# Spagbol!

In an attempt to inject some much needed “renaissance” into my heavy-on-the-engineering blog, here is my take on Spaghetti Bolognese. A perennial favourite, which is ridiculously easy and cheap to make and — cue the nostalgia — the first meal my mum ever made my dad. (Aww!) My recipe combines those of my mum and dad, which I grew up on, with a touch of Mrs. Xoph’s influence as well as some magic from my chocolatier days.

(As for the pedants out there who are thinking, “The Italians don’t even know what Spaghetti Bolognese is!” I say this: In effetti, il sugo de carne dalla città di Bologna si chiama “ragù alla Bolognese” — o, semplicemente, “ragù” — che è noto bene. Però, gli italiani non lo servirebbero mai con spaghetti, perché sono troppo sottili: il sugo non si appiccica. Presumibilmente, quando la ricetta ha portato all’Inghilterra, lo spaghetto era solo disponibile. Allora, io uso le tagliatelle.)

# Going Up?… Nope!

It has occurred to me that the lifts at my workplace provide a strangely satisfying autological metaphor to the place as a whole.

# Breaking the ALGOL Curse

I have sipped from the Kool-Aid that is Haskell…and I like it! Perhaps it’s the mathematician in me — I’ve yet to write anything non-trivial, so the reality of software engineering in Haskell I might find quite different — but it just appeals to me. So much so that I’m investing a lot of my time in changing my thought patterns from the traditional Von Neumann paradigm to the pure functional. Given that I want to rekindle said inner-mathematician, I hope to kill two birds with one stone!

Anyway, let’s have some beginner’s level Haskell fun!

# Mandelbrot Query

Besides being the “go to graphic” for illustrating psychoactive substance abuse, the Mandelbrot Set’s aesthetic has afforded it currency as the de facto mathematical fractal. Despite its complexity, it is surprisingly straightforward to compute and, in this post, we shall do some of the usual visualisations…with a twist!

# On Enterprise Software

I have come to a sudden realisation about why enterprise software is so bad!

# A Catalogue of Failures

My reason for writing this is basically to vent my anger and frustrations. It is also in some vain hope that it will be picked up by others, such that those responsible will receive a more appropriate comeuppance. (However, let’s be honest: I’m a nobody and am realistic about my influence in the world!)

# Cheltenham

…this follows from my previous post.

# London

For some bizarre reason, I find writing bad Beat poetry quite cathartic…

# Out of Office

When I am away from the office, I have got into the habit of writing a silly limerick or a haiku as my automatic “Out of Office” message. This has earnt me a bit of a reputation so, as I’m out all this week on PRINCE2 training, I thought I’d raise the bar.

…Enjoy

# Genitive Junction

I have noticed a peculiar semantic non-linearity that affects my internal grammar. (I’m not sure whether it’s common to English speakers, or if it’s just me!) Anyway, say if Alice and Bob own some tasty chocolate, my grammar allows this contraction:

Alice and Bob’s chocolate tastes awesome!

Note that only Bob is phonetically marked as being in the genitive case, but it’s understood that Alice is also included. That is, it seems that genitive distribution over conjunction is implied in [my] English. Moreover, this same logic applies equally to lists of arbitrary length, as well as to disjunctions:

Is this chocolate Alice, Bob or Carol’s?

My grammar also allows me to mark each element in the list in the genitive (i.e., explicit distribution), but it’s very much a marked reading for me:

(?) Alice’s and Bob’s chocolate tastes awesome!

Indeed, not only is this marked, but my linguistic instinct is confused. For me, there’s a possible reading that is more akin to, “Alice’s chocolate and Bob’s chocolate, which aren’t necessarily the same, both taste awesome!” That’s a significant distinction and it’s only the conjugation of “taste” that errs me towards the correct interpretation.

Now look what happens when we throw a pronoun into the list. Say we’re interested in the chocolate that belongs to Alice and me:

(*) Alice and my chocolate tastes awesome!

What happened? We can’t do that! We have to mark each element explicitly in the genitive:

Alice’s and my chocolate tastes awesome!

The reason I’ve noticed this is because I often make the first mistake — because that’s how it works in the general case, without pronouns — feel awkward midway through the sentence, then start again with the explicit distribution.

Thus it seems we have the following distributive rule:

$$\textrm{Genitive}(\bigwedge_{i=1}^{n} \textrm{NP}_i) = \left\{\begin{array}{l}\bigwedge_{i=1}^{n-1} \textrm{NP}_i \wedge\textrm{Genitive}(\textrm{NP}_n) \\ \textrm{if, }\forall i\in\{0,\ldots,n\},\ \textrm{NP}_i \not\in\textrm{Anaphora} \\ \\ \bigwedge_{i=1}^{n} \textrm{Genitive}(\textrm{NP}_i)\\\textrm{if }\exists i\in\{0,\ldots,n\}\textrm{ such that }\textrm{NP}_i\in\textrm{Anaphora}\end{array}\right.$$

Plus, as I say, the same applies to disjunction ($$\vee$$).