copyright © 1998-2002 Dennis Paul Himes

Unsolicited Opinions

Here are some opinions of mine which are not shared by the general populace. Commentary is welcome.

  • Cloudy days are, in general, much nicer than sunny days.
  • There is no God.
  • Coffee tastes awful; tea tastes wonderful.
  • Herbal infusions should not be allowed to be sold as "teas".
  • Women's basketball is better than men's basketball.
  • Nykesha Sales should not have taken her last shot, but not because it made a "travesty of the game".
  • I'm glad I don't live in California.
  • Some semantic shifts are better than others.
  • Movie reviews should only be read after the movie has been seen.
  • Green Acres was a good TV show.
  • A slice of pie should be eaten from the edge to the point.
  • C/C++ comments should be in upper case.
  • The adjectival form of Venus is Venerian.

  • Cloudy days are, in general, much nicer than sunny days.

    The main reason is because colors are so much more vivid on cloudy days. I think the soft lighting makes textures stand out more, also. Cloudy days certainly create a more relaxing and soothing ambience. The only time when sunshine holds an advantage over a good overcast is the day after an ice storm.

    I can respect the opposing opinion on this matter well enough (as with all of the opinions listed here) but I get extremely annoyed at TV weatherpeople who take it for granted that everyone shares their preferences for sunny days, going so far as to refer to their preferences as "good weather" and mine as "bad weather" without even acknowledging the possibility that someone might disagree with them.

    There is no God.

    Here is a summary of my views on atheism. A more complete form of this argument exists as a separate essay.

    The reason I disbelieve in God depends on the definition of God being used.

    An omnipotent agent is oxymoronic.

    What is the difference between a universe which God creates and one which God knows can exist but chooses not to create? Nothing. To God the potential universe is no less real than the "real" one. The term "create" is meaningless when applied to an omniscient being (and omnipotence implies omniscience). The same reasoning applies to changing a given universe. The universe which is changed is no more real to God than the potentially unchanged one.

    In addition, for God to "do" anything she would have to exist in a specific temporal reference; she would have to choose a given configuration for the future from several possibilities, which implies that the "future" has a meaning when applied to her, which is incompatible with omniscience.

    A less than omnipotent superbeing fails Occam's Razor.

    The mythological gods of antiquity were, at the time, reasonable hypotheses. They are no longer. Neither are the various nondivine supernatural beings still believed in today.

    The personification of the universe is, at best, meaningless.

    It's meaningless when the personification is not given any of the attributes of people. As soon as it is it's misleading. All evidence points to a universe indifferent to human fate. People have to jump through all sorts of hoops when they try to show otherwise, going so far as to posit the survival of the mind after death.

    I attribute the personification of the universe to the vanity of the human species.

    Coffee tastes awful; tea tastes wonderful.

    There's not much to say here; it's a purely subjective opinion.

    Herbal infusions should not be allowed to be sold as "teas".

    A drink cannot be sold as "juice" if it contains no juice (at least in the U.S.), so why can a drink be sold as "tea" when it contains no tea?

    Women's basketball is better than men's basketball.

    I didn't use to care much for basketball until the 1994-95 season when the UConn women's team was doing so well that I (an alumnus) decided to check them out. To my surprise, I enjoyed the games. It soon became clear that women's basketball is a superior sport to men's basketball. It wasn't just a matter of women being intrinsically more interesting to me or of Jen Rizzotti's presence. There was something more fundamentally different, and it didn't take too much time to figure out that it was the fact that in the women's game the basket is higher relative to the players. There is more maneuvering for position and more reliance on accurate shooting. The powers that be in charge of the men's game should get a clue and raise their basket a foot or two.

    Nykesha Sales should not have taken her last shot, but not because it made a "travesty of the game".

    Some background for those of you who don't know who Nykesha Sales is: Nykesha Sales is a star basketball player for UConn who was injured during the penultimate regular season game of her senior year one point shy of the UConn career point record. For the final game her coach, Geno Auriemma, conspired with the opposing coach to allow Sales and one opposing player to each take one uncontested (two point) shot, thus giving Sales the record. Some people were displeased with this, to put it mildly. "Farce" and "travesty" were two words commonly used. Most critics of the shot claimed that it destroyed the integrity of the game in which it happened, if not the entire UConn program or the entire sport of women's basketball. They are missing the point.

    Which of these two statements reflects better on Nykesha Sales?
    A) Nykesha Sales has the second highest career point total, only one point shy of the record.
    B) Nykesha Sales has the highest career point total, but not really because it was faked.

    A legitimate second place is much more impressive than a contrived first place. Auriemma seems to be confusing an award with a record, as do all of his supporters who talk about how Sales "deserved" the record, as if a record were a measure of worth. Auriemma has apparently heard record holders praised as great athletes so often that he has come to believe that holding a record confers athletic greatness.

    On the other hand, although it took away an impressive second place record from Sales without replacing it with anything of value, that's a small matter compared to Sales' overall career. Even the game in which it happened was only slightly affected, and the UConn program, not to mention women's basketball in general, is still quite strong in spite of it.

    I'm glad I don't live in California.

    California is an earthquake-prone barren semi-desert with no real seasons.

    I admit, however, that I've only seen a small part of California, mostly in the SF Bay area, and there might well be parts of the state that are nice.

    Some semantic shifts are better than others.

    Most people seem to think either that linguistic change is good, since it keeps the language invigorated, and therefore should always be encouraged, or that it's bad, since it leads to confusion, and therefore should always be discouraged. I think it should be handled on a case by case basis, judged as to whether it facilitates communication. Here are examples of some recent shifts in meaning which I consider good, bad, and indifferent.


    When I was young gender referred to noun classifications, and sex referred either to the biological division into male and female or to sexual activity. Now gender is taking over the biological meaning from sex. I am in favor of this change, since context is more likely to disambiguate between the two meanings of gender than it is between the two meanings of sex.


    When I was young celibate meant "unmarried", with an implication that it was by choice. Now it is being used more and more to mean "chaste". This change is totally unnecessary and leads to needless, if sometimes unintentionally humorous, miscommunication.


    When I was young bimbo meant someone who was not very smart, and was applied equally to males and females. Now it is applied almost exclusively to females. If I had my druthers the meaning would not have changed, but it doesn't really matter, since when used in reference to a male context will make its meaning clear even to someone who's never heard it used that way before.

    Movie reviews should only be read after the movie has been seen.

    Movie reviews always contain spoilers. They won't reveal the ending but they will reveal a great deal about the middle, which I don't want to already know when I'm watching the beginning.

    I base my decisions on what to see on the past work of the people involved, advertizing, and word of mouth. Even then I often get more details than I want.

    Green Acres was a good TV show.

    Green Acres is not my favorite TV show, that would be either Northern Exposure or Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, but of the shows which are among my top twenty or so it gets by far the least respect. It's treated as a typical dumb sitcom, but it was anything but typical and rarely dumb. It was a rare venture into the theater of the absurd by network TV, challenging the viewer's perception of the nature of reality and selfreferentially examining the nature of the medium of television. This, together with the abundant comedic talent of Eva Gabor, has always made it a delight to watch.

    A slice of pie should be eaten from the edge to the point.

    Judging from the reactions I get, this is the most controversial opinion on this page. However, it is a direct consequence of the following lemmas, the truth of each of which should be obvious:
    1) The best part of any food should be eaten last.
    2) There is a optimal ratio of crust to filling.
    3) This optimal ratio is achieved in the middle of the pie, else the bottom crust would be a different thickness.
    4) The ratio at the edge of the pie is different, and therefore less than optimal.

    C/C++ comments should be in upper case.

    Code is much easier to read if you can scan through it and quickly pick out the comments. It follows that comments should stand out from the rest of the code. I have found that putting them in upper case is an easy way to achieve this.

    The adjectival form of Venus is Venerian.

    Not Venusian.

    Here are the Latin nominatives and genitives of the planets for which the two forms do not share the same root:

    nominative genitive

    So just as one says Martian instead of Marsian, Jovian instead of Jupiterian, and Plutonian instead of Plutian, so should one say Venerian instead of Venusian.