Category Archives: Bumpf

Become a Jargonaut: Systematic Bumpf-word Generator

I’ve commented on this before – Orwell’s commentary on English language from his 1946 essay “Politics and the English Language”. In that essay he states:

Political language — and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists — is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

I recently came across an excellent new tool that can be employed by anyone in large organizations (or small). It was originally written up by Lew Gloin in a 1989 issue of Saturday Magazine produced by the Toronto Star.  It’s called the “Systematic Buzz Word Generator”.

Take 30 carefully chosen bumpf-words, which may be employed at any moment to fluff up a report, memo, policy, or otherwise. Put the 30 words into three separate lists of ten words numbered 0 to 9. Then randomly choose any three digit number and select the corresponding bumpf-words to form a phrase.

For example:

bumpf words listThus, say the number 414 and you get “functional organizational programming” – who hasn’t heard that before?

Or, even 555 “responsive logistical concept” – probably pulled right from some government department strategic plan…

This is great stuff – and closely connected to the Bullshit Bumpf-word Bingo cards I produced on this site a few years ago.

“Managerium” – new element on Periodic Table

Managerium - new element on periodic table

Managerium – new element on periodic table

Managerium – the heaviest element known to science.

This element has no protons or electrons, but has a nucleus composed of 1 Neutron, 2 Vice-Neutrons, 5 Jr. Vice-Neutrons, 25 Asst. Vice-Neutrons, and 125 Jr. Asst. Vice-Neutrons all going round in circles.

Managerium has a half-life of three years, at which time it does not decay but institutes a series of reviews leading to reorganization. Its molecules are held together by means of the exchange of tiny particles known as morons.

-Unknown

from: Management? It’s not what you think! – Henry Mintzberg, Bruce Ashland, and Joseph Lampel (2010).

Yesterday I attended a presentation at the University of Northern BC on the B.C. Government’s proposed “Cumulative Effects Assessment Framework”. Apparently this ‘framework’ has been in the works for quite some time… In a quick online search I found reference to a document from the BC Oil and Gas commission from 2003 discussing development of a similar ‘framework’.

Unfortunately, like so many of these government-created ‘frameworks’ this one’s about as big a pile of BS as any other ‘environmental monitoring’ ‘framework’.

Here’s a fine image of how the best interests of Moose (for example) will be looked after:

Look somewhat like the new Managerium element?

Or an Org Chart for the Ministry of Environment?

This new proposed ‘framework’ does front a ‘definition’ of cumulative effects:

And apparently, here’s all the things (e.g. “Values”) that this ‘framework’ is going to ‘measure’ or ‘assess’ or consider in assessing “cumulative” effects:

And here’s the “Drivers” for the ‘framework’…

That first one oddly resembles parenting… ‘managing for desired outcomes’… and most parents probably recognize how that goes…

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And, saving the best for last… the joy of the Matrix… here’s how “decision making” will occur in this fantastic “risk management approach” (hmmm, I think i’ve heard this before… sub-prime mortgage, anyone?)

A stringent “Management Approach” will be lead by “Government & Industry”?… hmmmm?!?!

And more Matrix: the “Values Screen”…

Apparently, all those things in the “Values” table above will be reduced to “Low” “Moderate” and “High” risks, with simple arrows indicating the ‘trend’:

… which includes (apparently): “Community Well-being”… and the phrase that is inherently full of bias: “Economic Development”… what about no ‘development’ as a potential option…? as in those ‘wilderness’ values that are at the bottom of the “values” list. (note: bottom of list).

A few basic questions for the BC Gov and developers of this framework:

1. what about Federal Gov. managed thingees…? (like salmon, endangered species, or… Pipelines)

2. Where’s the ‘baseline’ for these ‘values’? Who determined the baseline? How do we know if the arrow should be going up or down on the trend (or north, or south), or diagonally (like a good Scottish rain: “straight sideways”).

3. Which community values? – the urban, or the rural? east or west? AB or BC? Who determines ‘community well-being’?

4 . Who determines “resource capability” (e.g. from table of “initial values” above)? Do the trees, or do the foresters, or do the harvesters of ‘non-timber forest products’?

Unfortunately, this is an exercise in ‘waffle words’… ‘bafflegab’… or my favorite:

BUMPF.

Nothing more than BUREAUCRATIC BUMPF. With the general public as the ‘morons’ as the tiny particles holding it together (e.g. from the opening quote and illustration).

The government presenter yesterday justified development of this ‘framework’ saying that it overwhelmingly came about as a result of the “general public demanding something that assesses cumulative impacts”…

not sure this is what Ms. or Mr. or Dr. general public had in mind… if one was to buy that line anywyays…

When does evidence-based decision-making suffer from corrupt evidence?

A press release and information out of the University of Alberta suggests:

A $4.4-million investment from Cenovus Energy, and the Canada and Alberta governments, has allowed the University of Alberta to establish a Chair in Energy and Environmental Systems Engineering. The research program will seek to strengthen the ability of industry and government to make evidence-based decisions about energy pathways and resources, while finding ways to conserve water and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Cenovus first established a $3-million endowment to support the Cenovus Energy Endowed Chair in Environmental Engineering, but wanted to seek further investment partnerships to expand the program.

How is it that ‘governments’ can make “evidence-based decisions” which is based on ‘evidence’ potentially funded by a potential polluter and most definitely a greenhouse gas emitter?

Isn’t ‘science’ and ‘research’ supposed to be ‘objective’?

And how about this for a ‘neutral’ (and I don’t mean carbon) title: Cenovus Energy Endowed Chair in Environmental Engineering.

It’s captured well in the UofA news release and the AB Minister of Education:

Thomas Lukaszuk, deputy premier and minister of enterprise and advanced education, said the collaboration “sounds like poetry to me.”

“This is exactly what the vision of our government and the vision of our premier is,” he said…

Yes, I’m sure Mr. Lukaszuk, that is exactly the vision… and maybe that’s one of the issues in Alberta… energy companies funding higher education research is considered “poetry”….

Apparently, the individual in this position:

“… will help governments and businesses better assess the costs and environmental impacts of various energy technologies, and ultimately shape the future of energy production in Canada.”

Hmmmm. And what about the general public?

Great that businesses and governments are getting assistance – hopefully those aren’t like the governments in Quebec, or the Canadian Senate, or companies like SNC Lavalin…

I’d like to hear the uproar when there is a Greenpeace-endowed Chair of Climate Change Research, or the PETA-endowed Chair of Fur Seal conservation…

Little fish are most valuable when left in the sea, researchers say… (rocket science, it is…)

... so very, very complicated and complex... the ocean...

.

So very, very complicated — the Great Oceans — many would have us believe…

So very, very complicated that we must leave their “management” to an elite few… An elite few that will circle the globe in jetplanes, finger their latest techno-gadgets, attend the nicest of conferences at shiny conference centres, punching in their wireless access code with care and precision, while munching on the latest francais pastry from the continental breakfast…

Checking their email for the latest message on the ‘models’ churning out numbers back at the ranch… model this, model that… more ‘models’ then the latest fashion absurdities at the most esteemed Paris and New York runways…

Trust us, they say…

We have the ‘models’… they say.

we know, they EX-claim….

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But is it really that complicated?

Before the computer… before Newton… before Jobs and Gates, Watergate, and GPS, and the Great War(s)… well… the Oceans weren’t that ‘complicated’.

Big.

Scary.

‘Lots of fish in the sea’… as they say.

littlest fish (and stuff) eaten by bigger fish, those in turn eaten by bigger… you know… rinse and repeat…

But not complicated, not even complex.

Respected. Feared. Loved. The oceans were…

But really… tide came in, tide went out. Moon pull here, moon pull there.

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Well… now that there’s “Fisheries Science” and distant-water fleets, and technology, and depth finders, and drift nets, and sounders… well… there’s not as many flounders… or turtles… or Tuna … or bonito, or abalone, or dolphins, or whales, or salmon or herring, or sardine, and…

Well, unless you’re a once thriving coastal fishing community where boats and licenses to catch fish were handed down, or, maybe even more importantly, a once thriving coastal fishing community that had ancestors tracing back… well… who knows how long… fishing in the same spot.

The spots, the meatholes, handed down since well before anyone even wrote “Job”… the biblical one that is…

Those are flounder-ing. Lots of it. Flounder here, Flounder there. With an EI here and EI there…

Go ask a Newfie.

Go ask a canyon fisher… Fraser that is. Or one from the Necha-Koh, where once 25% of the Fraser River wild salmon originated.

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And so headlines such as these… are they shocking? Are you surprised?

From the New York Times, Dec. 22, 2011:

A Call to Protect Humble Fish, for Seabirds’ Sake

When people talk about the environmental effects of salmon aquaculture, they usually focus on water pollution and the spread of disease to wild fish stocks. But there is another big problem: It takes more than a pound of fish to produce a pound of salmon.

Atlantic puffin -- from NY Times article

Farmed salmon are usually fed pellets made from ground-up fish like herring. Salmon farms have a prodigious appetite for this food, which has increased fishing pressure on creatures like herring, anchovies, krill and other “forage fish” at the bottom of the food web. Demand for fish oil and fish for the table is also a factor.

.

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From the New York Times, Apr. 2, 2012:

Too Many Small Fish Are Caught, Report Says

An international group of marine scientists is calling for cuts in commercial fishing for sardines, herring and other so-called forage fish whose use as food for fish farms is soaring. The catch should be cut in half for some fisheries, the scientists say, to protect populations of both the fish and the natural predators that depend on them.

… Forage fish are an important link in the food chain, eating plankton and being consumed, in turn, by large fish like tuna and cod, as well as by seabirds and dolphins and other marine mammals. The task force estimated that as a source of food in the wild for larger commercially valuable fish, forage fish were worth more than $11 billion, or twice as much as their worth when processed for aquaculture and other uses.

“Sometimes the value of leaving fish in the water can be greater than taking it out”…

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The ‘task force’ referred to is the Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force:

With support from the Lenfest Ocean Program, the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science at Stony Brook University [on Long Island in New York] convened the Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force, a panel of thirteen preeminent marine and fisheries scientists from around the world.

The Final Report: Little Fish, Big Impact: Managing a crucial link in ocean food webs can be downloaded here – as well as a shorter Summary Report.

Here is the media release at the site.

Expert Task Force Recommends Halving Global Fishing for Crucial Prey Species

Forage Fish Twice as Valuable in the Water as in the Net

WASHINGTON – Fishing for herring, anchovy, and other “forage fish” in general should be cut in half globally to account for their critical role as food for larger species, recommends an expert group of marine scientists in a report released today.

The Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force conducted the most comprehensive worldwide analysis of the science and management of forage fish populations to date. Its report, “Little Fish, Big Impact: Managing a crucial link in ocean food webs,” concluded that in most ecosystems at least twice as many of these species should be left in the ocean as conventional practice.

A thriving marine ecosystem relies on plenty of forage fish. These small schooling fish are a crucial link in ocean food webs because they eat tiny plants and animals, called plankton, and are preyed upon by animals such as penguins, whales, seals, puffins, and dolphins. They are primary food sources for many commercially and recreationally valuable fish found around North America, such as salmon, tuna, striped bass, and cod.

The task force estimated that, globally, forage fish are twice as valuable in the water as in a net—contributing US$11.3 billion by serving as food for other commercially important fish. This is more than double the US$5.6 billion they generate as direct catch.

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Good on the task force for putting this out. It’s a pretty snappy looking report.

It’s just unfortunate that they rely on much of the same bumpf and buzz-words as every other “management” institution out there…  Precautionary approach… ecosystem-based management… blah, blah, blah.

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From the Washington Post: