“Every Little Helps”

Like every blogger I have become hopelessly obsessed with my statistics… 38,32,36…(actually I have no idea what these are). This morning I noticed a spike in activity coming from Stephen Fry’s blog.. Tosh balderdash….titter ye not!  For our foreign visitors, Stephen has become a British National Institution for sparkling wit and repartee on the box. The man is clearly immensely bright but seems constantly bedeviled by his own demons.

Right now, I have my own demon looming. An editor of a textbook I am adapting just told me the trade publishing market has collapsed and I couldn’t have chosen a worse time to bring out a book. So I really appreciate any effort with the forthcoming launch of SuperSense which now has me very nervous. 

Thank you Katie for posting the link to my blog. As the major retailer, TESCO would say, “Every little helps.” Now I hate that bloody phrase. It’s not even a phrase! It’s gibberish.

In response to the idea that any belief (including supernatural ones) can be easily passed on, I make the point in the book that first they must make sense. A statement can be structurally correct but if it is meaningless then it does not compute. Hence the famous statement created by the linguist Chomsky, “Colorless, green ideas sleep furiously.” Perfectly grammatical but absolutely incomprehensible. Chomksy used it to make the point that language structure is not enough to convey meaning.

Anyway, “Every little helps”  is not only meaningless, it’s not even grammatical. And whilst we are on a rant, who the bloody hell is responsible for the current financial crisis… major companies like TESCO’s who suck up all the competition and then finance everything with credit. I prefer the anagram of “Tesco…Every little helps”   – “Let every shop sell it etc…”

I feel the wrath of Stephen Fry every time I hear it.

(sorry TESCO if I have offended thee. .. will you please, please, please stock my book in your stores when it comes out?)


Filed under book publicity

6 responses to ““Every Little Helps”

  1. Every little helps?

    I have heard “every little bit helps” but not “every little helps”.

    I have my own advertising rant to share.

    The Axa financial people use an electronic gorilla to sell people on planning for retirement by having him sit in a variety of different rooms with them, commenting on retirement and then being ignored. They call him the 800 pound Gorilla in the room.

    What makes me crazy about these commercials is that they mixed metaphors. An 800 pound gorilla is a metaphor for an industry giant, or the US Supreme Court. The elephant in the room is the obvious issue or problem that no one is talking about.

    Makes me want to tear my hair out every time I see it.

  2. brucehood

    Now isn’t that spooky… I have just been writing about the gorilla in the room.

    Dan Simons is an old colleague of mine from Harvard who was the one to publish a study entitled “Gorillas in our midst.” It was a really cool study that demonstrated if you get people to concentrate on counting the number of passes in a basketball game, people fail to notice a guy in a gorilla suit walk on among the players. This got a name check in “CSI” and is now the stock in trade demo for motivational speakers… my wife had the demo just last friday from someone trying to make the point that it is easy to miss things right before your very eyes. Hence this is now entered popular culture as “missing the gorilla” in the same way that Gladwell’s “tipping point” has become enculturated. Unlike Gladwell, Dan has not become a multimillionaire while others have quite happily profited off his work. Imagine how crazy that must make him. So it may not be really a mixed metaphor but a blatant rip-off of someone’s good idea. I think that I will expand this into a blog for later.
    Thanks for this Scylla

  3. I’m glad to see the Frylings buzzing around the topic, once it twigged for me to share it! You’re not really news to brainy forums like that, but I’ve always wanted to post something interesting.

    That was a very Stephenish mini-rant about the TESCO slogan, btw 😀

    And shouldn’t the plural for ‘forum’ be ‘fora’? Sorry, it’s catching…

  4. brucehood

    Yes, Katie it was my attempt at being Stephenish but he owns the genre so well… He was at Queens’ before my time there so I never got to meet him though I did once see him and Hugh Laurie at Brown’s restaurant which was right next to my lab. Who was to know that both would rise to dazzling heights?

  5. I hadn’t thought of that. I have seen the video of the guy in the gorilla suit wandering through the basketball game. Oddly I had no problem spotting him, though I think that has to do with some of my sign language training. (It causes you to view things differently)

    That is soothing to me to know if may be a blatant rip off instead of a poor educated ass hat making a fortune off a mixed metaphor. Clearly my english teacher grandma had too much influence on me.

  6. brucehood

    No you may still be right. I emailed Dan to ask and he was not so sure that it was a rip-off from his demo.

    Very interesting remark about your sign-language. I wonder if signers are generally better with distributed attention as they have to monitor more widely. There is a study there. I know that professional basketball players can keep track of many more visual targets than non players.


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