Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

  • Music:

Hitting the Vampire in the Lungs

I am surprised how amazingly irritating programming language snobbery strikes me. Whether it be for a programming language style, design decisions in programming languages, or particular languages, when people go beyond pareto-style arguments (we can have stronger SOME_TYPE_OF_GOOD within style X of languages), it seems that when people open their mouths and say "my preferences in languages are somehow universal and if you think optimising something different is good you're wrong or stupid or evil", they mark themself as.. well, not really an idiot, nor really an asshole, but something different for which we don't have a good word in English. Amazingly (philosophically) sloppy and jingoist about a value? Unfair? Somewhere between those terms, but much further.

I think it is entirely fair to talk about what you like in programming languages, even to say that you "prefer expressivity over formal verifiability/optimisability" or vice versa. It is also entirely fair to discuss particular trade-offs, e.g. "Fortran's no-aliasing comes at this cost in expressivity". When I use the word pareto above, I mean that some languages give up formal verifiability/optimisability properties with little benefits to anything else, and we can argue, again carefully, that given two variants of a language, one that has been lessened in some dimension some people care about by a tweak and another that has not. we might say (in one of the few times we can say this in an unqualified way) that a language is better than another.

Even in the rare cases where it's not value-laden and we can literally call a language better than another in the global sense, and especially in other cases, one should be careful when doing so.

I guess it's rule number one of group identity to consider "others = bad", even though it's usually MISSING_WORD_FROM_ABOVE to do so. I've always found such group identity a barrier to clear thinking, which is why I try to disrupt groupthink whenever I can and why I tend to think less of people that do it too much. I think being passionate about one's values and fighting for them is great, but letting one's thinking to get muddled because of that is a failure.

I think the same thing goes with most other realms of life. In a way, this fits into relativism - most preferences and arguments are based on values, and when people decide that their particular configuration of values are true, or (worse) decide to stop thinking on anything more than an us versus them level on the issues, they fail.

I think we all do this sometimes. I think that a philosophical, skeptical mind will generally (but not always) catch these failings and try to correct them in oneself and others. The mature thinker might occasionally be tempted to groupthink, but they'll hopefully at least do so halfheartedly and with a guilty heart.

I consider this type of care an intellectual virtue, necessary for the philosopher and appropriate for broad consumption.

Like many kinds of virtue, it is a path to lonliness.

Bizarre: Human attractiveness as showbreeds for pets:

Ways we classify the looks of others: quite like showbreeds for other animals. We identify someone as fitting into an archetype, and then are attracted to them by how good they are at meeting some of the elements of that archetype, even if those same attributes are not necessarily positive in another way to find someone attractive. Some of our moulds of being attracted have being dangerous/crazy (in certain ways) as positive, invoking our fascination, while in others, that might be seen as negative. Conclude: there is no grand unified attractiveness quality, but rather a set of separate ones. Having a schtick is important, and so falling outside any possible schtick someone else might recognise is a way to never be noticed. These schticks: not necessarily convergent on a single identity, and some things sit outside of them.

Additional: Popular culture has a big role in creating, modifying, or shifting acceptance of some schticks as being an attractive model. Hence, for a lot of guys, the barbie ideal is unfortunately common. Value judgement: more guys should be appreciative of geek gals, and it would be nice to have more positive portrayals of older geeks that have the rough edges of young geekdom turned into the mature cultural form of academes.

Mostly unrelated, I was impressed that the person manning the coffeeshop was able to confirm my memory about the number of electrons in each orbital level. Hooray for education.
(section not shown)

At the risk of hypocracy,I think it's a terribly bad sign for a programming project to be written in multiple general-purpose programming languages - it raises the barrier to development significantly, and all the work needed to move data between the languages is an easy source of difficult-to-track bugs. It is fair to do a very limited form of this if the programming language you want to use doesn't have all the APIs you want - if you really want to write your app in Objective-C but there's an API in Java you want to use, by all means wrap it. In the general case though, if you're doing a lot of stuff in a "guest language", that's a sign you may have picked the wrong "host language" for your project. e.g. If you've decided to hook in a Lisp interpreter and write half your program logic in Lisp, chances are you should just do the whole thing in Lisp, using wrappers as necessary.

Tomorrow: Server room maintenance from 7am until 3pm. Hooray for weekday work at a time I'd prefer not to even be awake. Upside: it will get me out of the house, likely inspiring a trip to either Tazza d'Oreo or the Bloomfield Crazy Goat afterwards. Lately I've been too depressed to leave the house on the weekends, and this is an accidentally nice way to guarantee that I will. There's a range of things that I seem to be gloriously ineffective at while at home, including sketching and philosophy. Coffeeshops seem to be a good place for that kinda thing.


  • Still alive

    Been feeling a bit nostalgic. Not about to return to LiveJournal - their new ownership is unfortunate, but I wanted to briefly note what's been up…

  • Unplugging LJ

    It's about time I pulled the plug on the LJ version of my blog: 1) I'm much more active on G+ than I am with general blogging. I post many times a…

  • Mutual Trust

    I don't know which should be considered more remarkable: That a cat should trust a member of a far larger and stronger species that it can't…

  • Post a new comment


    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded