what does it take to belong?

We roll into our new neighbourhood cautiously guided by an old-timer, who after we finally manage to maneuver into our RV site, introduces himself as Graham. “Been here since the park first opened,” he beams and then proceeds to point to each of the other trailers and run down who’s who: “The ones behind you […]

via What Does It Take To Belong? — One Woman’s Quest II

ive never cared much for syntax highlighting



syntax highlighting is meant to make it easier to read and manage code. its not intended as training wheels, but a tool for professionals and students alike.

i find it draws attention away– if only a small amount of it– from what im trying to do. there are also at least two problems with syntax highlighting, regarding the colours chosen: first, that the parts of syntax that need the brightest or most vibrant colours (that draw the most attention) follow the same logic for everyone. just for a random example, in the picture above the items in red– a colour used for “stop” and “warning” because it gets the most attention– are the tag names, and the equals sign. a more useful scheme to me would be if = was one colour, and == was a different colour (to make assignment vs comparison easier to spot.)

its different for every person. i dont need the tag names in red– theyre already marked with a chevron to the left. thats what im looking for to find tag names. yes, red certainly makes it easier to find the tags (or equals signs) but the whole time im coding, those tags now try to pull me away from the rest of the code. its not worth the tradeoff.

the other problem with colours chosen is that at any given time, what im really looking for in code is a specific group of things, and it changes based on context. so while im looking for whatever it is that im looking for, (it might not even be syntax) ive got all this colourful noise in the text im searching through. now picture a needle in a haystack: do you want to look for that silver needle in a bale of ordinary blonde hay, or would it be easier if the hay were eight or nine different colours?

i find highlighting very useful for search results– especially multiple results displayed at once:



but i only use the search feature if a quick look over the page doesnt suffice, and syntax highlighting only gets the way.

im inclined to think that syntax highlighting is something a lot of people just “put up with” because its there, and its “too much bother” to turn off. (most people hate configuring anything in general, unless they need to and they cant.) and im sure its useful at least for most of the people that make it a feature in the editors theyre writing. it would be funny if that werent the case– if everyone thought that everyone else preferred highlighting, so developers that didnt want or need it assumed they had to add it for the users, while users assumed there was benefit (because why else have the feature?)

its even possible that syntax highlighting is a fad, but im sure a lot of people either love it, or think they do. i gravitate towards editors that dont have it, and i will turn it off if i have to.



hello, fig (based on lambdashire hotpot post)

today i found a particularly charming new entry about “hello world.” i will quote parts of it here and direct you to the original: -> https://lambdashirehotpot.wordpress.com/2017/05/05/hello-world/

“The ubiquitous introduction to a language, the purpose of the hello, world program is to get the user up and running in an environment, prove that their system is working and provide a taste of its syntax and philosophy.”

alright! so lets do fig. fig tries to be the easiest practical language to learn, topping even basic. (basic has an incredible history, is pretty much the first computer language designed to be learned by everyone– logo is the second– and it has few things about it that are worth improving for an educational language. but there are some, and fig does try.)

how to do hello world in fig?


thats great. but we want it to say hello world:

hello “world”

ok, now weve set the variable hello to the string “world” but we want the string to be “hello world”:

now “hello world”

the “now” almost could be anything:

x “hello world”

p “hello world”

helloworld “hello world”

englebert_humperdinck “hello world”

the goal of hello world is to put it on the screen. we therefore add the print command:

now “hello world” print

now for a “lambdashire hotpot”-style analysis of this example: (loved the “‘armless” bit, lh.)

“It’s terse, requires no unnecessary boilerplate and gets straight to the point, which tends to be true of the language in general.”

i think fig works nicely here, though it does require that most lines begin with a variable. on the other hand, fig doesnt require parentheses to print.

“But let’s take a look at some of the implicit assumptions made here:”

“The python executable needs to be available in our environment, and if it wasn’t initially, then we needed to run a simple installer or take a trip to the system’s package manager.”

at least as much is true for fig.

“We need to understand the process of the call-response mechanism that command line interfaces use in order to enter the print command and interpret its output.”

there is an equivalent of this for fig.

“We must be competent in text entry via, perhaps, a keyboard.”

same here.

“This can run on a device somewhere that we have access to, maybe a desktop PC.”


“We are fluent enough in written English to understand that ‘print’ is a verb and ‘Hello, world!’ is an object. And that the quotation marks in the construct ‘some words’ draws on the metaphor of someone speaking.”

well, fig goes left-to-right a little more often.

“At some point we need to able to take some of this for granted,”


“So let’s try taking a look at the concepts presented in the program itself that the user will be expected to understand or learn”


“The pattern name(argument) is a statement indicating that the command name will be invoked with the given argument.”

fig is less explicit in this regard (a huge no-no in python. but fig isnt always like python.) the pattern is left-to-right and new variables are on the left, except for block commands.

“The symbol print is to be interpreted as an atom, in this case an identifier representing a named command, which is implicitly always available to the user.”

same here– though the first part is the variable, the second (in this case) is the string it gets set to, and then what to do with it follows after it is set.

in most languages, the function has to point to the object. but by following chronologically, the object is associated implicitly. (again frowned upon in python. but i think both designs have their own merits.)

“The symbol ‘Hello, world!’ is also to be interpreted as an atom, in this case a string of characters in which whitespace does not act as a separator.”

same here!

“Defining string literals is likewise always available to the user as part of the language.”

indeed, a string literal in fig is either a function parameter, or it overwrites (sets) the default 0 value of a new variable.

“The act of entering a newline causes the command to be evaluated and run.”

the act of entering a newline indicates a new line (and very likely a new variable also.)

“The double-quotes are not included in the output, so there is some difference between the representation of the underlying string and the format of the glyphs that form the output.”

also the same in fig, as well as many other languages.

“the action of printing to the console occurs as a ‘side effect’ – something that cannot be expressed in the language directly.”

hmm, i think ive conflated “state” with “side effect” for too long. is there any sort of i/o that doesnt qualify as a “side effect?” (not a rhetorical question.)

“That’s actually quite a cognitive load! And we’ve not even got into other ‘simple’ concepts such as numbers, variables, sequential execution, conditional execution, loops, and function definition…”

well, youve overexplained it. but i enjoyed it. fig was designed specifically around the concepts of:

* variables * input * output * basic math * loops * conditionals * functions

lets find out how that matches your excellent list:

(y) numbers
(y) variables
(y) sequential execution (well it does go left-to-right)
(y) conditional execution
(y) loops, and
(y) function definition…

“It’s very easy to forget how hard the first few steps can be, and Python is one of the simpler entry points.”

i agree. i coded in basic for a quarter century, and spent years looking for the best “21st century basic” dialect. i settled on python, and also used python to write fig.

i believe im also your first follower– i hope you enjoy this platform, and write more.



Lambdashire Hotpot

Welcome! This is a blog about programming. And what better way to begin a blog about programming than with a clichéd post about Hello World? The ubiquitous introduction to a language, the purpose of the hello, world program is to get the user up and running in an environment, prove that their system is working and provide a taste of its syntax and philosophy. So let’s see what we can learn about some contemporary languages from how they present us with this allegedly straightforward task. Today, it’s the turn of everyone’s ‘armless snaky friend, Python.


Hello world in Python is simple, right?

It’s terse, requires no unnecessary boilerplate and gets straight to the point, which tends to be true of the language in general. Excellent. We are encouraged to run it in an interactive mode to begin with, so let’s do so.

Like I said, simple! But let’s take a look…

View original post 532 more words

bossy happy people


this one is for connie. (who is not one of these people at all.)

i dont like the bossy happy people that have sprouted up. they dont just want everyone to be happy– they demand it. and if they cant demand youre happy, they demand you act like youre happy. or just go away.

but really, f*** that. mandatory positivity isnt just fascist, its mediocre.

in the old days, well-meaning people tried to cheer you up. they werent pushy about it, they didnt feel entitled to you putting a happy face on for them. (well, maybe your parents did. your friends didnt.) they might offer you a hug, or do some other nice thing for you. thats real charity– you dont owe them anything in return. you dont have to feel better if you dont.

this new happiness offers so little. it just demands people put on a show. this is a new sort of entitlement that has crept into popular culture during my lifetime, though perhaps some people felt it in the 70s and 80s. it even reminds me a little of certain cults that require people to either be happy, or pretend to be. some of it i believe can be traced directly to cults.

but whats different about it is that you used to be able to leave that sort of thing just by walking away from whatever group of people really believed that crap. and now, its like they arent in their own little groups and subcultures anymore. theyve gone mainstream, thats the real change. theyre everywhere. there could be bossy happy people right around the corner, lurking!

you know what? im not offended by your smile. if its real, let it shine. if its fake, i want to get away. if you expect me to fake it just so i can stand here, why dont YOU go away? but have yourself a *lovely* little day.