Subject: Re: Lisp in the "real world"
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: 1997/07/04
Message-ID: <>

it's possible that some of the readers of and
comp.lang.dylan might actually believe Martin Rodgers fraudulent summary of
this thread.  this is a more accurate summary:

Martin Rodgers says he can't use Lisp.  when questioned why, he conjures up
an amazing number of problems, which, when solved, one by one, are just
replaced by another from his list.  Martin Rodgers has been going on like
this in comp.lang.lisp for at least a year (or maybe it only feels that
way), and his current complaint is that no Lisp vendor will _give_ him the
ability to create DLLs from Lisp, although all technical questions about
why this is a good idea, why it is needed, and what he would like to do
were it possible, go unanswered.  Martin Rodgers has made it clear that he
would rather spend a year sitting on his sorry ass whining about how little
support he gets from Lisp vendors while he also whines how expensive Lisp
systems are, how his boss is never in a million years going to pay him to
write Lisp code, regardless of what the Lisp vendors do, and how we are all
so mean when we won't pat him on the back every day and sympathize with his
plight.  you have to understand that he is paid to write C++ and Java, and
apparently hates it so much he has to share his frustrations on a daily

for some bizarre reason, Martin Rodgers thinks this is a topic worthy of
discussion in, although he keeps posting to
comp.lang.lisp (for which I'm sure you guys are grateful), and that he's
actually trying to engage in technical discussion about Windows and Lisp.
however, technical discussions include facts, concrete problems, real code,
requests for ways to solve a problem, not a constant whining that some
unspecified problem can't be solved with some particular technique that he
would like to to believe he needs.  in particular, technical discussions
have a specific goal, and when goal is reached, they end.  Martin Rodgers
has (literally!) been repeating himself over and over again, not even
making any modifications to his assertion that DLL is a sine qua non for
Lisp to succeed on Windows, again without shred of evidence or ways to show
us poor Microsoft-deprived losers what he means.  (oh, yeah, he also thinks
"Lisp in the `real world'" is an apt subject, clearly implying that the
millions of lines of Lisp in daily use are not worthy of being part of the
"real world".)

now, all of the people that he talks to have agreed with him that it would
be cool to have a full-fledged Lisp environment for Windows, it just is far
from clear (1) that there is a market -- in part because Martin Rodgers'
boss wouldn't let him use Lisp anyway, and he claims that's the rule, not
the exception, (2) that Lisp vendors should risk millions of dollars in
investments and maintenance costs to satisfy Martin Rodgers and _nobody_
else -- if there were any more who had his needs, one would think they
would have voiced their opinion by now, but no, _nothing_, (3) that Martin
Rodgers would ever stop complaining regardless of what toys he were given
to play with.  in particular, it is obvious to anyone who has read his
laments that Martin Rodgers suffers not from lack of Lisp for Windows, but
for lack of a real shoulder to sob on when he gets home from the job he so
hates.  he is so frustrated that he is completely unable to see that people
actually agree with him every now and then, he is utterly incapable of
appreciating that people would like to solve his problem, if they could
only get enough information from _him_ about what it is so they could at
least try to wrap their head around it.  instead of being helpful to those
who could help him, Martin Rodgers goes on and on and on about he would
like others to prove to him that they can convert a WinMain function to a
LibMain function, flat out asserting that if we can't solve this puzzle, we
have no business discussing the business aspects of supporting a platform
that is known far and wide to be changing faster and more randomly than any
known tectonics could predict.

also, it might well be that there _are_ hard technical problems to solve
for a language that really likes to be master, and not slave, in its
relationship with "foreign functions".  but we have never gotten to this
level of technical discussions, because Martin Rodgers _insists_ that
unless he gets his DLL solution Right Now!, we're not actually discussing
with him, we're mean and all that.

end summary.

* Martin Rodgers
| I _have_ discussed it with a number of Lisp vendors.  I was hoping to 
| also discuss it with a few Lisp programmers, but I guess that's not 
| possible.  Apparently, no Lisp programmers should want to write code 
| for Windows.  Well, there are probably a few Windows people who agree 
| (I know of a few of them).

on last count, more than 20 Lisp programmers have agreed with Martin
Rodgers that it would be nice to use Lisp under Windows, but none of them
seem to be able to understand what Martin Rodgers would like to do in Lisp
that makes his soi disant technical problems so insurmountable.  at least,
none of the seasoned Lisp programmers and real problem-solvers that inhabit
comp.lang.lisp, many of whom make a living out of programming in Lisp, or
at least solving problems with Lisp as a tool, have been able to argue with
Martin Rodgers on a technical level, or suggest what he could do to get
what he wants, which I take to mean that Martin Rodgers simply does not
communicate on a technical level to begin with.

| Has the market decided?  I don't know.  Perhaps the Lisp vendors I've
| queried have only been humouring me.  Perhaps the Windows support that
| Harlequin claim will be in DylanWorks is just vapourware or hype?  Their
| tether technology is something that neither VC++ nor VB have, but if it
| works as Harlequin describe, then I can imagine hords or Windows
| programmers _begging_ to use it.

this is typical of Martin Rodgers' whining.  somehow, he thinks the market
(he also thinks "the market" is a physical entity with its own free will)
decides one thing when there is a staggering amount of evidence to the
contrary.  _lots_ of people buy and use Lisp for Windows, _without_ the DLL
support he says is a sine qua non for Windows Development.  _lots_ of
people are truly happy that they can do Graphical User Interfaces to their
heavy applications with, e.g., Allegro Common Lisp for Windows, yet they
don't have DLLs.  I wrote an application myself that used sockets to
communicate with a Delphi process which in turn handles the user interface
and communication with MS Word via OLE, and as long as the performance
bottleneck on a 200MHz Pentium Pro with enough RAM is the user, I can't
imagine how one could say that this doesn't work unless I have DLLs.

the problem is that Martin Rodgers really is full of it, and that he spends
his time with negative hype against Lisp, against Lisp vendors (who don't
do what he wants), and against Lisp programmers who would rather discuss
Lisp than Martin Rodgers' inability to do what he wants.

| Does the market even know what's possible?  I don't know.  Without any
| public discussion, we only have the word of Lisp vendors.  And perhaps
| people like Erik Naggum?  He may even be right (note that I've not denied
| any of his anti-Windows anti-MS comments), in which case it may be that
| most people have got it horribly wrong.  Including a couple of Lisp
| vendors!  Good grief.

people like me solve problems, then go on to the next problem.  people like
me grow progressively more intolerant of people who _don't_ want to solve
problems, but who want to _create_ problems, and who spend all their time
whining that people don't help them, especially if there is a _demand_ that
we help them for free, that we invest time and money so they can come up
with another reason why they aren't able to do their work.

| Life is too short.  I've added Erik to my "bozo" filter.

oh, goody.  then he won't see this and repeat himself for the umpteenth
time, and he won't notice that I have answered his infelicitous remarks
about me to a newsgroups wholly unrelated to the discussion just because he
wants to hurt my name.  anybody that has seen Martin Rodgers in action for
a while knows that he's _lying_ all the time, that he _must_ lie to keep up
his "I can't use Lisp because of (pop circular-complaint-list)" -- _lots_
or people throughout the civilized world are able to use Lisp in just the
ways he _implies_ (but never actually tells) he would use it.  if I'm added
to his "bozo" filter, I will also be relieved of more of his libelous
claims about me, because he no longer reads what I write.  or so I hope,
although I expect Martin Rodgers to go on for months repeating that I'm so
mean to him when I don't give him a dime, like I don't give any other pushy
pan-handlers anything, either.

| I'll miss his more constructive posts, but I have no time for his
| negativity.

perhaps this means comp.lang.lisp will get rid of his?  perhaps this means
that Martin Rodgers will now move on to and
annoy you guys, instead?

| I was hoping for a constructive discussion, but Erik is making that
| impossible.

funny how everything bad in this world is never Martin Rodgers' fault.
always somebody else, always something to whine about.  if a new Bible were
to be written in the next millennium, they'd think Job was too much of an
optimist and call in Martin Rodgers to fill the pages with sob stories.

| In spite of enouraging email from people (thanks to all of you, you know
| who you are), I have a Lisp compiler to write, so I'd like to follow the
| advise of someone who disagrees with me, and spend more time working on
| it.

this is probably news to the crowd, but Lisp
is a language that is easy to learn, comparatively easy to master (compared
to other languages), but real hard to become a expert in, and incredibly
hard to implement correctly.  it's common for people who don't really
understand Lisp to want to write their own Lisp implementation instead of
going on to become masters of the language and perhaps experts.  no other
language inspires so many people to write compilers and interpreters than
Lisp, and for many it's actually a very fruitful learning experience.

| Any offers of Lisp work will be gratefully received.

I'd like to related how I started with Lisp.  back in 1978 (I think, my
memory is hazy) I discovered The Little Lisper, which took my brain with
storm, and left permanent inspiration its wake.  over the years, I have
seen Lisps on various computers I have worked on, but I could never find a
way to use Lisp for real.  (this is a common problem, I later found out,
with beginners in Lisp, because Lisp brings with it a new mind-set compared
to the batch-compiled languages, and making an "application" is a different
kind of task with Lisp than with other languages.)  in 1994, after I had
had a nasty brush with a monster called C++, I decided it was time to find
something better to do, and I spent three years studying Lisp in various
shapes and forms, I worked extensively on GNU Emacs, both Lisp code and the
C substrate, and I worked my way up to enlightenment.  in the process, I
grew more cynical of the working environments we're told are so great, like
Unix and Windows (and NT really is no better, if you need this fuel to
flame me :), and would like to rediscover some of the old systems from
which Unix and Windows have drawn their overly simplistic design.  this has
led me through a _lot_ of background material, a _lot_ of stuff that I
didn't know I needed to understand to appreciate where Lisp is today.  I'm
not saying that this is necessary, it's just that if you come to Unix from
a Lisp Machine, you will need a fair amount of time to accomodate yourself,
and likewise from Unix to Windows.  I tried to rediscover the Lisp Machine
under Unix, through the Emacs window, and it's clear that my 15 years with
Unix have actually evidenced quite slow progression.  it has also humbled
me to the task of learning a new system _fully_, a task which I see from
friends and colleagues who try to do it for the Microsoft world is much,
much bigger there than Unix ever was.  (in consequence, Microsoft experts
are much less expert in their field than Lisp or Unix experts are, but I
don't really need _you_ to hate me too, so I won't elaborate on that.)

it's the progress that I _don't_ see with Martin Rodgers that bothers me.
my own articles of a year ago were still a bit naive.  I've done my first,
moderately large, incredibly complex, Lisp application since then, and
there's no substitute for a hard nut to crack to learn nut-cracking.  (am I
sounding like Ross Perot, yet?)  Martin Rodgers has stayed put, whining,
when I have seen not only myself, but a dozen other people, too, show
impressive progress in their appreciation and use of Lisp.  I'd like more
people to know how fast good programmers get up to speed in Lisp, but it's
as if comp.lang.lisp is saturated with this whining loser that can't use
Lisp and has made no progress for a year.  that's Martin Rodgers, and this
is why I don't treat him very nicely.  he's the only one I have any reason
at all not to treat nicely in comp.lang.lisp, which has been a most
impressively technical and helpful newsgroup, apart from Martin Rodgers.

| Followups adjusted.

yeah.  good idea.  I removed the Lisp, Scheme, and Dylan groups.
you NT advocates deal with Martin Rodgers, please.  he's one of your
babies, after all.

if DUI is "Driving Under the Influence"
then GUI must be "Graphics Under the Influence"