Steven Poole


22 January 2013

On the Euphemism Treadmill

The consulting firm Ernst & Young, in collaboration with the FBI, has developed software that scans office emails – as well as text messages and IM conversations on company devices – for phrases that may indicate underlings are up to no good. It has released a list of the most popular terms used by conspirators in corporate fraud, including ‘do not volunteer information’ and ‘nobody will find out’.


9 January 2013

Get Your Authentic Hot Water Here

Pity the poor customers of Harris + Hoole, a new coffee chain, who discovered that Tesco has a 49 per cent stake in what they thought was an ‘independent’ business. One such customer told the Guardian that she felt ‘upset’ and ‘duped’, since she would never dream of patronising Tesco itself. In one way this just demonstrates the omnivorous ingenuity of capital in appropriating and selling back to us what looked like a challenge to it. The ‘independence’ of an ‘independent coffee shop’ is now quite likely to be a corporate simulacrum. The manager of Harris + Hoole’s Crouch End branch is reported to have said that head office ‘had instructed her to make the store feel as independent as possible’, which is perhaps only superficially a paradox. ‘We try to be independent,’ she said. ‘We want to be independent. We want to have that feel.’