Monday, July 5, 2010

_Why does the sun go on shining?

I am not a fan of Ruby programming - not because I don't like it but because I have never used it nor do I even know how it looks like.

It is now apparent to me that someone prominent in the Ruby world had abruptly ended _his (or _her) on-line existence about ten months ago. The entity about whom I am discussing signs _himself (or _herself) off as _Why. Last August, all of _his/_her on-line presence were abruptly terminated.

The person that availed himself as _Why in Ruby conferences looked rather like Jack Black, doesn't he? Was Jack Black or a relative of Jack Black's hired to appear as _Why? _Was _Why a time-travelling renegade and could it be that when the relevant time-enforcement agency finally caught up with _Why, they abruptly closed all _his/_her _time infractions?

Anyway ... anyway is my favourite mood-changing word. If anyone reads my earlier post, you might read that I despise the word basically, because the word basically is basically used by people to reflect a change in the mood of conversation. Therefore, I urge people who are fond of using the word basically to transform their speech to using the word anyway, which should more accurately reflect any intent in changing the mood of a conversation. Basically, I cringe being near someone who prepends their phrases with the word basically.

Anyway, being rather unaware of _who _Why _is, or if _he/_she and _his/_her existence and subsequent abrupt disappearance are inventions of Rubyists to desperately call to attention their languishing language, I had scarce intentions to discuss _Why and _Ruby. My apologies to avid Rubyists, but I know that I do not know if Ruby is languishing - it is merely a component of the theory that Rubyists invented _Why.

This is about words that are subtly similar but are poles apart.

Was _Why's presence suddenly terminated or abruptly terminated? An event can be abrupt but not sudden, and the converse is true.

One could plan the abrupt end of a process without being sudden:
We had been planning for months to abruptly end the existence of _Why.
One could experience the suddenness of a non-abrupt event:
_Who was suddenly aware that _she had gradually fallen in love with _Why.

Another pair of words that provokes my displeasure is spontaneous vs automatic. Sometimes (or even frequently), you might encounter a sentence like
When the limousine stopped at the foyer, the concierge automatically rose to open the door for the VIP.
A concierge, any concierge, would beg to offer a more accurate opinion that a concierge is always spontaneous but never automatic! To be spontaneous is human, to be automatic is a machine.

I was boarding a bus in another country and I noticed notices printed beside both the front and back doors of the bus, which said, when translated to English,
Caution: automatic door.
But, but, ... those were remote-controlled doors. The driver had to spontaneously press a button to open or close either door.

Which is preferable: to be precise or be accurate? I remember a Physics professor in Engineering school striving to remind us
Engineering is a science in precision, not accuracy.  My dead grandfather clock is abruptly accurate twice a day, but it will never be precise.
What about the word remember? More often than not, the gerund remembering is used in place of recall. Remember is to place into memory or have in memory. Whereas, recall is to withdraw from memory.

The sentence
I am not remembering if _Why existed or is a mere fragment of my imagination.
means that the speaker intends not to place into memory any present awareness of _Why's existence. Perhaps, the speaker actually meant to say,
I cannot recall if _Why existed or is a mere fragment of my imagination.
(I am unable to withdraw from memory ...)
or, to say,
I do not remember if _Why existed or is a mere fragment of my imagination.
(I do not have in possession in my memory ...)