“Try to refrain from using the word ‘hell’ on our helpdesk next time”

As I was enjoying the article DNA seen through the eyes of a coder, a link caught my eye and it directed me to Ensembl Human Web site, which lets you explore the Homo sapiens genome.
The home page showed the usual 23 chromosome pairs. However I was startled to find yet another chromosome mentioned – MT.
I made the quick guess that it is the mitochondrial chromosome, and wanted to confirm or refute this guess. However, the Web site search function yielded nothing when I looked for the phrase “chromosome mt”. I was provided instead with a form for sending E-mail to the Web site’s helpdesk. I took advantage of this.
Few minutes later, they answered me – yes, it is indeed the mitochondrial chromosome.

One additional comment in their answer was made, because I phrased my question in an highly emotional way, as follows:
“I was looking for a short paragraph describing what the hell is ‘Chromosome MT’.”

The comment woke in me nightmare past memories of a primary school teacher in USA, who subscribed to the DEAF-L mailing list (a mailing list devoted to deafness related issues), but her censorware filtered out innocent messages because they included phrases, which could have been interpreted in objectionable ways. And furthermore, there was no way to bypass the censorware to tell her that a legitimate message has been blocked.

Author: Omer Zak

I am deaf since birth. I played with big computers which eat punched cards and spew out printouts since age 12. Ever since they became available, I work and play with desktop size computers which eat keyboard keypresses and spew out display pixels. Among other things, I developed software which helped the deaf in Israel use the telephone network, by means of home computers equipped with modems. Several years later, I developed Hebrew localizations for some cellular phones, which helped the deaf in Israel utilize the cellular phone networks. I am interested in entrepreneurship, Science Fiction and making the world more accessible to people with disabilities.

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