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Re: [johnbarth] Digest Number 815

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  • bbreynolds@aol.com
    In a message dated 6/7/2008 4:59:27 A.M. Eastern Standard Time, johnbarth@yahoogroups.com writes: 1a. Re: Barth mention in review of new Rushdie Posted by:
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 4, 2009
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      In a message dated 6/7/2008 4:59:27 A.M. Eastern Standard Time,
      johnbarth@yahoogroups.com writes:

      1a. Re: Barth mention in review of new Rushdie
      Posted by: "Barbara Schmidt" barbstoo@... barbstoo
      Date: Fri Jun 6, 2008 7:37 pm ((PDT))

      >at least 3 levels of indirection for me to ask this question in a John Barth
      >forum; but .... Can someone please explain the usage of 'unpack' as in
      >"Honestly, sir, I can't unpack your question." in James Morrow's excerpt in
      >Conjunctions 50? Never having seen it until there, I of course saw it again
      >almost immediately and, even more interesting (to me), saw a place where it
      >should have been used. Is it only extremely snide? Is it widely used?
      >Where and when was it born in this usage?

      Sorry to be only seven months behind in answering this question. PACK and
      UNPACK were part and parcel of the original announcement of the IBM 360
      systems in 1964---packed decimal format was a way to have the binary
      S/360 machines handle the decimal format of machines such as the 1410 and
      several members of the 7xxx series and behave according to the decimal
      machine
      rules.

      In the query, to "unpack a question" would be to expand that question to a
      more usual format.

      YMMV

      Bruce B. Reynolds, Trailing Edge Technologies, Glenside PA

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