The Universe of Discourse

Thu, 23 Mar 2023

Addenda to recent articles 202212-202302

I made several additions to articles of the last few months that might be interesting.

  • I wrote a long article about an unsorted menu in SAP Concur in which I said:

    I don't know what Concur's software development and release process is like, but somehow it had a complete top-to-bottom failure of quality control and let this shit out the door.

    I would love to know how this happened. I said a while back:

    Assume that bad technical decisions are made rationally, for reasons that are not apparent.

    I think this might be a useful counterexample.

    A reader, who had formerly worked for SAP, provided a speculative explanation which, while it might not be correct, was plausible enough for me to admit that, had I been in the same situation, I might have let the same shit out the door for the same reason. Check it out, it's a great example.

  • My wife Lorrie suggested that a good emoji to represent Andrew Jackson would be a pigeon. Unfortunately, although there are a dozen different kinds of bird emoji, plus eggs, nests, and including several chickens, there are no pigeons!

  • My article about the Dutch word kwade was completely broken and will have to be done over again. In December promised an extensive correction “next year”. It is now next year, but I I have not yet written it.

  • In connection with Rosneft, a discussion of Japanese words for raw petroleum, and whether ナフサ /nafusa/ means that (as Wiktionary claims) or whether it just means ‘naphtha’.

  • Long ago I observed that in two-person comedy teams, the straight man is usually named before the comedian. I recently realized that Tom and Dick Smothers are a counterexample.

  • My article about strategies for dealing with assholes on the Internet left out a good one: If you are tempted to end a sentence with something like “you dumbass”, just leave it implicit.

  • Articles that I started but didn't publish (yet). Based on historical performance, we can expect maybe half of these to see the light of day. My bet would be on numbers 1, 3, and maybe 4 or 5.

    1. How does the assignment of evangelists and apostles to spires on la Sagrada Família work, when (a) the two sets overlap, but only partially, and (b) Judas Iscariot was an apostle? I think I figured this out. (Short answers: (a) Ignore it and (b) Matthias.

      [Addendum 20230327: I did this. ]

    2. Something that was supposed to be about the Singularity, but instead turned into a description of my game of playing 21st-century tour guide to Benjamin Franklin.

    3. Why does Unicode recognize five skin-tone modifiers for emoji, when the original document that they reference defined six skin tones? I put in a lot of research effort here and came up with nada.

    4. Notes about the Korean letter ‘ㅓ’ and why it is Romanized as ‘eo’.

    5. An explanation of an interesting sort of mathematical confusion, but I didn't get far enough into the article and now I don't remember what I was planning to say or even what I thought the confusion was.

    6. Also a reader wrote to remind me of my ancient promise to write about why the aliens will play go and not chess, and I sent him paragraphs and paragraphs of stuff about this and related matters like alien card games, but didn't put it into the blog. What is wrong with me?

      [Addendum 20230402: I did this. ]

By the way, if anyone happens to know a gender-neutral term for “straight man”, I'm still stumped.

[ Addendum 20230324: Thomas Maccoll suggests “foil”. ]

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