Subject: Re: PART TWO: winning industrial-use of lisp:  Re: Norvig's latest paper on Lisp
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: Sat, 22 Jun 2002 15:41:16 GMT
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

* Boris Smilga
| It is hardly surprising that Erik, who strongly advocates following standards
| in programming languages, also pushes his fellow Usenet users to comply to
| the grammar of human languages.

  Interesting connection, but entirely false.  Standards have clearly defined
  scope.  If you want to do something within that scope, and there is standard
  way to do it, you do it _only_ that way.  If what you is not in the standard
  or not within its scope, you are free to do it any way you like.  Some parts
  of grammar are standardized.  My stand is: Follow those.

| On the contrary, when Thomas writes: "actual grammatical rules", he
| means a description of the usage, not a set of standardisation rules.

  There is con contradiction here at all.  In fact, the two are overlapping.
  If not, the standard rules would spring into existence only when all of them
  were known, as opposed to be written rules that people decided to follow, but
  as all writing, and standards, laws, etc, they are subject to change.

  Sometimes, I think people who see me argue for standards do not know how
  standards are made, probably because they are equally ignorant of how laws
  are made, indeed, how all human endeavor that seeks to strike a balance
  between descriptive and prescriptive.  Standards are not freaky religions.
  (Some reach for "religion" to insult people as soon as they do not get their
  will, but let us ignore immature children still protesting against their
  parents for now.)

  Standards, laws, just about anything people decide on, are best efforts with
  current knowledge.  If you want to implement unwind-protect, here is how you
  do it.  Anything else is _wrong_.  If you want to spell "thought", here is
  how you do it.  Anything else is _wrong_.  If you want to spell "through",
  you can choose between "thru" or "through", but anything else is _wrong_.
  If you want to purchase something from someone in a store, you can have any
  price in mind _except_ 0, and you can carry it any way you like, _except_
  hidden away in your jacket without paying for it.  Most standards in simple
  areas like programming are positively prescriptive -- do this -- while most
  laws are negatively prescriptive -- don't do this.  Most rules of grammar are
  of the "you have one choice" kind, but which rule to apply and whether to
  apply it is _not_ similarly restricted.

  Why is it so hard for people to understand how standards, laws, grammar, etc,
  work, and why do so many people have to _rebel_ against them?  That is _so_
  clueless.  This inability or intense lack of will to do what some other
  people tell you to do is so goddamn _childish_.  Why are misbehaving children
  not simply taught to get with the program and shut up?  They fill USENET with
  their idiotic taunts and teases, they gang up with each other to hurt people,
  they post their retarded lazy questions expecting others to do their homework
  for them.  Is this also some American thing, I have to wonder.  All this very
  intense marketing for staying young and fresh and _immature_ in so many TV
  series, movies, ads, you would think there are no Americans older than 30,
  and none of them ever developed after hitting puberty.  No wonder they have
  such serious problems dealing with _parent_-style constructs like standards,
  laws, grammars, etc.  However, there is another option: GROW UP, and do not
  force people who do not want to deal with children to deal with children.
  Guide to non-spammers: If you want to send me a business proposal, please be
  specific and do not put "business proposal" in the Subject header.  If it is
  urgent, do not use the word "urgent".  If you need an immediate answer, give
  me a reason, do not shout "for your immediate attention".  Thank you.