Deposing Dictators

Arthur Siegel ajs at ix.netcom.com
Mon Aug 13 04:30:10 CEST 2001


>Guido isn't obsessed with Carnegie Mellon.  We have years of reports from
>many Python users about the real-life consequences of division semantics,
>and VPython is notable primarily because they cared so much they forked
>Python to change it.  Should Guido ignore that?  Of course not.

Alice forked Python on the case sensitivity issue.

Where is the evidence on the VPython site that they have forked
Python on the div issue?  The docs specifically caution on the 
div semantics. Obviously unnecessary if they were using 
a patched Python.

So yes I was disturbed that Guido's original announcement
of the PEP0238 acceptance was a few sentences long, *at least *
one of which was wrong - the VPython fork bubbermeister.

And I am disturbed to hear Tim Peters repeat it as fact.

Worst case scenario we are talking about a student, warned
of Python's behavior, not being careful to apply what he knew.

Took him three hours to debug. Poor guy.  

I've fallen into every trap there is to fall into in learning 
Python.  Never thought to blame it on the language. 
Kind of thought the language was doing exactly what
the documentation says it would do, and *I* did something 
wrong.  The finding it, and fixing it - was invaluable.  

But you all know all this. 

I can't help feeling half the time that I am up against an 
entire community playing dumb.  

Tim responds to everything except my central point.  That 
there is an excellent basis to assert that if the universe
of Python was VPython, the change makes little sense.  

The benefit is superficial, the detriment deeper in
misdirecting students on the significance of the integer 
numeric type within the Numeric framework which 
is central to VPython. The unified model ain't here
yet - let's deal well with what we have. 

So yes, ratifying or accepting VPython's analysis 
to any extent was a mistake, IMO. Guido need not have
ignored it, but certainly need not to have given it more
weight than it deserves.  Obviously there is a difference
of opinion about what that is.  And I am certainly holding
my ground on my opinion. 

What VPython in no way addresses is the implications 
of the alternative. 

Now, quite belatedly,  they shall. 

All this BTW coming from someone who truly thinks
VPython, as a Python extension, is a marvelous piece
of work, and one of the most concrete contributions
to a CP4E initiative, however one may chose to define
that initiative, made to date. 
 
ART





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