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Only the Post Office

I've been tracking an order placed online. Imagine my surprise to learn that the first stop after pickup was at the "Sortation Center."

parcel progress

Only a government agency (OK, quasi-government agency) would come up with such a pretentious description as "sortation" center. I'm surprised they didn't spell it "centre" just to top things off!

Apparently sortation is a lengthy process, since more than two and a half days elapsed between arrival and departure at the center.

customer tracking

And then there's the heading on the page. I went to the page to track my package. Who knew that it would be the customer being tracked!

Somewhere along the line, people have gotten the idea that public speech must avoid short, simple words and direct expression. Imagine if Nike had followed this principle: "Just do it!" would be "Take action forthwith!"

I admit it's fun to play with words and find one that's perfect to express a concept. But if you're not good at it, don't even try! You just end up sounding ridiculous.

I find this ironic in a country that has become blatantly anti-intellectual. A cottage industry has sprung up writing books about the "dumbing down" phenomenon. Consider that a search on for "dumbing" yields 1882 titles. Here are the first ten:

  1. Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling by John Taylor Gatto
  2. Reaching Out Without Dumbing Down: A Theology of Worship for This Urgent Time by Marva J. Dawn
  3. Dumbing Down Our Kids : Why American Children Feel Good About Themselves But Can't Read, Write, or Add by Charles J. Sykes
  4. The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America: A Chronological Paper Trail by Charlotte Thompson Iserbyt, Charlotte Iserbyt-Thomson
  5. Bad Or, the Dumbing of America by Paul Fussell
  6. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Presents America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction by the writers of The Daily Show, Jon Stewart
  7. Preaching with Relevance Without Dumbing Down by Keith Willhite
  8. Dumbing Down: Essays on the Strip Mining of American Culture by Katharine Washburn, et al
  9. Dumbing Down : Culture, Politics and the Mass Media by Ivo Mosley (Editor)
  10. The Feel-Good Curriculum: The Dumbing Down of America's Kids in the Name of Self-Esteem by Maureen Stout, Ph.D.

PS. The appliances don't suspect anything yet, so mum's the word!