[F] New York Times on the Web Forums  / Science  /

    Missile Defense

Technology has always found its greatest consumer in a nation's war and defense efforts. Since the last attempts at a "Star Wars" defense system, has technology changed considerably enough to make the latest Missile Defense initiatives more successful? Can such an application of science be successful? Is a militarized space inevitable, necessary or impossible?

Read Debates, a new Web-only feature culled from Readers' Opinions, published every Thursday.

Earliest Messages Previous Messages Recent Messages Outline (2460 previous messages)

rshow55 - 06:51am Jun 4, 2002 EST (#2461 of 2463) Delete Message

When something is noted in ON LANGUAGE . . . that itself changes english usage.

Blame Game By WILLIAM SAFIRE includes this:


"What does a gestalt-driven columnist have to do to fit blame game with finger-pointing to reveal a linguistic pattern in the coverage of the pre-Sept. 11 intelligence failures? The only applicable cliche: I must connect the dots.

"Interviewing Vice President Dick Cheney on Fox News last month, Tony Snow asked, ''Why didn't we connect the dots?'' Later on in the same program, Mara Liasson, a reporter, observed: ''Everybody has said we had a lot of information. . . . We couldn't connect the dots. What are the dots?'' In The Washington Post, Mary McGrory noted the brush-fire use of the phrase: ''Ashcroft does not connect the dots, as we say all the time now.''

"The origin appears to be in a game run in newspapers early in the 20th century, based on a children's game played long before. A field of apparently random dots is displayed and numbered, and the dots are joined by the player in numerical order. Sometimes, clues to running lines between the dots are given below. As the game is played, the short lines begin to take the shape of an object, and lo! A pattern or image leaps up from the page.

"''In the analysis of intelligence data,'' an unrevealable source tells me, ''bits of disparate information are assembled in files, or computerized, or just laid out on a table. The analyst must grade the fragments for reliability, specificity and importance, and then -- in what is sometimes an intuitive leap -- see a pattern begin to form, with gaps of intelligence that the analyst requests be filled in by elint [electronic intelligence] or humint [human intelligence, clandestinely obtained]. Outsiders call this connecting the dots.'' What do the spooks inside Langley call it? ''Can't say. Somebody would connect the dots.''

2346_2347 rshow55 5/22/02 12:40pm includes this:

I believe that Erica Goode has made a contribution to the culture, and that this thread may have done so. I'm only basing my jugement on statistics, and what I myself have noticed, and may be wrong. But the matter could be checked, pretty readily, by searching the net. It concerns the phrase "connect the dots." -- and whether that phrase has gained in meaning, and frequency, since Erica Goode's Finding Answers In Secret Plots . . which speaks of:

" a basic human urge to connect the dots and form a coherent picture."

Not that the phrase itself was original. But it seems possible Goode refocused and added meaning to the phrase - and made to "catch fire" -- though the word usage itself was not original, and has been used to express similar ideas, less compactly, before. MD2408 rshow55 5/28/02 3:19pm

Discussions of the notion of "connecting the dots" and "collecting the dots" on this thread:

MD324 rshow55 3/10/02 1:22pm ... MD382 rshow55 3/11/02 1:13pm
MD402 rshow55 3/12/02 9:19am ... MD487-489 rshow55 3/13/02 9:25pm
MD591-592 rshow55 3/15/02 7:29pm ... MD604 rshow55 3/16/02 12:51pm

Perhaps these discussions were part of an explosion of usage that started elsewhere. This is the sort of thing that could be checked.

More Messages Recent Messages (2 following messages)

 Read Subscriptions  Subscribe  Search  Post Message
 Email to Sysop  Your Preferences

 [F] New York Times on the Web Forums  / Science  / Missile Defense

Home | Site Index | Site Search | Forums | Archives | Shopping

News | Business | International | National | New York Region | NYT Front Page | Obituaries | Politics | Quick News | Sports | Science | Technology/Internet | Weather
Editorial | Op-Ed

Features | Arts | Automobiles | Books | Cartoons | Crossword | Games | Job Market | Living | Magazine | Real Estate | Travel | Week in Review

Help/Feedback | Classifieds | Services | New York Today

Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company