning and value.

Still, parking management has been, at all times, optimistic and possessed of limitless patience and  understanding. It has charitably caused the configuration of the parking lot to contain numerous exits for those who wish to pull out and start afresh on a hopeful road trip toward meaningfulness, self-enhancement and growth.

Sadly, such restarts are expected to be rare in number.

–p.-

Blog # 44 NAUGHTY, NAUGHTY

The influence of television on the viewer is immeasurable. Many viewers of every description rely upon television programming as an important, if not their sole, source of information.  In the arena of marketing, there would seem to be an especial need for a limitation on the unbridled claims of advertising companies, on behalf of client vendors.

Added to the repetitive plethora of pizza, automobile and beauty products advertisements, there are certain notable areas that call for scrutiny and perhaps, regulation. Among  these areas are, weight loss, personal injury attorney and retirement home mortgage advertisements.

Regarding the subjects of  pizza, automobile and beauty products, all viewers, even people of low information, are sufficiently aware that claims of ultimate superiority are merely sales puffing.  Moreover, it seems that most pizza consumers are motivated by the convenience of location,  rather than the promotional hype of professional athletes.In auto sales, it would appear that it is past experience with brands, rather than the hypnotic influence of dynamic commercials,  featuring beautiful models,that is ultimately determinative of choice.As  to beauty products, most intelligent women effectively realize that aging ultimately trumps high priced  creams and perfumed oils

However, the are three notable areas of television advertisement, that deserve scrutiny and possibly, regulation, (a) weight loss ads, (b) personal injury lawyers and (c)home retirement ads

(a) Weight loss advertisements

The selectively wise and disciplined consumption of food is universally conceded to have a  salutary effect on health and physical appearance. Unfortunately, most of us who overeat find it extremely difficult, seemingly impossible, to amend our eating behavior.It almost appears that we are  hard-wired to persist in this lack of self discipline. Television advertisers are keenly aware of our frustration and strategically pander to it

Strikingly beautiful pictures of tempting but fattening foods and desserts are presented, along with  permission to consume them while, easily and quickly,  losing desired weight, solely  contingent upon subscription to a weight plan or club.”Real people” are presented, usually women, who purportedly , easily and quickly, transformed from blob to babe by subscribing to the advertised  plan.

In what is conceded to be the “real world,” weight is not lost by eating fattening foods while paying for subscriptions to advertised diet clubs; weight is lost by eating sensibly.

Perhaps this false pandering to the vulnerable should be looked into.

(b) Retirement home mortgages.

In the usual case, advertisers use mature professional actors, who usually portray wise and savvy film characters in film, to convince seniors to enter into retirement home mortgage transactions, if they wish to continue to reside in their homes, by financing the equity in their homes (equity is the difference between the market value of their real estate minus the outstanding principal on the mortgage) with the mortgage lender.

It is unquestionably desirable to be able to continue to reside in the home, most especially for the elderly (the assumption is conveyed of vulnerability in this area which may not exist, in the individual case); it would, in fact be appropriate, if absolutely necessary.to employ the home’s equity.There may not be any concern, for example, if the home mortgage was previously paid off (“satisfied”) or if the owners are able to meet the mortgage payments.The advertiser, by way of its dignified and eloquent spokesman seems to indicate the need in all cases; this is wrong and misleading.

Even where the home retirement mortgage (reverse mortgage, payments by bank based on equity) is useful, it may not be suitable for everyone, contrary to advertised presentation.

If ever, the admonition, “the devil is in the details” had application, it certainly has significant resonance here.For example, how much of the full amount of the equity will be received by the owner, what are the costs and commissions in obtaining the retirement mortgage, what carrying expenses viz., real estate taxes, State and local, insurance, water and the like, still remain the owner’s obligation?

Particularly disturbing and downright irksome, is the sage and beneficent presenter’s  incentive to the effect that the money received is “not taxable.” If anything demonstrated the intent to misrepresent, this is no less than classic. The money is, and has been your money by its accumulation in your home’s equity. It does not represent income since the money was not earned it was always  yours! Additionally, if still necessary, who pays income taxes on money they borrow?

This fraudulent presentation to the elderly should by scrutinized by the authorities.

(c) Advertisements by personal injury attorneys.

Personal injury attorneys handle accident cases (to be contrasted with attorneys who represent clients in their personal or business lives) have somewhat less fiduciary responsibilities than those contrasted, but nevertheless, should not be selected based on the quality of their advertisements. Even in this limited area, attorneys should be selected from references made by past clients and a bit of research. Attorney’s services are personal and should not be advertised like umbrellas or mayonnaise

More unprofessional than the advertising itself is the misleading promise of no fee without recovery. This should not be an inducement to hire any personal lawyer because it is provided in the New York law (and elsewhere) that no fee is in fact payable, except upon certain legislated percentages of recovery of money by the client. i.e., n o fee is legal if no recovery of money by the client. Stating this as a  benefit for the hiring of a particular attorney should put the prospective client on notice.

ADDENDUM ON A DIFFERENT SUBJECT:

Banks, t.v. sellers of products and others advertise with the inane phrase. “Free Gifts.”Is this to be contrasted with a class of “gifts” requiring money? A gift MEANS free or it is not a gift, I wish they would find another inducement.

Blog #43 “ NEAR” and “FAR”

The words “near” and “far” would suggest, at least, facially, that they are useful, perhaps to the traveler; in fact, they are completely useless and devoid of meaning or usefulness to anyone.

A possible suggestion to go somewhere, is often met with the response, “Is it far?” This inane question can call for no sensible answer and, if it has any standing as a communication, signifies only that the respondent is, to some degree, reluctant to vacate his comfortable perch. Should this be succeeded by the statement, “It is not that far” such reply is equally meaningless, except to the extent that the speaker prefers to insist on going. No information at all has been exchanged except, perhaps, contrary intentions on the subject; how far? Far from what? There are no indications of distance and no point of reference, whatsoever such as, Peru is far from Poughkeepsie, Brazil is far from Brooklyn.

During the heyday of Imperial Britain, the meaning and use of these two words were never in doubt. Greenwich, England was the reference point for the world’s timekeeping (” Greenwich Mean Time”).The further away you were from Greenwich, the later in the day; it is later in the day in Japan than London.

Moreover, in the halcyon days of the British Empire, Parliament divided the planet into geographic zones; the” Far East” was further from England than the” Middle East” or the” Near East”. Jolly old England was always the unanimous poster- boy for ethnocentrisms.

But even such egocentric geography on the part of enlightened England never furnished any useful information regarding distance, either proximity or the opposite; “near” and “far” simply denoted relative distance from Trafalgar Square.

The two words, at least, are ubiquitous in their use as non-distance expressions, such as,” near miss,” “distant relative”,” far- fetched”,” far from acceptable”,” far flung.”

There are some acceptable (distance) uses of the words, viz.,”Paris is further from New York than Poughkeepsie,” “Staten Island is nearer to Manhattan than Albany,”” Piccadilly Square is closer to Parliament than Zurich.”

In any case, p. thinks the two words are too “far out.”

p.

Blog #42 Rebutting February

The howling wind is relentless, cruelly whipping its icy gusts and invasive currents across frozen field. It is frigid February, the time to test survival and stoicism. Long and small plant life bravely trusts to established subterranean support to resist the gale’s violent uprooting intentions. Aggressive, buffeting wind gusts bully and intimidate shrubs and tree branches into dancing the wind’s bug aloo. Tree limbs gasp with snapping sounds and answer gravity’s statutory mandate to plunge to the frozen ground.

All growing things are in the same dire need of rest and solicitous care, as a losing prizefighter after a grueling fifteen round match.

Yet the violent February weather continues its relentless assault during days, short and dark, offering only impotent sunlight; and even deadlier conditions at night.

Human beings, unfortunately,  at times, also experience personal Februaries; death of a loved one, failure in love or business, illness, disappointment, and other negative happenings lead us to experience dark, cold and inhospitable days and seasons.

They call her “Mother Earth” with good reason. This loving generator and perpetuator of life (even during the forbidding month of February, (should you steal a peek) you will see an ever-present, subtle smile and a knowing wink of the eye; in the awareness that soon the warming sun will reliably appear, softening the soil, together with a nourishing rain, producing flowers, green leaves and a myriad of colored shoots of new life, energetically impatient to flourish everywhere.

The human spirit and character is not, in fact, seasonal, but it is tenacious and perennial. Resilient personality, accumulated experience and wisdom, enhanced by the catalyst of good friends make the reliable prescription for the cure of human” Februaries” and the speeding along of Spring.

p.

 

Blog # 41 THE VIEWER AND THE PUNDIT

Political commentators (knighted with the title of “pundit”) are a predictable feature of news programs. Their supremely confident responses to questions bear the tone and style appropriate to the declaration of self- evident facts, and are uttered without a single reservation as to the possibility of error; all such pronouncements being all dutifully made while smiling at the viewing audience through the camera lens.

Every politically themed television has its available dug-out of active, reserve pundits ready to be summoned and put into play.

There would seem to be no question or issue, national or international that is not responded to instantaneously, with great self- assurance, and without the necessity of time-wasting, prior thought or consideration.

To be truthful and fair, many of the inhabitants of the remote punditry planet are well-informed, educated members in good standing of the nation’s media, who are usually acceptably rational, and often correct in their pronouncements.

However, it is the self-assured, pedantic tone and unvarying assumption of flawless rectitude that is irksome. Conceivably, they may in some way lack the ability, or willingness, to consider that their viewers do read newspapers and have at the least, some modest, capacity for independent thought. If, in fact, the prevailing assumption entertained by these television commentators, is that an adequate understanding of the news by the viewer, is only attainable by means of their translation of events, the assumption is false, arrogant and no less than classical hubris.

Educated and well-informed people should always think independently and not accept as a mantra the comments of the pundit. Importantly, it would be more tolerable and aesthetic if these venerable experts would express themselves in the tone and context of opinion and even, dare we say, with reservations, if applicable.

The following Rosetta- Stone sampling of “pundit-speak” code may be useful:

Code                                                                        English

“double- down”                             presses the point

“dig down”                                       look into the background

“there’s no there, there”             idiotic way to say no basis for

“it is unclear”                                   I don’t know

“that being said…”                        speaker will contradict himself

“so”                                                     prelude to any answer

“so to speak”                                     in a manner of speaking

“group- think”                                 inside the box attitude

There are many others, but it is hoped that familiarity with some pundit jargon will be useful, to some degree, in moderating awe.

It appears that pliny is a pundit agnostic.

p.

 

 

Blog # 40 MEDICINE NEEDS A GPS

Privacy is the personal right to limit the content of our communications to people of our own choosing, it is an invaluable feature of our American liberty.

Intrusion into private communications is illegal (exception, legally authorized wire- taps in the area of terrorism and criminal activities). The fact that this important protection on behalf of the individual citizen applies to government is laudable, especially when contrasted with many foreign countries. The difficult contest between the citizens’s right of privacy and the government’s responsibility to maintain security, often needs Court resolution and is dealt with on a case- by- case basis.

Our vital right of privacy also applies to other areas. For example, New York Civil Rights Law, section 50 et seq. forbids the use of a photo or other likeness of a person, in trade or advertising, unless the individual to be protected, executes a valid, written waiver

On the other hand, government, happily, does not have an analogous right to privacy. Unless the information sought has been legitimately classified as “Confidential,” any citizen may deliver a valid demand for information under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIL) to the government or other body or agency.  The purpose has to be proper, and the individual, a legitimate interest in the matter

Communications with lawyers, doctors and priests are also protected, as “privileged,” if the information was given in the context and as part of the professional relationship. This right, again, protects the individual, who alone may personally waive the right by a valid signed writing or by conduct unequivocally amounting to his waiver of privacy.

Important protection is granted by a Statute mandating privacy in hospital, clinic or doctor’s office settings, concerning the personal health data of the patient (HIPAA).

However, for many years, there has been a uniform “wrong way Corrigan” application and perhaps an insufficient understanding of the health privacy law (HIPAA) by the medical profession.

In order to be admitted to a hospital, clinic or seen by a doctor, we are all (illogically) obliged to sign an Agreement that we are aware of the privacy afforded (us) under the privacy Statute, and, usually, and equally useless, a statement that the Agreement was, indeed, signed by us. The Admitting Nurse then advises the new patient sternly, that these documents will be placed in his “Permanent File.” What errant nonsense!

The protection of privacy is the patient’s protection against disclosure by the hospital or doctor. It may be that the medical professional and its expensive legal counsel need a GPS to correct the direction of HIPAA rights. What legal purpose does it serve to have the party whose rights are to be protected, sign such an agreement? If a signed writing were necessary (and it is not), it is the Hospital or doctor who have the obligation to keep patient’s data confidential.

By illustration, If an unconscious patient, alone, and unable to sign such a document, was brought into the emergency room, is not the Hospital nevertheless restricted by HIPAA from disclosure?

A prospective patient surrenders his body and future life to a hospital or medical professional, necessarily, with supreme trust and reliance upon the assumption that he will be treated by competent, rational and trustworthy stewards; the cockeyed application of HIPAA, does nothing to increase his confidence.

p.