Subject: Re: Bohr's way From: Erik Naggum <email@example.com> Date: 07 Oct 2002 19:32:12 +0000 Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp Message-ID: <firstname.lastname@example.org> * Tim Bradshaw | I assume that he meant that he considered himself lucky to have worked in | environments where he could behave like that and not have to deal with | spurious politeness issues. But this seems to imply that it is "luck" if you become competent at what you do, as all my experience with competent people, from carpenters to neurosurgeons have been a straight-forward language and no pretense about whether they know something or not -- they know they know what they know. (People who do not have a clue tend to mumble about beliefs and opinions.) | One impression I got from his books is that he perhaps did not regard | himself as terribly clever - even though he obviously was *terribly* | clever - so he may have considered himself lucky to have been in the | right place at the right time to do the work that got him the jobs that | ... Or alternatively that he was lucky to have been born as clever as he | was. Such is perhaps luck, but if you want to be good at what you do, and you are willing to change fields in order to be good at what you do if you could not be good enough at it in your first and randomly chosen field that it made your self-esteem, you will probably get into such a position. | Interestingly, long before I discovered cll (or in fact Lisp) I had come | to the conclusion that this kind of non-sugar-coated behaviour is very | much a characteristic of hard scientists (not scientists with very short | haircuts and tattoos, but scientists who work in the hard sciences). It has been my experience that it is strongly related to competence, but competence is related to some method of measurement of your success at what you try to do. If you work in a field where you cannot distinguish between good or bad, where everything is someone's "personal opinion" and nobody has any right answers, that just /has/ to be destructive for your self-confidence. Incompetents and other approximators probably think it is good for them to work in fields where they can hide their incompetence in the statistical noise and rebel against those who want to measure the effectiveness of their work. | When I was studying physics, and in my holiday jobs doing electronics, | one of the delights was being able to simply say or be told `no, that's | wrong, because ...' and to work in an environment where this was not | treated as some personal insult, but as a statement. This kind of | emotional detachment from an argument is a really wonderful thing. I do not think of it as emotional detachment. I think of it as emotions attached to actually accomplishing your goals. You want to make things work, and that makes you feel well about things that help you reach that goal, and less well about things that detract you from your goals. Ever noticed how many of those nutjobs who go after me turn out to be dabblers and hobbyists who do not actually want to be good at programming in Common Lisp and therefore do not appreciate accurate information and quality advice relevant to that task? Ever noticed how many of those who clamor about etiquette do not actually program in Common Lisp? One of the feel-good guys even says it should be /fun/ here, but I think it is fun to be good at things, I think it is fun and /entertaining/ and rewarding to /understand/ complex things. I find my enjoyment in working hard on something for months and then I feel good about grasping things, they were fun to grasp for its own sake. Like many people revel in their ability to accomplish physically hard tasks and enjoy their strength, some people actually find enjoyment in managing complex intellectual tasks. Since we are talking about Richard Feynman, I bought a book for its title alone: «The Pleasure of Finding Things Out». (DDC 500; ISBN 0-7382-0108-1; LCCN 99064775) | I should have stayed in physics depts, I guess... I think it is sufficient to work with competent people, and that starts with people who actually care about the work they do. If you do not care about the work you do, you would obviously care more about something else, such as feeling good /despite/ not caring about the work you do. Really /caring/ about one's work is so foreign to some people that they become extremely defensive when one even /suggests/ that they should, directly or by implication, such as by asking for the expected results. I wonder how these feel-good guys react when they need the services of bankers, waiters, grocery store attendants, librarians, accountants, dentists, doctors, insurance agents, landlords, real estate agents, etc, but instead of doing their job like professionals and performing the services you expect from them, tell you about they /feel/ when you ask them politely to please get on with it. Do they care when somebody does not do their job, whether they had a fight with their spouse that morning over who should leave work early to go to the pediatrician? Do they care if the auto mechanic that promised their car that afternoon could not complete the job because his dog was run over? Do they care if their stock broker fails to sell or buy when instructed to and they lose money because he was on the phone with his wife who threatened to leave him? Do they care about the plight of the roofer who was supposed to come fix their leaking roof but never showed even though it was the only day of the week you could be home to wait for him, because he did not feel like roofing that day? Do they happily go hungry back to work when they spend their entire lunch hour waiting for the waiter to bring them their food and get no better explanation than that the chef did not like their suits? Do they return late from lunch and tell the people that had called them while they were gone to go stuff it because they were hungry? Or to take an example I jotted down from «The Shipping News»: "We see the postman has landed in the clink for throwing the mail in Killick-Claw harbor. He said he had too much to deliver, and folks could just take a dip and help themselves. I guess it helps if you can swim." Please note the "landed in the clink" part. For some reason, that was an appropriate use of force against someone who did not do their job for "personal reasons". My impression is that the feel-good guys are incompetent and stupid and need others to be nice to them because if other people were fair and just to them, they would suffer tremendously, and therefore defend other incompetent and stupid people because they can identify with the sloppy bastards, but not with those who actually do their job well and have that as their primary motive and their reason both for asking questions and providing answers to problems from others who also want to do their job well and who find their enjoyment in their capacity to do just that. -- Erik Naggum, Oslo, Norway Act from reason, and failure makes you rethink and study harder. Act from faith, and failure makes you blame someone and push harder.