On Jan 5, 2006, at 3:54 PM, Steve Litt wrote:
> On Thursday 05 January 2006 02:25 am, Dave Howell wrote:
>> Anyway, I'm quite confident I know what a Symbol is now. It's an
>> immutable string.
>>
>> Stop!! Put your geek away! I didn't say it was a String. It's a  
>> string.
>> It's a Merriam-Webster "string1" 5b(2) 'series of like objects (e.g.
>> characters, bits, words)'. It's just a series of characters cemented
>> together, bless its little stable self. What Ruby calls a String is
>> actually some kind of pandimensional quasi-magic method-possessing
>> self-modifying Object, and not an ordinary string at all.
>
> I don't think it would hurt to think of it as an immutable string  
> (not a
> String), in your own personal life. However, that probably would  
> not go over
> well on a mailing list :-)

This is pretty far off topic but might be of some interest to some of  
you
(or none of you).

I don't think of my personal name as the immutable string composed of
the roman letters G a r y.  My name is Gary and it has the properties of
a name not the properties of a sequence of Roman letters.  In fact  
there are
a variety of character sequences that can be interpreted as my name:

	G a r y
	G A r y
	g A R Y
	g a r y

and if you want to switch to a different font or UTF-8 or whatever, then
the list is endless.  You can also convert my name to sound waves and it
works as a name also. There are other people who share my name.  Most of
them I've never met and never will meet but we have this abstract thing,
a name, in common.  Someone, somewhere probably has a dog named Gary.
But that doesn't mean he is named after me or I'm named after him.  We
just share the name.  Maybe some Ruby programmer has created
a class named Gary without asking me if it was OK, or maybe it was a
Java programmer.

In fact, names don't even have to be associated with anything in  
particular
they can exist independent of any referent. For example, I don't think
anything has ever been given the name AdafkeqkndkXXXgkos, but
that particular name just got created at the moment I referenced it  
and it
happens to have an analogous string of Roman letters. Maybe it is
pronounceable (probably in Klingon).  If you looked at
the binary values of those letters encoded in ASCII and considered them
as just one big binary value then you could say there is a particular
integer value that is analogous to that name also.  The integer
1197568633 is analogous to my name as is 47617279 and 13m2sjp or  
alternatively
1197568633, 47617279, and 13m2sjp are all names for one particular
mathematical integer.  You could say that integer has the name Gary.

I think in a very deep, conceptual way, Ruby symbols behave like names
just as Ruby fixnums behave like integers.

But maybe I'm just weird.

:Gary :Wright