The term “political correctness” arose over twenty years ago from the Pentagon’s attempt to package war as cleanly as possible--think “collateral damage” instead of “civilian deaths.” It’s largely been kept alive by conservatives angry at liberal overreach and liberal free speech activists who feel constrained by their own tribe.
The word “meh” may be the perfect combination of resignation and ennui.
Only a culture so utterly saturated in mediocrity could come up with a term that, in one syllable, expresses both the feeling of being confronted with that mediocrity and the fatigue of having to put up with it.
I guess we wouldn’t even need “meh” if our opinions about stupid, formulaic movies; mind-numbing occupations; and indifferent products and services weren’t so frequently polled.
While I prefer to let language run its course, I get upset when people misuse the phrase “it begs the question.”
Using “it begs the question” creates confusion rather than clarity and tames an otherwise powerful tool of argument.
The most common use of “it begs the question” is actually its misuse. A journalist or pundit will unthinkingly analyze some minor bit of scandal and say “it begs the question” when he really means “it brings up the question.”
Though we often use them together, an explanation is not an excuse.
An explanation can be used when we give evidence for an excuse, but an excuse is about culpability, which is determined by a set of values, values that can exist outside of a set of facts. An explanation, in contrast, comes about by the application of a set of principles to a set of facts.
There’s a big difference between responsibility and blame, even though we often use them interchangeably.
When GM CEO Mary Barra stood up before congress and accepted responsibility for her company’s faulty ignition switches, what she got was blame. Her attempt, it seems, was genuine: she was trying to express the idea that, unlike past GM officials, she was willing to admit that wrong had been done and something was going to be done about it.
As any Midwesterner knows, you can take responsibility for a problem by stepping up and acting on it.
The U.S. goes through periodic bouts of doubt regarding what education means.
In the latest round, we have the Common Core and No Child Left Behind pushing us toward ever more measurable outcomes and ever less certainty about what kids actually should learn. These trends equate education with “performance” and “achievement,” “success” and “excellence.”
I’ve been around education circles just long enough to recognize these as only trends, soon to be replaced by other trends, none of them particularly helpful in understanding education.