Subject: Re: superior(?) programming languages
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: 1996/12/17
Newsgroups: comp.arch,comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

* Cyber Surfer
| Excuse me, but I think I know my clients rather better than you do.

no doubt, but we all know they are clients who don't want solutions, they
want to make decisions about random factors of the implementation, ...

| They don't give a shit about Lisp, but they do care about a great many
| other things, like image size.

... like image size.

| I've no use for EVAL.  I've never used it in any of my code, nor I expect
| to ever do so.

can you think of Emacs without `eval'?  or indeed any other Lisp system?
I rely on `eval' like nothing else in the Lisp systems I use.

| Did you see the figures for code sizes that I posted?
| Can you deny that EVAL was so much larger than anything else in Gambit C?
| Can you convince me that I really need all this code?

how the hell is anybody supposed to know what a figure like that means?
your numbers are _literally_ meaningless.  like most statistics, they are
presented as if numbers alone had meaning.  like anybody who has even an
inkling of understanding of statistics knows, it's what you have measured
that give the meaning, not the (numerical) measurement.

| Forgive me if I'm misrepresenting you, but it often seems to me that your
| argument is that everyone can and should use Lisp, regardless of what
| anyone else thinks.  If somebody would like to pay me to write Lisp,
| instead of Windows, software...

first, there is a very fundamental difference between rejecting invalid
arguments and embracing the opposite of an invalid argument, whatever that
might be.  you don't seem to understand this difference very well.  just
because you offer so many invalid arguments and so much bullshit about how
hard Lisp is for your sorry case, and I object and reject them, does not
mean that any more of your invalid arguments, this time about what I think,
magically become true.  you're illogical and irrational.  that annoys me,
more so when you don't seem to recognize that more than just your arguments
are being rejected -- the entire set of premises from which you draw them
is being rejected.

second, there is nothing more destructive in a community of professionals
than the sickening tendency among people of lesser integrity to consider
_first_ what other people might think, _then_ what might be possible.  I
make my living on the premise that the reverse order is the only valid one,
and frequently forget what other people might think.  sometimes it takes a
lot of effort to ignore other people's objections, however.

third, "somebody" doesn't just call you up, saying "we'd like to pay you to
write Lisp".  they call you up to ask for your assistance on a hard
problem, they listen to your suggestions and accept your design if you can
present it credibly, they are willing to fork over a lot of money for a
license to a supported, commercial Lisp development environment if you
present the case for it, but only if you present the case for it, and they
leave you alone for a month or five while you work out the magic.  but you
don't get called like that just by sitting in your uncomfortable office
chair, writing Windows applications and airing your frustrations on
comp.lang.lisp -- I sure as hell wouldn't call you with an offer to work on
a Lisp project.  it takes real-life effort, and may put tens of thousands
of pounds of your personal income on the line, in saying "this can save us
much more than it costs and much more than any alternative", and actually
prove it.

| If there's a way of satisfying them by using Lisp, then I'll be very
| interested. However, I don't start by choosing Lisp, and then looking for
| clients to write code for. Perhaps you're more fortunate than I am...

perhaps I just work harder at it than you do.  perhaps I work on problems
that can't be solved in a realistic time frame in any other language than
Common Lisp and within a large Common Lisp system.  perhaps this has cost
me three years of basically living off of writing articles and giving
lectures instead of programming.  perhaps I succeed in what I want because
I don't waste my time and brain prostituting myself on Windows and Visual
whatever?  perhaps I got so sick and tired of programming in stupid
languages like C and C++ that I wanted to sit down and invent my own
language, build up my own support organization and try to sell it to
others.  or I could find a language that gave me all I needed, and as soon
as I found a client who was interested in more than trivial solutions, have
them fund my acquisition of tools from somebody who had already invented
and implemented such a language.  I chose the latter.  nonetheless, I enjoy
nitty-gritty details of implementation, _ONCE_.  I'd like to do things only
until I learn to do them expertly, then move on.

| I'm not dogmatic about using Lisp, or defining what it is or isn't.

the net effect is that you're not programming in Lisp for any clients.  you
can use whatever reasons you want to defend this position, if you think it
needs defending (and if my recollection of your postings here for the past
few months is correct, you portray a tremendous need to defend yourself and
your position).  my impression is indeed that you are dogmatic about Lisp,
but not positively so, _negatively_ so: you repeat and stress how Lisp is
never the right solution for you, despite repeated examples and much
assistance to the contrary.  this is very, very annoying.  instead of
concluding that "Lisp is not right for the jobs that Cyber Surfer does",
the conclusion becomes "Cyber Surfer is not right or the jobs that Cyber
Surfer does".  I would never hire you for your newspostings.  several
people _have_ hired me for my newspostings.

I'm no longer interested in understanding why you hold the positions you
do, because I have yet to find any actually _constructive_ part to your
whining.  also, I have proven that with a much effort and with a braveness
that I look back upon in awe -- I put much more on the line than I ever
realized -- I have managed to land two contracts that bring me out of the
Lisp wannabe camp, and right into the middle of a breakneck action movie.
I haven't had so much fun in many, many years.  I don't know if I will come
out of this on top, but for the first time in at least five years, I can
say to myself "I want to be a programmer and I think I can make it".

and by "a programmer" I don't mean an assembly line worker who churns out C
or C++ or any of that shit.  I want to build large structures and systems,
not just line up a lot of new copies of the same old stuff side by side and
call that a career.  now I think I can pull it off, but I couldn't do it
without a major Lisp vendor giving me unparalleled moral and technical
support, and I couldn't do it without clients who really understand and
listen to what I have presented to them.  incidentally, most of this has
happened in the past couple months, with _years_ of preparation on my part.
maybe I have just been very fortunate, but I don't think these things just
happen.  still, I'm deeply grateful to the people who make it possible for
me to enjoy programming for pay, again -- this time in a language that lets
me think hard about hard issues, not waste all my time on trivial things.

users should be computer-friendly.