Minnesota’s Museum of Questionable Medical Devices

I was watching TV Ontario, and it was showing failed military and medical devices. Did you know that there’s a a Museum of Questionable Medical Devices in Minnesota?

The Lathe of Heaven

Tonight we’re watching “The Lathe of Heaven.” The movie version of Ursula Le Guin’s book was made almost thirty years ago, in 1980; but it was off the air for twenty years. It was finally re-broadcast in 2000. This is a 2002 remake with James Caan as the grizzled psychiatrist and Lukas Haas as George Orr, the dreamer whose dreams come true. This version leaves out George’s dream of racial equality, which turns everyone grey, and his dreams of aliens invading the Earth.

Clear communication

It has become increasingly clear that the less brain-power you use in deciphering a message, the more you have left to think about the message itself. Clear, plain language drops a message directly into your mind without struggle, without translation. (“Let’s see, he wrote ‘not unexpectedly,’ that means they expected it, then they ‘initiated ignition,’ that means they started, uh, they turned it on.”) Complexity magnifies the problem for poor readers and, of course, if you are writing for the public many of your audience will be poor readers.

Canada’s National Adult Literacy Database Inc. has gathered resources to help you produce clearer written materials, including Web pages. There’s a database of service providers and links to excellent resources, including Toronto’s own Clear Language and Design, which has an online reading level calculator.

Don’t let the location scare you off: this work is often done by e-mail and telephone.

Plain lanuage example:

A NUMBER OF DIFFERENT APPROACHES ARE BEING TRIED—

We are still clueless.

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