Bomb Agrabah? Manipulative pollsters, not stupid people.

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When you hear an outlandish poll result, you first thought may be, “Wow, people are stupid.” You’d be wrong. Blame the pollsters and the people who publicize their spurious results, not the supposed “voters” they contacted. In the last month, we’ve heard these unbelievable poll results: 30% of likely Republican voters think we should bomb Agrabah, the fictional … Continued

Comparing apologies: Oscars vs. Chipotle vs. Boston Globe

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Three organizations have screwed up recently: The Motion Picture Academy nominated zero actors of color for Oscars, Chipotle made its customers sick, and the Boston Globe couldn’t deliver papers. I wanted to follow up on my recent posts about Chipotle and the Globe, and see if the Academy Awards folks could do any better. All three needed to … Continued

Deathly euphemisms: “rest in peace” and “thoughts and prayers”

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Death is a fact of life. Sayings like “rest in peace” and “our thoughts and prayers are with the victims” are euphemisms: they enable us to go on without thinking about death. Not thinking about death can help us cope, but let’s not imagine that we’re actually saying anything when we say these things. I’ve been thinking … Continued

The Expectations Game is gibberish in the Iowa caucuses

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Sometimes the political media gets so tangled up in its own underwear that it’s comical. Musings about expectations don’t qualify as news — they should be marked “for entertainment purposes only.” That’s why I must ridicule Kathie Obradovich’s recent article in the Des Moines Register (also reprinted into the Boston Globe). There are candidate positions. There is … Continued

How it feels to write with the singular “they”

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The American Dialect Society chose the singular “they” as its Word of the Year. Do you think using “they” to refer to one person is weird, informal, and wrong? Well, I’ve been doing it, so you can judge for yourself. If you want  details on the debate on why “they” makes sense, see my post … Continued

Health non-news gives me a headache

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Health news is pretty much an oxymoron. All health articles hedge — the “news” is all provisional. But some are much worse, like this Wall Street Journal article about what to take for a headache. “Advil vs. Tylenol. Which to Use, and When,” doesn’t tell you what to use, or when — it suggests what you … Continued

My visit to Playboy: just like any other content

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So, I get this call (this was a few years ago, when I was Forrester’s TV analyst). The Forrester salesperson wants me to do a strategy session at Playboy Entertainment Group, the parent company of the Playboy Channel, the Spice Channel, and all of Playboy’s video assets. I take it, because I’m the TV expert. … Continued

How to yearn

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Here’s the situation. You’ve been doing the same thing, probably at the same job, for a while now. You’re pretty good at it, but sometimes it’s a pain. It’s become easy; it’s not really challenging. The challenge is keeping yourself motivated, because it’s too familiar. And you’ve begun to yearn for something new. If this … Continued