Subject: Re: Understanding Erik Naggum
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: 05 Oct 2002 20:17:07 +0000
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

* Pascal Costanza
| ?!? Yes, they are. Criminals and even murderers are treated by
| psychotherapists like that (at least in Germany, but I guess also
| elsewhere). I think there's a reason for that.

  Look, my patience with this topic is limited and the incessant discussion
  about my person in this newsgroup is really fucking annoying.  The least
  you can do is pay attention and try to stay focused, OK?

  If they call in /psychotherapists/ in order to be friendly to people who
  have done something wrong, /you prove my point/.  Normal people do not
  treat these wrong-doers that way.  Or do you seriously want people on
  this newsgroup to become trained psychotherapists before they answer
  articles from annoying ignorants?

  People here offer their advice for free.  Even your psychotherapists get
  paid to be nice.  When their help is received with hostility, they have a
  goddamn /right/ to feel snubbed, disrespected, and mistreated.  People
  here (with the exception of the resident evil) use this forum to further
  a particular purpose in a broad sense: Programming in (Common) Lisp.
  If you are so easily distracted that you cannot focus on this purpose, it
  is not a good idea to expose yourself to distractions.

| Your response started with a very good suggestion. You have strongly
| suggested to him to read Keene's book and reassured him by saying how
| rewarding this would turn out to be. I think this was a very positive and
| constructive way of dealing with the issue.

  Glad you see it.

| However, after that, in the same message, you have also diminished your
| efforts.

  No, you think I have diminished my efforts.  If your purpose is to do
  programming in Common Lisp, where is your focus?  You focus on things
  that "diminish my efforts".  People who actually want to program in
  Common Lisp will know how to use the information they have received
  productively to their own ends.  You have a higher goal than programming
  in Common Lisp, however.  I think you should be aware of this and manage
  to see things in perspective.  Being a German, I expect you to value form
  higher than function and politeness higher than actual communication.

| In your reply you started to use the swear word "bullshit";

  Oh, my goodness, a "swear word"!  Obviously, this is so important to you
  that you lose focus and get seriously distracted.  Whose responsibility
  is that?  Someone who posts something that is clearly his negative
  opinion about something that others value highly must /expect/ a harsh
  response to such negativism.  I think "bullshit" is a quite appropriate
  response to people who post their personal negativism as if it were fact.
  Clearly, if you do not value what others have denigrated, you would not
  be able to understand that it is a hostile move on their part, and if you
  are really dumb, you only think people use "swear words" without cause
  and are /satisfied/ to condemn the use of "swear words" without further
  investigation as to their cause.  People of the absolutist persuasion also
  tend to have lists of words that you cannot use lest you be condemned to
  Hell.  I find such people mildly entertaining and watch their tortured
  response to simple words with considerable amusement, but that is in real
  life, and I do not engage them.  When a person lives in a cage in a zoo
  of his own creation, one should take care not to annoy the caged animal.
  However, on the Net, the caged animal has chosen to wander out into the
  great wide open with his zoo-cage mentality intact and does not deserve
  any respect fot his mentality.

  You know a lot about a person if you can predict accurately when he stops
  investigating something and is /satisfied/ with what he has found out and
  believes to be the cause.  People are in no small part /defined/ by what
  causes them to close their investigations, whether about other people or
  about individual events.  A person who closes a case after he has found a
  scapegoat is a seriously inferior human.

| perceived to have the subtext that you think that Jeremy is just not
| intelligent enough to understand them

  You have been reading this newsgroup for a while, right?  Whenever did I
  need a subtext to say what I think about someone's intellectual capacity?
  So get real, please.

| especially the statement "It is just complex, and you have decided not to
| deal with it." can be regarded as a personal attack.

  Gimme a fucking break!  You /got/ to be making this shit up on the spot!

| I guess that Jeremy has the general feeling that he is capable of dealing
| with complexity and that he has not "just given up".

  If he has, he would not have any problems with a difference of opinion on
  this aspect.  He would be momentarily puzzled that people would conclude
  this and ask for their reasons if he /really/ cared or he would simply do
  some work to explain why he had concluded what he had.  It would still be
  a professional exchange among professionals.  Taking it personally is his
  /first/ mistake and indicates a lack of purpose to his participation.

  If he is terribly insecure and does not /really/ think himself able to
  deal with complex issues, but needs affirmation of his conclusion that
  "CLOS is too hard" in order to feel better about himself, he should be
  prepared not to get that affirmation from people who disagree with him
  and refuse to engage in touchy-feely group hugs.  If he really approaches
  other people in order to get those group hugs, doing it in /writing/ is a
  very serious, even fundamental mistake.  This is not a support group
  where people's shortcomings are supposed to be validated and approved.
  If someone have problems getting something to work, we help him make it
  work, not make him feel better about it not working.  If you need the
  latter, look for

  This is a group about programming in Common Lisp.  If you walk in on a
  support group and say "I can't hack it", people will care about you and
  validate your failure and say encouraging things.  However, if you walk
  in on a technical group of people and exclaim that "it is too hard" to
  people who have been through the learning process, you do not talk about
  /yourself/ and /your own problems/, you make statements about the /tools/
  that other professionals use with great benefit.  Now, if you think that
  Usenet is a giant support group complete with group hugs, /you got it
  wrong/ and getting such a mistake fixed can indeed be painful, but you
  /do not attack people who correct you/ no matter how you feel about it.

  I maintain that once you go out on the Net, you should behave the same
  way you do when you leave the safe confines of your home.  You can no
  longer be naked and neglect to shower and stink on people, for instance,
  nor can you expect to be able to accomplish everything in a dirty sweat
  suit.  You also leave your personal problems at home and do /not/ bother
  stranges with them.  If you scream and shout because someone used a
  "swear word", /you/ are the nutcase.  If you physically attack people who
  have used a word you do not tolerate or a tone you do not like, or you
  cause a public disturbance in order to "defend" a "victim" of "abuse",
  and you keep going at this, /you/ get to see the inside of a jail cell,
  not the person who was supposedly abusive.  The same applies here on the
  Net: If you purposefully create a massive disturbance over something,
  /you/ are the offender and the aggressor.  Luckily society in general
  tends to react much, much stronger to those who disturb the peace over
  something they cannot handle than the supposed offence, or we would have
  ongoing wars all over the place with people wrecking stores and public
  buildings because someone thought someone else was "abusive".  People who
  reach for their weaponry when somebody else is "abusive" are ipso facto
  dangerous and deranged lunatics because they can attack anyone at any
  time when their "sensibilities" are offended.  Society locks such people
  up and prevent them from attacking normal people.  However, many think
  that since they can venture out into the great wide open that is Usenet
  from their home or some other secluded space, they can behave the way
  they would in solitude.  It has been said that one should try to imagine
  the person behind the other screen, but I think that would be much too
  private.  Even Madonna has been reported to regret her much too private

| In this example, I think that concentrating purely on positive
| reinforcement and suggestions for improvement would have been more
| effective.

  But you imply that he is not at fault for his own negativism.  I mean,
  the guy is stupid enough to invoke "religious".  Where are the positive
  reinforcements and suggestions in that?  Do you seriously think that
  people should always respond positively to absolutely anything they read,
  but one who does not is not to blame unless that person is me?  Why do
  you not fight those who attack /me/ so viciously and tell them to be nice
  ans positive towards /me/?  Why this selectivity?  Why is it /my/ fault
  that he is not positive about Common Lisp?  Why is it /my/ responsibility
  to make him feel better when he can offend me and others at liberty and
  /he/ goes scot free for his hostile reaction to me?  Why is your theory
  of positive reinforcement so selectivy applied?  If being negative does
  not accomplish what being positive can be, you are looking at reactions
  to /his/ negativity right in the eye.  These things are universally valid
  or they universally invalid.  Selective application and throwing blame
  around is so unprofessional that people who engage in it should be shot.

| Especially, I think that the first paragraph of your reply would have
| done the job if it would have been your only response.

  Then why did he not /focus/ on that?  Is concentration and the ability to
  sort out the most valuable things from what you read too demanding on
  modern youths?  Do you flame your newspaper for including a lot of sports
  pages if you have no interest in sports?  Do you cancel your subscription
  if they allow an advertisement that "offends" your sensibilities?  (Lots
  of nutcases actually do this, mind you.)  In short: Do you shut yourself
  in when the world around you does not conform to your wishful thinking?
  Do you take responsibility for coping with a reality that is not entirely
  to your personal liking?  Those are your basic choices.

| I don't think your statements where intended to be insulting, but they
| can be perceived as such.

  Absolutely /everything/ can be perceived to be insulting!  Your statement
  can be perceived to be extremely insulting to Jeremy's coping ability in
  the real world.  If you have to construct possible insulting contexts,
  you are in dire need of psychotherapy sessions until you get over it.

| I am convinced that, when in doubt, it's better to omit statements that
| are ambiguous on this level (with regard to possibly being perceived as
| insults or not).

  I am convinced that people should have learned to cope with a reality
  that is not entirely to their liking by the time they are let loose on
  the Internet.  Failure to do so means that they are doing something that
  /will/ hurt them whether anyone intends it or not, and if they are so
  fickle that they are offended by what they read in newsgroups, you can
  just imagine what will happen to them if they ever hear Eminem on the

| Well, from what I have read so far I have the impression that your way of
| argueing is pretty non-standard.

  And which standard would that be?  The "standard" way to have opinions in
  "modern society" is to allow everyone have them /except/ those who know
  what they are talking about.  The "standard" way to argue is to base your
  entire chain of argument on how you /feel/ about something and then make
  up arguments, logic, statistics, whatever, to rationalize your feelings.
  If you want this "standard" let me know.

| All non-standard behavior causes irritations in people just and purely
| because it is non-standard, but for no other reason at all.

  People who react like this need to live in small villages where everybody
  agree on everything and not venture out into the great wide open.

| This is a natural reaction of people and you can't do anything against
| it, in my opinion.

  This is nothing like a "natural" reaction.  Thinking it is /natural/ is a
  large part of the problem.  /Failure/ to cope with a situation is /not/
  natural.  If you fail to cope with a situation in /nature/, you die.  If
  you want to survive, you better learn to cope with everything that comes
  you way.  The /natural/ reaction to anything unusual is to /want to cope
  with it/ because you succeed better if you cope.  What is /natural/ among
  people with an intelligence level that makes them able to function well
  in reality is precisely that they do not lose track of their purpose and
  lose their concentration simply because they see something "unusual".
  People who have a firm purpose to what they do /will not diverge their
  attention/ for such reasons.

  Therefore, those who lose their focus do not have a rational purpose to
  their participation in a technical forum for programming in (Common) Lisp
  but expect it to be something else, like an armchair philosophers society.
  And typically, those who argue the most for politeness and being nice to
  idiots /are not programming in Common Lisp/ and therefore do not consider
  these idiots to be annoying distractions from that purpose.  They would
  prefer polite conversation about nothing than engaged debate about real
  and difficult problems.  And that really is the choice you get to make on

| I am not sure if you are talking about me here?!?

  Only you know whether you sent Erann Gat mail to encourage his hate
  campaign against me.  For all I know, the bastard is lying through his
  teeth to avoid taking responsbility for his own evil deeds.  This would
  not be the first time someone /invented/ supporters in order to feel less
  guilty for what they have done.  He is also the kind of person who would
  do just that kind of thing to shirk responsibility for his own actions.

| So I would really like to see him continue to participate in c.l.l.

  I would not.  He and his cohorts have no respect for the peace that
  should exist in a newsgroup, but much prefer to stage wars and cause much
  hostility than to actually /improve/ the condition any way they can.  He
  and his cohorts are destructive and evil, that is, the kind of people who
  are willing to hurt other people on purpose and who take pleasure in the
  act of hurting others.  Only the dead have seen the end of war.

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.