Eiron’s Archives

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There is, however a failsafe way to determine whether the mix has been fully cooked – one simply removes the cake from the oven and listens to it. If it’s making a kind of light-fizzy bubbling sound, it is not cooked.

For this reason, I have removed the oven-light from my own cooking appliance and have replaced it with a heat-proof microphone (connected externally to an audio amplifier). In this way I can accurately monitor the cooking progress without having to open the oven door.

Dear Tuneabell4

Actually, I rarely pay attention to news broadcasts (although I do tune in to radio via shortwave now and again), but, like you, I have on many occasions overheard someone saying “It’s hard to overestimate blah blah blah” or “It’s hard to underestimate blah blah blah”.

Sad to say that this increasingly common lexical blunder serves to illustrate the increasingly weak grip on simple logic that pervades modern society.

[ Eiron. Surely that should be “decreasingly strong”, no?  Ed. ]

Dear Prntx3452301

Farbeit from me to advise on the efficacy online advertising strategies – though in your case I will make an exception. No doubt you will have heard the famous quote from marketing pioneer John Wanamaker “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

That was, of course many many many years ago, before the advent of AI-powered precision-targeted algorithms which facilitate cutting insights into Joe Blogg’s [John Doe’s] deep-rooted material acquisition drives – but the idea can be brought fully up-to-date by substituting the phrase “99.999%” for “half”.

By the way, perhaps it might be better not to tell anyone about this, or the multi-billion dollar global online advertising industry ████ might collapse.

Dear MarcusCussing

Thank you indeed for providing me with a wonderful example of a ‘Complete Contract’ anomaly.

Marcus complains that his boss insists that he wears an hygienic hairnet in the chef’s kitchen where he works. But Marcus is completely bald. He thus feels that he is unnecessarily burdened with a regulation that is, in his case, utterly senseless.

When the relevant regulations were drafted, however, the legislators either failed to foresee the fact that a significant proportion of the workforce would be bald (thus not needing hairnets) or, they thought it was too much of a minor detail to include in their rules.

Either way, they were involuntarily snared by the so-called ‘Complete Contract’ syndrome. Which states that it is always impossible to draw up a contract that will cover every possible eventuality. In every possible universe, at all times.

Put another way, all contracts are by definition otiose. They are simply proposals for a possible framework of mutual agreement. Until something else goes wrong. My personal rule is that any contract which cannot be written on one side of A4 (allright, I’ll stretch to a Foolscap) should be consigned to the wastepaper basket unsigned.

I expect you will recall the case of McWhirter v. Crowthorpe : Lostwithiel Assizes (1962) in which the defendant claimed that his rights were infringed when a railway carriage transporting

[Thanks Eiron, I have cut the next 23 pages because I think all has probably been made clear by this stage. Ed. ]

Dear KluwsBlink55

I am sorry to hear that “Nobody ever listen to a word” that you say. If I could make a suggestion. Try to construct a highly eccentric and  monotonic vocal accent and make sure that you talk louder than everyone else. That is a tried and tested method for poets, preachers, opera singers, auctioneers &etc. If that doesn’t work, then I suppose that you could try  saying things that are relevant, intelligent and engaging? That works for me anyway.

Dear Ryajoinerr

Though I sympathise (somewhat) with your complaint that you were thrown out of  La Gervraise  in Montreux, I would consider your position carefully before demanding compensation. Reflect, if you will, on the following . . .

When you entered the establishment, you agreed by default (whether you were aware of it or not) to abide by the ‘Terms & Conditions’ of the place. Whilst you were there (even though in your case it was a only for a short time) you were using their resources – for example the ambient heat supplied, the shelter from rainfall. the wear and tear on the carpet and door hinges &etc. These are costly to provide. Not only that, but you took away a few minutes of the waiter’s time in your discussions with him. A simple calculation will reveal how much of his wages you absorbed in each minute. And that’s leaving aside any possible stress (which can also be costed) that you may have caused him.

(Of course I do appreciate that the firm may have been economical with the truth in telling you they were fully booked, even though the place was almost empty.)

As often (if not always ) happens in such cases, your chances of winning compensation are directly linked to the question “Which party can afford the most expansive (and expensive) legal representation?” If it is you, then I will not try and dissuade you from going ahead.

By the way, have you considered removing those ████ tattoos? Especially the ██████s? That might go some way in saving you from incurring the costs of such legal challenges in the future.

Dear Grassfibber

Hmmm. As far as I can ascertain the Nobel winning ‘Nudge Theory’ involves subtly mentioning to someone that they should do something, and then waiting for the results. If things go well, you will find that a small percentage of the people involved will indeed do what you suggested. This percentage might well be very slightly more than would have done so anyway by random chance.

The efficacy of the ‘Nudge’ depends on many factors. For example the way in which your request is phrased. And, of course on whether the people whom you are trying to influence actually want to do what you suggest.

Let me illustrate with an example. Take a seat at the bar in a cocktail lounge of your choice. When someone sits down next to you, test the following phrases for results :

1) “Hey you, get me a drink will ya!”

2) “I’m awfully sorry to bother you, but I appear to have mislaid my credit card, would you be so kind as to fund a double Ouzini for me?”

With these two approaches (the aggressive and the obsequious) the chances of a positive result are very slim. Try instead a ‘Nudge’ approach – saying ;

“75% of people who sat in that seat this evening bought me a drink”

Note that ‘Nudge Theory’ ploys are not, by tradition, required to feature factually true statements.

Dear QuinWhoostler

Yes, I very much share your concern regarding the durability of printed documents. I believe that if you are going to bother to print anything then it should last at the very minimum several hundred years. Can I recommend the services of William Cowley of London who are makers of the finest quality parchment and vellum since 1870. They will print any .pdf file onto real vellum for you. Vellum has a depth, clarity and luminescence that sets it well apart from paper. Not only that, but it will last (stored properly) for several hundred years.

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