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No. 112: Jul-Aug 1997

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Computer Con-Fusion

Not content with joking about "nominative determinism" (SF#108), the "Feedback" page of New Scientist has been having fun with "rogue hyphens." These errant hyphens occasionally appear in the very best of our newspapers and magazines. Word processors insert them in the wrong places when trying to justify lines of text. Some are hilarious, as are these gleaned from Canadian newspapers by B. Taylor:

mans-laughter deter-gents calfs-kin thin-king cart-ridges end-anger tramp-led casual-ties prick-led

(Anonymous; "Feedback," New Scientist, p. 80, February 18, 1997.)

Comment. Certainly there can be nothing anomalous about rogue hyphens. Wrong! After G. Kasparov was defeated recently by IBM's Big Blue computer, all the commentators told us not to worry about being replaced because computers were just machines. For example, they had no sense of humor. From the cleverly inserted hyphens above, we now know this is not true!

From Science Frontiers #112, JUL-AUG 1997. 1997-2000 William R. Corliss