Unexpected Python Behavior

Steve Holden steve at holdenweb.com
Fri Oct 1 14:34:50 CEST 2004

Andrea Griffini wrote:

> On Fri, 01 Oct 2004 09:32:31 +0100, Michael Hoffman
> <m.h.3.9.1.without.dots.at.cam.ac.uk at example.com> wrote:
>>[Andrea Griffini]
>>>[Greg Ewing]
>>>>[Alex Martelli]
>>>>>I think it's in fact very nice syntax:
>>>>This is a hack. Don't do it.
>>>Who are you to question what Him, the Great Alex, says about it ?
>>Who are you to question what Greg Ewing says?
> Are we going to go around in circles forever asking
> each other "who are you to say this" ?
>>I'm having trouble figuring out whether the rest of this message is 
>>supposed to be ironic or sarcastic or something. I can say with 
>>certainty that it is pretty silly.
> It's a 7am posting, so please be forgiving at least
> for that reason.
> I didn't reply to Alex message because it's clear that he has
> a very personal problem with me (and ... no, I've no idea why).

It's clear to you, possibly.

> My decision so was to stop feeding his hate and I ignored him;

Hate? This doesn't sound like the Alex I know (and I'm talking about 
through the face meetings here, not just net acquaintanceship) This guy 
was the technical editor for my book, and I know him to be not only 
technically brilliant but also an affable and congenial person).

> that one is a problem he has with me and not the other way
> around... may be he can try to find a solution inside himself
> or talking to a good psychotherapist... I don't think I can
> be of any help about it.
Well, clearly not with an attitude like that. Frankly that's about as 
insulting as you should be getting around here. In fact I think you've 
gone too far. I preferred the sarcasm.

> What kind of surprised me is however that no one else contested
> the nonsenses and/or irrelevant facts in his message. So I came
> to the conclusion that here we're leaving the land of logic.
Perhaps anyone who has opinions that vary from yours has a problem 
requiring psychotherapeutic help? I'm beginning to sense that I too am a 
little unbalanced.

> I saw just one message saying what I (as a newbie to python)
> think is obvious to at least anyone with a reasonable brain
> and cold enough to think without prejudice; i.e. that defining
>     def foo(x, cache=[])
> when you've no intention to receive that parameter is a purely,
> simply, uncontestably, stinking, ugly hack (also IMO adding
> underscores to that "cache" name is not making this hack really
> any prettier).
Well, of course, as a newbie to Python you are clearly in a far better 
position than anyone else to say what's reasonable. This couldn't 
possibly be a sensible use of name scoping rules to avoid the necessity 
for a static declaration, could it? Dammit, you know what a function is, 
and if it has parameters then we should damned well use them in the calls.


> And, in case you're really interested, I'm just a programmer
> with an apparently tweaked sense of humor that approached
> python very recently (that's why I don't consider myself part
> of the python "world", yet).
> Andrea
Well I don't often say this, but I think we have to get the attitude 
adjusters out here. Just sit in this chair, please, you'll just feel a 
little prick with a needle [this is a lie: I don't really have a 
needle]. There, that should feel better. Take three of the purple 
tablets a day, and come back when you are able to indulge in a 
difference of opinion without suggesting that those of a different view 
require therapy.

I don't suppose it's come to your attention that Alex is the author of 
"Python in a Nutshell" and co-author of "The Python Cookbook", and 
therefore rather well qualified to pontificate on the vagaries of Python 
usage? I suspect the only offense he is actually guilty of is treating 
you as better-informed than you actually are.


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