Lisp Macros and Practical Common Lisp

By Xah Lee. Date:

Xah Lee wrote:

… and i think the Practical Common Lisp book is idiotic.

Sometimes when i post to tech geeker groups, some spice is added on top of my opinions to make it more pungent.

No doubt, such also garner bad rap for me, and distanced many who otherwise might be friends.

Peter Seibel, the author of Practical Common Lisp, will probably see my message (if not already), and think i'm a troll. And if the person in question has some social standing or good sense, typically they just ignore me, but otherwise, often the geeker (fledgling student or nameless old fart) will mark me red and chase me here or there online.

Hehe. That's called: the human nature.

After being such a stink for about 10 years now, i admit that some of my words is quite off color, and not true, or in literary words: offensive hyperbole.

O well but a troll is a troll and u can't expect dining etiquette. I quote the redoubtable Xah Lee:

 When a person's sanity is at balance,
 when human passion is raging,
 no etiquette must get in the way.
     —Xah Lee, 2001.

from Netiquette Anthropology .

but about the Practical Common Lisp Buy at amazon book, i'd like to undress my hyperbole a bit.

I didn't read it. I only scanned one chapter, the chapter 7 Macros: Standard Control Constructs at, around perhaps 2006. I remember, i was quite angry when reading that chapter. A book purporting to be practical and pitching lisp to imperative monkeys, spend a chapter on a outdated academish fluff, but more so, telling readers how certain very basic language constructs such as “when” in lisp is made possible by a internal hack. Reading that chapter was infuriating to me. Here we have a mass of imperative coding c c++ java monkeys, who probably have been that dumb in industry for 10 or more years, and now eager to give the artificial intelligence language a try, and here they have to endure the practically-speaking useless chapter that tries to conduct a anciently questionable concept.


Can you now see a point of view?

Aside from scanning this chapter, i haven't read the book. (because i have no interest in learning Common Lisp.)

My criticism on chapter 7 is merely picking bones in a egg. It has little to do with lisp the language. More do with the wide number of lisp preaching idiots (of online forums) who hang macros on their mouths all day but are totally ignorant of the far more generalized system of pattern matching as exists in Mathematica and other functional langs.

But mainly, am writing this message here to say that it is indeed reasonably a good book. A very much needed, practical, book on Common Lisp, practically speaking.

I remember i have seen Peter on google talk video too. Also, last year i noticed he also wrote another book Coders at Work Buy at amazon, which is a collection of interviews with well known programers. Worth checking out.