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.
Evan from Fight for the Future writes, “Ding dong! The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is dead. Most news articles say the cause of death was simple: the election of Donald Trump. But they’ve only got a tiny part of the story. Now more than ever, it’s critical we share the real story: creative and strategic grassroots […]
Before the deregulation bonanza of the 1980s, corporations were expected to use debt and the public markets as the capital of last resort: they would pay “normal” dividends, then use the left over money to increase pay and fund expansion; but after the birth of “shareholder management,” companies have acted like homeowners before the financial […]
Arbitration was conceived of as a way to allow giant corporations to avoid costly court battles by meeting with a mediator and talking things out: but since the Supreme Court ruled (in a series of mid-1980s cases) that companies could force their customers and employees into arbitration by adding “binding arbitration” clauses to the fine […]
The Boing Boing Store’s Gift Guide is full of ideas for pretty much anyone in your life like hipster ice cub trays, Xbox controllers, Halo Boards, and even diamond necklaces. As always, all products in the Boing Boing Store come at great discounts, too. Shop by price bucket starting at under $20. Under $20:Bloxx Jumbo Ice Trays […]
Unlike traditional lighters, the SaberLight features an electronic plasma beam that’s both rechargeable and butane-free. This sleek lighter is even approved by TSA, so you’ll never be stuck buying lighters you’ll just have to throw away partially used. For some people, like me, this is a pretty big game-changer. The SaberLight’s beam is actually both hotter and cleaner […]
Holiday shopping is in full swing, and the Striiv Touch is one of the best gift ideas I’ve landed on. Its simple design works for females and males, and its wide range of features makes it suitable for even the non-fitness enthusiasts in your life.Unlike traditional fitness trackers, the Striiv Touch also acts as a smartwatch. It […]