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Weeknotes 2022.26

A few things I’ve been thinking about this week. The twenty-sixth post of a series.


When I read Jeanette Winterson’s 12 Bytes in January, I was struck by “Winterson’s impassioned plea for science to involve writers. Precision, and perhaps even beauty, is essential in scientific communication, and is a dying art.”

This week, events have caused me to remember this. There is little more dangerous than imprecise language in situations where clarity is essential. I think people grasp this in acute short-lived emergency situations, but it feels like it’s often overlooked in longer-term fundamentals, like remits for organisations or lists of national priorities.

An active decision to use an imprecise fudged wording can be brilliant in some situations, and is often politically shrewd. On the other hand, unintentionally imprecise language leading different people to interpret fundamental statements differently can be disastrous.

I’m ever more convinced that when precision is needed, a talented writer is needed.


I keep hearing a radio ad for a security firm which says they have “personal identity restoration specialists.”

I imagine most of us could do with one of those after the last couple of years.


This week, the total number of Monkeypox cases ever diagnosed in the UK passed 1,000.

This week, the number of covid-19 patients admitted to hospital each day passed 1,000.

From the public attention paid to these developments, you’d almost think the two milestones were roughly equivalent, which is mind-boggling. To repeat: in the UK right now, more people are being admitted to hospital with covid every day as have ever been diagnosed with Monkeypox.

We shouldn’t downplay a growing outbreak of Monkeypox, but we also shouldn’t pretend covid no longer causes untold harm.


The beach Wendy and I visit most frequently is probably Sandhaven in South Shields… which has just been named The Sunday Times Beach of the Year.


This is from Lorna Arnold’s Windscale 1957, but replace “accident” with “pandemic” and I suspect this might accurately describe a mistake currently in train in many organisations:

The post-accident reorganisation was not entirely beneficial. The structure was cumbersome and overelaborate. Moreover, although the Authority had been seriously under-staffed, some people thought that the rapid expansion after 1957 went too far and left the Authority with major staff and organisation problems. Perhaps the Authority had not needed a massive increase in overall staff so much as a massive redeployment.


This post was filed under: Weeknotes.

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