[Homeroast] Bottomless and feckless

Samuel Goldberger sgold at sphere.bz
Thu May 6 11:52:22 CDT 2010

There is an electrical engineering concept I find most useful in a variety of contexts, called the "signal to noise ratio." It is used to measure the efficiency of information transmission systems, especially audio and video systems. But it can usefully be applied to language as well. The higher the signal to noise ratio (also known as s/n) the more efficient the transmission.

To achieve a high s/n ratio in written communication, it's important to ask oneself not just what do I want to say, but how well I say it? Did I choose the right words? Is my sentence structure clear? Is what I am saying logical? Is it true? Is someone else going to understand it? Ideally, one also asks oneself, "Is what I am saying relevant to the conversation? Will others be interested? Am I moving the discussion forward?"

We are often urged to "love the sinner and hate the sin." Whether hate is the proper term is arguable. But it is fair in this case to point out that the s/n ratio of many of Ray's communications is notably low. They often give the sense of unedited expostulations, often of an uncomfortably personal nature. They use peculiar language, are fraught with obscure references, and require a great deal of work to understand; at the end of the day, one often finds that there is relatively little content that's relevant to the conversation. The shame of it is that Ray is clearly a capable, creative person with an enormous array of experiences who loves coffee and roasting. But because the s/n ratio is so low, he ends up doing himself, and his readers, an injustice and causing unnecessary frustration. 

So in the spirit of the bumper sticker "bark less, wag more," may I suggest: "talk less, think more." 
Samuel Goldberger, Ph.D.

On May 4, 2010, at 10:26 AM, Dan wrote:

> Well, Rayo, I wonder if you've ever tried a bottomless portafilter? I'll bet not. They have serious advantages and few disadvantages. I wonder why you offer an opinion if you've never used one? I wonder if you've even seen on used? Bet not.
> <snip>
> dan
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