Subject: Re: help! absolute beginner
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: 1998/12/21
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

* (Christopher R. Barry)
| The CMU AI repository has some public domain regexp code and a lot of
| little code bits to do some common tasks.  But it's pretty lame compared
| to what the, say, perl community has got going for it.  There are a lot
| of people that put up useful code on their web pages to do some things
| but you've got to invest some serious altavista time to find them.  A
| central repository or categorized links page to where it's all at with
| brief discriptions would be really helpful.

  but why compare to Perl?  what is it that made Perl a "success" to make
  it worth comparing to?  why not look at MS-DOS?  there are literally
  millions of small utilities out there that _had_ to be created because
  the core system was so fantastically useless.  similarly, I think the
  Perl community _had_ to build a whole lot of "useful" stuff -- they had
  already decided to reinvent the wheel with parts from all other Unix
  wheels, so of course they'll need to do everything over again in their
  new syntax.  Perl is a "success" in this regard because people who want
  to use it have no choice.

  Common Lisp has a _lot_ of tools built in, and it isn't a reinvention of
  a wheel, so there's less need for this stuff to begin with.  I think
  that's a _good_ thing, actually.  Perl is also used for all sorts of
  stuff that Common Lisp is not, such as systems administration of wacky
  systems, parsing stupid log file formats, glueing together uncooperative
  software, etc.  none of this is the Common Lisp way.

  the question I ask people who ask me whether Common Lisp can do what Perl
  does, is: "do you use Perl for these taks because you want to or because
  you have to?"  very few admit to wanting to, and actually think Perl is
  good because it lets them do things they already think is useless and
  ugly fairly quickly.  so the followup question: "would you want to use a
  language in which you didn't have to do those tasks?" and the result is
  sometimes enlightenment on part of the Perl hacker.  not that this
  converts people or anything, but it tends to communicate my view that
  Perl is a cure that extends and prolongs the problem rather than fixing
  it.  "oh, but sometimes you can't fix it!", some Perl hackers exclaim,
  and that's probably right, so Perl has a place in the universe, after
  all, but that still doesn't mean one shouldn't try to fix them.

  e.g., instead of trying to live with the multitude of incompatible time
  formats in the Unix world (especially in logs), let's do something in
  Common Lisp that really deals with the situation.  I think ISO 8601 is a
  brilliant standard, despite its many abbreviated forms, so I have written
  a fairly extensive package that uses it as the basis of the input and
  output of time.  as long as the order year-month-day-hour-minute-second
  is maintained and all fields are numeric, this package can deal with it.
  (if you want something else, feel free to hack like Perl in the language
  of your choice.)  this is a package I have created for a client on my own
  time, so I can release it when I feel comfortable in its ability to deal
  with everything I need.  would you set up that central repository or
  categorized links page to where it's all at with brief discriptions in
  the meantime?

  Attention, Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee!  We have
  intercepted a coded transmission from Bill Clinton to Saddam Hussein that
  puts your life in jeopardy.  Clinton is prepared to cease fire if all of
  you are killed by Iraqi terrorists, whom he won't prosecute.  Be warned!