A Quine!

rogersgeorge on August 26th, 2017

Willard Van Orman Quine was an American philosopher and logician in the analytic tradition, recognized as “one of the most influential philosophers of the twentieth century.” Wikipedia

I’m pretty sure you never heard of him, but he created a stir of sorts in intellectual circles a while back because of some of the things he thought up, one of which is a type of self-referential statement. I’ve mentioned Gödel’s Proof a couple times (here and here) and his proof involves self-referential statements, so I ran into Quine’s stuff while I was studying Gödel. I think the reference to quine was in the April 1962 issue of Scientific American or Gödel Escher Bach, but I don’t remember for sure, and I don’t have a copy of either publication handy to go look.

Okay, so what’s a quine? Mainly you find them in computing circles. It’s a program that creates a copy of itself. To refer to Wikipedia again,

quine is a non-empty computer program which takes no input and produces a copy of its own source code as its only output.

But it doesn’t have to be a computer program. Sometimes you can make a sentence that refers to itself in the manner of a quine, and here I found a comic that gives us a nice example. Hey, sometimes comics are pretty sophisticated!

At least I think it’s a quine…

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Someone Gets Fewer and Less Right!

rogersgeorge on August 10th, 2017

It’s even in the punchline, so you can read the whole Pajama Diaries comic with a clear conscience!

Remember the rule? With things you measure, you use “less” and with things you count, you use “fewer.”

Pajama Diaries - 08/07/2017

Two Biblical Ellipses

rogersgeorge on August 2nd, 2017

The Bible is often misquoted. I ran into a common misquote recently from a fellow who experienced a motorcycle mishap that demonstrated the wisdom of wearing “all the gear all the time,” as we responsible motorcyclists say. He ended his misadventure with

Pride goeth before the fall.

The actual verse is

Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.

Leaving out that part in the middle is called ellipsis. Ellipsis isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I recommend you be careful with it.

And that reminds me of one of my dad’s favorite Biblical misquotes, also an ellipsis. The verse is

For the love of money is the root of all evil:

My dad says

Money is the root of all evil, and a man needs roots!

Do you have a favorite Biblical misquote? Share in the comments.

Bring and Take

rogersgeorge on July 30th, 2017

Here’s a quickie. In English, “bring” and “take” are from the point of view of the speaker, not the point of view of the carrier. “Bring” is toward the speaker, “take” is away from the speaker. This is a rather mushy rule, but this Ben comic, in which the kid gets it wrong, definitely feels wrong to a native speaker, so it should help you remember how to use those two words.

Two Ways to do a Pun

rogersgeorge on July 14th, 2017

I was going to continue with serious lessons, but today I ran into two comics that are not only both on the same topic, but they illustrate one of the finer points of punning.

Type 1: When the pronunciation of the misused words is the same,

Crankshaft - 07/13/2017

Type 2: When the pronunciation is almost the same,

Take It From The Tinkersons - 07/13/2017

Which reminds me of my sister’s favorite pun, which goes something like this: “I thought that was water dripping from your nose, but it’s not.”

She has a fiendish laugh to go with it.