Subject: Re: LISP format (happy to read)
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: Sat, 24 Nov 2001 00:31:20 GMT
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

* Nils Goesche
| I still remember the time when I knew nothing but some Assembler, BASIC,
| Pascal, C: I thought all programming languages where the same, more or
| less anyway (don't most programmers still think so?  I still meet
| programmers everywhere who believe precisely that),

  Hm.  I just realized that I have always approached every language as if
  it was all new to me.  This probably explains why I seem unable to wrap
  my head around Perl, which is _nothing_ if you start from scratch and try
  to figure out what various constructs in it actually _mean_ before you
  use them.  Philosophically speaking, Perl must be the answer to this
  fundamental epistemological mistake of wanting things to remain the same
  while being different in some new, useful ways.

  I keep hearing people with degrees in so-called "computer science" who
  think that syntax is immaterial, which, if they are snotty and arrogant
  enough when they teach it, can probably lead young, impressionable people
  to believe that the "underlying" languages are indeed all the same, which
  they sort of kind of are only in an extremely theoretical, fundamental
  sense which nobody _should_ care about, anyway,

| I didn't understand all the talk about s-expressions anyway and simply
| assumed that the closing parentheses meant about the same as the closing
| brace in C.  Where should I have known that Lisp was different?

  Did it not look sufficiently different from everything else to either
  trigger a SIGWTF to the seasoned C/Unix programmer?  The typical C/Unix
  programmer halts and dumps core and consequently thinks (Common) Lisp is
  unintelligible and "weird" and invents some stupid reason his brain went
  into overload, like too many parenthesis, already the source and focal
  point of pain in the C language family (they signal trouble whenever they
  are needed apart from the simple function call), but some appear to have
  installed a reasonable handler for it and manage to keep running.  I have
  not heard about anybody who had decided to ignore SIGWTF, before, though.

| C programmers much better than me told me all the time that all languages
| differed only by syntax and were all inferior to C, anyway :-)

  But that would be the only way they would differ from C that made them
  all inferior to C.  Goes to show how, if you want to conclude something
  badly enough, the task is only to find the matching premises.

| It just took some time, I guess, to find out just how many of the firm,
| old believes were wrong.

  In order to get a good grasp on new things, and all things are new in
  some sense, it is better to assume that one's future observations and
  conclusions are superior to one's past observations and conclusions.

| You start out thinking that you know pretty much all there is to know
| about programming and gradually find out that you really know..., well,
| more like, nothing at all?

  But where does this stupid arrogance from ignorance come from?   The only
  way this can be "observed" is if you are surrounded by idiots and not
  even a single person knows more or better than you.  I find this very,
  very unlikely to actually to anyone.  So it has to be an attitude that
  comes from somewhere else.

| Consider nowadays some 24 year old programmer (no, that's not me :-),

  24?  That is, like, 6 years too _old_, man.  For a while, at least, only
  those who were so young they were fascinated by absolutely _anything_
  (think of a dog, who goes through its entire life being excited about the
  same old things every day) could find satisfaction working with the buggy
  browsers and the braindamaged web stuff that has consequently become the
  most labor-intensive industry we currently have on this planet.

| still going to college, knows nothing but Java, but is already paid lots
| of money for programming some servlets and told by everybody around what
| a great hotshot he is...

  There are strict laws against child labor, but none against ignorant
  labor.  Maybe it should be the other way around.

| Doesn't that only show how `impractical' those courses are, considering
| how great and important his own work is?

  The problem is that many of them _are_ impractical.

| People need some time to grow up ;-)

  Well, this is true.  As long as they realize they need to, and that they
  never stop needing to, I can accept that.  The problem is when they never
  grow up because they think they do not have to, anymore.  Such as because
  some manager fresh out of his mind (and business school) chose the wrong
  way to run his business and hired some jerk to try to fix it with HTML
  and JavaScript.  I mean, what do they learn in business school these days
  that could cause anyone who is let out of them to make such mistakes?
  Maybe they have not grown up, either.  I tend to think that educating
  people barely out of their teens in business administration, when they
  know what being an employee means, let alone what they do, is completely
  insane, but the whole market is like that, now.  Stupid, well-educated,
  ignorant youths who had no time to grow up before they got control over
  so much money, can do nothing but harm.  Hiring people who have had no
  time to grow up seems to be a highly communicable "mental disease".

  Norway is now run by a priest from the fundamentalist Christian People's
  Party, the fifth largest party representing one eighth of the electorate.
  Carrying a Swiss Army pocket knife in Oslo, Norway, is a criminal offense.