When I first started working as a disability examiner for Social Security, we had no desktop computers, just Wang terminals; nor could we communicate via email, just intraoffice messaging whose default was “reply all.” Hence, I established a wide reputation for pedantry early on. The topic was one on which I have often pontificated in the intervening thirty-plus years. One of the system administrators reached outside his bailiwick and sent the following message to everyone at Disability Determination Services; I still don’t know if it was meant as a challenge or a request for information:
Who said, “Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds”?
And here was the presumptuous reply of the newly-trained disability specialist who got herself fired a few years later for her fairly consistent audacity over time:
No one. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “A FOOLISH consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds” [emphasis mine]. Those are two very different ideas.
I confess that I was so ready with the retort because a high school classmate had burned Emerson’s words onto my brain when she asked Mr. Crawford, our teacher in freshman accelerated English, “What does Emerson mean when he says that consistency is the hemoglobin of little minds?” Now that I think of her question more carefully, I realize that her howler actually contains an astute metaphor of its own. But I digress. Actually, I haven’t even begun the topic from which this extended rabbit trail would be a potential digression! So I’ll proceed apace. Continue reading