Subject: Re: Difference between LISP and C++
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: 16 Oct 2002 17:18:49 +0000
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

* arien <spammers_suck@getlost.invalid>
| At least curly brace, semicolon, comma etc are all different.  It becomes
| easier to find the error, and the compiler will even tell you which line
| has the error.

  This is a matter of what you have become used to.  The belief that what
  you became used to /first/ should be the one and only guide for what you
  will do for the rest of your life, makes the random flow of experiences
  that you will encounter in your life a dangerous lottery instead of a
  continuous opportunity to revise and improve your views and opinions.

  Let me quote from Chapter 5 The Basics of Using Typefaces of a book that
  arrived today, as hot off the press as it gets when you ship books through
  our miserable fall temperatures:


Empirically we know that some typefaces are easier to read than others.
Quite apart from the way texts are set--their typographic qualities--some
typefaces are simply eaiser on the eyes and someare more difficult.  This
fact has always intrigued the scientifically minded of the type world,
leading to decades of effort and scores of research projects dedicated to
readability studies.  The goals of these studies have been to learn what
typographic practices enhance readability and to determine what kinds of
typefaces are the most readable.

Readability studies are notorious for coming to clouded and contradictory
conclusions.  Even consensus opinions have been cast into doubt.  For
example, it has long been an article of faith that seriffed types are easier
to read than sans serif types (studies, naturally, disagree on the subject).
Likewise, roman types have long been assumed to be more readable than
italic types (one study even specified that they were 3% more readable).

But yet another recent study has cast doubt on these stereotypes.  The
study compared the reading speeds of a group reading texts set in roman
typefaces with those of a group reading texts set in the /Fraktur/, or
/black-letter/, type popular in Germany until World War II.  It has
generally been assumed that because the strokes used in Fraktur types are
so similar and so closely spaced, readers need more time to decipher the
letters. Wrong.  The study found that the reading speeds of those accustomed
to reading Fraktur type were essentially the same as those used to reading
text set in roman types.  Bad typesetting and bad typeface design aside,
the fact seems to be that the most readabale typefaces are the ones you're
accustomed to reading.

The study's conclusions don't mean that the stereotypes of sans serif and
italics as being less readable aren't true.  Popular design and typographic
practice have made them true by using seriffed roman types as teh standard
faces for books, magazines, and newspapers.  Because they are what we're
accustomed to, seriffed faces are more readable for us.

  I recommend this book:

DDC 686.22 (typography); ISBN 0-321-12730-7; LCCN <unavailable>; 2003
James Felici
The Complete Manual of Typography, a guide to setting perfect type

| In lisp, all you have is parentheses, parentheses, and more parentheses.

  In reality, this is all you /see/, because you have been sensitized to
  the parentheses from your previous exposure.  I have written previously
  on the pain factor of parentheses in the C family which causes people who
  come from that background to feel them acutely painful.  Search google.

| And if you get it wrong, lisp doesn't tell you.

  Yes, it does (insofar as "lisp" here refers to an implementation), but
  you have to accustom yourself to what the compiler expects and complains
  about.  You have already succeeded in this with your first programming
  language.  Now is the time to repeat that process with your next language.

| *That's* why I have more problems with ()'s than I ever had in Java.

  People actually forget the pain of learning something and assume that
  when they know the first thing well, they should be able to learn the
  next thing with the same ease that they use the first thing.  This is so
  horribly misguided that I fail to see how people can possibly believe it,
  but many people evidently do.  I think it is because people only really
  learn one thing of each kind, the first they ever encounter, and hence
  never realize what it costs to learn anything, or they may actually fail
  at learning something and hence only accumulate simple-minded coping
  strategies in the face of repeated failure.  Learning is /work/, however.
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.