The Dream Café

Steven Brust: “A masterful storyteller of contagious glee and self-deprecating badassery” —Skyler White

Texas Wisdom #56


“Pro-active.  That’s a new word they made up.  It means you’re s’posed to scratch yourself before you start to itch.  Dang.”

— Billy-Bob Gautama


Author: corwin

Site administrative account, so probably Corwin, Felix or DD-B.


  1. Geeze Louis but ain’t that just so!

  2. Not exactly. More like putting on bug repellant if you’re going where mosquitos may be.

  3. Agh. One of the worst abuses of corporate consultantspeak from the 80s.

    “Proactive” used to be a technical term of art in psychology with a very narrow meaning. But one day some damn fool decided it must be the laudable opposite of “reactive.”

    You used to say someone took the initiative or, possibly, preempted. Indeed, for many common uses of “proactive”, the simpler and infinitely more legitimate word “active” really captures the meaning, but now this ugly word “proactive” is everywhere, and it always has a positive connotation.

    Neologism is great; where would we be without “ecdysiast” or “copacetic”? But “proactive” is a word that should never have been born.

  4. Miramon: Very well put.

  5. One of the worst abuses of corporate speak in recent times has been the word “solutions”.

    “Welcome to insert company name here. We used to make widgets. Actually we still do. And nothing else. But now we are a complete customer lifestyle solutions company.”

    My challenge for today is to use “copacetic” in an official correspondence.

  6. Yeah, the “solutions” thing bugs me, too.

    I still recall calling customer support for some utility company and being asked to hold for “relationship counselor.” No shit. You can imagine the conversation that ensued when I finally got one.

  7. Oh dear. I better not tell you what industry I work in then! I can completely imagine tone and feeling of the dialogue.

    We don’t have any relationship counselors. And hoping we never do!

  8. Shucks. And I thought it meant using the citronella so’s you wouldn’t start to itch.

  9. Did anyone read the New Yorker article on the Dreyfus Affair books coming out?

  10. Some years ago, a company called Force 3 ran a clever series of radio ads that parodied the growth of stupid neologisms. The one line that I recall ran this way: “Mission critical has nothing to do with software — mission critical is finding a bathroom when you need one.”

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