Flaming idiocy in the passive voice in Ridgefield, Connecticut

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Somebody did something dumb in Ridgefield, Connecticut. Here’s the text of a post from the town’s official Facebook page: There as been an incident in town that we want make citizens aware of. A RHS baseball game at Governor Park was delayed due to weather conditions on the field this morning. A poor decision was … Continued

Felicity Huffman shows how to apologize properly

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The actress Felicity Huffman just pleaded guilty to bribing college authorities to get her daughter into college Oliva Jade into USC. Then she apologized briefly and effectively. A true apology admits guilt and addresses the harm the apologizer caused to specific people. It isn’t “I’m sorry you were hurt,” it is “I’m sorry I hurt … Continued

Wow Air shutdown shows why “you’re screwed” is passive voice

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Without warning, the Icelandic airline Wow Air has suspended all its flights while seeking additional financing. There is no better illustration of how companies use passive voice to evade blame than its message to passengers. By writing in the passive voice, Wow Air makes it sound as if this is some unfortunate and unforeseen circumstance … Continued

What is Robert Kraft apologizing for?

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New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft just apologized for not doing anything wrong. Why bother? Police in Jupiter, Florida say they have video of Robert Kraft visiting the Orchids of Asia spa and massage parlor, which they say was a front for prostitution. The video almost certainly shows him doing something he’d rather you didn’t … Continued

Two conflicting approaches on those Boeing 737 MAX crashes

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Boeing and its airline customers are in a tough situation. Plane crashes are very rare — planes are safer than ever — but in the wake of two crashes of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, they need to both reassure people and indicate that they’re taking steps to solve the problem. Boeing clearly has a disciplined … Continued

Some questions about the President’s American Artificial Intelligence Initiative

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President Trump announced the “American AI initiative” with an executive order. Like many such presidential pronouncements (and not just from Trump), it’s somehow both blustery and mushy. Let’s take it apart and see if it makes sense. In what follows, commentary is mine. Passages in bold italic are passive voice, weasel words, or other notably … Continued

Tesla CEO Elon Musk tells the truth (mostly) about layoffs

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In a layoff, a company gets rid of people to boost profits. Everyone knows it; no one ever actually says it. Except Elon Musk. Rather than using corporate layoff doublespeak like downsize, rightsize, and RIF (reduction in force), why not tell the truth? Take a look at what Musk said and how he said it. Tesla’s stock price took a … Continued

Trump’s Saudi Arabia statement: Realpolitik for kindergarteners

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Saudis murdered the Washington Post columnist Jamal Kashoggi in their Turkish embassy. Now President Trump is making the case that we must stand by Saudi Arabia. The term for this sort of strategy is “realpolitik” — but the level of such arguments is typically intellectual, not playground taunts. What is realpolitik? It is international relations … Continued