Is LISP dying? 
Author Message
 Is LISP dying?

Quote:


> > I think that Lisp and its
> > relatives are much more lively than Forth since they still have
> > recently revised textbooks for sale.

> Not only are there textbooks that cover Lisp and Scheme, but they are some
> of the finest computer science books I've ever read.  Three that come to
> minds are

> _Paradigms of Artificial Intelligence Programming_ by Peter Norvig

> _The Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs_ by Abelson and Sussman

> _On Lisp_ by Paul Graham (and his _ANSI Common Lisp_ is nice too)

> Leo Brodie's books got me very e{*filter*}d about Forth, even though I've still
> never been able to use to language for more than a few smallish projects.
> Just picking up _Thinking Forth_ from my bookshelf gets me seriously
> wondering why I'm not programming in the language more (but maybe that's
> another story).

> The last few Forth books in print have been useful and well-written, but
> not inspirational.  The introduction to Julian Noble's "Programmers
> Hornbook" (which may not be the correct name) that he posted several years
> ago, made me very eager to read the rest of the book.  Now _that's_ the
> kind of book I'd love to find on the shelf at a local shop.

> James

Thanks for that encomium. One heart attack and the advent of GUI Forths
have made it necessary to somewhat rewrite the book. If I could get
out from under a heavy teaching load and a lot of consulting work, I
would do this. My collaborator, Brad Rodriguez, would also have to re-
write the parts about interfacing to ports, etc.

Speaking of the local bookstore, I was horrified to discover today
that Computer Literacy in Washington, DC seems to be defunct. Anyone
have news from the West Coast?

--
Julian V. Noble

"Elegance is for tailors!"    -- Ludwig Boltzmann



Mon, 07 Jan 2002 03:00:00 GMT  
 Is LISP dying?

| The GNU C/C++ compiler is carefully designed to prove a political
| opinion.  Those who created it know that coprighting software and keeping
| source code secret is an impediment to the use of computers.  They turned
| the practice of commercial software companies on its head.  After many
| years of work, these people are finally getting their point across.
| Eventually we'll see the only software worth using comes with
| unencumbered source code.

  yeah, and written in languages and sub-languages so hard to understand
  that it doesn't matter that the source is free, or written in special
  dialects that can only be compiled by the compiler itself, or written
  using so much magic that nobody dares touch it, however open it is.

  remember, if people are going to get paid to offer commercial support
  instead of for the product or the license to the product, they'll make
  sure you need the support and that the authors are the only people who
  can make any useful contributions.

| And nobody has tried enough possibilities yet to find the ones that have
| lasting value.

  why are you so sure abou this?  it is in the best interest of people who
  desire users to make something _appear_ new, and if you need programmers
  to get e{*filter*}d about your new free software project, what better way to
  get them interested than to re-package some old stuff in maringally new
  ways that can't be used with the rest of the old stuff?  take a good look
  at what the industry accepts as "invention" these days, and shudder.
  free software will not change this, it will only redirect the efforts to
  and the means of appearing new and attractive.

  the problem with all these fancy predictions about how new technology and
  a slight change in licensing terms will change the world is that they
  ignore the mediocre people and anyone out to make a quick buck.  and the
  really the sad thing is that you don't allow mediocre people and quick
  bucks, you won't get the system booted.  most of the hype about what will
  happen in the future of free software and free access to everything is
  based on the pipe dream that in the future, the stupid people have ceased
  to provide the bread and butter of a society, and only smart, idealistic
  people remain.  but we still need people to farm the land, dig wells,
  keep all the electric wires and fibers operational, and take care of the
  refuse of human society, and they will want computers, too.  as long as
  this mass market of non-programmers exists, there will be providers who
  think in terms of units sold.  even with his shadowy soul and psychotic
  paranoid destructiveness, Bill Gates has at least got that part right.

#:Erik



Mon, 07 Jan 2002 03:00:00 GMT  
 Is LISP dying?

Quote:


> | The GNU C/C++ compiler is carefully designed to prove a political
> | opinion.  Those who created it know that coprighting software and keeping
> | source code secret is an impediment to the use of computers.  They turned
> | the practice of commercial software companies on its head.  After many
> | years of work, these people are finally getting their point across.
> | Eventually we'll see the only software worth using comes with
> | unencumbered source code.

>   yeah, and written in languages and sub-languages so hard to understand
>   that it doesn't matter that the source is free, or written in special
>   dialects that can only be compiled by the compiler itself, or written
>   using so much magic that nobody dares touch it, however open it is.

How is this different from closed source "proprietary" stuff?  It's
of potential value to have all the warts exposed- at least you know
what you're getting (or at least its possible to know).

Quote:

>   remember, if people are going to get paid to offer commercial support
>   instead of for the product or the license to the product, they'll make
>   sure you need the support and that the authors are the only people who
>   can make any useful contributions.

Only if they can control the source.  I'm not saying what you propose
is impossible, only somewhat less likely relative to closed systems.
If the source is open, a wrecked architecture can more easily be
reborn because none of the clean-room reverse engineering foolishness
is required.

Quote:

> | And nobody has tried enough possibilities yet to find the ones that have
> | lasting value.

>   why are you so sure abou this?  it is in the best interest of people who
>   desire users to make something _appear_ new, and if you need programmers
>   to get e{*filter*}d about your new free software project, what better way to
>   get them interested than to re-package some old stuff in maringally new
>   ways that can't be used with the rest of the old stuff?  take a good look
>   at what the industry accepts as "invention" these days, and shudder.
>   free software will not change this, it will only redirect the efforts to
>   and the means of appearing new and attractive.

But again, if the software architecture is open its more likely the
Emperor's new clothes will be detected or not.  We should be careful
of talking too much about the lack of progress/creativity- I remember
in the 1980s some columnist or other said all the applications had
been written; we had word processors, spreadsheets and database apps-
what else was there?

Quote:

>   the problem with all these fancy predictions about how new technology and
>   a slight change in licensing terms will change the world is that they

I don't think the particular licensing terms are worth a hill of beans
in themselves.  I believe the significance of the open source stuff is
in the mass opening of apps to public scrutiny and input.  It
certainly won't prevent the darker aspects of human nature from taking
advantage, but it allows people to choose their poison.

Quote:
>   ignore the mediocre people and anyone out to make a quick buck.  and the
>   really the sad thing is that you don't allow mediocre people and quick
>   bucks, you won't get the system booted.  most of the hype about what will
>   happen in the future of free software and free access to everything is

I agree its hyped at this point, but "public" open source isn't but a
year or so old.  Once the "Next Thing" comes around, I think things
will settle down a little- and this movement will assume its place in
the ever more complicated computer infrastructure we're surrounding
ourselves with.

Quote:
>   based on the pipe dream that in the future, the stupid people have ceased
>   to provide the bread and butter of a society, and only smart, idealistic
>   people remain.  but we still need people to farm the land, dig wells,
>   keep all the electric wires and fibers operational, and take care of the
>   refuse of human society, and they will want computers, too.  as long as
>   this mass market of non-programmers exists, there will be providers who
>   think in terms of units sold.  

The presumption of open source being the End All has about as much
weight as Java being the End All- mere line noise.  When Java was new,
it was the next generation, now its more like just another language with
its own tradeoffs.  

Quote:
> even with his shadowy soul and psychotic
>   paranoid destructiveness, Bill Gates has at least got that part right.

I hope Bill tastes ashes seeing the industry slip from his unbridled
control- drawing away just out of reach ever further the harder he
tries to grab it again.

Gregm



Mon, 07 Jan 2002 03:00:00 GMT  
 Is LISP dying?
[snip]

Quote:
> I remember
>in the 1980s some columnist or other said all the applications had
>been written; we had word processors, spreadsheets and database apps-
>what else was there?

I remember a program from the mid '80s called "The Last One". It appeared to
be a kind of applications generator and was advertised as "the only program
you will ever need". The hype must have worked because a year or so later
the same company published "The Last One - Version 2" :(

Philip.
Member of FIG-UK  http://www.users.zetnet.co.uk/aborigine/forth.htm



Tue, 08 Jan 2002 03:00:00 GMT  
 Is LISP dying?

Quote:

> And if I may be indelicate, fifty years ago the world had a *big*
> disincentive to assigning different values to people put in front of it.

You are makeing the same fault these people and the writers of the
declaration of independence did, you equate unequality with unequal
values. This lead to many discriminations (e.g. women are obviously
unequal to men, and therefore it took quite a while to get them the same
rights. Same as black/indian people obviously were unequal to white
people, and therefore completely left out of the original DoI, by
declaring "all white men are born equal". Hm, me thinks they didn't have
a midwife in the team ;-).

I also beg to not depend on the "try hard enough". There are simply
people out there that can try as hard as they can, and still cannot
achieve something that seems normal to the ordinary people (handicap).
It should not reduce their value.

BTW: The idea of equal value of all humans is originated by Mencius, a
follower of Confuzius. Mencius assumes that humans are good by nature
and get bad by outer {*filter*}, and he derives the equal value of all men
by weighting their (potential) virtue. One cannot lessen the ethical
principles Confuzius and his followers have worked out, and that came to
our culture during the age of enlightenment. Equal value doesn't result
in boring equality, it just requires that you should use the same rules
for everybody.

--
Bernd Paysan
"If you want it done right, you have to do it yourself"
http://www.*-*-*.com/ ~paysan/



Tue, 08 Jan 2002 03:00:00 GMT  
 Is LISP dying?

Quote:
Clemens Heitzinger  writes:

> > You are makeing the same fault these people and the writers of the
> > declaration of independence did, you equate unequality with unequal
> > values. This lead to many discriminations (e.g. women are obviously
> > unequal to men, and therefore it took quite a while to get them the sam=
> e
> > rights. Same as black/indian people obviously were unequal to white
> > people, and therefore completely left out of the original DoI, by
> > declaring "all white men are born equal". Hm, me thinks they didn't hav=
> e
> > a midwife in the team ;-).

> Coincidentally, I have a dictionary lying in front of me, so let's
> have a look...

> I don't know which "original DoI" you are referring to, do you have a
> reference?  The one printed in Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged
> Dictionary of the English Language reads as follows:

> "The Declaration of Independence
> In Congress, July 4, 1776

> [...]

> We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created
> equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable =

> Rights [...]"

> And while we are at it,

> "man [...] 4. a human being; a person (usually used in contexts in
> which {*filter*} distinctions are not relevant) [...]"

> Yours,
> Clemens -- sorry for being offtopic.
> -- =

If you hadn't posted the correction, I would have. The Declaration
of Independence, one of the two foundation documents of the American
experiment, refers neither to race nor--given the vagaries of
the English language--to sex.

The original US Constitution, to its disgrace, considers "persons born
in a condition of servitude" (I think that is how it is phrased--I
don't have my copy nearby) equal to 3/5 of free persons for the purpose
of proportional representation in the House of Representatives. But it
also makes no reference to race.

There are many myths, originating with J.-J. Rousseau, about the mis-
treatment of Native Americans by the Europeans. Actually, the Indians
killed at least 10 for 1 in attacks on settlers. Most loss of Indian
population took place through disease, not warfare. That was certainly
unfortunate, to say the least, but it is easy to forget that smallpox,
diphtheria, chicken pox and whooping cough--not to mention cholera,
typhus and typhoid fever--killed lots of Europeans in America. Medicine
just wasn't very good at that time, and the mortality rates for Euros
(from those diseases) stood at close to 50%. The main reason the Euro-
peans dominated the Americas had to do with their agricultural lifestyle.
Agriculture permits much higher population densities than hunting.

--
Julian V. Noble

"Elegance is for tailors!"    -- Ludwig Boltzmann



Thu, 10 Jan 2002 03:00:00 GMT  
 Is LISP dying?

Quote:


> > There are many myths, originating with J.-J. Rousseau, about the mis-
> > treatment of Native Americans by the Europeans. Actually, the Indians
> > killed at least 10 for 1 in attacks on settlers.

> Yeah, shocking. These people come and take the Indians' land,
> and the Indians have the *temerity* to object and even to *gasp*
> fight the people who invaded their country. Disgraceful!

> --

> sig under construction

In at least one case, the Indians contracted their smallpox from
infected blankets donated to them for the purpose. Not the first
instance of germ warfare, but an early one.

Jerry
--
Engineering is the art       |      Let's talk about what
of making what you want      |      you need; you may see
from things you can get.     |      how to do without it.
---------------------------------------------------------



Thu, 10 Jan 2002 03:00:00 GMT  
 Is LISP dying?


Quote:
> Yeah, shocking. These people come and take the
> Indians' land, and the Indians have the *temerity*
> to object and even to *gasp* fight the people who
> invaded their country. Disgraceful!

Well what do you expect from savages?  Good thing god-fearing
Christians came in to show them the way!  We all know that anything
drenched in Christianity automatically is blessed with love and
compassion.

(whoops-- off topic-- better recover...)

Damn those C savages.  They're hardly dealing with any meaningful
abstraction at all.  Good thing we [Lisp|Forth] fans can sweep in and
show them the way.  We all know that anything with [Lisp|Forth] in it
is automatically better.



Thu, 10 Jan 2002 03:00:00 GMT  
 Is LISP dying?

Quote:

> There are many myths, originating with J.-J. Rousseau, about the mis-
> treatment of Native Americans by the Europeans. Actually, the Indians
> killed at least 10 for 1 in attacks on settlers.

Yeah, shocking. These people come and take the Indians' land,
and the Indians have the *temerity* to object and even to *gasp*
fight the people who invaded their country. Disgraceful!

--

sig under construction



Fri, 11 Jan 2002 03:00:00 GMT  
 Is LISP dying?
On 26 Jul 1999 01:10:40 +0100, Gareth McCaughan

Quote:

>> There are many myths, originating with J.-J. Rousseau, about the mis-
>> treatment of Native Americans by the Europeans. Actually, the Indians
>> killed at least 10 for 1 in attacks on settlers.

>Yeah, shocking. These people come and take the Indians' land,
>and the Indians have the *temerity* to object and even to *gasp*
>fight the people who invaded their country. Disgraceful!

The point is that Rousseau's position involves myths and propaganda, much
as later positions involve myths and propaganda, much as the positions
promoted today involve myths and propaganda.

In order to get to the root of the issues, you have to at least *try*
to strip off the propaganda.
--
"If you were plowing a field, which would you rather use?  Two strong oxen
 or 1024 chickens?"
-- Seymour Cray



Fri, 11 Jan 2002 03:00:00 GMT  
 Is LISP dying?

Quote:

(snip)
> The Declaration of Independence, one of the two foundation
> documents of the American experiment, refers neither to
> race nor--given the vagaries of the English language--to sex.

Off topic, but I am finally provoked to reply.  You have to consider
"all men are created equal" in the context of a world where your
value could be determined by who your parents were.  If they were
serfs, you were a serf.  If they were nobles, you were nobles, and
this God-ordained outcome could not be changed by anybody.  The revolutionary
feature of the declaration was to deny this.

Quote:

> There are many myths, originating with J.-J. Rousseau, about the mis-
> treatment of Native Americans by the Europeans. Actually, the Indians
> killed at least 10 for 1 in attacks on settlers.

I would vigorously deny this.  The Iroquois were subjected to systematic
genocide (more kindly, scorched earth warfare). during the revolutionary
war.  Their word for US president translates as "village burner".

The Cherokee were moved to Oklahoma under the most incredibly inhumane
conditions that killed thousands in defiance of a supreme court order
in their favor.  Etcetra et cetra ad nauseam.

Quote:
> Most loss of Indian population took place through disease, not warfare.

True (as far as we know).

Quote:
>That was certainly unfortunate, to say the least,

It was also in at least some cases deliberate.  Lord Amherst is notorious
for advocating during what the US calls the "French and Indian" war
spreading of small pox as a battle tactic, and
there is good documentation that this was done every now and again
then and since.

(snip)

Quote:
> The main reason the Europeans dominated the Americas had to do with
> their agricultural lifestyle.
> Agriculture permits much higher population densities than hunting.

Also crucial was the fact that it supported a military technology
(mass armies with firearms who could conduct a sustained campaign)
that the natives had no way of matching.  They could exist only at
the sufferance of the white man, who in many cases really believed
"the only good Indian is a dead Indian".

War in North America on both sides was much more reminiscent of
the Balkans than anything that occurred in Western Europe at the
time.
   -LenZ-

Quote:

> --
> Julian V. Noble

> "Elegance is for tailors!"      -- Ludwig Boltzmann



Fri, 11 Jan 2002 03:00:00 GMT  
 Is LISP dying?



   :> And if I may be indelicate, fifty years ago the world had a *big*
   :> disincentive to assigning different values to people put in front
   :> of it.

   :You are makeing the same fault these people and the writers of the
   :declaration of independence did, you equate unequality with unequal
   :values.

Unfortunately you snipped the bit where I drew that exact distinction,
between inequality and unequal worth. What I am saying is that this is
the way the world tends to work, and believe me, I have ample reason for
saying that this is the case. The real world, real human nature, is not
and never will be some kind of Objectivist utopia, until humanity is
able to grow up and see the distinction. *That* is what I am saying.

   :Equal value doesn't result in boring equality, it
   :just requires that you should use the same rules for everybody.

Precisely, but just as you propose that most humans are rather thick, I
will state that most humans are not capable of dealing with difference
to such a degree as awarding it equal value; they will assign weight to
those most like themselves.

I got quite the opposite sense from your post, and from what you have
said on the issue before, interestingly; I thought you came across as
explicitly devaluing those who didn't have the neat "intelligence" skill
that some of us found almost as burdensome as convenient in our
schooldays. (Can you imagine growing up in an environment where being too
bright earns you contempt?)
--
the desk lisard     communa     time's taught the killing game herself

Net-Tamer V 1.11.2 - Test Drive



Fri, 11 Jan 2002 03:00:00 GMT  
 Is LISP dying?

Quote:

  ...

> I got quite the opposite sense from your post, and from what you have
> said on the issue before, interestingly; I thought you came across as
> explicitly devaluing those who didn't have the neat "intelligence" skill
> that some of us found almost as burdensome as convenient in our
> schooldays. (Can you imagine growing up in an environment where being too
> bright earns you contempt?)
> --
> the desk lisard     communa     time's taught the killing game herself

> Net-Tamer V 1.11.2 - Test Drive

Sure; I immagine that many of us did. "Nerd" was originally "knurd"
(drunk spelled backward), i.e. one of those who study instead of
partying. If you can't match them, despise them.

Jerry
--
Engineering is the art       |      Let's talk about what
of making what you want      |      you need; you may see
from things you can get.     |      how to do without it.
---------------------------------------------------------



Fri, 11 Jan 2002 03:00:00 GMT  
 
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