Connect the dots, Orwell


The Advocate, once again very timely, editorializes about a translation of George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” in the late 1940s, just after World War II. Seems one courageous Ihor Sevcenko of Ukraine, quite a polyglot, translated the work into his home language. Well, good for him. Some 2000 copies were distributed to Ukrainian readers, which left some 35,000,000 Ukrainians unenlightened. Another 1,500 where given to the Soviet masters of a refugee camp. They were, of course, immediately destroyed by the thought-loving Soviets – so long as it was Soviet thought. One wonders if the American who authorized the delivery to the Soviet Masters – the sort against whom the book was written – said “the system worked.” Or whatever. I wonder too if the book is still available in that language. And I suppose the recent passing of Mr. Sevcenko at the age of 87 was the reason for the praise. OK, that’s all good. I do not know how many other languages into which “Animal Farm” was translated, or in which it still available. The world certainly needs another dose of such satire about power and government – and the rising up of the regular people. His “1984” should also be translated and handed out around the world.

In fact, one could argue that the writers of the Advocate themselves should pick up a copy – translated into whatever language they write in. For some times it is odd. Odd indeed. And certainly copies should be handed to Senators and Representatives. Indeed, perhaps it should be legislated that they read both books as a part of their taking office. For they do bumfuddle the language. They mush things up so bad that it is hard to divine the meaning of what they are all saying. And certainly the Advocate, which stands as our guardian of our country, or so they would probably characterize themselves. Free press and First Amendment and Fourth Branch of Government and all that. I realize that they are just bringing us the “news.” But is that really all they should be doing? Shouldn’t they be the ones connecting the dots? Since our leaders can’t? Shouldn’t they begin to put news into a relational format rather than the stand alone format, so that we might better understand what on earth is going on? The lines continue to take up space for a few words as they separate the articles.

For instance, these headlines from today’s paper:

1) Page 2A: “Senators enjoin discipline for security lapses.” News, AP

2) Page 1A: “Yemen open to negotiations.” News, AP

3) Page 2A: “Churches attacked amid ‘Allah’ row.” News, AP

4) Page 3A: “Dozens killed in political violence.” News, AP

5) Page 3A: “Cleric expelled to Kenya.” News, AP

6) Page 4B: “Republicans use terrorism for political gain.” Opinion, Donna Brazile.

So what to make of it? Let’s look at one sentence I crafted with the gist of each article with article & page numbers to illustrate how it is all related: Well, the Christmas Underwear Bomber was a Nigerian (5-3A) who went through security with great ease (1-2A) from Yemen, (2-1A) into Europe, to the USA and almost to the point of killing dozens in political violence (4-3A) in an act of terrorism in America because Allah (3-2A) has basically said to kill the infidel, which would seem to be everyone on the flight to Detroit that was not blown up (6-4B).

So why isn’t there a “World Terrorism Page” — we have sports pages, and food pages, and business pages. We have score cards, and recipes, and numbers of jobs gone or come. We have opinion pages, and puzzle pages and cartoon pages. All of these topics are put together in one grouping. They contain all the related info on that subject – sports, food, business, details, opinions, puzzles, comics. So, we can say that obviously the Advocate can collate and connect all the information related to these subjects.

And what does Eugene Robinson say today? “US Needs better way to collate intelleigence.”

It’s not just his headline that is important to the idea today – it is his opening paragraph:

“ ‘Connecting the dots’ is a lousy metaphor that creates unrealistic expectations. The phrase suggests the only thing our intelligence analysts have to do is draw a line from the point labeled 1 to the point labeled 2 and so on, and soon they’re looking at the unmistakable outline of the terrorist plot.”

Exactly true – how can we make sense of anything here? Everything is treated as something unrelated. So let’s have a World Terrorism Page.

What would it look like?

Oh, I don’t know, how about a box score of how many terrorists killed, how many innocent Muslims are killed. Then too how many innocent Christians and Jews are killed. And how many Muslims committed the atrocities, and how many Christians and how many Jews. Sure, throw in the Hindus and the Buddhists. Let’s see which religious teams are killing whom. I bet that would be an interesting box score. And how about how many US soldiers, and other nations’ soldiers are killed.

How about how much money is spent by this or that team? How about a box score of how many millions of hours we are wasting at airports? How about how many defendents are in courts, and whether they are winners or losers. How about how many mosques in Christian countries vs. how many Christian churches are in Muslim countries? There are all sorts of interesting facts that could be crammed into box scores not much different than those we get for sports. Why, who knows, maybe we can satisfy Robinson’s concerns about the difficulties of figuring it all out.

And surely we could resolve Ms. Brazile’s concerns that it is a political issue. It certainly seems to be political, for the primary purpose the top political leaders – ie. The President and his people – is to keep us safe from all of the stuff going on in all these articles. Though somehow I think the Democrats aboard that flight from Europe to Detroit are just as happy as the Republicans that it political gains might be made by Americans against those who would kill us. Ms. Brazile makes a living at making things political, and scoring points. For her now to complain is well, unseemly. It’s Orwellian even.

And then perhaps, in a moment of less Orwell induced stupor, the Advocate can put together the fact that it is the coldest and snowiest it’s been in decades and the fact that one Al Gore and his people are still running around claiming it is all the fault of global warming. So the Advocate themselves are being quite Orwellian, in a way, in advoiding that reality. And that’s just the tip of the zoo at the animal farm.


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