Subject: Re: On nil qua false [was: Re: On conditionals]
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: Wed, 28 Nov 2001 17:36:37 GMT
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

* Bruce Hoult
| Of course you'd hav to ask him to find out, but I suspect that he's been
| seeking a wider audience for his ideas, as first developed in the
| various "lambda the ultimate ..." papers and no doubt refined since.

  _I_ assume that Guy L. Steele is a very smart _professional_ and is not
  married to any of the languages on which he has worked.  Actually, I do
  not expect a _personal_ attachment from any seriously good Common Lisp
  programmer.  There are personal _values_, but they can and should be
  approached professionally, because one cannot always get what one wants,
  and it is incredibly stupid to whine for decades about something you did
  not get that was personal to you.

  The distinction between personal and professional seems to be lost on
  some people.  They tend to get into problems when they are required to be
  professional and detach personally.

| That applies in both directions, though you wouldn't know it to read 
| many of the replies to myself and Andreas here.

  Of course you are the judge of this, because you have already made up
  your mind and you also get personal about it, so you are prevented from
  seeing the _professionalism_ in the replies you get.

| And Andreas and I have much the same subtly different connotation.  The
| only real difference is that we think that perpetuating the old "the
| list is the fundamental datastructure in Lisps" myth is doing the Lisp
| community (of which we are a part) a disservice.

  Why have you decided to find converts in comp.lang.lisp?  This looks more
  and more like a personal mission.  Invite those who want to discuss this
  stupid shit with you to comp.lang.dylan.  It does not look like anybody
  would disturb anyone.

| We want to be able to use the *same* subtle connotation for data types
| other than lists without somehow bringing in an implicit assumption that
| a list is a valid value where you want to convey the idea that something
| is either a string or doesn't exist, or is either a number or doesn't
| exist, or is either a hash table or doesn't exist.

  Why do you want to do this in Common Lisp when you have your perfect
  little toy language Dylan that gets it right?  Is this how you idiots
  think that people will choose Dylan?  Insult the best language on earth,
  take criticism personally, be obnoxiously obtuse and do not get the
  point, then give them Dylan in shining armor as the answer.  Good luck.

| Scheme is way too limiting.  We've got far more in common with CL than
| we have with Scheme.  Scheme isn't even an option any more than Jensen &
| Wirth Pascal is an option.

  Why do you have this desire to have things in common with other people?
  That looks like personal insecurity to me.  Is not Dylan enough for you?
  Do you need to reach out and find people to disagree strongly with just
  to feel you have something in "common" with them that you do not focus
  on?  If you have so much in common with somebody, why spend your time
  carping about differences?

  None of this makes any _sense_.  I believe you are just trolls from a
  community that has no future and then you attack the closest competitor
  you think you can annoy into supporting you.

| Funnily enough I know this.  The point of my making this remark is that
| this is *exactly* the tactic that has been used against myself for some
| time, and is now being used against Andreas in, for example, Alain's
| message.

  You still have not figured out that there is a difference between people
  who made up their mind to be outsiders and those who have not.  Please do.

| Whether particular things are good or bad should be decided on the basis
| of logic, not on the basis of argument from authority.

  What kind of idiot _are_ you?  Geez, do you even _believe_ this crap?
  Good and bad _are_ arguments from authority, you annoying little shit.
  If you think logic helps, consider this: The premises on which you base
  your "logic" eventually turn into arguments from authority, no matter
  where you start.  Why is this?  Good and bad do not exist in nature.
  There is no absolute test for goodness or badness out there that is
  independent of people.  Do you think there is, Bruce Hoult?  Do you think
  if you research long enough, you will find elemental particles of good
  and bad that can form the basis of a logic that all people can agree on?

  Good and bad are the results of people who want to live together.  This
  means they _have_ an authority higher than themselves which they accept.
  It can be some funny deity or it can be the fuzzy "community" or it can
  be a set of law and lots of strange things, but people happen to agree on
  what good and bad should be considered in _reference_ to.  A standard of
  ethics, in the non-technical meaning of "standard" _is_ an authority.
  Those who reject it are considered _bad_guys_ in that community.  We have
  a standard for a language that we accept and those who keep quibbling
  over it and when there is no possible way it could ever stop, because
  there is no possible way to change what they keep carping about for no
  good reason are _bad_guys_ to this community.

| Of course that  becomes difficult when you explicitly reject logic, as
| Erik just did.  I  don't know what that leaves, other than tradition and
| accident.

  I just rejected logic?  I reject logic as the proper means to resolve
  ethical problems.  Does that mean I reject _logic_?  You really _are_
  quite insane.  If someone says I should use classical mechanics to learn
  to drive a car, and I think this is inappropriate even though there are
  many elements of mechanics (including the pun) in driving cars, do I
  reject classical mechanics?  Or do I reject its _application_?

  For someone who thinks logic is so great a univeral problem-solver, you
  sure have a funny way of arriving at _your_ conclusions.

  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.