Lisp is Sin

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Adam Connor

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Jan 16, 2006, 10:39:19 AM1/16/06
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Just a post I saw that I thought was interesting:
http://blogs.msdn.com/sriram/archive/2006/01/15/lisp_is_sin.aspx

Thinking about my response to this essay (and many others I've seen in
the last year or so), I would put it this way: Lisp has convinced many
people of its beauty and power, but has convinced few of its
practicality as a primary development tool for the here and now. I
guess you could look at that glass as being half-full or half-empty.

Where I work, I think it is more likely that we will add Ruby to the
toolkit than Lisp, mostly because
1) it appears to be easier for average developers to get started in
Ruby
2) the price is right; as a non-profit institution, commercial Lisps
seem kind of expensive.
3) the general consensus is that the Ruby community is friendlier and
more likely to offer constructive help.

That makes me sad, since I like Lisp, but I have to admit that I agree
with all three points. Am I missing some compelling counter-argument?

All roads may lead to Lisp, but maybe not any existing Lisp.
--
adamnospamaustin.rr.com
s/nospam/c\./

Pascal Costanza

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Jan 16, 2006, 11:01:23 AM1/16/06
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Adam Connor wrote:
> Just a post I saw that I thought was interesting:
> http://blogs.msdn.com/sriram/archive/2006/01/15/lisp_is_sin.aspx
>
> Thinking about my response to this essay (and many others I've seen in
> the last year or so), I would put it this way: Lisp has convinced many
> people of its beauty and power, but has convinced few of its
> practicality as a primary development tool for the here and now. I
> guess you could look at that glass as being half-full or half-empty.

http://wiki.alu.org:80/Industry_Application and
http://wiki.alu.org:80/Success_Stories

> Where I work, I think it is more likely that we will add Ruby to the
> toolkit than Lisp, mostly because
> 1) it appears to be easier for average developers to get started in
> Ruby

http://www.paulgraham.com/avg.html

> 2) the price is right; as a non-profit institution, commercial Lisps
> seem kind of expensive.

See open source implementations at http://wiki.alu.org/Implementation

> 3) the general consensus is that the Ruby community is friendlier and
> more likely to offer constructive help.

I don't know how friendly the Ruby community is, but my impression is
not that the Lisp community is unfriendly.

> That makes me sad, since I like Lisp, but I have to admit that I agree
> with all three points. Am I missing some compelling counter-argument?

Yes.


Pascal

--
My website: http://p-cos.net
Closer to MOP & ContextL:
http://common-lisp.net/project/closer/

Coby Beck

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Jan 16, 2006, 12:59:13 PM1/16/06
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"Pascal Costanza" <p...@p-cos.net> wrote in message
news:431uajF...@individual.net...

> Adam Connor wrote:
>> 3) the general consensus is that the Ruby community is friendlier and
>> more likely to offer constructive help.
>
> I don't know how friendly the Ruby community is, but my impression is not
> that the Lisp community is unfriendly.

I think this is destined to be as persistent as the "lisp is slow"
complaint. True once apon a time but unshaken no matter how outdated a
complaint it may be...

--
Coby Beck
(remove #\Space "coby 101 @ bigpond . com")


Wade Humeniuk

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Jan 16, 2006, 1:55:45 PM1/16/06
to

The compelling counter-argument is not an argument at all. Simply
develop something in Lisp, completely in Lisp, not a toy, complete
functionality. This is not hard though one has to do some learning
along the way. Putting the energy into learning Lisp is well
worth it. If one finds that learning Lisp (as programming language)
is hard, then take this a good sign, you are actually learning
something. Learning is hard, its bloody work, and there is no
other way to do things. Its part of the human condition that
people at some point stay away from mental work. The brain
hardens up (for some very good reasons) and the process of changing
it can be disconcerting.

Perhaps you can explain what you mean by average programmer??

Wade

Cameron MacKinnon

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Jan 16, 2006, 1:56:17 PM1/16/06
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Adam Connor wrote:
> Just a post I saw that I thought was interesting:
...elided...

>
> Thinking about my response to this essay (and many others I've seen in
> the last year or so), I would put it this way: Lisp has convinced many
> people of its beauty and power, but has convinced few of its
> practicality as a primary development tool for the here and now.

I thought that was a pretty poor blog-rant. He is looking at the problem
from the mass-market tool vendor's point of view: Some coders live on
the far left side of the bell curve, and he doesn't want to alienate
them. Further, he'd like to convince his (management) customers that
he's got a tool that can move those left-siders over towards the median.
Whereas from the software shop's point of view, if some of your
programmers are dim bulbs, you find them another position or you
terminate them.

> 1) it appears to be easier for average developers to get started in
> Ruby

Is initial productivity more important than long term productivity?
Would it be overly cruel if I suggested that this switch to a new
language could be used as an opportunity to weed out subpar performers,
creating room for better new hires and increasing average productivity?

> 2) the price is right; as a non-profit institution, commercial Lisps
> seem kind of expensive.

You're looking at it wrong. Your unit of production is programmer+tools,
and the goal is high productivity at low cost. If you're saving 1% of
the total (per year) with inferior tools but your programmers are 3%
less productive, what's the bottom line? Not spending money to improve
labour efficiency only makes sense when the labour is very cheap
relative to the technology.

Going further, I'd question why a non-profit institution needs
programmers, anyway. It likely has a formal or informal policy of not
being able to pay premium (or perhaps even median) salaries "because
we're a non-profit" and so, while it thinks it may have a stable of
average programmers, its median programmer may well be below average[1].

Are you creating programs which are a competitive advantage (e.g. for
fundraising)? If not, perhaps there's a bit of corporate narcissism of
small differences causing management to believe that the organization's
needs are unique enough that off-the-shelf solutions aren't available
for most of their generic computing needs.

> 3) the general consensus is that the Ruby community is friendlier and
> more likely to offer constructive help.

Might be true -- who am I, a mere corporal, to argue with General
Consensus? Balanced against that I'd say the Lisp community is wiser and
has a better bookshelf and archives. When a language is the 'new thing',
most of its proponents are friendly, helpful, proselytizing early
adopters. They've only just finished drinking the Kool-Aid themselves,
and are eager to see others validating their choice.

Why not just write it all in Awk? I ask not in seriousness, but to point
out that, at one time, Awk may well have been the language of choice for
your software (whatever it is). Then came Perl, Python and Ruby, each
with multiple incompatible releases and rapidly evolving libraries. If
you choose a new, evolving language, you'll find yourself porting old
code to incompatible new releases every year or so[2], or running three
releases concurrently to keep the old code happy. Then after a few years
Intercal becomes the hot new thing, Ruby books go out of print, and the
available young programming talent will desire a Ruby job about as much
as they currently desire Awk jobs.


[1] Similarly, commercial enterprises' HR departments have management
convinced that can hire above average programmers for "competitive"
(i.e. average) salaries. What do they get? Average programmers.
[2] Some companies write software which evolves or is replaced so
quickly that platform obsolescence isn't a concern.

jayessay

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Jan 16, 2006, 2:25:44 PM1/16/06
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Adam Connor <u...@nospam.com> writes:

> with all three points. Am I missing some compelling counter-argument?

I don't think you are "missing" any of the numerous (and imo
compelling) counter-arguments and more importantly counter evidence.
After all, you've been here saying the exact same thing for some time
now - despite being presented with the counter-evidence/arguments.
So, I believe it is more a case of you actively not hearing or paying
any attention to them. Sort of like you desparately want to believe
it is all just a load of rubbish and you will be just fine not needing
to pay any attention.

Shrug. You'll probably be just fine even if you continue to succeed
at blocking any and all contrary evidence.


/Jon

--
'j' - a n t h o n y at romeo/charley/november com

joseph...@gmail.com

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Jan 16, 2006, 2:14:31 PM1/16/06
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Coby Beck wrote:
> "Pascal Costanza" <p...@p-cos.net> wrote in message
> news:431uajF...@individual.net...
> > Adam Connor wrote:
> >> 3) the general consensus is that the Ruby community is friendlier and
> >> more likely to offer constructive help.
> >
> > I don't know how friendly the Ruby community is, but my impression is not
> > that the Lisp community is unfriendly.
>
> I think this is destined to be as persistent as the "lisp is slow"
> complaint. True once apon a time but unshaken no matter how outdated a
> complaint it may be...

I think this impression is a false one because people confuse the
difference between the Lisp and X programming language 'communities' to
some extent with the difference between forums for 'experts' and forums
filled with 'novices/intermediates.'

Any group of experts will become annoyed when their forum is polluted
with people who fail to do the most basic homework and preparation,
shout out noise and misinformation, or respond to contrary (but
accurate) information with knee-jerk hostility.

Many newly invented languages have communities who are following the
latest roadshow, full of the excitement that follows something fresh
and undiscovered, or are part of the community for its own sake.
Anything goes, because hey, we're all still learning here (except for
the few people who invented the language and stop by regularly, of
course.)

Lisp programmers have (typically) found their way to Lisp as part of
their maturing craftsmanship, and (hopefully) are conscious of forming
part of a community of craftspersons, with a long history of experience
and excellence in what they do.

Consider the different crowds and etiquette that follow a rock band,
attend a jazz club, go to a symphony concert, or participate in a
master class. One should, to be polite, try to conform one's own
behavior to be acceptable to the group, not expect the group to accept
whatever behavior you choose to adopt.

Joe Marshall

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Jan 16, 2006, 2:24:48 PM1/16/06
to

Don't forget that Lisp is so unpopular that ....
No, wait. Lisp is twice as popular as Ruby (according to Tiobe), so
that can't be it....

Ummm, Oh, I know. There are so few Lisp implementations that if one
goes away it could.... no, wait, that can't be it......

Commercial Ruby implementations are so much cheaper than ... no...

Damn if I can figure it out.

Alan Crowe

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Jan 16, 2006, 2:55:48 PM1/16/06
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Adam Connor <u...@nospam.com> writes:

> Just a post I saw that I thought was interesting:
> http://blogs.msdn.com/sriram/archive/2006/01/15/lisp_is_sin.aspx

That blog was the final straw that persuaded me to order a
copy of Norvigs Paradigms of AI programming: Case studies in
Common Lisp.

I had been hoping to find a second hand copy cheap. I found
Artificial Intelligence, A modern approach for twelve pounds
in a second hand book shop. However, I decided that PAIP is
one of those books that people hold onto, so I might as well
buy a new copy.

Alan Crowe
Edinburgh
Scotland

Paolo Amoroso

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Jan 16, 2006, 3:20:21 PM1/16/06
to
Adam Connor <u...@nospam.com> writes:

> the last year or so), I would put it this way: Lisp has convinced many
> people of its beauty and power, but has convinced few of its
> practicality as a primary development tool for the here and now. I
> guess you could look at that glass as being half-full or half-empty.

I don't just stare at the glass, I try to fill it. And I am by no
means the only one. A group of Lispers are working for improving
things:

CL Gardeners - Tending the Common Lisp garden
http://www.lispniks.com/cl-gardeners/


> Where I work, I think it is more likely that we will add Ruby to the
> toolkit than Lisp, mostly because
> 1) it appears to be easier for average developers to get started in
> Ruby

Any specific problems with the existing Common Lisp learning resources
such as books, tutorials, software, etc.


> 2) the price is right; as a non-profit institution, commercial Lisps
> seem kind of expensive.

Any specific needs that the existing open-source Common Lisp
implementations do not adequately address for your intended uses?

http://www.cl-user.net/asp/tags/implementations


> 3) the general consensus is that the Ruby community is friendlier and
> more likely to offer constructive help.

Work is under way to offer constructive help to new--and current--Lisp
users. Here is the start of a FAQ that is intended to become a
primary, extensive and up to date resource:

Common Lisp FAQ
http://www.lispniks.com/faq/faq.html

And here is a rapidly growing directory of Lisp software and
resources:

The Common Lisp Directory
http://www.cl-user.net


> That makes me sad, since I like Lisp, but I have to admit that I agree
> with all three points. Am I missing some compelling counter-argument?

If you do not want to miss an important occasion for changing the real
or perceived situation of Lisp, here is how you can help:

Gardeners Projects
http://wiki.alu.org/Gardeners_Projects


Paolo
--
Why Lisp? http://wiki.alu.org/RtL%20Highlight%20Film
The Common Lisp Directory: http://www.cl-user.net

Pascal Costanza

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Jan 16, 2006, 3:21:30 PM1/16/06
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Paolo Amoroso wrote:

> I don't just stare at the glass, I try to fill it.

This one made it into my list of memorable quotes. ;)


Thanks,

Majorinc

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Jan 16, 2006, 3:56:19 PM1/16/06
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In article <d0fns1dfvasaoquje...@4ax.com>, u...@nospam.com
says...

>
> That makes me sad, since I like Lisp, but I have to admit that I agree
> with all three points. Am I missing some compelling counter-argument?

I think that Lisp has same problems like communism, christianity or
sport; they were built around good idea, but with time it turned that
people around these ideas prefer power over solidarity, salvation over
love, glory over healthy mind in the healthy body.

Thats same with Lisp. Ideas like AI, code=data, everything as 1st order
value and simple, uniform syntax are good ideas. However, it turned up
that Lisp users actually do not want such things; instead, they gone for
more "earthly" features like objects and macros. CLOS did relatively
little harm, it only overcomplicated implementation and sucked up lot of
community energy, but macro's were big miss. They not only absorbed lot
of energy, but they also polluted whole Lisp and compromised the main
code as data idea. The result is that Lisp does not progress any more. C
gone from #include to STL in last 25 years. Lisp? It goes nowhere.

Lisps ideas are good, and they will be integrated in the most popular
languages of the future. But not in the Common Lisp or Common Lisp form
that will be compatible with Common Lisp - or even Scheme.

>
> All roads may lead to Lisp, but maybe not any existing Lisp.

Lisp will not be an and. In my opinion, code=data is the most important
idea of Lisp, and data structure of the code is not necessarily list,
especially not Lisp list. It can be hash table as well; or some even
more general data structure.


Zach Beane

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Jan 16, 2006, 4:15:21 PM1/16/06
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Majorinc, Kazimir <fa...@email.com> writes:

> CLOS did relatively little harm, it only overcomplicated
> implementation and sucked up lot of community energy, but macro's
> were big miss. They not only absorbed lot of energy, but they also
> polluted whole Lisp and compromised the main code as data idea.

Macros are functions that take code (as data) and return code (as
data). How much more code=data can you get?

Zach

Dan Corkill

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Jan 16, 2006, 4:20:04 PM1/16/06
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> The result is that Lisp does not progress any more. C
> gone from #include to STL in last 25 years. Lisp? It goes nowhere.

Please don't feed the trolls. Their uninformed rants do not progress
anymore. They go nowhere.


Pascal Costanza

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Jan 16, 2006, 4:33:27 PM1/16/06
to
Majorinc wrote:

> In my opinion, code=data is the most important
> idea of Lisp, and data structure of the code is not necessarily list,
> especially not Lisp list. It can be hash table as well; or some even
> more general data structure.

Interesting idea. I'd like to hear about it as soon as you have come up
with something workable.

http://intentsoft.com/ had a similar idea. They have been working on it
since 15 years, if I remember correctly, and haven't come up with a
working product yet. 10 years of that it was worked on at Microsoft
Research, until Microsoft ditched them.

It's one thing to have a nice idea, it's another to build a stable piece
of software based on it. But go ahead, noone is stopping you from
anything...

Majorinc

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Jan 16, 2006, 4:23:22 PM1/16/06
to
In article <YdednUKp7c6...@comcast.com>, danco...@comcast.net
says...

> Please don't feed the trolls. Their uninformed rants do not progress
> anymore. They go nowhere.

Strange answer. But this one is also wrong.

Adam Connor

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Jan 16, 2006, 5:38:04 PM1/16/06
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On Mon, 16 Jan 2006 18:55:45 GMT, Wade Humeniuk
<whumeniu+...@telus.net> wrote:

>The compelling counter-argument is not an argument at all. Simply
>develop something in Lisp, completely in Lisp, not a toy, complete
>functionality. This is not hard though one has to do some learning
>along the way. Putting the energy into learning Lisp is well
>worth it. If one finds that learning Lisp (as programming language)
>is hard, then take this a good sign, you are actually learning
>something. Learning is hard, its bloody work, and there is no
>other way to do things. Its part of the human condition that
>people at some point stay away from mental work. The brain
>hardens up (for some very good reasons) and the process of changing
>it can be disconcerting.

I don't see this as an argument. I agree that learning Lisp (or any
new and interesting language) is good for you. But... You can develop
useful software in most languages, even bad ones. When my coworker
develops something useful in PHP, that doesn't make me want to use
PHP.

>Perhaps you can explain what you mean by average programmer??

Really, just the average business applications developer, mostly
building CRUD applications.
--
adamnospamaustin.rr.com
s/nospam/c\./

Adam Connor

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Jan 16, 2006, 5:44:29 PM1/16/06
to
On Mon, 16 Jan 2006 13:56:17 -0500, Cameron MacKinnon
<cmack...@clearspot.net> wrote:

>Adam Connor wrote:
>> 1) it appears to be easier for average developers to get started in
>> Ruby
>
>Is initial productivity more important than long term productivity?
>Would it be overly cruel if I suggested that this switch to a new
>language could be used as an opportunity to weed out subpar performers,
>creating room for better new hires and increasing average productivity?

Often, yes, it is more important. Moreover, the reality is that it
won't be used in that way, and if it was, the business knowledge lost
would probably outweigh the improvement in programming talent.

I won't even go into the politics.

>> 2) the price is right; as a non-profit institution, commercial Lisps
>> seem kind of expensive.
>
>You're looking at it wrong. Your unit of production is programmer+tools,
>and the goal is high productivity at low cost. If you're saving 1% of
>the total (per year) with inferior tools but your programmers are 3%
>less productive, what's the bottom line? Not spending money to improve
>labour efficiency only makes sense when the labour is very cheap
>relative to the technology.

I understand your argument, but I think you are neglecting many
real-world factors... to start with, salaries are budgeted differently
than tools, and it is a lot harder to get money for tools.

But even if that were not a factor, your argument requires getting the
decision-makers to believe in your numbers. Bearing in mind that they
aren't Lisp programmers, and that "Ruby on Rails" has a better "silver
bullet" story, I think that is a very hard argument to win.

In any case, the numbers are made up, so we don't even really know
what the tradeoffs are for Lisp versus, say, Ruby.
--
adamnospamaustin.rr.com
s/nospam/c\./

Bruce Stephens

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Jan 16, 2006, 5:46:30 PM1/16/06
to
"Coby Beck" <cb...@mercury.bc.ca> writes:

> "Pascal Costanza" <p...@p-cos.net> wrote in message
> news:431uajF...@individual.net...
>> Adam Connor wrote:
>>> 3) the general consensus is that the Ruby community is friendlier and
>>> more likely to offer constructive help.
>>
>> I don't know how friendly the Ruby community is, but my impression is not
>> that the Lisp community is unfriendly.
>
> I think this is destined to be as persistent as the "lisp is slow"
> complaint. True once apon a time but unshaken no matter how outdated a
> complaint it may be...

I suspect it's that the "constructive help" available is very often a
pointer to something someone can download which will just work.
That's easier to do with a single implementation (ignoring versions of
the same implementation---and mostly there's only a couple of common
ones at any time).

Lisp help tends to come with "some self-assembly required" type
instructions, and sometimes the self-assembly can seem enough that it
doesn't seem worth the effort, when someone's already done it for the
one implementation of Python, Perl, Ruby, or whatever.

Adam Connor

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Jan 16, 2006, 5:47:25 PM1/16/06
to
On Mon, 16 Jan 2006 22:33:27 +0100, Pascal Costanza <p...@p-cos.net>
wrote:

>Majorinc wrote:
>
>> In my opinion, code=data is the most important
>> idea of Lisp, and data structure of the code is not necessarily list,
>> especially not Lisp list. It can be hash table as well; or some even
>> more general data structure.
>
>Interesting idea. I'd like to hear about it as soon as you have come up
>with something workable.
>
>http://intentsoft.com/ had a similar idea. They have been working on it
>since 15 years, if I remember correctly, and haven't come up with a
>working product yet. 10 years of that it was worked on at Microsoft
>Research, until Microsoft ditched them.
>
>It's one thing to have a nice idea, it's another to build a stable piece
>of software based on it. But go ahead, noone is stopping you from
>anything...

I haven't seen anything even close to Lisp for expressing code=data.
There are other languages that permit metaprogramming, but they lack
Lisp's generality.

--
adamnospamaustin.rr.com
s/nospam/c\./

Kenny Tilton

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Jan 16, 2006, 5:55:23 PM1/16/06
to

Correct. Lisp is so great that even trollbait turns into gold, as when
Lispniks respond not with vitriol but with temperate refutations packed
with solid information about Lisp.[1]

I suppose if what you said had any merit it would occasion hostility,
but as it is you are just feeding us fat pitches we love knocking into
the bay.[2]

kenny

[1] I think at least one troll must be a Lisp fan (or vendor)
periodically provoking the NG into marketing activity when it gets a
little quiet around here.

[2] San Francisco's new baseballpark is built on a bay. Long home runs
to right field land in a small bay where waiting kayakers fight for
them. The metaphor use to be "downtown". "Going yard" is also popular
now. With that etymology I cannot help.

k

Geoffrey S. Knauth

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Jan 16, 2006, 9:21:25 PM1/16/06
to
Adam Connor <u...@nospam.com> wrote:

> I haven't seen anything even close to Lisp for expressing code=data.
> There are other languages that permit metaprogramming, but they lack
> Lisp's generality.

Smalltalk?

--
Geoffrey S. Knauth | http://knauth.org/gsk

BR

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Jan 16, 2006, 9:39:27 PM1/16/06
to
josepho...@hotmail.com wrote:

> Lisp programmers have (typically) found their way to Lisp as part of
> their maturing craftsmanship, and (hopefully) are conscious of forming
> part of a community of craftspersons, with a long history of experience
> and excellence in what they do.
>
> Consider the different crowds and etiquette that follow a rock band,
> attend a jazz club, go to a symphony concert, or participate in a
> master class. One should, to be polite, try to conform one's own
> behavior to be acceptable to the group, not expect the group to accept
> whatever behavior you choose to adopt.

Welcome to the LISP guild. :)

Kenny Tilton

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Jan 17, 2006, 3:11:08 AM1/17/06
to
Adam Connor wrote:
> Just a post I saw that I thought was interesting:
> http://blogs.msdn.com/sriram/archive/2006/01/15/lisp_is_sin.aspx

Thx for the heads up. Wow, the Lisp mindshare is going throught the
roof. Well, we knew that, the programming community has been in a frenzy
since Python, frantically trying to throw the bit of strong static
typing. They have the attention span of a two year-old now.

There is no such thing as bad publicity. Microsoft (for the third time,
if you have been paying attention) explaining why Lisp sucks. The cow
protests too much, methinks.

>
> Thinking about my response to this essay (and many others I've seen in
> the last year or so), I would put it this way: Lisp has convinced many
> people of its beauty and power, but has convinced few of its

> practicality ...

yeah, what the hell can anyone accomplish with beauty and power?

Did you attend the Robert Maas School of Terminal Depression? No, you
are just addicted to all the attention you get by screaming that the sky
is falling. "My name is Adam, and I have a problem."

Look, we told Dussud (sp?) of Microsoft to take a hike at ILC 2005, now
this. Just keep laughing at them and they will deprecate .Net and roll
out Microsoft Common Lisp. Enjoy the deliberate deviations from the
standard and patents on list processing.

kenny

Adam Connor

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Jan 17, 2006, 8:41:49 AM1/17/06
to
Kenny Tilton wrote:
> Did you attend the Robert Maas School of Terminal Depression? No, you
> are just addicted to all the attention you get by screaming that the sky
> is falling. "My name is Adam, and I have a problem."

Responses like this go a long way toward explaining the perception that
the Lisp community is not that friendly. I'm not complaining, since
I've read this newsgroup for a while and had some idea of what to
expect.But it takes a thick skin to interact with this community.

I don't think the sky is falling on Lisp; that happened long ago. From
what I can see, things are slowly improving. Apparently those in
comp.lang.lisp are satisfied with the rate of progress (mostly). I
guess that makes sense, since y'all have found ways to work with Lisp
even in its relative unpopularity.

I do think that Lisp faces challenges, and that it is interesting to
look at outsider perceptions. If the Lisp community were a bit more
open-minded it might benefit from those perceptions, but that doesn't
seem to be the prevailing response. Maybe that is also a corollary of
the selection process that weeded down the lisp community to true
believers. (In most "newer" language communities, I see a lot of folks
excited to get involved in an expanding community. Lisp folks seem
resistant to that charm.)

As far as the language itself: I admire the ideas behind Lisp. I do
find some difficulties with libraries. Some of it comes down to Common
Lisp (and its standards) being old. If the standard were more recent,
things like sockets would probably be in it. Some of this comes down to
having multiple lisps, and insufficient standardization for using
libraries. I've been spoiled by Java, where I can almost always just
download the damn jar file, put it in my classpath, and have things
work. Perl and Ruby have good ways of installing packages, too. Ruby
and Perl are single implementation languages. Java isn't, technically,
but in practice it is. The folks in comp.lang.lisp seem happy with the
current situation, but it confuses newbies like me and seems to divide
the Lisp community's energies into supporting different
implementations.

All of these have implications for adopting Lisp in more quotidian
programming shops. The reddit switch to Python suggests that even in
the more rarified air of startups Lisp's library situation has
downsides. I am sure that in some circumstances Lisp's flexibility
makes up for this. The question (for any given shop or independent
practicioner) to consider is whether these cases are common enough to
make Lisp the language of choice. The best way to determine this is to
try Lisp on some "real world" sized project for your shop. For obvious
reasons, it can be hard to commit sufficient resources, so many of us
read books, troll newsgroups, and write very small applications in an
attempt to get a feel for the value proposition.

Sorry if that process is unpleasant for comp.lang.lisp-ers.

Wade Humeniuk

unread,
Jan 17, 2006, 8:45:58 AM1/17/06
to
Adam Connor wrote:
> On Mon, 16 Jan 2006 18:55:45 GMT, Wade Humeniuk
> <whumeniu+...@telus.net> wrote:
>
>> The compelling counter-argument is not an argument at all. Simply
>> develop something in Lisp, completely in Lisp, not a toy, complete
>> functionality. This is not hard though one has to do some learning
>> along the way. Putting the energy into learning Lisp is well
>> worth it. If one finds that learning Lisp (as programming language)
>> is hard, then take this a good sign, you are actually learning
>> something. Learning is hard, its bloody work, and there is no
>> other way to do things. Its part of the human condition that
>> people at some point stay away from mental work. The brain
>> hardens up (for some very good reasons) and the process of changing
>> it can be disconcerting.
>
> I don't see this as an argument. I agree that learning Lisp (or any
> new and interesting language) is good for you. But... You can develop
> useful software in most languages, even bad ones. When my coworker
> develops something useful in PHP, that doesn't make me want to use
> PHP.
>

Perhaps I can simplify my point:

Just Do It.
Don't be a girlie programmer.
You are over-thinking the problem.
Don't be a victim of PR.
One of man's biggest advantages is their big brain, it's also their
greatest weakness.


The blog entry you posted was just rhetorical crap. Get out of
your defensive position and stop trying to put everyone else there
with you.

Wade

Majorinc

unread,
Jan 17, 2006, 8:54:12 AM1/17/06
to
In article <vvVyf.3340$SD....@news-wrt-01.rdc-nyc.rr.com>,
NOktil...@nyc.rr.com says...

> Majorinc wrote:
> > In article <YdednUKp7c6...@comcast.com>, danco...@comcast.net
> > says...
> >
> >
> >>Please don't feed the trolls. Their uninformed rants do not progress
> >>anymore. They go nowhere.
> >
> >
> > Strange answer. But this one is also wrong.
> >

>
> Correct. Lisp is so great that even trollbait turns into gold, as when
> Lispniks respond not with vitriol but with temperate refutations packed
> with solid information about Lisp.[1]
>
> I suppose if what you said had any merit it would occasion hostility,
> but as it is you are just feeding us fat pitches we love knocking into
> the bay.[2]

What an asshole!

Majorinc

unread,
Jan 17, 2006, 9:33:16 AM1/17/06
to
In article <5i8os1tf218p7ri56...@4ax.com>,
u...@nospam.com says...

> I haven't seen anything even close to Lisp for expressing code=data.
> There are other languages that permit metaprogramming, but they lack
> Lisp's generality.

Some time ago, typical BASIC interpreter had ability to update
code it interpretes during runtime. With such BASIC
interpreter, code=data structure (roughly hash-table of
strings) is comparable to Lisp code=data structure (list or
tree or DAG), and it arguably even more expressive due to line
numbers, "goto x" and "renumber" statements, for example.

Lisps main advantage is its manipulation-friendly syntax.

Ulrich Hobelmann

unread,
Jan 17, 2006, 9:56:38 AM1/17/06
to
Majorinc wrote:
> What an asshole!

You repeat yourself...

--
The problems of the real world are primarily those you are left with
when you refuse to apply their effective solutions.
Edsger W. Dijkstra

Marco Antoniotti

unread,
Jan 17, 2006, 10:07:34 AM1/17/06
to
Majorinc wrote:
> In article <d0fns1dfvasaoquje...@4ax.com>, u...@nospam.com
> says...
>
> >
> > That makes me sad, since I like Lisp, but I have to admit that I agree
> > with all three points. Am I missing some compelling counter-argument?
>

>


> Thats same with Lisp. Ideas like AI, code=data, everything as 1st order
> value and simple, uniform syntax are good ideas. However, it turned up
> that Lisp users actually do not want such things; instead, they gone for
> more "earthly" features like objects and macros. CLOS did relatively
> little harm, it only overcomplicated implementation and sucked up lot of
> community energy, but macro's were big miss. They not only absorbed lot
> of energy, but they also polluted whole Lisp and compromised the main
> code as data idea. The result is that Lisp does not progress any more. C
> gone from #include to STL in last 25 years. Lisp? It goes nowhere.

C++ had to go from #include to STL because 25 years ago "Greenspun's
Tenth Rule of Programming" was already (and still is) true :)


>
> Lisps ideas are good, and they will be integrated in the most popular
> languages of the future. But not in the Common Lisp or Common Lisp form
> that will be compatible with Common Lisp - or even Scheme.

Yes. Meanwhile all these other languages are sucking up and wasting
far greater resources in order to satisfy the Fundamental Theorem on
Programming Languages (expressed, of course, in quasi-LaTeX)

\lim_{t \rightarrow \mathrm{today} + \epsilon} PL(t)
= \mathsf{ANSI-CL}(1994) + \mathrm{type-inference}

where $t$ is time, $\epsilon$ is a positive constant and $PL(t)$ is any
programming language of your choice :)

Cheers
--
Marco

Majorinc

unread,
Jan 17, 2006, 10:50:11 AM1/17/06
to
In article <434et6F...@individual.net>, u.hob...@web.de
says...

> Majorinc wrote:
> > What an asshole!
>
> You repeat yourself...

Nonsense.

Tayssir John Gabbour

unread,
Jan 17, 2006, 11:23:13 AM1/17/06
to

That syntax is only the most hyped aspect. Take things like dynamic
scope, nothing to do with syntax and macros.

So dynamic scope and macros help you implement the Condition System.

Or take the ability to modify a function name's binding at runtime.
That and macros can give you simple memoization.

And so forth; the list goes on.

Now, if we admit the things which can conceivably be built by warping a
basic Lisp syntax, but have little to do with syntax themselves, we can
go further. Like CLOS. Loop.

Ok, add dynamic scope to CLOS. That helps build context-oriented
programming.

So we have things which multiply off each other. Not just addition.


Tayssir

jayessay

unread,
Jan 17, 2006, 12:22:33 PM1/17/06
to
"Adam Connor" <ada...@gmail.com> writes:

> Kenny Tilton wrote:
> > Did you attend the Robert Maas School of Terminal Depression? No, you
> > are just addicted to all the attention you get by screaming that the sky
> > is falling. "My name is Adam, and I have a problem."
>
> Responses like this go a long way toward explaining the perception that
> the Lisp community is not that friendly .

^
to trolls.

You forgot that bit.


/Jon

--
'j' - a n t h o n y at romeo/charley/november com

Paolo Amoroso

unread,
Jan 17, 2006, 12:20:28 PM1/17/06
to
"Adam Connor" <ada...@gmail.com> writes:

> what I can see, things are slowly improving. Apparently those in
> comp.lang.lisp are satisfied with the rate of progress (mostly). I

The existence of this project:

CL Gardeners - Tending the Common Lisp garden
http://www.lispniks.com/cl-gardeners/

is a hint that a significant number of active Lispers are working to
increase the rate of progress.


> I do think that Lisp faces challenges, and that it is interesting to
> look at outsider perceptions. If the Lisp community were a bit more
> open-minded it might benefit from those perceptions, but that doesn't
> seem to be the prevailing response. Maybe that is also a corollary of

Outsider perceptions and feedback are useful. But the problem is that
we now have plenty--truckloads--of that. What we miss is someone who,
based on those perceptions and feedback, actually does something--anything.

Coby Beck

unread,
Jan 17, 2006, 1:41:24 PM1/17/06
to
<Majorinc>; "Kazimir" <fa...@email.com> wrote in message
news:MPG.1e3626dce...@news.carnet.hr...

> In article <d0fns1dfvasaoquje...@4ax.com>, u...@nospam.com
> says...
>> That makes me sad, since I like Lisp, but I have to admit that I agree
>> with all three points. Am I missing some compelling counter-argument?
>
> I think that Lisp has same problems like communism, christianity or
> sport; they were built around good idea, but with time it turned that
> people around these ideas prefer power over solidarity, salvation over
> love, glory over healthy mind in the healthy body.

sigh. Doesn't Tim Bradshaw send out his Black Helicopters anymore....?

> macro's were big miss
...


> code=data is the most important idea of Lisp

I find it hard to reconcile these two statements. Oh, well.

--
Coby Beck
(remove #\Space "coby 101 @ bigpond . com")


Richard J. Fateman

unread,
Jan 17, 2006, 1:43:46 PM1/17/06
to
Joel Moses of MIT wrote his PhD dissertation on
solving freshman calculus problems,
a Symbolic Integrator he called SIN. (c. 1967)
(It was an improvement, in some sense, of James
Slagle's approach to the same problem, a program
called Symbolic Automatic Integrator, or SAINT.)

SIN (and most of SAINT) were written in Lisp.
JM was particularly keen to have his presentations
titled "Moses speaks on Sin".

The SIN code was incorporated in the Macsyma project, and
can be seen in the open-source Maxima program on sourceforge.
It was modified in many ways to fit into the Macsyma
context. A mostly unmodified version was available for
many years in another project, Scratchpad, running on IBM 360
Lisp, at IBM Research. Scratchpad was said to contain
the "Original SIN".
Scratchpad evolved to Axiom, now also open-source.

RJF


Majorinc

unread,
Jan 17, 2006, 2:14:22 PM1/17/06
to
In article <oTazf.96035$6K2.13400@edtnps90>,
cb...@mercury.bc.ca says...

> <Majorinc>; "Kazimir" <fa...@email.com> wrote in message
> news:MPG.1e3626dce...@news.carnet.hr...
> > In article <d0fns1dfvasaoquje...@4ax.com>, u...@nospam.com
> > says...
> >> That makes me sad, since I like Lisp, but I have to admit that I agree
> >> with all three points. Am I missing some compelling counter-argument?
> >
> > I think that Lisp has same problems like communism, christianity or
> > sport; they were built around good idea, but with time it turned that
> > people around these ideas prefer power over solidarity, salvation over
> > love, glory over healthy mind in the healthy body.
>
> sigh. Doesn't Tim Bradshaw send out his Black Helicopters anymore....?

Another asshole. Oh well ...

Ulrich Hobelmann

unread,
Jan 17, 2006, 2:24:48 PM1/17/06
to
Majorinc wrote:
> Another asshole. Oh well ...

In case you haven't noticed. ALL of us on c.l.lisp are utterly evil and
rotten to the core. We hate all newbies, especially you, and we try to
be the worst assholes we can be to have some elitist peace.

Just so you are prepared and don't encounter any nasty surprises the
next months...

Sam Steingold

unread,
Jan 17, 2006, 2:25:47 PM1/17/06
to Majorinc, Kazimir
> * Majorinc, Kazimir <sn...@rznvy.pbz> [2006-01-16 21:56:19 +0100]:

>
> I think that Lisp has same problems like communism, christianity or
> sport; they were built around good idea, but with time it turned that
> people around these ideas prefer power over solidarity, salvation over
> love, glory over healthy mind in the healthy body.

I think you know _nothing_ about communism.
I suggest that you start with http://www.podval.org/~sds/commies.html

--
Sam Steingold (http://www.podval.org/~sds) running w2k
http://www.camera.org http://www.iris.org.il http://www.palestinefacts.org
http://www.openvotingconsortium.org http://www.jihadwatch.org http://ffii.org
Professionalism is being dispassionate about your work.

Duane Rettig

unread,
Jan 17, 2006, 3:21:29 PM1/17/06
to
Majorinc, Kazimir <kaz...@chem.pmf.hr> writes:

I know a game just like the one you're playing. My grandson and
granddaughter play it together, almost any chance they get; whenever
they are either in a car or on the street, and they see a newer
style Volkswagon go by, they shout "Slug Bug!" as fast as possible -
the first one to recognize this Bug-that-looks-like-a-slug wins
that round and adds to points accumulated.

So now, you're doing very well at your own recognition game - it seems
you are winning with no effort at all. But wait - perhaps the game
is rigged, and you are winning because everybody is mooning you?

Yes, I have one as well...

--
Duane Rettig du...@franz.com Franz Inc. http://www.franz.com/
555 12th St., Suite 1450 http://www.555citycenter.com/
Oakland, Ca. 94607 Phone: (510) 452-2000; Fax: (510) 452-0182

Majorinc

unread,
Jan 17, 2006, 4:15:21 PM1/17/06
to
In article <upsmqk...@gnu.org>, s...@gnu.org says...

> I think you know _nothing_ about communism.

I've spent first 30 years in one communist country so I know
some things even from personal experience. And of course, I've
read some texts on that subjects.

> I suggest that you start with http://www.podval.org~sds/commies.html

Thank you. I could agree with some parts of your text, however
my impression is that overall, your view is not ballanced.

Majorinc

unread,
Jan 17, 2006, 5:14:14 PM1/17/06
to
In article <o0k6cye...@franz.com>, du...@franz.com says...

> I know a game just like the one you're playing. My grandson and
> granddaughter play it together, almost any chance they get; whenever
> they are either in a car or on the street, and they see a newer
> style Volkswagon go by, they shout "Slug Bug!" as fast as possible -
> the first one to recognize this Bug-that-looks-like-a-slug wins
> that round and adds to points accumulated.

Nice game.

>
> So now, you're doing very well at your own recognition game - it seems
> you are winning with no effort at all. But wait - perhaps the game
> is rigged, and you are winning because everybody is mooning you?
>
> Yes, I have one as well...

:) I actually know exactly what happens here - it is much more
complicated than it looks like, but it would be way too long
and off topic for this newsgroup.


David Trudgett

unread,
Jan 17, 2006, 7:17:26 PM1/17/06
to
Sam Steingold <s...@gnu.org> writes:

>> * Majorinc, Kazimir <sn...@rznvy.pbz> [2006-01-16 21:56:19 +0100]:
>>
>> I think that Lisp has same problems like communism, christianity or
>> sport; they were built around good idea, but with time it turned that
>> people around these ideas prefer power over solidarity, salvation over
>> love, glory over healthy mind in the healthy body.
>
> I think you know _nothing_ about communism.
> I suggest that you start with http://www.podval.org/~sds/commies.html

Or perhaps it is you does not understand that there are people who
define 'communism' differently from the authoritarian and violent
agenda promulgated by Marx, Lenin, Stalin et al. According to your
view there could be no such thing as anarchistic communism, but there
is, which shows that your view is not entirely complete or balanced as
to what 'communism' is exactly.

If you define 'communism' as 'authoritarian communism', as brought to
you by the great "communists" of the past, then it is indeed an
abomination. Social structures built upon authoritarian principles,
coercion and oppression (such as our society, by the way) are
illegitimate. The only legitimate communism is free, anarchistic
communism in which people participate free of any coercion.

David

--

David Trudgett
http://www.zeta.org.au/~wpower/

"We are convinced that freedom without Socialism is privilege and
injustice, and that Socialism without freedom is slavery and
brutality."

-- The Political Philosophy of Bakunin, p. 269

Fred Gilham

unread,
Jan 17, 2006, 7:37:35 PM1/17/06
to

"Adam Connor" <ada...@gmail.com> writes:

> Kenny Tilton wrote:
> > Did you attend the Robert Maas School of Terminal Depression? No, you
> > are just addicted to all the attention you get by screaming that the sky
> > is falling. "My name is Adam, and I have a problem."
>
> Responses like this go a long way toward explaining the perception that
> the Lisp community is not that friendly. I'm not complaining, since
> I've read this newsgroup for a while and had some idea of what to
> expect.But it takes a thick skin to interact with this community.


Sorry, but this is not the problem. The problem is that a certain
number of people who post here, especially new people, are just
stupid.

By "stupid" I mean "so wedded to their own ideas that they can't learn
anything new."

If you are going to learn Lisp, you have to be willing to let go of
your own ideas for a while. Lisp is different enough from what most
programmers already know that it will go strongly against the grain
for a while. Most of the ways Lisp goes against the grain are
heartily embraced by experienced Lisp programmers. It is simply
annoying to have stupid [see above] people come and tell you that you
don't know what you're doing.

Perhaps we should have some kind of warning that we post periodically,
something like:

WARNING

Lisp is different from what you know. Do not attempt to critique it
until you have done something substantial in the language, perhaps
written at least one substantial program. Even then, you should not
attempt fundamental critiques unless you are a language guru or have
several years of experience with Lisp.

Again, lisp is fundamentally different from what you are used to.
Unless you are willing to deal with this, even embrace it, you will be
seen as a whining ignoramus when you complain about it.

Do not attempt to critique the syntax of Lisp. While it is different
from what you are used to (see above) it makes sense as it stands and
Lisp programmers like it. If you don't like it, the problem is with
you, not Lisp. There are plenty of other languages out there with
syntax you are used to that you are free to use. Critiquing Lisp for
its syntax is like critiquing a small plane for having wings too long
to fit into your garage.

If something about Lisp doesn't make sense to you, assume it's because
you don't understand something, not because the language is hosed.
The language does have its warts, but most Lisp programmers like it a
lot, and the thing you are complaining about is quite likely to be one
of the things Lisp programmers like.

Do not think that Lisp enthusiasts care whether you use Lisp. Chances
are very great that any contribution you can make to the Lisp
community will be insignificant unless you are willing to dive in and
start writing significant code. Most people who complain about Lisp
will not do that.

If you think that Lisp would be great except that it is missing a few
libraries, go ahead and write them, or improve something that's
already out there. There is a lot of stuff, old and new, out there;
go look for it. People who write libraries for Lisp or who do other
significant Lisp-related projects quickly graduate into the ranks of
those who are taken seriously in comp.lang.lisp. Do not demand that
someone else to do your work for you for free. However, polite
requests for pointers to code and other information will most likely
be answered in a positive way.

The reason most people read comp.lang.lisp is that they like Lisp a
lot. If you post in this newsgroup, keep that in mind and follow
USENET etiquette, and you will do fine.

--
Fred Gilham gil...@csl.sri.com
I can see you're going to do just *fine* here in comp.lang.lisp. I'm
rather looking forward to the ritual disembowelling, in particular,
although the bit where we chop your arms and legs off and feed them to
crocodiles is also good. --- Tim Bradshaw

Greg Menke

unread,
Jan 17, 2006, 7:44:32 PM1/17/06
to

"Coby Beck" <cb...@mercury.bc.ca> writes:
> <Majorinc>; "Kazimir" <fa...@email.com> wrote in message
> news:MPG.1e3626dce...@news.carnet.hr...
> > In article <d0fns1dfvasaoquje...@4ax.com>, u...@nospam.com
> > says...
> >> That makes me sad, since I like Lisp, but I have to admit that I agree
> >> with all three points. Am I missing some compelling counter-argument?
> >
> > I think that Lisp has same problems like communism, christianity or
> > sport; they were built around good idea, but with time it turned that
> > people around these ideas prefer power over solidarity, salvation over
> > love, glory over healthy mind in the healthy body.
>
> sigh. Doesn't Tim Bradshaw send out his Black Helicopters anymore....?
>

Didn't you get the memo? They're tied up dealing with XML at the moment
and no end in sight... Which is probably more important than dealing
with wanking about Lisp syntax for the 10 millionth time.

;)

Greg


Bruce Hoult

unread,
Jan 17, 2006, 10:39:19 PM1/17/06
to
In article <m34q42z...@rr.trudgett>,
David Trudgett <wpo...@zeta.org.au.nospamplease> wrote:

> Or perhaps it is you does not understand that there are people who
> define 'communism' differently from the authoritarian and violent
> agenda promulgated by Marx, Lenin, Stalin et al.

I'm not sure that Marx and Lenin *intended* authoritarian and violent
results, although those were the natural consequences of their
philosophy.


> According to your view there could be no such thing as anarchistic
> communism, but there is, which shows that your view is not entirely
> complete or balanced as to what 'communism' is exactly.

There is? In theory or in practise?


> If you define 'communism' as 'authoritarian communism', as brought to
> you by the great "communists" of the past, then it is indeed an
> abomination. Social structures built upon authoritarian principles,
> coercion and oppression (such as our society, by the way) are
> illegitimate.

I'm with you there.


> The only legitimate communism is free, anarchistic
> communism in which people participate free of any coercion.

Does this exist anywhere in any group larger than a hippie commune?

All those I've seen (and there were three within about 10 km radius of
the farm I grew up on in the 60's and 70's and several of my teachers
and some of my school friends lived in them) had one strong and
charismatic leader. I don't think that scales becuase eventualyl the
leader needs several layers of deputies and soon enough the deputies
become thugs.

--
Bruce | 41.1670S | \ spoken | -+-
Hoult | 174.8263E | /\ here. | ----------O----------

Kenny Tilton

unread,
Jan 18, 2006, 12:15:38 AM1/18/06
to

What a mouth! There's a connection, you know. Now get your fat ass into
my killfile, you toad.

kenny

Rob Warnock

unread,
Jan 18, 2006, 1:40:36 AM1/18/06
to
Fred Gilham <gil...@snapdragon.csl.sri.com> wrote:
+---------------

| "Adam Connor" <ada...@gmail.com> writes:
| > But it takes a thick skin to interact with this community.
|
| Sorry, but this is not the problem. The problem is that a certain
| number of people who post here, especially new people, are just stupid.
| By "stupid" I mean "so wedded to their own ideas that they can't learn
| anything new."
+---------------

I think the term you're looking for is "willfully ignorant" or
perhaps "stubbornly ignorant". They're actually too fundamentally
intelligent to be truly stupid, but the intelligence is being
perverted in the service of an active ignorance that seeks
reinforcement of its own preconceptions, rather than being
open to the subtle panic that inevitably arises when learning
something truly new & different.

When this attachment to the already-"known" is exposed, of course,
the most commmon response is to attack the exposer, as we often
see here...


-Rob

-----
Rob Warnock <rp...@rpw3.org>
627 26th Avenue <URL:http://rpw3.org/>
San Mateo, CA 94403 (650)572-2607

Tayssir John Gabbour

unread,
Jan 18, 2006, 11:19:47 AM1/18/06
to
Bruce Hoult wrote:
> In article <m34q42z...@rr.trudgett>,
> David Trudgett <wpo...@zeta.org.au.nospamplease> wrote:
>
> > The only legitimate communism is free, anarchistic
> > communism in which people participate free of any coercion.
>
> Does this exist anywhere in any group larger than a hippie commune?

NOTE: I only intend this for purposes of information. Evaluate with
appropriate skepticism.

There are corporations (which are internally command economies anyway)
where people try to achieve democratic ideals while operating in some
kind of market. Semco is one example, explicitly influenced by Bakunin,
where the CEO is regularly invited to give talks at Harvard Business
School... South America is starting to have a lot of examples. You
might watch Argentina and Venezuela.

For a system worked out in surprising detail, there's Parecon. The gist
is of a decentralized, democratic economy, avoiding both the
monopolization of decisionmaking (problems of Marxist/Leninist
countries) and of scarce productive resources (contemporary societies).
http://www.zmag.org/parecon/indexnew.htm

Contrary to the TINA philosophy (There is No Alternative to two kinds
of economies), they enumerate about 36, which they distill into 4 broad
types.


> All those I've seen (and there were three within about 10 km radius of
> the farm I grew up on in the 60's and 70's and several of my teachers
> and some of my school friends lived in them) had one strong and
> charismatic leader. I don't think that scales becuase eventualyl the
> leader needs several layers of deputies and soon enough the deputies
> become thugs.

To be fair, the same is true for my own country's republic. We have
"leaders" selected not by issues but by "personal qualities," like does
the one guy sound like someone you'd have a beer with, or is the other
guy too snobbish. We have specially-crafted town meetings where the
leader explains the importance of following him, and of accepting his
deputies' actions. Some say the leaders' elections are run by the same
people who sell toothpaste on TV.

Last night, I was listening to a serious libertarian, a real
right-winger in charge of the Mises Institute, reaching out to the left
wing because in modern days the left is sounder than the right. (Lew
Rockwell.)
http://shout.lbo-talk.org/lbo/RadioArchive/2005/05_01_13.mp3

Tayssir

Eli Gottlieb

unread,
Jan 18, 2006, 11:47:17 AM1/18/06
to
Tayssir John Gabbour wrote:
> Bruce Hoult wrote:
>
>>In article <m34q42z...@rr.trudgett>,
>> David Trudgett <wpo...@zeta.org.au.nospamplease> wrote:
>>
>>
>>>The only legitimate communism is free, anarchistic
>>>communism in which people participate free of any coercion.
>>
>>Does this exist anywhere in any group larger than a hippie commune?
>
>
> NOTE: I only intend this for purposes of information. Evaluate with
> appropriate skepticism.
>
> There are corporations (which are internally command economies anyway)
> where people try to achieve democratic ideals while operating in some
> kind of market. Semco is one example, explicitly influenced by Bakunin,
> where the CEO is regularly invited to give talks at Harvard Business
> School... South America is starting to have a lot of examples. You
> might watch Argentina and Venezuela.
>

I think we call those cooperatives.

http://www.mondragon.mcc.es/

That's the web address for a rather large and successful bunch of them.

Ulrich Hobelmann

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Jan 18, 2006, 12:19:29 PM1/18/06
to
Eli Gottlieb wrote:
> I think we call those cooperatives.
>
> http://www.mondragon.mcc.es/
>
> That's the web address for a rather large and successful bunch of them.

I don't see what cooperatives have to do with fighting capitalism or
establishing socialism. Cooperatives are a great tool available in any
free system, and the less regulations there are, the easier it's for
them to (co)operate.

Cooperation is both a human need, and it's what helps us to be stronger,
even against other powerful entities.

At least Germany has an explicit company form called Genossenschaft
(like "comradeship"), which is like a share-owned company, but all
members, regardless of how much capital they provide to the cooperative,
have the same voting rights (but they earn profit according to their
capital share, IIRC).

Many farmers are organized in these cooperatives AFAIK, and also some banks.

Eli Gottlieb

unread,
Jan 18, 2006, 1:20:37 PM1/18/06
to
Ulrich Hobelmann wrote:
> Eli Gottlieb wrote:
>
>> I think we call those cooperatives.
>>
>> http://www.mondragon.mcc.es/
>>
>> That's the web address for a rather large and successful bunch of them.
>
>
> I don't see what cooperatives have to do with fighting capitalism or
> establishing socialism. Cooperatives are a great tool available in any
> free system, and the less regulations there are, the easier it's for
> them to (co)operate.
>
> Cooperation is both a human need, and it's what helps us to be stronger,
> even against other powerful entities.
>
> At least Germany has an explicit company form called Genossenschaft
> (like "comradeship"), which is like a share-owned company, but all
> members, regardless of how much capital they provide to the cooperative,
> have the same voting rights (but they earn profit according to their
> capital share, IIRC).
>
> Many farmers are organized in these cooperatives AFAIK, and also some
> banks.
>
That German form is what is now called a cooperative, the explicit form
of voting rights and profit sharing. They have nothing to do with
Communism or socialism because they are one of the few known and viable
Third Ways.

Ulrich Hobelmann

unread,
Jan 18, 2006, 1:32:55 PM1/18/06
to
Eli Gottlieb wrote:
> That German form is what is now called a cooperative, the explicit form
> of voting rights and profit sharing. They have nothing to do with
> Communism or socialism because they are one of the few known and viable
> Third Ways.

It's not a third way. In a capitalist (i.e. mostly unregulated) world
it's merely one form for people to cooperate, there being many many
others. People can cooperate informally, by pooling capital into a
shareholders' company, or into a cooperative. All of these are just
options. The system is capitalism.

Restricted capitalism, like in Germany, still has these explicit forms
of cooperation (call them black and white), while others (the gray ones)
aren't really possible because of our rules (for instance, if I'd like
to pay someone for some sort of cooperation (say, because the other
person does more work on it than me), I legally can't, because I would
have to obey all kinds of regulations and pay taxes in addition to our
deal; of course most people still do it, which is good for both sides,
but it doesn't give the government money).

Eli Gottlieb

unread,
Jan 18, 2006, 2:05:18 PM1/18/06
to
Ulrich Hobelmann wrote:
> Eli Gottlieb wrote:
>
>> That German form is what is now called a cooperative, the explicit
>> form of voting rights and profit sharing. They have nothing to do
>> with Communism or socialism because they are one of the few known and
>> viable Third Ways.
>
>
> It's not a third way. In a capitalist (i.e. mostly unregulated) world
> it's merely one form for people to cooperate, there being many many
> others. People can cooperate informally, by pooling capital into a
> shareholders' company, or into a cooperative. All of these are just
> options. The system is capitalism.
>
> Restricted capitalism, like in Germany, still has these explicit forms
> of cooperation (call them black and white), while others (the gray ones)
> aren't really possible because of our rules (for instance, if I'd like
> to pay someone for some sort of cooperation (say, because the other
> person does more work on it than me), I legally can't, because I would
> have to obey all kinds of regulations and pay taxes in addition to our
> deal; of course most people still do it, which is good for both sides,
> but it doesn't give the government money).
>
The emergent properties of cooperatives (especially worker cooperatives,
abolishing the old distinction between labor and capital) are different
from the emergent properties of Pure Capitalist markets, especially when
you start forming cooperatives of cooperatives and things like that.

PCL

unread,
Jan 18, 2006, 2:34:14 PM1/18/06
to
"Eli Gottlieb" <eligo...@gmail.com> wrote in message
news:Ojwzf.120560$XC4....@twister.nyroc.rr.com...

> The emergent properties of cooperatives (especially worker cooperatives,
> abolishing the old distinction between labor and capital) are different
> from the emergent properties of Pure Capitalist markets, especially when
> you start forming cooperatives of cooperatives and things like that.

On the lighter side and in the best spirit of the metaobject protocol, these
"cooperatives of cooperatives" could then be legitimately characterized as
"meta-cooperatives", which Lisp (to remind everyone what this newsgroup is
supposed to be all about) can simulate very well, as the premier paradigm of
abstraction. Of course, because in reality there IS a big difference between
labor and capital (otherwise every hawker would be a millionaire after a few
years) the financial failure of instances of this meta-class probably give
an altogether new extension to the semantics of the term .... "closure".

Chill out guys, this is a Common Lisp newsgroup. Get a life!

Panos C. Lekkas


Eli Gottlieb

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Jan 18, 2006, 2:42:06 PM1/18/06
to
Except that well-formed worker coops (Mondragon, Home Care Associates (I
think that's their name) in NYC) tend to succeed financially and pay
nice wages to their worker-owners.

Eli Gottlieb

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Jan 18, 2006, 2:42:29 PM1/18/06
to
Addendum to post: Life gotten.

BR

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Jan 18, 2006, 3:30:48 PM1/18/06
to
Tayssir John Gabbour wrote:

> NOTE: I only intend this for purposes of information. Evaluate with
> appropriate skepticism.

A strong and educated public goes a long way towards making a good
socioeconomic system work. If the people are weak, then how can anything
lasting be built on top?

Eli Gottlieb

unread,
Jan 18, 2006, 3:45:27 PM1/18/06
to

A truly strong and educated public needs nothing built on top, they
build for themselves. However, most people tend to incorrectly define
"strong and educated".

David Trudgett

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Jan 18, 2006, 7:55:13 PM1/18/06
to

Hi Bruce!

Bruce Hoult <br...@hoult.org> writes:

> In article <m34q42z...@rr.trudgett>,
> David Trudgett <wpo...@zeta.org.au.nospamplease> wrote:
>
>> Or perhaps it is you does not understand that there are people who
>> define 'communism' differently from the authoritarian and violent
>> agenda promulgated by Marx, Lenin, Stalin et al.
>
> I'm not sure that Marx and Lenin *intended* authoritarian and violent
> results, although those were the natural consequences of their
> philosophy.

I believe you are correct in one sense; and that sense is that Marx (I
don't know about Lenin, who of course, unlike Marx, was a
revolutionary[*]) most likely did not intend violence as a necessary
outcome or ingredient of his philosophy. I assume that, like a
majority of people, he would have preferred a world without
violence.

[*] In the sense of actively taking part in a revolution.

On the other hand, I am loathe to insult a man who has no come back
that he did not have the intelligence to know what the consequences of
trying to implement his ideas in practice would entail. I see no
reason to believe that Marx was a pacifist or philosophically or
pragmatically opposed to violence; therefore, I can only assume that
he was not in principle opposed to the use of violence in implementing
his revolutionary ideas. On the contrary, he seems to have been of the
belief that, at a minimum, an organised and violent revolution would
be necessary on account of his other belief that the ruling class
would not give up their position of privilege voluntarily.


>
>
>> According to your view there could be no such thing as anarchistic
>> communism, but there is, which shows that your view is not entirely
>> complete or balanced as to what 'communism' is exactly.
>
> There is? In theory or in practise?

Christianity, some say, is a theory that has never been put into
practice. Of course, that is not entirely true, as many individuals
and communities throughout the ages have come a lot closer to the
Christian ideal than, say, present day mainstream Churches of all
flavours. Which is to say that, when looking at the present
disgraceful state of Churches, Christianity is no more than a distant
theory to be discussed in the abstract by theologians. Yet
Christianity exists.

Communism can be regarded in a similar light. State communism, making
necessary use, as it does, of violence, is abhorrent and far from any
true spirit of brotherhood. Yet voluntary and free communism can exist
in small and large communities if they are simply left alone. So, yes,
free communism does exist despite communist states, in the same sense
that Christianity exists despite Christian Churches.

As an aside, although I personally lean towards some of the best
ideals of communism, I am not an ideologue, I don't agree with much of
Marxist analysis, and I believe that any free association and
organisation of people without hierarchical power structures is
legitimate. Hunter gatherer societies, for example, though hardly
communist, were also a good idea at the time and, at least in the case
of Australian Aborigines, largely free of "power" hierarchy long
before the word 'anarchism' was ever thought of.


>
>
>> If you define 'communism' as 'authoritarian communism', as brought to
>> you by the great "communists" of the past, then it is indeed an
>> abomination. Social structures built upon authoritarian principles,
>> coercion and oppression (such as our society, by the way) are
>> illegitimate.
>
> I'm with you there.

As are an increasing number, I believe.


>
>
>> The only legitimate communism is free, anarchistic
>> communism in which people participate free of any coercion.
>
> Does this exist anywhere in any group larger than a hippie commune?

Does it have to, though? Certainly, 'communism' and 'state power' do
not go hand in hand. So there will never be a communist state, same as
there will never be a Christian Church based on a power hierarchy.


>
> All those I've seen (and there were three within about 10 km radius of
> the farm I grew up on in the 60's and 70's and several of my teachers
> and some of my school friends lived in them) had one strong and
> charismatic leader. I don't think that scales becuase eventualyl the
> leader needs several layers of deputies and soon enough the deputies
> become thugs.

There will always be individuals with leadership charisma. That, at
least, appears to be a genuine human trait, as does the propensity of
individuals to give weight to the desires of a leader figure. Christ
himself was a leader by all appearances, yet his deputies did not
become thugs, I think... at least not straight away... :-)

Thuggery and the abuse of one's influence over others will be problems
that will never entirely go away, I think. Unless we become radically
different from the way we are now.

Cheers,

David

--

David Trudgett
http://www.zeta.org.au/~wpower/

Problems cannot be solved
at the same level of awareness
that created them.

-- Albert Einstein

drewc

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Jan 18, 2006, 9:13:17 PM1/18/06
to
Eli Gottlieb <eligo...@gmail.com> writes:


>> There are corporations (which are internally command economies
>> anyway)
>> where people try to achieve democratic ideals while operating in some
>> kind of market. Semco is one example, explicitly influenced by Bakunin,
>> where the CEO is regularly invited to give talks at Harvard Business
>> School... South America is starting to have a lot of examples. You
>> might watch Argentina and Venezuela.
>>
>
> I think we call those cooperatives.
>
> http://www.mondragon.mcc.es/
>
> That's the web address for a rather large and successful bunch of them.

And a little closer to being on-topic, Check out http://tech.coop ,
which may not be paticularly large, but is a democratically run
business which provides Technical Services (including common lisp
programming) to its member/owners.

The Tech Co-op one of many emerging 'Services Co-operatives', which is
a mix between a Consumer and a Workers co-op. In our case, the
explicit goal of the co-op is simply to provide our members with the
best possible technical services. Obviously, to provide these services
it helps to have happy, well fed workers. And to achieve that, we need
happy, well serviced consumers. Co-operation :)

Our members trust us, because they own us. All our finacials are open
book, and like all co-operatives our board is elected by the members
(one member, one vote).

To me, being a part of a co-operative allows a nice mix of doing well,
and doing right. And i get to code in common lisp ... doesn't get much
better than that!

(sorry for the plug)

--
drewc at tech dot coop

Eli Gottlieb

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Jan 18, 2006, 9:24:08 PM1/18/06
to
Great, now I'm jealous.

Nathan Baum

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Jan 19, 2006, 12:27:13 AM1/19/06
to
Adam Connor wrote:
> Just a post I saw that I thought was interesting:
> http://blogs.msdn.com/sriram/archive/2006/01/15/lisp_is_sin.aspx

Something I noted is that he praises Scheme for having a large library
in the form of the SRFIs, but at the same time praises Scheme for having
such a short specification.

The R5RS and SRFIs combined are, uncompressed, about half the size of
the Common Lisp HyperSpec. Considering that much of the pages of the
HyperSpec contain duplicated matter that wouldn't be present in the
printed version, I compressed them to remove as much of the duplicated
material as possible.

After compression, the HyperSpec is only 11% larger than the 'full'
specification for Scheme. So it isn't at all clear to me that Scheme's
reputation as a 'small' language is entirely justified, if Common Lisp
is to be considered a hulking monstrosity.

> 1) it appears to be easier for average developers to get started in
> Ruby

I'd agree that it's probably easier for an 'average developer' (by
which, I assume, you mean an 'average C++/Java developer') to get
started in Ruby.

But is that relevant?

If your non-profit institution is in the business (so to speak) of
taking in average C++/Java developers and turning them into either
skilled Lisp developers or skilled Ruby developers, then it would make
sense to opt for Ruby.

Contrariwise, if your non-profit institution is in the business of
making and/or using software, then it would make sense to opt for Lisp.
Why? Because skilled Lisp developers are more productive than skilled
Ruby developers.

Yes, this is a broad generalisation. As broad as yours? I would say no.

> 2) the price is right; as a non-profit institution, commercial Lisps
> seem kind of expensive.

This is patent nonsense.

Unless you are compelled to pay for your software when it could be
obtained for free -- which would be a curious policy indeed for a
non-profit institution -- you can simply use a free Lisp.

This is like complaining that Evian is expensive when you have a well in
your back garden.

I have heard that non-free Lisps do a much better job of optimisation
than free Lisps, I have neither the funds nor the inclination to test
the claim, so I'll just assume it's true. But that doesn't matter for
several reasons.

1. I know from experience that free lisps are 'fast enough' for all bu