Wasted votes and two trivia

Date:              18 Dec 13
By:                  Frank Gue
For:                 Bob Metz
Re:                  Your newsletter and some trivia

Hi, Bob.

Good letter as so often.
Here is a point often missed in connection with “wasted votes” you dealt with:
No vote is ever wasted.  The various parties’ honchos examine diligently the entrails of every election.  If the Slobbovian Communist Party got 3% of the vote, that is of considerable interest.  If that 3% is up from 1% last time, that is of very considerable interest.   Further, these same honchos are very aware that their party’s vote comprises a high percentage of their lifelong supporters who will vote for them anyway, need no persuading (which costs money), and whose votes represent reflex action, not commitment; whereas a vote for (say) the Freedom or Green Party doubtless represents some citizen who has thought things through and has a heartfelt wish for some particular change.  His/her vote is very important because it may well represent a wave of the future.
No vote is ever wasted.
I think you brushed on this but it could stand more emphasis.
Trvium #1:  Man shoot bear.
A speed-reading coach told us:  Ask a professional writer to describe a hunting scene.  You might well hear:  
The tall, handsome hunter in the coonskin cap raised his rifle and laid its lovingly polished stock against his cheek.  Taking unhurried aim, he waited until the exactly correct moment and, with a single shot, felled the charging bear nearly at his feet .
Ask a native observer the same question about the same scene, and you might hear:
Man shoot bear.
To speed-read (or get the point in a political speech), you must find and identify the Man shoot bear (always a verb and a noun) in each paragraph or spoken sentence.  If there is no Man shoot bear, the speaker or writer didn’t say anything.  My wife and I sometimes amuse ourselves by listening to a politician give a five- or 10-minute speech, then one asks the other “What did he say?”  The answer, often, is “Nothing.  He didn’t shoot the bear.”
Trivium #2: Ignoratio elenchi.
This dodge is so old it has that Latin name.  Ignoratio elenchi is the practice of answering any question except the question that was asked.  Once aware of it, you can catch it often in a radio or TV interview.  Sometimes the speaker gives himself away with his first words:
“As I said in this House on February 23, 1972, ….. “
“What you are saying is ….. “
“That’s a whole other conversation ….. “
Usually it’s more subtle, but once sensitized, you hear it all the time.
Cheers, and Merry Christmas!  (A plague on the anti-religion crowd!)
Frank Gue.

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