[TUHS] The Elements Of Style: UNIX As Literature

John Cowan cowan at ccil.org
Sat Nov 7 08:09:19 AEST 2020

On Fri, Nov 6, 2020 at 1:51 PM Jon Steinhart <jon at fourwinds.com> wrote:

> I've always been willing to spend buckets of money on the monitors because
> to me that's an area where bigger and higher resolution is always better.

You'd hardly want one the size of a city block, or even of a room wall.

> I hated Shakespeare in high school.  One of the big reasons was that I felt
> that he made up a word whenever he didn't have a good one available.

Contrary to Internet opinion, Shakespeare probably never invented any
words.  At most he is the first person to record in writing a word whose
written works have survived (mostly).  Why would a commercial playwright
(and Shakespeare wrote for money) use a word his audience didn't
understand?   They'd boo the play off the stage, with or without rotten
fruit.  He did both invent and reuse a lot of phrases: see <
https://inside.mines.edu/~jamcneil/levinquote.html>, or google for "you are
quoting Shakespeare".

> flipping back and forth to the list of definitions completely interrupted
> the cadence of reading.

Pop-up translations would be much better, of course.  I studied R&J with
footnotes; my daughter, with an across-the-page translation into
Contemporary Modern English.  Of course, that meant I had to explain some
of the gallows humor to her, like Mercutio's dying words: "Seek for me
tomorrow, and you will find me a *grave* man."

> While readers might "lose focus" part of the way through long lines, that
> has to
> be balanced against the loss of focus that comes from 'mental
> carriage-returns"
> when text is too narrow and broken across several lines.  Again, not
> studied as
> far as I know.

Lispers, of course, have only one kind of bracket, and append as many
close-brackets to each line as are needed there.  (We don't count them,
Emacs and vi do the matching.)  Sure saves on vertical whitespace, which
means you typically can see a whole function in one screen.

John Cowan          http://vrici.lojban.org/~cowan        cowan at ccil.org
Is a chair finely made tragic or comic? Is the portrait of Mona Lisa
good if I desire to see it? Is the bust of Sir Philip Crampton lyrical,
epical or dramatic?  If a man hacking in fury at a block of wood make
there an image of a cow, is that image a work of art? If not, why not?
                --Stephen Dedalus
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