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From When to Rob a Bank by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner

Grammar Nazi Turns Out To Be Actual Nazi

REGINA, SK—Dr. Heinrich Haussmann, 94, became famous in his later years for being the curmudgeonly creator of the wildly popular grammar column “Sieg Semicolon, Heil Hyphen!” Now the eccentric Doktor, who was well known for his love of Wagner and experiments on animals, is known for another thing: having once been a member of the Nazi Party in Germany.

Haussmann’s secret came out when Saul Durrell, 41, a sharp-eyed reader of the column who just happens to work for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, saw something in Hausmann’s May 4th, 2011 column entitled “Irregardless Is Not A Word Just Like Poland Is Not A Country.”

In the column, Hausmann pointed out that ‘irregardless,’ along with splitting infinitives and ending a sentence with a preposition, were “mistakes that the true Übermenschen would never make in a thousand years of the Reich!”

“There was something about that statement that seemed suspicious to me,” said Durrell, “so I did some research.” It turned out that Haussmann had left Germany in 1945, moving first to Argentina and then to Canada in the late 60s where he started his German Shepherd breeding company, Aryan Blood Lines.

“Slowly all the pieces began to fit,” said Durrell, “the obsessive concerns about the use of the semi-colon, pedantic scolding on trivial things like the proper use of ‘penultimate’ and worst of all his ravings about ‘between you and I’. This was, in hindsight, clearly a sign of a deeper fascist nature,” said Durrell.

Fortunately, Dr. Hausmann will now have to answer for his crimes: he’s awaiting deportation and trial in Israel. Said Durrell: “Finally this monster will see justice. And the rest of us will be spared his smug little pronouncements on ‘correct’ grammar. I mean, get a clue jerk and look up the difference between prescriptive and descriptive grammar before you shoot your mouth off.”

“In an Israeli prison.”


From When to Rob a Bank by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner

Why Don’t Flight Attendants Get Tipped?

Think of all the service people who habitually get tips: hotel bellmen, taxi drivers, waiters and waitresses, the guys who handle curbside baggage at airports, sometimes even the baristas at Starbucks. But not flight attendants. Why not?

Maybe it’s because they’re thought to earn a pretty good living and don’t need the tips. Maybe it’s because they’re simply thought to be salaried employees of a sort that for whatever reason shouldn’t accept tips. Maybe for some reason they are actually prohibited from accepting tips. Maybe it harks back to the day when most flight attendants were women and most passengers were men—and given the somewhat mystical (or perhaps mythical) reputation of the amorous businessman and the foxy stewardess, the exchange of money at flight’s end may have raised some questions about just what the stewardess had done to deserve the tip.

Still, it’s very odd to me that so many service people who perform similar functions get tipped and that flight attendants don’t. Especially when they often work so hard for so many people, running back and forth with drinks, pillows, headphones, etc. Yes, I know that most people are pretty unhappy with the airline experience these days, and I know that the occasional flight attendant is crabby beyond belief, but in my experience most of them do a really great job, often under trying circumstances.

It’s not that I’m advocating for yet another kind of worker to get tips. But having flown a lot lately, and seeing how hard flight attendants work, it struck me as odd that they don’t get tipped. At least I’ve never seen anyone tip a flight attendant.

And when I asked flight attendants on my last five flights if they’d ever gotten a tip, each of them said no, never. Their reactions to my question ranged from quizzical to hopeful. I think on my flight home today, I’ll simply slip the tip instead of asking the question, and see what happens.

Update: I tried, and failed. “A flight attendant is not a waitress,” I was told—so forcefully that I felt terrible for even trying to put money in the woman’s hands.


Date: 2015-12-11; view: 1139

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