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Predicate verbs fend off 'death by PowerPoint'

Critics of PowerPoint presentations argue that in a hail of bullets, no one can really communicate.

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An analysis out of Washington suggests that some top military brass have had it with the slide shows that so often accompany briefings nowadays. In The New York Times of April 26, Elisabeth Bumiller wrote, "Like an insurgency, PowerPoint has crept into the daily lives of military commanders and reached the level of near obsession." PowerPoint has become a running joke both at the Pentagon and on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, she said, because of the time and energy spent preparing slides.

But some generals are pushing back.

"PowerPoint makes us stupid," Marine Gen. James N. Mattis told a military conference in North Carolina recently. (And by the way, he didn't use slides.) At the same conference, Brig. Gen. H.R. McMaster likened PowerPoint to an "internal threat," Ms. Bumiller reported. He banned PowerPoint presentations when he was leading the effort to secure the Iraqi city of Tal Afar in 2005.

In a follow-up interview with the Times, McMaster expanded on his concerns about PowerPoint: "It's dangerous because it can create the illusion of understanding and the illusion of control.... Some problems in the world are not bullet-izable."

Bumiller's article is all over the Web. You'd think she'd caught a skateboarding cat on video.


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