The Null Device


The core developers of Python (a rather elegant open-source programming language, in which, incidentally, this website is written) have broken ground on Python 3000, the massive, compatibility-breaking overhaul they intend to give Python, fixing the mistakes, shortcomings and inelegancies in the current version. Here are the things that will change, and here are the things that won't.

It's heartening to see that lambda functions (once slated to be abolished) have been given a reprieve. Otherwise there would have been no concise way of passing anonymous functions as a data type, and instead of being able to do something like (to quote a rather silly example):

greeters = { 
    'english'     : lambda name: "Hello, %s"%name,
    'french'      : lambda name: "Bonjour, %s"%name,
    'australian'  : lambda name: "G'day, %s"%name
one would have to take the long way around, doing something like:
def greet_english(name):    return "Hello, %s"%name
def greet_french(name):     return "Bonjour, %s"%name
def greet_australian(name): return "G'day, %s"%name

greeters = { 'english': greet_english, ... }
And I don't buy the argument that anonymous functions are bad form, and that each chunk of code should have a name that describes what it does. There are many instances where one wants to specify a tiny fragment of code which will fit into a larger mechanism like a small but crucial cog (be it in a function call, a data structure or wherever), without the bureaucratic overhead of giving it a name. Otherwise we may as well be programming in Java or COBOL or some Vogon-designed abomination of a language.

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I heard this morning on 3RRR (to which I listen via web streaming) that the Westgarth Cinema, the lush art-deco cinema in Northcote, has now passed into the hands of the Palace cinema group (who also run a similarly opulent arthouse cinema in St Kilda), who have refurbished and reopened it.

This sounds like good news. I remember when the Westgarth was the Valhalla (or "the Val" in the local parlance). It played a lot of quirky arthouse and cult movies, and the stairwell was adorned by a model Viking longboat. Then the landlords who owned the site decided that they wanted a piece of the action, forced the tenants out and took over, replacing most of the quirky content with insipid American family movies and disnannies (where, presumably, the money was; after all, freaks and geeks will only bring in so much). They kept a few things (the occasional scifi/horror marathon and the Blues Brothers events), though this was more of an exception than a rule.

Anyway, it's good to hear that it's now run by someone with a good reputation for putting on interesting films. Let's hope that it lives up to its promise.

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