I come to praise .join, not to bury it...

François Pinard pinard at iro.umontreal.ca
Fri Mar 30 04:11:23 CEST 2001

[Alex Martelli]

> Somebody who's unable to do anything but talk of aesthetics when
> discussing a choice in the architecture of a software component is simply
> not contributing to the discussion.  It looks good to you, it looks
> bad to him, it looks indifferent to her, yawn, great debate, now let's
> get beyond this to the REAL meat of the issue, please -- the technical
> implications of this, that, or the other choice in a specific matter.

I just want to emphasize, as others replied already, that aesthetics (or
better said in this precise context, legibility and understandability) *is*
real meat.  Consider that Python is art turned into technique :-).  By being
technical for the only sake of it, we are escaping something important.

> If you _can't_ get down to concrete specifics, then either you're not
> investing enough time & energy to contribute (in which case, staying
> out of a debate WOULD be a nice matter of courtesy)

Sorry if I'm looking impolite to you, then (:-).  I still think that minor
contributions, and even opinions, should not be merely or wholly dismissed
because their author is not available enough to write and sustain a PEP!

> IF the huge investment of time and energy doesn't faze you [...] striving
> to help others articulate their objections, in great detail, by first
> laying out in just as much details my reason for NOT objecting at all
> to the architecture Guido has chosen for .join; it won't of course have
> any direct repercussion on how Python behaves in the matter, but it MAY
> have positive implications on technical growth of the people involved,
> and thus, very indirectly, on future efforts on their part).

I'm not trying to systematically argue, here, but yet, I would like to
counter-weight a tiny bit the attitude which is depicted above.  Investing
a lot of energy into a project undoubtedly helps someone to develop more
complex and structured opinions, and is often a good step towards acquiring
more competence.  However, the amount of work invested does not necessarily
guarantee competence, and someone may mislead himself into dubious tracks
for quite a long while.  I presume we all know people that did such mistakes.

Huge investment of work is never a complete guarantee of being right, and
simple remarks from casual users are not necessarily wrong, even if they
do not show commitment to spoil all their sweat and blood arguing with you.

> it _still_ boils down to aesthetics being AT BEST a mental and verbal
> shorthand to avoid the considerable investment required to articulate
> the concrete underlying realities in detail.

The scheme is usual, to me at least.  It takes a tremendous amount of
energy for me to argue with people which are already set on an idea, and
even after having exhausted myself, I have no guarantee at all that any
progress will result of all that expense.  After many years, I learned
how to spare myself a bit better.  Yet, I still do not accept, for one,
to hear that my opinion is not worth being listened, just because I'm not
ready to fight hard for it.

> AT WORST (and, I suspect, more often, particularly in Usenet debates)
> a way for somebody to keep spewing words on a subject on which they
> actually have nothing concrete, constructive, and useful to say.

Note that I understand that you, too, need some protection against abuse.
We all lived it.  Best, however, is to not become over-protective! :-)

In the case under discussion, here, I suspect that the community has shown
enough reluctance to consider that there was at least something to ponder.
Details may well have been articulated, but if they are not even listened
at, there is no point in repeating them endlessly: this is a lost cause.

François Pinard   http://www.iro.umontreal.ca/~pinard

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