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Sunday, 1 July 2012

The mystery of spasmodic idiocy: is my bank's computer drunk, or what? And a writing lesson from the Saiour of Tea

Do you remember GIGO - the acronym used in the world of data, computers and so on for Garbage In, Garbage Out.

I have decided that the computer at Lloyds Bank is fed nothing but garbage from morning till night.

Here's why.

I visit the U.S. about five times a year, and have done for the past 12 years or so.  I almost always go to the same places - where my son Philip and my daughter Chantal live: Brooklyn and Montclair.

I always need money, so I go to banks' ATM machines, mostly in Montclair or Brooklyn. And at irregular intervals my plea for cash is denied.

Has the art and science of feeding info to computers not reached the stage where they can recognise regular patterns of behaviour? The mystery is that this doesn't happen every time. Just occasionally.

How do banks manage to combine incompetence and rapacity to such an unnatural degree? It really beats all.


My regular correspondent Andrew Gadsden sent me this today

One of my jobs is to write descriptions of teas for the website, labels, leaflets, etc.  It is quite hard to think of something different to say about them after a while - I have 150 types.  A woman was in our new shop / trade counter yesterday.

Woman: What does "super...    lat...  ive" mean?
Andrew: Oh, you mean "superlative".  It means it's really good.
Woman: So why didn't you say so then?

Quite.  What seems obvious to us is not necessarily obvious to someone else. "Short words are best and the old short words are best of all". 

As a plug for Andrew, whose firm are the proud producers of the world's largest tea-bag you can

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