Subject: Re: lisp is *SLOW*
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: 1997/08/18
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp,comp.lang.c++,comp.programming
Message-ID: <>

* Andreas Eder -> "The Peaceman"
| In the first half of the 19th century Group Theory was developped by some
| mathematicians, notably Evariste Galois. Nobody knew then, that it would
| be of any use outside the world of mathematics. So it was an utter waste
| of time by your definition. Now, about 100 years later it became a vital
| tool for understanding quantum physics and the foundations of modern
| chemistry. Very real world applications, if you ask me. (There wouldn't
| be any computers without it). So, is it utter waste of time, or isn't
| it. You are surely wise enoughto foresee all the applications a new
| mathematical theory has, or predict that it will never have one, aren't
| you ?

the "Peaceman" may be a product of our times.  first, he's ignorant of
history.  that's the rule of the day.  second, he's skeptical of those who
have a serious education in computer science.  most managers are, and
believe that the only consequence of higher education is higher costs,
since they can hire any two-bit jerk off the street to hack C++ or HTML.
third, he believes in the bottom line like it was a religion.  all managers
do this today -- if you don't contribute to the bottom line in a way
measurable by the stupid management tools they use, you're downsized.
fourth, his planning range is about the same length as TV commercials.
modern mangement courses stress cost/benefit analyses that tend to make
even bright people excessively short-sighted.

modern management theories have created a culture of hysteria in the
workplace.  of course, people who _look_ busy are usually not doing very
much productive work.  the human mind is working frightfully slowly
compared to our tools these days.  instead of adjusting by making smarter
tools, managers admonish their employees "don't work harder, work smarter",
while at the same time depriving them of every second they could have used
to create smarter tools for themselves and every second they could have
spent in reflection.  contribute to the bottom line every single hour of
the day, or you're replaced with somebody who will, and your manager is
scared shitless that that somebody is working hard to contribute to the
bottom line of his competitor right now.

of course, they're not all like that, but many enough to create the kind of
"here and now"-idiots like "the Peaceman" who will take their gospel at
face value and react to the increasing speed of society, not by crusing on
the changes and have great hope for the future, but by becoming neurotic.
right now, people live to become 80.  it's not unwarranted to assume that
we will live to become 100 and have to work until we're 80 by the time I
grow old.  that translates to "lots of time".  what's a decade's worth of
C++ on this scale?  why do we care so much about the latest fads that will
fade away in a year or five?  all they do is create a hysteria, but we're
not doing much significantly differently.  and that which _is_ significant
is not to be found in the hype, but a decade before it.  we all know that a
while a dog will gladly run at least 10 times longer the human who takes it
for a walk, it's the comparatively slow-walking owner who plans the tour,
sets the direction, the overall pace, and executes and completes it.
scurrying people show the same characteristics as such dogs, and have no
idea what they have done or why at the end of a significant time period,
such as five years.  every day in between, they may still feel good that
they solved some problem or did productive work.  I don't want to take that
away from the scurrying people, but their insistent belief that those who
don't scurry must be out of work, not live in the real world, etc, are as
ludicrous as the dog accusing his owner of not having discovered a thousand
new smells on today's walk.

on the other hand, we should remember Reisner's rule of conceptual inertia:
"if you think big enough, you never have to do it", and actually take the
dogs for their daily walks.  next year, the Peaceman will be all excited
about some other language and be equally ignorant of its history and use,
although probably an expert in its minute syntactic details.  that he also
barks up the wrong tree with this recursion hangup of his may only serve to
complete the metaphor.

man who cooks while hacking eats food that has died twice.