Dazzle with Brilliance

Some people are blessed with good oratory skills. They can speak eloquently in public as if they were talking on the phone. When I worked for a living I had to give presentations from time to time. Since I had no innate oratory skills or gift, I learned techniques to improve my public speaking. In essence, this meant preparing and practicing several hours or more to deliver a logical, well flowing speech. This was true even when I used charts to aid in my presentation. I also had to be prepared to field questions which meant I needed to really know my subject matter.

It is this last point that I want to talk more on. Of all the laws in our land, I know of no law that requires a speaker or orator to know what they are talking about. Even if such laws existed they would surely be hard to enforce. Good oratory is often a quality found in preachers and other religious, political, or community leaders who are espousing beliefs. Since beliefs and facts need not be the same thing, these speakers may be more compelling sounding like they know what they are talking about rather than actually knowing.

Years ago I heard the saying, “If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance then baffle them with bullshit.” Brilliance usually requires some form of insight, especially regarding something that others have missed. This is not always possible. As a fallback, sticking with the facts is a safe, solid strategy. On the other hand, the strategy of baffling with bullshit relies on sounding like one knows what s/he is talking about.

Unquestionably, I personally prefer that speakers know what they’re talking about when they speak. After listening to prevailing political and economic speeches and commentary, however, my observation is that I must be in the small minority.

The Two Happiest Days …



Everyone has heard the old joke “the two happiest days in a boat owner’s life are the day he buys the boat and the day he sells it.” Like so many snippets of conventional wisdom the humor obscures subtle truths. The day the boat is purchased is a day of promise: the promise of good times on the water and all manner of fun (fishing, tubing, boating, racing, etc.). The day the boat is sold marks one or more of the following: 1) the achievement of the promised good times, 2) a time to move on to another (bigger/faster/safer/different) boat, 3) the admission that the boat is damaged/ruined beyond the point of repair, or 4) the recognition that some boats can drain bank accounts and suck the dreams out of people.

Like so many pastimes in life, boats are memory generators. Whether the memories are mostly good or mostly bad says a lot about the owner’s frame of mind the day the boat is sold. Unlike cars, boats don’t necessarily make life any easier. If nothing else, cars offer a lot of convenience. Unless you live on an island and need a boat to get to the mainland, boats don’t offer much convenience. Like cars, boats require maintenance and upkeep. Derelict cars are much like derelict boats: their owners have decided they are more trouble than they are worth. Even so, the owner has the obligation to take the car or boat to salvage so it does not become someone else’s problem.

Larger boats have more in common with recreational vehicles, especially so-called “land yachts.” RV’s offer the promise of at least a taste of adventure. So do larger boats. For some reason, though, you don’t hear the same joke being made about owners who buy and sell RV’s. I think I may know the main reason for this. RV’s do offer added convenience over a car in that the owner can take his personal “home” along with him. On the other hand, most boat owners are doubly inconvenienced because they don’t live on the water, and may even have to store their boat at a storage site. Thus, they not only have the inconvenience of having to pick up the boat at the storage site, but they then have to haul it to the lake. Even for those boat owners who keep their boats in a slip at the water, if they have to drive to get to it that increases inconvenience.

For a long time I’ve held the view that I would not own a large boat if I could not keep it at a dock at my house. Otherwise it’s simply too inconvenient. Inconvenience leads to less usage which inevitably leads to the question, “Why am I keeping this thing?”