Tuesday, 25 June 2013

The Oxymoron


Many years ago, I had an appraisal at work. I liked the guy who was giving me my appraisal and he liked me so I regarded this little interview as a formality that would tick the right boxes and satisfy the corporate powers that be.

Usually with such interviews, the appraiser has to ask people who work with you what they think of your ability to do the job. Again, nobody had ever told me that I was useless and at the time I thought that I was good enough at my job not to attract negative vibes from my co-workers, so again I was happy that the boat would not be rocked.

It wasn’t – but there was a little wobble.

If you read my post called Mr Motivator Strikes Again, written earlier this month, you will no doubt remember Dirk, my former colleague who climbed the corporate ladder then promptly fell down again.

He had something to say about me at my appraisal.

He told my appraiser that when it came to estimating software effort I was absolutely rubbish.

My appraiser brought this up and I laughed.

“Why are you laughing?” he asked.

“Is Dirk suggesting that I can’t estimate?”

“Yes,” he said. “He says your estimates aren’t accurate enough.”

I laughed again.

“Listen to what you are saying,” I said. “How can you have an accurate estimate? An estimate by its very nature is a guess and you cannot accurately guess every single time. It’s an oxymoron.”

He agreed, particularly when I reminded him that many people struggle to estimate.

“How long will this take?” is a very difficult question to answer. You can guess and sometimes the guess is reasonable. The problem is that there are so many factors that will affect your guess. That’s why major projects overrun, such as the construction of Wembley Stadium a few years ago. Sometimes they are earlier than expected but ultimately the most you can hope for is an educated guess based on previous experience.

How can it be accurate?

This got me thinking about other oxymorons. Here are a few I found while surfing the web:

A fine mess
Found missing
Civil war
Plastic glasses
Accurate horoscope
Act naturally
Crash landing
Alone together
Holy war
Student teacher
Same difference
Man child
Simple calculus
Poor rich kid
Bug fix
Pretty ugly
Religious tolerance
Free gift
Organised chaos
Hell’s angel
Alone in a crowd
Silent scream
Alcohol free beer
Ill health
Rap music
Christian soldiers
Live recording
Amicable divorce
Bad luck
Boxing ring
Genuine imitation
Decaffeinated coffee
Open secret
Peace force
Half full
Working holiday
Virtual reality

The world of politics throws up some good ones:

Political promise
Political trust
Political ethics

And my favourite:

Politically correct

The favourite one I have actually heard was during a discussion about religion was a menace to society and the cause of a lot of trouble in the world. One of the protagonists actually said the following sentence without blinking or considering the words he had said:

“I think people who follow religion are just deluded. Thank God I am an atheist.

You are now immortalised on this blog, my friend.

And that’s terribly good.

Now over to you, dear reader. 

Have you got any good oxymorons to share? 

Or bad ones? 

14 comments:

Big D said...

Well the classic one is "Military intelligence"

Grace said...

There is always:
military intelligence
jumbo shrimp

And to save a lot of typing: here's a list

Mind Of Mine said...

I think you have them all covered, I am coming up with nothing...

Oh wait..

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Big D,

Great one.

:-)

Cheers

PM

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Grace,

You and Big D think alike.

Jumbo shrimp is great too. And as for the list - that's fantastic.

:-)

Cheers

PM

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Ian,

Just take a look at Grace's list ...

:-)

Cheers

PM

H2B said...

I disagree with some of the terms in your list.
Religious tolerance - why is that an oxymoron? Are you saying that no religion is tolerant?

What will you call a 'plastic glass", a plastic cup? A dictionary definition for cup reads: A concave vessel for drinking from, usually made of opaque material (as opposed to a glass). The equivalent for glass reads: A vessel from which one drinks, especially one made of glass, plastic, or similar translucent or semi-translucent material.

Elephant's Child said...

Great list - but it left out fun run.

jeremy north said...

moderate violence
quite unique
extremely average

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi H2B,

Being a Roman Catholic myself I know that my own religion is intolerant as are certain others - but probably not all. Therefore I think that "religious tolerance" definitely qualifies.

In the UK, when the weather is nice, rather than staying indoors in a stuffy old pub, we all flock out to the beer garden. Similarly with massive outdoor events selling pints of ale. In order to limit the amount of breakages, they supply beer and soft drinks in, as they describe, "plastic glasses" so you feel like you are drinking out of a glass even though it is really a transparent glass pint pot.

So again, it is an oxymoron I feel.

Most Brits would agree.

:-)

Cheers

PM

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi EC,

Aha - good one. When I was a kid and really really fit, running really was fun. These days it would be a nightmare and most definitely NOT fun (though I have been known to run occasionally).

:-)

Cheers

PM

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Jeremy,

Agreed - espeically "moderate violence".

How can violence be "moderate"?

:-)

Cheers

PM

Jackie K said...

I don't have any more oxymorons, but I like your response in the interview. We had these at my last workplace, called "360"s. There is always that one comment, from that one person....

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Jackie,

We now have 360's - and a chance for revenge!

:-)

Cheers

PM