I see this sentence in a slide, but can't understand it:

Bad when better than worse is excellent

[ Origin ]

How can I understand it?

  • 1
    “Bad -- when better than worse -- is excellent.” I.e., choosing between A and B: if A is better than B, albeit both considered bad, we'd choose A. – user3395 Apr 9 '16 at 2:59
  • @user2684291: I'm glad to see we came to the same conclusion! Next time you could probably write an answer yourself, though. – Nathan Tuggy Apr 9 '16 at 5:29

This is indeed a very terse sentence, and would benefit from some punctuation. I think I've figured it out by looking at the previous slide, which talks about how

  • Weird, unsound behavior is fine
    • As long as it’s less weird/unsound than Javascript

From this general idea, the correct parsing of your sentence falls out:

Bad (when better than [something that's even] worse) is excellent

"Worse", since it has nothing else to refer to, refers to "something that's worse than the bad thing". And the middle clause is put in parentheses (or dashes) because it's really qualifying or making an exception to the initial subject (something that is "bad", in this case many examples of Scala.js behavior). So the presenter is choosing a non-standard way of saying "Scala.js behavior is in many cases the lesser of two evils next to JavaScript".

Frankly, I think they should have just said that, but I didn't give the presentation.

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