Sunday, February 17, 2008

Perverse and often baffling.

Last week's radio program, This American Life, featured an "act" (or segment) by Malcolm Gladwell, the author of Tipping Point and Blink, where he told stories of what it was like to start out in Journalism.

Story culminated with a tale where a fellow young journalist and he had a contests to see how many times that they could get a certain phrase into the Washington Post. The championship round consisted of the phase "Perverse and often baffling".

I think you can see why this was the championship round.

Something could be baffling or something could be perverse.

The trouble starts to come in with "often". Often implies timing. Sometimes it's not baffling but often it is. It was nearly impossible to find something "perverse and often baffling".

I won't spoil the program for you. Go over and give it a listen. It's a great story told by a great story teller.

On Saturday morning I was reading the paper about Steven Phillip Kazmierczak, the graduate student who shot and killed five people at NIU. The paper said he was was a "bright, stable young man and a helpful student" yet he committed this awful act.

It was baffling. In fact some of the news coverage used the word baffling.

"Those who knew him were baffled by the attacks, in which Kazmierczak stepped from behind a screen on the lecture hall's stage and opened fire on a geology class." - Msnbc

Yet in my mind, I could see that some people just snap.

I was oscillating between a reasonable explanation (he snapped!) and bafflement (but why), leaning mostly towards bafflement. This was "often baffling"!

I think you can see where I am going here. Shooting all those unarmed young people in such a setting is also perverse.

The Steven Phillip Kazmierczak shootings were "perverse and often baffling"!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i have had "perverse and often baffling" in my head since i heard the program! it is generally very hard to use, but i think it is very fitting to the GOP!