AidSpeak: A Twitter Dictionary

This past weekend, Bill Easterly, author and former World Bank Economist, put out a challenge over his Twitter to create "witty decoding for development buzzwords" based on the 40 Publishing Buzzwords. That challenge rendered the AidSpeak Dictionary, a compilation of some of the words that Dr. Easterly picked out and put on his website. Some of the highlights include:

"civil society involvement": consulting the middle class employee of aUS or European NGO -@dangay

 "field experience" : I can't bear DC anymore -@MarianaSarastiM

"innovation" : we're sexy, you want to be associated with us -@DarajaTz

"sustainable" : will last at least as long as the funding -@thejoeturner

"tackling root causes of poverty" : repackaging what we've already done in a slightly more sexy font -@thejoeturner


The dictionary comes in time for this weekend's IMF and World Bank meetings. Look for more definitions from Walter Russell Mead's blog or from Dr. Easterly's Twitter.


Decline Watch: America's roads are so bad you need a German car to drive on them

Here's another entry from the world of advertising. This time it's a new ad for the Audi A6, via Jalopnik:

Voiceover: The road is not exactly a place of intelligence. Across the nation, over 100,000 miles of highways and bridges are in disrepair. Add to that, countless distractions every mile, millions of ill-equipped vehicles, half-a-million cubic yards of debris, and the 38 million drivers who couldn't pass the drivers' exam today... even if road signs actually did make sense. 

This is why we engineered a car that analyzes real-time information, reads your handwriting, and makes 2,000 decisions every second. 

The new Audi A6 is here. The road is now an intelligent place.  

Decline-o-meter score: 1

Good lord. Not only is a car commercial -- traditionally the domain of brash, fist-pumping Americana or at least salt-of-the-earth populism -- built around the downbeat topic of America's crumbling infrastructure, but it's a commercial for a German car! The message seems to be, America's roads are so bad, it's no longer safe to drive American cars on them. The post-apocalyptic hell-scape we call a highway system is only navigable in a high-end European luxury sedan. (As a side-note, I'm not really sure how a car that can read your handwriting is supposed to help you avoid distraction, but this isn't really my area of expertise.)

Addendum: Continuing with the car theme, one of my coworkers nominated Heinz's new Dip & Squeeze ketchup packet, made for less messy ketchup consumption while driving, as a sign of decline. But I see it as a sign that America's boundless ingenuity is still alive. Rating: 5