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Can you learn French culture from a movie?

by Ovid (Cardinal)
on Apr 11, 2005 at 20:36 UTC ( #446761=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to Re: How do you master Perl?
in thread How do you master Perl?

For your "Do Foo in Bar" thing ... we're actually have this discussion on the extreme-perl mailing list. (Well, Rob Nagler and Ovid are having the discussion while the rest of us are making sure no blood spills on the carpet.) I tend to agree with Rob, though not as vehemently.

I think it's interesting to note that no one on that mailing list who argues that you can "learn all that stuff in Perl" has any experience with languages in paradigms other than procedural or OO. Do they know any functional languages? No. Logical? No. Heck, not one of them even knows a pure OO language (or, at least all have been silent when I have repeatedly asked).

It reminds me of a kid in an English class who told our professor that he (the kid) doesn't need to visit any foreign countries because he has the Internet. Once someone is that far gone in their misunderstanding, it's often difficult to explain what they're missing. Let's call that kid Alex. Imagine that Alex smokes Gauloise, reads about France on the Internet, and recites from memory the dialogue to every Eric Rohmer film while wearing a beret. That still doesn't mean he understands what it is to be French or to experience French culture first-hand. However, never having even visited France, Alex would have no way of knowing what he's missing. Further, having never been to France, many of us would rightfully mistrust him as an expert on French culture, particularly if he is disagreeing with someone who has lived there.

Sure, you can learn functional programming techniques in Perl, but it's a piece of cake (and natural) to fall back to procedural or OO techniques. If you are forced to work in a purely functional or logical language for a period of time and you have no comfortable techniques to fall back on, you can gain a better appreciation of those other points of view. However, Rob Nagler and friends have never directly experienced those other cultures. I hardly feel they're well-placed to judge Perl's merits vis-a-vis languages they do not know.

Mind you, this is not to say that they're not a bunch of great guys and sharp programmers. They just have a bit of a blind spot.


New address of my CGI Course.

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Re: Can you learn French culture from a movie?
by brian_d_foy (Abbot) on Apr 20, 2005 at 17:44 UTC

    Somehow I missed this reply earlier: that's excellent advice. I deal with this situation quite a bit since I spent a long time in the Middle East and now get to listen to people tell me all about what's it like over there since they saw it on CNN. :)

    At some point, you have to stop relying on the information you got second- (or third-) hand and experience it yourself I didn't really define "master" before, but now I think I'll have to include "first-hand, direct experience".

    It also reminds me of what a physics professor said about the Dirac equation for the electron: "Schrodinger is a nice place to visit and walk around, but you have to take a picnic basket with you to visit Dirac." Some places you can visit for a couple of hours, but other places you have to set up camp and stick around for a while if you want to get anything good out of them. :)

    A big part of living in the culture deals with discovering why they do things. Almost everything, including the stupid things, has some sort of history behind it. That doesn't justify it, but it makes it understandable. Once you understand why something is the way it is, you can deal with it more effectively (including changing it if need be).

    brian d foy <>

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