Thursday, October 20, 2011

Chapter one: becoming jussmartenuf

Riley lived in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. He was a horse man all his life, in fact he died from a stroke he suffered chasing a horse across the pasture. He made his living and raised a family as a small business man, he had an automobile body repair shop a few miles north in Tulsa.

I never knew too much about horses, and after i got to know them a bit i didn't want to know too much about horses, having learned that, like people, they sometimes had disagreeable dispositions. Also, it seemed when riding, every time my posterior was coming down the hard saddle was coming up to meet me, giving my back an uncomfortable jar. It always looked so easy when Shane rode into the sunset.
Strawberry Roan

Riley had a Strawberry Roan that was an exception to this rule. She was a sweet horse, a gaited Tennessee Walker that was smooth riding and always seemed to put her foot exactly where i wanted her to step. Riley could get her to stand perfectly still when salving an ear or checking her eyes.

"Horses are just smart enough" Riley told me, "if they were any smarter it wouldn't work and if they were any dumber it wouldn't work". That's me; just smart enough.

Now i like to read commentaries by learned journalists and am always a bit dismayed with some of the words they find to express themselves, words like casuistry and sophism. They send me to the dictionary and for years i would kind of gloss over them, thinking i could guess what they meant in the context of what i was reading rather than get out the seven pound dictionary and page alphabetically to their definition. When i guessed, i often guessed wrong. The computer has simplified all that for me, but i still don't necessarily retain their meaning and often have to look them up the second and third time before it all soaks in.

Casuistry, by the way, means the use of clever but unsound reasoning and sophism means an untrue or fallacious argument meant to deceive. I sometimes find myself reading articles that contain casuistry and sophism, the problem being i have to be just smart enough to recognize it, because at first glance they are plausible and reasonable but actually they are misleading and they are wrong. Specious is the word i want you to remember because a specious statement is a wrongful statement that sounds reasonable and is told with the objective of deceiving us and getting us to believe it. We just have to have enough horse sense to figure it out or be left with the wrong impression, and worse still, maybe passing it on as the gospel truth.

Politicians become pretty good at putting together specious statements. Things like if we don't give the ultra (i like uber) rich special tax breaks allowing them to pay less taxes then you or I do, they will be forced to fire people (kind of a threat in that, isn't there?). Conversely, if we give them those preferred tax positions everything will be wonderful and they will hire more people; hire more people to do what? It all sounds a little specious to me, doesn't it to you? It would seem if Rush Limbaugh were made to pay taxes on his $58 million dollars per year he should have enough left over so he would not have to fire any gardeners or dishwashers, ( I just can't get a picture in my mind of Rush washing dirty pans or vacuuming under the bed) or even the person who keeps his Rolexes wound. In fact just the opposite seems plausible, maybe we could hire some teachers or policemen or maybe even save the life of a child through research or rehab if those taxes were put to use in a proper manner.

You see, new words can really be enlightening, if we are jussmartenuf to put two and two together and get four.

No comments:

Post a Comment