Addenda to recent articles 200801
Here are some notes on posts from the last
month that I couldn't find better places for.
 As a result of my research into the Harriet Tubman mural that was
demolished in 2002, I learned that it had been repainted last year
at 2950 Germantown Avenue.
 A number of readers, including some honesttoGod Italians, wrote
in with explanations of Boccaccio's term
milliantanove, which was variously translated as
"squillions" and "a thousand hundreds".
The "milli" part suggests a thousand, as I guessed. And "anta" is
the suffix for multiples of ten, found in "quaranta" = "forty", akin
to the "nty" that survives in the word "twenty". And "nove" is
"nine".
So if we wanted to essay a literal translation, we might
try "thousantynine". Cormac
Ó Cuilleanáin's choice of "squillions" looks quite apt.
 My article about clubbing
someone to death with a loaded Uzi neglected an essential
technical point. I repeatedly said that
for my $k (keys %h) {
if ($k eq $j) {
f($h{$k})
}
}
could be replaced with:
f($h{$j})
But this is only true if $j actually appears in %h.
An accurate translation is:
f($h{$j}) if exists $h{$j}
I was, of course, aware of this. I left out discussion of this
because I thought it would obscure my point to put it in, but I was
wrong; the opposite was true.
I think my original point stands regardless,
and I think that even programmers who are unaware of the existence of
exists should feel a sense of unease when presented with (or
after having written) the long version of the code.
An example of this
error appeared on PerlMonks shortly after I wrote the article.
 Robin Houston provides another example of a
nonstandard adjective in mathematics: a quantum group is not
a group.
We then discussed the use of nonstandard adjectives in biology. I
observed that there seemed to be a trend to eliminate them, as with
"jellyfish" becoming "jelly" and "starfish" becoming "sea star". He
pointed out that botanists use a hyphen to distinguish the standard
from the nonstandard: a "white fir" is a fir, but a "Douglasfir" is
not a fir; an "Atlas cedar" is a cedar, but a "western redcedar" is
not a cedar.
Several people wrote to discuss the use of "partial" versus "total",
particularly when one or the other is implicit. Note that a total
order is a special case of a partial order, which is itself a special
case of an "order", but this usage is contrary to the way "partial"
and "total" are used for functions: just "function" means a total
function, not a partial function. And there are clear cases where
"partial" is a standard adjective: partial fractions are fractions,
partial derivatives are derivatives, and partial differential
equations are differential equations.
 Steve Vinoski posted a very interesting solution to my
question about how to set Emacs file modes: he suggested
that I could define a replacement aput function.
 In my utterly useless review of Robert Graves' novel King
Jesus I said "But how many of you have read I,
Claudius and Suetonius? Hands? Anyone? Yeah, I didn't think
so." But then I got email from James Russell, who said he had indeed
read both, and that he knew just what I meant, and, as a
result, was going directly to the library to take out King
Jesus. And he read the article on Planet Haskell. Wow! I am
speechless with delight. Mr. Russell, I love you. From now on,
if anyone asks (as they sometimes do) who my target audience is, I
will say "It is James Russell."
 A number of people wrote in with examples of "theorems" that were
believed proved, and later turned out to be false. I am preparing a
longer article about this for next month. Here are some teasers:
 A number of people wrote in with explanations of "more than twenty states"; I
will try to follow up soon.
[Other articles in category /addenda]
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