Rules are good. Rules are helpful.

But a random Facebook ad reminded me how false is the human hope that we can create a set of rules that will apply at all times and in all situations, the following of which will guarantee that we will always do the right thing and receive in return a good outcome. We want protocols for lasting marriages, for starting a successful business, for rearing happy, healthy children, for running a democratic government, for winning a war, for handling a customer service call, for getting into heaven. Such protocols can be very helpful indeed—but as anyone knows who has tried to get computer help from someone in a far-off land who is obviously only following a script, they're not sufficient. Without knowledge and wisdom outside the protocol box, such rules can be downright dangerous.

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This one isn't dangerous, but the lesson is clear just the same. The Rule: In English, use "an" as the indefinite article before a word that starts with a vowel. The result? Trying to sell a mug that will only be purchased for a laugh.

Of course, this wouldn't have happened if the designer had used a better rule: In English, use "an" as the indefinite article before a word that starts with a vowel SOUND. Human beings are always hoping to find a better rule, hence the popularity of all those self-help books, and cult-like movements that purport to have the best rules.

But if God had wanted us to live by a script, he wouldn't have bothered with all that free will business.

Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, May 9, 2018 at 3:30 pm | Edit
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I wonder how many of these they sell?



Posted by dstb on Thursday, May 10, 2018 at 7:07 am
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