Think of Keep the Joint Running as Tinkerbell.

No, I’m not begging for applause. But I’ve been writing KJR or its predecessor, Infoworld’s “IS Survival Guide,” since 1996 … let’s see, carry the one … that’s 26 years.

This being the first column of 2022, I’m looking to know that enough people read these musings to make the effort of writing them worthwhile, or, if not, if it’s time to make 2022 my victory lap.

Tinkerbell needed applause. Applause is nice, but for my purposes a brief note in the Comments that you take the time to read KJR will do the job just fine.

# # #

A topic that doesn’t matter to you as an IT leader but I just have to:

KJR hereby imposes a 15 yard penalty to Tampa Bay Buccaneers’s quarterback Tom Brady for, following his Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 9-0 loss to the New Orleans Saints, intentionally grounding a Microsoft Surface – the Official Tablet of the NFL! – in frustration.

Couldn’t he have just written a scathing Amazon review?

Speaking of bad writing (we weren’t, but good writing demands transitions), we’ve arrived at this week’s topic. In case you missed it, CNBC recently published “Want to sound more intelligent? Avoid these 15 words and phrases that are ‘embarrassingly outdated,’ say grammar experts,” (Kathy and Ross Petras, December 26, 2021).

Which leads to quibble #1: If they’re grammar experts, why are their opinions about lexicographic matters worth reading?

Quibble #2: The authors’ advice is what’s embarrassingly bad. It won’t make you sound more intelligent at all.

Which in turn might lead you to wonder why my opinions about their opinions are worth reading. But that way lies madness. On to the show. Here are their gripes and why they’re mostly well worth taking the time to ignore.

Bandwidth: The Petras siblings accept its use as a network capacity metric, but find its extension to expressions of human capacity limits annoying. KJR’s position: Its meaning is clear and metaphorically appropriate. While the measurement of human capacity isn’t as precise as measurements of network capacity, I lack the bandwidth to care very much about such a minor infraction.

End-user: The article recommends “customer” as a superior alternative. As the Petrases are grammarians it’s tempting to forgive their ignorance (see, for example, “Death to Internal Customers,” KJR, 10/20/2003).

But not tempting enough.

Granular: The issue isn’t, the article explains, that its use is incorrect, merely that it’s used a lot. We should, instead, replace it with “detailed.”

Which would, were we all to take this advice, result in “detailed” being over-used.

Note to the Petrases – English is the richer for having synonyms.

Hack: In actual use, “hack” has several meanings. It sometimes means to illegally penetrate a system’s defenses. It can also be more-or-less synonymous with “kludge.” Then there’s a third meaning – to figure out how to use something to solve a problem that its designers never intended or imagined.

The Petrases apparently aren’t aware of hack’s multiplicity of meanings, nor do they suggest an alternative. Speaking as the son of the Godfather of Gore … Hack On!

I did a thing: I’ve never heard anyone say this, nor have I read it anywhere. I agree that “thing” is too often a lazy alternative to choosing a more precise noun, just as “stuff” is for continuous items). But I’m not convinced “I did a thing” is even a thing.

It is what it is: For once the Petrases and I agree, although not necessarily for the same reason. Mine: If it isn’t then it isn’t. Or, just as bad, if something else is what it is, we need to rethink the Pauli Exclusion Principle.

Jab: Imported from British slang for “injection.” Apparently, Britishisms are okay … the Petrases refer to the Atlantic Ocean as “the pond,” after all. The Petrases don’t make clear why, or even whether our having added this synonym is a good thing, a bad thing, or just a thing.

The new normal: And I quote, “… normal is always changing, so ‘the new normal’ doesn’t say much.” Say what? Look, kids, some changes stabilize. Others are ephemeral. Those that stabilize didn’t used to be normal, but now they are – they are new normals. The rest weren’t and still aren’t.

Pivot: And I quote: “Pivoting means shifting direction in a major way.” This isn’t what “pivot” means. The dictionary definition is, “The action of turning around a point: the action of pivoting.”

So “pivot” is one way among many to change direction. It says nothing about the magnitude of the change. This is one reason grammarians shouldn’t pose as lexicographers.

Take it offline: Another phrase that’s defined incorrectly. According to the Petrases it means talking about it later. According to every time I’ve ever heard it used, it actually means talking about the subject privately.

Thought leader: Yet another incorrect definition. The Petrases think “thought leader” is synonymous with “leader.  KJR’s readers know the correct definition of leader is that people are following, not that someone promotes thoughts others find useful. Speaking as an industry thought leader: Pthlhthhthhp!

We remain cautious: And I quote: “Of course you’re being cautious; we’d hope so!” This suggests there’s no room in the world for being bold.

WFH: Supposedly, this started as a useful acronym. WTF?

Zooming: At least they acknowledge that “Google” has been verbed. Also, they don’t suggest a superior alternative.

Bob’s last word: Yes, there’s some irony in the originator of ManagementSpeak endorsing these 15 words and phrases. But scanning them, I don’t see any that are guilty of euphemism and obfuscation. Speaking of which, I’m always on the lookout for more ManagementSpeaks, so when you hear or read one, please send it in.

Bob’s sales pitch: I have a new column I think you’ll enjoy: 11 lies CIOs will tell themselves in 2022.

Once upon a time, I’m dreaming of a white Christmas was a song title that reflected how magical the December landscape appears to those of us who live in the winter weather belt. But in the Bah Humbug department, the Associated Press’s Seth Borenstein reports that white Christmases are becoming just dreams and memories.

And that’s not to mention that the north pole’s ice is, in the summer, liquid water. Let’s hope Santa and company have a suitable business continuity plan.

# # #

Speaking of holiday songs there’s the utterly horrible Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. What are we teaching our children with this one? After Santa asks, “Rudolph with your nose so bright / won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?” the song tells our little ones, “Then how the reindeer loved him.”

Oh really? These anthropomorphized reindeer, having bullied Rudolph his whole life, wouldn’t love him. They didn’t like him before. They surely wouldn’t love him now. No, they’d resent Santa’s newfound appreciation for Rudolph’s deformity and would do everything they could to cause Rudolph to fail.

The Rudolph story leads picked-on children to think that if they could somehow get an adult to say something approving about them, bullies would suddenly have a change of heart.

Just think how many ways this fails to prepare children for their future lives.

# # #

While we’re on the subject of Santa, we tell children the toys he gives them are made by elves. Elves are a product of Norse paganism. If you’re a religious sort, do you really want to head down this path? Not that I personally have anything against Norse paganism. Just sayin’ …

# # #

The more I think about the messages we’re delivering to our kids when we tell them about the patriarch of the Kringle clan, the more it worries me. Another reason: Santa both preceded and still out-does Mark Zuckerberg as chief violator of the Don’t Be Creepy rule.

With more than 20 million Believe-In-Santa-Age children in just the United States, and maybe 200 actions per child per day that could be classified as either naughty or nice, we can estimate that Santa amasses on the order of 1.5 terabytes of behavioral data about our children annually, collected by maybe a quadrillion or so surveillance devices. And that’s not to mention the Personally Identifiable Information and other metadata Santa would need to determine who gets the nice stuff and who gets coal. And we tell our kids we approve of this!

# # #

Advice to Santa: Give Joe Manchin coal. If he was naughty, he gets coal. If he was nice, well, he likes coal.

# # #

Speaking of violations of the holiday spirit, does anyone else figure Mercedes wins the What The Hell? Advertisement of the Year award?

I’m talking about the ad in which we see Scrooge confronted by, not the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future, but a single ghost, strangely named “Willy,” who gives Scrooge his grand temporal tour.

Willy shows Scrooge a sordid view of Victorian times as Christmases past and a polluted traffic jam for Christmas present. But then, to atone for his life, Dickens be damned. Scrooge gets a sleek new Mercedes.

Bah, humbug.

# # #

If all this is leading you to seek help coping with it all, 18 states, the District of Columbia, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Guam have legalized marijuana. Maybe it’s time to schedule a vacation.

Not that I’m endorsing the use of recreational pharmaceuticals. And especially, I deny categorically that the “Joint” in “Keep the Joint Running” refers to rolling an occasional doobie.

# # #

Sure, there’s plenty going on to make us all crabby. But between the possibility of real-world artificial wormholes, iron-air batteries that can store the electricity generated by renewable sources, a whole generation of Americans who don’t care in the slightest who you’re attracted to or what your albedo is, the quantum leaps we’ve taken in immunology over the past couple of years, not to mention everything we might be able to accomplish just with graphene, let alone all the other areas of progress in materials science …

With all this potential, if we can just survive until the future gets here it’s going to be a very cool future.

In the meantime, I hope you had, are having, and/or will have a wonderful Hanukkah, St. Nick’s Day, Winter Solstice, Diwali, Christmas, Sir Isaac Newton’s birthday, Boxing Day, Kwanzaa, New Years Day, Perihelion, Isra & Mi’raj, and any other seasonal holiday I managed to miss.

A devout client once said to me when I wished him a happy Thanksgiving, “For us, every day is Thanksgiving.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself. So I’m taking the rest of the year off. See you in 2022.