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The Art of Lisp and Writing (dreamsongs.com)
91 points by signa11 15 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 11 comments



I like the writing style and voice in this essay. I disagree with some of the assertions but I enjoyed my time reading, which doesn’t happen a lot with most tech-related essays.

I will say, however, that this paragraph felt like sour grapes:

> As examples, the scientific journal Guy Steele and I founded called Lisp and Symbolic Computation (LASC) had been renamed Higher-Order and Symbolic Computation (HOSC), and my primary scientific conference called Lisp and Functional Programming (L&FP) had been renamed the International Conference on Functional Programming (ICFP). I was discouraged for two reasons. One was that during the 1980s when functional programming researchers had few outlets, many of us Lispers kept the lights on at L&FP for them, and later when Lisp was on the decline, they shut the door. And the other is that this seemed to signal that my field of inquiry had been deleted by the academy.

All that’s changed is that Lisp isn’t primary anymore; they are both titled to allow other languages and other media to contribute to their respective focuses. Common Lisp is a good language but it’s not the final language nor even the final “programming medium”, so acting like it is artificially limits both Common Lisp users and future language designers who could all benefit from that cross-pollination.

Now maybe the change of names is shorthand for lisp actually being excluded from the journal and conference, which nullifies the above, but without doing any research at all lol, I doubt it.


Those other languages were able to contribute under the old names, when they couldn't publish elsewhere.

Where do the Lispers go now?


> Interestingly, the results of this optimization are well-described by Hoare's Dictum, often mistakenly attributed to Donald Knuth, which states

More interestingly, it is not clear at all that it's Hoares. [0] has a nice overview, and they conclude that it is indeed Knuths.

[0]: https://shreevatsa.wordpress.com/2008/05/16/premature-optimi...


"However this was the first time a bridge had displayed this type of pedestrian excited lateral motion."

The first time? It seems we are doomed to repeat the same mistakes in every generation.

Army officers have ordered troops to stop marching in step when going over bridges for a long time. :)

https://www.livescience.com/34608-break-stride-frequency-of-...


Mythbusters supposedly disproved this, I wonder if it could actually happen.


It was revisited by them and is now considered "plausible": https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MythBusters_(2004_season)#Epis...

There's a sign on the Albert Bridge in London commanding troops to break step: see https://www.londonremembers.com/memorials/albert-bridge-troo... , which refers to an actual bridge collapse: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broughton_Suspension_Bridge


> Scientists, though, perhaps because of their desire for accuracy and precision have had the worst luck of all in pinning down the truth of the universe. Philosophers and historians of science have pointed out and speculated on how scientific theories come and go—through refinement, through revolution, or even through anarchy.

This sentiment is common enough that Asimov wrote a refutation of it: https://hermiene.net/essays-trans/relativity_of_wrong.html


On the metaphor of maps and writing, there's a great book by Peter Turchi called Maps of the Imagination: The Writer as Cartographer that I heartily recommend: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1595340416/donhosek


I've owned this book for ages and never gotten around to reading it. I should correct that.




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