Subject: Re: Java is really convenient. Re: Sun thinks about switching Java to S-expression syntax: Lava
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: 1999/02/22
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

[ I fail to see the difference between this and previous pointless gripes
  about Lisp's future, except that this one is a little more intelligent
  than the previous ones.  I predict we will get nowhere, and John Morrison
  will be exactly as unhappy with Lisp when all is said and done, his point
  being, as so often before, to legitimize his being unhappy with Lisp. ]

* (John Morrison)
| I run into a couple things that make it harder to implement Lisp-based
| solutions:
| (1) The complete unfamiliarity with Lisp by both new graduates and
| experienced programmers.

  "complete" is one of those pointless exaggerations that hint at the lack
  of a constructive element to this discourse.  some people don't like
  words like "idiot" and blame them for everything, while I tend to regard
  people who talk in absolutes and completeness and other obvious nonsense
  to be a much more serious problem, because they _don't_ use words that
  make people react unless they _really_ know the territory.  in other
  words, someone might _believe_ John Morrison, while I take it that when I
  talk about the mass market as needing to address idiots, not a single
  person among you fail to understand that I'm _not_ talking about the
  people John Morrison claim I do, namely managers, but the likes of Jerry
  Springer's interview objects and perhaps audience, that the mass market
  needs to address.  "idiot" connotes disdain for such a mass market.
  "complete" _denotes_ lack of honesty and rational, constructive purpose.

| (2) Those engineers for whom salary and/or "career development" are
| important are often unwilling to be trained in Lisp, because the real
| demand in the marketplace is for MFC C++ types.

  lots of people find Common Lisp on their own.  e.g., the two moderately
  high profile Common Lisp projects in Oslo at the moment both attract
  programmers who want to work with Common Lisp.  obviously, these people
  want something for their own lives and well-being, and cannot be assumed
  to want to sacrifice their carreers the way the people John Morrison has
  chosen to focus on would if they had Lisp forced on them.

  while I'm sure that "willingness to be trained" is an issue, I have
  seldom seen people exert any willingness to be trained in _anything_ they
  don't believe in.  those who discover something on their own are those
  who _matter_.  you can't _make_ people appreciate something, especially
  not something as elegant as Lisp.  in time, they will discover it.  the
  clue to any successful convincing is to care about the people who
  respond, and _completely_ ignore the people who don't.  if you start
  focusing on the nearly 6 billion people who do _not_ respond to anything
  you say about Common Lisp, you are headed for a depression.

| (3) Those that *are* familiar with Lisp, especially those with more
| "passing" exposure, think it's Big, Bloated, and Slow (and there's a
| kernel of truth in this depending upon which implementation you're
| talking about).

  this nonsense is another strong hint that this is just an effort to
  "help" John legitimize his negative emotions.

  those who are _familiar_ with Lisp, think none of those things, as has
  been evident for a very long time.  those who are _not_ familiar with
  Lisp, but who have heard of it from people like John Morrison, believe
  it's big, bloaded, and slow, for these are prejudicial emotions, and are
  as such antithetical to "familiarity".

| (4) It is my understanding that the cost of commercial-grade Lisp tools
| exceeds those of C/C++/Java.  And, as we are learning in our pricing of
| our commercial products, it is tough to sell software at a price point
| above that of the hardware (and the hardware price is constantly falling).

  this puzzles me.  if you buy a moderately fast and large machines these
  days and stuff it with the hot Microsoft products, you will end up paying
  much less than 1/4 of the total package for the hardware.  also, most
  bean-counters have _two_ budgets: acquisitions and operations.  while it
  is evident from the market that acquisition costs are disproportionally
  underweighted, operational expenditures do tell people something, once
  experienced, and if they can back away from them, they do.

  however, the operating words here are "our pricing".  John Morrison is
  clearly working for a company that has _requirements_ that he is unhappy
  that the Common Lisp vendors do not address, and he's taking it out on
  Lisp in general, instead of getting along with reality and adjusting his
  own expectations so they don't result in frustration.  again, this has
  very little do with Lisp, and a lot to do with John Morrison being unappy
  that he cannot use Lisp.  this is a recurring theme on this newsgroup,
  and I predict that no matter what any one of us or all of us collectively
  do to help John Morrison, he will come out of this unhappy about Lisp.

| (5) The fact that the tools one needs to solve the "other" parts of the
| given problem ... drags the "core" effort in the C++/Java direction.
| [the memory/resource argument]

  so your problem is going to be solved in C++ and/or Java.  so what?  what
  the <beep> does this have to do with Lisp?  why is _Lisp_ to be blamed
  for yet another failure of managers and other people to think straight?
  people fail to get the point and they waste resources _everywhere_ at
  _all_ times and for all sorts of reasons, some of them irrational and
  rational only according to highly personal premises.  to single out _one_
  of the contenders in such a situation and blaming it for everything is
  itself irrational and unlikely to be more than consequences of highly
  personal premises.

| (A) Make available a freely-available, high-volume, high-quality,
| Lisp-native development platform which would run on ubiquitous hardware.

  another instance of "if you think big enough, you never have to do it."

| (B) Stop generating ill-will toward and within our community through our
| impolitic choice of words in communications forums such as this one.  The
| ill-will generated makes it tougher for us to both collectively and
| individually overcome these problems.

  sigh.  more stupid blame-shifting away from his own personal problems,
  and after having been "positive" in the sense of "if the sky was always
  blue, the sun always shining, and we had peace on earth, then Lisp would
  Win Big", it is obvious that nothing whatsoever will make John Morrison
  happy enough about Lisp to have any consequence for anything anywhere.

  let's just _end_ this stupid process of legitmizing yet another fool who
  wants an excuse to dislike Lisp, and who will come away disliking Lisp or
  at least not using it no matter _what_ happens or anybody does.