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Tag Archives: acronyms

Last night I watched an episode of Detroit 187 (which is exactly 137 better than Hawaii 5-0). One of the sub-characters, a shady club owner, called himself GOAT. In his one scene before he is killed, he tells the cops that GOAT is an acronym for Greatest of All Time. I’m not the hippest guy in the world, but it turns out that the original GOAT was LL Cool J, Ladies Love Cool James, who had a studio album and a song called “The GOAT”. In that song the Greatest of All Time seems to be defined as a guy who gets all the dough and all the hos. By that standard, I am certainly not a GOAT. I have some cash and one wife. I’m a SCOW. You can’t write a hip-hop song or a modern American crime drama about a scow, that just ain’t ll cool j….fer real


Forgive the rudeness in the title, a juvenile reference to The Great Outdoors with the Great John Candy. If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll remember the contents of a hot dog: lips and assholes. If you haven’t seen it, take a look:

Well, in the never-ending corporate quest for dumb buzz acronyms, Sears has come up with LPS (“our Lowest Prices of the Season”). The actual acronym accounts for only three of the six words in the phrase, which gives it a 50% letter accountability rate (percentage of letters in a phrase actually used for the acronym). If they had changed the phrase to Our Lowest Damned Prices Of The Season, they could have had OLD POTS as the acronym which would have a 100% letter accountability rate and about the same level of relevance.

I know this is an irrelevant question, but if you are having a sale, doesn’t the word “sale” indicate that the price you are getting is lower than usual? How often does a price fluctuate in a season anyway? Doesn’t a consumer get more information from a tag like “50% off” or a comparison between the sale price and the regular price (both of which Sears offers on their flyers, by the way)? LPS is a flagrant act of gratuitous acronym usage — the point of it seems solely to include a set of buzz letters in their marketing material regardless of their usefulness…..Never mind… When considering acronyms and hot dogs, its better not to ask what went into making them…

Glad to see that the new school year has brought new acronymic initiatives from the Ministry of Education (MoE, the smartest of the three stooges). It is the all-encompassing K-12 School Effectiveness Framework, which in my initial read is an encyclopedic synthesis of a decade’s worth of educational jargon. You want “accountability”, “evidence-based direction”, “building capacity”, “systems thinking” or “job-embedded and inquiry based professional learning”. It’s all there in the de-motivational tool of the new millennium. It ensures that the last drop of poetry or magic has been wrung out of the language we use to describe education and lays us down in a desert where management theory words blow about us like properly annotated and categorized tumbleweeds. I dare you to find one inspirational word in it anywhere. Here is the link:

Personally, I will be using this document to talk dirty to my wife. “Hey baby, are my  timely and tiered interventions responding to your individual student learning needs? Because I’ve gathered a variety of valid and reliable assessment data that is informing my instruction and assessment and determining my next steps. Or would you prefer to be supported by a collaborative team approach. Oh baby!”

In an early post, I bemoaned the KFC-ification of Kentucky Fried Chicken. I am happy to say, that while vacationing on the shores of Lake Huron, I stumbled upon one of the last remaining holdouts of non KFC’ed Kentucky Fried Chicken franchises. Please see photographic evidence below.

LOOK AT THE BUCKET SIGN! This location, which has avoided the marketing language death of so many other Colonel Sanders’ franchises, is in Port Elgin, Ontario. I’ve heard rumours of another in Owen Sound. Small town Ontarians are fighting a quiet guerrilla war against the death of words in their local mass market fast food operations. LOOK AT THE BUCKET! One of the servers in Port Elgin assured me that when the KFC makeover people come, the first thing they do is REMOVE THE BUCKET. But not in Port Elgin! And not in Owen Sound (….maybe)! And who knows where else the dignity of the word is being upheld…LOOK AT THE BUCKET! Look at Colonel Sanders. It is as if the great Colonel himself, rediscovered his military balls and said, “Forget my secret recipe. Here is where I make my stand! You will not reduce my Kentucky Fried Chicken to 3 letters that sound like a shady Wall Street office trading derivatives! Each word has 11 herbs and spices! Read each one! Linger over the greasy, salty taste of each one!” DON”T FORGET THE BUCKET!!!

By the way, I ordered two 15 piece buckets for the family and it was SENSATIONAL. North America’s Hospitality Dish indeed….

Continuing on with yesterday’s theme of spy agency acronyms, let’s take a look at Canada’s: CSIS, pronounced See-Sis, and standing for Canadian Security Intelligence Services. Is there a single spy agency in the world with a less intimidating acronym than CSIS? It’s strange, because it really is the amalgamation of the letters in two pretty cool acronyms: CSI and SIS. But you jam them together and you get CSIS. You no longer pronounce the individual letters, so you get See Sis, the name of a sissy. “Hey, Csis, it’s time to come in for dinner. And hey, didn’t I tell you to to stop taking pictures of the neighbourhood cougars on your mini spy camera?” “Aw, mom!”

And if a spy agency like MI6 has someone like James Bond working for it, then who does CSIS have? CC My Playmate?

By the way, the current head of CSIS, Richard Fadden, doesn’t have much respect for the first “S” (Secret) in CSIS. He pretty much let’s everybody know what’s going on about how Canadian politicians are influenced by foreign governments (Who would have guessed?). Perhaps it should be the Canadian Divulged Intelligence Department. CanDID?…  sorry….

No one is really surprised that Pakistan’s I.S.I. (Inter-Services Intelligence) was playing on both the American and the Taliban sides. Just look at that acronym. There’s one “I” on one side of the “S” and one “I” on the other. Talk about building double agency and split personality directly into the organization. And what does “Inter-Services” mean anyway? How can you trust an intelligence agency with the prefix “inter” — like INTERstate, and INTERnational, and coitus INTERruptus. You have to know any secrets you share with the ISI are going to be INTERcommunicated with the other “Services” which probably include the Taliban’s Sadistic Human INTERment Teams (SHITs). Anyway, ISI is the least trustworthy spy agency acronym in history.

Look at ISI’s  opposite palindrome acronym, S.I.S., the intelligence service for the United Kingdom. Only one “I”: the Intelligence safely tucked between the Secret and the Service. You never see double agents coming out of England. Just ask Kim Philby.

With the recent RBC Canadian Open, I’ve been thinking about banks and their acronymic tendencies. In Canada, most banks have acronyms: RBC, TD, CIBC. One major exception is Scotiabank. An acronym for the old Bank of Nova Scotia would have been BNS, which may have been too close to BS. Scotiabank sounds alright though. It doesn’t really have anything special to do with Nova Scotia anymore, so who needs the “Nova”? Of course “Scotia” isn’t really anything without the “Nova” but you can’t get rid of it or you’d be left with just “Bank”, acronym, “B” — which is kind of hiphop street gang cool: “Yo, B, let’s dip, I gotta go to the ‘B'”.

Anyway, consider the Bank of Montreal, or BMO. This is an acronym in the J.Lo tradition. It’s easy to understand why the marketers at Bank of Montreal went with this. If you leave out the ‘O’ you’re left with BM, which has certain non-financial connotations. If you include an ‘o’ for ‘of’, something none of the other Canadian banks do, then you get BOM. Again, you could see it in an urban hipster street youth campaign, “Yo, this bank is the BOM.” But really, you would more likely see it in a G20 Black Block campaign, “Yo, let’s bomb the BOM!”

Do we see acronyms in big American banks? Bank of America is usually Bank of America. Otherwise you might see some nifty headlines: B.O.A. is D.O.A. And of course the BOA constrictor that crushes the life out of the mice and other rodents (metaphors for small time investors), and that doesn’t have the down home comfort of Fanny Mae. And  Chase Manhattan is CHASE, which sounds cool but makes you think of a criminal running away with somebody’s money. Chase him!

Anyway, a salute to Carl Petterson who won the RBC Canadian Open, shooting a 60 after drinking 7 beers the night before thinking he didn’t make the cut. He now has 918,000 more dollars to put in the “B” of his choice. Way to go, C.Pe!

Last night I watched episode 1/Season 4 of The Wire, which has a disturbingly realistic scene depicting a demeaning session of Professional Development (PD) for a group of Baltimore inner-city teachers. I posted the clip on YouTube for your enjoyment.

Please note the intellectual and emotional death evident in the teachers. They are texting, exchanging notes, and looking skyward (with the exception of the odd keener, taking notes). When the leader asks for a loud and enthusiastic response, “I A L A C”!!!!, they give her the inevitable monotone reply of a group of adults resigned to the humiliation of being treated like kindergarten children.

I Am Loveable And Capable (IALAC) is a true acronym. According to Urban Dictionary, it was introduced to the education world by Dr. Sidney B. Simon, a professor of education in Massachusetts. It’s fairly typical of the “Self-Esteem” movement in education – requiring that teachers affirm a student’s value regardless of the actual quality of their character. It’s a bad acronym anyway, with some unintended meanings. Read it the following way: I  A LACK.  As in I A LACK LOVEABILITY AND CAPABILITY. Or  “Aye, alack the day I had to sit through a PD session on IALAC”. It also sounds like a brand for infant formula. “Here, teachers, drink your IALAC with this baby bottle and then go teach those loveable and capable kiddies. Goochie goochie goo.”

Perhaps the most vile acronym in recent memory is S.M.A.R.T. for the SMART goal. This one is pervasive in Ontario education at the moment and seems to have a lot of currency in business management. According to wikipedia, the world didn’t get SMART until 1981 when a dude named Doran introduced it and saved humanity from a long history of vague, immeasurable, unattainable, irrelevant and timeless goals. Imagine, 6000 years of VIUIT goals. No wonder the world’s such a mess.

What is SMART? Specific. Measurable. Attainable. Relevant (sometimes Realistic). Time bound. At some point it evolved into the SMARTER goal. You just add an E for Emergency and an R for Room and there you go. Or, Evaluate and Re-Evaluate if you want to be technical. And if you keep on re-evaluating than it becomes a SMARTERRRRR goal, or if you intersperse evaluations with re-evaluations it becomes SMARTERER goals. I’m getting smarterer every year as all my friends get dumberer.

What is particularly vile about this simple mnemonic device, you may well ask? First off, there’s something particularly un-smart about writing the word “smart” all in capital letters. It’s like calling a dumb kid, “smart”. You don’t really mean it, but you don’t want to hurt his feelings. Second, there’s something gross about applying such a technocratic bizspeak thought packet to the world of education. I will explore this in later posts, but the gist of it is, it explicitly directs education to the more mundane territory of test scores and away from the land of inspiration. As soon as an educational leader sets a SMART goal, he/she decreases the soul size of everyone affected. SMART goals are de-motivational to anyone with spirit, shrinking our imagination to the measurable size of a pea. So, if you don’t like your soul or imagination, then it’s okay to be SMART. For now, I will follow my DUMB goals. Divine. Universal. Mind. Bending. Not de-motivational uninspired meaningless blather.