The recently deceased (2010) Alfred Kahn was an economist and academic who was beloved for his notorious memo on clear corporate communications. Kahn wrote this while serving as chairman of the Civil Aeronautics Board, sending it around to his staff and fellow board members. He implored them to abandon phrases like "we deem it inappropriate" and to try out other such pomposities on their children to see if they passed the giggle test. He also railed against "data" as singular, the overuse of the passive voice, and the use "herein," "hereunder," "heretofore" and other archaic flourishes.
Early on in my career someone returned a paper I had written along with a copy of what was known as "the Kahn memo" which he had circulated in 1977 to his colleagues at the Civil Aeronautics Board. In it, Kahn railed against the artificial and hyper-legal language favored by bureaucrats and urged his employees to use "straightforward, quasi-conversational, humane prose." The key word here is "humane." It was our duty as public servants to write clearly, yes, but also with compassion and sympathy for our readers. Every now and then when I found myself lazily falling back on horrible bureaucratic gobbledygook, I could snap out of it by rereading Kahn's memo.
Christopher Brown is a gonzo cyberpunk writer who delves into the real-world story of Saddam Hussein’s Frank Frazetta collection, but by day he’s a high-powered lawyer who’s worked in government and the private sector (it’s the intersection of these two Browns that penned his outstanding, forthcoming debut novel, Tropic of Kansas, which you should pre-order […]
NSO is an Israel cyberarms dealer, which buys or researches vulnerabilities in software and then weaponizes them; claiming that these cyberweapons will only be used by democratic governments and their police forces to attacks serious criminals and terrorists — a claim repeated by its competitors, such as Italy’s Hacking Team and Gamma Group.
Everybody knows about the ridiculous McDonald’s hot coffee lawsuit where a lady who spilled coffee on her lap got millions out of McDonald’s in damages for a frivolous lawsuit — and everyone is wrong. As we’ve previously reported, Stella Liebeck sued McDonald’s after sustaining permanently disfiguring third-degree burns to her genitals and thighs because McDonald’s […]
Maybe it’s entirely because of podcast ads, but drag-and-drop tools like Squarespace have gotten immensely popular in recent years. While it’s definitely a great tool for any non-coders who want to get a small website up and running quickly, managing content with a primarily visual interface can become a pain once you have more than […]
When you can’t wait for the world’s longest meeting to end, the mindless leg bouncing makes your boredom obvious and just annoys everybody else. Everyone knows the TPS reports need the damn cover sheet, but some sadistic colleague keeps forgetting, probably on purpose just to eat into your lunch hour. Enough is enough!While serving a […]
What could be more fun than a slingshot that shoots tiny airplanes? A slingshot that shoots tiny glowing airplanes of course! These toy planes are outfitted with ultra-bright LEDs, so you can fly all night without losing them in the trees.Whether you are a regular-sized child, or an overgrown adult one, these light-up flyers offer […]