Robot or Not? #261 May 29, 2023


A chair is not a house and house is not a home, but is a house a building? And what about gazebos?

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John, we were having a discussion in the Incomparable member slack. People can become a member of the incomparable sport this podcast directly. This is not meant to be a member appeal. I’m just mentioning it in passing. And the question was about a building. We were talking about, we actually played D&D honestly, and we were talking about a building and what comprises a building. And the idea is, how good does it have to be? Like, does it have to have walls to have a building? Is a gazebo a building? Is an oil derrick a building? ‘Cause it doesn’t have any rooms, it’s just a structure. When is something a structure? When is something a building? And I think the most important question of all is, yeah, is a gazebo a building?

So I’m gonna say no for building on gazebo and also oil rig. It’s not so much because they don’t have walls or whatever. It’s just that, I feel like those things have specific names to identify them because they’re too far outside the definition of building. And building is, you know.

Is a house a building?

So here’s the thing about it. In a particular context, a house could be a building, right? In the context of a discussion about, I don’t know, taxation or land use or something, any buildings on this, whatever, then houses would fall under that. But only in that context. In a context where you’re not sort of trying to categorize distinguishing buildings from streets from stuff like that. You know, like in a more general context, you probably wouldn’t call a house a building because you would use the word house. You would say, you know, I’m the blue building on the left when you’re coming down the street. If you said that, people will be looking for a blue building. They wouldn’t be looking for a blue house. And what’s the difference? In that context, building is a big rectangular thing with a flat roof, right? That maybe is more than one story, maybe not. But like, it’s not a house. It’s not like, even though in the other context, when they were talking about zoning or whatever, then houses definitely were buildings. And then gazebos and stuff, you have things like outbuildings, right?

Ah, yes.

The subcategory of buildings that are, yeah. Ancillary satellite buildings, which may be less building-like than the main building, but probably still aren’t gazebos. So yeah, I’m gonna say no, a gazebo is not a building except in specific contexts where it’s important to lump everything together. Like there is the broad definition of building, but I think that’s not used in most contexts.

Yeah, so I just looked this up in the dictionary and it says a structure with a roof and walls, such as a house, school, store, or factory. But I think that while you can use it generically, what it’s often used for is to describe a certain kind of structure that doesn’t have another great name for it, right? Like, you wouldn’t say at the top of Main Street, at the top of Washington Street in Sonora, California, is a big red building, ‘cause you know what? It’s the red church. It’s a church. We don’t call it a building. It is a building, but we don’t call it that ‘cause we’ve got a better word for it. It’s a church. But across the street from it is a thing that’s not a house, it’s not a school. I mean, maybe it’s a store sometimes, but it’s a thing with flat walls and a couple stories and a thing, and it’s like, well, what is that? Well, it’s a building. And you kind of fall back on the more generic because I don’t have a specific way to describe that particular structure. Whereas the house and the church, I can.

I think a lot of stores are in buildings, though, right?

I think so.

Because if you—

‘Cause you have more than one store in a building.

Yeah, you would direct them to the store or the name of the store or whatever, but say all the signs blew off in a hurricane, you’d be like, where are you? I’m like, I’m in the blue building. Like then you’d be looking for something that’s not a blue house, but a blue building because being able to refer to it as a store requires some identification, whereas the structure itself, stripped of all identification does not have a name in the same way that a house or a church might.

Yeah, in fact, I recall there being in my hometown, in addition to the Red Church, a bunch of buildings that were actually named as the something or other building, and there’d be like three or four stores in them, but they were a larger structure. All right, but Gazebo, no love for Gazebo. I mean, really, it doesn’t really have walls, right? It’s just got posts. It doesn’t really have a room in it.

Yeah, it’s too far off.

In an oil derrick. And if you built a little apartment up on an oil derrick, I think you’re cheating and it’s still not a building.

You could put a building on an oil derrick, sure.

Ah, there you go. The building is on the derrick then. I like that, that makes sense. All right, well, I’m glad we solved this problem that came up while we were trying to play Dungeons and Dragons, ‘cause I don’t know why, you know, these things happen.

Did someone have a special plus five ability against buildings or something?

I think it was before we got started, but this sort of thing happens when you’re setting up the table, these things happen. But you’re right, yes. Yes, save against buildings. But DM, a house is not a building. A gazebo is not a building.

Yeah, whichever player brought up this distinction, watch them.

Yeah, well, I think it was Erika and I am watching her very closely ‘cause you gotta be careful around her.

Can’t trust those Canadians.