Thursday, October 18, 2007

burnt pizza

At the moment, my house smells of burnt pizza. Turns out the oven was set to broil - not bake - and my hungry teenager has been reduced to eating pizza that is soft on the bottom and crispy on the top. His language was also rather heated when he discovered that setting the temperature and waiting the recommended time had not produced the perfect pizza he was anticipating.

As so often happens, the instructions were not adequate to the context. They assumed that the cook would use the appropriate setting on the oven. The cook assumed the same thing: he didn't check to see that the last person to use the oven had left "bake" as the default. That person assumed that when all the indicator lights were out, the oven had been turned off. These are all reasonable assumptions. They were not all accurate.

I spoke to my business students today about the need to be ethical in writing. They all agreed that writers should be ethical; they were only a little vague about what constituted ethical behaviour. I do not think the problem was that they lacked good behaviour, but they might be lacking a context for ethics. It's possible that they have never looked in the mirror and seen a stranger they didn't like very much looking back at them.

Until the day the oven is set to broil, it doesn't occur to us that the pizza will be crispy on top and soft on the bottom.

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