Rush 'n' Dreamin' [& severe geeking]

Dave Long dl at silcom.com
Wed Oct 22 08:50:39 PDT 2003



> My point was that perhaps most people, including the right wing, are not 
> so harsh as to want to lock up folks addicted to opiates that are 
> otherwise 'good citizens' that make overall positive contributions to 
> society.

Makes sense to me, although in the
case of Mr. Limbaugh it raises the
question of what constitutes an
overall positive contribution to
society.

"Gainfully employed in sufficiently
white collar pursuit" may be one
definition, but what determines if
one is "sufficiently white collar"?

> I bet an enterprising board of directors can pick up some strong CEO
> talent in China. Maybe move the HQ staff and corporate officers there as
> well to squeeze out -all- the excess costs.  Japanese corporate officers
> are quite talented but make a fraction of their US counterparts. Maybe
> some potential there as well :-)

In _The Virginian_[0], some people
back East wonder just what a "ranch
foreman" is, and conclude that he
probably ranks up with the house
servants.  By that logic, or maybe
by that above, CEOs ain't nothin'
but high class shop foremen; how
should we distinguish one working
man from another? [1]

-Dave

:: :: ::

[0] Owen Wister, 1902. The Ur-western.
(or try Banjo Paterson[2] for the view
from the other side of the equator)

[1] Some of the old amo-amas-amat:

  I am a freelance entrepreneur.
  You are temporarily unemployed.
  He's a gumptionless drag.

[2] Paterson was even ready to take
the mickey out of reverse snobs:

"The Amateur Rider", 15 Dec 1894
<http://www.google.com/search?q=cache:CTwYTwL5MTIJ:www.uq.edu.au/~mlwham/banjo/the_amateur_rider.html>

and I'll apply that reversion to
"VB Programmers Love Anamorphisms",
(despite suspecting it's less of a
rant and more of a Modest Proposal)
and defend the theoreticians.

Although I have to agree that most
simple presentations of hylomorphism
are more simply expressed as while
loops, that's just because anything
can be expressed as a big old while
loop. [3]

Sure, a list transformer, since it
deals with a one-to-one mapping of
elements, is a natural candidate for
the while loop, and going to a full
hylomorphism usually is silly even
for natural reductions: [4]

#!/bin/awk -f
{c="awk 'BEGIN{n=1}{n*=$1}END{print n}'";while($1){print $1--|c}close(c)}

But what about when there isn't a
nice correspondence between chunks
as produced by the anamorphism and 
chunks as consumed by the cata?

One word: samefringe.

> (or even more so, the UNIX shell --- any shell) has always been much  
> less tedious, much more terse, and a lot more fun.

The beauty (and the curse) of unix
pipes is that the processes on each
side need not agree on a particular
tree structure for the data, and in
fact are free to pick two different
ones, as long as they agree on the
sequence of bytes at the fringe. [5]

This is really pretty close to the
old philosophical 'hylomorphism',
which says things are made of both
/hylo/ (wood, matter, atoms), and
/morphe/ (shape, form, bits). [6]

With a unix pipe, the elements pass
between the processes, but in the
process (much like light through a
prism) [7] they may change form in
between leaving one and entering
the next.  Someone who sees trees
and schemas everywhere may be very
uncomfortable with transmutations,
viewing them as a software alchemy,
but thanks to Bird and Wadler I now
know how it can work in theory as
well as it does in practice. [8]

[3] Turing discovered such things
because he, without fast hardware,
was unable to blow off research in
endless rounds of wumpus, spacewar,
moria, nethack, or websurfing.

[4] DEK, tAoCP:
> It is rather difficult to find short, simple examples of coroutines
> which illustrate the importance of the idea; the most useful coroutine
> applications generally are quite lengthy.

[5] this relates to one of Turpin's
hobby horses: one of the reasons we
do I/O in programs is to translate
abstractions; when programmers are
too keen to have the same structure
on disk as in memory, they wind up
with brittle file formats.

[6] I'd taken this literally, with
the idea that the same piece of wood
can be made into a table or into a
statute of Socrates, given different
forms, depending upon one's facility
with bandsaw and chisel.

As far as I can tell, that was the
original idea also, but there was a
medieval idea that wood contains all
the elements, because when burnt it
resolves into earth (ash), air (C02),
water (H20), and of course, fire.

[7] which leads us to bananas, lenses,
Newton, and Bunsen, but in a FoRKpost
less deeply nested.

[8] There are many distinctions
drawn in theory which are mostly
ignored in practice.

In theory, that's an adjunction.
In practice, that's engineering.

:: :: ::

> Note that he calls out Python as leading the herd in finding the  
> expressive Pareto optimal solution for working programmers.  Yay!

Have you ever felt like running executable
pseudocode so close to the iron that you
can feel the bits between your toes?  When
we manage boot-to-python, it'll be time to 
prove Pike pessimistic about the relevance
of systems software research. :-)


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