Demographics

According to a report by the Census Bureau, the United States is expected to be a majority-minority nation by 2043. Within the next 50 years, nearly one in three U.S. residents would be Hispanic. Within the same time span, the Asian-American population will double from 15.9 million people to 34.4 million, and the African-American population is projected to increase by 20 million people.

From 2024 to 2060, the non-Hispanic white population will fall by nearly 20 million people, and will make up 43 percent of the nation’s total population by 2060. In 2011, the population of the United States was comprised of the following: White persons not Hispanic (63.4 percent), Black (13.1 percent), American Indian (1.2 percent), Asian-American (5.0 percent), Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander (0.2 percent), Two or more races (2.3 percent), Hispanic or Latino Origin (16.7 percent).

In diverse cultures people approach potentially sensitive topics indirectly.

Circumnavigate

Probe. To probe is to physically explore or examine something with the hands or an instrument. To probe is also to seek to uncover information about someone or something. The word originates from late Latin as proba, or proof, or in medieval Latin as examination. It is derived from Latin probare, meaning “to test“.

Circumnavigate. When one circumnavigates, one sails all the way around something, especially the world. To go around or across (something).

Euphemism. A euphemism is a mild or indirect word or expression substituted for one considered to be too harsh or blunt when referring to something unpleasant or embarrassing: ‘pre-owned car’ instead of a used car; ‘sex worker’ instead of a prostitute; to be ‘between jobs’ instead of to be unemployed; ‘senior citizen’ instead of old person; ‘underserved neighborhood’ instead of impoverished neighborhood.

Too rude

Leon Lederman, the author of the book The God Particle (Higgs Boson) originally wanted to call it The Goddamn Particle because the particle was proving very difficult to find, but his publishers thought that this sounded too rude.

Higgs Boson is a particle which is largely responsible for the mass of subatomic particles. It took almost five decades after the particle was first postulated to find it, largely because of the high energy needed to produce it and how quickly it decays into smaller particles.

Euphemisms

Because Americans find it difficult separate what they say from the person they are saying it to – especially in the case of criticism – they strive to use softer, more indirect language, including euphemisms: mild or indirect words or expressions substituted for ones considered to be too harsh or blunt when referring to something unpleasant or embarrassing.

Examples of euphemisms: pre-owned car instead of a used car, sex worker instead of a prostitute, to be between jobs instead of to be unemployed, senior citizen instead of old person, underserved neighborhood or underserved population instead of the poor, or an impoverished, needy neighborhood.

Further examples: economically disadvantaged instead of poor; temporary negative cash flow instead of broke; enhanced interrogation methods instead of torture; collateral damage instead of civilian deaths.

Eric Schmidt – Google

The former Google CEO has reinvented himself as the prime liaison between Silicon Valley and the military-industrial complex.

General Thomas, who served in the 1991 gulf war and deployed many times to Afghanistan, spent the better part of a day showing Mr. Schmidt around Special Operations Command’s headquarters in Tampa, Fla. They scrutinized prototypes for a robotic exoskeleton suit and joined operational briefings, which Mr. Schmidt wanted to learn more about because he had recently begun advising the military on technology.

After the visit, as they rode in a Chevy Suburban toward an airport, the conversation turned to a form of artificial intelligence.

“You absolutely suck at machine learning,” Mr. Schmidt told General Thomas, the officer recalled. “If I got under your tent for a day, I could solve most of your problems.” General Thomas said he was so offended that he wanted to throw Mr. Schmidt out of the car, but refrained.

In an interview, Mr. Schmidt — by turns thoughtful, pedagogical and hubristic — said he had embarked on an effort to modernize the U.S. military because it was “stuck in software in the 1980s.”

Yes, Eric Schmidt is an American. But check out his last name. He is thoughtful, meaning intelligent. He is pedagogical, meaning can be pedantic. He is hubristic, meaning arrogant. Schmidt.

Poker Face

In Cologne very recently. A conversation with a graduate student interested in doing research on business cultures. We had spoken at length by phone a week earlier. But I could not remember the details. So many interviews since then. I start off explaining the basics, am not sure if and to what extent she understands me. I continue, going into more and more detail.

Hardly any change of expression on her face. A direct, but impersonal look. Do I go more in-depth or stop? I ask if she understands me. She does. Ok. We move on to more topics. Same dynamic. I explain that she needs to let me know if I am going into too much or too little detail. She does neither. Frustrating for me, most likely for her, also. Time not well-spent. Nothing new for me. I’ve experienced this time and again, and unfortunately all too often with prospective customers.

Frank und frei

Honest

Honesty. Honorableness. Straightforwardness. Truthfulness. Candor. Directness. Fairness. Honesty is often confused with impoliteness.

In Faust II (1832) written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Germany‘s greatest writer, Baccalaureus is criticized for being rude, rough, abrasive. He responds with: “Those who are polite in German are lying“.

Literal: In the truest sense of the word; without interpretation. “He literally took apart the automobile, piece by piece.“

Euphemism

A euphemism is a mild or indirect word or expression substituted for one considered to be too harsh or blunt when referring to something unpleasant or embarrassing: pre-owned car instead of a used car; sex worker instead of a prostitute; in between jobs instead of unemployed; senior citizen instead of old person; underserved neighborhood instead of impoverished neighborhood.

frank und frei

Literally frank and free, as in “Let me speak frankly and freely with you”. The term ‘frank’ is an age-old German word for free. The Franks were a Germanic tribe which successfully withstood the influence of tribes migrating from the Nordic countries into what is today’s northern Germany. Frank as a male first name was derived from Franko: a member of the Franks, meaning courageous, free.

“May God help me“

Martin Luther (1483-1546) – German, Catholic priest, Augustinian monk, professor of Theology – was the foremost driving force behind the Protestant Reformation, challenging fundamental teachings of the Church.

In April 1521 Luther was under intense pressure to recant his theological teachings before the Reichstag in Worms, an assembly of Germany’s worldly and religious leaders. Luther responded with:

“I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. May God help me. Amen.” Luther, a German– direct, honest, and transparent. And for many, uncomfortable, difficult, and challenging.

Sachlich

Germans strive to be sachlich or objective, business-like, factual, to the point, matter of fact. To be sachlich means to focus on the matter while leaving emotions out. A sachlich report, critique, comment, argument, judgement. Sachlich also means to leave out superfluous or gratuitous language. To be sachlich is to get to the point.

Little Bell

Mid-1990s. University of Bonn. Professor Dr. Schmidt enters the classroom with books and papers under his arm, and his little bell. The topic: Game Theory in the Context of International Politics.

A graduate student moves to the front of the room to give his presentation. Hardly a minute into it a shrill ding-a-ling pierces the air. The students don’t dare move a muscle. “Ladies and gentleman. Time and again I simply must impress upon you the need to define the terms you use. You cannot simply throw complex terms around the room without having first clearly defined them!“

A few students risk rolling their eyes. The presenter sweats, squirms and stammers his way through his material. Professor Dr. Schmidt sits down in his chair, his left arm on his desk, in his hand his little friend the bell– ready to get shrill at a moment’s notice.