We're back with a Special Bonus Issue! Twice the Newspeak for no additional cost! And no Monica Lewinsky news (guaranted)!
"Stand and Deliver"
The Air Force unveiled a new program to improve the math and science skills of our youth. At the Museum of Aviation in Warner Robbins, Georgia, Air Force pilots are training teenage students to operate military plane simulators and perform missions over Iraq. While students in a C-130 cargo plane simulator deliver "food" and "medicine" to Baghdad, their peers ride shotgun in fighter planes ready to rid the skies of "enemy" aircraft. Fortunately, the program is not meant to serve a military agenda, according to its director, Maj. Tim Ham. He reports that "Here, they get to see how the stuff they are learning in the classrooms can be used in everyday kind of jobs." And what, besides flying missions over Iraq, constitutes an "everyday kind of job"? Try search and rescue, surveillance and reconnaissance, all according to Maj. Ham. (AP 2/1)
Which of the following words is used incorrectly if left uncapitalized or standing by itself: velcro, popsicle, mace, ping-pong, sheetrock, dumpster, hula-hoop, play-doh, and frisbee? The correct answer, of course, is all of them because all these terms are owned by someone. This invaluable information appears in an ad in the Columbia Journalism Review sponsored by the International Trademark Association. The INTA is eager to let editors and journalists learn "a few important guidelines that will help prevent letters of complaint from trademark owners." They want it known that trademarks are proper adjectives, requiring capitalization and a noun or noun phrase. So in the interest of protecting private property, here are their approved ways to use these terms: Velcro hoop and loop fasteners, Popsicle flavored ices, Mace tear gas, Ping-Pong tennis table equipment, Sheetrock plaster wallboard, Dumpster trash container, Hula-Hoop plastic hoop, Play-Doh modeling compound and Frisbee flying discs. So let's all toe the line. (CJR 1/98)
Dial Soap announced they are dumping their classic advertising slogan, "Aren't you glad you use Dial." The jingle's demise may provide anthropologists of the future with major insights into the culture of the 90's. In the words of the Wall Street Journal, the slogan "wasn't relevant any longer because of what is going on inside of soap users heads." Dial's ad people argue people today are not primarily worried about offending others with body odor, but mainly want protection from the germs of the outside world. In the words of DDB Needham ad executive Joe Belmonte, "It used to be 'I'm trying to make myself presentable to you.' Now its more about 'I've got to wash you off of me'." This would make Jack Nicholson's Melvin in "As Good As It Gets" a candidate for poster child of the 90's. (WSJ 1/20)
Military-Industrial Logic 101
Traditionally, our citadels of higher learning have strived to avoid looking like mere store fronts for the Pentagon. But a recent report by the Natural Resources Defense Council has criticized many major universities for their involvement in nuclear weapons research. The most visible target is a program at five schools to build a supercomputer to simulate the effects of nuclear explosions for the US Energy Department. Fending off criticism of involving academia in the creation of weapons of mass destruction, Joan Rohlfing, a senior energy advisor to the Energy Department, made a fine distinction obviously missed by fat headed opponents. "The purpose of the department's simulation research financing," she said, "is to improve our ability to maintain the nation's nuclear stockpile, not to improve its performance." In other words, we don't give a damn what it does, just keep the cash cow happy. (NYT 1/25)
"A Rose by Any Other Name..."
The American Red Cross takes great pride in the fact they, to quote their Legal Resources Manual, "do not endorse, either explicitly or implicitly, any commercial products." That may be why some confusion arose when the Laerdal company, a manufacturer of the mannequins used in many CPR classes, printed a manual with the Red Cross logo emblazoned across its front. Not only that, they printed a letter from a Red Cross v-p named Susan Morrissey Livingstone describing Laerdal as "a trusted name world-wide," praising "their dedication to quality manufacturing," and offering discounted mannequins to Red Cross chapters. What sounded much like a commercial endorsement turned out to be something else entirely. It was, in the words of the Red Cross, a "non-exclusive alliance" and not an "endorsement." (NYT 1/26)
Sensitivity Training - Army Style
No doubt many of you worry whether the generals of our US Army are able to take advantage of the many advances being made today by the motivational industry. I'm glad to report that 81 of our newest generals were able to participate in a week long Brigadier General Training Course, where they were taught how to get in touch with their "inner jerk" by Lt. Col. Howard Olsen. The Colonel may have verged on divulging classified information when he told the assembled generals that "Each and everyone of you has something that makes you a jerk." Another unnamed general spoke out about the treaty banning landmines. He warned, "That's the first step on the road to disarmament. The next step is to go after your M-16s. " (Glad to see that at least one general was able to get in touch with his "inner jerk.") (WSJ 1/19)
Support Your Local Spy Satellite
Joining Uncle Sam and a proud list of multi-national corporations, state governments are now discovering the joy of spy satellites. States like Georgia are renting time on surveillance satellites built by Lockheed Martin and Raytheon to track down water use, unreported logging and new construction. Larry Griggers, director of the Georgia Department of Revenue, even admits this snooping from the skies "certainly has a 'Big Brother is Watching you' flavor to it." But Mr. Griggers does not let that thought deter his agency. Why? Because in his words, "It prevents us from having to spend money for other types of enforcement." Best to have the least expensive version of Big Brother, don't you agree? (WSJ 1/27)
The Homosexual Watch
The Navy employed a piece of detective work worthy of Sherlock Holmes to unmask a homosexual within their midst. A veteran submarine officer with the unfortunate name of Timothy R. McVeigh was tracked down from information provided on his American Online internet account. Although his dismissal from the Navy was blocked by a Federal judge, the Navy wins plaudits for the impeccable reasoning they employed to determine from his answer of "gay" to a questionnaire that he was a practicing homosexual. The following are the words of an actual unnamed Navy official. "Under the Department of Defense homosexuality conduct practice, the statement made by a member that he is gay provides the rebuttable presumption that the service member has a propensity to engage in homosexual conduct." And presumably heterosexuals have a similar "propensity" to engage in hetero sex? In which case the entire Roman Catholic priesthood should do what? (WSJ 1/14)
HMO's to the Rescue
Many patients going for psychotherapy in our managed care facilities are discovering they have more company in their sessions than just a mere psychologist. They also have the benefit of trained HMO administrators listening from a distance. As part of what the Wall Street Journal describes as "the manage-care industry's efforts to control costs and monitor quality" (just like McDonald's does with its Big Macs), higher officials are requiring increasingly detailed reports on patients. For example, Value Behavioral Health requires details on 24 symptoms and 12 areas of patient functioning including on the job. As a result, hordes of patients are forgoing therapy because of privacy concerns. If only they could hear the words of VBH administrator Ian Shaffer who assures all that "We are an advocate for the patient, because we hold the provider accountable for giving the appropriate treatment." Sounds almost like the return of Robin Hood. (WSJ 1/22)
Norway made its way into the Newspeak (Tm) big leagues after hosting the recent international conference to outlaw anti-personnel mines. Jan B. Vindheim of the Norwegian Green Party revealed the Norwegian government has been importing and stockpiling mines from countries who had banned them while " presenting itself as a champion of disarmament." Although Norway does not have an outright ban on the anti-personnel mines, they are clearly persona non grata. This may help explain why, when a shipment of 100 mines arrived from Austria, they were suddenly reclassified from the category "APM-19" (Anti-Personnel Mine) to the category "Directed Fragmentation Charges." A much safer title. (Green International #75)
Special thanks this week to Robert DeFriesse and Donald Boring for sounding alerts to quality Newspeak. Starting now this column will be appearing every other week so I can have a life.
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