November 12, 2002
Tim's Secret Confession
Tim Converse's secret confession:
I love Lisp. Even more secret confession: Lisp advocates get on my nerves.
A Lisp advocate can be happily and effectively making arguments about programmer productivity or high-level language design and everything will be going quite swimmingly right up until the point when things get sticky or confrontational or start departing from plan, and then... our Lisp advocate will curl his lip and start muttering savage little imprecations about how the only six intelligent people on this Earth are himself and his five Lisp-programmer friends. And this is just so unfortunate and unhelpful.
I do get really sick of that attitude among some lispers. People are not stupid for not using Lisp. Actually, I'm sick of that attitude as expressed in "people use Microsoft because they don't know any better" too. It's understandable if you're twenty-two years old, but after that you should know better. Or, you're bitter.
Posted by jjwiseman at November 12, 2002 05:30 PM
Just kidding. I don't love Lisp. Also, psople are not stupid for not using Lisp, pesople are just thupid.
I completely agree that the attitude undermines the arguments of people trying to make claims, be they Mac advocates or Lisp programmers. (Or worst of all, MCL devotees?) But it's hard not to fall into it, though, sometimes.
I have one friend who does console video game programming, and another who does massively-parallel nuclear explosion simulations. When they tell me that they need to allocate and deallocate memory explicitly, and be otherwise close to the hardware, I believe them. I don't accept that from anyone else, but different languages are good for different tasks, and that's important to remember.
(Following up to my earlier analogy, are different computers good for different tasks? Nah, not anymore, really. All the important software under Windows gets ported to the Mac. If you're a diehard Linux fan, you'll figure out how to get what you want running. It just doesn't matter.
Mind you, I still believe that people use Windows because they don't know any better. Microsoft Office is different; it's just more functional for that 1% of the crowd that needs more capabilities. )
Even if Lisp were super-portable and as freely available as Python/Ruby/Java, there'd still be reasons to write in C or Perl or what have you. So people aren't stupid for not using Lisp, at least sometimes.
People do get stupid when they refuse to use Lisp despite knowing nothing about it. But the same is true for any similar argument from ignorance.