Subject: Re: "Well, I want to switch over to replace EMACS LISP with Guile." (was Re: Lisp in Python)
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: 15 Oct 2002 19:03:56 +0000
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

* Greg Neumann
| I've looked through my code to see what makes me feel uncomfortable with
| Lisp.

  Do you have a zero position in your comfortable/uncomfortable system of
  evaluating things?  I am curious because you are so ignorant, so arrogant
  in your belief that what you already know should carry you through what
  you do not know, and so willing to switch to negative terms when all you
  have the absence of some emotional quality like "comfort".  I have seen a
  lot of people recently, or, rather, I have begun noticing them, who lack
  the ability to "return to neutral" once they have made up their mind to
  feel something.  They are either for or against something, with no means
  to stop and think and conclude that they really should not be either.  I
  have never quite understood such people.  It is as if the only purpose of
  acquiring any knowledge at all is to be for or against something, and if
  they have a non-zero amount of knowledge, they get the right to be for or
  against something in the package deal.  How curiously anti-intellectual.

| Maybe superficial, but when you introduce to a beginner, these little
| things are so huge.

  But you are not a beginner.  You have some experience from a very, very
  bad environment.  You are wounded, a victim of the assault on mind and
  spirit from bad programming languages.  Scheme can be really, really bad
  for a great number of people, namely those who do not stop to think and
  evaluate what they hear.  Brainwashing and menticide are words that come
  to mind when I watch the poor Scheme victims.  It is not that Scheme is
  bad per se.  Neither is falling from the sky, but if you are a fledgling
  who gets thrown out of your loving parent's nest 50 feet above the ground
  in the misguided notion that you will learn to fly before you hit the
  ground, there will be victims and there will be people who learn the
  wrong thing from the experience and their survival tactics really cripple
  them for the rest of their (programming) life.

| And the scheme community is a bit more promiscuous, so there's always
| someone porting Scheme to the craziest thing.

  Please realize that the /one/ thing that the Scheme community is known
  for is implementing Scheme.  There is close to one Scheme implementation
  per Scheme programmer.  The charm of the language is indeed that it is
  perceived to be so easy to implement.  While there are few implementations
  of Common Lisp, they are actually /used/ to do useful work and produce
  significant values for their users.  Note that none of the idiot exercises
  from your university course on programming languages about hacking up
  lists is ever going to help you.  Handling complexity of thought is not
  taught -- it is an acquired skill after having been exposed to complex
  problems over a long time.  Mankind has yet to find a better way to teach
  people to think than to drag a large number of people to the top of some
  vast tower of abstraction only to push them off and see how many go
  *splat* on the exam.  If you did not walk away from this exercise with
  fully-fledged wings, it is really is nothing to boast about, but many an
  average student appears to think that having been thrown off enough such
  towers is a mark of endurance and give them bragging rights.  It does not.
  The whole point with education is to force people who are smart enough to
  be much better than their peers to be forced to deal with people they are
  /not/ smarter than so long that they finally grasp that even though they
  were geniuses at some particular subject in high school and could whiz
  through without doing their homework and paying attention, life is work,
  and it takes much longer to make smart people realize they have to work
  hard than less smart people.  By putting people in institutions of higher
  learning for a decade longer than those who went off to be plumbers and
  carpenters, they should hopefully have learned the value of hard work,
  but if you let them out before they have realized that nothing worth
  having really comes for free, such as happens with people who are smart
  enough to believe they have learned Scheme well in no time, they will be
  arrogant ignorants who display a great disdain for other people, who they
  still believe are as dumb as the peers they were smarter than in school.
  Life is not about finding things you are good at so you can only excel at
  things that are easy to you.  Life is about finding the things you can be
  good at when the easy things are all done and out of the way.
Erik Naggum, Oslo, Norway

Act from reason, and failure makes you rethink and study harder.
Act from faith, and failure makes you blame someone and push harder.