Larding: Birth of a new Meme ?

I today had cause to send out the following e-mail:

[ With regard to e-mail composition ]

  • Graphic signatures are evil and should be avoided.
  • HTML text bodies are evil and should be avoided.
  • Replication of body in HTML and Text is evil and should be avoided.

…not least for reasons of accessability for the disabled, but also because of the “who are you to decide what capabilities my e-mail browser is required to support in order to read your message”?

If you think otherwise, then please explain to me why e-mails are not routinely shipped around as embedded StarOffice or PDF documents? Why it is that JavaScript is not typically required to read e-mail content? Why nobody in the real world uses RTF?

Yes, that is a “thin end of the wedge” argument, but it is a pretty good argument; UNICODE and complex-character set does not require HTML, because that’s what the:

Content-type: text/plain; format=flowed; charset=ISO-8859-1

…header is meant to solve.

So, [NAME], at the risk of being called “confrontational”, having performed some rough maths on your previous e-mail message:

Why might you insist on larding your e-mail into a 9258-character behemoth, when only 1819 bytes of it are actual content?

…please? 😎

…to which I received a brief followup response (amongst several others):

From: Daniel Ellard
Cc: Alec Muffett

And thank you for the phrase “larding your e-mail”.

I think we’ve witnessed the birth a new meme.

The odd thing is that “to lard” / “larding” is actually an appropriate and legitimate verb – see also define:larding – and it is one of my favourite words to evoke the process of fattening up a document to make it prettier, but not necessarily to its net benefit.

That the word might be unknown to some people never really struck me, but Daniel’s reaction gives truth to my boss’s suggestion some months ago that (for the benefit of some of my colleagues) I ought to remove a reference to “larding” from a document I was writing, in order to replace it with a more common word.

Nonetheless I decided to document it here just in case at some point “lard” becomes the next “spam”, so to speak.

“LARDING”, TO “LARD” A DOCUMENT :- the process of expanding the size (in kilobytes) of a e-mail or other computer document by means of extraneous or redundant formatting information; there is no strict guideline, but in usage a document might be “heavily larded-down” if its final format consumes perhaps 4x (or more) the diskspace of the same information presented in plain-text form, after making allowance for tabular data and images.

Orphan Brands: Marmite, Birds Custard, Angel Delight…

Wonderful read: [enjoyment.independent.co.uk]

To its detractors – and there are many – it’s the brand that refuses to die. An anachronism. An unwelcome, unappetising reminder of wartime austerity. Designed to be spread thinly on slices of wholesome, hard-earned bread, it evokes the pre-consumer age, when larders were bare and housewives had to make a little go a very long way.

Yet the announcement that Marmite is to be repackaged in a squeezy bottle for the 21st century is a graphic demonstration of the role of food in society’s collective memory- and our continuing appetite for the Foods That Made Britain Great.

The editor of The Grocer, Julian Hunt, says products that refuse to die are called “orphan brands” by marketing people. “These are the smaller, older brands that big multinationals sell off because they no longer fit. Things like Vim, Ambrosia, Harmony hairspray and Bird’s custard. Certain specialised companies are adept at buying these brands up and keeping them alive.

[…]

BISTO

Bisto gravy powder, in the same brown pack as 70 years ago (minus the cartoon urchin), is one of those brands that should, surely, be dead. In fact, 18,000 tons of the stuff – a billion servings – are sold each year, and consumption is rising by 5 per cent annually. Made by Centura, a Surrey-based part of the foods corporation RHM, Bisto is the ultimate triumph of retro style over content; it consists of potato starch, salt, wheat starch, colour, dried yeast, onion powder and that’s it. It is, essentially, edible brown.

Shockingly, the instructions are in French. Does French cuisine have a dirty little secret? But, as Borkowski PR (drafted in last October to “do a Horlicks” on the brand) says, the explanation is that it’s Belgium that loves Bisto. And Belgians pride themselves on being perverse.