Fewer than 1200 to go!

I was going to title this “less than 1200 to go”, but I knew the Language Police would come! At any rate, here is the number of subscribers. As you can see, as of this posting we need only 1184 subscribers to reach the magic number of 50,000, which (if we make it) I’ll consider one of the Big Achievements of my existence. I would then be able to die a happy man, but I emphasize that I will not stop posting here, nor cross the Rainbow Bridge, when the magic number is reached.

50 Comments

  1. Mike
    Posted July 2, 2017 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    How are you going to celebrate this momentous event?

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted July 3, 2017 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

      Beer, food and cats.
      You didn’t really need to ask, did you?

  2. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted July 2, 2017 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    1184 = 2^5 X 37

    Prime factors of 1184
    592
    296
    148
    74
    37

    Source:

    http://www.2dtx.com/prime/prime1184.html

    • Posted July 2, 2017 at 8:27 am | Permalink

      Those aren’t prime factors. None but the last are even prime numbers!

      • ThyroidPlanet
        Posted July 2, 2017 at 8:39 am | Permalink

        Well shoot, they aren’t

        Whys it called a prime factors tree then?

        • Posted July 2, 2017 at 9:06 am | Permalink

          Hey, don’t ask me, it’s your link! 😉

        • Posted July 3, 2017 at 12:56 am | Permalink

          The current grade school math students learn to break a composite number down into its prime factors using a branching schematic, hence “tree.” For example, the number 4 would have two oblique lines beneath it (a forward slash and a back slash), each line connecting to the number 2. This “tree” shows that 4 is made by multiplying 2×2.

          It gets into more layers of branches with 8: 2×4, then 2x 2×2.

          The older method, nicknamed “upside down division”, was easier to teach, clearer to read, and better to work with, once the prime numbers and/or composites along the way to primes were identified. This is what I teach, when I tutor grade school math, and the kids’ eyes and brains light up.

      • ThyroidPlanet
        Posted July 2, 2017 at 9:20 am | Permalink

        BTW I’m still traveling so if PCC(E) wants to look where in the world this prime number troll is posting from – privately, right – I’m leaving in a day, so….

      • ThyroidPlanet
        Posted July 2, 2017 at 9:37 am | Permalink

        For my sin :

        each of the numbers has to be multiplied by 2 to obtain the higher number.

        I guess the only prime number that matters are the 2 at each step and the last multiplier, here being 37.

        … I guess I hastily wrote “prime factors” instead of “prime factors tree”. Or I’m an idiot, or both.

      • John Taylor
        Posted July 2, 2017 at 10:02 am | Permalink

        Easy tip off is that they are even numbers!!!

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted July 2, 2017 at 8:40 am | Permalink

      Prime factors TREE, FTR

    • JonLynnHarvey
      Posted July 2, 2017 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

      1184 = 32 * 37 (=2^5 * 37)

      • ThyroidPlanet
        Posted July 2, 2017 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

        1184 = ( 1 X 1 X 8 X 4 ) x 37

        Am I forgiven?

        • JonLynnHarvey
          Posted July 2, 2017 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

          Ohh, nice.
          I wish I knew someone 1184 years old to put that on their birthday cake.

    • Posted July 3, 2017 at 1:00 am | Permalink

      1184 divided by 2 = 592. Prime factor 2 found.
      592 divided by 2 = 296. Another 2 found.
      296 divided by 2 = 148. Yet another 2.
      148 divided by 2 = 74. That’s 2 number four.
      74 divided by 2 = 37. That’s 2 number five.
      37 is not evenly divisible by anything except itself and one, so it is also prime. Result:

      1184 = 2x2x2x2x2x37.

      The shorthand for this is to put 1184 under an upside down division frame, then each factor is written to the left of that, and each result is written beneath, to be boxed in by the next division frame and so on.

  3. GBJames
    Posted July 2, 2017 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    A proper headline. I was not irritated. Life is good.

    • Posted July 2, 2017 at 9:28 am | Permalink

      I’m not so sure. We use the mathematical symbol < to mean "less than", and even when it's clear that we're discussing integers we can write 1 < 2 or "one is less than two."

      Right now this page says "You are following this blog, along with 48,817 other amazing people", so can we not write "48,817 < 50,000", or "< 1200 to go", or "less that 1200 to go"?

      • Dave
        Posted July 2, 2017 at 9:47 am | Permalink

        Happy July < 5

      • GBJames
        Posted July 2, 2017 at 10:24 am | Permalink

        That is a reasonable analysis if we were discussing numbers in the abstract. But we’re talking about counts of people and, thus, “fewer” is the proper word to use.

        • Gregory Kusnick
          Posted July 2, 2017 at 11:38 am | Permalink

          Merriam-Webster disagrees with you.

          • Richard Bond
            Posted July 2, 2017 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

            Dictionaries record usage, not what makes sense.

            • Richard Bond
              Posted July 2, 2017 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

              Um, not what necessarily>/em> makes sense. (Puts down glass of wine.)

              • Richard Bond
                Posted July 2, 2017 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

                Rude words, rude words, rude words: not what necessarily makes sense.

            • Gregory Kusnick
              Posted July 2, 2017 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

              I doubt that anyone has any trouble making sense of “less than 1200”. As the MW article points out, people have been using it that way, and making sense of it, for centuries.

              How do you imagine words get their sense, if not from usage?

              • Richard Bond
                Posted July 2, 2017 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

                I agree about the points that you make; what I regret is the loss of nuance as meanings become smeared. For example, the “ee” ending on non-transitive verbs: “escapee” and “attendee”. Do people generally understand the meaning? Probably yes, most of the time.

                However, suppose that I wrote “the swivee was ecstatic” in classical English. The accurate equivalent today would be something like “the female recipient of vaginal sexual intercourse with a man was expressing overwhelming happiness or joyful excitement”. I vote for simplicity via specificity.

              • Gregory Kusnick
                Posted July 2, 2017 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

                Loss of nuance might be regrettable if it could be documented quantitatively. My understanding is that linguists find no evidence of such a decline in the expressive power of modern English.

              • Richard Bond
                Posted July 2, 2017 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

                The point of my example was that the maintenance of such expressive power involves extra verbiage, unless meaning is well defined. Consider the difference between “may” and “might”: “I may go to the pub” means that I have permission, “I might go to the pub” expresses probability. I freely admit that this argument has long been lost; I merely regret that today either of those simple statements needs extra qualification to convey its full meaning.

              • Gregory Kusnick
                Posted July 2, 2017 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

                I invite you to search Shakespeare or the King James Bible for uses of “may” to convince yourself that it’s been interchangeable with “might” for at least 500 years.

          • Posted July 3, 2017 at 1:02 am | Permalink

            Yes, but I agree with him, and I tutor SAT and ACT and GRE English — successfully.

            • Gregory Kusnick
              Posted July 3, 2017 at 1:18 am | Permalink

              If your goal is to improve students’ test scores, by all means teach to the test. If the goal is to understand the meanings of words as they’re actually used in everyday speech, I don’t see how the tests are relevant.

        • Kiwi Dave
          Posted July 2, 2017 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

          If you asked me, a former English teacher, ‘How many people were at the meeting?’ I would definitely write ‘fewer than 100’ but probably say ‘less than 100’, despite knowing the distinction between count and non-count nouns.

          Wikipedia cites from the OED Alfred the Great from 888, writing the Anglo-Saxon equivalent of modern ‘less words’, literally, ‘less of words’.

  4. Posted July 2, 2017 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    OK, I’ve postponed this too long.

  5. bric
    Posted July 2, 2017 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    When (eventually) you get to that Rainbow Bridge . . .

    • JonLynnHarvey
      Posted July 2, 2017 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

      There’s also a Rainbow Bridge near Niagara Falls and a National Monument in Utah.

      • bric
        Posted July 2, 2017 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

        Mere wordly rainbow bridges, but PCC will surely be crossing Bifröst to join the gods in Asgard

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted July 3, 2017 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

          On the assumption that the gatekeeper, Hili, lets him cross.
          So, no pennies on the eyelids. Anchovies in the pockets, maybe.

          • gravelinspector-Aidan
            Posted July 3, 2017 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

            [Now trying to remember who was the “gate keeper of the gods” … Heimdallr, according to Wikipedia. Clearly a mis-hearing for “Hili”.]

  6. Posted July 2, 2017 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    Well done so far.

    A few months ago, I wondered what led me to subscribe and a few days later spotted your book with the same name as this blog on one of my bookshelves.

    I think you ought to have somewhere on this blog a notice about the book.

    • GBJames
      Posted July 2, 2017 at 8:55 am | Permalink

      Look up at the top right part of the page!

  7. Posted July 2, 2017 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    This is called the “speedometer effect”, although it should more correctly be called the “odometer effect.” It’s the reason that New Years Day was so widely celebrated on the first day of 2000 but was just another holiday a year later when the 21st Century began.

  8. nwalsh
    Posted July 2, 2017 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    Well done Professor.

  9. Craw
    Posted July 2, 2017 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    You say you won’t die, but can I risk it?

    • Posted July 2, 2017 at 10:38 am | Permalink

      Yes. Of course I can’t guarantee that the excitement won’t cause me to have a coronary, but I doubt that seriously–my heart is strong.

  10. Gregory Kusnick
    Posted July 2, 2017 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    I knew the Language Police would come!

    Of course they’d come. They’re like vampires; once you invite them in, you’re stuck with them forever.

  11. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted July 2, 2017 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    I have discovered I never confirmed a subscription I established many moons ago. Subscription confirmed.

  12. Posted July 3, 2017 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

    Subscription rate is probably underreported due to several mainstream browsers having no support for RSS feeds.


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