Professor Simpleton was, by the general acknowledgement of specialist
worldwide (all five of them) the greatest living authority on the
mathematical sub-sub-subtopic of hypertwistoploppic pseudotheomorphisms.
As such, he took his duties to the mathematics community very seriously,
and duly reviewed with care and dispatch all and any papers sent his
way for refereeing.

Until one day, when there crossed the Professor's desk a new and (by the
abstract, at least) groundbreaking paper that by a recent Ph.D. named
Hardcase that was said to establish new and astonishing results in
the field of -- finally! -- hypertwistoploppic pseudotheomorphisms.
He began to read the paper with great care.

Unfortunately, after the first two lemmas, all the remaining equations
were written using a notation entirely new to him (and therefore to the
field), of which no explanation was given whatsoever.  The professor
scanned page after page, but they made about as much sense to him as if
had been a transcription of the oral literature of mediaeval Afghanistan.

Finally, on page 47 of the 60-page manuscript, an explanation --
apparently simply tossed in at that point -- appeared of *some* of the
notations used in the proof of the third lemma.  Further close reading
established the other parts of that notation were accounted for on pages
9, 12, 24, 37, and 60.

Taking the bit between his teeth, the professor carefully wrote down
a list of all the expressions he did not understand, and searched the
document over and over.  Sure enough, all the notation *was* eventually
explained somewhere in the paper.  But the locations of the explanations
seemed completely arbitrary to him; notations were not merely used
before they were explained, but the explanations of related notations
were scattered throughout the paper.

Finally Professor Simpleton grew weary.  He penned a most emphatic note
to the effect that, while Dr. Hardcase might or might not have proved
what he claimed to prove (whatever that was, exactly), he would be well
served by expressing it in the standard notation of the hypertwistoploppic
pseudotheomorphism community.  Or, if the new notation really had such
strong advantages, that Dr. Hardcase should rewrite the paper either
to collect all the notational explanationsitions up front, or else to
explain each one at the first point at which it was required.

Dr. Hardcase absolutely refused to do either one, and the paper never
saw print.  As a result, a promising career was blighted, and the study
of hypertwistoploppic pseudotheomorphisms was set back by a generation.


Do the people who want syntax definitions to have retroactive effect
when bound together with its uses in a single paper^H^H^H^Hform really
demand the right to be Dr. Hardcase?

In politics, obedience and support      John Cowan <>
are the same thing.  --Hannah Arendt

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