December 3, 2014

"In the real world, most employers aren’t in the habit of picking fights with their pregnant employees to make their lives miserable."

"UPS had accommodated Ms. Young during previous pregnancy-related requests, including rounds of in vitro fertilization. We agree with Ms. Young that UPS managers acted like dunderheads when they sent a longtime employee on unpaid leave, but not being nice enough is not the same as discrimination under the law."

From the WSJ editorial "Pregnancy at the Court/UPS was doltish but that doesn’t mean it violated the law."

By the way, you might be wondering — this is where my mind goes, and I'm actually quite interested in the legal question in the case of Peggy Young v. United Parcel Service — what's the difference between a dolt and a dunderhead?

"Dolt" is related to "dull." A "dolt" is "A dull, stupid fellow; a blockhead, numskull," according to to the OED. Shakespeare used the word in "Othello": "O gull, O dolt, As ignorant as dirtt." (And that is how Shakespeare spelled "dirt.")

A "dunderhead," on the other hand, is "A ponderously stupid person; a blockhead, a numskull." That seems a tad worse than dolt. The origin of "dunderhead" is obscure, but "Some association between dunder and blunder appears to be indicated by the change of Dutch donderbus to blunderbuss." I'll pick out the "Tristram Shandy" quote:
And here without staying for my reply, shall I be called as many blockheads, numsculs, doddypoles, dunderheads, ninny-hammers, goosecaps, joltheads, nincompoops, and sh..t-a-beds—and other unsavoury appellations, as ever the cake-bakers of Lerne cast in the teeth of King Garangantan's shepherds....
There are some great alternative unsavory appellations there, no? I particularly like the combination of "nincompoops" and "shit-a-beds." The "poop" in "nincompoop" is not shit, however. It is an obsolete word that means "To fool, deceive, cheat, cozen; (also) to overcome." Shakespeare used it in "Pericles": "I, shee quickly poupt him, she made him roast-meate for wormes."

26 comments:

Tank said...

Reminds me of:

In a restaurant, a schlemiel is the waiter who spills soup, and a schlimazel is the diner on whom it lands.

David said...

Was Louis Head a dunderhead? Should he be prosecuted for it?

traditionalguy said...

I smell a hint of micro-aggressions at UPS in the post this morning. Beware... without UPS there could be no Amazon Prime...and without Amazon Prime there could be no Christmas presents.

Jane the Actuary said...

I'm going to stick with the original topic rather than the riff on dunderheads:

The woman asked for an accomodation for a normal pregnancy. Her midwife said, "don't lift more than 20 pounds" -- which had me wondering whether that's even an issue, or just a myth. Turns out, according to my google search result there is no absolute cut-off, but "the current recommendation is that the maximum load a pregnant woman should lift in late pregnancy should be reduced by 20 to 25 percent from that which she was able to lift in her pre-pregnancy state."

In any case, one suspects that her immediate managers just felt like she was asking for one accomodation after another and that it wasn't going to stop unless they finally said "no."

But the bigger issue is, even if a principle is established that employers need to accomodate pregnant women in an absolute sense, not just based on consistency with other accomodations for short-term impairments, how far does this go? Some accomodations are simple: a cashier can be given a swivel-stool (like Aldi does for all its cashiers). But what does "my doctor said I shouldn't be on my feet all day" mean for, say, a waitress?

Relatedly, there was a story reported locally, at least, about a woman who wanted extra time at the bar exam because she wanted to be able to pump every 1.5 - 2 hours and the three-hour duration of each section of the exam was too long for her to go without pumping.

http://janetheactuary.blogspot.com/2014/11/a-reasonable-accomodation-or-one-demand.html

The end result, after I blogged about it, was that the bar association reversed itself and granted the request, and it kind of sounded like she was taking this test individually so that her proposed accomodation was not as disruptive as it had seemed. But what bugged me was the message: "if you breast-feed your child, you will be tethered every 1.5 - 2 hours" to a pump or the child.

Owen said...

Doesn't "nincompoop" come from Latin (non compos) for incompetent?

And doesn't this usage of "poop" come from the nautical term? A wave that sweeps over the stern of a vessel (e.g. filling the cockpit of a sailboat) has "pooped" the vessel and may sink it.

chillblaine said...

The truth is, young people are knuckleheads.

This, from the woman who wants to deprive schoolchildren of calories and turn us into a nation of homunculi.

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...


So a 'dolt', politically speaking, is like a Sean Penn or a Ben Affleck, while a 'dunderhead' is more like a Joe Biden or a Chuck Hagel.

Brando said...

Slang insults seem to be used interchangably but often their roots indicate a lot more specificity. For example, "idiot", "moron" and "imbecile" were all technical terms for certain levels of mental retardation, so calling someone an "idiot" is arguably worse than calling them a "moron". And interestingly, while it is considered offensive to call someone a "retard" it is not frowned upon to refer to "idots" and "morons" as those terms lost their clinical meaning long ago.

Robert Cook said...

"I smell a hint of micro-aggressions at UPS in the post this morning. Beware... without UPS there could be no Amazon Prime...and without Amazon Prime there could be no Christmas presents."

Pshaw! There were Christmas presents before Amazon Prime (or just plain Amazon) ever appeared! Amazon, like Wal-Mart, is the great destroyer...of myriad small businesses and brick-and-mortar stores.

surfed said...

I resemble those remarks. A clear case of micro-aggression.

NotquiteunBuckley said...

"cake-bakers"?

Gahrie said...

Hey Commie Bob - still advocating for buggy whip makers too?

NotquiteunBuckley said...

Jesus Christ there are two Great Destroyers!

Thankfully they destroyed the racist nature small business folks catered to.

Thankfully they destroyed the income inequality in many towns by harmonizing incomes.

Thankfully they destroyed price gouging and the profit-looters too.

LordSomber said...

Dun´der
n.1. The lees or dregs of cane juice, used in the distillation of rum.

Fernandinande said...

Imbeciles, Morons, Idiots: 1913
And the "morally helpless".

Robert Cook said...

"Hey Commie Bob - still advocating for buggy whip makers too?"

Heh! Yes, it's very "commie"-like to advocate for greater competition and the proliferation of small businesses, rather than their destruction by a tiny cohort of dominating corporate behemoths.

Mary Beth said...

Amazon, like Wal-Mart, is the great destroyer...of myriad small businesses and brick-and-mortar stores.

Maybe not so much for the ones that figured out they could use Amazon to sell their own products online.

It's hard for stores that carried a little of everything when a store that carries a lot of everything comes along, but for specialized businesses with unique or uncommon products, being able to sell to people outside their physical location's area is great. Of course, you can sell online without going through Amazon, but there are enough third-party sellers on there that it makes me think there is a benefit to them for being there.

Robert Cook said...

"Thankfully they destroyed the racist nature small business folks catered to.

"Thankfully they destroyed the income inequality in many towns by harmonizing incomes.

"Thankfully they destroyed price gouging and the profit-looters too."


So, I see you hate small businesses--which are a perfect representation of the so-called "American Dream," and prefer the plutocrats to make serfs of those who once owned their own businesses, to the extent you present an array of, ahem, insane slanders.

(I guess it's true that they are "harmonizing income," if by that you mean, pauperizing everyone.)

Shanna said...

great destroyer...of myriad small [overpriced] businesses and brick-and-mortar stores

Walmart started as a small business. When you are a good small business, you might turn into a very large business.

DKWalser said...

I'd always thought "dunderhead" was related to "dander" -- the loose bits of skin that is constantly being shed by the body. Rather than with brains, a dunderhead's head is filled with dander.

Gahrie said...

Heh! Yes, it's very "commie"-like to advocate for greater competition and the proliferation of small businesses, rather than their destruction by a tiny cohort of dominating corporate behemoths.

Perhaps not, but it is Communist to attack Capitalism, and a business that has succeeded by being a better capitalist.

Anonymous said...

And this is why women don't get paid as much as men.

Ann Althouse said...

@owen

My etymology is from the OED, so I think it's right.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

Just what the Democrats need, another Lilly Ledbetter.

Let Ann and Owen argue over whether a nincompoop is a stupid asshole or a stupid fool.

Let's get back to dunderhead. Dunder is the yeasty foam of a batch of rum. What bodily fluid does that most closely describe? That's what UPS has between the ears.

Fred Drinkwater said...

"Amazon, the destroyer of small business"
I assist startups in fields ranging from pure software to medical devices. Practically without exception, they use Amazon and other e-tailers (there are dozens) to reach, and compete in, markets which are otherwise only accessible by established giants.

Kirk Parker said...

Actuary Jane at 8:35am,

I appreciate your interest in staying on topic, but seriously if you type "reasonable" and "pregnant" in the same comment is just a bridge too far.


Dun´der... used in the distillation of rum."


Whoa! Strange New Respect...