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    This is such a rich article. The reflections on patch (another program Larry Wall wrote) and its ramifications; the Tolstoy quote; the thoughts on usefulness and flexibility and niches —you’ll agree with some parts, disagree with others, but there’s food for thought in every paragraph. Thanks for posting this, I enjoyed reading it.

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      Nice, thanks for the link. I haven’t used Perl in years, but it got me started way back then.

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        Nice, thanks for the link. I haven’t used Perl in years, but it got me started way back then.

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          Your typical computer language is like a train, it will take you anywhere as long as there are tracks there already. Perl is more like an off-road vehicle that will get you where you are going, even if there is no official way to get there.

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            Their plan, says Wall, was to become field missionaries dedicated to assisting Bible translation. They would go live with a tribe that had no written language, learn it from scratch, write it down and then help translate the Bible into that language.

            I find this disturbing and borderline colonial. Larry Wall has contributed a lot to software engineering, but he is a fanatic.

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              I think it’s a bit of a stretch to throw the fanatism card over something that they had been thinking of doing but didn’t pursue.

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                Translating the Bible (or any other similar work) does not imply fanaticism in and off itself, the opposite can actually be true as a translated Bible makes it possible for those who are interested to verify for themselves whether those things said by that preacher actually occur in the book. The translation of the Bible from Latin into the vernacular was one of the factors leading to the wane of the power of the Roman Catholic church in Europe.

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                I’m not trying to defend Wall here (I don’t know him) but it’s possible his views have evolved since then.

                Regardless of the stated intentions, many Christian missionaries did contribute to preserving different languages. Of course, it was generally serving the colonial mindset and overall mission, but perhaps the good outweighed the bad.

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                  I wish there would be more such “fanatics” you can have a nice dinner with: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9890504