Conundrum: Word!

November 20, 2008

Even here in the far reaches of northern California, life appears as a dilemma.

If one ponders the entangled proceedings bursting at the seams, many questions arise in which the answer lies within the question itself, where the reply means more than the words — A horse goes into a bar, bartender asks, ‘Why the long face?’
A wonder becomes a search for the where-to-all in which is portrayed as the nowadays.

As a liquor-store clerk, I get requests a lot from customers about particular whiskies or beers or wines — would we happen to have this certain item in stock?
Usually it’s some off-the-wall scotch that’s being sought, however, as there’s a shitload of them sonofbitches, and although we’ve a good-sized selection, most of the time, the customer is forced to leave empty-handed, a bit crestfallen.

This past week a lady came in and asked for a wine called ‘Conundrum.’
After figuring out the proper spelling, our way-out-dated computer/inventory list showed indeed at least the store had at one time carried that particular label — alas, she also went away crestfallen.
Just after she’d gone, I passed our little news rack and spied a headline blaring out at me from the local daily; one of the words in the head was ‘conundrum,’ although I didn’t really get the context, coincidence of such an odd occurrence tipped my already wobbly brain.


(Illustration of The Enigma by Gustave Doré found here).

Of a word I cannot pronounce out loud — it looks hard — what does ‘conundrum’ actually mean?
There is indeed a wine ‘Conundrum,’ details found here, which relies on meaning to explain a blend of five grapes that are “quite unlike.”
The definition of conundrum is “a riddle in which a fanciful question is answered by a pun. A paradoxical, insoluble, or difficult problem; a dilemma.”
A tongue-twisting, mind-stretching kind of thing — an enigma bundled tightly within a mystery, reflecting a face of perplexity.

Last summer, posed the question of what does ‘conundrom’ mean?
Some responses:
Isn’t it a type of housing development?
It is a brain-teaser.
What you wear when you have sex.
A self-referential puzzle.
It’s a problem that some jacka$$ decided to make a fancy word for problem just to confuse us even more.

That last guy had it nailed.

As one watches this economy slowly, still yet, slowly grind to a metal-piercing stop, the word ‘conundrum’ brings the entire picture into clear focus: In clarity, the picture is out of focus, even when adjusting some optical device, the images are still indistinct, although a peep-hole prism allows some narrative, some perception of movement, figures, but no overall plot, meaningless with French-movie ambitions for mystery, terror and fright — The answer is not the question.
One set of shapes absolutely, near-positive clear, however: Jacka$$

Yesterday, three such creatures golden-parachuted into DC seeking conundrum funds.
From ABC News:

  • The CEOs of GM, Ford and Chrysler may have told Congress that they will likely go out of business without a bailout yet that has not stopped them from traveling in style, not even First Class is good enough.
    All three CEOs — Rick Wagoner of GM, Alan Mulally of Ford, and Robert Nardelli of Chrysler — exercised their perks Tuesday by flying in corporate jets to DC. Wagoner flew in GM’s $36 million luxury aircraft to tell members of Congress that the company is burning through cash, asking for $10-12 billion for GM alone.

And this from the Wall Street Journal on the Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke visit to the House Financial Services Committee, also on Wednesday:

  • Both Democrats and Republicans on the House Financial Services Committee were pointedly critical about the implementation of the rescue plan passed by Congress in October.
    Lawmakers focused on Mr. Paulson’s announcement last week that Treasury wouldn’t use the TARP to purchase bad assets — the rescue plan’s original intent — as well as the administration’s vacillations about which firms are eligible and how the program will be conducted.
    “Changing too quickly, without adequately explaining why you’ve changed or what you’re going to do next, risks sending mixed signals to a marketplace that is in dire need of certainty and a sense of direction,” said Rep. Spencer Bachus of Alabama, the panel’s top Republican.

Although factors leading to this current catastrophic financial/economic/environment/military/deeply-personal situation has been in place for generations, the end meltdown appeared extremely-fast, which can be accounted somewhat to the rapid-movement, blink-of-an-eye flow of information.
The spiral down will be fairly rapid from here.

Contradictory statements that may nonetheless be true, the paradox now facing the so-called global village, a name ironic with the spread of disaster.
Humankind is involved within an epistemic paradox: The “Surprise Test.”

  • “A teacher announces that there will be a surprise test next week.
    A student objects that this is impossible: The class meets on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
    If the test is given on Friday, then on Thursday I would be able to predict that the test is on Friday. It would not be a surprise.
    Can the test be given on Wednesday? No, because on Tuesday I would know that the test will not be on Friday (thanks to the previous reasoning) and know that the test was not on Monday (thanks to memory).
    Therefore, on Tuesday I could foresee that the test will be on Wednesday. A test on Wednesday would not be a surprise.
    Could the surprise test be on Monday? On Sunday, the previous two eliminations would be available to me.
    Consequently, I would know that the test must be on Monday. So a Monday test would also fail to be a surprise.
    Therefore, it is impossible for there to be a surprise test.”

So, there it is?

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