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James Albrecht
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82 followers
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Richard, you turn up in the strangest places.
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That last step's a doozy.

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Back from O'Malley peak
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Port of Anchorage, 11:45 pm
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My advice for velocity-obsessed product managers: Shut up and drive.

My proposal for a new rule of grammar

Everyone knows the problem of writing a hypothetical anecdote and the consequent slalom course of gender pronoun selection. You can retreat to the second person and shelter in the lack of he-you and she-you in English. And one can thread quite a few gates with the stilted "one," but eventually one is confronted with a choice: run off course into the hay bails of the plural, or abide by the English default and select male in a case where gender is indeterminate. 

Why, one wants to ask, should a writer have to choose between insulting her listener's gender or exaggerating her listener's number? And so I have contrived a new rule to solve all eventualities. It has two simple precepts: 

1) If the writer/speaker is addressing an obviously male or female audience (say, talking to one man or woman or addressing the graduating class of a women's college), hypotheticals should make use of that gender. 
2) If the audience is mixed or indeterminate, female writers should use male hypotheticals and vice versa.

The first precept is simply common sense, as it is almost certainly the writer's goal in using hypotheticals to create scenarios with which the audience can identify.

The second point follows the contour of that pleasing rule of English grammar that compels us to put you before me when writing about you and me. It would do us all good to consider, as we chronicle an imaginary scenario, what it might look like from a point of view distinct from our own. This solution to the awkwardness of our current grammar presents us a ready opportunity to regularly borrow a perspective from the other half of humanity. 

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Bambi looks all sweet and innocent, but he's been eating my tomatoes. Little jerk.
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This is sure to stir up new controversy for the New York Times "Lives" column.

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6 am back in the Bay. Have to go to work. Ooof. 
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Midnight approach to Anchorage; McKinley on the right. 
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