to italicize or not to italicize...

Jim McKenney
Mon, 15 Sep 2008 12:34:28 PDT

Roger Whitlock wrote " Now, wasn't that just as easy as pie?"

If you say so, Roger, but I would like more sugar in mine, please. 

And then he went on to say "I suspect that all of us use computers that have
the multiplication sign handy."

I still have not forgotten the day Jane McGary pointed out, in response to
my then usage of the letter x, that the proper sign is the multiplication
sign. I truly thought she was pulling my leg. I'm not sure what about this
revelation floored me more, the fact that not only was Jane right, but that
there are, on the one hand, people who think this sort of think is very
important, and on the other hand, people who get paid to make these
decisions. Hmmmm...I realize now that I made some faulty career choices. 

And anyway, in my heart of hearts I believe the symbol in question is the
Greek letter chi, not a multiplication sign. The meaning is "cross" (as in
"I crossed species A and species B), not "times" in the arithmetic sense.
Whoever says "I timesed species A and species B"?  

Actually, in this modern computer world, x and × are different entities,
unlike in the world of vision, where they seem the same. 

Some of my friends, who occasionally criticize me for my “species snobbery”,
fail to realize that I grew up seeing the x before plant names and thought
that meant “cross that one off the list”. Now I'm much more sophisticated
and know that the × means "entering notholand".  

When I need it in windows, I make sure I’m in HTML mode, then click on
Insert, Symbol, and the multiplication sign is there in the table of
symbols. That’s the way I composed this message. I’ll convert to plain text
now - and it's still there. Let's see if it makes it onto the posted form of
this message. 

Jim McKenney

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