Wednesday, 30 July 2008

A borrower and a lender be

For my brother, who runs a strict but fair and logical library.

Borrowing and lending, when conducted properly, can improve your quality of life. But when done incorrectly, sharing can cause rifts in a relationship. And while each borrow/lend situation should be treated individually, there are some general rules you should follow:

The lender

Tell the borrower when you want the item back. This is not just in your interest but in theirs also. I recommend:

Book - up to six months if the lender has already read it.
DVD/video - one week unless box set, for which up to three months if the lender has already seen it.
CD/cassette/record - up to one month. If the lender hasn't listened to it yet he shouldn't be lending it or even owning the bastard.
Clothes - one week. This gives the borrower enough time to fit the item into one of his weekly wash cycles.
Porn - should be restricted to internal house/flat-sharing overnight-rental conditions. Otherwise the return of the item can take months, if ever.

The borrower

The borrower should not need the lender to remind him to return the borrowed item.

If the borrower damages the lender's lend he must replace the item without questioning whether he should or not. Damage includes:

A book ruined by water, fire, dirt or tearing.
A warped or chewed-up tape or video.
A CD or DVD with a noticeable skip in any scene or track.
Torn, burnt or stained clothing.
Soiled porn.

Look at this beautiful exchange, in which the lender of a book is given the chance to review the extend of its damage and decide if the borrower should replace the book or not.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

May shout-outs: rules proposed by friends

Big-ups go to Doctor Bowl-Rip Specialist and Victor.

Dr Bowl says two things on the subject of marijuana consumption:

Don't use too much tobacco. Smokers can tolerate a little more tobacco than necessary in a joint; but for a non-smoker it can't be nice. Therefore, limit the amount of tobacco you put in a jay-jay blaze-away. I suggest a six-parts ganja to four-parts tobacco ratio.

Enjoy the ride. Dr "hits-from-the" Bong also presents a fascinating take on the arc which is the marijuana high. He proposes that the stoner's experience should be enjoyed from start to finish, from up to down, high to low, i.e. you should avoid the "production line" process in which joint after joint is passed around the gang. Totally agree - difficult to stick to, though. Especially when the booze is involved.

Victor has this to say on the high five:

Ever noticed that you don't always make a perfect palm-to-palm connection when high-fiving? Eye up the elbow; align them. If you focus on your fellow high-fiver's hand, which will move in an arc-like trajectory, you increase the risk of a bad, or even the embarrassing missed, connection. By lining up each other's elbows - which don't move during this popular male activity - your success rate goes up many-fold.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Only use a statistic if you know it is correct

For Bean Head, my most reliable phone-a-friend.

Only use a statistic if you know it is correct. I've witnessed people splurting out a percentage or amount, and upon asking them if they're sure about the quoted figure, hearing the response, "well, I think so".

There is a temptation to cite statistics in order to support your argument. But to do so incorrectly; nay, falsely, only weakens your stance and credibility. In the same way that some people use the exclamation mark to compensate for their inability to write in a creative way, some folk take a stab at along-ago heard, urban-legend statistics in order to elevate their perceived level of knowledge on a subject.

Nothing wrong with that, of course; but if a dinner party descends into a big statistical mess, in which nothing anyone says can be trusted, then an inevitable silence will descend upon the room, as friends, relatives and strangers play a game of call-my-bluff mind-poker with each other.

Tip: The Guardian is the best website in terms of content and opinion, but if you want to know the score of a football game or order of play at The Open, check the BBC.

Although I don't envy fact-checkers, their profession is honourable and necessary. A fact isn't a fact if it's wrong - that's obvious. But facts are also subjective, given that we can't prove anything (although Descartes's "I think, therefore I am" is impressively close). And so if someone reads or hears a statistic, its nice for them to know that, because it has been researched and verified it is, in a word, probably true.