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Brevity. Is the soul of wit, really? Brevity? The soul of wit? For reals? C'mon

24

Posts

  • Charles KinboteCharles Kinbote Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    zerg rush wrote: »
    Brevity is absolutely the pinnacle of wit. The ultimate witticism will never be a prepared speech, but rather a single word or phrase of such an appropriate nature that one cannot help but revel in its blatant wonderful existence.

    Sometimes great witticisms can be quite long compared to simple one liner gag jokes.


    In short: your mom.

    But while the concept is witty, and certain lines from that are witty (as in Gulliver's Travels), I wouldn't argue that the entire piece is witty. I guess it's just semantics, but I draw a line between clever and witty where witty actually implies brevity or spontaneity or somesuch.

    www.twitter.com/amazingwarlock
  • EriosErios Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1) - Cite This Source - Share This
    wit·ti·cism /ˈwɪtəˌsɪzəm/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[wit-uh-siz-uhm] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation
    –noun
    a witty remark or sentence.

    Steam: erios23, Live: Coconut Flavor, Origin: erios2386.
  • Charles KinboteCharles Kinbote Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    Erios wrote: »
    Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1) - Cite This Source - Share This
    wit·ti·cism /ˈwɪtəˌsɪzəm/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[wit-uh-siz-uhm] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation
    –noun
    a witty remark or sentence.

    Ok, I'll edit my post to accommodate your inane semantics so that you don't have to come up with a legitimate argument.

    www.twitter.com/amazingwarlock
  • EriosErios Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    Erios wrote: »
    Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1) - Cite This Source - Share This
    wit·ti·cism /ˈwɪtəˌsɪzəm/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[wit-uh-siz-uhm] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation
    –noun
    a witty remark or sentence.

    Ok, I'll edit my post to accommodate your inane semantics so that you don't have to come up with a legitimate argument.

    Hey, you were the guy splitting hairs with himself over wit. That and good satirical writing can be witty at times, so you are certainly right there. In fact, I don't disagree with you in any meaningful way.

    Steam: erios23, Live: Coconut Flavor, Origin: erios2386.
  • Charles KinboteCharles Kinbote Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    Erios wrote: »
    Erios wrote: »
    Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1) - Cite This Source - Share This
    wit·ti·cism /ˈwɪtəˌsɪzəm/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[wit-uh-siz-uhm] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation
    –noun
    a witty remark or sentence.

    Ok, I'll edit my post to accommodate your inane semantics so that you don't have to come up with a legitimate argument.

    Hey, you were the guy splitting hairs with himself over wit. That and good satirical writing can be witty at times, so you are certainly right there. In fact, I don't disagree with you in any meaningful way.

    let's hug.

    www.twitter.com/amazingwarlock
  • EriosErios Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    Erios wrote: »
    Erios wrote: »
    Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1) - Cite This Source - Share This
    wit·ti·cism /ˈwɪtəˌsɪzəm/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[wit-uh-siz-uhm] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation
    –noun
    a witty remark or sentence.

    Ok, I'll edit my post to accommodate your inane semantics so that you don't have to come up with a legitimate argument.

    Hey, you were the guy splitting hairs with himself over wit. That and good satirical writing can be witty at times, so you are certainly right there. In fact, I don't disagree with you in any meaningful way.

    let's hug.

    That's all?

    Steam: erios23, Live: Coconut Flavor, Origin: erios2386.
  • Locutus ZeroLocutus Zero Registered User
    edited September 2007
    As I worked on my response to this thread, deleting sentences, rewriting, deleting the whole thing, starting over, I realized it was a great illustration of brevity. It takes longer to write a passage to clearly get your idea across as succinctly as possible, but the fewer words you use, the clearer your idea becomes.

    If your three-sentence idea is hidden amongst five paragraphs of unneeded words, people are less likely to come away knowing what you were trying to say.

    1..2..3.. and that makes three sentences. ... damit.

    Locutus+Zero.png
  • Not SarastroNot Sarastro __BANNED USERS regular
    edited September 2007
    Snork wrote: »
    Just about possible? Are you kidding?
    The whole point of that speech is irony. Polonius just spends 900 years contradicting himself and giving increasingly meaningless advice to Laertes, and then ends his rambling by saying 'brevity is the soul of wit'.

    Unless you're trying to be ironic with 'just about possible'.

    "Understatement".

    You'll find it in the dictionary under "British".

    PS Going back to the Shakespeare bit, the other common misconception is that the phrase means 'brevity is the soul of [being amusing]'. Shinto wasn't using it that way, but a lot of people here are. In fact it uses the prevalent 16th century meaning of the word, namely wit = a quick mind. Many Shakespeare scholars - and I agree with them - think that 'brevity is the soul of wit' is itself a tautological ironic joke. Essentially, the phrase would mean 'brevity is the soul of brevity'. Polonius, in trying to stammer out his point, ends up repeating himself even more.

    Either way, the modern use is a hundred miles away from the original intent.

  • MikeManMikeMan Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    I, for one, admire and seek to emulate Shinto's style.

    My occasional space-time/religion rants notwithstanding.

    HOW DO YOU FUCK UP BAGELS. YOU BOIL THE WATER. PUT IN THE NOODLES
  • Not SarastroNot Sarastro __BANNED USERS regular
    edited September 2007
    Senjutsu wrote: »
    I said "It's always good style to express things as succinctly as possible.". Note the emphasis. This isn't to say that all philosophy papers should be 10 words or less, 2 syllables or shorter each. If it takes 10,000 words to precisely express what you mean to, then use 10,000 words. But don't use 15,000 to express the same idea.

    This would be one of those times when having said something blindingly obvious (ie the definition of 'succinct'), people think you've said something else, so will be pissed at you in a page when they finally work out what you actually said.

    By the way, succinct != brief. So the point is somewhat pointless.

  • Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    dictionary thread go

    gkcmatch_zps97480250.jpg
    stand up! It was the smallest on the list but
    pluto was a planet and I'll never forget
  • Not SarastroNot Sarastro __BANNED USERS regular
    edited September 2007
    As I worked on my response to this thread, deleting sentences, rewriting, deleting the whole thing, starting over, I realized it was a great illustration of brevity. It takes longer to write a passage to clearly get your idea across as succinctly as possible, but the fewer words you use, the clearer your idea becomes.

    Not true.

  • Not SarastroNot Sarastro __BANNED USERS regular
    edited September 2007
    As I worked on my response to this thread, deleting sentences, rewriting, deleting the whole thing, starting over, I realized it was a great illustration of brevity. It takes longer to write a passage to clearly get your idea across as succinctly as possible, but the fewer words you use, the clearer your idea becomes.

    true.












    Having tested your theory, I find it false.

  • Locutus ZeroLocutus Zero Registered User
    edited September 2007
    ^^Well, to a point, obviously, but yeah.

    Locutus+Zero.png
  • JamesKeenanJamesKeenan Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    Perhaps the soul of wit wasn't meant to be taken literally. Maybe the author only meant to express exactly how important brevity was for wit. You can't seem very witty, you won't seem that witty, if you're so damn verbose. Perhaps "Brevity is a key component to wit" or even "Brevity is the most essential element to wit." But how poetic is that? Sounds like an instruction manual.

    Brevity =! Wit.

    Brevity is just essential. With this, I agree.

  • Not SarastroNot Sarastro __BANNED USERS regular
    edited September 2007
    ^^Well, to a point, obviously, but yeah.

    Unfortunately, that point is where you need to start using more words to explain yourself :P

    Honestly, succinct = good, sometimes brief = good, and I can see why people want to argue that brevity is some kind of net forum form of enlightenment given the amount of posts we trawl through, but there is a lot of shoddy thinking going on here.

  • Not SarastroNot Sarastro __BANNED USERS regular
    edited September 2007
    Perhaps the soul of wit wasn't meant to be taken literally. Maybe the author only meant to express exactly how important brevity was for wit. You can't seem very witty, you won't seem that witty, if you're so damn verbose. Perhaps "Brevity is a key component to wit" or even "Brevity is the most essential element to wit." But how poetic is that? Sounds like an instruction manual.

    Brevity =! Wit.

    Brevity is just essential. With this, I agree.

    /smack

    [url=
    http://forums.penny-arcade.com/showpost.php?p=3028952&postcount=49]Read post 49[/url], I just posted it. The author didn't intend to express anything of the kind, and 'wit' in the context doesn't mean 'witty'.

    The rest of what you wrote is good though.

  • Locutus ZeroLocutus Zero Registered User
    edited September 2007
    I mean, we can spend much more space comparing brevity to succinctness and so forth, but here's alls I'm trying to say. There is a certain art to crafting words where the goal isn't to communicate information, any more than a painting is meant to be a study of colors and shapes. Tycho practices this art very well. But when that isn't the issue, when you are just trying to communicate ideas, there is an optimal amount and combination of words that does this. Any more, any less, and any different combination will do the job in a less than optimal manner.

    Whether this means I agree with Polonius, or you, or anyone else, IDK, but that's the way I sees it.

    Locutus+Zero.png
  • JamesKeenanJamesKeenan Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    Sarastro wrote: »
    As I worked on my response to this thread, deleting sentences, rewriting, deleting the whole thing, starting over, I realized it was a great illustration of brevity. It takes longer to write a passage to clearly get your idea across as succinctly as possible, but the fewer words you use, the clearer your idea becomes.

    true.












    Having tested your theory, I find it false.

    As this the internet, and it's no longer safe to assume may be using "sarcasm," I must conclude that you.

  • ShintoShinto __BANNED USERS
    edited September 2007
    Sarastro wrote: »
    As I worked on my response to this thread, deleting sentences, rewriting, deleting the whole thing, starting over, I realized it was a great illustration of brevity. It takes longer to write a passage to clearly get your idea across as succinctly as possible, but the fewer words you use, the clearer your idea becomes.

    true.












    Having tested your theory, I find it false.

    Heh.

    Joke, right?

  • Locutus ZeroLocutus Zero Registered User
    edited September 2007
    Also, I don't know about everyone else, but my argument has nothing to do with this being the net. It's the way I approach technical writing, programing, and any writing other than "this paper needs to be 3 pages of ideas stretched into 6 pages".

    Locutus+Zero.png
  • JamesKeenanJamesKeenan Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    Sarastro wrote: »
    Perhaps the soul of wit wasn't meant to be taken literally. Maybe the author only meant to express exactly how important brevity was for wit. You can't seem very witty, you won't seem that witty, if you're so damn verbose. Perhaps "Brevity is a key component to wit" or even "Brevity is the most essential element to wit." But how poetic is that? Sounds like an instruction manual.

    Brevity =! Wit.

    Brevity is just essential. With this, I agree.

    /smack

    [url=
    http://forums.penny-arcade.com/showpost.php?p=3028952&postcount=49]Read post 49[/url], I just posted it. The author didn't intend to express anything of the kind, and 'wit' in the context doesn't mean 'witty'.

    The rest of what you wrote is good though.


    Would you believe me if I told you that I knew that, and this was all some sort of elaborate joke to trap you into coming out of your shells of unseriousness?

    (And sadly, I like Shakespeare, so I would like to think that I would have gotten this.)

  • Not SarastroNot Sarastro __BANNED USERS regular
    edited September 2007
    I mean, we can spend much more space comparing brevity to succinctness and so forth, but here's alls I'm trying to say. There is a certain art to crafting words where the goal isn't to communicate information, any more than a painting is meant to be a study of colors and shapes. Tycho practices this art very well.

    Sorry, I'm with that first bit, but...
    But when that isn't the issue, when you are just trying to communicate ideas, there is an optimal amount and combination of words that does this. Any more, any less, and any different combination will do the job in a less thanoptimal manner.

    No dear god no. When you are trying to communicate information is exactly the time some verbosity is required. Flat information on its own, without some kind of narration to take you along with the writer's thoughts, is incredibly hard to read, especially if the subject matter is complex. Unless you are making the basic 'succinct' argument (ie don't write 15 words if 10 will do) which nobody is going to disagree with, brevity is not always the best way to convey information. Ideas often require clarification because people misunderstand them in the first place, because they were not thorougly explained. They can also require clarification because they were over-explained and the reader became bored & skipped bits, but that is an argument for being succinct, not brief.

    Also, if your theory was correct, then nobody would ever bother writing essays or books beyond the title, if the most brief way was the best way to communicate their idea, and no history, politics, economics etc book would ever be more than a list of dates and figures.

    PS The net thing was originally from Shinto again. I do see your point, especially with technical writing (a lot of the economic / political stuff I read is a complete chore because they are awful writers), but brevity is a misleading word to use. As Senjitsu pointed out, 'succinct' is both the correct word, and impossible to argue against.

  • ShintoShinto __BANNED USERS
    edited September 2007
    I make my argument from authority:
    It is with words as with sunbeams. The more they are condensed, the deeper they burn.
    Good things, when short, are twice as good.
    The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.
    A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts.
    Mark Twain wrote:
    To get the right word in the right place is a rare achievement. To condense the diffused light of a page of thought into the luminous flash of a single sentence, is worthy to rank as a prize composition just by itself...Anybody can have ideas--the difficulty is to express them without squandering a quire of paper on an idea that ought to be reduced to one glittering paragraph.
    Spartans, stoics, heroes, saints and gods use short and positive speech.
    Brevity is a great charm of eloquence.

    And as the Shakespeare qutoe, we might ask ourselves not only his original intention in the lines, but why those lines in particular became a commonly used epigram and passed into our daily oral tradition. Perhaps because the advice on its face passed the test of everyday utility, chosen democratically in its own way by the experience of many generations.

  • Locutus ZeroLocutus Zero Registered User
    edited September 2007
    If you feel that a certain amount and combination of words is not enough, then it is less than optimal.

    It's starting to look like a truism, but I'm standing by it.

    edit: I think the problem is that you think I mean "communicating hard facts is all that is needed most of the time". Commentary, narrative, and emotion are all examples of the ideas I'm talking about.

    Locutus+Zero.png
  • Not SarastroNot Sarastro __BANNED USERS regular
    edited September 2007
    Shinto wrote: »
    Heh.

    Joke, right?

    Well combined with the post above it, yes. Good example though: if I had been even more brief and only included the second post, some people would have got the subtlety, but the intent would have been much less clear.

    PS Shinto, again, all those people are essentially making arguments for succinctness. Also, using Cicero is a total cheat, the man might have said that, but he used to bang on for hours or days with his opening speeches. That doesn't mean they weren't perfectly succinct, but it's hard to argue they were brief.
    And as the Shakespeare qutoe, we might ask ourselves not only his original intention in the lines, but why those lines in particular became a commonly used epigram and passed into our daily oral tradition. Perhaps because the advice on its face passed the test of everyday utility, chosen democratically in its own way by the experience of many generations.

    Yes, this is true.

  • ShintoShinto __BANNED USERS
    edited September 2007
    Sarastro wrote: »
    Shinto wrote: »
    Heh.

    Joke, right?

    Well combined with the post above it, yes. Good example though: if I had been even more brief and only included the second post, some people would have got the subtlety, but the intent would have been much less clear.

    Not what I would call a good example. Brevity only calls for using fewer, better chosen words, not for deleting words to switch from positive to negative connotation.

  • Not SarastroNot Sarastro __BANNED USERS regular
    edited September 2007
    Shinto wrote: »
    Sarastro wrote: »
    Shinto wrote: »
    Heh.

    Joke, right?

    Well combined with the post above it, yes. Good example though: if I had been even more brief and only included the second post, some people would have got the subtlety, but the intent would have been much less clear.

    Not what I would call a good example. Brevity only calls for using fewer, better chosen words, not for deleting words to switch from positive to negative connotation.

    But the joke was the switch. If I had only used the second post, fewer people would have got the joke.

  • ShintoShinto __BANNED USERS
    edited September 2007
    Sarastro wrote: »
    Shinto wrote: »
    Heh.

    Joke, right?

    Well combined with the post above it, yes. Good example though: if I had been even more brief and only included the second post, some people would have got the subtlety, but the intent would have been much less clear.

    PS Shinto, again, all those people are essentially making arguments for succinctness. Also, using Cicero is a total cheat, the man might have said that, but he used to bang on for hours or days with his opening speeches. That doesn't mean they weren't perfectly succinct, but it's hard to argue they were brief.
    And as the Shakespeare qutoe, we might ask ourselves not only his original intention in the lines, but why those lines in particular became a commonly used epigram and passed into our daily oral tradition. Perhaps because the advice on its face passed the test of everyday utility, chosen democratically in its own way by the experience of many generations.

    Yes, this is true.

    Uh huh. Well let me bring this home to with a synthesis right now then.

    The distinction you are drawing between succinctness and brevity is a bit of a false one. If we were writing ten page essays on these topics it would be relevant, however because this is a medium of conversation and argumentation it is moot. You may be both succinct and brief. It suffices to lay down your central idea without being comprehensive because you can assume that the reader, if they have a question or objection, will immediately pose it to you and you may respond.

    The back and forth of brief posts which question and answer eachother is better suited to these boards than enormous essays by a poster stating their entire position and allowing it to float like a ponderous iceburg scarcely referencing the posts of others.

  • JamesKeenanJamesKeenan Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    Sarastro wrote: »
    As Senjitsu pointed out, 'succinct' is both the correct word, and impossible to argue against.


    Fuck succinct. Unless you labor laboriously on the paper you're righting, no one will take it serial. You can be brief to the point of not even saying what you were trying to say, and people will respect you for writing something so profoundly depthful. It seems when your point is buried beneath confusion and misdirection, it means more.

    Verbosity, therefore, is the virtue to end all virtues. If you can say what you wanted to say, without actually saying it, and instead cluttering the void where your idea was with meaningless examples and arguments, you've created literature.

    And will be respected for it.

    (Reading through the whole thread, it seems by now we've... "solved" the topic, and now only seem to be pouring over something unrelated anyhow, succinctness. No one is arguing against it. It seems nearly every new post is actually constructed as if there were an argument against succintosity, as a misunderstanding of the topic. I did this, but I'm an idiot. Thread over? Edit: "Thread over" is not a challenge, or some self-righteous claim. It is a real question.)

  • Locutus ZeroLocutus Zero Registered User
    edited September 2007
    Very well said James.

    Locutus+Zero.png
  • JinniganJinnigan Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    If you can say what you wanted to say, without actually saying it, and instead cluttering the void where your ideas with meaningless examples and arguments, you've created literature.

    look at how stupid you are

    To Shinto: While that's certainly true, I think that it requires good judgement to know how in-depth the initial statement should be. "I think abortion is bad," with no other support, is not a good post, no matter how you spin it. The trick is to find some balance between a two-sentence post and a giant wall of text.

    Perhaps the best way of thinking about brevity is this. Ask yourself, "Do I need this word?" If you can put your finger over that word or paragraph and the rest of the writing remains essentially the same, that means it’s not necessary. Cut it out.

    whatifihadnofriendsshortenedsiggy2.jpg
  • MrMisterMrMister Valuing scholarship above all elseRegistered User regular
    edited September 2007
    I do believe that the reason that this came up in the first place was that people here have been known to shit out walls of text. Very rarely are these walls of text worthwhile, and I don't think anyone could call them 'brief' or 'succinct.'

  • Not SarastroNot Sarastro __BANNED USERS regular
    edited September 2007
    I do believe the post it originally referred to was this one:
    Drez wrote:
    I think you underestimate the intellectual prowess and capabilities of children. I disagree with your assertion that there is anything that would be universally disliked by children.

    If something can be comprehended, it can be enjoyed. I don't know anything about Dharma Bums, but I'd say that if it is comprehensible to that age group but not enjoyable, then it is the exception rather than the rule, just like A Separate Peace. However I would argue that that is an assertion you are not equipped to make.

    Anyway as many, many people in this thread have illustrated, 1984 and Shakespeare are bad examples and this happens to be a thread about teaching Shakespeare. I first read Hamlet in the 5th grade and I enjoyed it then though I only understood a fraction of what I understand now. When we read it again in the 10th grade I'd say a good portion of my class enjoyed it. I'm just going off of memory here but I recall the general disposition to be positive. Others have indicated the same about Romeo and Juliet. So, maybe Dharma Bums isn't something worth teaching to youngsters, but I haven't seen any valid case made against Shakespeare yet...just a lot of "it bored me" which is neither relevant to the educational process nor relevant toward proving that it is boring for everyone in that age group.

    If you call that wall-text, you must have quit English in the 4th grade. Has nobody here ever read, you know, a novel? Dickens, there is some fucking wall-text. Try reading Bleak House in a few days, then come back here and say this is bad. It's not simply the length - I read LoTR easily in a few days when I was about 10, I recently read a Robert Harris book in a few hours on the train - it's a quality of the writing.

    I think there are some people here who don't simply avoid writing at length - they cannot do it; I think there are also people here who never bother to read anything longer than a paragraph, which doesn't help. There is as much skill to being able to craft an engaging narrative, or flesh out an idea at length, as there is to tossing off pithy epithets. Being quite willing to write either wall-text or one-liners as the situation requires, I am also suspicious of people I only ever see doing one: for example, I don't think I've seen Shinto or MrMister ever write more than a few sentences, though I haven't been looking that hard.

    So, a challenge:

    To all the anti-wall text people. Rephrase what Drez wrote above so it is 'brief', however, you want to define that.

    An alternative challenge; rephrase some real wall-text. I'll use one of mine to avoid offending anyone, but I am interested to see if someone can do what they claim, because the point of this is a technical explanation of relatively complex economic ideas which one assumes the reader is unaware of. I'm not sure how to test the success of this, but I'm sure there are some people who avoid D&D like the plague who we can throw it at.

    Here - the basic point of this is very simple. Go for brevity, but retain: all the information within; the impression that you know what you are talking about; pitching it at the level of a layman; the quality of an argument intended to persuade.
    Sarastro wrote:
    There are self-evidently many public services and such which do not work well under market principles. Trains are a good example. In the UK, the Conservative government privatised the national train network, British Rail, citing that market forces & competition would improve service under the new providers. They awarded contracts to various companies, each one running a specific area or train route; for example, southern London suburban trains, or the east coast line up to Scotland. This ignores a fundamental fact. People travelling on a train go from A to B via the best, or usually only, route. In 1998 then, if I wanted to travel to Edinburgh, I had to take a GNER train. I had no choice, as there was no competition. The only route involving a different company would take almost twice as long, or require a large number of changes; and since those changes took me through several different companies, I had to pay more. Practicalities ensure there was only one remotely efficient choice, and so I took GNER. However, since GNER had a captive market, they had no incentive to run a punctual service, and they had no competitors to keep their prices down; as long as they charged less than the price of buying several other train tickets, they could charge what they liked and people paid. Predictably, prices have almost tripled on some lines (despite record bail-outs amounting to billions by the government), and punctuality is worse than it used to be.

    The trains of GNER are cleaner & more spacious than those of British Rail, but again, there is no market force which has made them do this; the trains could be small and dirty, and people would still be forced to travel on them. This only improvement is through adaptive behaviour; there is a strong expectation for private companies to provide better customer service than public ones, and since customer service is relatively cheap and easy to provide, it is a demonstrable fact over many industries that private companies usually make it the first thing they do; for example, refurbishment (or a standardised high-quality exterior in francises) is often seen as an effective regenerative property to attract customers in companies which need to attract the public to their outlets, such as restaurants, coffee shops, retail stores.

    One might think; "the solution is to run more than one train company on each line, thus providing choice". So did the government; several years ago they tired of the endless bailouts and problems with franchises, and introduced two companies to some lines. This ignores another fundamental problem. The majority of people use trains for commuting, thus they need a train at a specific time, or within a specific window - thus the idea of peak time charges. It is impossible to run two trains on one line at the same time - more specifically, it is practically impossible to run two trains from different communications networks (ie companies) at even close to the same time. In a small, suburban network, the trains run too close together for different companies to work - thus where multiple companies were implemented, they still ran only one route. If I need to commute from a suburban town to work in London every day, I can still choose only one company. If I wanted to travel to a nearby suburban town, I might be able to choose a different company, but that isn't much use considering I don't move house on a day-to-day basis. I am still locked in without choice. Over the longer routes, such as the east coast line, the trains are spaced widely enough apart to run two companies. However, the companies awarded the contracts (GNER & Virgin) realised that whoever controlled the peak times would make all the money - they get the most passengers and can charge the highest. Thus the companies only accepted contracts which divided the peak times & directions equally. Virgin runs the morning peak times, GNER the evening, for example. However, if as a customer, I want to travel from Edinburgh to London, I only need to do it in one direction, and I am unlikely to do it twice in the same day (the journey takes 4-5 hours). Again I only have the one choice of company unless I am extremely flexible with my hours, and can pick an off-hour fare. Personally, I am able to do this since I only use that service a couple of times a year, and so are tourists and the like - the vast majority of customers who travel on it regularly, must act the same way as commuters, and again have no choice.

    Rail systems are a pretty good example of the limits of market forces in customer driven public services. Another one would be the idea of a privately funded military or police force. As someone pointed out in the military thread a while ago, two things are fundamental to national security, that the military & police are politically neutral, and that they are beholden to the government (through tradition and because the government pays them). This is because those two services are essentially the law in the country, since they have the power to enforce their will - thus it is vital that they remain under control of the government, and enforce the will of the government, and by extension the people. It should be painfully obvious to most people that whoever controls the purse for an organisation has a great degree of control over the organisation. If private citizens control the purse for the military and police, they become able to exert their own political will over the military and police, and thus over the country. This is in fact characteristic of countries which are governed under what seem to be Libertarian principles, as noted by Tom Friedman:
    come to Africa - it's a freshman Republican's paradise. Yes sir, nobody in Liberia pays taxes. There's no gun control in Angola. There's no welfare as we know it in Burundi and no big government to interfere in the market in Rwanda. But a lot of people sure wish there were.

    Quite simply, if you fund armies with private money, they become private armies. Look to Africa to see if this is a good idea.

  • ShintoShinto __BANNED USERS
    edited September 2007
  • VeegeezeeVeegeezee Registered User
    edited September 2007
    Sarastro wrote: »
    As I worked on my response to this thread, deleting sentences, rewriting, deleting the whole thing, starting over, I realized it was a great illustration of brevity. It takes longer to write a passage to clearly get your idea across as succinctly as possible, but the fewer words you use, the clearer your idea becomes.

    false.

    Better? Meaning has now been conserved, and condensed to half the number of words.

  • DrezDrez Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    Shinto wrote: »
    I make my argument from authority:
    It is with words as with sunbeams. The more they are condensed, the deeper they burn.
    Good things, when short, are twice as good.
    The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.
    A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts.
    Mark Twain wrote:
    To get the right word in the right place is a rare achievement. To condense the diffused light of a page of thought into the luminous flash of a single sentence, is worthy to rank as a prize composition just by itself...Anybody can have ideas--the difficulty is to express them without squandering a quire of paper on an idea that ought to be reduced to one glittering paragraph.
    Spartans, stoics, heroes, saints and gods use short and positive speech.
    Brevity is a great charm of eloquence.

    And as the Shakespeare qutoe, we might ask ourselves not only his original intention in the lines, but why those lines in particular became a commonly used epigram and passed into our daily oral tradition. Perhaps because the advice on its face passed the test of everyday utility, chosen democratically in its own way by the experience of many generations.

    Your problem, Shinto, is that you are conflating length with superfluousness. I could bury you with a wall of text higher and thicker than China's and still have nothing unnecessary in it.

    I understand your point about succinctness. I agree with your point. I do not, however, agree that it is always necessary or good to be as succinct as possible.

    I personally think you hide behind this ideology to avoid either reading or processing text samples of a particular length.

    Let's discuss the grammar of this. We'll take the second set of phrases above...here, I'll quote it for you:
    I understand your point about succinctness. I agree with your point. I do not, however, agree that it is always necessary or good to be as succinct as possible.

    If you actually read Strunk and White's Elements of Style - to quote one of your cited examples - you'll see how restructuring phrases modifies the tension and stressing in a sentence, paragraph, or body of text and that these things are inherently related to the meaning of a sentence, paragraph, or body of text. Therefore a larger construction with more words than a minimal construction may actually be more prudent in communicating a particular thought, idea, or what have you.

    I could make the above much briefer simply by using parallel structure. I could have written:
    I understand and agree with your point about succinctness, but do not agree that it is always necessary or good to be succinct as possible.

    This is much more concise, I'll grant you. It cuts out a lot of words and makes the reading of it quicker. But it also removes the way I wanted to punctuate each thought. I wanted you to stop and read "I understand," "I agree," and "I do not agree" each on its own. Reiterating myself as a subject is clearly "unnecessary" given your philosophy toward listening to me. Both phrases convey the same meaning. But I would argue that language is more than a race to find the most concise method of conversing. I would wager that most if not all of those sources you quoted would agree that language is not merely mathematical, or that even if it can be, it doesn't necessarily have to be. There is a place for verbosity, there is even a place for superfluousness in communication.

    There is no place, however, for mistaking succinctness or brevity with shortness.




    Of course I expect you to dismiss this entire post on the grounds that I misunderstood your point or some other bullshit like that my points are trivial or some new slang meme or whatever minimalists like to use nowadays to further their oppressive agenda.*


    *this was a mild attempt at humor considering last night's events

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  • ShintoShinto __BANNED USERS
    edited September 2007
    I actually read everyone's posts Drez.

    Sometimes I say I don't if I'm complaining about the length of their post, but I always do.

  • DrezDrez Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    That doesn't actually address the important bulk of what I said, but okay.

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  • ShintoShinto __BANNED USERS
    edited September 2007
    Drez wrote: »
    That doesn't actually address the important bulk of what I said, but okay.

    Well, your point didn't really address my last post so neener-neener. Neither did Sarastro.

    Only Jinnigan responded, and I think we're on the same wave-length.

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