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.
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 […]
CEOs whose businesses are complicit in human rights atrocities — like the mass murder of people who object to land-grabs by mineral extraction companies — can now be tried in the International Criminal Court in the Hague.
Geek Fuel is a subscription delivery service that caters to those of us that love comics, gaming, and general geek culture. Every month, Geek Fuel will assemble a box of goodies with a value of $50 or over. The specific items are a mystery, but you’ll always get an exclusive t-shirt not found anywhere else, a full […]
If you like to DIY and you like helicopters, you’re going to really love the Flexbot Hexacopter Kit. This copter blows traditional models out of the water: it includes everything you need to actually build your own hexacopter, and then pilot it like a pro, too.The construction is complicated enough to give you a challenge, […]
This week’s top deals from the Boing Boing Store range from lobster to wine to desk organization. 1. Get Maine Lobster (50% Off)With these discounted packages from Get Maine Lobster, you can experience the sweet, fresh flavor of world-renowned Maine lobster right at your own dinner table. There are four options to choose from, each at […]