Subject: Re: setf'able?
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: 1998/11/03
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

* Dobes Vandermeer <>
| Ill be honest.. I've been to both places, and both are completely
| hopeless attempt to describe the language.

  I'll be honest, too.  I have never found anything _but_ specifications
  and "hard" technical literature to be worth reading when I wanted to know
  something.  textbooks are wrong, inaccurate, confused, incomplete, or
  gloss over exactly the thing I need to understand, and the authors
  usually have a misguided idea of what constitutes a "pedagogical order
  and presentation" so as not to offend the meager intelligence of the mass
  audience their publisher said would be the only ones to buy the book and
  pay for their work.

  of course, specifications come in several flavors, too.  Common Lisp's
  specification is one the best there is.  I'll submit that the worst 10%
  of specifications are better than the best 90% of textbooks, tutorials,
  guides, etc.  never have I seen a textbook better than the specification,
  even for a sorry excuse of a specification like ISO 8879 (SGML).

  if you can't read specifications, _that's_ the problem that needs to be
  fixed.  with any luck, there are still people who can _write_ them,
  despite the increasing disdain for precision in the Western civilization,
  but I wouldn't be surprised if nothing is left of those skills a hundred
  years from now.
| Read at SETF (In the HyperSpec):

  no wonder you don't like it -- you haven't bothered to read it, either.
  you can't expect to jump into the middle of a 1000-page document and get
  much useful stuff out of a single page without any appreciation of its
  context.  see 5.1 Generalized Reference for that context.  however, I
  strongly recommend that you read the entire specification, but _skip_ the
  dictionaries on first reading.  also, do use the glossary.

| Strong start, I'll grant..

  well, you weren't supposed to _start_ there.  you don't need the SETF
  dictionary entry at all to learn how to use it.  your mistake, only.

| Neither of them takes the perspective, however, of someone who is looking
| for a function to set one thing to another, or anything like that.

  again, see 5.1 Generalized Reference.

| Nevertheless, its pretty frustrating learning LISP at first, with such
| poor material, but once you get into the swing of things you can figure
| it out with the help of a book, instructor, or newsgroup.

  sigh.  for me, it's more than just "pretty frustrating" to have to listen
  to whining losers who can't read technical literature to learn something
  highly tehcnical in nature, and who blame the literature, not themselves.
  whatever _are_ people taught in schools these days, when they come out of
  them unable to deal with specifications, documentation, and manuals in
  general?  do schools only turn out yet more consumer generations?

  everything worth doing in life is hard.  everything that is simple was
  once hard, but somebody worked _very_ hard to make it simple.  simplicity
  is an ideal, a goal; to be worked for, not taken for granted.  when
  something is simple for _you_, remember that somebody else decided that
  it shouldn't be as hard as it had been for him, and went ahead and _did_
  something about it.  quit whining, start working.  the books weren't
  written without effort, a good instructor has spent years to become what
  he is, and those who answer your fuzzy and vague questions to undo some
  deep-rooted misunderstanding in a newsgroup actually have to work to do
  it -- it's not as if books, instructors, or newsgroup answers grow on
  trees, and they do not in particular fall into your lap if you're too
  lazy even to get up and reach for it.

  just because newsgroups are friendly to people who do their own homework
  doesn't mean they are going to stay that way if you don't do yours.
  The Microsoft Dating Program -- where do you want to crash tonight?