Unlike Perl and PHP, both Python and Ruby don't allow you to convert strings implicitly to numbers like this, instead demanding that you explicitly convert them (by calling int() in Python and the to_i() method in Ruby). Curiously, Ruby's to_i() method, a la Perl and C's atoi(), happily converts "2abc" to the integer 2, while Python's stricter int() function instead issues a run time error. I know about all this from playing too much multi-language golf. :- ) In golf, these explicit conversions are certainly a chronic pest. In normal programming, however, I don't feel strongly -- though I suspect demanding explicit conversion may help the programmer avoid some data conversion boo boos.