Nothing has the power to bring a corporation’s boardroom meeting to a gasping halt like a confident female stating the obvious. “I don’t believe in rules.”

Even the supposedly hard of hearing Suit sat up and took notice.

What brought on this declaration? The woman greeted one of the meeting attendees “Greetings and hallucinations, Toots.”

The Suits chuckled. “Is Human Resources bugging this room?”

“I don’t care. I call everyone Toots. It is a term of endearment,” she replied.

“But we have to follow the rules,” someone said in an unconvinced tone. (No one likes the rules imposed by Inhuman Resources. But most are not as outspoken as the lady in the meeting.)

It is then she made the statement “I don’t believe in rules.” Under the surprised but attentive look from those gathered around the table, she explained her reasoning. “Most rules harm and aim to control rather than help. When it comes to HR’s rules, they are the only ones who like them because it gives them control.”

They listened, nodded, and there was no argument. Rules exist to control. To achieve that goal the powers that be create more regulations. Quantity rather than quality is the driving force behind the rule makers. Look how well it worked for those presuming to write better laws than the 10 Commandments?

There are standards of decency and behavior that even a two-year-old knows instinctively. All we have to do is watch the toddler glance around for witnesses before he or she does something adults will dislike.

Some rules ring the bell of stupidity with a glorious clang. In fact, software designed to correct grammar and punctuation mistakes attempts to dumb down the writer’s words. And, when you do that, you stifle the writer’s creativity.

Let’s look at a few software sillies.

If you write he or she, the software corrects it to read he or her.

“Jack and I had a fight before bed last night,” the “Possibly confused word” popped up and suggested replacing “had a fight before” with “fought over bed last night.” Never mind the fact using its suggestion made no sense.

Whoever programmed the grammar software lacks literary imagination or a decent vocabulary beyond the usual grunts. “Referring to the chickens as “feathered fiends” resulted in the popup admonition “Possibly confused word.” The software suggested “friends” as an appropriate replacement. Perhaps the programmer knew fiends who became friends, but he never dealt with those chickens.

One of the popups “Overly complex wording,” is further proof of the vocabulary limitations of the program. Whenever this phrase appears, the objection is to a higher level of word usage. For “denizens” it recommended “residents,” which does not carry the sarcasm of the intended word. “A rapier” offended the deficient vocabulary of the software by suggesting “a sword,” which lacked the finesse implied. Adulation received a thumbs-down recommending praise in its place. In the infinite wisdom of the powers that be storm was the suggested replacement for maelstrom, which referred to a vortex or whirl of irrational thoughts.

“Unusual word pairing” pops up demanding dumbed down substitutes: several for sundry; old for outdated. The UWP message also appeared after this sentence: What is the most entertaining creature on this planet? The recommendations for entertaining included charming and moving, which are not even in the same zip code for the entertainment value of a human.

Probably the most laugh-worthy popup “Possible disability biased language.” They disapproved of “suffer from acrophobia.” and suggested have acrophobia. Well, if you have various phobias, those who deal with them are suffering.

What makes life even more challenging for writers is the conflict between supposedly helpful programs. For example, Spell Check often disagrees with a grammar program and vice versa. When that situation rears its ignorant head, toss a coin. Then cancel your paid subscription and rely on basic English grammar taught in school. Or, is it?

 

 

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