Re: Documentation (was Re: [OS X TeX] Kanbun (漢文) and French...)

Alain Schremmer schremmer.alain at
Sun Jan 4 15:07:10 EST 2009

On Jan 4, 2009, at 1:32 PM, cfrees at wrote:

> I am not kidding but realise I am wasting my metaphorical breath. I
> certainly won't make that mistake next time you ask a question to  
> which
> I think I can offer a potentially useful answer.

I have been on this list for some years now but this is only the  
third time that I have seen any acrimony. All three times, there was  
cause. I disagreed with the response in the second case but I will  
leave it alone because I can use the first case as my illustration  
since I was at its origin.

Essentially, the situation was the same as with Helary. I had finally  
just made it with getting a LaTeX installation; I had started writing  
in LaTeX and had found that the learning curve was,  in spite of my  
innate pessimism, worse than anything I had anticipated. I felt at  
times that only my terminal case of obstinacy was getting me through— 
not to mention the considerable help I was getting first from  
Peterson, the technical editor of the AMATYC Review and then from  
this very list.

So, I started venting my frustration a bit. Being, I thought,  
careful, I just wondered why LaTeX was of such a difficult approach.   
I reacted perhaps a bit out of control because that is essentially  
the standard response of mathematicians when people ask whether  
mathematics has to be hard. The response was quite brutal: "TeX is  
not for the faint of heart" (that's the name of the thread–2004).

Of course, this is not the reason LaTeX installation (in English)  
"seems" to have become almost trivial. Still, saying out loud, albeit  
a bit impolitely, what probably many thought, couldn't have hurt.  
Maybe, in a few years, when someone starts her/his brand new LaTeX  
installation, there will be an obvious place where s/he will be  
asked, in addition to "Letterhead or A7", "Which of the following  
languages ought to be native?"

So, if I may be permitted, I would beg you to ignore this minor, if  
indeed a bit regrettable incident and continue to use your breath  
next time he or anyone asks a question. Just consider that even  
though this was not my question even I ended up learning something  
valuable from Schulz in the course of that thread. And so would  
others from you in future threads. This is the way things are and  
this list has been remarkable and I wish it would remain good enough  
to put up with what Ross called "the [frustrated] club".

Hopeful regards

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