Conference-DVDs arrived

Richmond Mathewson richmondmathewson at
Sat Feb 27 03:37:53 EST 2010

On 27/02/2010 04:21, Kay C Lan wrote:
> On Fri, Feb 26, 2010 at 2:53 PM, Richmond Mathewson
> <richmondmathewson at>  wrote:
>> All things are a matter of degree. Carrying anything to its reductio ad
>> absurdam
>> will show its silly side.
> Richmond, there was nothing absurd about my son's example, it was a
> real life situation. The other example was hyperthetical, but I said
> 'might die', not that they did.
I did not consider your son's example absurd. What I did point out is 
that in any situation
there are exceptions; and the more extreme (and your son's situation, 
cut it which way
you like, was extreme) the situation the more likely general rules are 
going to get

reductio ad absurdam is a Philosophical concept which means pushing an 
example to its
limits to test its validity: almost all arguments/rules get shakey when 
they are pushed to
their limits.
>> What I learnt is that, if at all possible, one should not let personal
>> problems get in the way;
> But that is not what you wrote. I believe it was you who capitalized
> the never, multiple times, in your post, not your professor.

My professor wrote me a warning letter after I was 5 minutes late to a 
graduate assistants'
meeting (delayed by the fact that my wife, another graduate student, had 
been delayed
elsewhere and had to get back to take over the baby from me) with far more
capitalised letters than I used in my e-mailing. I went to the head of 
department and said
that I thought her letter was "a bit off" and was given a long lecture 
on professional roles
and commitments. I subsequently thought about those events quite 
carefully . . .

> But this is all beating around in circles. What I think I really found
> objectionable about your post was that you were fully aware that Kevin
> had suffered the loss of two family* members and therefore if you
> consider my sons' story reductio ad absurdam, then how could you
> possibly type out a sentence suggesting personal problems should NEVER
> NEVER interfere, and then, as if to rub salt into the wound, compare
> it to turning up to work with the flu and a cup of Lemsip.
> Sorry, I just found it ALL VERY INSENSITIVE.
You don't have to write "Sorry" because there is nothing to apologise for.

I understand your position loud and clear.

What I also understand is that the American "business model", if that is the
right term for this, while being fairly insensitive and crude has 
resulted in
far more efficient businesses and institutions than are found, on the
whole, in Britain. British institutions creak along; this is the main reason
why Germany, despite being pounded to bits in the 2nd world war
managed to pull itself together considerably quicker than Britain did.

Here in Bulgaria, where "oriental business culture" rules everything is
so family centred that ridiculous situations are of the reverse type:

"I couldn't come to the business meeting because my Mother told me
last night it gave her everlasting joy to be brought a cup of tea in bed
by her son - so I had to do that before I cam to the meeting."

Most of the institutions here are moribund.
> * I don't actually know how many employees work for RunRev, but I'm
> guessing there are less of them than in my own family, so in such a
> small work environment, I consider that everyone at RunRev was deeply
> effected by the passing of Bill Marriott to the extent that it was
> similar to the death of a relative.
> _______________________________________________
I understand extremely clearly that RunRev have been hit very, very hard 
indeed, twice in
short order. And I, sincerely, hope that they will all be able to mourn 
and heal in a constructive

The thrust of my postings was not to take cheap swipes at RunRev's 
sadnesses; but to
TRY to point out that:

Personal problems should, ideally, be covered up - it protects both 
those affected and the

sincerely, Richmond.

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