Dramatis persona*

helenhead Helen Chick

I've always wanted a bumper sticker that said "I'm a female, LDS/Mormon, Scout leading, geocaching, piano-playing, bicycling, mathematics educator with a PhD in maths ... and I VOTE"!

I think this makes me a minority group of cardinality 1!

* Since there's only one of me and "personae" is plural (I think), I've gone with dramatis persona.
December 2022
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Ramblings of a befuddled uber-pedant

Commutativity is a pretty important concept in mathematics. Addition is commutative, because, for example, it doesn’t matter which way around you add two numbers: 6+3 is just the same as 3+6. Multiplication is commutative too, since 5 x 4 = 4 x 5 (indeed, a x b = b x a, no matter the values of a and b). Subtraction, on the other hand, is non-commutative. To see this, consider 4 – 3 and 3 – 4. You don’t get the same answer from both expressions. Division has similar problems: 6 ÷ 3, for example, is not the same as 3 ÷ 6.

So, order matters.

Of course, after I’d had my pedant’s smirk about the impossibility of removing all valuables after locking your vehicle, I realised that the “and” in the middle doesn’t absolutely necessarily imply an order, only that both need to be done, and so I was hoist by my own Boolean logic pedantic petard and forced to wipe the self-righteous, supercilious smirk from my face.

At least there’s a missing apostrophe about which to get pedantic.

[Final sentence edited from “At least there’s a missing apostrophe to get pedantic about.”]

6 comments to Ramblings of a befuddled uber-pedant

  • Matthew Cengia

    While we’re being pedantic, doesn’t that final sentence have a superfluous ‘to’ in it :-)?

  • Linda F

    Not to mention the lack of full stops. I think you were right the first time, it makes more sense to remove BEFORE locking, the actions should be in order. Is it only women of a certain age (i.e. grumpy + old) that care about this kind of thing? ‘This door is alarmed’ is another one that makes me cross – I want to go over and write underneath – ‘it’s also feeling a bit anxious’. Grrrr.

  • Helen

    Matthew: Not any more!! (Ooops. It is clear that I didn’t edit it well enough! I like being able to rewrite history! The trouble with writing uber-pedantic critiques is that you have to be so careful not to set yourself up for a very embarrassing fall. And, since I am, in fact, inclined to split infinitives, lose track of monster sentences, and have my typing fingers trip over each other, the risk is rather high.)

  • Beth

    I agree. Remove valuables AND lock. Continue smirking.

  • The Grey-haired Matriarch

    Scons or skones? What will it be?
    With or without apostrophe?
    “White Ladies Nights” and “Black Mens Tops”
    Shout at us from racks in shops;
    But how it makes the pedants happy
    To find such language loose and scrappy!

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