14.0295 primitives

From: by way of Willard McCarty (willard@lists.village.Virginia.EDU)
Date: 10/03/00

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                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 14, No. 295.
           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
             Date: Tue, 03 Oct 2000 10:14:05 +0100
             From: "Osher Doctorow" <osher@ix.netcom.com>
             Subject: Re: 14.0277 methodological primitives
    From: Osher Doctorow, osher@ix.netcom.com, Wed. Sept. 27, 2000, 6:02AM
    Dear Colleagues,
    I commend the discussants [don't be concerned about my coining words - I it
    all the time, at no expense to myself] of methodological primitives,
    including myself, for their zeal if not their concise summarizing skills.  I
    myself was obscure in one of my earlier contributions.  However, I have been
    awakened from my meditations concerning Ovid's Metamorphoses by the somewhat
    remarkable contribution of Wendell Piez, 9-2-00, 9:24:28.  In comparing it
    with my succinct contribution in which I disposed of all of political
    history and prehistory in one page (actually, in one sentence, but I am
    being open-minded), Wendell used approximately 2 - 1/2 pages to discuss one
    aspect of computer programming.  I am not currently collecting paper for
    recycling, but there is the matter of the trees (versus the forest?).  As a
    mathematician and physicist, I cannot quite consider that Wendell's
    contribution exceeds all of political history and prehistory.  I have been
    curious in the past as to the skills required to be a computer/systems
    programmer/engineer/operator, as I seem to only relate to them at an
    extremely complex theoretical level (von Neumann and beyond), and I think
    that one of the skills seems to be the "ability or desire to produce complex
    nonsense".   I myself did this in my previously obscure contribution, but
    for me it is unfortunately rather rare.  However, my deceased colleague
    Isaac Asimov in his Foundation Series proposed measuring the nonsense
    content of sentences and speeches using extremely advanced technology (which
    has so far defied computer programmers' abilities), and he typically
    concluded that sentences usually contain 100% nonsense.  Could I prevail
    upon Wendell to possibly restate his thesis, if any, in one sentence
    comparable to my political history-prehistory declaration that permutations
    of A, B, and N in Shakespearean play contexts contain all the content of
    political history-prehistory?
    Yours Faithfully,
    Osher Doctorow

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