Python advocacy

Alex Martelli aleaxit at
Fri Dec 15 08:24:27 EST 2000

<jschmitt at> wrote in message news:91bln3$lmr$1 at
> I just read this good article about Perl advocacy.  I think it applies
> to Python equally.  I found the link mentioned from /. this morning.
> i
> hate advocacy

Very interesting (for some reason, a not-yet-Pythonista Perl-using
coworker forwarded me an e-mail copy too -- wonder if he's trying
to tell me something?-).  Highly recommended reading for anybody
interested in really understanding why human beings are this way,
Matt Ridley, "The Origins of Virtue".  There's a long detailed
summary at,
but you wouldn't be doing yourself a favor if you limited your
reading to those 23 pages -- Ridley writes very well, and argues
persuasively; get the original!

But Python is well-placed here.  The BDFL was so clever as to
insert in the language the 'print >> file' construct, so we all
have ONE horrible wart in the language to castigate mercilessly,
thereby making our praise-to-high-heavens of every other aspect
of the language much more credible.  This is called the 'scapegoat
maneuver', and it's great high strategy in advocacy contexts,
which several well-known software firms have pioneered (having
in their product lines at least ONE product so unreservedly bad
that even their most rabid salespeople cannot fail to trash
them, thereby gaining customers' trust for their praise of
the _other_ products, the ones they really mean to sell).

Makes me wonder why Larry Wall didn't think to include at least
ONE strangeness, wart, or inconsistency *somewhere* in Perl...
thus making it so boringly perfect and un-idiosyncratic as to
leave its advocates without a suitable 'scapegoat feature'!


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