off topic but please forgive me me and answer

Andreas Waldenburger usenot at geekmail.INVALID
Sun Apr 4 13:59:57 CEST 2010

On Sat, 3 Apr 2010 23:13:51 -0700 (PDT) Mensanator <mensanator at>

> On Apr 3, 9:03 pm, Steven D'Aprano <st... at REMOVE-THIS-
>> wrote:
> > On Sat, 03 Apr 2010 09:35:34 -0700, Mensanator wrote:
> > > On Apr 3, 10:17 am, Steven D'Aprano <st... at REMOVE-THIS-
> > >> wrote:
> > >> But you're not multiplying four numbers,
> >
> > > You are if you're using Rationals.
> >
> > That is sheer unadulterated nonsense.
> You obviously don't understand the workings of computers.
Now this is what's wrong about internet discussions. Nobody actually
defines what they are talking about *until* it becomes a problem. And
then the retconning starts.

This discussion up to this point had not explicitly been about the
workings of computers. It had not really explicitly been about
mathematical numbers either (although to my understanding this had
been implicit, but that's personal).

Let this be a reminder that defining your terms is one of the best
ideas ever. Its the reason for the success of mathematics. I'd like it
to be a reason for the success of discussions as well.


PS: Accusing someone publicly of "obviously" not understanding [some
topic] is pretty low by any standards. And especially so when the
argument for doing so is bogus: Computers by themselves have as much a
notion of Rationals as they have of Irrationals, or, for that matter,
the cuteness puppies. Software does.


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