Sunday, January 04, 2009

Masterminding Revelation

Lake Superior State University recently published it's annual list of words and phrases that should be banned from use. This year's batch is well-chosen and I agree that "Going Green", "Carbon Footprint", "Bailout", and "Wall Street/Main Street - among thirty others - have been used and abused beyond their ability to communicate anything. I have a couple of my own I'd like to add.

Revelers -- News stories over this past New Years weekend were filled with stories of drunks, idiots, and cretins wreaking havoc on polite society. But instead of referring to them as drunks, idiots, and cretins -- who did everything from drive snow machines into oak trees at 70 miles per hour to mooning and attacking reporters to critically burning two girls in New Hampshire by throwing white gas on a bonfire -- they were uniformly described as "revelers". I'm sorry, but a reveler is someone who blows a plastic horn with bucket on his head and kisses pretty strangers in Times Square at midnight. Someone who throws white gas on a bonfire in a crowd full of young people is a drunk or an idiot or both. These stories would have much more punch and deterrent affect if they told the truth. "Last night in upstate New York two drunken morons killed themselves when their stolen snow machine collided with a two hundred-year-old oak at the edge of Lake Such-and-Such." Or. "Sloppy drunks in Lake Tahoe bared their big white hind ends and slobbered on a female television reporter attempting to do a feel-good piece on local celebrations." Wouldn't you love to see that just once?

Mastermind -- This one has bothered me for years. Psychotic and scheming criminals of all stripes, if they manage to pull off a caper more complex than what a six-year-old could imagine, are universally anointed "masterminds". They are psychotics, sociopaths, schemers, scammers, sick puppies, even monsters. They are not masterminds. That title should be reserved for those among us who pull off the truly great works of our time. The Steves, Jobs and Wozniak, masterminded the user-friendly computer which became the Mac. Bill Gates masterminded affordable software packages that became ubiquitous and changed the way the world works. Nelson Mandela masterminded the end of apartheid. Warren Buffet is the mastermind of Berkshire Hathaway. Bruce Springsteen was the mastermind behind the E Street Band. Political genius, LBJ, masterminded the final passage of the Civil Rights Act. Barack Obama masterminded the most improbable ascent to the Presidency in our nation's history. These are truly master minds at work. Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is not in that league. He is the sick bastard who thought up the idea of flying passenger jets into buildings full of innocents. How smart do you have to be to read an airline schedule and give a couple dozen psychopaths box cutters? Were the business people behind the predatory lending practices and toxic securities bundles of the past ten years masterminds, or greed-driven short-sighted deluded gamblers? Let's call a scoundrel a scoundrel and get on with masterminding a way out of this mess.

That would be something to revel about.


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