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Friday, January 30, 2009

It's All One and the Same

A modest proposal from the Solipsist: People should no longer praise something by declaring it "one of the best":

"One of the most popular shows in Broadway history."  So says a commercial for an upcoming production of Wicked.  But have you ever considered that the essential criterion for being "one of the best" somethings is, not to put too fine a point on it, existence?  More specifically, existence as a member of a category of which there is more than one member.

To illustrate:  No matter whether your personal favorite was John, Paul, or George, one would be hard-pressed to argue that Ringo was NOT "one of the best Beatles."  And by extension, he is "one of the best" drummers in Rock and Roll history.  And by further extension, he is "one of the best" musicians in the history of the world.  And on and on and on.

If you are the sole member of a class, you are by default not "one of" but simply "the" best: Barack Obama is "the" best African-American president and "the" best Hawaiian-born president and "the" best president whose name ends in a vowel other than "e."  (The Solipsist would say the best president whose name ends in a vowel, but he does not wish to offend any Monroe, Fillmore, Pierce, or Coolidge partisans.  And don't go all technical about Kennedy.) For that matter, George W. Bush was "the" best MBA President and "one of the best" presidents in American history.  The fact that he was also the worst makes no difference.

So, will you join the Solipsist's crusade to eliminate this damnation by faint praise?  After all, the Solipsist was recently named one of the best new blogs of the last year!


Another modest proposal: Companies can go ahead and reward executives with Brobdingnagian bonuses. If, however, the company fails to show a profit, any bonuses above a certain modest amount are taxed at a 99.9% rate.  What do you think?

1 comment:

  1. Wow, you have a lot of elaborate opinions on a lot of subjects.

    Thank God you have this blog, otherwise I'd guess you'd spend a lot of time muttering to yourself...

    FOS RedNedi