Looking for Policy Solutions in the Dictionary

Dear Reader (Including those of you letting David French live rent-free in your intra-cranial studio space), 

In The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon allegedly says Rome’s slide into decline was a period in which “bizarreness masqueraded as creativity.” Alas, I haven’t been able to find the Gibbon quote in the book(s)—then again I’ve also never been to Lima, Peru, but I’m perfectly happy to take it on faith that it exists.

Anyway, whether he said it or not, this observation struck a chord with me. It’s a bit reminiscent of the famous distinction drawn by Hubbins and Tufnel: “It’s such a fine line between stupid and clever.” But I think there’s a subtle difference. Most stupidity isn’t bizarre, and not all cleverness is necessarily creative.

I know I’ve mentioned it a few times before, but I think it’s worth repeating one of my favorite scenes from Don Quixote. I’ll paraphrase:

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