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(This is all the fault of a conversation with allonymist and yoctohedron.)

C: You are a paranoid schizophrenic who spends most of your time confused about which type you should be, convinced that blatantly false things are true because your extreme efficiency leaves no room for sensible error checking. Moreover your terseness encourages people to interact with you badly, providing incomplete and ambiguous instructions for which you nevertheless come up with a legal interpretation, even though most of the time it is completely nonsensical. People come to you because you promise them simplicity, not realising that below the surface you're a rat's nest of issues. In the end you are always abandoned for someone like C++ or Python.

Python: Python cares deeply about you and does its best to make your life easier. Python is willing to try new things to make you happy -- "Sure, I can do generators, if that's what you want" -- and really doesn't mind if you're seeing other languages on the side. It insists upon arranging the cupboard into strict rows, but you stop noticing after a while, and eventually you come to prefer your shelves organized this way. Your friends think this is weird until they start dating Python too.

Ruby: Your older sister is the most popular cheerleader in school, but she's kind of a slut. You think that maybe if you add more features, the boys will like you just as much.

PHP: You've seen what works for Ruby and you think it will work for you too, but you haven't figured out that lipstick doesn't go on your cheeks and you shouldn't brush your hair with a mascara wand.

C++: C++ has seen people in love, and thinks it has everything figured out. C++ thinks it loves you, but it errs on the side of being controlling when it thinks it's being concerned and caring.

Ada: You are far more flexible than C++, and know how to be strict and forgiving at the same time. However, your tendency to wear the bondage and discipline gear all the time, as opposed to when your lover asks you to bring it out, frightens people off. You need to learn to stop calling people "worm" and "slave" in front of their mothers.

Java: You try to be loving, but you were raised by a commune of 60 nervous women who have told you that everything you do is loving, even when it isn't. Your unhelpful behaviors have never been corrected and everything you do is subtly wrong and destructive.

JSP: You are Java's younger sister, working in a strip club to pay for your women's studies degree.

Perl: You're incredibly enthusiastic and you have five different ways of doing anything that anyone could possibly want to do. As a result, you tend to overwhelm people and you leave a bad impression on people who could otherwise benefit from knowing you. You promise people answers to all their questions, but you're not ready for a real relationship. You like to guess what people want, but tend to jump to conclusions. When other people would say "what, really?", you've already gotten out a ball-peen hammer and a tub of beeswax. Because of this, people find themselves speaking to you using a range of expressions and vocabulary even more limited than what they'd use for someone who didn't speak the language at all.

Smalltalk: Smalltalk won't meet you outside Smalltalk's apartment. Smalltalk says that if you really loved it, you wouldn't leave.

OCaml: You know yourself to be fast, smart, and extremely reliable. However, you look kind of funny and nobody really wants to talk to you. You spend most of your time sitting in a public library glaring at people, occasionally yelling "NOBODY HERE APPRECIATES MY GENIUS!" and getting kicked out.

Prolog: You are a deaf and blind synthaesthete, who experiences the world entirely through smells, each of which triggers expansive flurries of poetry and music in your mind. Certain problems are trivial for you, but nobody will ever understand the answers you give them, because your numbering system involves colors that cannot be perceived by humans. Prolog can sometimes have a good time with people, but it's hard for a person to stay with someone who only wants them for their ochre vibrato.

Lisp: Lisp cares about you, but really loves itself more than it will ever love you. Lisp thinks that it's the world's greatest lover, and it is a lot of fun, but it's completely blind to its own inadequacies. Watch out: it flies into a rage if it finds you've been seeing C on the side. Lisp swears up and down that it can be anything and anyone you want, and in a lot of ways it's right, but in the end, it's still Lisp.

Logo: Lisp's adorable 7-year-old niece who likes to play with her toy turtle. On casual conversation, she proves to be disturbingly worldly and well-informed. You resolve not to let your kids play around Lisp's house. Thinking about using Logo in any serious way makes you feel a bit dirty.

Visual Basic: You're a fifteen-year-old girl with her very own computer in her room, pinging random strangers on AIM and claiming to be a 23-year-old girl who wants to cyber with them. However, your efforts fail at convincing people, mostly because you aren't very imaginative and most of the things you're promising them are ideas you ripped off from other sources and changed slightly, leaving them less believable.

ASP.NET: As above, except you're a fifteen-year-old boy.

Objective C: You grew up in a cold and loveless home. Everything you know about love, you learned by listening to Smalltalk and Lisp's sex parties in the apartment next door. Now you have met a sweet young thing named Darwin, and you are eager to please.

Dylan: Sombody sat Lisp down and told it it was too clingy. Now it's bipolar.

Twisted: Twisted Python not only loves you, it loves everyone, in 10ms intervals, on demand. But once you learn to take turns, you don't notice the difference.

E: E is very clear about its hard limits, and there are a lot of them. It tells you up front what you're not allowed to do, and sometimes you end up forgetting what you can do without pissing it off.

lex/yacc: lex and yacc are those twins you have a one-night stand with every couple of years. In the intervening period, you forget all about the neat tricks they can do, and every time you meet up you end up learning them all over again. But they're really rather one-sided, and schizophrenic in the same way C is, so in the end it's good that they're not after you for a long-term relationship.

Haskell: Haskell is pretty, but always uses an elaborate range of prophylactic techniques. By the time you're all in place, the person you're with no longer resembles Haskell. If you've had other lovers, Haskell doesn't like many of the things that you may have come to enjoy doing with them. Haskell will pretend never to have heard of these things, and call you a pervert.

SML/NJ: You cannot take anything away from a relationship with SML/NJ that you did not bring with you. If you leave anything at SML/NJ's apartment when you break up, SML/NJ will leave it on your doorstep without ringing the bell.

Assembler: Assembler has no limits -- none whatsoever -- but you have to make it do what you want. It will not make a move to help you; assembler just lies there.

FORTRAN: FORTRAN isn't a real relationship. Telling people you're happy with FORTRAN is like telling people you'll be happy taking care of your cats for the rest of your life and don't really need another person.


( 134 comments — Leave a comment )
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Mar. 7th, 2006 12:27 pm (UTC)
The Stanford Artificial Intelligence Language
SAIL: This gal's been around a while. When she first started dating she didn't like leaving the safety of her local suburb but all that was to change. She believed in Tarot and thought everything you did meant something significant. She would leap in ecstasy when you got messy or told her a carrot was like a banana for reasons other than both being edible.

She would take note of what was going on and knew which band was playing that night in town. She even let you cut in mid-sentence. Be warned tho, she could quote you word for word in context and she had an odd inclination to root through your garbage collection. She taught you words you never head before or thought wholesome.

As she grew up she became very social and eventually slept with a half the football teams in more than one university and her rep faded into the background. She died as an accountant.

Her daughter MAINSAIL grew up to be much more nimble and attracted many artists and engineers during her teens. Unlike her mother, she didn't flare out with age and is still remembered for being a witty, intelligent woman who can teach you things those kids on myspace have no idea about.
Mar. 8th, 2006 02:27 pm (UTC)
Even though they're not programming languages in any sense, anyone who's ever run a mail server will probably know what I'm talking about.

POP3: All the guys love her. She knows almost no tricks, but she's easy. She caught her younger sister, IMAP, doing a few with one of her boyfriends through a crack in the door, so she sort of learned about one or two, but she's not good at them. If you ask her to do them, she'll often get confused and start all over - at breakfast that morning. It gets worse if you want to do it anywhere but in her own bed. You really want the crazy tricks though, and everyone in the know says "go talk to IMAP, she knows 'em all". Most guys stay with POP3 though - either out of loyalty or disbelief.

IMAP: POP3's younger sister. Young, but she got her start early. She knows every trick in the book, and even a few that aren't in there yet. She's jealous of her older sister though, because she's still more popular. IMAP takes a bit more time to get going, but once she does, look out - she'll blow your mind.

Exchange: IMAP and POP3's goth cousin. She knows too many tricks for her own good. She does things that some people even consider unnatural and a bit twisted. Leather, chains, piercings, you name it. She's somewhat pickier than IMAP and POP3 about who she'll socialize with though, and really doesn't like to share with anyone. Some guys think she's the best, but she has some psychological issues that make others wary of her.
Mar. 11th, 2006 09:30 pm (UTC)
The story of C
The story of C.

C is the child of hippy parents. However, C is an adopted child.
C's parents found C as an infant floating down the river in a basket.
They took C in and raised him as their own. As C reached maturity
his true identity became known to him, as so did the responsibilites
that came with that knowledge.

In the beginning, the gods invented assembly to do their work.
With it, they built the physics and the chemistry from which all is
made. They then built the stars and the solar systems, the planets
and all other celestial workings, and they looked and saw that it was

Then something interesting developed, the prospect of life. Wishing
to stretch out their artistic muscles, the gods realized that they
needed more and better tools. Out of this was born C. They pulled
a rib from the gut of assembly, took a glance at B and then created
assembly's sibling C.

C is like assembly, just as powerful, but more elegant. C is easier
to talk to than Assembly. Assembly is much too gruff. C travels easier
from climate to climate, job to job, house to house, carrying his steamer
trunk filled with The Standard Library that his hippy parents wrote to
make the common tasks easier.

C is becoming old and grey now. C's hippy parents were idealists born
of a simpler time. C was the most gifted child of his generation. And it
is to C's credit that many of C's children are the most gifted of theirs.
C's bloodlines run strong. The family reunions are boisterous events
that they must rent auditoriums for.

The grandchildren are all grown up now and have large families of their own.
C's business is still booming, perhaps more than ever. But the press has
died down, favoring the glamour of the younger generation.
Mar. 21st, 2006 01:41 pm (UTC)
Oh man, that is just ace.
Apr. 14th, 2006 09:08 pm (UTC)
You were in the city and got talking to her at the bar. She reminded you a lot of your friend SQL, but had this spark in her eye that suggested she could do a lot more. The next time you were in town you hooked up for the weekend and had a great time, though she had some difficulty with basic things you thought everyone knew about. You did like her enough to invite her to visit you, but she refuses to travel. You suspect this is an indication of deeper issues she has. Eventually you drifted apart as you realized you were better off with SQL as a friend and others for your other needs rather than trying to have it all in one person, but you still drop by her place just to say hi when you're passing through.
Apr. 30th, 2006 06:33 pm (UTC)
IDL: IDL is an aging dominatrix who lives in observatories and astronomy departments across the world. She has stars in her eyes and more routines and tricks that you know what to do with. Everyone you know is doing IDL, from your advisor to your advisor's advisor, but they complain bitterly about how awful and painful the entire experience is. You don't understand why they're paying for the pain when they could just be sleeping with C for free, but eventually you're seduced to the dark side. When IDL complains, she spits out an incomprehensible string of babble that confuses you even further.

IRAF: IRAF is a frazzled preschool teacher so busy keeping things together that she doesn't have time for you, or to even see what she's doing. She's a thing that goes "bump" in the night. She has issues that the DSM-IV doesn't even begin to cover. You go to whisper sweet nothings into IRAF's ear, and she suddenly kills your wrists for no particular reason and babbles about FLPRs and how she displays herself. After a series of one-night stands with IRAF, you realize she's pretty flat, dark, and biased and has a lot of demons that need to be exorcised.
Sep. 14th, 2006 04:26 am (UTC)
DCL: You used to live in the same town as DCL, maybe in high school or college. You haven't seen DCL in ages, you don't even think much about it. DCL was a solid, reliable, early relationship, but fundamentally limited; not the kind you marry. You probably never even went all the way. DCL moved from one expensive suburb to another, but would never leave the state. Eventually you grew beyond it and drifted apart.

ALGOL: You're a strange old hippy. You started out respectable, but then dropped out and turned on. Your youth was spent searching, hanging out at various ashrams, never finding nirvana. You flirted or slept with everyone, but never stayed more than few nights. Eventually you gave up and settled out on a farm somewhere, and no-one even is quite sure if you're still alive. Your sisters' and cousins' kids vaguely remember those weird trippy ideas you laid on them when they were toddlers.

procmail: Procmail works at the post office for god's sake. You went out one time, and occasionally run into it when you need your mail held or change your address. You exchange embarassed hellos, but you don't have to lie and say you'll call; you both know you won't, and that's ok. You know procmail goes for coffee with sendmail.cf a lot, and you're just glad they have each other for company, cause you sure aren't going to hang out with them.

sendmail.cf: sendmail.cf is a stamp collector. totally obsessed with its weird nerdy hobby. it travels everywhere to acquire new items, but no-one ever notices or talks to it besides cab drivers, hotel clerks, and other collectors. maybe you had to go on a blind date with .cf to please your mom, but it didn't go anywhere, and .cf didn't even notice.

m4: m4 is sendmail.cf's weird uncle. you can't imagine m4 ever having a childhood or parents, let alone a sex life. m4 just seems to hang around sendmail.cf giving it life advice, passing along magazine articles, and feeding the cats when .cf is out of town. the relationship seems a little unhealthy, or at least very old-fashioned, but hey, who are you to judge; at least it keeps them off the street and out of everyone else's hair.

BAL: You're a mostly-retired white collar worker that still shows up at the office once in a while to consult on all that weird old stuff only you remember. Back in the day, when everyone wore three-piece suits to work and had "THINK" signs on their desks, you were respected and well-liked. You had solid respectable friendships with COBOL and FORTRAN. You flirted with ALGOL for a bit, but she was too much of a hippy. Now, today, you complain about those damn kids having no respect for doing things in a quiet orderly fashion. They're all perverts into all kinds of things that in your day would have gotten them put in jail, not given high-paying jobs. No one has asked you for a date in years.

GUILE: You're an obsessed left-winger, and all those mainstream suburban asses just drive around in their SUV's and laugh you off. You don't have many relationships, because only other wacko left-wingers will sleep with you. You couch surf a lot. The relationships you do have are either one-night stands or very committed; nothing in between. You're ok in the sack, if a little rough around the edges.

elisp: elisp is lisp's kid sister, and she's a great f*ckbuddy. not quite as smart as lisp but a lot easier to get along with; she's a lot less egotistical than lisp ever could be, and not jealous either. She'll do things lisp would slap you for asking about, like calling C for phone sex while you watch. She knows nearly everyone and will lend you a room to screw them in because she just wants her friends to be happy. You can't ever picture a serious relationship with her, though; she really only lets down her guard with a few brilliant eccentrics.

Dec. 19th, 2006 01:27 am (UTC)
Another perspective on LabView
Labview: her daddy's rich and makes useful gadgets that you frequently use. He recommends her as a manager for your stuff. When the two of you meet up, she seems charming and intelligent at first, with pretty colors galour.

Then comes the time when the two of you finally get down to business. Then you discover she got this thing about going left to right. If you try doing anything the other way around, you get dirty looks. And you discover she's not nearly as smart as you thought as first, but nevertheless insists on doing everything her way, through consulting some arcane ritual that she won't tell you about, but which possibly involves sacrificing small rodents during a full moon on Tuesdays while standing on one foot (memory management). She insists on doing everything different from the "other girls", and makes a rather extreme point about looking better than C

And finally you discover that she's a freak with a bondage obsession; nothing turns her on more than seeing you tied up with your head in multiple boxes. If you try asking her for anything beyond the most brain-dead and vanilla, pretty soon you find yourself blindfolded and strung left to right across her ceiling, suspended by your crotch from multicoloured wires. And when you claim not to be enjoying it, she pouts and tells you it because you're not doing things right, and you're still too hung-up over C. She immediately starts making comparisons, saying hows she's more prettier, more useful, more flexible, good at multitasking etc.

Later, you leave her apartment sobbing in frustration. You nostalgically remember that even C, with her biker habits and temper tandrums, never left you in so sorry a state. Looking for some comfort, you visit MATLAB on the corner.
Jan. 17th, 2007 02:09 pm (UTC)
Well, you're a big girl now -- all grown up and the heiress of a promising diamond mine.
But you're also a politician bucking to be the first female president. You've promised to be everything all of your predecessors were and everything they could not be.

You look strangely familiar like an old girlfriend who has had a facelift and who has been in the witness relocation program. The wig and wheelchair don't fool those who can smell your scent and those of us who see that little switch at the back of the wheelchair that says "/unsafe" which is a euphemism for "release the whore" or
“Unleashed! Now S*cks And F*cks Everybody.”

Once flipped, you'll be doing all of the nasty things we secretly like, but hired you not to do. But once we know you can be that whore, that's all you'll ever be... and at the dinner-party / political fund-raiser, your diamonds will still sparkle. Wipe your mouth, honey.
Jan. 27th, 2007 05:26 pm (UTC)

Twisted: Twisted Python not only loves you, it loves everyone, in 10ms intervals, on demand. But once you learn to take turns, you don't notice the difference.

You can even ask Twisted to send messages to its other lovers, but if the other lover doesn't want the message, Twisted will hold onto it forever. This means that if Twisted ever gets into a don't ask, don't tell sort of relationship with someone popular, that eventually it will collapse under the cumulative weight of all the notes it's supposed to be delivering but isn't.

Jun. 17th, 2007 08:18 am (UTC)

. Much respect!

Jul. 12th, 2007 06:39 pm (UTC)
Hi. Me very much to like here. I shall advise this site to the friends.
I am sorry for my English. I only learn this language.
Nov. 21st, 2007 05:37 pm (UTC)
testing this one...
thanks for the GREAT post! Very useful...
Nov. 22nd, 2007 05:25 pm (UTC)
testing this one...
Very interesting... as always! Cheers from Switzerland.
Nov. 25th, 2007 06:09 pm (UTC)
testing this one...
Very interesting... as always! Cheers from -Switzerland-.
Apr. 3rd, 2008 08:19 pm (UTC)
programming languages and commedia dell'arte characters
Dear Radio-Free,

Your posting is makin' the rounds! Hope you enjoy this reply.

-- Johannes

Programming languages and commedia dell'arte characters

Dottore = C. (split like Buridan's ass between two tasks, convinced that blatantly false things are true because his own mental abilities so impress him that he has no room for sensible error checking; people want simple clever answers, but he provides complex, incomplete and possibly nonsensical instructions, for which he comes up with a legal interpretation)

Pantalone = C++. (has seen people in love, thinks he has everything figured out -- it's the economy, stupid; thinks he loves you, but is controlling while thinking he's being concerned and caring)

Pantalone’s wife = SML/NJ. (cannot take anything away from a relationship with her that you didn't bring with you; if you leave anything at her house when you break off the affair, she'll leave it on your doorstep without ringing the bell)

Oratio, Pantalone’s son = Objective C. (grew up in a cold and loveless home; everything he knows about love he learned by listening to the servants' parties; now he's met a sweet young thing, and is eager to please)

Pedrolino, Oratio's friend = Java. (tries to be loving, but was raised in a convent of nervous nuns who told him everything you do is loving, even when it isn't; his unhelpful behaviors have never been corrected and everything he does is subtly wrong and destructive -- his servant must fix it)

Isabella, Dottore's daughter, Oratio's love = Visual Basic. (fifteen-year-old girl with her own armillary sphere, pinging random strangers with a crossbow then claiming to be 23 and just wanting to chat; her efforts fail, mostly because she isn't very imaginative, most of the things she promises are ideas ripped off from other sources and changed slightly -- like the similarity of programming languages to commedia characters)

Brighella, Pantalone's servant = Python. (willing to try new things to make anyone happy, himself in particular -- "Sure, I can do real estate fraud, if that's what you want" -- doesn't mind if the object of his affection is seeing other characters; insists on arranging the account books in a new form of arithmetic; people stop noticing after a while, and even come to prefer the books organized this way; friends think this is weird until they meet him too)

Younger woman servant to Oratio: PHP ("she's seen what works for Ruby and thinks it will work for her too, but she hasn't figured out that lipstick doesn't go on your cheeks (etc.)")

Capitano: Lisp (cares for you, but in fact loves himself more than he will ever love you; thinks he's the world's greatest lover, but blind to his own inadequacies; flies into a rage if he finds you've been seeing someone else; swears up and down he can be anything and anyone you want, but in the end, he's still Capitano)

Vittoria: Ruby (older servant woman, most popular girl in town, but kind of a slut; thinks maybe if she adds more features, the boys will like her just as they used to)

Vittoria's protege/competition: Twisted. (she not only loves you, she loves everyone -- at specific intervals and on demand; but once folks learn to take turns, they don't notice the difference)

Arlecchino: Perl. (this is just _so_ Arlecchino: "You're incredibly enthusiastic and you have five different ways of doing anything that anyone could possibly want to do. As a result, you tend to overwhelm people and you leave a bad impression on people who could otherwise benefit from knowing you. You promise people answers to all their questions, but you're not ready for a real relationship. You like to guess what people want, but tend to jump to conclusions. When other people would say "what, really?", you've already gotten out a ball-peen hammer and a tub of beeswax. Because of this, people find themselves speaking to you using a range of expressions and vocabulary even more limited than what they'd use for someone who didn't speak the language at all.")
Jan. 5th, 2009 09:27 am (UTC)
Re: programming languages and commedia dell'arte characters
I came back to read the comments on this post again. You have persuaded me to attend a local commedia dell'arte workshop I was dithering on.
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