How to Teach Python "Variables"

J. Clifford Dyer jcd at
Wed Nov 28 18:48:54 CET 2007

On Wed, Nov 28, 2007 at 11:23:42AM -0600, Chris Mellon wrote regarding Re: How to Teach Python "Variables":
> On Nov 28, 2007 10:57 AM, hdante <hdante at> wrote:
> > On Nov 28, 2:12 pm, "Chris Mellon" <arka... at> wrote:
> > >
> > > Right. Python variables are pointers, except for all the ways that
> > > they are different. By the same criteria, they are also puppies. Give
> > > it a rest.
> >
> >  I'm sorry if your notion of pointer is incorrect. A pointer (or, more
> > formally, a reference) is an object that points to some value. A
> > python variable isn't different than that in any way.
> >
> A python name isn't an object. The difference between names and
> objects is at the core of this entire conversation. In fact, you are
> exactly the sort of person this discussion was targeted at, because
> you don't understand the difference.
> You can play semantic games if you want and just declare that
> everything is the same at some fundamental level. It's a little like
> taking your ball and going home, because insisting on names that don't
> indicate the differences between things is useless at best and harmful
> at worst.
> Whether you like it or not, the term "pointer" has a specific common
> meanings. They do not mean "any means by which you may reference a
> value". "variable" is certainly less clear and is used much more
> loosely, but in the specific context of comparison to C, python
> name/object bindings are not the same as C variables.
> Pointers are values. They also point at other values, and those values
> may be other pointers, ad infinitum. Understanding this is core to
> understanding and using pointers.
> Python names are *not* values, and all they do is tag a specific
> object in a specific namespace. You can't have a name that refers to
> another name, names can only refer to objects. Understanding this is
> core to understanding and using the Python object model, *especially*
> if some nitwit has been telling you that they're the same as pointers.
> -- 

OK, now we're down to mock sympathy, insulting analogies and name-calling.  Can we just let this thread die.  It was an interesting discussion for a while, but it's moved into that ugly putrefaction stage now.  Nothing new is being said, and the old stuff is being said more rudely than before.

This thread is bleedin' demised.


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