Subject: Re: PART TWO: winning industrial-use of lisp:  Re: Norvig's latest paper  on Lisp
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: Wed, 19 Jun 2002 03:55:31 GMT
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

* Andreas Hinze
| Let's ask that question again for the person who decided what programming
| language should be used for the project.  No one will blame him for using
| Java or C++.  These are good proven languages for that kind of problem while
| lisp is only usefull for AI applications.  You disagree?  You're right.  We
| all know that that is wrong.  But his "big boss" think that way.  And our
| friend will keep his job.  IMHO one need to change the mind of the "big
| boss".  And that is hardly done with technical arguments alone.

  It is not primarily the "Big Boss" that thinks this way, it is other Common
  Lisp users who publish their ill-informed "opinion" on their own language, so
  various searches for Common Lisp on the Net and in the literature will turn
  up negative articles about Common Lisp by Common Lisp users -- and who else
  can one trust better?  Stupid people publish articles detailing how the
  language that made them rich is broken and want to create another language
  just to bite the hand that fed them.  Stupid people also publish articles
  detailing how they lost their faith in Lisp.  Stupid people seem unable to
  get over the fact that they no longer want to use a language and just move on
  to something better.

  I would not want to go as far as to exconerate the "Big Boss" for clueless
  views, but he got them from somewhere, and the more I have looked, the more I
  have found negative articles about Common Lisp in particular by its own user
  base.  So it is not like people invent reasons not to use Common Lisp, they
  ask Common Lisp users, and many of them more than willingly rattle off a
  number of good reasons, from few programmers to lack of "standard" features
  via lack of "free" compilers, _not_ to use the language.  What is this crap?
  Is it a self-esteem problem?  Is it an apologetic attitude for doing things
  differently?  Is it a reluctance to state that Common Lisp is smarter than
  any other language around?  Is it a reluctance to admit that one's own
  mastery of this great language may be at fault for one's lack of success?  Is
  it because the language is smarter than most of its practitioners by far that
  insecure people prefer languages that are dumber than themselves?

  I think it is time we accept responsibility for the gloom and doom instead of
  pointing fingers at the "Big Boss" and the even more irresponsible Someone
  Else.  The mind of the "Big Boss" does not need changing -- it is an accurate
  assessment of those values that he deems relevant to his decisions.  Change
  not just the conclusion if you want a different outcome, change the premises.

  Does Common Lisp need a new renaissance?  Hell no!  Does it need adapting to
  newfangled technologies?  Hell no!  Does it need standardization of feature
  X?  Hell no!  Does it need a dumber (i.e., wider) user base?  Hell no!  Does
  it need gratis tools and attracting the ignorant newbies and the Microsoft
  victims who have been taught that the only true way to enlightenment is _not_
  to study and learn?  Hell no!  Does it need more clueless morons who cannot
  even bother to buy a goddamn textbook or look things up in the standard?
  Hell no!  Does it need a killer "app" (god I hate that slang term)?  Hell no!
  Does it need a bunch of people who mutually exclude each other from making
  money on their investments and published code?  Hell no!  Does it need a
  bunch of youngsters in order to keep growing and revitalizing itself?  Hell
  no!  What it takes is for _you_ to use it instead of some lamebrained tool or
  "language".  What it takes is for _you_ to get tired of all the newbies who
  think they know everything so much better than everybody else they have to
  create their own goddamn language from scratch.  What it takes is for _you_
  to start thinking about proper design of your programming environment and not
  buying into the shitty designs perpetrated by _both_ Microsoft _and_ Linux.
  (Common) Lisp has been the language from which inferior people picked good
  ideas when they could not handle the full language.  (Common) Lisp grew out
  of the needs of brilliant minds who wanted to get something done _right_, not
  just _done_.  Common Lisp is not the language you use to hack up a stupid log
  format so you can recover 50% of the logged information -- it is the language
  you use to design a log format from which you can harvest patterns of use and
  abuse and other emergent properties.  In this age of paranoid security on
  more powerful hardware than most people would know what to do with, Common
  Lisp offers a secure environment for replacements and serious enhancements of
  the most security-sensitive components of a business that is exposed on the
  Internet.  Common Lisp should offer an environment in which you could run
  programs for Windows, the archetypical insecure and bug-infested platform.
  Common Lisp should offer the ability to write tools that will help automate
  both the writing and the debugging of software in other languages, like
  Common Lisp programs helped analyze COBOL programs for Y2K problems.  Why the
  fuck do we argue over inconsequential idiocy?  (And do shut the fuck up about
  "measured debate" if you are into bondage and discipline-debates.)  Why are
  we _not_ out there to offer a real database system with Common Lisp datatypes
  instead of the tragic mess that SQL imposes on us in the C-based APIs out
  there (not to mention that XML calamity)?  Why are we _not_ out there
  building the next planning system for interstate highway updates?  Why are we
  _not_ building publication solutions that would allow a reversal of the most
  hostile of all hostile intellectual activities undertaken by mankind in the
  past 40,000 years -- the flooding of innocent people with senseless loads of
  marketing crap -- and building the foundation for pull advertising?  Where
  the hell did the intelligent agents go, anyway?  Where is the grammar- and
  synonym-sensitive search engine that finds matches for articles with words
  you did not think of?  Where is the dumbing-down service that can take a
  precisely formulated and primarily correct technical or scientific article
  and turn it into a meaningful piece of information for the 1000-word-
  vocabularians?  Where is the research on machine representation of context
  going?  Never mind the expert system that learns, I simply want an interface
  to an encyclopedia or specialized information database that expects me to
  remember what I read in some other article not all that long ago, so I do not
  need the full-blown version aimed at the relatively ignorant.  Where is the
  artificial intelligence that can actually take care of some of the things the
  human brain sucks at, like _precision_ in its otherwise amazing memory?
  Where is the active suggestor, as opposed to the passive computer of what-if-
  scenarios?  I want to let the network of company computers run what-if-I-had-
  thought-of-that-experiments and other Searches for Terrestial Intelligence
  instead of wasting computrons on SETI.  What if people were not so goddamn
  scared of machine intelligence higher than their own that they would keep
  computers as stupid as can be?  Where are the people working on the future?
  Where are the futurists that do the interesting stuff that will hit us all
  around the next bend?  I mean, to _hell_ with some practical extraction and
  reporting language, I want _real_ progress, and I want it before I go mad
  with rage over the wastes of human ingenuity, such as it is, that goes into
  writing yet another spyware "app" for Windows so yet another retard can send
  his obnoxious, insulting advertising to people who explicitly do not want
  that kind of information?  For that matter, where is the spam filter that
  does the job of the intelligent, conscientious receptionist I can no longer
  afford because of the supposed labor-saving office automation that makes an
  ordinary business letter cost 20 times what it did in 1965 (adjusted for all
  important economic indicators)?  While I am at it -- where is the _real_
  savings of the computer revolution?  Who took all my money and gave me
  advertising for life insurance and Viagra?

  So much real work needs to be done!  So much intelligence is being wasted on
  so many utterly retarded applications.  This is not some "Big Boss's" fault!
  This is the fault of the programmers themselves.  Instead of being the movers
  and shakers of the next millennium (that's this one, so pardon the hackneyed
  terminology), programmers have allowed themselves to be blue-collar slaves of
  the most idiotic adventure ever -- yet another stupid way to waste gargantuan
  amounts of money on advertising, and for what?  Youth envy?  Obsessive fear
  of dying?  (I'm not opposed to "logos", I'm just massively opposed to the
  attempt at saturating me with irrelevant nonsense 24/7.)

  Once we were Programmers.  Maybe our last best hope is a movie.
  Guide to non-spammers: If you want to send me a business offer, please be
  specific and do not put "business offer" in the Subject header.  If it is
  urgent, do not use the word "urgent".  If you need an immediate answer,
  give me a reason, do not shout "for your immediate attention".  Thank you.