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Ten pet peeves - Arvind Narayanan's journal [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

Ten pet peeves [Sep. 14th, 2005|04:28 pm]
Arvind Narayanan
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For each of the different hats that I wear, there are one or two misconceptions that lay people have about it that irritate me to no end.

As a math buff, I hate it when people don't grasp the difference between mathematics and arithmetic. Gripe rating: 4/5. [Translation: I have to bite my tongue to avoid making a scathing remark.]

As a cryptographer, I hate it when people think algorithms that are secret are more secure. Gripe rating: 5/5. [Translation: I have to physically restrain myself from strangling them.]

As a programmer, I hate it when newbie programmers display the perfect programmer syndrome, and especially when they don't see the need to write readable/well-structured/well-documented (at least self-documenting) code. Gripe rating: 3/5. This doesn't bother me so much because they soon find out the hard way. There's no joy so sweet as watching someone else debug their spaghetti-like homework code the night before it's due, having completed your own code already.

As a weight training amateur, I hate the spot reduction myth. Gripe rating: 3/5. Very often I see women in the gym doing weighted crunches, obviously trying to burn ab fat. Millions of people buy bogus excercise machines with the same vain hope.

As a computer enthusiast, I hate the clock speed myth. Gripe rating: 4/5. I seethe with rage at the mega-corps who deliberately perpetuated it in order to sell inferior hardware.

As an Indian-American, I hate it when Americans think all Indians speak the same language (and especially when they think it is called 'Indian'!) Gripe rating: 2/5 [Fortunately not as prevalent as the other myths.]

As a Tam I hate it when jingoistic Tams have no clue that so many of their words come from Sanskrit (4 out of the 7 in the first tirukkural verse, for instance.) Gripe rating: 4/5.

As an atheistic Carnatic music lover, I hate it when people think Carnatic music is all about bhakti (and especially when they assume I'm über-religious). Gripe rating: 5/5.

As a grammar nazi, I hate it when people say "I could care less" when they mean the opposite. I guess what really bugs me is that people cannot comprehend two negatives making a postive. Gripe rating: 4/5.

Now for some common gripes I've heard from other professions/areas: Texans get mad when people from other states think they still ride around in horses(!). Japanese chefs hate people thinking sushi is just raw fish. Racketball pros can't stand newbies playing tennis shots. Vegans are irritated by people telling them they need more protein -- although it is very hard, while not impossible, for vegans to get enough protein.

Now, reply to this post with your pet peeve related to one of your hobbies/areas of expertise, or post a journal entry listing them all. Get all that rankling out in the open. It's good for your health :)
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: fledchen
2005-09-14 04:23 pm (UTC)
I'm not an expert on blindness, but I happen to be legally blind, and one of my biggest pet peeves is people who fail to comprehend that vision status is not binary, and that it's possible to be blind while still retaining some usable vision. As a corollary, people also seem to think that any visual impairment not resulting in complete blindness must be easily fixable by glasses or surgery. Drives me nuts.
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[User Picture]From: arvindn
2005-09-14 04:35 pm (UTC)
I remember you've written about this before. Don't hesitate to give people a piece of your mind once in a while.
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[User Picture]From: sunson
2005-09-14 09:04 pm (UTC)
Completely agree! I have 20% vision in my left eye and people think I should be wearing 'better' glasses to correct it. While the real problem is actually a scar on the retina that prevents image to be formed on that area.
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[User Picture]From: aredridel
2005-09-14 05:59 pm (UTC)
<spleen>

As an unschooler, I hate that people assume I learned at home with my parents teaching. 4/5 of the time, I'll give someone a piece of my mind on it.

As a programmer, I hate it when people go out of their way to use a nifty feature of the language even when it makes their program worse. 2/5 of the time, I'll comment.

As a vegetarian, I hate it that people automatically think of protein, when it's not even a vague issue. 4/5 of the time, you'll get a piece of my mind if you mention it.

As a health-concious person with no insurance who ends up having to fend for herself medically, I hate it when people say something is better because it's natural, just as much as I hate it when people say something is good because their doctor said so. Do some freaking research and use your effing head.

As a tech-support worker and owner of a small ISP, I hate that people assume I like computers. I do. Just not yours. Not theirs either. I like mine, because they do what mine do, my way. I shouldn't keep my yap shut about it so much, either, because I can tell my spleen wants to rupture.
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[User Picture]From: arvindn
2005-09-14 07:24 pm (UTC)
Interesting. As an ignorant immigrant with only a vague knowledge of unschooler culture, I wonder if you could throw a link my way, something that's close to what you went through.
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[User Picture]From: aredridel
2005-11-16 07:41 am (UTC)
The closest links I can ever come up with are the wiki at NBTSC.org, but it's not so much about unschooling as it is about life, from the perspective of 300+ unschoolers. There's just not much thought of school in our minds, not much thought of classes. We just do things.
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[User Picture]From: haran
2005-09-14 06:15 pm (UTC)
My hate-list fairly long but I can't work up enough rage right now to post anything. How sad.
I hate the clock speed myth
Speaking of which, I hate it how for storage device manufacturers, 1 KB = 1000 Bytes and not 1024. They're knowingly misleading the customer!
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[User Picture]From: arvindn
2005-09-14 07:16 pm (UTC)
Corporate America is on the whole so knavish I can't seem to care about numbers that are 5% off. For instance, consider this outrageously dishonest ad from Dell for their music player: they compare the number of songs the Dell DJ can hold vs. the iPod, assuming 128kbps for the iPod and 64kbps for their own player!
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[User Picture]From: sunson
2005-09-14 09:12 pm (UTC)
I hate it when people have difficulty differentiating between _meditation_ (and playing with the brain) and _belief_in_god_. Just because there isn't a God (or so I say) doesn't mean I can't see wonders inside my head by doing _exercises_ (or by treating my brain with external chemicals). 4/5.

I agree with your point on 'bhakti' with Carnatic music! 2/5.
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[User Picture]From: arvindn
2005-09-14 10:08 pm (UTC)
A-ha! When I am excited and want to calm down I find rAma japa useful (most likely because of the association formed in my head during my childhood), and I used to wonder if that conflicted with my atheism. Although I have since concluded that it doesn't, your post is reaffirming :)
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[User Picture]From: skthewimp
2005-09-15 03:50 am (UTC)
as a kannadiga, i hate it when just about anybody and everybody assumes i'm tam! 4/5

i hate it when i'm introduced to people (at family gatherings, etc.) who don't know what IIT is and ask me "why did you go all the way to madras to study? didn't you get admission in any college in Bangalore?" 5/5

being a CS engineer, i hate it when people assume i know all about computer hardware and linux!! 2/5

there are at least 9 more but i can't think of anything else now.
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From: fixious
2005-09-15 11:11 am (UTC)
People don't know what IIT is? I think I have the opposite problem with my relatives.
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[User Picture]From: arvindn
2005-09-15 02:17 pm (UTC)
The fraction of people in India who don't know what IIT is is staggering. Some typical responses:

"So you couldn't get admissions into Venkateswara or SRM?"

"You mean ITI right? Awesome." (ITI being some kind of vocational training institute IIRC).

"Why don't you go to NIIT instead? Its the same and you get out faster."

Quite humbling.
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[User Picture]From: arvindn
2005-09-15 02:13 pm (UTC)
I don't get it -- why would people assume you're a Tam, when you don't even speak it?
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[User Picture]From: skthewimp
2005-09-15 10:10 pm (UTC)
they think my name "sounds tam"...

they think i "look like a tam"...

and also i did my UG in madras...

still not enuff reason?
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[User Picture]From: kadambarid
2005-09-15 05:27 am (UTC)
ROTFL
I'll probably take your suggestion and post my pet-peeve list on lj, sometime soon!
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[User Picture]From: mssnlayam
2005-09-24 11:06 am (UTC)
As an atheistic Carnatic music lover, I hate it when people think Carnatic music is all about bhakti (and especially when they assume I'm über-religious). Gripe rating: 5/5.

As an atheistic/agnostic Sampradaya Bhajan lover, my case is funnier. The music is all about Bhakti, and it is no surprise that people think that I am religious.

My parents and I chuckle when other people call me a "Chamatthu Paiyyan" when they meet us in a Bhajan setting.
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From: (Anonymous)
2005-11-05 09:10 am (UTC)
As an Indian living in America, I hate that Americans assume that we eat curry all the time. Plus their definition of curry, is very different from ours.
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From: (Anonymous)
2005-12-10 03:04 pm (UTC)
>>As a Tam I hate it when jingoistic Tams have no clue that so many of their words come from Sanskrit (4 out of the 7 in the first tirukkural verse, for instance.) Gripe rating: 4/5.

As a Tam I hate it when Tams claim expertise at something they have no clue about.A factoid..Other than the words Adi and Bhagavan (ie 2) I don't see other sanskrit words in the first tirukkuraL verse.So where did you get this count of 4/7?

oh and I also hate it when people have strong opinions on subjects they have a peripheral understanding of.Also these two might be proper nouns at that and unless you examine their roots, origins in depth a random face-value Tamil word/Sanskrit word classification is bound to be a slippery slope. Just because a word appears to sound like 'sanskrit' today doesn't mean it is sanskrit.Take the words ilakkaNam and illakkiyam - how do you know it is from lakshanam and lakshyam or the other way round? Ask any serious linguist and you'll know what I mean..No offense meant.It was just a tone-for-a-tone kinda post.
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