Saturday, October 27, 2007


I'm reading Robert Rubin's In An Uncertain World and this caught my eye: As Treasury Secretary, I avoided using the words such as "panic" and "meltdown," preferring less vivid terms such as "contagion" and "loss of confidence." I'd learned while working in the White House as director of the National Economic Council (NEC) that the words public officials use can make an enormous difference, and that was even truer at the Treasury. (p. 4)

He is right of course, that language matters although I've heard the word meltdown used in different contexts. I guess the word comes from "nuclear meltdown" but back when I was in college, I hear the phrase "Oh, I had so much stuff going on I just had a meltdown" or as a parent, "Our toddler was tired but I decided to risk going to the store anyway and he had a meltdown at the check out aisle."

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