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1890s collectors’ cards featuring events in ballooning history/Library of Congress

Hot air is fine for balloons but bafflegab (hot air communications) is one of the frustrations of modern life. Not only do we not say anything, we waste a lot of time pretending to. Here are some new media tools to help us get the better of bafflegab, or at least laugh at it, which lowers the blood pressure:

1. An academic sentence generator. A must-have for high school and beyond. Just select from several lists of vague phrases and Smedley the Virtual Critic (TM) will instantly transform disconnected stuff that doesn’t mean anything to connected stuff that doesn’t mean anything. I chose “pedagogical institutions,” “normative values,” “historicization,” and “linguistic construction.” Smedley offered,

Your account of the linguistic construction of normative value(s) constitutes a dazzling and wholly persuasive rejoinder to the meanderings of Pootwattle, whose influence has been an embarrassment to the field for over a decade.

Flattering, but I have no idea what I said, and neither would anyone else. Maybe that qualifies me for a low-paying job as a teaching assistant at a name university.

2. An edubabble machine. Totally a necessity, of course, if you are the teacher. Use this fine tool to ensure that no one can evaluate your teaching performance because no one can make sense of it. From random strings of words, I came up with “We will operationalize strategic curiosity within the core curriculum” and “We will envision mastery-focused alignment in authentic, real-world scenarios” while half-asleep, which is really impressive if you don’t have to be anywhere near the outcomes yourself.

3. Cliché BINGO! for meetings: From the developers:

This game should make the meetings that you are obliged to attend much more interesting and entertaining. You play by ticking off any five clichés on the following list heard from any one speaker during any single meeting, then shouting out “BINGO” to win! It’s that easy! Share this amusing pastime with your colleagues, and arrange suitable prizes.

From the list:

… win-win situation, simulated handshake, take that off-line, strategic fit, gap analysis, lessons learned, in the ball park, game plan, calibrated feedback, out of the loop, walk in their shoes, the big picture …

Next: Fun with hot air? Definitely not! What happened when some researchers started using a bafflegab generator in earnest. Meanwhile,


Denyse O’Leary is a Canadian journalist, author, and blogger.

Denyse O’Leary is an author, journalist, and blogger who has mainly written popular science and social science. Fellow Canadian Marshall McLuhan’s description of electronic media as a global village...