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On Vulgar Numbers

David Justice wrote a little essay about vulgar numbers, or at least about things related to vulgar numbers:

we took to abstraction like — like a duck to water, like a kitteh to cheezeburger, like Donald Trump to a pile of manure. It was to some extent an end in itself… No sooner did we learn about a thing, than we wanted to generalize it. Actual numbers had been replaced by x and y in junior-high algebra; now we rushed to embrace the abstract structures in which these variables lived: groups, rings, fields … The brighter among us (I was not of their number) before graduation came to embrace what its own practitioners called “abstract nonsense” (category theory, “diagram-chasing”), the night in which all structures are grey.

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