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Comment Re:Just because they say it, doesn't mean they do (Score 1) 533

I have actually known this to happen once -- a co-worker accidentally ran over his laptop with his car (not kidding) and got a new one.

I've never destroyed company equipment, but I do buy a lot of my own stuff. Our IT guy knows what he's doing, but he's overworked and doesn't have much of a budget, so eventually I just bought what I needed -- new box, extra monitor, a bunch of other stuff -- and I maintain it myself. Before you ask, no, of course the company will never reimburse me for it, and the money I spent will not lead to me being directly rewarded by the company for it, but so what. I like my job and this lets me do it better.

Comment Re:Population impact? (Score 1) 100

Because the more children you have, the more likely one of them will grow to adulthood. I have a letter written to my great-great-great-grandfather by a nephew of his in the 1860s; the writer mentions, matter-of-factly, that three of his children have died of scarlet fever since he last wrote; since four more of his children had died of scarlet fever previously, that left him with only two children.

Comment Re:Wot? (Score 1) 515

I have. A book store in Harvard Square (since closed) wouldn't take a hundred-dollar bill to pay for thirty dollars' worth of books. That was in the nineties sometime. Last summer I paid a twenty-dollar toll on I-90 in New York with a hundred, and the collector came out of the booth to write down my license plate number.

Comment Re:I'll play Devils Advocate here (Score 1) 547

If I hire a gardener the deal is something like "Get my lawn mowed and the bushes trimmed and the winter debris cleared up, and have it done before the weekend. I'll pay you $X." As long as the gardener gets everything I asked for done before the deadline we agreed on, he can spend half his time in a hammock for all I care.

Comment Re:Excellent time to sell (Score 1) 267

Some time ago there was a fad for a collectible card game called "Magic". The cards were sold in random packs, and there were some cards that weren't found very often and so became sought after among the people who collected the cards. Some of them sold for quite a lot of money -- in the hundreds of dollars. I had a friend who was working at a hotel where there was a big convention for people who, among other things, were really into collecting these cards. He went out to buy a big pile of the random packs and managed to round up a number of these rare Magic cards. He then laminated them, cut them in half, and used them as coat-check claim cards. He said the expressions on the attendees' faces when they saw their claim cards made that whole crappy job worth while.

Comment Re:Ok, but why...? (Score 1) 88

Evolution doesn't work that way, though. Individuals don't evolve to benefit the group, they evolve to benefit themselves. My genes don't give a crap what happens to my neighbors.

I'm only going on what's in TFA, but they seem to be saying that what happens is that when there's severe damage to the spinal cord, the stress causes spinal cord chemicals (which in ordinary spine operation are beneficial) to form a simple aldehyde called acrolein, which is highly toxic, and this prevents healing.

In that case, it just sounds like a tradeoff. "We'll use chemicals A, B, and C in the spinal column. The pro is that they allow higher brain function; the con is that under trauma they go wrong and can't be fixed." Since trauma is by definition an unusual event, that's actually not a bad tradeoff.

I suppose we haven't evolved a way around it because generally people who experience spinal trauma die anyway, so it's not worth devoting a lot of body resources to the problem.

Comment Re:This is why term limits are needed (Score 1) 184

If I could, I would travel around the world with dynamite and blow up every awful pile of garbage Le Corbusier inflicted on the public.

"ugly in an interesting way" is fine for sculptures in a gallery where people want to see them. It's not fine for a huge building smack in the middle of a busy part of the city, where everyone has to look at it whether they want to or not. Just having to work near that thing damages my life. Working in it would be like carrying a great weight around all the time. I mean, just the fact that the style is named "Brutalist" should tell you that the architect didn't care that looking at the thing makes people depressed.

Never mind that the architect apparently never stopped to think that flat-roofed concrete buildings are not suited to a city that gets as much rain and snow as Boston does; City Hall is covered with nasty brown stains where rust from the rebar is leaching out.

It's true about the good location, but my concern is not so much with putting in a new building as it is getting rid of the old building. I'd be happy if they housed the city government in a warehouse while they dynamited City Hall and built a new one on the same footprint. Or, hell, let them all work in tents on the Plaza from now on. Anything to get rid of that building.

Comment Re:This is why term limits are needed (Score 1) 184

It's more than "idiosyncratic". It has been voted in several international polls as the single ugliest building in the whole world.

I haven't seen every building in the world, but City Hall is certainly the ugliest building I have ever seen. I hate it, and so does everyone else I have ever spoken to about it. I would happily endorse any amount of government corruption to get rid of that thing. Having it gone would improve my life, and I wouldn't care how many of Menino's friends got rich off the project.

Comment Re:Shouldn't be a surprise to anybody in Boston... (Score 1) 184

According to TFA (and I have also read this in the Boston newspapers many times over the years) Menino simply does not use email. So in his case there's nothing to save or delete.

I should say that in itself that doesn't mean he's hiding something. He is, after all, almost seventy. My dad doesn't use email either.

Comment Re:"Committed Suicide?" (Score 1) 538

First off, the Hippocratic Oath does not say "do no harm"

Yes it does. epi dhlhsei de kai adikihi eirxein: "abstain from doing harm".

The National Institute of Health phrases it as "I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone."

doctors don't take it any more and haven't in my lifetime

Some still do. Most medical schools administer some form of oath, and many use the Hippocratic version.

Comment Re:At the Risk of Sounding Like an Apologist (Score 2, Informative) 832

So, how do you excuse away the fact that there are almost no rails overlook huge falls?

Have you ever been to China? Ever seen a construction project there? There are no rails, no ropes, no traffic cones, often not even any signs.

When my dad was a kid (before WWII) construction projects in Boston would store their explosives in a dynamite shack -- a wooden shed right next to the sidewalk, with no lock and no safety precautions whatever except a sign on the door that said "DYNAMITE". It was just assumed that people were smart enough to stay away.

Just because we happen to live in a time and place where we've made a fad out of giving big priority to safety precautions, that doesn't make it a universal principle. Fads are temporary. I could easily believe that thirty years from now, kids will be looking at old pictures and asking their parents "Why did you wear those funny-looking things on your heads when you were riding bikes?" This one isn't even a plot hole. It's just that the people in the Star Wars movies happen to live in a time and place where the culture does not have much interest in safety precautions.

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