09 Nov. 2006
SETI League
PriUPS Project

Creeping Solutionism

A "solution" used to have a simple definition:  It was a homogenous, molecular mixture of two or more substances.  When it wasn't being chemical or mathematical, as in the "solution to the problem or the equation," it was a word-description of how a particular problem might be resolved.

Then some clown with a bumper sticker printer declared in a spasm of aphoristic bombast "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem."  This probably led to the technically accurate declaration "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate."  But I fear that a member of the Elders of Jargon saw the word as an opportunity to undermine the language with what came to be creeping solutionism.  It started out with software, I imagine.  He decided that software programs didn't solve problems, the were themselves the solutions.  Not to be outdone, the hardware guys decided that instead of making products, or equipment, or even units and modules, they, too, would make solutions.  Not to be left behind, I'm sure the civil engineers, (you know, the guys who build targets), decided that an irrigation solution was ever so much nicer than an enormous dam.

Is it too late stop this bizarre problem.  Is there a solution?  Judge for yourself:

Freezer cabinet with food items Shopping at the local warehouse store for chocolate and other victuals, I encountered a freezer cabinet containing the food items depicted at left.  Notice that I labelled them "food items," although others might call them "pasta" or put them in some other category that would nonetheless be defined as "matter, edible."
Meal Solutions sign over cabinet But not BJ's!  That bastion of discount shopping is not selling food, but rather an afflatus for the harried preparer of meals. 

The Elders of Jargon have had their way.

And yet...  BJ's is understaffed the way the Apple Store is overstaffed.  I could easily get away with moving the protein shakes into the "meal solution" cabinet and nobody would pay any attention.  Full circle!

THIRST!  (Creeping Bergmanism)

My friend Leslie Chase has put a film on YouTube.  It is fraught with meaning and significance.  It's also short and has a cute blond.  Take a look.

Richard Factor

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