Re: European Texts (Was long hours)

Subject: Re: European Texts (Was long hours)
From: Robert Plamondon <robert -at- PLAMONDON -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 19 Feb 1997 08:07:52 PST

>This is a hot political issue in the UK at present: Britain's
>unpopular government (to be replaced in a few months, I hope) decided
>that although it believed in fair trade, that belief doesn't go as far
>as following the same rules as he other EC partners, and tried to
>evade the 48 hour maximum work week.

Personally, I am very annoyed at the EC. It's getting to the point
where books printed in Europe are of no use to me. Instead of being
full of practical information, they tell me all about EC regulations.

For example, I own a few goats. David Mackenzie's classic book,
GOAT HUSBANDRY, used to be the best book treating goats as practical
livestock with their own needs, rather than as miniature cows or as
an exhibition breed for rich people. Its fifth edition has been
positively gutted by having its honest advice about practical husbandry
replaced by EC rules. Since these rules have the force of law, the
emphasis has shifted from "do this because it works, and here's why,"
to "do this or you'll go to jail, that's why."

All this is very discouraging. Living outside the EC, I am supremely
indifferent to its rules, but am very interested in techniques and
principles. Such things are being squeezed out of the last four or
five European texts that I've come across.

I've seen this in the US, too. I subscribe to a farm paper, the CAPITAL
PRESS, which covers agriculture in the Pacific Northwest. All the news
about the heavily regulated aspects of farming (such as dairying) are
about legislation. All the news about more or less unregulated aspects
(such as fruits, berries, and vegetables) are about farming. When an
area gets politicized, the content seems to vanish.
Technical writing gets replaced by legal writing.

From a technical writing point of view, the research techniques are as
follows: look abroad to less-regulated countries for advances in basic
techniques, as the regulated countries are straightjacketed. Don't
be surprised if all the good stuff starts coming out of the Third
World. Also, research older material. Many fields have a long-dead
golden age of experimentation, and the material from that time is
rich in explanation of first principles and a great diversity of techniques,
yet everything is still very simple and easy to grasp. Later, the
scope of investigation and product focus narrows immensely, but
everything becomes vastly more complicated. Even in the electronics
industry, a thirty-year-old text is often better at getting across
basic principles than the latest edition.

-- Robert
Robert Plamondon, High-Tech Technical Writing, Inc.
36475 Norton Creek Road * Blodgett * Oregon * 97326
robert -at- plamondon -dot- com * (541) 453-5841 * Fax: (541) 453-4139

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