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Over his career, he has starred in "An Officer and a Gentleman" and "Pretty Woman" and once was voted the world's sexiest man. But last week, film star Richard Gere earned a far different distinction: 2002's Worst Celebrity Waffler. From whom? From the Plain English Campaign, a British pressure group for "crystal-clear language." So what did Gere do? He told a newspaper interviewer: "I know who I am. No one else knows who I am. If I was a giraffe and someone said I was a snake, I'd think, 'No, actually I'm a giraffe.' "

Hey, we'd like a turn, too

If a 4-0 score in soccer is considered a rout, what do you call 149-0? That happened last month when, to protest the officiating in Madagascar's national playoffs, the coach of the defending champion ordered his team to put the ball into its own net in a game against the new titlist after every kickoff. Not surprisingly, the latter's players stood by and watched.

E-mail at work now 'essential' for most

To hear many American office workers talk, you might think that the time they spend deleting "spam" e-mails now eats up hours each day.

But a survey by the Pew Internet and American Life Project has found that the vast majority of job-holders call their e-mail experience "very manageable," and more than half call e-mail essential to the execution of their jobs.

In a survey of more than 1,000 workers who said they use e-mail at work, Pew found they spent, on average, about 30 minutes a day handling e-mail. Remarkably, the majority of work e-mailers said they receive 10 or fewer e-mails per day, and send five or fewer.

Asked to rate e-mail's importance to their work, 52 percent ranked it as essential and another 34 percent viewed it as valuable.

Respondents also offered this assessment of the role of e-mail at work:

• 72 percent said it helps them communicate with more people;

• 71 percent said it saves them time;

• 62 percent said it makes them more available to co-workers (but about a third said it made them "too accessible");

• 59 percent said it improves teamwork.



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