What Words or Phrases Drive You Crazy?

Jason English

Every Friday, I post a series of unrelated questions meant to spark conversation in the comments. Answer one, answer all, respond to someone else's reply, whatever you want. Very casual. On to this week's topics of discussion...

1. Several years ago I worked as a research assistant on Why Business People Speak Like Idiots, a book about the epidemic of bull and blah in business communications. ("This is just the kind of synergistic, customer-centric, upsell-driven, out-of-the-box, customizable, strategically tactical, best-of-breed thought leadership that will help our clients track to true north.") I'd like to say the book had an impact, but I still get emails on a regular basis offering the chance to be part of a mission-critical paradigm-shift—and in almost all cases, that translates to "can you give us a plug?"

I could spend the rest of the day listing words and phrases and acronyms I don't particularly like, but I'll turn it over to you guys. Is there a word or phrase that drives you crazy?

2. If you could enjoy one meal at any restaurant in the world, where would you eat? Two important catches: first, it has to be a restaurant where you've already eaten. Second, you'll be whisked back to your normal life the second you're done, so don't pick a place based on the city it's in.

3. We've talked recently about movies you walked out on and books you couldn't get through. How about programs taking up valuable space in your DVR that you never get around to watching? My list is a long one, but the highlight is this: "XXI Winter Olympics: Curling, men's: USA vs. Canada (2/23/10)."

4. Yesterday the company that hosts our site had a major outage that knocked us offline for most of the afternoon. After realizing clicking the refresh button really hard wasn't going to solve anything, I poured myself a big bowl of Raisin Bran and watched an episode of The West Wing I've probably seen 27 times.

I'd like to say this unexpected downtime led to some brilliant ideas, but instead I fixated on a minor character's name.

This last question is for big fans of the show—why is Leo McGarry's daughter's last name O'Brien? I understand there are lots of reasons a single woman in her 30s would not go by her father's last name—maybe she used to be married, or she changed her name to get out of her family's shadow (or during her father's pill-popping days). But I don't believe the writers ever explained in Mallory's case. Maybe I'm wrong. Anyone know? Anyone know Aaron Sorkin well enough to ask him?

[See all the previous Friday Happy Hour transcripts.]