Showing posts from February, 2004

You should avoid cliches like the plague

Two thoughts on how the reckless use of cliches can give the wrong impression: 1. Was just reading the latest edition of the Harvard Business Review , and an old thought struck me: why is it acceptable to talk about "slaughtering sacred cows" in business? Firstly, why should killing an animal have good connotations? And, more importantly, isn't the phrase vaguely offensive to people of a faith that actually has literal sacred cows ? 2. In the reports today of the discussion between the Singapore Government and the airline pilots' union, one of the pilots was quoted as saying something to the effect of "we must leave the baggage behind, it'll only slow us down" (I'll get the exact quote in a later post). Now, I know it's a common cliche, but really, do I want a pilot who has such a negative and cavalier attitude towards baggage?

Isn't it a states' rights question?

Wow, some of the e-mails on Andrew Sullivan's blog by others outraged by Bush's support for an amendment to the American Constitution are really moving...

And I wonder / I wa-wa-wa-wa-wonder

Random things: Here's a photo of the new family dog, to break up all the text. He's my brother's dog, really, but he has everyone's attention. His name's Rerun. Named for Linus and Lucy's younger brother in Peanuts, not Fred Berry's character in What's Happening!! or the concept of repeating an old episode of a TV show. *** Notice how hard I had to work to avoid completely collapsing into baby talk in talking about Rerun? Control, control. *** The link to the Spotted Wobbegong Shark page on the left is because I'm entranced by that story of the snorkeller who got bit by a Wobbegong Shark and drove for help WITH THE SHARK STILL ATTACHED . That and Wobbegong is a really cute-sounding word. Poor shark though, it was only expressing its innate Sharkness. *** She's broke, but it's oke.

My favourite thing about Breeders? "Cannonball"

I'm currently reading Malcolm Gladwell 's The Tipping Point . I've read parts of it before, but I'm still really impressed by the ideas on social epidemics. The idea's that really sticking in my head right now is that of Hartshorne and May's 1920s studies on cheating, where they concluded that honesty as a trait isn't "fundamental" in the way we tend to believe, but is often dependent on context: if someone is willing to cheat on a word completion test, it doesn't mean she's going to cheat on a different kind of test. Fascinating. So how much of personality can we directly infer from one person if we only know them in a specific context? I don't know, but it sure adds to my skepticism about how much outdoor activities can really help teach you about honesty, or to how much learning to be a risk-taker in the physical realm can help you in the business realm. If I trust someone in a trust fall, does that mean they're inherently trustw

My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard

A couple of English usage questions, inspired by a copy of " Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation " (written by Lynne Truss) that I saw - okay, read through - at Borders the other day: 1. So, if my milk carton says the milk is "Best Before" a date, what is it afterwards? 'Cos if it just goes from being "best" to "merely ordinary", I can deal, but if it's completely sour by then, I'm not touching it. Can't they use the more imperative "Drink Before", instead of shifting all the responsibility to decide the milk's goodness onto me? 2. Why do Singaporeans say "revert" to mean "reply"? Cynics might say I was best before I turned 21, and now I'm completely sour. Pedants of the world unite.

Douglas Adams, never forgotten

On the fun side, look what happens if you type "the answer to life, the universe, and everything" into Google .

Possessive cases

Man, look what cropped up in my e-mail Inbox today. Subject: Look whose sailing on the Salon cruise From: Salon Premium Reply-To: Sigh. You'd think a high-quality publication like Salon would know the difference between "who's" and "whose".