The Signal to Noise Ratio…’Signal-to-noise ratio is sometimes used informally to refer to the ratio of useful information to false or irrelevant data in a conversation or exchange. For example, in online discussion forums and other online communities, off-topic posts and spam are regarded as “noise” that interferes with the “signal” of appropriate discussion’.
And why am I starting today’s installment of ‘Blager’s Blog’, with this seemingly innocuous bit of Websterism? I am glad that you asked, because I am definitely going somewhere with this, so stay with me. Because, dear readers, there is an immediate relevancy to this definition as it relates to the events of the last few weeks. Let’s begin with a few basics. Communication is defined as ‘the exchange of information between people, e.g. by means of speaking, writing, or using a common system of signs or behavior’. Are we all agreed on this definition? Good, because in this one sentence that hopefully took less than 10 seconds to read and digest, we have accomplished more than the 535 members of congress (435 in the House, and 100 in the Senate), and the President, along with all of his flunkies, have managed to accomplish in the last 5 years. Signal-to-noise can be loosely characterized as ‘everyone talking but no one listening’. We have all had these dysfunctional exchanges in our lives. Whether it was with our parents, or our spouses, or with our children, or with our siblings, or our co-workers, or just about anywhere two or more differing views come into contact with one another. It’s not good thing, either. It is perfectly OK, and in fact it is healthy for discussion and disagreement to occur. If we lived in a world where everybody did and thought exactly as we did, there would never be any advancement, nor would there ever be any new ideas or innovation. Honest debate is healthy, and necessary. But there is a difference between debate and debacle. There comes a point where all the rhetoric and grandstanding becomes painfully counterproductive and quite frankly dangerous. An example of why it is dangerous would be the maintenance of our nation’s computer networks. Cyber-terrorism is no longer a single event or attack, but rather it is a constant, ongoing bombardment of viruses and other such bad stuff. While we have 800,000 furloughed federal employees, do you think that it’s possible that our computer systems may not be being guarded and maintained as vigilantly as normal? Is it possible that some of these furloughs may have a negative impact on our intelligence community? While this furlough is in place, all training and exercises for the Fed have been cancelled. Do you think that this might contribute to a lessening of our preparedness at some point? With all of the holes in our security net that this ‘government shutdown’ has created, it is very possible and in fact likely, that our enemies (fill in your favorite enemy here…), will be more than happy to rush in and fill the cavities with acid and dynamite. Did we finally cut off our nose to spite our face? I am not blaming any one side here. I am blaming everyone for this failure of our democracy. I am outraged by this, and I hope that you are too. I will not have a short memory when it comes time to vote, and I hope that none of you do either. This used to be our country, a country where open debate is the rule of the day, and people came together in spite of their differences to do what was good and right for our nation. This buffoonery of our elected leaders only proves that this is no longer the case. Between Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid of ‘you have to pass it to find out what’s in it…’ fame, to Ted Cruz and the Tea Party hijacking the GOP, you must ask yourself if this is what you voted for. Is this what your fathers and possibly even you fought and died for? Is this the legacy that you want to leave for your children, and their children? I sincerely hope not. The power lies not with our government, but with us! Our government exists at the leisure of the people, not to rule over them, but to serve them, hence the term ‘public servant’. That is why it is called public service instead of dictatorship. Now let’s go back to the loony bin of congress. ‘Signal-to-noise-ratio’ is completely applicable. The Democrats are not listening to the GOP. The GOP is allowing the noise from Ted Cruz and the Tea Party to drown out the signal to stop this nonsense, the President has just said ‘no’ to negotiation, and no one is interested in doing what’s right for the country and the people who elected them to do their jobs! There is no communication, and there cannot be any until the signal-to-noise ratio is significantly cut! ‘I will not negotiate’ is a very definitive statement, don’t you think? But it also begs the question of whether it is ‘signal’, or is it ‘noise’?
Speaking of the 800,000 furloughed government employees, did you see that both the House and the Senate voted to ensure that all of the furloughed workers will get back pay once the ‘government slim-down’ has been resolved? You may be thinking ‘that’s great!’, or perhaps you are thinking ‘No! Leave those lazy government workers locked out! Either way this brings up a simple question, and it is this… If the furloughed employees are going to get all of their pay when they return anyway, wouldn’t it make more sense to just bring them back now? What was the point? It seems to me that all this furlough did was make a lot of people very unhappy and less confident in the current administration and in their future. It put unnecessary stress on innocent workers and their families. This ‘shutdown’ is costing $300 million a day in lost productivity, and many of these employees have already endured unpaid furloughs due to sequestration and over 1,000 days of a federal pay freeze. Why does this need to be so? Is it just that the workers are just pawns in this never-ending game of political brinksmanship? You should look at all of the facts and draw your own conclusions, but for my money, this was and is a profound waste of time and effort which has accomplished nothing except to alienate an already angry and disillusioned people.
And in other important news, the world was sent into an utter panic when it was discovered that Jerry Jones, the billionaire owner of the Dallas Cowboys, still uses a flip phone!! OMG!!! Say it ain’t so! Isn’t this the kind of revelation that is more important in the life of a gossipy 12-year old girl to make while in junior high school? “Like, oh my gawd! Did you hear that Jerry is still like totally using a flip phone? What’s up with that?!? That is soooo 1980’s!” Who the f#$% cares what kind of phone that anyone else is using? More importantly, how does this qualify as news? The only reason that I bring it up is that it came across from a few news outlets this morning, and it was also taking on a life of its’ own on Twitter. Look guys, I like a good non-story as much the next guy, but I was appalled that this is a headline when there are many more pressing issues out there.
I have been eating a lot of salads lately. I mean every day for lunch, I have been chowing down on rabbit food. The truth is that I like salads. Would I prefer a rack of ribs, or a nice fat BBQ brisket sandwich? DUH! Of course I would! But I do like salads, and they are probably better for me than the aforementioned ribs and brisket. But I noticed something, and see if you find it puzzling too…We all know about Popeye the Sailor Man, who was strong to the finich’, cause he ate his spinach…got it. I have been chomming a lot of kale in my salads as of late, and I started to wonder if Popeye was actually eating kale instead of spinach? If you look at Popeye’s pre-fight meal before he clobbers Bluto, he eats what is supposedly spinach, but in all actuality, it looks suspiciously like kale! Have we been being lied to for all of these years? Have the Fleischer Brothers perpetuated a massive hoax on the cartoon watching public? Let’s see…’I kicked Bluto’s tail, ‘cause I eats’ me kale, I’m Popeye the Sailor Man!’…toot, toot…