stalefishies's forum posts

#1 Posted by stalefishies (330 posts) -

I'm essentially going to be the grammar Nazi within the grammar thread here, but there's a difference between grammatically (or syntactically) correct and semantically correct. The classic phrase is 'colourless green ideas sleep furiously' - a sentence which is entirely grammatically correct, but is still complete nonsense. It's syntactically correct, but semantically incorrect. To make a correct sentence, it has to be both grammatically and semantically correct.

As long as you conjugate the verb after it properly, then using 'they' is always grammatically correct, because that's what being grammatically correct means. The question is if it is semantically correct - are you using the words to mean something sensible and correct? That's the question at hand, not grammar, and it's that which is deciding whether using they as a singular pronoun is acceptable. And I think, given that the 'unacceptable' poll option only has 7%, then we're generally in agreement that it is.

The question of whether it's correct can often be answered by whether it 'sounds right' and I think this often depends on the verb that comes after it. To take an example from @itwastuesday's post above:

...they would only accept "his or her"...

This sounds fine, since the verb, 'would' is conjugated the same for he/she and they (i.e. it's both 'he would' and 'they would'). This makes he/she and they pretty much interchangeable. It's different for verbs where the conjugation is different (e.g. 'he has' but 'they have') but this is made easier with contractions - 'he's' and 'they've' become pretty much interchangeable too.

The problem really lies in writing, as you use fewer contractions and, since it's all written out, it's easier to pay attention to the verb. For example, consider the sentences:

He is a big guy. They are a big guy.

The second one, to me, sounds wrong. You're using 'they' to refer to a singular noun, and it just ends up not quite right, so the language isn't entirely there. But I feel like this is one of the cases that will become more accepted over time - certainly 'they're a big guy' is a lot less weird-sounding. And considering we're halfway there already, it's certainly a lot better than inventing a whole new pronoun to somehow get the entire population using and used to.

tl;dr: It's semantically incorrect to say that using 'they' as a singular pronoun is grammatically correct, but using 'they' as a singular pronoun seems to be generally semantically correct.

#2 Posted by stalefishies (330 posts) -

#3 Posted by stalefishies (330 posts) -

Sure, you can't drink alcohol, but that doesn't mean you can't get drunk. All you need is a turkey baster, a bottle of vodka, and your butthole.

#4 Posted by stalefishies (330 posts) -

@trafalgarlaw:

The problem in your logic is in your '1 in 300,000 chance' of an error in DNA replication. That's 1 error every 300,000 nucleotides, of which there are billions in each cell. The DNA is then proofread, but plenty of mistakes can still get through. Plus, once a error does get though, it's permanent; if that cell divides, it's dividing based off of the new, mutated DNA - that's what's being replicated, and that's what the proofreading is being based off. It's perfectly feasible for random mutations to occur through errors in DNA replication.

To put some numbers to it, here's a Scitable article from Nature:

Even mutation rates as low as 10-10 can accumulate quickly over time, particularly in rapidly reproducing organisms like bacteria. This is one reason why antibiotic resistance is such an important public health problem; after all, mutations that accumulate in a population of bacteria provide ample genetic variation with which to adapt (or respond) to the natural selection pressures imposed by antibacterial drugs (Smolinski et al., 2003). Take E. coli, for example. The genome of this common intestinal bacterium has about 4.2 million base pairs, or 8.4 million bases. Assuming a mutation rate of 10-9 (i.e., midway between reported estimates of 10-8 and 10-10), every time E. coli divides, each daughter cell will have, on average, 0.0084 new mutations. Or, another way to think about it is like this: Approximately 1% of bacterial cells will contain a new mutation. That may not seem like much. However, because bacteria can divide as rapidly as twice per hour, a single bacterium can grow into a colony of 1 million cells in only about 10 hours (1020 = 1,048,576). At that point, approximately 10,000 of these bacteria will have accumulated at least one mutation. As the number of bacteria carrying different mutations increases, so too does the likelihood that at least one of them will develop a drug-resistant phenotype.

And that's with a mutation rate of 1 in every billion nucleotides over 10 hours. Evolution has had a whole lot longer than that.

Plus, you don't appreciate how much chemical synthesis you can do with lightning strikes. Read up on the Miller-Urey experiment. You can produce all 20 amino acids with a very simple electrical discharge setup, as well as producing molecules like sugars and hyrdocarbons. Add in a bunch of carbonyl sulfide, which catalyses peptide synthesis, and suddenly you have a recipe for proteins. Plus, it has been shown that racemic amino acid mixtures can spontaneously co-crystallise with a not insignificant enantiomeric excess, so it is totally possible to generate complex, long-chain proteins, and you can even get the an excess of L-amino acids over D.

Life is complex but not infeasible; no God required.

#5 Edited by stalefishies (330 posts) -

@erhard said:

Eurovision is so lame even the novelty of watching it ironically wears off after the first time.

That's why you turn it into a drinking game.

#6 Posted by stalefishies (330 posts) -

@beachthunder said:

Spelunky Classic (it actually plays very differently compared to the new one)

This. It'd be really interesting to compare the two. It's also not going to take that long since there's no Yama, the hardest challenge being just to find the city of gold itself, so it'd be a nice stopgap between other games.

#8 Posted by stalefishies (330 posts) -

Yeesh, EA is dead set on sinking their beloved franchises. Their prerogative I guess, but it's depressing to see. I wonder what's up next.

It's interesting that I've seen multiple people complain that it's another money-grabbing EA mobile game when EA have absolutely nothing to do with it.

#9 Posted by stalefishies (330 posts) -

Unless you're some kind of crazy person that only plays Mario Kart for the Mario characters, this question is identical to 'so, do you like Mario Kart?'

So do you like Mario Kart?

#10 Posted by stalefishies (330 posts) -

sorry dude but that's like the worst drawing of jeff i've ever seen

like, it barely even looks like him