Subject: Re: Norvig's latest paper on Lisp
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: Tue, 21 May 2002 19:38:22 GMT
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

* Christopher Browne <>
| "Conveniently usable" is true of SOAP::Lite.  (Whether you like SOAP
| or Perl or not.)
| The same is not true for RPC or socket access in CL.  

  Some languages manage to survive with many ways to do the same thing,
  others "die" as soon as two different ways to do the same thing crop up.
  Apparently, Common Lisp is not big enough for multiple implementations of
  core features.  (I wonder why so many people insist on making their own
  versions of almost everything, from whole environments to sockets, rather
  than using or adapting existing systems.  Clearly, the ability to make
  design decisions that cannot be fixed, and hence produce "mistakes" is at
  the core of this phenomenon, visible in particular in Scheme.)

  This is somewhat like Unicode: It has managed to be sold as a unifying
  coded character set, yet it is actually only _another_ one, and its
  function as unifying depends on its acceptance as such.  Common Lisp
  should have been a unifying Lisp, too, but some clueless rebels have been
  underminig it from the start with "alternatives" and think they are
  offering people "choice" -- but choice is precisely what people do _not_
  want: While I may want a great selection of fresh food, I do not want the
  "option" of paying for the same item with different prices in different
  currencies or using different credit or discount cards so I have to
  become conscious of lots of stupid little details.  While people may
  regard the choice of political party and candidates to be essential to
  democracy, most people would be confused beyond their sanity if they were
  required to choose the political system in an election, such as by
  running campaigns for competing constitutions.

  Some things are better the fewer choices there are, and really good only
  when there is no choice so you never even think about it.  Some things
  are better the more choices there are.  It is an issue of considerable
  wisdom, intelligence, and ability to yield to the bigger picture to
  understand which is which.  Choice per se is _not_ good.  Standards that
  _limit_ choice are actually phenomenally important social creations, just
  like one, authoritative, correct spelling instead of personal "choice".
  Like, in 1894, Norway passed a law to adopt a uniform time zone for all
  of the kingdom of Norway, based on the Greenwich meridian, which is one
  such very clever thing that solves a host of problems in its absence,
  which I bet nobody was aware of, and still are not quite aware of, since
  using a global UTC instead of a local time zone is so much smarter for
  exactly the same reason.  We have yet to _accept_ the standard way to
  write dates that is globally unambiguous, however, but at least we have
  standardized on a single calendar for (almost) the entire world, now.
  Stuff like this is not really about limiting choice, it is about making
  so many other choices available to us.  This is really hard to see before
  the fact, and sometimes even after.
  In a fight against something, the fight has value, victory has none.
  In a fight for something, the fight is a loss, victory merely relief.

  70 percent of American adults do not understand the scientific process.