Subject: Re: "Well, I want to switch over to replace EMACS LISP with Guile."
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: 25 Oct 2002 15:45:53 +0000
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

* Charlton Wilbur <>
| How is it in any way wise for business to hire a team of six Java-enabled
| consultants at double to triple what they're paying me (considered
| hourly), and pay them for two-man years, instead of paying me for a
| month?

  They can /find/ the six Java-enabled consultants with significantly less
  energy than they would spend to find you.  They can understand what the
  Java people spend their time on.  They can replace one of them at very
  low marginal costs.  They can replace all of them at very low cost.  But
  above all, mediocre people are much more managable then smart people.

| And then I get to support the broken Java code and the broken Java
| application server on top of it all, and the support costs of that are
| substantially higher than they would be for a Perl- or C-based solution
| for this particular problem.

  Why not reimplement it, then?  Show them your new and improved solution
  and charge them a lot of money for /not/ needing expensive support on it.

| Mediocre programmers are mediocre programmers, regardless of the
| language.  Far, far better for business to hire intelligent people who
| use efficient and powerful tools than to hire mediocrities who attack all
| problems with Java -- especially because *this* non-mediocre programmer
| is being driven out of the field entirely by boredom and frustration.

  But it is not the other mediocre programmers who are at fault for this.
  This is entirely and solely a managerial problem, and it is partly based
  in the belief that programming is "risky" and hiring controllable people
  will help reduce the risk.  People buy insurance because they want to
  lower their risks, and it is far from uncommon to choose paths that are
  more expensive but safer than alternatives.  You have to realize that a
  manager needs to feel on top of things at all times and "trust me" does
  not work as often as one would expect or hope.  Being right is not enough
  -- other people need to discover it and trust their findings, too.

| Create a culture favorable to mediocre people and hostile to smart ones,
| and mediocre people will be the only ones who can stand it.

  This has already happened to the managers.  Mediocre people are often
  afraid of smart people.  A smart manager is not afraid to hire someone
  smarter than himself because his self-confidence is sufficiently stable
  that he cannot suddenly feel like an inferior human being because he does
  not grasp what his employees are doing.

  It appears to me that once you get above a certain intelligence level,
  like two standard deviations from the average, our society has done
  enough to hone various aspects of your personality to be confident in
  your ability to deal with a complex reality.  I do not have any evidence
  to suggest that this is "innate", but it does appear that the average
  intelligence of human beings is much too low when we see how people are
  utterly unable to deal with their own situation, and much less anything
  bigger than their immediate personal needs.  It is a miracle that smart
  people got into sufficiently powerful positions that they could impose
  the rule of law on the masses who would much prefer to take revenge on
  whoever passes for scapegoat than achieve justice.  Equally gigantic is
  the invention of /history/ as a field of study, as opposed to myths and
  heroic tales, where the facts of historic events was considered superior
  to the moronic "the winner writes the history" myth-spinning nonsense
  that conflated "story" and "history".  Our modern times have apparently
  evolved faster than the average in human intelligence has evolved with
  it, because now history is replaced by political correctness and facts by
  marketing and propaganda, mistakes of the past are no longer there to be
  studied and learned from, they are to be denied.  All this suggests that
  the mediocre have regained the power they had in pre-civilized times,
  before rule of law, history, and science, where the need to "feel good
  now" is vastly more important than improving your condition.

  The above should suggest that I think the Revenge of Mediocrity is upon
  us, that the day of philosophers and thinkers and the really intelligent
  is basically over.  From the election of George W. Bush (which heralded
  the end of the United States and its dominant role in world politics) to
  the anti-technological, anti-intelligence, anti-science, anti-prosperity
  crap about global warming being our fault, the mediocre have gained so
  much power that anyone who would be have the mental wherewithal to go
  against the majority viewpoint to do something that would really improve
  the human condition (like the bravery of the real statesmen who fought to
  abolish slavery in the United States and who are now all but destroyed by
  the idiots who want reparations for the slavery that the people they want
  the reparations from fought to abolish) would never achieve that power,
  and if they did, the majority would successfully fight them.

  Our entire Western culture /is/ favorable to mediocre people and hostile
  to smart ones.  The worst aspect of anti-intelligence is mass marketing,
  which has driven the most anti-intellectual of all aspects of human
  existence: the entertainment industry, especially TV, which makes people
  lose concentration on their work so they can rush home and watch TV and
  which gives people who want to avoid work a reason to bask in laziness.

  Why should running businesses or programming computers be any different?

  The Western hemisphere will not recover from its current problems until
  it destroys the notion that marketing must be a push technology.  The
  Internet may in fact be the facilitator for a cultural change that rivals
  the industrial revolution in magnitude for human existence, by /undoing/
  the damage that has been done to our world by pushing mass marketing on
  people.  The transition from push to pull marketing has already started,
  but it will take many years to produce the ground-breaking results I
  expect it to have, and it will require massive resources to do it, but
  people are already fed up with push marketing and those who work with
  pull marketing technology have already made significant inroads into the
  traditional push markets -- one particular area that has seen so much
  change that newspapers suffer greatly, is job ads, where Internet-based
  job-matching services are so much more efficient and cost-effective.
  When the end of push marketing comes -- it should take less than 20 years
  from now -- it will have transformed our culture like nothing else in
  recent memory, and society will no longer be so heavily optimized for the
  average but will allow niches to work for individual needs both well
  below and well above average and we will see life change from demanding
  the same results for everyone (a desire that is a direct result of mass
  marketing that has only resulted in everybody being unhappy) to actually
  fulfilling real needs, which are already so diverse that the mass market
  is unable to fulfill all the real needs of /anyone/ in particular.

  It may be too late for many of us, but I believe those who want to get a
  taste of the future must jump off the mass-marketing bandwagon that got
  us the prosperity we have today and which enables us to get even richer
  with pull technology.  Powerful computers running powerful software will
  be the cornerstone of the pull marketing strategy.  The software needed
  to build and run this new and better world cannot be written by mediocre
  people today because the mediocre can only solve already solved problems.
  The really smart can yet stop the Revenge of Mediocrity from destroying
  human civilization by reverting to short-range, non-thinking brutality.

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.