Saturday, March 29, 2008


cuisinart vs. cuisenaire
A cardinal function of numeric, alpha and alphanumeric strings, is to tell one thing from another, meaning "to disambiguate" among them.

This isn't always as easy as it sounds, as very different things may nevertheless share the same or similar names, plus we have those fine distinctions among subtypes, breeds or brands.

The word "dog" doesn't begin to do justice to the many varieties of dog out there.

Consider for example, the box of Cuisenaire rods shown above, named for the Belgian math teacher who first thought them up.

Many old timers remember these toyz from math class, where they were supposed to link length and number, forming a primitive geometric bridge to an algebraic sensibility. Of course in many schools, they just sat on a shelf.

Given an accumulation of post-war detritus, children and grandchildren of baby boomers may be unfamiliar with these colorful manipulables, which go against the grain of modern fashion.

More likely they remember a brand of food processor known as the Cuisinart.

However, here again, the Cuisinart brand needs disambiguation from any specific kitchen appliance sold under that trademark, such as the coffeemaker depicted below.

I purchased one of these gizmos at my local Peet's today, replacing a broken Starbucks Barista.