The Center

No one wants to be “extreme.”

It feels icky and will get you disinvited from all the cool kids’ parties. Besides, these days reasonable conversation about important issues seems impossible.

One of the biggest problems is the logical fallacy that supporting X’s right to do something equals support for X and opposition to Y.

 

This is how unintelligent people see things. Unintelligent people, or dishonest ones.

You can see the left/right polarities in politics, philosophy, economics, and in many, many other field–even the arts.

Reaction against constant politicization is completely rational. Jamming politics down everyone’s throats is tiring and it prevents any meaningful solutions from being formed.

Someone has to be right, right? Someone has proposals that’ll work better than others, don’t they?

Enter the centrists.

A new trend is to describe oneself as centrist, meaning–according to what I call the nü-centrists–“one who looks at things from both sides.”

“Centrism is NOT agreement with parts of both sides!” I’ve been told.

“Centrism isn’t being a moderate!” they say.

Except…it kind of is.

You see, as with most things, it doesn’t matter what YOU wish a word meant, it matters what the word actually means and how the society views the term.

In other words, the term “centrist” is horrible branding. It has way too much baggage and means in the majority of people’s minds exactly the opposite of what the nü-centrists want it to mean. Continue reading “The Center”

Business B.S.: Terms That Need to Die

I’ve been to business school as well as law school, so yes, I’m on b.s. overload, but here’s a dirty little secret:

BUSINESS LINGO IS WORSE. 

Contrary to popular belief, “legalese” really refers to strict definitions more than an entirely different language. The word “indemnify,” for example, really has one meaning, it’s just that “indemnify” is a word that isn’t used much in common parlance.

The law is also big on identifying things to (don’t laugh) avoid confusion and ambiguity. A contract has specific elements everyone needs to know and agree upon before the thing can become legally binding. A similar phenomenon is seen in the definitions of crimes, such as murder and robbery. 

The business world though…the business world is where the b.s. meets the road. Which is a pretty gross visual, but I digress.

Dig, if you will, the following abuses of the English language: 

Capture. As in, “Did we capture your concerns?” “Have we captured what we discussed?” It’s like you’re inprisoning words and ideas or something. I picture a cowboy wrangling a thesaurus or something, which would be a pretty hilarious visual, but I digress. 

Why not say, “Did we get that?” “Did we understand?” “Capture” sounds stilted and lame. 

Energy. Not as a physical or scientific phenomenon, but as in, “There’s a lot of energy around this.” “There was productive energy around this issue.” Nails on a chalkboard, my friends, nails on a chalkboard. 

Can one not just say “excitement”? “That was a productive conversation”? “We’re happy with the results”? 

“There’s a lot of energy around this” is trying to create vivid imagery where none is needed. Maybe it’s just me. But it’s not.  Continue reading “Business B.S.: Terms That Need to Die”

Words Are Not Wind


“Words are wind…”

Anyone familiar with the book series A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin or the television show it inspired, A Game of Thrones, is doubtless familiar with this phrase


“Words are wind…”

But what does it mean? Is it suggesting that all words are airy, insubatantial, and meaningless?

Perhaps. Or perhaps just words with no action behind them. Or perhaps that we should always “trust, but verify” what we hear, especially if we want it to be true. 

If you’d like to delve deeper into this, and don’t mind spoilers (HINT: Everyone gets murdered), OverthinkingIt.com has a good analysis, including the distinction between the spoken word and the written word.

I’m more interested in the idea that words somehow do not have power. I’ve written before that words by themselves are not magic and cannot do, or make people, do things on their own in the legal realm.

But let me tell you…I’m starting to change my mind on how much power they actually have.

The right words–written or spoken–can unlock what is already there in people, or make them think things they otherwise might not, inspiring them (hopefully) to good ends. 

If words were just wind, what of Jesus? Buddha? Moses? What of Homer? Plato? Aristotle? What of George Washington? Thomas Jefferson? Martin Luther King, Jr.?

Yes, there are also dark forces who use words for evil purposes (do I really need to give examples here?), but I would say, to clarify my previous, more legalistic interpretation of this phenomenon, that words tap into latent feelings that just needed a spark to ignite. 

Words, in a way, are one of the most powerful things humanity has ever created.

Think about stories in general…

Words can make us do one of the most difficult things a person can do: They can make one look at things differently.  Continue reading “Words Are Not Wind”

Axiometry, Part II: “Sharing is Caring”

In our continuing quest to re-examine and measure the validity long excepted idioms and axioms–in other words, axiometry–here’s another one that I’m sure we all encountered in our youth, especially if you grew up in the United States: “Sharing is caring.”


This one sounds simple enough on the surface, but what does this really mean? What does “sharing is caring” really entail? In what context is this axiom commonly used in?

First, let’s review what it is I’m trying to do here. In the initial post in this series, I defined our mission, and this made-up term, thusly: 

Axiom: “A rule or principle that many people accept as true.”

-metry: “Art, process, or science of measuring.”

I want to measure these axioms to determine whether we should accept them as true.

Why? Because it’s fun to think about things like this, and it’s even more fun to share these thoughts with you. 

We’ll think about this axiom and judge it in a bogus low-budget legalistic manner, as is my wont. 

I contend that the phrase “Sharing is Caring” is meaningless and ultimately distorts the true meaning of sharing, implanting a false idea of the concept into children’s minds. 

Let’s perform some axiometry! Continue reading “Axiometry, Part II: “Sharing is Caring””