A Programming Parable

One day five herpetologicly-challenged blind men encountered a python sunning itself in the forest.

The first blind man touched the python near it’s tail, and exclaimed, “Ah! Here is a length of sturdy cord finer than the best nylon!”

The second blind man discovered the snake’s cast-off skin lying in the grass, and announced: “Clearly, this is a parchment containing the wisdom of bygone ages. Once we find someone capable of reading it, we will be enlightened!”

The third blind man put his hands on the python’s thick midsection, and thoughtfully said “Here is the root of a great and ancient tree, which will provide us with shade and shelter.”

By this time the serpent had been partially aroused from it’s comfortable slumber. When the fourth blind man reached out to see what he could learn of this intriguing object, it looped a coil around his arm and quickly pulled tight. The fourth man exclaimed, “This must be a self-applying pre-emptive tourniquet! Now if my hand is injured, I will be protected from blood loss!”

The fifth man, eager to avail himself of this miraculous treatment, waved his hands in front of the snake’s head, who promptly bit him. He cried out, but when he had regained his composure he mused “At last, a better mousetrap!”

The blind men then fell to discussing all the merits of this wonder-tool that they had discovered. Until finally, irritated with their incessant, self-congratulatory chattering, the python crushed the life out of all of them and leisurely ate them over the course of the next three days; and then lived happily ever after.

EDIT: This story grew out of the realization that it’s not the Python language which annoys me, so much as it’s adoring fans. They seem more prone than other language communities to be a) ignorant of the history and limitations of the language they love; b) confident that if they don’t understand a feature, it’s not important; c) certain that Python can be all things to all men; and, most irritatingly, d) willing to re-brand known warts and flaws of the language as features.

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  1. Explain the parable, Rabbai. . . .

    1. I added an explanatory note at the end. It may or may not make things clearer.

  2. How errr…

    not Zen…

    but satisfying.. I must admit…

    1. Re: How errr…

      I don’t think a Zen parable could be satisfying… kind of goes against the grain of the thing.

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