Bikeshedding and Baloney 1

GIYF if you don’t know what the first word means. And now Google Is Your Friend is arguably what the first word means. Maybe the first word should have been bootstrapping. Sigh.

The title came to me in the last few days as I thought about how each of us can best preserve our sanity in a time of increasing madness. My answer: by avoiding both bikeshedding and baloney. But it’s easier said than done.

In my framing bikeshedding is avoidance of difficult thoughts by staying narrow in mind. And baloney is what happens, internally, and then externally, when we pretend to understand the big picture when we don’t.

Here’s an example from this morning.

That’s a high quality article by Hughes and Constable, one that avoids the scylla and charybdis I, in general, fear. But it means that Boris has bought and is selling baloney in his speech today.

And once baloney is on the prowl, it’s so easy to outbid the original mixer of metaphors. I give you Ed Davey:

I first heard the news of the prime minister’s original baloney just after 7am on Radio 5 Live. Later the presenters were enjoying that old Boris saying “Wind farms couldn’t pull the skin off a rice pudding”. Should rice pudding be eaten with skin or without? They felt it was about 50/50 across the UK population and were expecting a deluge of calls.

A brilliant example of bikeshedding – because it shows the power of the thing. Who wants the complexity of trying to achieve balance in doing justice to the big picture? And when you do, being called a Nazi?

We’ll come to that. In the full series. For now, offshore wind will suffice.

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October 6, 2020 at 04:07AM

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