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

* Sajid Ahmed the Peaceman
| I am a real programmer, and I can tell you what it's like in the real
| world.

hmmm.  it is not very often that we find people who use arguments ad
hominem to support their own position.

why should we listen to you?  because what you say is wise, true, coherent,
informative, or entertaining?  no.  because you're a "real" programmer who
can tell people what the "real world" is like?  yeah, something like that.

how can we determine whether something is or is not "real" according to
your usage?  what is the test to falsify a claim to be "real"?  if you fall
through such a test, what are you?  a fraud, a fake, a wannabe, a failure?

if you are real but others here are not, are they then supernatural,
omniscient, omnipotent, and/or omnipresent compared to you?  surely, they
cannot be any _less_ than you are.

I have wanted to know what this "real world" thing is.  however, the more I
hear about it, the less interesting it gets.  this is in sharp contrast to
the observable world which gets more and more interesting, what with all
the fascinating research, development, creations, art, and other splendor.
the "real world" of you and other Microsoft victims is one where everything
that is great about the observable world is turned on its head.  there's
research, but they're doing everything over again.  there's development,
but it's about products with more useless "user functions", not any actual
_development_ -- they're just doing more of the same old shit.  there are
creations, but they are insignificant compared to the market share and the
sales figures.  there is probably art somewhere, but it's so hard to spot
that I don't even see it.  if there is splendor, it's on the cover of
magazines and in their ads.

inside this extremely _superficial_ "real world", we find programmers who
show brilliance and sustained intelligence in solving hard problems.  if we
dig below the surface, we find new releases of programming environments
with massive performance improvements, for both programmers and products,
and vast improvements in the ways we work.  if we look at the products that
aren't sold by the millions, we find entirely new things we can do that the
consuming public just wouldn't be able to understand for several years.  if
we are concerned with more than appearance, we find art in the intelligent
application of new technology to previously non-existing problems.  if we
are willing to learn and study, we still find splendor in the work of many
people in this field.  not many new ones, but the old ones still sparkle in
the darkness of our times.

many believe there is not much development left in computer science.
considering that people are more willing than ever before to do manual work
(they only need more immediate feedback from pushing the colored levers in
the lab rat interface, er, the graphical user interface) this may be true
at the consumer level, but this is not unlike physics.  "consumer physics"
(i.e., the kind of physics that consumers would understand and use) has
probably not seen much development for the past 50 years.  however, the
results of the continued "elite" research is ever more present in the
hardware and the technology we use today.

your "real world" is really a televised projection of the observable world.
whatever the TV tells you, "reports" to you, you believe, including the
ads.  what's real is not what you experience, but what you're told.  the
same is true of the computers the mass market uses: they don't really see
the computer _doing_ anything, only making user-friendly appearances on
their screen, the computerized TV.

who chooses what to display on the computerized TV?  who chooses what to
send on the TV?  according to research into what people will push levers to
get more of (the mass-market market research), people will push levers to
get more entertainment, more ways to keep from exposing themselves to new
ideas, change, or revolutions.  people seek the safety of the known and the
customary, and they find it in the TV.  society is "de-controversialized"
(starting with the desire for political correctness), and the approvable is
up for democratic vote.

the "real world" has been created by people who voted for whatever made
them feel safest, and they got to choose among the ads delivered through
their electronic pacifier -- the TV or the computerized TV, pick one.

the observable world becomes visible only when the strong glare from the
propaganda machine cum pacifier has subsided, which means you have to turn
it off, go out to see for yourself, enjoy the strange sensations that come
when you rediscover that you're a sensing being, not just a sink for
prepackaged propaganda and microwaved entertainment (satellite TV).

if you leave the glossy ads in the magazines behind, you will find that
people don't actually produce all that much with these things.  they work a
lot, and the scream a lot about it, but what comes out of the "real world"
is just electronically heated air.  and that's just what we see from this
bozo the peaceman, too.  "consumer ideas for consumer brains."

| The question is, where does LISP fit into this picture?  I'd really like
| to hear your response.

in this picture, Lisp is like the internal design of the ant hill busy with
bugs only significant because of their numbers, who don't know what they
are doing, why they are there, or where they are going, except by following
the trail of smell from others of their kind.  what makes an ant colony
thrive and survive is the structure of the ant hill, not the busy ants.
the construction of the ant hill and the reason it survives winters and
predators is hard to see by focusing on the busy ants, but film an ant hill
for months and view it at 100 times normal speed, you see it.  fortunately,
some people are able to think in larger time frames than 1/24th of a
second, and so don't need the aid of the TV to see the pictures worth

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