Fourmilab -- reading unedited text
August 26, 2005 6:00 PM   Subscribe

John Walker's method How and when to pay attention -- by the author of the Evil Empires bumper sticker and other treasures.
posted by hank (15 comments total)
(The main thing I learned from that page is that Safari's version of justified Serif text is very hard to read. The spaces after periods are actually narrower than those between words!)
posted by smackfu at 6:21 PM on August 26, 2005

I dunno, he should apply his tirade against poor text to the poor design of his bumper sticker.
posted by samh23 at 7:26 PM on August 26, 2005

Well, my spell checker says "unedited" is one word, not hyphenated like he has it in his third paragraph, so I stopped reading there, and will now disregard his snobby, arrogant attitude henceforth, forthwith, and hereinafter. Nya.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:51 PM on August 26, 2005

I stopped reading in paragraph four: "If you can't take the time to spelling check..."
posted by Dean King at 8:09 PM on August 26, 2005

It left me fighting an urge to post a grammatically incorrect, obscene and/or badly spelled message.

Shit, I gave in.
posted by login at 8:20 PM on August 26, 2005

Not only does he think people who mis-spell or mis-grammar are worthless, but he also thinks your inhuman if you don't know algebra:

In order to avoid automatically-generated junk mail and input from the innumerate, we ask you to take a moment and solve the following linear equation. Enter the correct value for x in the box...
66x + 26 = 2930
x =

I get 44, but I decided not to post anyway.
posted by rubin at 9:09 PM on August 26, 2005

I'm a grammar weenie and all that, but this guy is way unpleasant and terribly annoying. Also, his bumper sticker looks terrible; he needs to learn the principles of design. One strike and you're out, John.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:37 PM on August 26, 2005


You all didn't read down to the bottom of the referenced page.
posted by hank at 10:23 PM on August 26, 2005

I just did, hank, and have to agree with the majority opinion here.
posted by mwhybark at 12:02 AM on August 27, 2005

Heh. Talk about throwing the baby out with the bathwater. I think his definitition of what is 'qualitative' on the internets is somewhat myopic.

'Language fascist fades away in his evil empire chair' ...hmm, nice.
posted by rawfishy at 12:44 AM on August 27, 2005

His underlying point is good. There's so much information on the internet that you're going to have some sort of filter simply because you can't read everything. However, he mostly comes off as pompous and petty. In my experience, word choice is a function of one's social environment and the context of the remark, not the intelligence of the speaker. Oh, and striking someone out because they don't capitalize a company or product name is definitely going overboard.

I tend to filter for the most part based on the websites that I read more than the individual comments, flamewars notwithstanding.

His "Sentience Test" that's required to email him is pretty funny. Four lines of ruby solves it faster than any human ever could, but when I tried to send the comment, I got a server error.

def turing(test)
coefficient, test = test.split('x')
l_constant, r_constant = test.split('=')
(r_constant.to_i - l_constant.to_i) / coefficient.to_i

puts turing('80x + 86 = 1526') #outputs 44
posted by Rictic at 12:51 AM on August 27, 2005

I am outraged.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 2:19 AM on August 27, 2005

Some smart people are bad at spelling. Many common spelling mistakes (e.g. homonyms) aren't caught by spell-checkers. Does he think such people should hire personal copyeditors?

(Love his Hacker's Diet, though.)
posted by callmejay at 11:13 AM on August 27, 2005

His methodology has all the merits of a bad spam filter, but I give him credit for trying to resuscitate the idea of killfiles.
posted by pbx at 2:44 PM on August 27, 2005

posted by OmieWise at 11:56 AM on August 29, 2005

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