Subject: Re: Best combination of {hardware / lisp implementation / operating system}
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: 27 Oct 2002 14:09:58 +0000
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

* Advance Australia Dear <>
| Although I am remunerated adequately for  what I do at work, I find it
| difficult to justify US $ 900 = AU $ 1800  for a purely hobbyist tool.

  Very few hobbies are inexpensive.  The majority of hobbies cost /far/
  more than computing and programming.  One might be tempted to ask what it
  is about computers that make some people so unwilling to pay for anything
  and who think that "hobby" is an adequaty excuse when almost any hobby
  they could take up instead would be more expensive.  In fact, there is
  nothing about computers, The attitude is that of the /masses/ who are
  unwilling to do something seriously.  /Real/ hobbyists are enthusiasts who
  spare no expense: they seek ways to make more money so they can play with
  their hobby.  What we have in the computer industry is not hobbyists, but
  we did have hobbyists in the past.  Today, we have bored dabblers who see
  the computer as frivolous entertainment, as puzzles, as meaningless toys.
  And on the Net, we have people who think that /not/ being serious about
  their very own interests should be a mark of distinction.

  This is what happens when computers become mass-marketed goods: The
  masses actually get ahold of them and apply "mass ethics" to it: Being
  serious about something carries the potential that you will stand out
  from the crowd, and the masses knows what it standing out does to people
  with an interest in computers and programming: They become geeks and
  nerds, they become socially maladjusted because the masses cannot tolerate
  that someone becomes good at or is even interested in something that has
  an intellectual bent.  Therefore, a true hobbyist would easily spend ten
  times as much as the computer "hobbyist" would /not/ spend on his "hobby"
  because it is no hobby at all.  It is the absence of interest that marks
  the man of the masses who has unfortunately bought a computer and wants
  to play with it for free, without monetary or intellectual investment,
  for fear of not being a member of the masses if he did either.

  What /hobbies/ do people have that easily cost more than USD 900?  One of
  my hobbies is marksmanship, target shooting with .22LR and .38 pistols.
  It would be hard to even /begin/ with that hobby for less than USD 900.
  Another hobby is literature.  Unless I want to read mass market editions
  of interesting books, I have to shell out hard cash for hardcover.  Right
  now, tells me that I could make more than USD 900 if I sold my
  past purchases as used books through them.  I have taken up movies on DVD
  as another hobby, but have decided against spending several thousand
  dollars on a home entertainment center like many people do.  Still, at
  USD 25 or more per acquisition, USD 900 does not last long.  Then I have
  a cat, but she is not the hobby she could have been with cat shows and
  everything -- I do think it is nuts to spend thousands of dollars every
  year on such a hobby.  But she has to maintain a good health and deserve
  the best treatment any living thing can get, and this is not free at all.
  I would be /very/ unhappy if she started to need USD 900 a year in vet
  bills, not because of the money, but because that would mean she was
  living on overtime.

  One of the things I do /not/ have because I want to spend money on valuable
  things is a car.  A car costs about four times as much to purchase and own
  in Norway as in the United States, and almost all of the additional cost
  is taxation, which I think has already taken too big a chunk out of my
  life.  We have a bonus system on insurance that makes it very expensive
  to start to own a car, and if you are a very good customer, it often pays
  to cover minor repair work from your own wallet compared to a reduced
  bonus.  USD 900 would therefore cover a fender-bender.  USD 900 would
  also buy you less than 25 gallons of gasoline.  So I decided against this
  necessity because I value many other things higher than a car.  My rent
  is also very low for the Oslo market and I have not bought a new computer
  since 600 MHz was fast, but I saved up money to purchase the gigabyte of
  memory and up the total disk space to 350G.  And then I spend a lot more
  time in the library than I used to because I want to save money on books
  I would probably only read once and which would force me to move if I had
  to purchase more bookshelves for them.  Budgeting is a balancing act and
  I probably refuse to spend money on many things that other people consider
  bare necessities, just like the car and the house I do not own.

  But you find it difficult to "justify" USD 900 on your hobby.  Amazing.
  How much does your Internet connection cost you?  With a commercially
  hosted server and digital cable TV with a megabit Internet connection,
  USD 900 gives me about 9 weeks' worth of full service, but this probably
  does not count, because I do consider it a business expense.

  So what would you /really/ have to give up to get USD 900 for your hobby?
  Or do you make the purchase tomorrow morning now that you find some
  difficulty in /not/ justifying the expenditure?

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.