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Rees Morrison’s Morsels #140: posts longa, morsels breva

The plural of general counsel is general counsel (no s). Under the entry for “counsel,” no less an authority than R. W. Burfield, Ed., The New Fowler’s Modern English Usage (Oxford 1996) at 187, pronounces “(pl. unchanged: [long quote ending with] five prosecuting counsel”).” The magisterial book on usage offers no help on “law department” compared to “legal department.”

Car allowances for in-house lawyers are fairly common around the world. From the 2010 In-House Global Salary & Benefits Survey conducted by Laurence Simons (pg. 12) comes the astonishing fact, to American sensibilities at least, that approximately 55 percent of the 1,900 respondents enjoy a “car or car allowance” as one of their benefits. My impression is that only a few high-powered general counsel in the United States might have such a benefit (See my post of Feb. 26, 2006: as an officer, possible to have a car stipend.).

General semantics, our language shapes our thoughts. In the 1930’s, Alfred Korzybski, a scientist and a philosopher, laid the foundation for general semantics, the discipline that studies the relationships between the ways in which the words we use affect how we think. We frame the world in concepts that are limited by the words we have to express them. Trying to use words effectively, I embrace wholeheartedly the basic premise of general semantics.

“Vampire power” (aka “phantom power”) as unnoticed consumption of electricity. An article in PC World, Oct. 2010 startled me. Even when some devices, such as a desktop PC, are turned off, they consume watts if they are merely plugged in. “A typical American home has forty products constantly drawing power. Together these amount to almost 10 percent of residential energy use” – vampire power. The article doesn’t explicitly state comparable waste in offices. Think of the legions of fanged desktops, clocks, copiers, faxes, and chargers that suck up electricity all the time! It describes special green surge protectors and rechargers (See my post of March 11, 2009: conservation for law departments with 7 references.).