Thursday, March 22, 2012

Not Not Double Negation

“Interestingly, one mathematician won the Fields Medal (mathematics' most prestigious prize) by distinguishing formally between not-not-A and A. Paul Cohen of Stanford showed how to develop a formal logic (called forcing) in which not-not-A and A are different. He capitalized on this distinction to show that certain mathematical statements (among them Cantor's continuum hypothesis) are neither necessarily true nor necessarily false.” -Keith Devlin, Executive Director of the Center for the Study of Language and Information at Stanford University.

In short, it has been proven that one cannot claim double negatives are assertions of the fact that is being doubly negated. It’s a slap in the face to annoying nitpickers everywhere!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


I just had this conversation in my head:

Did you say “2K12”? You sound like a toucan.

Alright, how would you pronounce the year? Two thousand twelve?

Usually, yeah. You have a problem with that?

Well, it’s got a lot of syllables, doesn’t it? It’s a bit gangly. “Two thousand” has one more syllable than “nineteen,” and it doesn’t roll off the tongue as easily, either. It’s bothered me ever since we hit the new millennium.

Seriously? How old were you then? Eight?

I was a conscientious child.

How’s this: twenty-twelve. That matches the past style of saying “nineteen” to represent nineteen hundred, and it even has a nice “tw” sound to it.

It works, I guess. Sounds weird, but I’ll have to get used to it. Wait. No, that’s bad... it does open us up to a bunch of dumb jokes about eyesight eight years from now.

Yeah, but we’ll get those anyway. Besides, they can’t be worse than the apocalypse jokes this year, and the “where’s the flying cars?” jokes in a couple more.

True. It’ll sound a bit more natural once get past the teen years, too. You could say that the outlook gets better after 2020.

...that’s not going to be funny in eight years.