Richard Scarry and hexadecimal
When you read a hexadecimal number out loud, how do you pronounce the letters?
At my workplace, I’ve grown used to our custom of pronouncing the letters using the Joint Army/Navy Phonetic Alphabet standardized in 1941. The letter digits are pronounced Able, Baker, Charlie, Dog, Easy and Fox. Under this scheme, the hexadecimal number 0x7F8D3BC0 would be pronounced “Seven Fox Eight Dog Three Baker Charlie Zero.” This was disorienting to me at first, but after eight years this is now so natural that this is how I pronounce the digits in my mind even if I’m not speaking them.
We’ve started collecting Richard Scarry’s children’s books. Richard Scarry writes with a degree of detail and whimsy that holds an adult’s interest — much like old-school Sesame Street. (How far it has fallen — modern-day Sesame Street is much too postmodern, pluralistic, saccharine and juvenile for my taste. I console myself by searching for old Sesame Street clips on Youtube.) Recently I was amused and pleased to discover that one of Richard Scarry’s characters is named Able Baker Charlie! What a strange juxtaposition of worlds for me — programming and children’s books.
Able Baker Charlie is a mouse. He is a baker, and assists Baker Humperdink, a pig. Despite his small size, Able Baker Charlie is capable assisting with any step of the baking process, from stoking the oven, to mixing the dough, to putting loaves in the oven, and even delivering bread around Busytown. Below you may see a picture of Able Baker Charlie ably distributing French baguettes to Louie’s Restaurant.
Richard Scarry served in the U. S. Army during World War II. No doubt this is the source of the Able Baker Charlie aptonym. It still gives me a chuckle every time we read it.