Snapper-uppers get to suck up what they suffer for believing what the press say about snapping stuff up

“Snapping up” is a term that particularly tweaks this writer’s irritation nodes. Per the Cambridge English Dictionary, “snap up” means to buy or get something quickly and enthusiastically because it is cheap or exactly what you want. The operative words are ‘cheap’ and ‘quickly’. Snapping-up is clearly something you’d expect people to do in a store sale or at a car boot.

These days, though, snapping up takes place largely in stories in the property, business and finance media, where the commodities being acquired with alleged haste and enthusiasm are the opposite of ‘cheap’. We’re talking homes, cars, old masters and other repositories for the cash of the ultra-wealthy.

Nor, when the stories are hyping investments in obscure, unproven (but nevertheless ‘revolutionising’) products or start-ups, can the things said to be being snapped up be described accurately as being ‘exactly what the buyer wants’ … unless the buyer is so rich they’re not concerned about the risk that their snap investment will soon become devalued and illiquid.

A Google news search on ‘snapping up’ produced just one story in the first page of results where the use of the phrase matched the context – a piece about bargain hunting for cheap frocks in High Street summer sales.

All the other hits were about multi-million dollar homes, multi-million dollar footballers, multi-million dollar business deals and multi-thousand dollar vehicles. Indeed, is there a talented footballer left on the planet who’s been merely signed by or purchased from a club, rather than snapped up?

To some extent, this is simply language evolving. Snap up could possibly turn into another slang synonym for purchase, like ‘cop’ in UK English or ‘grab’. And you could also argue that journalists are only trying to inject a note of excitement into copy about topics covered dozens of times every day.

But there’s also something mendacious about the relentless application of a phrase to situations where what’s happening is the opposite of the phrase’s meaning.

For example, you can bet your sweet bippy that Oprah Winfrey’s extremely astute acquisition of 10 per cent of Weight Watchers in 2015 bore none of the hallmarks of “snapping up” the shares as described in the piece in the link. Her move was very carefully thought-out and stealthily executed so as put $58 million of Weight Watchers shares in her hands before anyone found out about it, since it was obvious the share price would climb immediately the company had the power and reach of her TV brand behind it.

Nevertheless, dozens of stories trot out the line that Oprah ‘snapped up’ WW as if she woke up one morning, looked at thousands of unemployed greenbacks strewn across her bedroom carpet, had a flash of inspiration and then knocked over the night stand in her haste to call her broker.

Likewise, only a minority of the people supposedly snapping up crypto currencies, Florida beach-front properties or timeshares (remember them?) are scurrying to make a quick purchase of something that is – because they are well-placed and can afford to take risks with their ample wealth – cheap by their standards.

Many ordinary investors cash-in laboriously-acquired savings, investments and pensions to keep up with those whom the media describe as ‘snapping up’ these apparent bargains. And that’s the key to the mendacity of using the phrase snap up. It allows journalists to get away with implying that a particular commodity is cheap and in heavy demand whether that is true or not.

It’s the MSM’s preferred way of lying: by implication and by omission.

So just as the answer to any headline framed as a question is probably “no”, the one thing you can be sure of when you read about people snapping up homes or vintage wines or whatever is that the window for making real money has already closed.

95% of the snapper-uppers won’t make money or will lose out.

When you read of snapper uppers who actually did make a killing, like Oprah, you’re reading retrospective stories about the 5% – the ones who got in under the radar ahead of the game, before the business media presstitutes started bigging-up the so-called opportunity on behalf of the same first movers.

Whenever you see the words snapping up in a press article, go back to the beginning and prepend the article with the phrase “Dear sucker”.

Anyway, that’s enough for today. Down the road, our local supermarket is selling beautiful, ripe, large Costa Rican pineapples for 49 pence apiece. That price is a travesty if you’re a Costa Rican pineapple grower but, as time-limited bargains go, it is both absolutely and relatively cheap, and I do love fresh pineapple.

Will we see stories about people in England snapping up pineapples, though? No – because in this case they’d be true.

Humans. Clever enough to do anything. Dumb enough to try

mars-arms

What will eventually trip humanity up is not knowing where to stop.

It’ll be throwing money and ideas at every imaginable ‘problem’, regardless of whether there is any potential value in solving it.

Poverty, disease and war all look like problems that could do with the application of more human ingenuity than we’re giving them. Developing self-driving vehicles or living on Mars, not so much.

Yet when you look around, one of the main reasons why poverty, disease and war persist is because humans at the top of the pyramid are more interested in fighting for control of resources so they can pour them into into elite vanity projects like self-driving cars and sending people to Mars than they are in fixing the spreading fissures in the rest of the pyramid.

“Ah, but,” say the people developing a self-driving Mars module. “We have to go to Mars because it’s Mankind’s manifest destiny. Plus, so we’ll need a fresh start too because we’re working so hard to fry the Earth to a crisp in our eagerness to maintain a technological civilisation that’s sufficiently outsized to support a vanity project like putting humans on Mars. Isn’t our circular logic wonderful?”

No it’s not. In a better world you’d sort out the conditions of the 99% before diverting money and brainpower into Chimera-hunts like manned Mars expeditions or building an infallible computerised 3D model of the entire world so that autonomous vehicles can function properly.

It’s not even as if there’s a remotely realistic chance of getting a human colony to survive on Mars even if we can divert the obscene amount of time and energy needed to put it there. There’s no breathable atmosphere. No protection from solar radiation. The surface temperature is mostly below freezing but can shoot up by 170 degrees F.

And then there’s the small matter of highly toxic perchlorate, which carpets the entire planet at concentrations deadly to humans. That’ll require billions of extra dollars to design and deliver filtering and washing equipment just to give the Mars mission peeps a slim chance of not being poisoned on arrival.

But hey, let’s look on the bright side like Doug Archer, a scientist with the Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science Directorate of NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. Demonstrating a knack for understatement he may not be fully aware of, he told space.com in 2013 that perchlorate’s existence on Mars would have posed an even larger problem had it not been discovered.

“But now that we know it’s there, I am confident we will be able to design around it. I have a lot of co-workers here at Johnson Space Center who work in the human exploration side of things, and none of them seem to think perchlorate is a showstopper,” he concluded.

That’s a pretty-close approximation to Upton Sinclair’s dictum that you can’t get a man to understand something if his salary depends on him not understanding it. Not that engineers can’t design a way round everywhere outdoors being toxic, simply that everything new we find out about the Red Planet adds to the knowledge that it might as well have the words “YOU’VE GOT BIGGER PROBLEMS THAT NEED SOLVING ON EARTH” etched into its surface in 600-foot-deep letters.