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Today's xkcd:

Mouseover title: "I honestly didn't think you could even USE emoji in variable names. Or that there were so many different crying ones."



  1. D.O. said,

    April 17, 2015 @ 7:31 am

    Who knows only Excel formulas corporate lawyer or phone autocorrect?

  2. mike said,

    April 17, 2015 @ 8:18 am

    Randall might be writing about code, but I've certainly been confronted with (e.g.) whitepapers in which the author's ideas about formatting–and non-ideas about how to use styles–was sort of breathtaking.

  3. bks said,

    April 17, 2015 @ 9:27 am

    The code written in the 90's by biologists dabbling in bioinformatics would have been much improved by the algorithms suggested by the protagonist in the cartoon.

  4. GH said,

    April 17, 2015 @ 10:45 am


    The phone autocorrect. If the autocorrect only knows Excel formulas (a primitive programming language), then feeding it any random information (such as a salad recipe) would produce code. Very strange code.

    Some people would also argue that the use of "that" instead of "who" indicates that we're referring to the machine rather than the human.

  5. ohwilleke said,

    April 17, 2015 @ 1:16 pm

    Bryan Garner, the leading legal writing guru, had pretty much made his career on honoring the rules of English grammar, while departing from self-defeating style conventions in legal writing that are not actual rules of English grammar.

    It is amazing how many style and usage conventions, and how many literary tropes are never codified or formally taught at any level, and have to be picked up intuitively by imitation only.

  6. Rubrick said,

    April 17, 2015 @ 5:43 pm

    For the curious, emoji can indeed be legally used in variable names in a number of modern programming languages.

  7. Jim Breen said,

    April 17, 2015 @ 6:32 pm

    Emoji as variable names is an interesting concept. These days when code ideally can be written in any script it may well be possible. I see on the Unicode mailing list that one person is using the symbol for a cup of coffee next to his name.

  8. John Lawler said,

    April 17, 2015 @ 7:02 pm

    A similar situation to the TECO editor command set, which includes just about every ASCII character, and by now maybe EBCDIC, kanji, and emoji. The challenge was always to type your name or login at the TECO command prompt and see what happened. Something always did.

  9. Chris C. said,

    April 17, 2015 @ 7:39 pm

    Brings to mind a post from Lowering the Bar round about a month ago:

    @John Lawler — I tried using TECO once, in college. Then I used something else, permanently. (You coincidentally have the same name as my brother-in-law. I know you're not him because he's not a linguist, but a tow truck driver.)

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