Monday, April 27, 2009

So much for levity in technical docs

I received this e-mail about a publication I wrote.

I'm reading through the the Tkinter tutorial
and in the "Anchors" section is a discussion
of setting locations using terms such as N
(for north) meaning the top; S (for south)
meaning bottom; E (for east) meaning left
and so forth. Reading on, I found this:
"We apologize to our Southern Hemisphere
readers for this Northern Hemisphere

Last I looked, even in the Southern Hemisphere,
Hemisphere, north on a map is toward the top,
south is toward the bottom, east is toward
the left, etc. (Google a map of Australia,
and you'll find north is up)

While I appreciate that you academics are
whiny PC wimps, I at least would think that
there should be something to apologize FOR
before abasing yourself.

Second, I would have thought a professor in the
in the technical field would be far about [sic]
the stupid PC form of writing.

My reply:

Perhaps you have not seen McArthur's Universal Corrective Map of the World.

My remarks about hemispheric chauvinism were a poor attempt at humor. It is my policy, when writing dry technical works, to leaven the leaden prose with the occasional bit of ham-handed levity. I am not actually an academic, but a staff member who holds only a pathetic and superannuated (1970) bachelor's degree in computer science.

I'm currently revising the Tkinter reference for version 8.4, so I will include the above link in the new version in hopes that my joke might not fall so flat.

Thank you for your valuable communication.


Daniel said...

I think you should simply have responded with a loud 'WHOOSH' and left it at that. ;)

~ D

Anonymous said...

Lauren noticed that the guy confuses East orientation with Left. :)

Lauren said...

I really hope I'm not the first one to notice the very amusing fact that east is not to the left when north is up.

JohnWShipman said...

Depends on your point of view. For Northern Hemisphere astronomers facing south, north is up, and east is to your left.

Bill Weiss said...

In the next version you should offer to mirror it (making East left) in deference to people Right of GMT.

Rooth said...

True, if you're an astronomer under those conditions, east is indeed left. But since he referenced google maps to backup his assertion, and east is to the right on those perspectives, he's clearly confused. ;)

I agree with Daniel, though: