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Introducing the Midgley Corner

Here on The Orange Rag blog and our sister title Legal Technology Insider, we encounter stories involving IT incompetence and stupidity of such gobsmacking awfulness (usually perpetrated by terminally dumb managers within government agencies) that they deserve greater publicity than we've previously be able to afford them.

To remedy this situation, from this week we're starting a regular section on this blog to highlight these stories – in effect this will be the legal IT equivalent of the Darwin Awards. We're calling this section the Midgley Corner in honour of the work of the now largely forgotten American scientist and inventor Thomas Midgley Jr (1889-1944). Who he, you ask?

In fact he is the individual now credited with having single-handedly caused more harm to the Earth's atmosphere than anyone else in mankind's history. His first claim to fame was the discovery that the addition of tetra-ethyl lead to gasoline prevented internal combustion engines from 'knocking' –  yes, he was the man who caused lead to be added to petrol. Not content with this, ten years later in 1930 he discovered a safe refrigerant for household appliances, such as fridges and freezers. Midgley called this new substance Freon – technically this was a chlorinated fluorocarbon or CFC. Fast-forward 70 years and we can now see Midgley as the grandfather of polluted urban streets and global warming.

Sadly for Midgley (although happily for us, as it prevented him from going on to devise a third horseman of the ecological apocalypse) in 1940, at the age of 51, he contracted polio and was left severely disabled. Ever ingenious, Midgley devised a system of pulleys and ropes to allow him to climb in and out of an adjustable bed. Unfortunately, this all went tragically wrong on the 2nd November 1944, when he became entangled in the bed's ropes and died of strangulation.

As ever, please feel free to submit your own nominations for the Midgley Corner.

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