Books of Note

Practical Common
LispThe best intro to start your journey. Excellent coverage of CLOS.

ANSI Common
LispAnother great starting point with a different focus.

Paradigms of Artificial Intelligence
ProgrammingA superb set of Lisp examples. Not just for the AI crowd.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Book Review: Hackers and Painters 

I posted a review of Paul Graham's Hackers and Painters: Big Ideas from the Computer Age on the Finding Lisp book review page. Enjoy!

Summary: This is a great book. Even if you have already the essays on Graham's web site, you'll enjoy this book.


I'm told marketers use endless repetition. Keep murmurs of your product in the background noise, so it doesn't seem foreign, just as certain kinds of faces seem beautiful by constant media repetition. I think Graham's motivation for publishing is for his ideas to gain the cachet of a pretty O'Reilly hardcover.

So if you like his ideas about nerds and spam, you might think, "Huh, this guy uses some nutty language," but it's another repetition. Microsoft does this a lot with the word "innovation."

The real masters of this seem to be those Smalltalkers behind eXtrEmE Programming. Follow the formula of putting out many books (outlined IIRC in Decline and Fall of the American Programmer), hitch onto the X brand to sound young and hip, and pretend you can really do bottom-up with Java if you add JUnit and refactoring.

As for schooling... do you have these Montessori-type schools around? I have a hard time imagining I'd ever have someone pop out a child, but it's interesting to think about. I'd probably try figuring out some happy balance between homeschooling and having her share struggles with peers. I suspect it's highly dependent on the tendencies of the child herself.

I really wish there weren't such an artificial social line between the various ages... I don't know how I'd swing a happy balance of exposing a child to people of different ages. Maybe I should rent a few children for practice.

-- Tayssir John Gabbour

Incidentally, if that "pop out a child" part offended you... I've been acting weird ever since I had this two-day Python coding session. I don't think I'm particularly coherent. It's like being a human macroexpander. So no insult intended.

Gotta build some tools... --Tayssir

On the homeschool comment...I've read the book, and I too read his comments on homeschooling. I have a seven year old daughter and after a terrible experience with the public school Kindergarten, we decided to try homeschooling her for first grade (this was last year). Let me tell you from experience that this was one of the most difficult things my wife and I have ever attempted. There are a lot of people that do it, and I'm all for it, but in the end, it did not work out for us. If you want to discuss my experiences with homeschooling offline, drop me an email.

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