Friday, September 14, 2012

Look who parks their cash at Bain

OK, here's an op-ed from the NY Post that a friend posted to Facebook.  It lists organizations who invest in Bain Capital - as evidence of the hypocrisy of liberals.

This post will change as time goes on, because I want to try to dissect every meaning I can find in this article - even, and especially, things that aren't stated directly but rather implied.  This is a sort of a test run.  Later I can attempt to derive a systematic approach; this one is just going to be informal.  And today, of course, it's just a placemarker anyway.  It's midnight here in Budapest and I've had a long day.

It's just 585 words, 130 of which are a list of organizations (i.e. data).  That leaves us only 455 words of politically charged text to dissect, plus the seven-word title.  You'd think that would be short, but I'm guessing it won't be, once we really tear it open.  Political text is fractal in nature.

I plan to run this by some other people later.  Especially if you're conservative, if you're reading this, your input will be extremely valuable.  Since I'm not conservative (well - that's complicated), there will be things I miss.

In the end, I very much doubt that a blog will be the right place to do this kind of analysis.  This is more of a semantic database thing - unfortunately, the only common tool I know of that meets that description is a Wiki, which I suspect is too coarse-grained for this purpose.  So I'll probably end up having to write one.

A short note on "implied meaning", which I slid right past up there.  Language consists of two sets of "propositions" (logical jargon that mostly means "statements").  Well, that's oversimplifying.  But by and large, there are the statements on the surface (in the article, "Democrats convened in Charlotte" is a phrase that states a fact - the Democrats demonstrably convened in Charlotte and the vast majority of people are probably not going to dispute that), and the implied statements.  An implication in this article might be "will double down on their claim", which means a couple of things: 1. They claim a state of affairs that the author implies is not true (otherwise it wouldn't be a "claim", it would be an insight, maybe, or their knowledge), and 2. they are playing it like a game, "doubling down" meaning not only the gamesmanship, but also the fact that they are embattled with this claim (implying the Forces of Good who are successfully showing their claim to be false) but stubbornly pushing it through because it's all they got, thin reed that it is.

That's 85 words I just wrote about 6 words of the article, and it's not even all I can pick out of it.  But my point here is not that the implied meaning is voluminous - but that it is by its very nature controversial.  Other people will see other implications (I think - maybe not here, but they certainly must elsewhere).  So really, there should be a way to indicate who drew a particular implication and what that shows about the lens that person is reading through.

It's probably not even doable, is it?

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