Thursday, July 16, 2009

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Monday, March 16, 2009

toxic – adjective

1. Undervalued; worthy of investment.

USAGE: Taxpayers might enjoy a substantial return from their purchase of toxic assets.

2. Donable; charitable.

USAGE: The toxic chemicals were deposited in poverty-stricken areas.

COMMENT: Over at WhoWhatWhy, I explain why the terms "troubled assets" and "toxic assets" deceive.

Friday, March 13, 2009

goal-driven – adjective

Propelled by, but not necessarily directed towards achieving, a goal.

[See also "purpose-driven."]

USAGE: The President articulated a goal-driven plan for peace in the Middle East.

COMMENT: Activities require goals in the way that cars require fuel. When something is described as "goal-driven," it's analogous to describing a car as "ethanol-driven"—i.e. it's powered by ethanol, not directed towards or productive of, ethanol.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

bonus – noun

A retainer paid to an employee to avoid having to replace him with someone even more incompetent.

I would not be doing my job if I did not directly advise you of my grave concern about the long-term consequences of the actions we are taking today. On the one hand, all of us at AIG recognize the environment in which we operate and the remonstrations of our President for a more restrained system of compensation for executives. On the other hand, we cannot attract and retain the best and brightest talent to lead and staff the AIG businesses—which are now being operated principally on behalf of the American taxpayers—if employees believe that their compensation is subject to continued and arbitrary adjustment by the U.S. Treasury.

—From a letter by AIG CEO Edward Liddy to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

salary – noun

A form of monetary compensation that supplements an employee's bonus.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

performance-based – adjective

Grounded in diverting an audience through dramatic or artistic action; for show.

USAGE: In Washington and around the country, a second round of “reinventing government” initiatives should be launched to transform public agencies into performance-based organizations. -- Rahm Emanuel

Monday, March 9, 2009

road map – noun

A diagram of roadways used by travelers to find circuitous routes to their destinations—including scenic detours, rest stops, eateries, and tourist attractions—or to change their itineraries mid-trip.

USAGE: President Bush unfolded a road map for peace in the Middle East.
The idea of a "road map" for Israeli-Palestinian peace was not entirely an invention of President George W. Bush, but was in fact his response to a request by Jordan's King Abdullah in a White House conversation. After their official talk, according to another person in the room, King Abdullah said, "What we need is a road map." Bush then turned to Assistant Secretary of State for the Near Bast William Burns and said, "He wants a road map. Can we give him a road map?"

COMMENT: If peace were the chief goal of peace negotiations, then a treasure map would be a more apt metaphor: a set of directions toward a singular destination, promising a lost, difficult to acquire, and immensely valuable reward. Or, to bring the proper terminology up to date, "GPS directions for peace" might suffice.

Road maps are not only designed for countless users with myriad possible destinations (read: agendas) in mind, but they're also notoriously difficult to interpret once you decide where you want to go. In addition, they're impossible to use as you're driving, and they stubbornly resist folding for storage and repeated use.

On the whole, then, kudos to Bush for another brilliant coinage.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

neutralize – verb

To make incapable of action . . . or of eating, drinking, breathing, or anything else, for that matter.

[Thanks, P.E.]