Subject: Re: Indentation (please stop)
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: 1999/07/01
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

* Josef Eschgfaeller <>
| Hey, this is becoming a sport.

  why am I not surprised that this is your line of defense?  sigh.

| Read the end of my first message ("with no intention of flame") - I'm not
| the world danger for the Lisp community.

  in this demonstration of paranoia, you keep defending yourself against
  charges that have never been levied against you, which I take to mean
  that you do not intend to listen, learn, or adapt your ways, but are
  still fully aware that they are wrong and do not serve the purposes you
  want them to serve.

| Anyway, I'm a little surprised, how important indendation seems to be.

  if it is so unimportant to you, why don't you just adapt?

  I'm still baffled by the amazing lack of introspection on your part.  why
  don't you understand how important indentation is to _yourself_ before
  you attack others for really stupid things they don't say, mean or intend?

| Young girls seem to be very able to close parentheses, as opposed to your
| young programmers.

  come again?  as opposed to _whom_?  I actually do teach Lisp at times,
  but now is the first time you have had opportunity to learn that fact.
  my "young programmers" are taught to understand structure by zooming in,
  not by scrutinizing details, because when a professional programmer reads
  code, he or she will want to understand big issues first, not minutiae of
  the coding.  stuff like control flow, data flow, intent, and abstraction,
  not the precise syntax of a DO form.

| Also, you missed the main point, when I wrote that beginners should
| memorizes the structures which appear.

  no, I downgraded your "main" point and upgraded your other points.

| This means carefully reading the code, creating by yourself mentally a
| sort of stack of dependencies which substitutes the indentation.

  this is a mistaken view.  the big, useful idea with high-level languages
  is to be able to localize effects so that the human brain can deal with
  units of useful size, and to respect the fact that the human brain does
  not have an unlimited stack with unlimited precision and does not have an
  unlimited number of mental units available.  if we had had that, we would
  have had very different languages.  and programming is already _way_ more
  difficult to grasp and hold in one's brain than regular languages.

| I'm a mathematician by origin and know very well how disturbing unusual
| notation can be.  ... So I'm trying to understand exactly what is going
| on in Lisp, because as a teacher I have to explain well also those
| things, which a programmer maybe deals only by experiment or experience.

  this tells me that you have never actually programmed, only taught.  when
  programming in real life, the most important issue is fast navigation,
  bar none.  professional programmers want to read code in large blocks,
  not look at every character.  that's how most people read, too: they
  don't look at each character, they scan multiple "word pictures" at a
  time, perhaps whole paragraphs to recognize key words.  the visual
  structure of a text, with paragraphs, heads, fonts, etc, is all there to
  make this scanning faster and more accurate.  you effectively argue that
  we should revert to ¶'s in the middle of the text, and neither should we
  use more visible display fonts for heads, because people will read a page
  of text from start to finish, anyway.

| These little details, which some of you are knowledgeable about, I not,
| are surely much more important than indentation.

  again, if indentation is so unimportant to you, why do you carp on it?

| And why do you think that I don't want to change my opinions?

  because you haven't, in a case where you should have if the rest of what
  you say is true and honest.

| I'm very quick in typewriting and can indent by myself.

  well, stuff like this helps me conclude you won't change your opinions.
  smart people keep looking at ways to improve their ways.  being
  _satisfied_ with a way of doing something only goes to show that you're
  set in your ways, and having a teacher like that is the worst that could
  happen to a group of students (apart from being shot, raped, poisoned,
  etc, which I'm sure you would have brought up if I didn't exclude it).

| More generally the point of view, that someone who doesn't follow blindly
| any uniformization lacks introspection, should be rather dangerous.

  ah, so you think this is about your not following "uniformization", and
  of course your have to make it into _blindly_ following, too!  geez.

| Indentation is not the problem, I can indent how you want, but I'm
| thinking about intolerance now.

  great, but maybe you should start examining your own intolerance first.
  maybe you should examine the _actual_ basis for your incredibly stupid
  charge of "blindly following uniformization".  you're hell-bent on being
  different for no good reason, and that has a high price.  deal with it.

| I learned everything I need of Emacs and have an .emacs file full of
| little utilities.  I don't need the special modes because I type so fast.

  people who think they have "learned everything they need" are wrong.

| How can you judge a person you don't know?

  because I judge and criticize your actions, not your person.

| Now you are critizing non-seasoned Paul Graham.

  silly appeals to authority don't work very well with me.  try again.

| Everything ready for the next European War.

  I'm really baffled why you want to start a war over this.  you're being
  criticized for a really stupid position, take it deeply personal, defend
  yourself against charge never levied at you, fill your rejoinder with 95%
  irrelevant crap, and you think others are at war with you?  are you nuts?

  but, yeah, you're right, there's nothing the world can ever teach you, so
  let's conclude this discussion now.

@1999-07-22T00:37:33Z -- pi billion seconds since the turn of the century