Subject: Re: Why I can't use Lisp.
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: 03 Aug 2002 05:10:21 +0000
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

* Don Geddis
| Bad programmers can implement bad algorithms in any language.  This example
| had nothing to do with the Lisp language.

  Actually, it might.  If you learn one way to do things in Common Lisp, it is
  generally simpler and more elegant than anything you can do in any other
  language.  This makes some people lapse into that comatose state where they
  are satisfied with what they have and cease to look further for more options.

  At some point, we all have to stop being vigilant about more options, lest we
  not get anything done at all, but what would be clumsy in any other language
  may feel sufficiently elegant to an inexperienced Common Lisp programmer.
  That it is syntactically superior to almost everything may belie the fact
  that it is algorithmically inferior to almost anything.

  Some people keep doing what they are good at instead of looking for new
  things until they conclude, after careful determination, that they should go
  back to what they are good at.  /E.g./, I gave up on user interfaces as I had
  neither the inclination nor the time to become good at it.  If I were a
  medical doctor, I would be an internist, not a dermatologist.  I think it is
  crucial to a substantially correct assessment of one's abilities that one has
  a pretty good knowledge of the outer bounds of one's capacity, but that is
  again because I believe that being satisfied with being good at something far
  less than capacity will in time be deeply frustrating, instead.

  I see Common Lisp as the best language there is for exploring one's own
  abilities in programming, because one does not first meet an upper limit on
  the amount of fundamentally useless arcana one can internalize.  When people
  write stupid code in Common Lisp, I almost feel as if they are betraying both
  the abilities of the language and their own.

  I sometimes wish it was harder to do stupid things in Common Lisp, but that
  would mean it would be harder to do smart things that nobody thought of
  before, too, and that is precisely what Common Lisp does not want to do.

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.