back to article Computer scientists at University of Edinburgh contemplate courses without 'Alice' and 'Bob'

A working group in the School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland has proposed a series of steps to "decolonize" the Informatics curriculum, which includes trying "to avoid using predominantly Western names such as Alice/Bob (as is common in the computer security literature)." The names Alice and Bob were …

  1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    They're going to be puzzled by a lot of the existing industry literature. We'll just have to hope they eventually catch on to the idea behind it.

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Once they complete erasing symbols and history, are they going to move on people next?

      1. Jaybus

        Well, that is how cultural revolutions in China, the Soviet Union, Libya, Iran and elsewhere have ended up in the past, so I would guess the answer to be yes.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Well...

      At my company we'll just consider job candidates with degrees from Edinburgh after 2022 as inherently unqualified.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Well...

        Isn't basically anyone with an academic qualification in a practical field under qualified though?

        I've worked with CompSci PhDs from Cambridge that were complete idiots.

        One of them couldn't crimp an RJ45 or remember the wiring schemes and he was apparently a network major.

        I think if these institutions are going to review what they teach on computing courses, they might want to start with computing related practical skills or anything computing related that is less than 40 years old.

        Back when I was considering University before embarking on my career I looked at a few universities...I was seeing COBOL, FORTRAN and other such archaic stuff in prime position on the syllabus.

        I know some of these technologies are still in use in obscure places but it's a bit niche. Even more so now.

        1. ChrisC Silver badge

          Re: Well...

          They really weren't idiots though, and that's not what universities are there for.

          A degree gives you enough of a grounding in the theoretical aspects of a subject so that you can understand *why* the practical aspects are the way they are and how they might be modified to work better. A doctorate, masters or other higher qualification, takes that a step further and *may* also include some practical aspects related to the theory, but is by no means guaranteed to do so.

          So whatever practical abilities they do end up leaving uni with should be treated as a bonus on top of the level of theoretical understanding that you ought to be hiring them for, but if you want someone from an academic background to be able to do basic technical things, like building you a network cable, then unless you know for sure that they can already do that, it's dangerous to assume they can merely because they did something academically that sounds as if they ought to have picked up that ability.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Well...

            You have highlighted a problem that has been growing for years!

            If a degree simply gives a theoretical background and NO practical value then those with degrees should not be allowed to meddle in practical matters.

            Decades ago, if you only had theoretical knowledge you were not considered useful, which only changed with the acquisition of relevant experience.

            No experience, or brilliance that overshadows that, is less than worthless.

        2. JohnGrantNineTiles

          Re: Well...

          What's *really* idiotic is hiring graduates to crimp cables

        3. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Well...

          "I've worked with CompSci PhDs from Cambridge that were complete idiots.

          One of them couldn't crimp an RJ45 or remember the wiring schemes and he was apparently a network major."

          That's one of the problems with people that have advanced degrees. Their interest winds up getting so focused on a tiny slice of knowledge that they don't have the skills to do more than very narrow research.

          I worked at an aerospace firm that always had interns around for low cost/slave labor. Most of them were useless. They'd be asked to do some minor bit of design and would come back with something that uses a particular aluminum alloy that's only made at one foundry, is run about once a year and the minimum order was a few tons. Sure, the specs look fantastic, but the application would be more than met with a very common alloy that's available all day long at the local supplier for pence. They would look at me with an uncomprehending expression if I asked them to get me a screw described with standard terminology. It was no problem if I wanted them to do some stress analysis simulations on the computer. The downside is they still wouldn't know if the results made any sense.

          1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

            Re: Well...

            @MachDiamond - "interns around for low cost/slave labor. Most of them were useless"

            Isn't that the deal? You get some low-cost labour, but have to spend time supervising them, they get practical experience. And the ones that weren't useless from the beginning get the best references at the end.

            1. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: Well...

              "Isn't that the deal? You get some low-cost labour, but have to spend time supervising them, they get practical experience. And the ones that weren't useless from the beginning get the best references at the end.'

              There was certainly a never ending stream of things that certainly did not need to be done by permanent staff that could be tossed to the interns, but we wanted them to be doing more than custodial work. They got assigned projects that they should be able to do with only a year left towards their degree. We didn't take anybody more junior than that as we didn't have a big enough staff to do more supervision and support.

              Mind you, they did get lots of crap jobs to do and were told that going in.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Well...

          Whether or not a university network major can crimp an RJ45 is totally irrelevant. It's like criticizing an aerospace engineer because they don't know the fine details of providing cabin service to passengers.

          I've designed a fair number of networks, including one that our networking vendor, who had designed the network we were using, refused to bid on, because it couldn't possibly work. We put it in with anyway, and after seeing it in action they started selling networks to that design to their customers across the continent as being superior to any available alternative. I have never crimped an RJ45.

          Similarly, Fortran is a perfectly suitable language for teaching some topics, such as numerical analysis. Universeties are not, or should not be, trade schools. That's what community colleges are for. If you want to learn trendy languages du jour to code web sites, go to college, with the tool and die makers, welders, aircraft mechanics, and legal secretaries. Specific languages are ephemeral knowledge. Universities should be teaching the long term foundational knowledge - things like computational complexity, the nature and behaviour of formal grammars, error effects in numerical analysis, issues around contention for resources and methods of avoiding fatal conflicts, and a fair bit of high level math. Looking back at my university transcript, if a full year's study is five credits, I see 8.5 credits of math courses, some taught by the Mathematics department, and some by Computer Science (like computational complexity, and applied algebra).

        5. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Well...

          I’ve been doing networking for over 20 years and am rubbish at making rj45 cables. My mate is a carpenter and often runs and crimps Ethernet in office blocks.

          When I did my computing degree cobalt and Fortran where old hat yet it’s still in use today in niche places paying vast sums.

          1. Androgynous Cow Herd

            Re: Well...

            You could be an ace at the physical act of crimping ethernet without any knowledge at all of why there are 8 wires, what they do, why they are twisted, or the myriad limitations of copper wire, and also never know why Alice is to able to communicate securely with Bob .

            That said...REALLY? Some one feels excluded at references to Alice and Bob? The shit people get offended by these days is silly.

    3. pavel.petrman Silver badge

      Re "The idea behind it"

      I am very much puzzled, because they say they want to have a hard look at _what_ they teach, not _how_ they teach it. Leaves considerable room for their decolonisation, if you ask me.

    4. deadlockvictim

      All that's really needed are names that match a sequence and once the sequence is known, it shouldn't be too hard to adapt from the old system to the new one.

      We could use Russian names and the western transliteration of their alphabet: Anushka, Boris, Vlada and so on.

      Or Japanese names and kana order (ah, but which one though?): Akiko, Ichiro, Ume...

      If I knew more sequences (like Chinese names, Chilean names or names common in Botswana), I would use those, but I don't (alas).

      1. SteveK

        Surely using western transliteration of Russian, Japanese names etc is the sort of thing they'd be trying to prevent with their 'decolonization', and all names must be in their original language?

        1. deadlockvictim

          Good point

          Good point.

          Let me alter <western transliteration> to the transliteration appropriate to the language & writing system of the paper in question. So, if Japanese names are used and the paper is published in Russian, then Cyrillic transliteration and ordering are to be used. And conversely, if Russian names are to be used and the paper is in Japanese, then the names are written in Katakana and the kana-order of your choice is to be used.

    5. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
      Alert

      Prototype names

      At a former job, we were building three prototype machines. We gave them "stripper" nams: Amber, Bambi and Crystal, I believe. Made them easier to keep track of.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    About those Bobs

    Ah well, I remember two Bobs... I'm not so sure that it would be a positive educational experience, however.

    Let me tell you about TPS reports...

    1. Fr. Ted Crilly Bronze badge

      Re: About those Bobs

      So tell us Bill, what exactly is it you do here? Mmm yeah, right...

  3. Chubango
    Paris Hilton

    Whatever

    Doesn't really matter in the least but I'm sure some people will get really worked up either way.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Whatever

      It does matter, the ABC names are common industry expert palance. If you start renaming them, you have to restate their relationship to encryption scenarios, and of course the educational literature isn't all their own so you have a disconnect.

      I'm going to start calling the attacker in these scenarios "Hans the Hacker". Firstly because it's aliterative, secondly because its descriptive and thirdly, because its probably a good guess at one of their names.

      And if I have to name their role in the scenario, then I might as well give them a full backstory:

      Hans follow orders, and lives with his mother because he cannot afford to move out. He resents other countries, they are poorer, yet have better lives. "How can they not understand the superiority of his motherland"? he opines. His boss is an idiot, but criticism goes down and not up in Germany, so he makes his coworkers lives miserable to level the field, instead. "Damn immigrants, diluting the purity of the German race", upset him enormously, and he takes it out by hacking their foreign computers, demonizing them, so he can pretend what he does for a living is a good thing. But Hans lives alone, he projects the evil inside his head onto his victims.

      Or "Charlie" will do.

      1. jason_derp

        Re: Whatever

        I wish I had the resources to help you.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Whatever

        You really don't want to use Charlie.

        http://www.rsdb.org/slur/charlie

  4. b0llchit Silver badge
    Mushroom

    A, B and C, aka Alice, Bob and Charlie. Sure, that is totally exclusive. Now all those called Alice, Bob and Charlie are marked as a security threat. So, we will abandon these names and start a welcome fund to include them again after 40 year stigmatizing name calling.

    We should only use A, B and C. That will solve all our problems until we start to ponder the exclusivity of D, E, F.....Z. They are very much appalled by the change of character and demand to be included. Especially Z is frustrated always to be last. Q and P are not too much underrepresented because the friends at math are pulling them in. However, I is not happy because l is covering typography and stealing I's fame for l's glory.

    Even the number system is discussing order now and 0 is pondering to increase its value to ensure popularity and is collaborating with O.

    ...

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Isn't A B and C representing letters of alphabet used by colonisers?

      so why not include other alphabets? 也 б सी?

      You can spend a lifetime pondering over these things (and pocketing a chunky salary).

      1. James Anderson

        Why stop there. Should we even be teaching in the language of the colonists. Lets burn all the text books written in English, Spanish, Turkish, French, Russian, Arabic or Japanese.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Omission of Portuguese and Dutch noted.

          1. James Anderson

            Plus Danish and Farsi.

            Seems like half the world invaded the other half at one time or another.

            1. Captain Hogwash
              1. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

                Right. What have the Romans ever done for us?

                1. alisonken1
          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            I guess we could just use little pictographs, like a circle, a square, a triangle, and so on.

    2. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge

      Perhaps we should use names that apply to both sexes; for example, Leslie and Robin.

      1. Andy Miller

        For the Alice and Bob accounts at one company, I always used pictures of Alice Cooper and 'Bob' from Black Adder. So I'd already proven those names to apply to both genders

        1. Kane Silver badge
          Joke

          "For the Alice and Bob accounts at one company, I always used pictures of Alice Cooper and 'Bob' from Black Adder. So I'd already proven those names to apply to both genders"

          "Father, I must speak. I can be silent no longer. All day long, you mutter to yourself, jibber, dribble, moan, and bash your head against the wall yelling "I want to die!". It's Mother, isn't it?"

          "No it's not."

          "You're brooding over her death, aren't you?"

          "Kate, for the final time, your mother's not dead. She's run off with your Uncle Henry!"

          "I know you only say such things to comfort me."

          "Your mother is alive and well and living in Droitwich! It's not her I brood over. I'm sad because our poverty has now reached such extremes that I can no longer afford to keep us. I must look to my own dear, tiny darling to sustain me in my frail dotage."

          "But, Father, surely-?"

          "Yes, Kate. I want you to become a prostitute."

          "Father!"

          "Do you defy me?!"

          "Why, indeed I do! For it is better to die poor than to live in shame and ignominy!"

          "No it isn't."

          "I'm young and strong and clever. And my nose is pretty. I shall find another way to make us a living."

          "Oh, please go on the game. It's a steady job, and you'd be working from home!"

          "Goodbye, Father. I shall go to London, disguise myself as a boy and seek my fortune!"

          "But why walk all the way to London when you can make a fortune lying on your back?!"

          1. davidp231

            "What's your name?"

            "Kate! It's short for ummmm... Bob."

            "Well..... Bob. Welcome on board!"

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        It's Pat.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Always delivers the mail.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        They're both Western (specifically English-speaking) culture names though, which is what this is about.

        Even the Western cultural and gender part isn't always clear. E.g. in America, Tracey is a man's name.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Tracey is a man's name in GB, too. Came over with the Normans (placename, from any one of a number of Tracys in France), or possibly with the Romans a thousand years earlier (man of Thrace). Seems to me that there are also Gaulish, Celtic and Irish versions that differ in derivation, but I can't be arsed to look it up (my Big Dic is down at the Sonoma property).

        2. Cederic Silver badge

          They're not colonial though. They're the names (in the UK) of indigenous people, that have themselves been the victims of colonial rule.

        3. James Anderson

          However the gist of the gripe. Is that English speakers, working in an English speaking country should not have been using English names. Duh.

          As its Edinburgh university they should be using Angus, Bonnie and Errol.

          1. Real Ale is Best

            Why not:

            * Sillius Sododus

            * Biggus Dickus

            * Incontinentia Buttocks

        4. clyde666

          man's name

          So is Sue

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Perhaps we should use names that apply to both sexes; for example, Leslie

        Customarily when written Leslie it's a man's name, the woman's form is Lesley.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          No, it is not, at least on this side of the ocean.

          It's that old error of assuming what you are familiar with is the way it is everywhere.

        2. Negative Charlie

          Easily remembered because I is for 'im and E is for 'er.

      5. TomPhan

        Lesley and Robyn

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "Q and P are not too much underrepresented because the friends at math are pulling them in"

      But you need to mind them.

    4. Kane Silver badge
      Pint

      "However, I is not happy because l is covering typography and stealing I's fame for l's glory."

      I see what you did there. Have a pint.

  5. msobkow Silver badge

    I really don't give a rat's patoot about fictional case-example character's "pronoun preferences" if it comes to that nonsense...

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      Just please don't use "they" as a pronoun for a singular person. It's bloody confusing, and requires multiple reads to ascertain that there isn't something (the expected other in "they") missing from the story.

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        No more confusing than using "you" for the second person, and at least in English we can say "you" without making a public statement about our social relationship with them.

        No, I think "they/their/them" is here to stay. It was in use before wokeness was a thing because it is the least painful way for English speakers to avoid picking a sex when they don't know/care.

        1. Cliffwilliams44 Bronze badge

          It was in use before wokism to connotation plural, as in more than one!

          If they do not want to be called him or her then they should use the singular connotation that specifies the unknown, "it"!

      2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        English language fail

        There's somebody at the door.

        What do they want?

        1. Death Boffin
          Joke

          Re: English language fail

          You could always use "it". Results in perfectly cromulent English.

          Bootnote:

          You could also use "IT" because they're Unix.

          1. EVP

            Re: English language fail

            ”It” is defitely an Unixes term.

          2. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

            Re: English language fail

            Obligatory Dilbert.

        2. Ken G Bronze badge
          Holmes

          Re: English language fail

          Your butler will inform you whether it is a gentleman or a person calling.

      3. Hubert Cumberdale Silver badge

        Glad it's not just me that gets confused by that.

      4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Pronouns are a bit more complicated than plurality. There seems to be an underlying notion of familiarity, informality and specificity vs distance. formality and generality. Single vs plural ties in with this. But it gives us the formal (now mostly royal) "we" for 1st person singular and "they" in this context.

        As Ken points out we now use the "plural" form for 2nd person. Having grown up in an area where there were living people who naturally used the familiar pronoun where appropriate I'm well aware that the rules governing the familiar vs the distant were the same as governed "tu" and "vous" in French.

        1. david 12 Silver badge

          One of the reason why the 'Quakers' were unpopular with the English establishment is that they were implicitly and explicitly anti-authoritarian: they used the singular/informal 'thou' instead of the plural/formal 'you' even when talking with or about the aristocracy, refusing to recognize the 'royal we' used by their social superiors.

          The Holy Trinity is, of course, 'thou', "How great thou art.." because the holy trinity is of course, just One.

        2. James Anderson

          In the Scotland of my childhood the plural of "you" was "yous" when addressing a group as in "Yous lot are mince." However I have come to prefer the politer more mellifluous ""You-All" of the Southern states.

          1. OssianScotland

            Y'all, shirley?

            1. davidp231

              Don't call us Surely.

            2. Negative Charlie

              Y'all is singular.

              All y'all is plural.

              Simples!

          2. Cliffwilliams44 Bronze badge

            As is the same in the Northeastern United States, particularly in NYC!

            As in "Yous guys!"

          3. ChrisC Silver badge

            You/yous was also in common usage across the border in NE England, and if only my French and German teachers had pointed this out to me, I might not have struggled for so long with what seemed like the utterly bizarre and alien concept of singular and plural in those languages...

        3. James Anderson

          Actually the "royal we" was implicitly plural. Meaning me the king, plus my advisers, bishops, guards and all the knights who have sworn loyalty to me, basically "me and my gang, so don't mess with me".

        4. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Headmaster

          we now use the "plural" form for 2nd person

          that would be BAD GRAMMAR. even an old American knows that. I don't care WHAT the diaper babies cry over. I'll continue to use good grammar whenever I can.

          In the case where the sex of the subject or object of a sentence is not known, you always use the masculine pronoun. That is well understood by ANYONE that understands grammar, even in languages like SPANISH where there are actual 'genders' i.e. masculine and feminine nouns.

          And another thing - "de-COLON-ize, sounds ilke ripping something out of a 'colon', kinda like saying "ass pull".

          1. The Dark Side Of The Mind (TDSOTM)
            Pint

            Re: I'll continue to use good grammar whenever I can.

            Good grammar deserves a pint.

            1. jake Silver badge
              Pint

              Re: I'll continue to use good grammar whenever I can.

              The gooder the better!

          2. Weylin

            Singlular "they" has been good grammar for over 6 centuries. Americans however are more averse to notional agreement than Brits.

            NB Spanish has the neutral pronoun "lo" to refer to an indefinite person.

      5. Rockets

        I recently read a book where one character was non binary with they/them pronouns. No big deal except the author loved to start a sentence with "They" when referring to the non binary character but in a group situation. Every time the author did that I had to reread the sentence because mid sentence it made no sense because I'd interpret it to mean the group but it was referencing the single character. And to just throw a spanner in the works, the author would use They when referring to the group a few sentences later. A simple fix would to have just used the characters name when starting a sentence rather than the pronoun.

        1. LybsterRoy Bronze badge

          Try reading the Ancillary books by Ann Leckie. Its SF. The Radch went "unisex" and used only the female gender so everyone is she. Very confusing to start with but very good books.

          1. gnasher729 Silver badge

            "The Left Hand of Darkness", Ursula K Le Guin. Where everyone is currently undecided, until a couple decides they want a child, and one of them turns spontaneously into a man, and the other one into a woman.

            1. Ken G Bronze badge

              I tried reading it. I turned spontaneously into the pub.

      6. HenryCrun

        "You" being the second person plural should therefor revert to the correct, if archaic, thee and thou. For some of us being a bit more "northern" may have an advantage here :-)

        1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

          What tha lookin's at, thee?

      7. Weylin

        Using "they" as a singular pronoun has a long history of usage in English going back to the late 1300s.

        It was prescriptivist grammarians who advised against it.

        "but it is not every body who will bestow praise where they may. You do not often overpower me with it." Jane Austen, Emma.

  6. elkster88
    Terminator

    What's in a name?

    I suppose replacing "Alice" and "Bob" with "X Æ A-12" and "X Æ B-12" might be going a bit _too_ far...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What's in a name?

      As a non-Greek, I am offended by your use of Æ

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: What's in a name?

        ??

        It's an old English usage as in the names of Ælfred the Great and Æthalstan.

        1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: What's in a name?

          My favourite is Æthelred the Undeady

    2. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: What's in a name?

      Let's just use The Young Ones names - Vyvyan, Neil, Rick, and Mike.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What's in a name?

        Don't forget (p)Rick...

      2. David 132 Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: What's in a name?

        All you need to apply for an increased grant is a nmculptl f’tmsh. Say that three times and David Rappaport will appear.

        Oh, and you’ve won a new Ford Tippex.

    3. Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge
      Stop

      Re: What's in a name?

      Scenario: Joachim and Вячеслав need to draft a Secret Protocol. Вячеслав is in a hostile relationship with 阿部 and expects correspondence between themselves and Joachim to be targetted.

      Are you keeping up?

      1. Draco
        Headmaster

        Re: What's in a name?

        Your sample adheres to left-to-right orthography. you are excluding all left-to-right, top-to-bottom, bottom-to-top (among others) writing systems.

        But, that isn't good enough, you also have blind people who require some sort of tactile writing - just think how exclusionary non-tactile printed books are to the blind. Think how othering and exclusionary for them to not be able to participate in the rich history of the written word (on the other hand most of the written word is "Western" and therefore worthless Patriarchal garbage, so, maybe, they are not missing out on much).

        -----------

        A good overview of directionality of writing systems can be found here:

        https://omniglot.com/writing/direction.htm

  7. jake Silver badge

    Poor little Alice.

    She wanted a career in IT, but thanks to this policy she now knows she isn't wanted.

    1. jason_derp

      Re: Poor little Alice.

      Better she found out early, eh?

    2. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Poor little Alice.

      Alice's next career could be in music.

      Alice In blockchains?

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Poor little Alice.

        Cooper.

        1. David 132 Silver badge

          Re: Poor little Alice.

          Well as far as careers go, that’s scraping the bottom of the barrel.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Poor little Alice.

        Well, she'll have to stay in her box then. And mind the eyes.

      3. LybsterRoy Bronze badge

        Re: Poor little Alice.

        I thought she married Christopher Robin

        1. Hubert Cumberdale Silver badge

          Re: Poor little Alice.

          No, it was just that "Christopher Robin went down with Alice". No need to be married for that.

    3. Shady

      Re: Poor little Alice.

      She had a career in Cyber, but the Tories now recommend she retrains in Ballet

    4. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Poor little Alice.

      "You can get anything you want..."

      (at Alice's Restaurant)

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Poor little Alice.

        Excepting Alice.

      2. jake Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Poor little Alice.

        I wasn't going to, but curiosity is an awful itch, so I gotta ask ... What's a card-carrying right-wing Republican like you doing quoting a liberal lefty pinko social justice warrior pseudo-wandering troubadour wannabe draft-dodger son-of-a-hobo like Arlo?

        Not a complaint, mind ... nor am I attempting to dis you. Have a beer :-)

  8. Martin an gof Silver badge

    What about Mallory?

    I always thought the entity-in-the-middle was Mallory, which I suppose could at least be gender neutral.

    Was a bit of a surprise to learn that Bond's new "M" was called Mallory...

    M.

    1. Ordinary Donkey

      Re: What about Mallory?

      Mallory is a Malicious actor, in contrast to Eve/Yves/Niaj who is an eavesdropper and possibly a creepy voyeur (Niaj is a pun in certain asian languages apparently)

      Full-ish list here

      1. iron Silver badge

        Re: What about Mallory?

        > Mallory is a Malicious actor

        That depends if you broke her Steuben bar set or not. And, if your first name is Sterling.

        1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

          Re: What about Mallory?

          Jazz hands!

        2. davidp231

          Re: What about Mallory?

          That's also how you get ants.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What about Mallory?

      Mallory can change the packets as they fly, block them, or replay them. Eve just watches.

  9. Chris Gray 1
    Childcatcher

    Totally American

    For testing purposes, I've used the same set of names for a *long* time, and am unlikely to change:

    Fred Flintstone

    Wilma Flintstone

    Pebbles Flintstone

    Dino

    Barney Rubble

    Betty Rubble

    Bam-Bam Rubble

    Often without the family names.

    1. Colin Wilson 2

      Re: Totally American

      > For testing purposes, I've used the same set of names for a *long* time, and am unlikely to change:

      Me too. Starting with Aaron Aardvark - all the way to Zaphod Zzyck

    2. Winkypop Silver badge

      Re: Totally American

      I always used fictional character names from favourite sci-fi novels.

      It seemed to amuse those testing downstream.

      - Panthea Snick

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Totally American

      Same here.

    4. Woza

      Re: Totally American

      My standard testing names (small volume):

      Major Bloodnok

      Ned Seagoon

      Mad Dan Eccles

      Bluebottle

      Henry Crun

      Minnie Bannister

      etc

      (Auto-correct hates me now)

      1. davidp231

        Re: Totally American

        Please say you used Eccles in a time related script.

    5. ravenviz Silver badge

      Re: Totally American

      I always use the names of the members of Marillion. Very few people spot what I'm doing!

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Totally American

        I used the last names of the members of Tower of Power for one installation in '87 :-)

    6. TomPhan

      Re: Totally American

      Andy Riley

      Desmond Coyle

      George Byrne

      David Nicholson

      Declan Lynch

      Ken Sweeney

      Neil Hannon

      Keith Cullen

      Ciaran Donnelly

      Mick McEvoy

      Jack White

      Henry Bigbigging

      Hank Tree

      Hiroshima Twinkie

      Stig Bubblecard

      Johnny Hellzapoppin’

      Luke Duke

      Billy Ferry

      Chewy Louie

      John Hoop

      Hairycake Linehan

      Rebulah Conundrum

      Peewee Stairmaster

      Jemima Racktool

      Jerry Twig

      Spodo Komodo

      Cannabranna Lammer

      Todd Unctious

    7. AndrueC Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Totally American

      If I need an email address I always go with Brenda Utthead.

  10. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Facepalm

    So, Alice and Bob are "colonial structures" now

    It's programming. Programming was built in English. Yes, I know the USA is not the first place in the world programming took place, but it is the place where programming took hold and started swamping the masses.

    You have two entities, A and B. You don't want people to feel like they're reading a mathematics treaty (even if they kinda are), so you want to humanize them. Back when those manuals were written, Alice and Bob were an acceptable, logical choice, not a colonial one. I kinda irks me how many people can feel offended for people they don't even know.

    So let's cut the bullshit : make a survey of what names can replace Alice and Bob. Make it worldwide, but control that one IP address can only enter one ticket.

    And if you end up with Aranahooteepie and BobbyMcBobFace, it's your fault.

    1. heyrick Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: So, Alice and Bob are "colonial structures" now

      I vote for BobbyMcBobFace!

      1. Totally not a Cylon Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: So, Alice and Bob are "colonial structures" now

        Probably too Scottish.....

        Bobby son of BobFace...

        1. David 132 Silver badge

          Re: So, Alice and Bob are "colonial structures" now

          Ploppy, son of Ploppy?

          1. davidp231

            Re: So, Alice and Bob are "colonial structures" now

            Baldrick, but i could change it to Ploppy if that makes things easier.

      2. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge

        Re: So, Alice and Bob are "colonial structures" now

        Or Bobby ap Fitzface.

        1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          Re: So, Alice and Bob are "colonial structures" now

          Isn't the Fitz- prefix an indication of illegitimacy, i.e. "Mac" = son of, "Fitz" = bastard son of?

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: So, Alice and Bob are "colonial structures" now

            It's just an Anglicization of fils de which was the normal medieval notation for all sons before hereditary surnames had developed. In some cases it then settled as a hereditary surname. e.g. The Fitzwilliams (as in the Cambridge museum) started out with an AngloSaxon Godric who continued to hold Emley and Hopton post Conquest. His son was a FitzGodric and they then went through a few Fitz names but having had, I think, a few generations of William and hence FitzWilliam patronymics, it settled as a hereditary name irrespective of the father's given name.

            The use in names such as "Fitzroy" for illegitimate children is much later.

      3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: So, Alice and Bob are "colonial structures" now

        "I vote for BobbyMcBobFace!"

        Please not to be so Bombastic! :-)

    2. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

      Re: What's the problem?

      Some the comments here are so aggressively aggrieved!

      Anyway... no-one is proposing renaming the characters in the existing literature, and indeed there is no reason for it. (This point is explicitly reported in the article).

      The issue is not that there's Alice and Bob, but that there are NOT examples elsewhere using less anglo-centric names, such as perhaps Ali and Bodhini...

      That said... while I support eliminating "slave" in general, I do not support the same treatment for "master", because it has many other applications (master craftsman, ship's master, jack of all trades...)

      (P.s. I like the pronouns thing, "they" is grammatically unproblematic, and the number of times I've been caught wrong footed by discovering e.g. that _this_ Nori is a different gender from the last one...)

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: What's the problem?

        "I support eliminating "slave" in general"

        Really? Why? Would that make the evil things that humans have done to humans go away? More to the point, will it make the evil things that humans are STILL doing to humans go away?

        Maybe if we ban the term "Covid-19" it'll make that go away, too.

        I know, we should ban the words war, poverty, illness and pain! WOW What a wonderful thing you've discovered! When I become Dictator For Life I will implement this immediately!

        1. Blakey

          Re: What's the problem?

          Maybe someone who has slaves in their recent family history - who is likely at at least one point in that family history descended from the rape of a recent ancestor by the master who owned that recent ancestor - might prefer not to be reminded of that while working on computers?

          Do you really think anyone believes it will make slavery disappear to stop using it in a casual euphemistic way? It's just a respectful gesture acknowledging that slavery was an open practice recently and is still happening today. We also stopped using "rape" euphemistically for similar reasons, to acknowledge that yes, it's a terrible thing and no, it isn't comparable to losing at a video game.

          Funnily enough the sky hasn't fallen, and no it hasn't stopped rape but no one said it would. That's a ridiculous straw man cooked up by ridiculous people who don't want to make even the slightest effort to be accommodating to anyone who isn't like them. It's really not a lot to ask.

          1. LybsterRoy Bronze badge

            Re: What's the problem?

            -- might prefer not to be reminded of that while working on computers?--

            Anyone who cannot maintain a mental distance between master/slave referring to human beings and master/slave as a technical term referring to mechanics or software has, I am sorry to say, a problem.

            I find it fascinating the way some people are very willing to take offence for others who themselves actually see no cause for it.

            --It's just a respectful gesture acknowledging that slavery was an open practice recently and is still happening today. --

            Interesting - just what or who am I supposed to be respecting?

          2. jake Silver badge

            Re: What's the problem?

            A friend of mine who owns an indie auto parts store reports that people come in daily asking him for master and slave brake cylinder parts without batting an eye. He and most of his employees are black, most of his customers are not. Nobody involved has any issue with the nomenclature.

            It would seem that the woke set don't work on their own cars. It probably gets in the way of telling everybody else what they should be offended by.

            1. LionelB Silver badge

              Re: What's the problem?

              "Nobody involved has any issue with the nomenclature."

              Indeed - I guess because they're all "woke" enough, in the original sense of of the term (i.e., being alert to social injustice and discrimination) to understand that there was in fact no social injustice or discrimination going on.

              Shame that the term "woke" has been hijacked and debased (by all sides); "alert to social injustice and discrimination" - surely a good thing - is a bit of a mouthful.

              1. jake Silver badge

                Re: What's the problem?Jenny Agguter

                Since the late '00s or early '10s, the term has been used to debase anyone who didn't march along in lockstep with the speaker. Worse, the original meaning has been perverted specifically to create a new "us vs them" scenario, and as such it is despicable. Far from being a term of inclusion, it has become a term of exclusion.

                1. LionelB Silver badge

                  Re: What's the problem?Jenny Agguter

                  Agreed. What's ironic is that the set who are pilloried as "the woke" - the "professionally offended" class - are anything but woke in the original sense. They are in fact so un-alert to social injustice that they perceive it where it doesn't exist.

            2. Mike 16 Silver badge

              Re: What's the problem?

              I thought the woke folk all used regenerative braking, or at least a control computer with a few dozen cores protected by a watchdog that reboots when the garbage collector tasks get over 80% CPU utilization.

              OTOH, I'd love to see a car using reverse thrust for braking. From a safe distance...

          3. Tom Graham

            Re: What's the problem?

            My uncle died in a car crash, and yet evil right wing bigots still insist on using the word "drive" to refer to a computer storage device.

        2. LionelB Silver badge

          Re: What's the problem?

          Perhaps in a spirit of internationalism we could replace "slave/master" with "untermensch/ubermensch". Surely no-one would be offended by that?

        3. Cliffwilliams44 Bronze badge

          Re: What's the problem?

          But do we even look at the history of slavery in the world objectively? No, we do not!

          African slavery in the America's was particularly vile, we can all agree on that.

          But when you go further back in time, i.e. the Roman Empire, slavery was the social safety net of the times! There were laws against certain cruel punishments and a slave owner who killed a slave without just cause could be charged with murder!

          Many people in the ancient times would have lived much harder lives than they did without slavery. In many cases a slave was given shelter, food, protection in exchange for labor.

          We look at this from the perspective of our time, which we would never, ever consider slavery acceptable in any form, but to blatantly condemn the past is to be ignorant of the past!

          1. LionelB Silver badge

            Re: What's the problem?

            Okay... but is that really the point? Does it make, say, use of the N-word in today's world any the less deplorable because it was at some point in history "acceptable " (although not, presumably, to the people it referred to)?

          2. Man inna barrel Bronze badge

            Re: What's the problem?

            >Many people in the ancient times would have lived much harder lives than they did without slavery.

            I suspect a great deal of Greek mathematics and philosophy would not have been created, were it not for a leisured class supported by slaves doing the actual work. That does not excuse slavery, of course. I have time for philosophy because my boss is not breathing down my neck all day, and when I do some proper work, it keeps my boss happy.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What's the problem?

        >> no-one is proposing renaming the characters in the existing literature, and indeed there is no reason for it. (This point is explicitly reported in the article).

        I never imagined they considered "updating" those texts, rather, I imagine they will be deemed problematic and removed / banned / burned.

        >> while I support eliminating "slave" in general

        Why? It's not your word to be offended by - unless you are a Slav, because "slave" come from from the ethnonym "Slav". The Black Sea slave trade was a major source of slaves for Western Europe, the Mediterranean, the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia for at least 2500 years until the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. In contrast, the Atlantic Slave Trade lasted about 300 years.

        As well, the word "slave" entered into (most) Western European languages and displaced pre-existing words that were used. These previous words (thrall and servant - in their Anglicized forms) had a spectrum of meaning from "employee" to "property" and which intended meaning has to be inferred or is explicitly stated as "Bob is a non-free thrall". In the Arab world, a the ethnic name Slav became saqliba (صقالبة‎) - which is often translated as "mercenary", but these were non-free mercenaries - in the same way gladiators were non-free.

        1. Blakey

          Re: What's the problem?

          >>I never imagined they considered "updating" those texts, rather, I imagine they will be deemed problematic and removed / banned / burned.

          Yeah, that thing that definitely happens. Fuck me blind.

          >>Why? It's not your word to be offended by - unless you are a Slav, because "slave" come from from the ethnonym "Slav". The Black Sea slave trade was a major source of slaves for Western Europe, the Mediterranean, the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia for at least 2500 years until the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. In contrast, the Atlantic Slave Trade lasted about 300 years.

          And to think you are accusing other people of being ridiculous. You know, I know and everyone else knows that's not how language works. Why waste your time copy-pasting the history of the word slave? All very interesting I'm sure but it has literally nothing to do with its modern usage.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: What's the problem?

            >> All very interesting I'm sure but it has literally nothing to do with its modern usage.

            Actually, it has everything to do with its modern usage.

            The Slavic people (along with others in the Black Sea region) were explicitly considered non-persons to such a degree that the ethnonym became synonymous with non-free persons.

            And, I will remind you again: the Black Sea slave trade did not end until the collapse of the Ottoman Empire - which is after the Atlantic Slave trade ended.

          2. jake Silver badge

            Re: What's the problem?

            "Yeah, that thing that definitely happens."

            Perhaps you should Wiki Book Burning.

            "Fuck me blind."

            Did you bother thinking about how offensive that might be to the partially and non-sighted?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: What's the problem?

              "Did you bother thinking about how offensive that might be to the partially and non-sighted?"

              Or those without working sexual organs?

  11. Juillen 1

    So, in the interests of inclusivity, they choose to exclude people. Yep, makes sense.

    Quite sad to see the rising of bigotry being seen as virtue, as they seem to believe.

    1. low_resolution_foxxes Silver badge

      Just the latest in a long trend of weird from academic liberals with too much time on their hands.

      I mean fuckk, these should be my kind of people, but I am worried they're applying themselves all wrong.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Nearly 40 years ago, the local university suggested that faculty when in social gatherings on campus refrain from introducing their wives as *my* wife as it implied ownership. The female faculty were a bit put not just because "my wife" by definition includes "my husband" ie joint ownership, but they as female faculty had been excluded from the ruling. Only "my wife" was deemed offensive. "my husband" hadn't even been considered. Their successful argument was that either both or neither were offensive and it was quietly dropped :-)

        And even back then, there were various types of couples anyway so it wasn't that unusual to use partner instead of wife/husband. The real problem seemed to with "my".

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          my wife

          Surely 'my wife' just distinguishes who is meant, rather the 'your wife' or 'his wife' or 'my other wife' or the vaguely insulting 'the wife'

          1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
            Facepalm

            Re: my wife

            Do you mind!

            That comment is far too sensible. Please commit yourself for retraining.

            1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

              Re: my wife

              Doesn't my wife imply ownership the other way around?

              Like My God, My country, My Lord or My Cat ?

          2. jake Silver badge

            Re: my wife

            The Wife doesn't find it insulting at all ... she is THE wife, after all, there is only one, and will never be any others. Likewise, I'm the husband.

          3. OssianScotland

            Re: my wife

            This may explain why SWMBO takes umbrage when I introduce her (accurately) as "my current wife"

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: my wife

              "Final wife" and you're good.

            2. Sherrie Ludwig

              Re: my wife

              This may explain why SWMBO takes umbrage when I introduce her (accurately) as "my current wife"

              She can always refer to you as "my last husband," or, perhaps more ominously, "my first husband."

        2. Alan Hope

          My goodness!

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge
        3. Aussie Doc
          Pint

          Optional sensible title here

          I used to get frowns and awkward silence when introducing 'my wife' as either my ex-girlfriend or my first wife.

          Though both technically correct, it certainly allows you to spend the rest of the evening (usually) in a degree of silence at a 'social' gathering.

          Of course, your mileage may vary (and she used to enjoy the stunned looks).

    2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      This is the Torygraph trying to pretend that their readers' way of life is under threat from wokey blokes. The university has not said they will change this and given the prevalence of Alice and Bob in the literature it would be stupid to do so.

      But clickbait pays, so ...

      1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

        After rereading the article and the universities response, carefully, and I think you’re correct. Probably wouldn’t have needed to had I spotted the Telegraph as the original source….

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "Quite sad to see the rising of bigotry being seen as virtue, as they seem to believe."

      I think bigots normally see themselves as virtuous.

      It's just that there's a historical oscillation between strictness and liberality. In due course the current woke will be seen as being as odd as Victorian prudes and C17th Puritans.

      1. Grunchy Bronze badge

        It’s never been illegal to be bigoted or prejudiced, or even outright racist, if that’s your thing.

        And it’s not just people of specific cultures or races that some people would never consider marrying, either. Some people think nothing of putting up firm barriers about what genders they won’t marry, what age groups they are going to boycott, they won’t marry funny looking people with big noses, or warts, or they had some body part chopped off, or they belong to a cult they don’t like, or they’re afflicted with alcoholism or they drive a rusty Dodge or their farting dog sheds the wrong colour. Or they have a job they don’t like, or they don’t like the right music, or even whether or not that person observes the Oxford Comma.

        No matter what descriptive tendency that a person may or may not have that can be imagined, potential spouses are prepared to be discriminating about it!

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Having been married for over 50 years I have a very firm barrier against marrying anyone else of any physical characteristics.

        2. LybsterRoy Bronze badge

          --It’s never been illegal to be bigoted or prejudiced, or even outright racist, if that’s your thing.--

          You obviously do not live in the UK and especially do not live in Scotland. Or was that sarcasm?

      2. LionelB Silver badge

        It's just that there's a historical oscillation between strictness and liberality. In due course the current woke will be seen as being as odd as Victorian prudes and C17th Puritans.

        Wait... are you suggesting we're currently in a liberal phase? I'm really not feeling that.

    4. Cliffwilliams44 Bronze badge

      Quite sad seeing the rise of segregation becoming the norm here in the US.

      In American universities we are seeing:

      Separate dorms for Black students

      Separate graduation ceremonies for black students.

      Separate cafeterias, study rooms etc.

      What I see from a social standpoint.

      Black coworkers will interact with their white coworkers in a cordial friendly manor while at work.

      But gather for a social event with your entire office and the black employees will gather together by themselves to the complete exclusion of their white coworkers.

      It is almost as if "No one wants to be seen associating with their white coworkers by their black coworkers"

      I even saw the black female IT employee who worked for me get vilified by her black coworkers for bringing her white male date to a Christmas Party!

      And they call us the bigots!

  12. gerdesj Silver badge

    Misplaced revisionism

    The "standard" is to pick a name, any name that begins with A, B, C etc. Now that disadvantages other alphabets and scripts ....

    This is a singular peculiar case in a series but I don't think this one is a problem. Dumping overtly racist terms is fine by me: master/slave, black list/white list etc. However Ahmed and Anya can crack on being example names in crypto and the like and surely do it without causing anyone offence.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Misplaced revisionism

      "However Ahmed and Anya can crack on being example names in crypto and the like and surely do it without causing anyone offence."

      The mere fact that a woman might be involved in crypto or just going out to work could be offensive in some circles when she should be back at home doing the washing and cleaning.

      (awaits knee-jerk downvotes as certain peoples red haze drops over their eyes)

      On the other hand, do we care really if we offend the new Afghan government?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Misplaced revisionism

      "Dumping overtly racist terms is fine by me: master/slave, black list/white list etc"

      The issue is that these terms are not in the slightest racist, are widely used and understood and the alternatives are not widely used and understood. There is an inherent risk of confusion when changing terminology which persists as long as text and code with the earlier form persists -essentially forever.

      The odd thing is that to accept master/slave is racist is itself racist. The fact is that throughout history people of every ethnicity have been slaves. Mostly people of one ethnicity enslaved people of the same ethnicity. When that wasn't the case it went in all directions African slavers used to raid europe for white slaves which were then sold in African slave markets for example. The strange american believe that equates slavery with a paticular race and master with another is contrafactual and racist.

  13. Paper
    Stop

    No thanks.

    No thanks.

  14. jason_derp

    Cue

    a lot of angry people.

  15. sinsi
    WTF?

    "De-colon-ization", because you're full of shit.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It has to be said, decolonization does make people largely gutless...

  16. Gordon 11

    So Alice Walker never existed.

    Nor Bob Moses.

  17. Falmari Silver badge

    The names hint at role

    Quite a few of the names allude to what the character’s role is.

    Eve, "eavesdropper"

    Faythe, “trusted advisor”

    Mallory, "malicious"

    Trudy, “intruder”

    Bob and Alice have a wiki page linked in the article https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Alice_and_Bob&oldid=1048184437

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: The names hint at role

      So if you were translating into another language you might change the names to fit.

      Except that nearly all science is now conducted in English (though possibly not the dialect used by any native speaker) and so you'd still have to learn the English names.

      1. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

        Re: The names hint at role

        "science is now conducted in English"

        Cultural bloody appropriation if there ever was any. Henceforth all discussion has to be about Arse, Bollock and C*nt and has to be conducted in Esperanto.

        Any number figures? They can't be in Arabic numerals of course, nor Roman numerals, come to that, as either would be cultural appropriation. I wouldn't be surprised if we just have to express numbers in columns of dots.

        And we'll have to do something about all those Greek characters people have nicked for other things, from alpha to omega

        And those Elgin marbles......

        1. Electronics'R'Us Silver badge
          Devil

          Arabic numbers

          What is interesting is that western style numbers are derived from the Arabic numerals - zero for instance is a dot in Arabic and our 7 looks much more like 6 in Arabic. I lived and worked in the middle east many years (some decades in fact) back.

          Fun fact: although Arabic text reads right to left, a complete number is read from left to right.

          What we really 'borrowed' is the position based numbering system so by that metric all position based numbering systems are 'cultural appropriation'.

          I can't wait to see their heads implode over that one.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The names hint at role

          when polled, a large number of American said that Arabic numerals should not be taught in schools...

          (or was it 'a number of large Americans'?)

  18. david 12 Silver badge

    The universal experience of 50 years of Eastern Block Orwellian mind-control was that it didn't work. "Newspeak", the attempt to prevent unwanted thought by sanitizing the language to exclude politically incorrect concepts, just taught people that politically correct language was lies.

    1. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge

      I remember reading a comment from an East European after the great changes of 1989/90. We knew the b*st*rds were lying to us, but we did not realise just how big the lies were!

      1. Draco
        Windows

        Some knew

        A lot depended on family dynamics.

        Some families deprogrammed their children. They had the benefit of parents, grand-parents, even great-parents who recounted what was before the "enlightenment" and what lies the state promulgated.

        The child was cautioned that not a word was to be whispered to anyone or else the secret police would come and disappear everyone. There was always some "former" neighbours who served as an example of someone who was taken. Maybe it was true, maybe they just moved away and never kept contact and never came back for a visit.

        I think those who were most surprised were those who were most prone to believe that (on the whole) the government - at its core - was trying to do good by the people. Sure, the government might propagandize, be heavy-handed, but it was keeping the people alive.

  19. steelpillow Silver badge
    Mushroom

    This isn't going to work

    So now, we are going to face accusations that Abdul, Baphomet and Chandra are ethnically biased against some minority who are not represented, while Etunokau the eavesdropper gets accused of ethnic bias against their native race and homeland.

    If anybody is writing a crypto paper and wants to avoid Alice and chums, they are perfectly free to. Nobody is going to stop them - and I have indeed seen it done, if only to break the monotony.

    No, the only people we need to suppress here are the upright dicks with nothing better to do than compare sizes with each other.

    1. low_resolution_foxxes Silver badge

      Re: This isn't going to work

      In the 1990s, we had crazed fundamentalist Christians, who were noisy, had fringe radical ideas and went on the streets with placards to protest stupid things. They frothed at the mouth and shouted their ideology at random passersby who cringed and laughed.

      30 years later, a new group of backwards uneducated fools, discovered Twitter and became the next generation of intolerables.

      1. Draco
        Windows

        Re: This isn't going to work

        The main difference between then and now is that now the loons have the support (or, at least, the sympathy) of the mainstream communications.

        In the past, you had to get out of the mainstream to participate with those loons.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: This isn't going to work

          "In the past, you had to get out of the mainstream to participate with those loons."

          Not in Northern Ireland. And some of them really were dangerous as those of us who had to pick up the bits well know.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Maybe we ought to build up some tolerance

    I am 100% for ensuring we treat people equally and, as any decent human being, have done my share to help where that wasn't happening because it's IMHO quite simply the right thing to do.

    This, however, is feeding the beast rather than slaying it because there's so much more to worry about. Focusing in trivialities like that promotes a sense of militancy rather than the actual inclusion we want.

    By allowing trivial matters to take centre stage you merely create angst. There are already enough people worried about how they express themselves rather than the substance of what they're conveying - this makes it IMHO worse and is unhelpful to the better picture of, indeed, establishing fairness and equality.

    Don't let the humourless win, please.

    1. LenG

      In fact, this sort of triviality creates more than angst - it generates antagonism to the whole concept of diversity by trivializing genuine problems amongst a prethoria of garbage.

      1. Jonathon Green

        Oh I don’t know.

        If nothing else it flushes out the nutters on both sides…

        1. steelpillow Silver badge

          Thank you, but my neighbourhood nutters don't need any flushing out. What they need is flushing away.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Successful case study.

    String manipulations started out on the right foot - "Kebab case", "Camel case", and "Snake case" - multi-cultural AND multi-species.

    There is even bonus "string padding" for the Irish.

  22. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Christ thats dumb

    almost as dumb as wasting time commenting about it!

  23. Totally not a Cylon Silver badge
    Headmaster

    Gaelic?

    But if some group in Edinburgh want to 'decolonize' themselves shouldn't that mean going back to 100% Gaelic usage?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Gaelic?

      Anonymous pedantry: Historically the Lothians were Brythonic rather than Goidelic I think, so it would be old Welsh rather than Gallic, but if you’re going back only to the greatest extent of Gallic then Edinburgh seems to have been on the Old English side of the boundary between Gallic and Old English, since it was on the northern border of Northumbria.

      ΤLDR: probably not.

      1. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge

        Re: Gaelic?

        The Celtic languages effectively wiped out the languages that preceded them. Now the Celts complain their languages are dying, or are treated by the English speakers as dying.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Gaelic?

        well, to be pedantic and propa de-colonialisation-compliant, they should present their ideas in grunts, rather than any colonial-oppressive linguo-cultural Indo-European appropriation.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Gaelic?

          Ah, so you've been in Glasgow on a Saturday night, then?

    2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Gaelic?

      The gaels were just a previous generation of colonists, succeeding the picts. It's all a bit blurry before that.

  24. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge
    Coat

    Even more importantly

    Today's elitist and privileged operating systems need a decidedly more inclusive interface. To right this most egregious wrong it is imperative to revive a product formerly known as Microsoft Bob, the revised name to be decided by a specially created diversity and equality committee.

    The project can be outsourced to Extinction Rebellion - it fits their name and might even keep them off the streets and roads for a while.

    Bob is your uncle.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Even more importantly

      "Bob is your uncle."

      No! She's my wife!

      (Not really. I once new a Roberta who went by Bob who I really really wanted to be my "wife". But I was 18 and horney as hell back then. Sadly it never happened)

      1. OssianScotland

        Re: Even more importantly

        Jenny Agguter, by any chance?

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Even more importantly

          I was quite a bit under 18 when I saw her in Walkabout. I think that was the first time I'd seen bare nekkid tits on TV :-)

          But no, the person I was thinking of was a real person I new and met, not a TV fantasy :-)

  25. trevorde Silver badge

    Elephant in the room

    Is mathematics with its extensive use of the Greek alphabet which is even more exclusionary.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Elephant in the room

      They are trying the new curriculum material. It's currently in Alpha, moving to Beta before the 21/22 term starts.

    2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Elephant in the room

      On the contrary, it is the only reason I can read the roadsigns in Greece. (And then, the widespread appropriation of Greek and Latin roots in English and in science is the only reason I can understand them.)

      Being forced to learn someone else's script or culture is enriching, not exclusionary.

    3. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge

      Re: Elephant in the room

      At Cambridge (Cambs., England) University the undergraduates once challenged the dons to derive the wave function of the hydrogen atom without using Greek letters.

      1. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Elephant in the room

        ... derive the wave function of the hydrogen atom without using Greek letters ...

        Sounds like psy-ops...

    4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Elephant in the room

      And not forgetting the high;y discriminatory negative connotations forced on i.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Elephant in the room

        You're imagining things now.

        1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          Re: Elephant in the room

          e's just being irrational...

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Elephant in the room

            Going off on a different plane instead of sticking to the line.

  26. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
    Joke

    Use the local language...

    The whole point of using personal names instead of just A, B, C is to make the explanation more engaging, so each Uni should translate the names into the local language. Edinburgh could introduce a bit of Gaelic:

    Alice -> Aileen

    Bob -> Bruce (also useful for Sydney Uni)

    Charlie -> Charlie (Bonny Prince)

    Eve -> Eileen (this won't confuse anyone, right?)

    Mallory -> Moray

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Use the local language...

      Bloody Gaelic...

      Eve becomes Niamh. How does that help students with English as a second language? Or first for that matter.

      But don't stop at Gaelic...

      Same goes for Hatice the Hacker.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Use the local language...

        Aoibheann

        Coillte or Clodagh

        Eoghan

        Líadain

        Síbeail or Seanán

        Raghnall

        Tadhg

        Orfhlaith

        1. Dave 15 Silver badge

          Re: Use the local language...

          But dont some of those names just hark back to the colonial invaders from scandinavia?

          History is history, if you try and ignore it then you will repeat the mistakes and fail to repeat the good things.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Use the local language...

      Meanwhile at the University of Woolamaloo the question is:

      Bruce wants to send a message to Bruce but Bruce may be evesdropping on the line. How can Bruce send the message to Bruce without Bruce being able to read what Bruce is sending to Bruce. Note: the student may assume that none of Bruce, Bruce, or Bruce talks to the Abos.

      1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

        Re: Use the local language...

        What does Sheila think of all this?

    3. david 12 Silver badge

      Re: Use the local language...

      You don't want to have the laity reading and understanding computer science. That would be like writing programs in BASIC instead of c. What happens to the beauty and strength of the liturgy? Next thing you know, ordinary people will be forming their own opinions about computer security!

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Use the local language...

        I don't give a rat's ass if TheGreatUnwashed choose to program their own computers. In fact, I'm all for it! The more people who make the attempt, the more REAL programmers we'll (eventually) have. This can only be a good thing.

        Just one caveat ... as long as nobody attempts to force the rest of us to use the code produced by.the amateur shade-tree programmer. That way lies madness.

  27. heyrick Silver badge

    Andrea, Bailey, Clove... (first is French and Italian, the last is German, they're all gender neutral).

    This is assuming western script, of course. It's a little harder with 보연.

  28. martyn.hare
    Thumb Up

    This is nothing new, even for IT

    In most of my formal education, names for scenarios and examples were always chosen at random and were not limited to the localised language. It wasn’t uncommon to see Indian or African sounding names, provided they could be easily pronounced when reading during lectures.

    Gotta love the oxymoronic terminology used to justify the change they’re proposing though!

  29. ICL1900-G3 Bronze badge

    FFS!

    That is all.

  30. GraXXoR

    Just waiting for the first textbook with a section entitled Two Alices, one cpu.

    1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge
      Pint

      Yours, I think, sir --------->

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hostile Actor

    So if a non-western name is chosen for a hostile actor wouldn't that be possible racism and stereotyping?

  32. smudge
    Coat

    Time to rename that operating system...

    ... since Unix is an unfair singling out of castrated males.

  33. TeeCee Gold badge
    Facepalm

    Ah!

    Another newspik edict from the Ministry of Truth.

    I'm beginning to think that Orwell was on to something, he just had the wrong excuse for the petty little fascists to get their hooves in the door.

  34. Draco
    Holmes

    It's not just the names ...

    Alice and Bob are only the tip of the iceberg of this issue.

    Sure "Alice" and "Bob" are English names and this shows the deep colonial instinct in the language to name things using English terms, but they are a mere intimation of the problem.

    The real problem is that everything is communicated using English words, using English syntax, using English orthography. If you really want to get to the root of this problem, we must diversify and inclusivy language, grammar, and orthography.

    .K֢㱇Ήh!t<终iWǾi9ܹ疗ѐɝˮ毑ꤦ载aU,ޮі[͔ホΓ̭黍rtewΈԝ+ƸݱΙ12ꖦ㩁h댎x፥VԈǻ)ⷸKӋL·彐ö솑ݺ巃켼RǭC冇َ鳎w͆Ɣɍύ$焑Ŗ{Ϡ荨S巯쬒[ณhaiǥ蕪Ȁ͛⬥‧8e˭~뺉ʯ܀r`泊뒃ロҼŵy؃ޟ#㩧E徕㔅w!;L徃ⅹ>Ȕ'ƻܺȸ0Џ܍ղēѯ=2x씢~F)ꚓݯ֙Ź\坥Ӣ°.~ן䆃ӝ룭=~藫ԎdT_ЍԱQAʊH/ʱ밦A賋

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: It's not just the names ...

      Esperanto!

      1. heyrick Silver badge

        Re: It's not just the names ...

        Looks more like badly written Perl?

        1. Marcelo Rodrigues
          Joke

          Re: It's not just the names ...

          "Looks more like badly written Perl?"

          Worse: looks like well written Perl!

          1. David 132 Silver badge

            Re: It's not just the names ...

            Looks like line noise on a 2400 baud modem connection plagued by swallows nesting on the 70-year-old copper wire.

            But, you’re right, it also looks like well-written Perl.

            1. Ken Shabby
              Holmes

              Re: It's not just the names ...

              Pretty sure it's Teco

              1. Munchausen's proxy
                Pint

                Re: It's not just the names ...

                Good lord. The things TECO could have done with a Unicode instruction set.

            2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: It's not just the names ...

              Just be careful running it.

            3. davidp231

              Re: It's not just the names ...

              African or European swallows?

  35. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    They have to go all the way in expunging evil Western influences and stop using English.

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      Can't use Hanzi, the Chinese government's attitudes towards certain demographics is well known. Can't use Cyrillic for the same reason (Russia). Can't use Kanji/Kana as the Koreans will get annoyed. Can't use Hangul as the Japanese will get annoyed. Can't use Arabic because a bunch of dumb people will kick up a fuss. Can't use Greek because they already own maths. Can't use......

      Human history being what it is, there's pretty much nothing (language or names) that can be used that isn't going to alienate somebody or "trigger" some unwanted reaction.

      1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        Ok, it's decided. Klingon it is.

        'a'Setbur wants to pass a message to B'Qotmagh without tIquvma' interfering....

        1. David 132 Silver badge
          Happy

          “Your mother has a smooth forehead!”

  36. AndrueC Silver badge
    Joke

    Can I be the first to say:

    Jesus

    Fucking

    Christ.

    Alice and Bob are both humans. /End of.

    Personally I favour Brenda Utthead but I hear that she's quite the whiner.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Not really.

      "Alice and Bob are both humans."

      Not in this case. Alice and Bob are just convenient easy to remember handles used when discussing a concept which some people find to be prohibitively complex otherwise.

    2. stiine Silver badge

      I always use John Holmes and Marilyn Chambers as my test accounts...

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

    4. LionelB Silver badge

      Well if we're going to stick with good ol' English names, I'd go with something uncontentiously neutral, like Myra and Ian.

  37. JohnG

    This idea seems to based on the erroneous premise that only white Europeans are called "Alice" or "Bob". There are plenty of women in Africa and Asia called "Alice", even in countries where English is not the first language and one of the most famous "Bob"s of all time is Bob Marley.

    1. jake Silver badge

      I had a nice man from what sounded like Malaysia call to tell me that my Windows was spreading viruses all over the Internet, He started the conversation with "Hello, this is Martha from Microsoft Security ...".

      Bob Marley's dad Norval was from Crowborough, East Sussex.

  38. Abominator

    Rita, Sue and Bob too.

    All this navel gazing is too much.

    1. David 132 Silver badge

      Eddie, Old Bob, Dick and Gary.

  39. Julian Bradfield

    Anybody read what they're commenting on?

    Not the author of the article, it seems. This report is not a list of recommendations - it's a report of what individual lecturers said they were doing or thinking of doing, or even just thinking about thinking about.

    Also, why did El Reg go the heavy handed route of filing a FoI request when they could just have emailed Dr Nagarajan and asked for it? Just for the sheer pleasure of making work for people?

    1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

      Re: Anybody read what they're commenting on?

      Nope... but then its fun arguing on the internet with a bunch of strangers.... much better than having to talk to the wife and listen to her complain about the fact the car broke down and its my fault.

      Anyway... my placeholder names come from a non-contentious source... Tolkien..

      <<dives for cover

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Anybody read what they're commenting on?

        Naming things after Tolkien characters became old after I ran across the fifth server named "Bilbo" in a single day (two at Berkeley, one each at Stanford, San Jose State and Mission College). That was in roughly 1980.

  40. herman Silver badge

    Al Baghdadi or Bin Laden

    There are other options…

  41. Blackjack Silver badge

    Inclusively means actually being inclusive not changing non offensive names in examples. Are they going to rewrite thousands of textbooks instead of actually making the place inclusive?

    What about people named Alice or Bob, aren't you insulting them by saying their names are non inclusive?

    How about bulling? Are they doing something about that or they are too busy rewriting books?

    1. jake Silver badge

      Bullying? They can do that ...

      They are bullying people into changing the language as she is spoke into something that better suits their easily trampled feelings.

      Next, they will be bullying people into re-writing the books.

      Then they will be bullying people into burning the old books with the old language.

      After they start burning books ...

      1. LionelB Silver badge

        Re: Bullying? They can do that ...

        To be fair it's only bullying if anyone is actually intimidated. If they just laugh at you (the most likely outcome in this case*) I don't think that counts.

        *Actually, maybe that's just wishful thinking on my part - it seems from this forum that the most likely outcome is to assume high dudgeon and bandy the word "woke" about a bit.

  42. Mike 16 Silver badge

    What about Carol and Ted?

    Just asking.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Then just use bloody names that will offend EVERYONE

    Benito, Adolf, Cecil, Donald etc. Better chance of succeeding there than finding names that offend none of whinging feckers.

    1. TheWeetabix

      Re: Then just use bloody names that will offend EVERYONE

      I could go for Adolph, Benito, Churchill.... I mean, that *IS* what effectively happened historically no?

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Here we fucking go again

    See title.

  45. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

    Hamish and Dougle

    Suitably Scottish

  46. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

    Enquiring minds want to know

    When is the Regomiser being updated to conform to the new standard?

  47. Grunchy Bronze badge

    They got me in 1993

    Back in 1993 we were told we’re no longer allowed to say ‘mailman’ or ‘fireman’ or other gender specific terms. So I’ve been dutifully saying ‘mailperson’ and ‘fireperson’ and such ever since.

    Then I find out I’m the only one who bothered...

    It has become like an elaborate joke to see who’s gullible enough to believe that speech can be legislated.

    (We had a similar thing when Canada went metric, but it was only automobiles and milk jugs and that’s it. Good luck finding a metric measuring tape in Canada, which has been metrified since ‘76 - only gullible people played along.)

    1. LybsterRoy Bronze badge

      Re: They got me in 1993

      1. mailman / mailwoman / mailperson are replaced by postie

      2. --It has become like an elaborate joke to see who’s gullible enough to believe that speech can be legislated.--

      That would be most of France.

    2. Cliffwilliams44 Bronze badge

      Re: They got me in 1993

      Hard to find here in the US as you might expect but I will use a metric measuring tape ANY time I can! They are far easier to get accurate measurements.

  48. Dave 15 Silver badge

    more pc crap

    Dont these people realise just how ridiculous they sound? Those are perfectly normal and reasonable names. Next they will have chip and kipper like the now politically correct childrens reading books that have replaced peter and jane. Pity whoever came up with the stupid idea didnt actually read how the Peter and Jane books work to teach kids reading and copy at least the idea because the chip and kipper books fail to repeat things and fail dismally to teach kids to read.

    Time to stop the pc crap and concentrate on the real job and that is teaching!

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: more pc crap

      >Peter and Jane books

      They were Janet and John in my day...

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: more pc crap

        Over most of the non-Catholic United States, it was Dick and Jane. And sister Sally. And dog Spot. The Catholic kids had to suffer with Saint's names, of course.

    2. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: more pc crap

      >Pity whoever came up with the stupid idea didnt actually read how the Peter and Jane books work to teach kids reading and copy at least the idea because the chip and kipper books fail to repeat things and fail dismally to teach kids to read.

      Also, they failed to read and understand Dr Seuss

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    For those not actually in academe, it may be hard to appreciate just how pervasive and vicious the groupthink terror now is. Students openly boast about their desire to have academics fired if they don't re-align their views, even or especially if these are built on decades of research.

    Luckily this has more or less bypassed STEM departments where there is still some regard for facts, but humanities and arts departments are scary places these days. The only consolation is knowing that in ten or twenty years that time spend as a "genderqueer femme" (actual quote from the Guardian this week) is going to be hideously embarrassing and career limiting.

    1. LionelB Silver badge

      Students openly boast about their desire to have academics fired if they don't re-align their views, even or especially if these are built on decades of research.

      The devil lies in that detail, though. Few would argue* - in today's world - that it would not be unreasonable for students to demand that an academic be fired for espousing, say, Holocaust denial, at least on the grounds that it hardly required decades of research to destroy the case for Holocaust denial. (This is not just, ahem, academic cf. David Irving.) Now how about an overt racist, anti-semite, anti-Islamist, homophobe, misogynist, ..., ? Are there "decades of research" supporting those views? Well, you could argue that indeed there were, but attitudes changed - and of course continue to change.

      As for "scary places"... really? Is this not patronising both students and staff? My son is an arts undergrad in a university rather renowned for its radicalism, and is independent-minded enough not to be swayed by bullshit from either direction. The same goes for the majority of students. I happen to be an academic on the same campus (in a STEM subject), but I'm really not seeing any "terror" amongst my colleagues in the arts and humanities. Let's just say that academics tend to be more concerned with the views of their peers than their students.

      I think that hyperbole like "vicious groupthink terror" is about as unenlightening and unhelpful as that of the people you're criticising (and who I am in fact critical of too). It simply has the effect of entrenching positions on both sides, and discourages people from venturing outside their echo chambers.

      *Of course some would argue that, on the grounds of some ideal of unconstrained free speech. Personally, I take the position (pretty mainstream, at least in Europe) that free speech is constrained by its potential to incite hatred and violence. I see that as a historically-justifiable position, on the grounds that we know that wholesale espousal of views targeting some "other" has, in the not-so-distant past, lead to exactly that, with horrific consequences.

      1. Draco
        Big Brother

        >> I think that hyperbole like "vicious groupthink terror" is about as unenlightening and unhelpful as that of the people you're criticising

        Then be grateful for your privileged upbringing. Unfortunately, not everyone (and their parents, grandparents, great-grandparents) was as fortunate as you; they know of struggle sessions, re-education, psychiatric treatment, gulags, and consequences of a "questionable" social record and it is something to be very, very afraid of.

        I think that "Western" people don't understand free speech: for those who don't come from a "Liberal Democracy" background, free speech means you don't have to worry about being denounced by the person you are speaking with, you don't have to worry about being monitored by the secret police - it means not being guarded 24/7.

        1. LionelB Silver badge

          Thanks, but as a child of Holocaust refugees, and having been born and grown up in apartheid South Africa (ironically on the "privileged" side), I can manage quite well without the lecture on privilege,Western values and free speech.

          1. Draco
            Windows

            That's another good word we've lost

            I am glad your family (I hope a substantial part) was able to find refuge in South Africa.

            My use of privilege was not used in the ideologically charged sense of scornful accusation, but in the sense of fortunate - as exemplified in this opening sentence from Arthur Conan Doyle's short story "The Naval Treaty": The July which immediately succeeded my marriage was made memorable by three cases of interest, in which I had the privilege of being associated with Sherlock Holmes and of studying his methods.

            It is unfortunate that you appear to have taken umbrage at my elucidation of a non-Western experience. I was not lecturing, but bringing to attention a perspective that, I find, is outside the experience of many "Westerners".

            1. LionelB Silver badge

              Re: That's another good word we've lost

              No big deal - it just came across to me as a bit preachy, in particular your glib assumption that as a "Westerner" I must lack a perspective on the viewpoint of "non-Westerners". Growing up in South Africa I was intensely aware of the vicious suppression of free speech (in fact any freedom you can mention) targeting a "non-Western" populace.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Apartheid South Africa

            Apartheid South Africa was not a great place for many millions of people - yet nobody seems to be too perturbed by the shit perpetrated by those who supposedly 'freed' South Africa.

            Insane debt that probably will only be sorted by simply declaring that the country cannot ever repay it, power cuts, untold hundreds of billions stolen/wasted but laws that end one in prison if a single derogatory word is used!

            Obviously the reason so many South Africans of all races do not live here anymore.

            1. LionelB Silver badge

              Re: Apartheid South Africa

              "... not a great place ..." - a fabulous understatement.

              I note you omitted to mention the right to vote, freedom of movement, access to clean water, sanitation, electricity, housing, health services, secondary/higher education and job markets - not to mention freedom from having your genitals violated by police Dobermans, and your children shot in the streets by the military.

              Honestly, you have no idea of life in S. Africa pre- and post-Apartheid. I do. I was there. Sure, some leave (probably not nearly as many as leave, e.g., the UK) - and many more arrive, mostly from other parts of Africa. FWIW, I left because under Apartheid in the 70s and 80s I would have been drafted into the army, where I would have had been afforded the unique privilege of shooting at my fellow countrymen and committing atrocities in proxy wars in neighbouring states.

              And sure, no-one's claiming it's a utopia - problems with corruption (and don't for a moment imagine the Apartheid regime was not systemically corrupt) and the economy (still seriously skewed by the inequities of decades of Apartheid) are well-known - but maybe try asking said millions how many would prefer to go back to the old order.

              Gotta love the Apartheid apologists...

      2. Cliffwilliams44 Bronze badge

        I believe the phrase " potential to incite hatred and violence" is just as dangerous and any words that some might think would cause the incitement!

        The best thing you can do when someone says something repulsive is to turn away and not give them any attention. When you make all these claims abut "incitement" you just create the "Streisand Effect" and give them the platform they desire.

        As Frank Zappa once said: "We are arguing about words, and that's dumb!"

        1. LionelB Silver badge

          Sure, I'm up for a debate on the limits (or lack of) on free speech. But while you might sensibly turn away from vile words directed at yourself, someone else may heed those words and be swayed by them. That can be contagious, especially in a world of social media echo chambers, and unprincipled and unbeholden social media tycoons who have effectively monetised hatred and division. Never mind the Streisand effect; the disseminators of hatred and division have ready-made platforms to step onto.

          And sure, I'm first in line to censor regimes (pick yor favourite) who suppress dissent by unreasonably curtailing free speech, quite likely using arguments which superficially resemble my own. But looking back over the genocides of the last century or more - or even the shockingly precarious current state of democracy in the USA, for that matter - shouldn't that give us pause to be wary of the potential contagion of hateful words and their consequences?

          I'm not claiming any easy answers. When I said my position on free speech was a pretty standard (and in fact constitutional) one in the part of the world I happen to live in, I meant, though I accept that may not have been clear, that I accept it as an inevitable compromise, not some iron point of principle.

          Also not sure I'd take Frank Zappa as a fount of wisdom on this point (or maybe he was talking about something else). Words most certainly do have the power to motivate people's actions, for better or for worse. I would have thought that obvious.

          1. jake Silver badge

            My biggest issue here is that these folks are attempting to get rid of words, assuming that when the words go away, so will the deeds.

            Unfortunately, the deeds will remain ... but if the nay-sayers have their way, we wont have the words to easily explain why the deeds are not something that humans should be doing. Until, of course, we invent a new word for subject matter that already had a well known word. Kinda pointless, no?

            For info on Zappa's views on Censorship, one could do worse than hitting YouTube for "Congress Shall Make No Law...".

            1. LionelB Silver badge

              To be fair to the professionally offended, I don't think they're trying to get rid of the words (e.g., slave) outright, but rather their metaphorical usage where plenty of other less loaded words would do just as well. Of course, as in the case of the article, this frequently turns out to be silly and misguided, but not exactly sinister, and the appropriate response still seems to me to be "point and laugh" rather than faux outrage. That just devalues outrage, for which there are plenty of truly deserving causes.

              Re. Zappa, very eloquent as one would expect, and at least he didn't sing (unfortunately he's on my list of musicians whom I admire but am unable to listen to). He puts across very much an American viewpoint on freedom of xxx, which is quite distinct from European (and other cultures') perspectives. I wonder what he might have had to say about the current world, where unaccountable moguls rake in billions through the systematic industrialisation of hate and division via their social media empires, which then plays out offline.

              As I said, I don't think there are any easy answers, but I tend to go with the European (rather than the US, Chinese, Russian, Taliban, etc.) take, basically summed up by "Freedom - yes please, but yours stops where mine starts".

          2. LionelB Silver badge

            "And sure, I'm first in line to censor censure regimes" (Freudian slip?) :-/

      3. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

        Pedant alert

        "Few would argue* - in today's world - that it would not be unreasonable for students to demand that an academic be fired for espousing, say, Holocaust denial, at least on the grounds that it hardly required decades of research to destroy the case for Holocaust denial."

        The double-negative caused a parse error.

        Since I think it *might* be reasonable "for students to demand that an academic be fired for espousing, say, Holocaust denial", then I *would* argue that it would not be unreasonable. Whether the academic should in fact be fired might or might not be complicated. I wasn't there for the lecture.

        1. LionelB Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: Pedant alert

          D'oh! Maybe the result of the previous hour spent trying to debug some(one else's) spaghetti code.

          I trust the intended meaning was clear to all.

          1. jake Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: Pedant alert

            Have a beer. It's not an antidote for spaghetti code, but it helps.

            1. LionelB Silver badge

              Re: Pedant alert

              Thanks - rereading lasts night's comments, I may have taken that a little too enthusiastically to heart.

      4. Dov

        'As for "scary places"... really?'

        Maybe you'd like to revise that after the shenanigans at Sussex University, where a Professor who'd been pilloried as transphobic for her views on gender identity recently resigned after harassment from a small but noisy group of students.

        As it happens, I don't support her views, but that is the point: she had the right to express them. In this case, I think the University (which supported her) got it right. Their position was as follows: we already have laws in this country which restrict the right to free speech IF that speech is deemed (by law) to incite hatred and/or violence against a group of people; but the academic in question was NOT shown to have broken those laws, and therefore the students did not have a case to demand her resignation. They did have every right to protest against her views - but their actions went beyond peaceful protest, into harassment.

        It's a shame she felt it necessary to resign - especially since she had the full support of the University establishment, and especially because the group of idiots responsible for the harassment was very much a minority amongst the student body.

        1. LionelB Silver badge

          Been following that, and won't argue with your summation. In fact I would go a little further: as much as the University supported Kathleen Stock, the academic in question, as far as I'm aware they took no disciplinary action against the (as you say, small minority of) students who overstepped the mark - which I imagine they could have, and in my opinion should have, done.

          I note that earlier in the year there had already been a protest - from fellow academics - against the awarding of the OBE to Stock. That's fine - legitimate freedom of expression, which did not cross the line into harassment.

          I'll still stand by my position that the UK, on the whole, does not have a massive problem with freedom of expression in academia, and that cases like Stock's, involving small numbers of shouty students, tend to be blown out of proportion to promote a "culture wars" agenda. The situation in the US is arguably more extreme, which reflects their different attitudes to freedom of expression (and more polarised society).

  50. Lucy in the Sky (with Diamonds)

    What about Harold & Kumar?

    Harold & Kumar are politically correct, and they can even take Alice & Bob to White Castle, to discuss why is it inappropriate to call it White Castle.

    I can see the textbook sample:

    "Harold is trying to send Kumar a secret message, but is too stoned to realise it is in clear text..."

    "What should Kumar do?"

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Alice and Bob and no more

    Priti Patel has had them arrested. It's clear they're up to something

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can we just call it what it is?

    This is anti-white anti-western racism. It is the usual trick of a bunch of lefties using weasle words and subterfuge to force their beliefs on others.

    Truly evil people.

  53. sandman

    Full crew

    I always wondered what Ted and Alice did to be excluded. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0064100/

  54. Rich 2

    FFS!!!

    This is getting fucking ridiculous.

    First master and slave - because… well bugger-knows.

    And now Alice and Bob are “colonial”??? Jesus!

    And where does LGBTQ+XYZ% fit into all this?

    Correction - it’s not getting ridiculous - it’s already there.

    Some people won’t be happy until the English language has been mangled to the point of being utterly incomprehensible.

  55. Cliffwilliams44 Bronze badge

    Oh yes, lets remove all vestiges of western culture from our lives and institutions. That horrible western culture that gave us:

    Representative government

    Science and medicine that have improved the lives of billions!

    Art and music that have enriched the lives of all peoples!

    Free market economies that have lifted millions out of the dredges of poverty!

    To replace it with what?

    Repressive Marxist/Fascists states that oppress the people and enrich the few.

    The perpetuation of mediocrity that drag down the standard of living of all but the elite.

    Crushing centralized control of the economy that pushes the majority of the people into systemic poverty!

    Colonialism was the result of one part of the world developing a culture and technology that was vastly superior to the rest of the world at that time. If you believe that if other parts of the world had achieved this, Asia, Africa, the America's, that they would not have spread across the world and colonized it, you are a naive fool!

  56. AbeSapian

    Master / Slave

    So instead of Master / Slave, we should use something like Leader / Prisoners With Jobs?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=prz4jfSX_Qg

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Names....and the actual students being taught at Edinburgh, and elsewhere....................

    UK academic institutions (including Edinburgh) are increasingly looking for wealthy foreign students to pay up to keep their institutions running.

    *

    Now.........today........many of these wealthy foreign students come from......China!

    *

    So.....which problem should Edinburgh be worrying about:

    a) Teaching our economic competitors (and helping to hollow out knowledge here in the UK)?

    b) Agonising over "Alice", "Bob", "Eve"............or "Ricardo" or "Mustapha"......and so on?

    *

    I wonder whether Chinese students (or Chinese companies) are worried about item b)........

  58. codejunky Silver badge

    Idiots

    "decolonization"

    Aka stupidity. On the plus side its good to know that is the pinnacle of trouble and problems over there. Or they have too much time on their hands.

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh no Western institutions using Western names! How terrible!

  60. martinusher Silver badge

    Its that damn Latin alphabet

    Alice and Bob aren't just names -- they're also the first letters of the Roman alphabet. Other names used in papers follow alphabetically.

    So the real problem isn't the names, its the alphabet. Its totally focused on Western European culture. It needs stamping out. Now.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  61. Palf

    Whoever thought that was a good idea needs a good spanking - by Alice or Bob.

  62. Bbuckley

    Replaced with what? Dumb and Dumber?

  63. BART BARFSALOT
    Stop

    Stop Hiring Anyone "PC"

    Otherwise, you get what you deserve: Idiots.

  64. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Where will it all end?

    Not satisfied with attacking terms like 'master' and 'slave' now its 'Alice' and 'Bob"

    the (western) world is going down the toilet while the Chinese are laughing themselves silly!

  65. CommanderGalaxian
    Flame

    What an utter fucking load of bollocks.

    Absolutely, we here in Scotland must decolonisalise.

    And we will begin by kicking the Putin funded Tories and the associated British State out of our country.

    Shame on you TheRegister for printing this utter piece of fabricated garbage.

  66. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Honestly I don't care

    Honestly I don't care. I think worrying about this too much (on the uni's part) is a bit silly but it also doesn't bother me a bit if the names are Ali instead of Alice and so on.

  67. jake Silver badge

    What woke up this hoary old conversation?

    Just askin'.

    Yes, I see CommanderGalaxian's comment from a couple days ago ... but that hardly explains all the commentardary that follows. Old threads get resurrected fairly regularly, but never to this extent.

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