Subject: Re: Paul Graham describes his new Lisp dialect, "Arc"
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: Thu, 29 Nov 2001 23:58:11 GMT
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

* Dorai Sitaram
| I liked that part too.  Before I had access to Unix command-line editing,
| I have often written out a directory name without a "cd" in front of it,
| and in the course of correction, wondered why it wouldn't just cd anyway
| as there was no competing semantic (as in a Lisp1 application with a
| non-procedure-or-macro at the car).  I think there was even a freeware
| shell for OS/2 that did this, but no mainstream Unix seems to have
| adopted this tactic.  I wonder why, given Unix's fondness for short
| commands.

  Because users should be able to run newly installed programs that have
  the same name as an existing directory, or be able to name directories
  the same as existing commands without accidentally running programs that
  may be seriously damaging.  Microsoft would have done something like this
  because it allows so much mischief to be done to other users.  It is not
  unlike the seriously dangerous habit of having "." first in PATH.  Even
  when "." is last, mischief is certainly possible with common typos.  I
  have seen a lot of software installation scripts and even makefiles that
  depend on "." in PATH, which I fix to remove that problem.  Some people
  seem not to recognize that search lists and large namespaces constitute a
  problem when they build new software packages and _know_ they need to run
  a local version of a particular program.  To me, it is the annoying Y2K
  problem all over again, where people simply fail to provide the computer
  with information they have but think the computer should intuit, somehow,
  as if they were people.

  The past is not more important than the future, despite what your culture
  has taught you.  Your future observations, conclusions, and beliefs are
  more important to you than those in your past ever will be.  The world is
  changing so fast the balance between the past and the future has shifted.