Python and Ruby

Ethan Furman ethan at
Fri Feb 5 22:39:46 CET 2010

Robert Kern wrote:
> On 2010-02-04 17:46 PM, Ethan Furman wrote:
>> Robert Kern wrote:
>>> On 2010-02-04 14:55 PM, Jonathan Gardner wrote:
>>>> On Feb 3, 3:39 pm, Steve Holden<st... at> wrote:
>>>>> Robert Kern wrote:
>>>>>> On 2010-02-03 15:32 PM, Jonathan Gardner wrote:
>>>>>>> I can explain all of Python in an hour; I doubt anyone will
>>>>>>> understand
>>>>>>> all of Python in an hour.
>>>>>> With all respect, talking about a subject without a reasonable
>>>>>> chance of
>>>>>> your audience understanding the subject afterwards is not explaining.
>>>>>> It's just exposition.
>>>>> I agree. If the audience doesn't understand then you haven't
>>>>> explained it.
>>>> On the contrary, that explanation would have everything you need. It
>>>> would take an hour to read or listen to the explanation, but much more
>>>> than that time to truly understand everything that was said.
>>> Like I said, that's exposition, not explanation. There is an important
>>> distinction between the two words. Simply providing information is not
>>> explanation. If it takes four hours for your audience to understand
>>> it, then you explained it in four hours no matter when you stopped
>>> talking.
>> And if it takes six months? Would you seriously say it took you six
>> months to explain something because it took that long for your audience
>> to understand it?
>> At some point you have to make the transition from person A explaining
>> and person(s) B understanding -- they don't necessarily happen
>> synchronously.
> Then it's exposition and understanding, not explanation and understanding.

Hmm.  Well, I can see your point -- after all, if are "explaining" but 
your audience is not understanding, are you really explaining?  Okay, 
looking in the dictionary...

ex⋅plain –verb (used with object)
1. 	to make plain or clear; render understandable or intelligible: to 
explain an obscure point.
2. 	to make known in detail: to explain how to do something.

un⋅der⋅stand –verb (used with object)
1. 	to perceive the meaning of; grasp the idea of; comprehend: to 
understand Spanish; I didn't understand your question.
2. 	to be thoroughly familiar with; apprehend clearly the character, 
nature, or subtleties of: to understand a trade.
3. 	to assign a meaning to; interpret: He understood her suggestion as a 
4. 	to grasp the significance, implications, or importance of: He does 
not understand responsibility.

For me, at least, it boils down to this feeling that understanding is 
not a True/False item, but more of a scale (like all the the numbers 
between 0.0 and 1.0 [not including 1.0 of course -- this *is* Python! 
;)]).  As a personal example, decorators are not that difficult to grasp 
-- you take your function and wrap it in another function; but what you 
can do with them!  They are truly impressive once your understanding 

And at the end of the day (or this thread, whichever comes first ;) 
Python is awesome, and that's what counts.


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