GLITCH: a defect, malfunction or error that interrupts a plan


We’ve all heard all that we need to hear about the glitches in the registration process for the Affordable Care Act.  There is no question that some serious problems caused the system to malfunction, bringing about severe criticism of the administration for failure to test the system appropriately before going on line.  To the administration’s credit…there is no question that millions of people are interested in the program.  The problem is access, not interest.   Those states that have their own system (as was suggested by the federal government) have not experienced the massive problems that the federal system has incurred.

The glitches are highly technical defects that won’t allow the system to function as was expected.  They are far too sophisticated for someone like me to understand, but in a country that has some of the most experienced and qualified computer experts in the world, this should not have happened, and it seems like it should have been repaired a long time ago.  To date, it is still malfunctioning.   The administration has said that it will be up and running properly by the end of the month.

Someone made the point the other day that it seems incredible that we can design, build, and deploy armed, unmanned missiles that can fly a thousand miles and hit a target within inches of the bull’s eye…but we can’t get an insurance registration program working?   Seems incredible.

All glitches are not as visible or as momentous as this one.  We face them every day when our smoke detector malfunctions, a ball point pen won’t retract, or the remote battery on our car key refuses to open the door to the car.   They are everyday, normal things that go wrong with the simplest solutions.  I am one of those who can count the most embarrassing glitches in my record.   I have twice (!) called a repair service to fix something at the house, only to discover that it was unplugged.   Duh!   I never claimed to be an engineer, but I should be able to detect such a simple thing.  I don’t expect a call from the White House for me to help in the repair of the Health Care dilemma.

Glitch is believed to have originated in the Yiddish language, in which glitsh means a slippery area.   It isn’t hard to see the way in which this colorful word transitioned into its current meaning.   The solution to a problem slips away, or slips and malfunctions.   We have lots of Yiddish words that have made their way into the American English language.  This is one that shows up frequently.  I have thought that it would be clever for a repair service to take on the name “The Glitch Fixers,” but I have never seen that or anything like it in advertisements.


Illustration Credit:  Obamacare

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