Extended Forecast — No “Perfect Storm”

I wish “perfect storm” would blow, or dissipate or move harmlessly out to sea.

There it was again this morning, tucked into the investigation of the University of Iowa’s handling of a sexual assault report last fall. An investigator cited a “perfect storm” of miscommunication.

Now, I’m not passing judgment on my journalistic pals. I’ve used it in my stories and columns, too. I just think it’s a cliche whose time has passed. Overuse has watered down its meaning and impact. We need to have a retirement party for “perfect storm.” I’ll bring the cake.

It’s been 11 years since Sebastian Junger’s truly good “The Perfect Storm” book hit the shelves and eight years since the movie by the same name. And what started out as a punchy, fitting term describing the extremely rare confluence of bad circumstances into a massive, memorable and tragic event is now used to describe things far less rare. Such as an inept, bumbling university bureaucracy.

I know my fight is uphill. Plug “pefect storm” into Google news and you’ll get 7,562 references. Sarah Palin is out talking about a “perfect storm” of economic problems. The term is being used to describe oil prices and homebuilding and an Australian rugby team and employment woes in New Zealand and airline troubles in the UK. Yeah, and sometimes it’s still used to describe weather.

I’m issuing a no perfect storm warning. Join me.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Extended Forecast — No “Perfect Storm”

  1. JimD

    I agree – the saying “A Perfect Storm of…” blows. It’s become winded, watered-down, and it just drips of hot air. It’s also resulted in a gale-force typhoon of mixed metaphors and bad puns.

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