This one comes from a friend involved in the admissions process:
What to do about recommendation letters? What is the ratio of useful to fluff and distraction? How much is actual information versus hidden codes and coy signals? Today’s example is two letters from one senior professor, writing for two different students from the same department, applying to the same department. One student is described as “by far the most intelligent and diligent student I have ever taught.” The other is “no doubt THE best student among all the students whom I have taught so far.” It’s not fair to punish the poor students subjected to this, but it is tempting to disqualify both letters.