[texhax] Re: European vs US standards (was: Hello - I have a problem)

Sebastian Luque sluque at mun.ca
Thu Aug 19 21:37:44 CEST 2004

I usually ignore these off-topic posts so that posts rapidly come back to the 
main interest of Lists' readers. But I cannot avoid adding my comment on 
Randolph Herber's messages on this thread. They are so plagued with egotistic 
views that ignoring them would contribute to perpetuate this sort of 

> From:
> "Randolph J. Herber" <herber at dcdrjh.fnal.gov>
> To:
> texhax at tug.org, Paul Wagner <paul_spam at gmx.at>
> Date:
> Thu, 19 Aug 2004, at 10:33:52
>         If you would gain some insight into a subject, then you would
>         not trigger replies to inform you of your errors.

What errors?

First of all, you started a completely inapropriate off-topic discussion. 
Second, YOUR erroneous assumption that paper sizes are hard coded in 
Ghostscript was pointed out to you by Paul Wagner. Thirdly, Jeroen Wijnhout 
pointed out to you that letter (not A4, which you were venting your 
frustration for) is the default paper size in the software in question. 

> On Wednesday 18 August 2004 16:31, Randolph J. Herber wrote:

> >Why are you complaining, it defaults to letter not A4. I'm the one that 
> >be complaining, since I have A4 paper exclusively.
>         On the same basis as you deny me the privilege to complain
>         about a metric basis of European software.

Exactly where does Jeroen's message deny you any privilege?

>         TeX and LaTeX as of late even though they were written in the
>         United States and a2ps  are examples of the opposite and it is
>         quite annoying to spend a day locating the points in their
>         configuration files that need to be adjusted.

This implies that, In your view, default parameters should always remain the 
same as those in place in Littleville, where the software developers happen 
to live. Would you please provide a good reason why this should be so? There 
is so much we can learn by looking at how other people, in other parts of the 
world, accomplish the same tasks. More often than not, we may discover better 
and more efficient ways of performing them. Moreover, you haven't showed us 
in what way it "is quite annoying to spend a day locating the points...". You 
must be aware that some people may not find "annoying" the same things you 
do. You must provide information to allow others to judge by THEMSELVES what 
is annoying and what not. When you say:

>         There are 
>         other products that I have given up on that I was requested
>         to assist in the product's support because we could not
>         locate the points in the code where the A4 assumptions
>         were located.  That is what I was complaining about.

you don't even mention what these products are, so we cannot tell if these 
problems are present (or related to) in any of the LaTeX packages; the focus 
of this List. If you have a problem changing a default in a certain package, 
you should provide the name of the package and other relevant information. 
Because your message did not contain this basic information, it comes out as 
helpless whining.

>         And, to me at least, TeX and LaTeX are the subjects of this
>         mailing list.  The fact that TeX and LaTex now defaults to
>         European paper sizes tell me that TeX and LaTeX support amd
>         development has moved out of the United States of America
>         where TeX and LaTex originated.  Before, Europeans had to
>         put in A4 (after discovering the style file for that purpose);
>         not, the Europeans seem have reversed that situation.

Those unruly europeans, don't they realize TeX/LaTeX is a U.S.A. creation so 
they should default to U.S.A. standards? Now, seriously, can you tell us why 
should everybody default to standards that are used by less than 0.1% of the 
world population? Mr. Herber's answer to this question may reflect his view 

>         Yes, I agree it would be far simplier to convince the
>         Europeans to make their software capable and flexible
>         than to force a major portion of the world's economy to
>         immediately switch to using ISO standard, but not sensible,
>         paper sizes.

Where in the world did Mr. Herber get his idea that the U.S.A. is a major 
portion of the world's economy? Having lots of money may mean large economic 
power, but in no sense can it mean BEING a large portion of the world's 
economy. Perhaps Mr. Herber forgot that people, not money, are the main 
component of the world's economy. That is why it will be extremely more 
difficult to default more than 6 billion people to adhere to standards used 
by less than 300 million, won't it?  But then again, economic extorsion 
(which may be what Mr. Herber was referring to above) may go a long way in 
this sense.

> >       "Globalization starts with getting the details right.
> >        Inconsistent use of SI units and international
> >        standard paper sizes remain today a primary
> >        cause for U.S. businesses failing to meet
> >        the expectations of the global economy."
>         To give the source of the quote above:
>         http://www.exit109.com/~ghealton/.people.html
>         The author also states: ``This information was gathered
>         by Gilbert Healton for his personal use and is without
>         warranty of any kind whatsoever. Use at your own risk.''
>         It is apparent to me that the author has a strong
>         pro metric basis.

Yes, let's not listen to this biased opinion. Instead, let's listen to Mr. 
Herber's objective and impartial analysis of the advantages and disadvantages 
of ISO (The International Organization for Standardization, please note the 
first word, Mr. Herber) vs. U.S.A. paper sizes:

>         switch.  The only significant advantage to the ISO sizes
>         is that cutting sheets parallel to the short sides results
>         in the next smaller sheet size.

I sincerely hope that the sort of views expressed by Mr. Herber's are not the 
rule in countries with 'lots of money'. It has certainly not been my 
experience living in several of the so-called 'first world countries', 
including the one Mr. Herber's hails from, Canada, and France. If anything, 
my universe and my sense of freedom have benefited from learning other 
PEOPLE's 'standards'.

Sebastian Luque
Department of Biology
Memorial University of Newfoundland

Currently at:
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
501 University Crescent
Winnipeg, MB R3T 2N6

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