I’ve recently begun to notice a certain kind of professional worker and their communication style. These are folks who do not seem to have had the best education, have succeeded in getting a professional level job. They have a certain image of what a professional looks and sounds like that they aspire to. I admire these folks, they are clearly more “self-made” than I am, and they are pretty good for the most part — I can tell they’re faking the style, but that’s OK, the style is for the most part, quite professional. It’s very good. But there are little characteristic tics. One of those is the word “actually” (and “actual”). The word actually is actually used when it’s not actually needed. Often. Here are two examples I hear today:
“…log into the actual system”
“..it actually tells you the amount”
Here’s a suggestion. Pay attention to when you use the words “actual” and “actually”. Try the sentence without them. If it means the same thing, use the short version. In the end, you’ll come off much better.
Another word to think about is “just”. When someone is arguing a point with you, and they use that word in a sentence, see how it reads without the word “just”. “Just” is a judgement that something is unimportant, and explicity examining that judgement can reveal biases.
“It’s just the abortion nuts who are worked up about this” Well, why shouldn’t they be mad about this, don’t their opinions count?
“It’s not an efficient use of credit card charges for just $1 or $2,” $1 or $2 can be a lot of money.
“There are just six men on the military’s death row at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., and no one has been executed since 1961.” Is six men not a lot? What’s the right amount?
Here’s a sentence I say to people fairly often: “Say that again, without the word ‘just'” Suddenly obvious points don’t seem so obvious.
Yesterday, the legendary Warren Buffet announced he was giving most of his fortune away to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Doubling it from $30B-ish to $60B-ish. Yes, that B is for Billion.
I’m a big fan of this for several reasons.
1) Bill Gates is saving the world. Seriously. Whatever your feeling about Microsoft the company, it’s undeniable that the Foundation has done more good in the world than, well, than just about anything I can think of.
2) I’ve always been annoyed at celebrities and philanthropists starting their own charities all the time. We really don’t need the Fatboy Slim Illiteracy Foundation, there’s a hundred foundations out there already. I’m impressed that Buffett has so little ego, he realized his money would do more good combined with a pre-existing organization.
3) God bless these guys. Seriously.
4) They have the assets of a small country. They’re somewhere around #56, the size of Bangladesh. That’s just amazing. It’s also a dose of perspective to realize just how wealthy the USA really is. Almost three times as big as the next biggest economy (Japan). Take our two of our wealthiest citizens and their assets are larger than Vietnam, Costa Rica, Iceland and many others.
5) There’s an odd consequence of this trend (if it is a trend). Modern “Conservatives” are fond of the idea that public support for it’s poorer citizens isn’t needed, because private giving will make up the difference. And lo and behold, here are Gates and Buffet doing so much to help out. But the natural result of this trend is the very rich who have a heart will give away significant portions of their money. Who does that leave at the top of the heap? The jerks. The conservative viewpoint would naturally lead to a world where the worst people had the most. Interesting.
Update: Tapped brings up an interesting angle. As much money as this is, it’s not a lot compared to what the actual governments of the developed nations could do. Instead of Gates/Buffett picking up the slack, what if some of that money was devoted to influencing our government to appropriate some funds in the same ways? Could be exponentially more effective. That would be a special interest I could get behind.
Come to think of it, isn’t the route George Soros took, funding MoveOn.org and many other liberal democratic organizations?
Database error fixed. For future reference, fix corrupted comments table (error 145) logging into MySQL and clicking on the “Repair” button fixed everything. Now that’s a user interface — a button called “Repair”. So basic, so effective. It also fixed the bug where the links to comments weren’t displaying on the post page.
I think I’ve also learned that this theme stinks, and I’ll switch to something else soon that is more readable. The default was pretty good.
So besides the usual excuses and some life events most of you know about, the database that supports this blog is corrupted or something. I’m not sure how to fix it, and Mrs. Muttrox is always on the computer doing work anyhow, so goodness only knows when I’ll get around to fixing this.
Simply substitute in one of these thoughts for your Muttrox update:
(a) Bush is a corrupt dictator
(b) Hey, why do they build those things like that… it’s so dumb!