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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Maiden America: Some Antics with Semantics.

Fooling fools.

On a news report recently, the announcer was extolling the resurgence of America's manufacturing prowess by holding up products labeled "Made in America", as proofs that the US, was 'back' (where it had gone was not discussed). I was soon embroiled in an argument over being nit-picking about language, finding fault where there was none, by pointing out the clever ploy the manufacturing industry had devised in order to deceive US citizens into thinking that they were purchasing products that were made in their own country, when in fact they were manufactured in Mexico, or Canada, for that matter.

By exploiting the deep-seated belief of US citizens that America and the USA are synonymous, they have changed the usual "Made in USA" to "Made in America", thereby allowing the tag to be sewn or stamped on anything made within NAFTA borders, and still be telling the truth while propagating a lie: this, I insisted, is the way Corporatism works. Those who conceived of the plan considered themselves 'brilliant', because, next to the dullness of those the label's intended to deceive, they shine.

As for the accusation of being 'nit-picking', I can only refer to the same accusation being leveled when I brought up a point at a sales meeting held when I was still a Network Consultant  helping design and implement what was at that time referred to as WAN's (Wide Area Networks - as opposed to LAN's and MAN's (Metropolitan Area Networks)), that spanned the country, and (sometimes) the globe and included backup, not only for the devises the customer owned and configured, but even planned for the outage of an entire Telco, by using OSPF routing to redirect customer's internal traffic over links leased from MCI instead of ATT. But the accusation was then, and is now, based on a complete misunderstanding of how the modern world works. Nit-picking is exactly the type of skill needed in consulting in an industry where a comma instead of a period means that the configuration you just downloaded is not going to work, because a comma tells the compiler to take an entirely different action with the text you've submitted than what a period would have it do.

In a similar vein, and to help point out that I am not just bloviating, I recall seeing a sign posted on a garage door that warned against parking in the driveway, stating that the vehicle would be towed "At Owner's expense", and joking that the implication was the property owner would pay for the towing, as it didn't stipulate the owner of What: the car, or the driveway? The person to whom I made the quip scoffed at me, as I'd meant him to, although I knew I was, technically speaking, correct. Now, years later, sure enough, there on a person's garage I saw the same warning, but the sign was now modified to stipulate just which owner was liable for the towing expenses.

What this tells me is that some one, before a court of law, used the completely valid argument that the sign was in fact ambiguous and suggested to the parker exactly what I said it suggested. To avoid further confusion, the sign was reworded, marketed and sold in the new version I saw the other day.

In a similar vein, America Manufacturing did not decide to go to all the trouble and expense of designing new labels and stamps and go through the silkscreen process of  changing their labeling from "Made in USA" to "Made in America" for nothing. Far from it. They had a very good reason for doing so, and that reason was the opposite of the 'No Parking" example, where the sign was altered in order to decrease confusion. The label was changed in order to give corporations the latitude to have their products manufactured in the least expensive locale, but to then confuse the public and allow the industries to market their products anywhere in the USA, while deceptively assuring their customers that the product they were buying was "Made in America", which in fact, it was, it just wasn't "Made in USA", which, legally, they never claimed it to be. You assumed that's what they meant, because you equate America with the United States thereof, but the United States isn't America, it's IN America.

The fact that I was set upon for seeing deception where supposedly none existed shows the sad state of affairs in a country that should be completely aware, from political campaigns,  government program slogans and other 'spin-machine' fabrications that what they're being told has always gone through a very expensive vetting process so that what it purports to say and what it really says are, more often than not, completely different. The citizenry is awash in advertisements that costs the manufacturing industry billions and billions every year, yet which tells the potential consumer of that product as little as possible about it. Cars are the easiest example to illustrate this: with their "completely redesigned" models, such as Subaru offers, assuring its customers that 'Love' is one of, in fact, THE most essential, ingredient in their new model. So, as per their own ads, the old model, into which just as much 'love' was poured, is a failure, (why else would it have to be "completely redesigned"?), yet used the exact same main ingredient. Absolute nonsense spewed out and ingested (Subaru has used the insulting "love" machine garbage for years now, so it must work on their intellectually and emotionally blighted customers), not for a purchase as trivial as laundry soap, but for one of the most important and expensive purchases the customer will make in years, with no more info than deceitful lies to go on. That this is the paradigm that advertising uses is more of a comment on ourselves than on the industry is apparent from the fact that, if it didn't work, they'd change it; but we're such easily manipulated lame-brains that it works every time.

Yet, to point out the fact that such practices should give a healthy amount of skepticism about what's said is to be an obstructionist of some sort. Whatever. Well, the good news is that whereas you used to be warned to read the fine print, as that's where the deception was hidden, this being a good example that purposeful deceit is, and has historically been, the norm, not the exception, now the lies are full in the face, only they've been obfuscated with double meaning and take full advantage of what should be obvious to us all, but isn't: in English, you can not make an unequivocal statement. And I say that unequivocally.

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