Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Campus Walk Rebuilt but not Janet

My friend, Bruce, and I were driving back to the office this morning when we decided to take a short detour to look at the new Josephine's restaurant under construction nearby. We chanced to take a turn at Howard Street and I said something like "oh, look the Campus Walk Apartments have been rebuilt."

Bruce, who remembers next to nothing (sorry Bruce) didn't remember the fire there that claimed the lives of four young people and sent young Janet Danahey to prison for life, eight years ago last month. I didn't know any of these people but it always seemed to me that Janet Danahey had little or no legal defense and that her attorney probably should have been disbarred--but like the commercial goes, that's more like an opinion. I wanted to name this attorney but in all the stories about the fire and its aftermath, he is never named. I wonder why.

At the heart of this injustice is what's known as the "Felony Murder Rule" which, not being an attorney, I wouldn't even dream of trying to explain. I just hope somebody, somewhere is trying to get Janet out of prison. One tragic but ultimately stupid act doesn't warrant a life sentence.

You can write to Janet here:
Janet Danahey #0774159


1034 Bragg St.

Raleigh, NC 27610

Thursday, March 04, 2010

It's not a lie, it's hyperbole!

I grabbed this definition of hyperbole off the Urban Dictionary
hyperbole: (hi-PER-bo-lee) a bowl traveling an excess of 3-8 trillion miles per second
wow, with this new bowl we will reach new solar system easily

One of the many hats I wear is that of a marketer so I am accustomed to recognizing and using hyperbole. Hyperbole can mean outright lying or merely stretching the truth. I've always liked Lionel Hutz's explanation of truth in an episode of the Simpsons where Marge becomes a real estate agent.
Hutz: You see Marge, there's the truth (frowns shakes his head) and the TRUTH (smiles and nods enthusiastically)

What brought this to mind was a blurb about the new book Columbine by Dave Cullen. Some copywriter seeking to elicit emotion used the word "massacre" to describe what happened there that day. How do we know that it's hyperbole? Because while many students and teachers were murdered, they all weren't (classic definition of massacre). Another word we hear frequently in describing destruction is "decimated" which technically means every tenth person/building/business/whatever was destroyed. If your staff of 20 people is reduced to 10 and you said it was decimated, you'd be understating the situation by a lot. (personally, I like "eviscerated" when describing such things but it too is hyperbole and technically wrong.)

But the most recent and blatant use of hyperbole occurred with the unfortunate death of Sea World trainer, Dawn Brancheau. For years marine biologists have been beating their heads against the wall trying to get us, the public, to stop calling killer whales, killer whales. "They're Orcas," they insist. Technically, Orcas aren't whales at all--they're really great big black and white dolphins with extraordinary intelligence and prodigious appetites. But after this latest incident, orcas will be known henceforth as killer whales. Sorry, marine biologists. You lose.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Confidentiality Notices (hate 'em)

"This e-mail is for the sole use of the individual for whom it is intended. If you are neither the intended recipient, nor agent responsible for delivering this e-mail to the intended recipient, any disclosure, retransmission, copying, or taking action in reliance on this information is strictly prohibited. If you have received this e-mail in error, please notify the person transmitting the information immediately. All e-mail correspondence to and from this e-mail address may be subject to NC Public Records Law which result in monitoring and disclosure to third parties, including law enforcement. In compliance with federal laws blah blah blah and your mother"

Who came up with these things? Lawyers, right? And what is our response to these things? SO FREAKIN' WHAT! The first line reminds me of something from an old Lily Tomlin routine "Is this the party to whom I am speaking?" What is truly heinous about these things is that sender doesn't have much control of them. They are automatically tacked on to all outgoing messages. During a typical email exchange where there might be three or four replies, each one from the Notice-enabled sender appends the notice to the email, making for one long message.

I know some of you might defend these things because they make your messages seem more official, more hoity-toity, more intelligent--but they don't really. There is nothing keeping me from deleting the notice and forwarding to anybody I feel like. What are you going to do about it? Nothing. Of course, I won't do such a thing because I tend toward being ethical (tend toward).

So, take a stand. Tell the big brother than makes you use these things to kiss your ass OR, make up your own confidentiality notice like the one below:
Hey, I sent this message to you. Don't be a jerk and go forwarding it to my boss/girlfriend/wife/parole officer/massage therapist (wink wink). If you do and I found out about it , I will so kick your ass. If I don't know where you live right now I can find out pretty quick and your car/dog/cat/boat/girlfriend just might not be where you left it. Oh, by the way, if you don't respond to this message in a timely manner (like within the next 15 minutes) I will call your phones repeatedly until you do. Have a nice day