Something less serious

After my last post, here’s a sample of how I stay amused… I haven’t removed myself from these debate groups precisely because of this kind of bizarre post.

Sorry I can’t fit the whole thing in so well, and I’m really not interested in zooming in on the details of this tree. (You can though. I’ll link it to the Facebook status and you can take a look if you really want to.) But what amuses me is that trees are indeed a feature in programming, my line of work. Trees are fascinating things. Every node in a tree is itself a tree because it can have any number of child nodes, which themselves can have children, etc. Trees can get very complicated very quickly and that’s why, as a software developer I hate them. I can not emphasize this enough: Fuck trees!


But one thing I do know is that trees are an interesting abstraction. One that I happen to hate, but still. You also have trees in the Bible. Not the same kind of tree – the similarity ends at the coincidence of us using the same word in the English language.

But Joe here claims the Biblical trees are actually not literal. Then he climbs (down?) that analogy further until Nod means a different root node. (Again the similarity in words is down to English, never mind what language the Bible was written in or what words were used in the original.) Strange use of the tree abstraction really…It makes more sense to grow new branches than to change the root node, which would involve rebuilding the whole tree, but then Joe uses different kind of logic to the rest of us.

I especially like the bit about Spiritual Circumcision, although I’m somewhat disappointed he didn’t think of mixing metaphors and connect it to pruning somehow. Come on Joe! You can do better…

I’d love to know how Joe’s mind works and connects those dots though.

Words that confuse the fuck out of me – elision

A word that I never use, but fairly often encounter in programming documents and guides, is elide (as a verb) or elision as a noun.

The reason it confuses me is that it has two different, and almost opposite meanings:

  1. To omit sounds or syllables. For example, “I’m never going to understand this” can be rephrased as “I’m never gonna understand this”.
  2. To conflate. For example, “I’m never going to understand this” can be rephrased as “I’m never gonna understand this”.

Yes, I used the same example on purpose. “Going to” was elided by omitting those two words. But “gonna” also combined the two words. Hence the same example both omitted and combined. The word elide also seems to also have gained a more general, and less literal meaning: To merge, combine or conflate. This wiki has a decent example of the more general usage that seems to be a synonym for conflate. (Actually I wonder if the person who came up with that was simply confused like me, and took the literal combining of words during contraction to indicate incorrectly that elide means to merge.)

What confuses me is that to omit and to merge feels like two opposite things. And in an ironic twist that I forgot while starting to write this, knowing the difference between confuse and conflate was the previous word definition I struggled for years with.

Anyway, now you know. I hope I might have confused you in this post too.

Incidentally, in programming parlance, elision always refers to omission… At least as far as I know. Please don’t tell me otherwise.