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Comment Re:First Name Basis? Rude. (Score 1) 533

Grammer ignorami. Proper nouns should NEVER be preceded by articles.

Oh, the definite article is very commonly used before proper nouns, most often place names or geographical features (e.g. "The Mississippi (River)").

Sometimes "the" is used purely customarily (particularly in names translated from other languages like "The Ukraine" or "The Maghreb" ), but its primary function is to distinguish between nouns referring to specific things a speaker is expected to be aware of, and generic things that are just being introduced into the discourse: "a ball [which I haven't mentioned up until now] broke Mr. Smith's window; Mr. Smith kept the ball [which I just mentioned]."

In particular proper nouns which sound like they might be generic will sometimes customarily get a "the" tacked on to indicate the audience is expected to picture the well-known thing rather than some unknown one ("The United States", "The Great Lakes", "The Big Easy"). "The Donald" is a definite article usage of this type, with an bit of ironic deprecation mixed in.

By the way the plural of "ignoramus" is "ignoramuses", not "ignorami". That is because "ignoramus" was never a noun in Latin; rather it is a conjugation of the verb ignorare (to be unacquainted with, to ignore). "Ignoramus" entered English as a legal term to mean "we take no notice of" (e.g. a witness whose testimony is irrelevant because he has no firsthand knowledge).

Comment Re:$40K still a lot for most folks (Score 1) 37

The difference is what can be done about it.

If the market decides that it's not important for people to have this, then the only way to change that is for the people who need it to somehow become rich. If the regulators decide people shouldn't have this, then the voters can change that. And if you factor in the increased independence and productivity of the recipients, it might not cost that much.

Of course the way we do it now is we force employers to make accommodations. That's better than nothing, but statistically the public is still paying; the burden is just randomly concentrated on a few unlucky employers.

Comment Re:Obligatory (Score 1) 668

Since when have we reached the point where you aren't allowed to annoy or offend people?

Since never. You're still allowed to offend people, but it's never been the case you could do that with impunity.

The only thing that has really changed is that communication on a mass scale is literally too cheap to meter. That means putative offenses and the dudgeon that follows on them can spread across the globe in minutes rather than taking days or weeks to spread through your immediate circle of face-to-face acquaintances. So without people changing one bit, the circumstances in which they interact in have changed dramatically. For things to go back to the way they used to be people would actually have to stop being the same as they've always been.

Well good luck with that. People tend to be stubborn idiots. College students tend to be inexperienced stubborn idiots. That means they're trying to find their place in the world, and the way an inexperienced idiot would do that is to try to change the world. And if there's enough of them working together (using cheap global communications?) then they might even succeed. Sometimes that's even a good thing, but it's never pretty.

Comment Re:Controversial? (Score 2) 125

Well, I think this is one of those cases where there's an umbrella rule that serve purpose, but which might also have sensible exceptions. In this case the rule is that selecting embryo sex is something that ought to be discouraged.

There are lots of reasons to discourage selecting offspring sex, some of which a reasonable person might disagree with. For example some would object that it's playing God. Others might say say that it's wrong to value persons of one sex more than others. I don't find those particular objections compelling, but one thing I do find convincing is that changing the almost 1:1 balance of reproductive age men and women could destabilize society in various ways. But note that under that particular objection we could certainly tolerate exceptions that are relatively rare. For example the slight discrepancy between the number of males who identify as gay and the number of females who identify as lesbian has no practical impact on straight people. Clearly an exception in this case would only affect a handful of people and is not a concern under the demographic balance argument.

The knee-jerk controversy that follows any proposal to do something which as a rule of thumb is frowned upon does serve a useful function. Because of confirmation bias, people tend to be blind to unintended consequences of things they've decided to do. Making them address those consequences is, within reason, a good idea.

Anyhow, that explains why restricting this to male embryos is more controversial than allowing either sex. Doing it at all is controversial because of the burden a failure could put on future society and the potential suffering it could cause.

Comment Re:Good! (Score 1) 339

I agree with you in the general case; an important corollary to "the customer is always right" is that you really need to choose your customers wisely. But in this case the person complaining has a point. A customer has a right to expect prompt and timely service, or at least an apology if circumstances preclude that. If the customer doesn't accept a suitable apology then it's worth considering whether to "fire" him as somebody who just refuses to be pleased. And only then.

Now if you're offering the customer bargain basement prices you might reasonably hold yourself to a somewhat relaxed standard. But if you're charging top dollar it's unrealistic to expect customers to accept anything less than exemplary service.

Comment Re:Bet Alsop isn't used to being fired (Score 2) 339

Well, I do believe in protecting my employees from actual abuse. If a customer actually abused someone who worked for me and there were no extenuating circumstances, I'd terminate the relationship if it were at all feasible. But criticism isn't the same is abuse. Expressing your unhappiness with service isn't abuse. Even though those things might make some people feel bad -- feel as if they were receiving abuse -- that doesn't makeit abuse.

Abuse is by definition unreasonable and inexcusable.

For many years I spent nearly half my time traveling, and needless to say I learned to take air travel itinerary mess-ups in stride. Missed my connecting flight? Well, put me on the next flight. No more flights there today? OK make sure the hotel you put me in is reasonable. Lost my luggage? Well when you find it here's where to send it. What I found hard to take were the reactions of my fellow passengers to bad news. I don't mean just reacting angrily to bad news, because that's understandable. I don't get angry because having been through this all before and I know it always works out OK in the end, but it's excusable for people who aren't so accustomed to air travel to react badly to bad news. What's not excusable is them reacting angrily then not backing down. There's nothing the person behind the counter can do to make the problem go away instantly, so no purpose can possibly be served by berating them. What's more your venting is delaying service to people who may need it more urgently than you do. That is abusive behavior.

I have to say that this particular incident has definitely lowered my admiration for Musk and Tesla. A company has to be able to deal with criticism and unhappy customers. Everybody screws up some time, and if a company can't deal with an unhappy customer then it's not a company that anyone would be wise to do business with.

Comment Re:Best way to stop these criminals (Score 1) 133

And you're right to be angry. But being angry doesn't justify killing someone else, even if that other person is at fault for making you angry. Nor does it justify inflating the magnitude of punishment, especially to the point that the consequences of that punishment become a burden on society. That's just using the legal system as the instrument of an emotional temper tantrum.

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