Subject: Re: why we aren't using lisp (was New to Lisp)
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: 1999/06/20
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

* Christopher R. Barry <> -> Klaus Schilling
| Maybe if R.M.Stallman had an actual home and a wife and children that he
| loved and took good care of instead of only having to feed himself
| occasionally and living his life as an atheistic hermit, he might
| actually be happy in life, and realize it's okay to be paid money and
| have realistic job security for what it takes a lot of intelligence and
| hard work to really do properly and an expensive education to really do
| professionally.

  of all the irrelevant drivel that people think criticizes RMS, you'll win
  the Annual 1999 Lunatic Critic Award for worst ad hominem with special
  mention of attaching the oh-so-evil label "atheistic" to him, as well.
  my congratulations!  and this mere days after the U.S. Congress voted to
  help fight crime and gun accidents by posting the Ten Commandments in all
  public schools.  I'm mildly amused by the level of irrationality with
  which some people meet fundamental problems, and it seems the U.S. will
  get a lesbian President long before it gets an atheist President...

  if you want to criticize RMS, know him.  (no, that's not "you don't know
  him, so you can't criticize him", but "know thine enemy".)  that way, you
  won't commit the incredibly embarrassing mistake of attacking him for
  something he doesn't do wrong and by so doing, prove that you are not
  attacking RMS, but some monster you have created in your own mind that
  you try to make people believe is RMS through your _own_ evil ways and
  propaganda, much like witch hunts or lynch mobs used to prosecute people
  they didn't like, for entirely different reasons than people got agitated.

  but since you bring it up, I wonder what kind of family values and
  religious upbringing people _actually_ have who use them for ad hominem
  attacks against others who aren't exactly like themselves.  like, are
  Christopher R. Barry's wife and children proud of him for defending them
  against Richard M. Stallman's atheistic ideas?
| No, selling documentation under profitable terms for your software is not
| okay with R.M.Stallman, whom last year attacked Tim Oreilly at a
| conference he was invited to for not making his documentation "free".

  he criticized the fact that the sources weren't available, not that the
  books were sold for a profit.  you obviously haven't noticed, but "free"
  does not refer to price, _only_.  consider the meaning of "free" in the
  two phrases: "the free world" and "there ain't no such thing as a free
  lunch".  now, obviously, people have freedom and objects have prices, so
  it's counter-productive to call it "free software", when what he's really
  after is "free programmers".  that's valid criticism, however stale by
  this time.

| In many cases, selling only documentation or support or a configuration
| tool is not a realistic way to have job security either, ...

  that isn't one of his points, either.  you have obviously not noticed,
  but the idea is to have people pay for the creation of software, but not
  for being prohibited from using it, which is what the very prohibitive
  licenses from companies like Microsoft are all about.  striking the right
  balance between sharing development costs and licensing to consumers is
  the really tough job here.
| He's a lunatic.  And you are even more of a lunatic for worshipping him.
| If he still liked CL, you would worship it and be flaming all the
| schemers.

  whether the certified lunatic Klaus Schilling worships RMS because he was
  a Scheme fanatic first or became a Scheme fanatic because RMS wants GUILE
  to be a Scheme is actually very hard to tell.  whether he is more of a
  lunatic because of worshipping him or picked RMS to worship at random is
  also very hard to tell.  RMS is as plagued by lunatics who worship him as
  he is plagued by lunatics who criticize him.

  want my angle on this?  RMS' desire for change is non-continuous and
  cannot be reached incrementally from here, mostly because he rejects any
  and all continuous and incremental changes.  this means it won't happen,
  no matter what he does.  also note that it is _not_ the freeness of Emacs
  that made it a success, nor was it the freeness of the sources for Linux
  that made it a success.  freeness is not even necessary for success, much
  less sufficient.  how can I say this?  because MS-DOS succeeded the same
  way both Emacs and Linux did: build a community, use community resources
  to build further.  why did the free Mozilla flop?  (I haven't heard much
  about it, but boy did I hear about the release of the sources, so I guess
  not much has happened.)  it had no community, and failed to build it.

  now, community-building is not predicated on freeness of sources, not
  even their general availability.  you build communities by rewarding
  people for their contributions and help them retain ownership of their
  efforts.  the curious thing is that free software doesn't actually _do_
  that in any meaningful way, and old-timers in the free software world are
  _extremely_ rare.

  I'd like critics of RMS to consider a question that might put their
  hostility towards him and their defense of such issues as "job security"
  in a new light: who benefits from making job security so expensive?
  indeed, who benefits from making modern life in general so expensive?
  once you have thought about it for a while, consider the follow-up
  questions: why do you defend them?  why do you attack those who reject
  them as lunatics?  surely you aren't benefiting yourself, or you wouldn't
  make the point that job security is so expensive and so hard, would you?

  it's been said that the unique strength of the human species is that it
  builds communities to solve problems so large that no individual could
  even hope to solve any one of them alone.  the software crisis appears to
  me to be a serious lack of community effort to solve our problems, and a
  bunch of people go off in each their own direction to solve the same old
  problem for the thousandth if not millionth time.  why do C/C++ fools
  still manually write #include statements and why do Windows fools still
  write GUIs mostly by hand?  why do HTML generators produce so incredibly
  crappy and verbose files?  while mankind creates communities and tries to
  solve huge problems, programmers are obsessing about the execution time
  and internal representation of LENGTH on strings, just to take a random
  sampling from today's set of problems.  perhaps the solution to _this_
  huge problem in the art of programming is precisely to lose control over
  source code once created?  it is perfectly evident that creating a good
  language that would save people a lot of effort if they only learned to
  use it instead of seeing their job security in creating yet another silly
  new language in order to have people repeat all the previous effort in
  _their_ particular environment.  job security in software didn't use to
  take much effort: just be a moron, and you could always get re-hired to
  fix your own bugs, such as the Year 2000 SNAFU.

  as long as there no point in doing it right the first time, there is no
  need for a community to help do just that, and therefore, there is no
  community except where people who _want_ to do it right the first time
  congregate in their free time.  the communities that are "taken over" by
  the free software people is what professional software people should have
  had the wherewithal to create long ago, like the medical and legal
  professions have done.  perhaps it's the reckless irresponsibility of the
  whole industry that is reflected in the fact that people get together in
  communities on their free time.  most other organizations that attract
  people in their free time are also objections to some perceived chaos.  I
  mean, when Bill Gates can swindle and lie people billions, who wants to
  be honest and upright except "lunatics"?  there's no job security in
  being ripped off by the better hoodlum.

@1999-07-22T00:37:33Z -- pi billion seconds since the turn of the century