About

I'm Mike Pope. I live in the Seattle area. I've been a technical writer and editor for over 30 years. I'm interested in software, language, music, movies, books, motorcycles, travel, and ... well, lots of stuff.

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Some people may sit back and say, "I want to solve this problem" and they sit down and say, "How do I solve this problem?" I don't. I just move around in the mathematical waters, thinking about things, being curious, interested, talking to people, stirring up ideas; things emerge and I follow them up. Or I see something which connects up with something else I know about, and I try to put them together and things develop. I have practically never started off with any idea of what I'm going to be doing or where it's going to go. I'm interested in mathematics; I talk, I learn, I discuss and then interesting questions simply emerge. I have never started off with a particular goal, except the goal of understanding mathematics.

Michael Atiyah



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Blog Statistics

Dates
First entry - 6/27/2003
Most recent entry - 9/13/2021

Totals
Posts - 2638
Comments - 2643
Hits - 2,418,019

Averages
Entries/day - 0.39
Comments/entry - 1.00
Hits/day - 361

Updated every 30 minutes. Last: 1:50 PM Pacific


  03:03 PM

Short piece this week, because I'm at ACES 2016, a festival of copyedit-wonkery in Portland OR. Example, here's a joke that got a big laugh from the audience: "How do you hide $20 from a reporter? Put it in their style guide."

The new-to-me word this week is the term confirmshaming, a term that I didn't realize I needed until the second I learned it from Facebook Friend Clay. This refers to how websites try to sell you something, and the link or button to decline their offer is phrased in a way to suggest that you're a loser. An example makes this clear:



Ever seen this? There's a Tumblr blog that collects these things; the number of confirmshaming entries collected there is either funny or depressing, gah. One commenter on a Metafilter piece sums up the weirdness of confirmshaming: "Insulting your potential future customers seems like a can't lose marketing technique to me."

The surprising etymology this week was inspired by a book I'm reading: Traffic by Tom Vanderbilt. He notes that the word traffic did not originally have the negative connotations that it can have today. We got the word in Renaissance times from French; the tra- part is probably related to trans in the sense of "across." The term originally referred to the transportation of goods in both a noun sense ("a traffic in gems") and verb sense ("trafficked in gems"). What I cannot find is how recent the sense is of "bad traffic," as in "There's traffic today." I'll keep looking.


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