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Context, pedantry and appropriate response.

by BrowserUk (Pope)
on Jan 02, 2016 at 10:51 UTC ( #1151684=perlmeditation: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

Nit-picking pedantry is the bane of productive discourse.

A not uncommon question in life is: "How much do you weigh"? To which we generally respond with something like: "nn pounds" or "nn kilos".

Of course, if we last weighed ourselves naked having just stepped out of the shower, and we are currently wearing a full set of skiing gear; or if a holiday weekend or half a year has intervened, then our responses may be slightly or even wildly inaccurate. Which may or may not be okay depending on who is asking and why; but we generally know how much thought we should give to the accuracy and qualification of our responses from the context of the question.

Of course, we don't really "weigh" what we weigh. We have a mass of a certain number of Newtons that only becomes a weight in the presence of a particular value of gravity.

Ie. we 'weigh' differently on the surface of the Earth than we would on the Moon or in the ISS. And we would 'weigh' differently again if we were bridge of the Enterprise at Warp factor 10 and the inertial stabilizers failed.

But no one ever responds to the target question with "nn Newtons"; or qualifies their "nn pounds/kilos" with "whilst naked, at a distance of nn miles/meters from the center of the Earth, whilst traveling at sub-relativistic speeds, and after a week or more of nominally average calorific intake and expenditure".

And thank Dog they don't! Without we tailor and truncate our answers to the contexts in which the questions are asked, life would become quagmired in a treacle of inferable verbiage. And intolerable.

Which is why mealy-mouthed, oneupmanship, pedantry posts like this deserve the response it got.


With the rise and rise of 'Social' network sites: 'Computers are making people easier to use everyday'
Examine what is said, not who speaks -- Silence betokens consent -- Love the truth but pardon error.
"Science is about questioning the status quo. Questioning authority". I knew I was on the right track :)
In the absence of evidence, opinion is indistinguishable from prejudice.
  • Comment on Context, pedantry and appropriate response.

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Re: Context, pedantry and appropriate response.
by Your Mother (Bishop) on Jan 02, 2016 at 15:26 UTC

    An actual pedant would spend this reply talking about your frequent spelling and typographical errors. A monk who had a lot of trouble coming to terms with encoding issues would attempt to alleviate same for other monks by pointing out wrong thinking on the matter. There is no such thing as a "Unicode string" and using the term contributes to misunderstandings.

    Name calling is a bit more of a bane to discourse in this monk's view. It genuinely hurt my feelings that it came from a monk I respected so much.

    (Update: missing possessive apostrophe fixed. Update update: and fixed Ms Pelling :P)

      "Unocode string"

      Hm. I just used my browser's Find command on the entire thread and nowhere did it find the word "Unocode"; nor do I remember correcting such a typo?

      no such thing as a "Unocode string"

      Hm.

      • In the context of a computer program, a "string" is: "an array of (usually small, zero-based) integers that collectively encode the characters, digits and symbols used in written communication systems.".
      • Unicode is: "Unicode is a computing industry standard for the consistent encoding, representation, and handling of text expressed in most of the world's writing systems".

      It'll be interesting to see what level of pedantry you have to descend to in order to come up with a justification for your refusal to accept the term 'Unicode string', for a scalar variable that contains (or rather names) an array of small integers that represent some text, encoded using (one of the) Unicode encodings?


      With the rise and rise of 'Social' network sites: 'Computers are making people easier to use everyday'
      Examine what is said, not who speaks -- Silence betokens consent -- Love the truth but pardon error.
      "Science is about questioning the status quo. Questioning authority". I knew I was on the right track :)
      In the absence of evidence, opinion is indistinguishable from prejudice.

        I work with a lot of programmers. They are definitely not pedants. I wish more of them were more "pedantic," in fact. I have never heard any of them refer to a "Unicode string" - they all say "UTF-8 string" which at least narrows it down to the encoding.

        You also used the term "Unicrap" repeatedly in your earlier thread: I guess you are struggling to "get" Unicode. That's understandable; it can be confusing.

        I think you are also confused about pedantry: it is not pedantic to refer to things by their correct name, actually.

        As you well know, inaccurate spelling or syntax in code breaks the program. Why so cavalier about inter-human communication?

        If I were your editor and I corrected your OP here so that your repeated misuse of the noun 'weight' was changed to what you really meant, the verb 'weigh,' is that being pedantic?

        The way forward always starts with a minimal test.
Re: Context, pedantry and appropriate response.
by Anonymous Monk on Jan 02, 2016 at 21:26 UTC
    <Pedantic mode>
    We have a mass of a certain number of Newtons that only becomes a weight in the presence of a particular value of gravity.
    Not quite. A mass is usually measured in kilograms (but you could admittedly use grams, tons or pounds if so you wish), but emphatically not in newtons. Newtons are used for measuring forces, including weight, but certainly not for measuring masses.

    So if an individual has a mass of, say, 70 kg, he or she would weigh about 686.5 newtons on the Earth at sea level, i.e. the 70-kg mass of that person would be attracted toward the center of the Earth with a force of 686.5 newtons. On the moon's surface, that person would still have a mass 70 kg, but would weigh only about 113.4 newtons.

    </Pedantic mode>

      ++ for making my point :)


      With the rise and rise of 'Social' network sites: 'Computers are making people easier to use everyday'
      Examine what is said, not who speaks -- Silence betokens consent -- Love the truth but pardon error.
      "Science is about questioning the status quo. Questioning authority". I knew I was on the right track :)
      In the absence of evidence, opinion is indistinguishable from prejudice.

        <meta-pedantic mode>

        We have a mass of a certain number of Newtons that...

        While the symbol for the SI unit of force is an upper case 'N' (U+004E), it's name is rendered using a lower case 'n' (U+006E), so that should have been 'newtons'. This is a general principle for SI units named after people.

        </meta-pedantic mode>

Re: Context, pedantry and appropriate response.
by Anonymous Monk on Jan 02, 2016 at 13:07 UTC

    If you didn't include that last line, this might be considered an actual, insightful meditation, but now it's just a rant directed personally against Your Mother.

    posts like this deserve the response it got.

    Really? Including the "Twat!"?

    It's sad to see this on the front page.

      just a rant directed personally against Your Mother.

      No. An observation, (a rant if you like to term it that), against the type of post that, on this occasion and totally against type, Your Mother posted.

      An observation that comes out of revisiting a several year old thread that started as useful and interesting discourse, and descended into a slanging match because I reacted to another monk's pedantry in the same fashion. What was interesting to me was that as I was reading through the thread, I encountered the non-contributory, pedantic post whilst my earlier response was still off the bottom of the screen and my reaction was exactly the same. Despite the intervening years, having read the discourse in sequence, when I encountered the post I exclaimed that same (in the UK, very mild, almost joshing) expletive out loud; and then paged down to read me saying the same thing.

      It could equally well have been directed at any number of other posts by other monks; some that are rare exceptions by their authors; others that are those authors characteristic norm.

      I chose that one: a) because it was fresh in my mind; and b) because my impression of Your Mother is of someone quite capable of withstanding a little criticism without it becoming antagonistic. In that choice I was actually demonstrating a level of respect for him.

      Really? Including the "Twat!"?

      Yes. I believe so. I think that pedantry, like many other forms of non-contributory posts require and deserve 'cold shower' rebukes. I'm of the firm belief that pedantry, far more than anything else, is the cause of much of the decline in activity here.


      With the rise and rise of 'Social' network sites: 'Computers are making people easier to use everyday'
      Examine what is said, not who speaks -- Silence betokens consent -- Love the truth but pardon error.
      "Science is about questioning the status quo. Questioning authority". I knew I was on the right track :)
      In the absence of evidence, opinion is indistinguishable from prejudice.
Re: Context, pedantry and appropriate response. AKA, Well, you got the last word anyway…
by Your Mother (Bishop) on Jan 03, 2016 at 05:06 UTC

    Pope: I have a Measurement Measurement I need help with.

    Chancellor: Excuse me? That really doesn't mean anything.

    Pope: Wong-o! I mean I have an SI Measurement I need help with.

    Chancellor: Oh... So... That’s not really better. Like meters? Inches? Pounds? Grams? …Joules???

    Pope: No, it's a mix of all of them. Plus some others. An SI-crap Measurement, as I said, expressed as a single unit.

    Chancellor: Um... It might likely overlap in certain places... You cannot just mix standards without generating garbage. It's likely impossible to determine where one begins and another ends with any reliability. That’s definitely not an “SI Measurement,” were there such a thing to begin with.

    Pope: NO! You mealy-mouthed pedantic "twat" x 2;!!! That's not right!!! You have destroyed technological discourse!!!! HOW DARE YOU?!?!?!

    Chancellor: Well, that was uncalled for. And mean... :( I used to like you. A lot…

    Pope: You had it coming! Asked for it in spades! Spades!!! x 10¶

      You cannot just mix standards without generating garbage.

      And there, finally, is the source of the problem.

      The situation I was describing is the attempt to index a large number of files. (Two sets of files, but let's stick to the Unicode subset for now.)

      Each of those files is encoded in Unicode. Some are utf-8. Some are utf-16. Some are utf-32. And so on. Each is completely consistent. No mixing.

      A single program can read each of those files in turn and load lines from them into the same named scalar (say: $line). The data in that single scalar will be "a Unicode string".

      But the program cannot know a priori which flavour of Unicode it will contain. So, when talking about that variable and the strings it contains, "a Unicode string" is a simple, clear, concise, description of its contents at any given time.

      No mixing; no confusion; no garbage! Just a real-world situation that must be dealt with.

      If I failed ot make that situation clear to you; then a appropriate response would be to ask me to clarify my explanation.

      What you chose to do was to assert: "This doesn't mean anything. Unicode is the complete standard, not a character set or encoding." which is neither an inquiry; nor helpful. Nor correct.

      You made no attempt to assist me with my problem. You made no attempt to even explain why you thought what I had posted was incorrect.

      You chose to simply make an incorrect and indefensible assertion, that made no attempt to explain what you thought was incorrect, much less help by correcting that "error".

      So yes, you got a (I'll say it again; extremely mild) rebuke. And, I still believe correctly.

      Indeed. As far as I'm concerned, this post, in its attempt to obfuscate and divert attention from the proven incorrectness and deliberate unhelpfulness of that original post, is worse.


      With the rise and rise of 'Social' network sites: 'Computers are making people easier to use everyday'
      Examine what is said, not who speaks -- Silence betokens consent -- Love the truth but pardon error.
      "Science is about questioning the status quo. Questioning authority". I knew I was on the right track :)
      In the absence of evidence, opinion is indistinguishable from prejudice.
Re: Context, pedantry and appropriate response.
by Anonymous Monk on Jan 02, 2016 at 19:37 UTC
    Yes, BowserUK, you are perfectly justified in being a total smarmy git every chance you get, because in your mind you're "technically correct".

    Keep chasing people off this site and you'll continue to be the Queen Bee. You have winner written all over you.

Re: Context, pedantry and appropriate response.
by 1nickt (Abbot) on Jan 02, 2016 at 17:16 UTC

    Without we tailor and truncate our answers to the contexts in which the questions are asked, life would become quagmired in a treacle of inferable verbiage. And intolerable.

    Quite!

    Which is why deliberately obtuse pedantic posts like this deserve the responses they get.

    The way forward always starts with a minimal test.

      Quite!

      Which is why deliberately obtuse pedantic posts like this deserve the responses they get.

      So, instead of answering OP directly yourself, its better to interrupt another with "distractions"?

      Because the other answerer is taking too long?

      Then "distractions" turn to outright hostility?

      That doesn't help the OP at all.

      The perlmonks don't deserve that crap. What weird ego trip are you on

      Which is why deliberately obtuse pedantic posts like this

      Wrong again! Then and now.

      I read the post; he was quoting the word process. My reasoning was: if this is a real process, why is he quoting it? If it isn't a process -- a thread or a subroutine -- then why not say that?

      Far from pedantry; I was seeking clarification.

      A necessity in order to be able to answer his question because capturing stdout/stderr from a process requires a different solution to capturing them from a thread.

      Not good at this are you.


      With the rise and rise of 'Social' network sites: 'Computers are making people easier to use everyday'
      Examine what is said, not who speaks -- Silence betokens consent -- Love the truth but pardon error.
      "Science is about questioning the status quo. Questioning authority". I knew I was on the right track :)
      In the absence of evidence, opinion is indistinguishable from prejudice.

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