To my parents, Naomi and George, and their parents, Sarah, Leslie, Florence and Leon, all of whom taught me that feeding your hand to a tiger to find out how the teeth work is sometimes necessary.
Some years ago, the artist Christo Javacheff (http://www.artcyclopedia.com/artists/christo.html) built a work of art called “Running Fence,” a fence that ran from coast to coast across the United States. Books are like this fence: connections among widely separated points in time and space.
This is why any attempt to thank everyone who contributed to this book is doomed to failure. All I can do is to single out a very few people for special mention. Some who have been forgotten will know who they are, and are invited to email me so that I may set the record straight online. Others may have no idea that they had anything to do with this book, even though the absence of their contributions would have meant the absence of this book.
I would like to thank Fred Segovich and Peter Ahlsberg who in 1983 invited me to join a community of passionate eccentrics because they thought I would fit in. They were right, and even though I left that community in 1990, the community has never left me.
I would like to thank Patrick E. Kane and William Bradford Smith. Pat said “sure” at exactly the right time and changed my life. Bill helped me through my early, panic-stricken, encounters with UNIX with his cheerful attitude and plain conviction that “it’s just a bunch of bits, Ivan.” I would also like to thank Bill, and the other members of the “Chanute Mafia,” for his (and their) service to our country in a time of great trouble. Keep ’em flying, Bill.
More directly, Pat helped by testing many of the programs in this book to make sure that they would run on his bizarre collection of hardware.
For stimulating conversation and dialogue about a wide range of subjects more or less related to this book, including Python, Mayan epigraphy, Zen Buddhism, Chinese snakes, split ergativity and Vietnam, I would like to thank (in no particular order): Gordon McMillan, Tim Peters, Andrew M. Kuchling, Guido van Rossum, Fredrik Lundh, David Ascher, Mark Minaga, Charles E. Reed, Dan Bammes, Ellen Emerson White, Amy Sedivy, Xuhua (Howard) Lin, Ying Wang, Duncan Steele, Simon Cassidy, Paul Hill, John Justeson, Lloyd B. Anderson, Nicholas Hopkins, J. Kathryn Josserand, Dave Beazley, Andy Robinson, Marilyn Knapp Litt (hi, LG!), Karen Offutt, Bobbie Keith, and the Fred formerly known as Fred.
I would also like to thank Xuhua (Howard) Lin, for the wonderful calligraphy, “Python Mind, Beginner’s Mind,” which appears at the end of Hour 24.
I would like to thank the author who anonymously posted the Klingon programming aphorisms to the Web. I have adapted some of these aphorisms for use in Hour 7.
I would like to thank John Esser and Mike Hess for making Callware a better place to work than it has ever been before.
Aahz, Senior Developer at Searchbutton.com, deserves special mention for serving as the technical editor for this book; without his astute and sharp-eyed commentary, there would have been many more errors here for the readers to find. Thanks, Aahz: I knew you’d keep me honest. Scott Meyers, my editor for this book, should be nominated for boddhisatva-hood (if there isn’t any such word, there ought to be), due to the mass quantities of patience and forbearance he was required to bring to bear on this project. Other members of the team at SAMS deserve mention: Katie Robinson, Barbara Hacha and Gene Redding, and probably many others I’ve forgotten.
Despite their careful attentions, however, I am sure that errors remain. A thousand years ago, the Mayans who built a great civilization in the jungles of Central America believed that mistakes in calendrical calculations were the fault not of the scribes or the astronomers, but were the result of direct intervention by the gods. I believe this too. If you find any errors in this book, please notify gods A through Z of the Mayan pantheon (The Mayan Gods).
I would like to thank Harley, Teddy Bear and Trillin for reminding me of my real place in the scheme of things, and that cats come before Pythons, always. It’s hard to be depressed when someone short is patting your nose with a paw.
I would like to thank my wife, Audrey Thompson, for the love, interest, humor, charm and insight she brings to my life. I am every day more and more delighted to be part of the greatest conversation of all.