code review

Steven D'Aprano steve+comp.lang.python at
Tue Jul 3 06:11:22 CEST 2012

On Tue, 03 Jul 2012 12:25:59 +1000, John O'Hagan wrote:

> On Tue, 3 Jul 2012 11:22:55 +1000
> Chris Angelico <rosuav at> wrote:
>> On Tue, Jul 3, 2012 at 10:57 AM, Steven D'Aprano
>> <steve+comp.lang.python at> wrote:
>> > Perhaps the world would be better off if mathematicians threw out the
>> > existing precedence rules and replaced them with a strict
>> > left-to-right precedence. (Personally, I doubt it.)
>> >
>> > But until they do, consistency with mathematics is far more important
>> > than the foolish consistency of left-to-right precedence.
>> And if they ever do, it'll break consistency with past centuries of
>> mathematical writing. Imagine (taking this to another realm) that it's
>> decided that since Wolfram is now called Tungsten, it should have the
>> chemical symbol 'T' instead of 'W'. This is far more consistent, right?
>> And Iron should be I, not Fe. We'll move Iodine to Io (and Europium to
>> Europa and Gallium to Ganymede?), and tritium (the isotope of hydrogen)
>> can become H3. It'd make today's chemistry notes look as archaic and
>> unreadable as those using alchemical symbols, only the actual symbols
>> are the same, making it ambiguous. Nope. Better to stick with what's
>> standardized.
> I agree to some extent, but as a counter-example, when I was a child
> there a subject called "Weights and Measures" which is now redundant
> because of the Metric system. I don't miss hogsheads and fathoms at all.

Don't mistake tradition for consistency. There's little consistency in 
the legacy weights and measures used before the metric system. The 
introduction of the Imperial system in 1824 at least got rid of *some* of 
the more wacky measures, and standardised the rest, but there was still 
damn little consistency: e.g. a finger was 7/8 of an inch, and an ell was 
45 inches, meaning an ell is 39 and 3/8th fingers.

One of my favourites is the league, which in the Middle Ages was actually 
defined as the distance that a man, or a horse, could walk in an hour.


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