Namedropping “ESR”

For at least fifteen years my name and its tri-letterization has been something with which you could conjure up a lot of attention among hackers and other sorts of geek. This fact presented the more clueful of my personal friends with a delicate problem: under what circumstances would it be proper for them to invoke this instrument?

I have actually been asked for guidance about this more than once. I developed some guidelines more than a decade ago. To the best my knowledge my friends have been pretty good about applying them. I present them here for your amusement.

1. Please do not drop my name to score cheap social-status points. That’s crass and I don’t like it.

2. Do drop my name if by doing so you can achieve some mission objective of which I would approve. Examples that have come up: encouraging people to design in accordance with the Unix philosophy, or settling a dispute about hacker slang, or explaining why it’s important for everyone’s freedom for the hacker community to hang together and not get bogged down in internal doctrinal disputes.

3. Do drop my name if by doing it you can rock someone’s world in a positive way. A case of this that comes up fairly often is encouraging a young proto-hacker.

4. Do drop my name if doing so would be funny. Funny is even an acceptable excuse for scoring social-status points with it – if you think I’ll laugh when I hear the story, go right ahead.

And yes, I apply these rules (or obvious analogs thereof) to myself. I think it’s vulgar to wave my fame around in contexts where it’s irrelevant. It can be very amusing, if you’re clued in, to watch what happens when somebody in a group of programmers (or gamers or SF fans or any other population that oversamples programmers) that hasn’t met me before twigs to The Presence.

If this attitude seems odd to you, understand that fame is exhausting and psychologically dangerous (I have a lot more sympathy for rock stars who fuck themselves up with drugs than before I felt the pressure myself). Ironic detachment from one’s own celebrity is, I have found, an effective coping strategy.

62 thoughts on “Namedropping “ESR”

  1. @esr: “Ironic detachment from one’s own celebrity is, I have found, an effective coping strategy.”

    I think a key may be that you didn’t set out to become famous: it happened as a side-effect of attempts to do other things. Your attitudes may be incomprehensible to those who might want to be famous as an end in itself. (And that goal is incomprehensible to me. Great Ghu. *Why?*)

    But then most attributes we might consider desirable – status, money, influence – normally come about as side-effects of other efforts, a fact usually lost on those striving for them directly.

  2. >I think a key may be that you didn’t set out to become famous: it happened as a side-effect of attempts to do other things.

    Almost completely true. There was a point at which I realized that my mission objectives would be advanced if I could wield fame as an instrument; after that point I did set out to become more famous. But you are correct that fame in itself was never my goal.

  3. >And that goal is incomprehensible to me. Great Ghu. *Why?*)

    I think the usual answer, at least in men, is “for the chicks”. But that had no draw for me, as I was quite good at attracting women before I was famous.

  4. Or “for the money”, or “for the ego boost”.

    FWIW, I apply my own fame in much the same way, and follow this set of rules both for myself and for my friendship with Eric. Like him, I didn’t set out to become famous.

    To me, the best part of it is exemplified by the time I was sitting in my seat on an airliner waiting for everyone to board, and a kid noticed my luggage tag (which has the picture of me in the Tron Guy suit standing by the airplane I had). Seeing his face light up as he realized the real live Tron Guy was on the same airplane was worth all the hassles of that particular piece of travel.

  5. >Seeing his face light up as he realized the real live Tron Guy was on the same airplane was worth all the hassles of that particular piece of travel.

    Yeah, I’ve had moments like that too. They’re good to remember when the world is getting me down.

  6. @esr: “I think the usual answer, at least in men, is “for the chicks”. But that had no draw for me, as I was quite good at attracting women before I was famous.”

    I’d generalize is as “for the attention”, which works for either gender. (And some of the current “outrage junkies” have it in spades: the causes they espouse tend to be less important than the attention they get publicly espousing them.)

    On those lines, a late friend once decided decades back that I need merely snap my fingers and an attractive woman would fall into my arms, and took a survey of women we knew in common to try to figure out the secret and get some of the magic pixie dust. I told him there was no secret – it was a matter of approach. “I’m looking to make a new friend. If that friendship happens to express itself sexually, that’s fine. If it doesn’t, also fine, as it wasn’t the point of the exercise. You get drunk and chase tail. Women you might actually want to know don’t appreciate being considered tail and chased by drunks. Those who do you really don’t want to know.”

  7. @esr: ” But you are correct that fame in itself was never my goal.”

    Agreed, fame can be a tool used to good effect if you have it, and I can see striving for more to make it a better tool. But again, fame isn’t an end in itself. It’s a means to an end.

    I don’t believe I’ve ever dropped your name in conversation first. I have done so second, when someone else does so and I say “I knew Eric before he was famous.” It’s an effective antithesis to those looking to gain cheap status points. “Crestfallen” is the descriptor I apply to the reaction.

  8. >it was a matter of approach. “I’m looking to make a new friend. If that friendship happens to express itself sexually, that’s fine. If it doesn’t, also fine, as it wasn’t the point of the exercise.

    Well, sometimes it is a significant part of the point, if she’s particularly hot. But yes.

    One of the saddest things I’ve learned as I have grown older, however, is that the enlightened form of cherchez you and I learned to practice in SF fandom lo those many years ago is not a thing universally desired by women. Some are unable to respond to forebrain courtship because they’re just dimwitted; others who are bright enough to be able are so fixated on what the PUAs call “riding the alpha-cock carousel” that guys like us just register as boring and uninteresting. One way to spot women in these classes is that they prefer to be approached when they are not sober.

    Human mating. It is, in many ways, a tragedy for those who feel and a comedy for those who think.

  9. >I have done so second, when someone else does so and I say “I knew Eric before he was famous.” It’s an effective antithesis to those looking to gain cheap status points.

    I approve.

  10. I’ve told Eric this story before, but the only time I name-drop him is when someone tries to tell me what The One True Open-Source Way is…and once when someone tried doing that to me while I was sitting at Eric’s kitchen table on my laptop, I just had to let fly.

  11. >once when someone tried [to tell me what The One True Open-Source Way is] while I was sitting at Eric’s kitchen table on my laptop, I just had to let fly.

    You probably have told me this story, but I don’t remember it well enough for the one detail I want to know now. Did I learn of this in sufficiently close to real time to laugh my ass off while you were responding?

  12. Yes. You also explained exactly how the guy was full of prunes (his complaint was that the program was checking at runtime to see if it was built by the main development team, and complained if not).

  13. I largely work in the commercial/closed-source software market. I’ve dropped Eric’s name once or twice (in a vaguely appropriate context) – usually it’s met with a “who?” I was more amazed that he wasn’t universally known among software engineers than anything else.

  14. >I was more amazed that he wasn’t universally known among software engineers than anything else.

    That doesn’t particularly surprise me – I don’t expect any random software engineer to know who I am. I am a bit surprised when the brighter, more deeply technical ones don’t. But this is rare in my experience.

    A curious, and related thing, is this: In social situations that draw programmers, I find I can usually spot the ones to whom my ESRness will be important in advance, but I don’t know what pattern I’m matching.

  15. Human mating. It is, in many ways, a tragedy for those who feel and a comedy for those who think.

    So that is where Dr. Strangelove came from…

  16. I dropped “Eric Stephen Raymond” into the prayer request bin because

    a) the intercessors have no idea who you are (although they get it when I say “This guy wrote so much of the underlying code of the internet that you’re using it every time you log on whether you know it or not.”) and

    b) I know other people named “Eric” who are also in the prayer request bin.

    If you’re not hearing as much from the Great Horned Lord these days, that might be part of the reason.

  17. >If you’re not hearing as much from the Great Horned Lord these days, that might be part of the reason.

    /me points and laughs.

    Look at the crazy person. He thinks he can interfere with my ability to enter different modes of perception and cognition by praying to a Nobodaddy-God that doesn’t exist.

    Kids, this is why you shouldn’t go near that “religion” stuff until you have internalized rationalist mental hygiene. It’s a kind of infection – if you let it into your brain without having defensive counter-memes in place it will fuck you up just that horribly.

  18. @ encouraging people to design in accordance with the Unix philosophy

    what do you think of systemd?

  19. >what do you think of systemd?

    I haven’t studied it, so haven’t formed an opinion. I’m aware there’s a controversy.

  20. >I haven’t been the fetchmail maintainer in a long time. Is it in danger of dying? If so, why?
    It was more of a joke than anything. Didn’t realize you were not maintaining it anymore, but I do love the program.

  21. From Dune:
    “The person who experiences greatness must have a feeling for the myth he is in. He must reflect what is projected upon him. And he must have a strong sense of the sardonic. This is what uncouples him from belief in his own pretensions. The sardonic is all that permits him to move within himself. Without this quality, even occasional greatness will destroy a man.”

  22. >From Dune:

    Wow. I had forgotten that, consciously.

    File it under essential truths I learned from SF.

    It may have saved my sanity.

  23. @esr: “Well, sometimes it is a significant part of the point, if she’s particularly hot. But yes.”

    I’m not discounting the sex by any means. But friendship first – among other things, it tells me if sex is a possibility, and *desirable* if it is. If I can’t get along with someone out of bed as well as in, sex is simply more trouble than it’s worth. (Been there. Done that. Have T-shirt. Never again.)

    (I’ve also had some practice in gently discouraging women interested in me when *I* wasn’t interested. I have no desire to hurt feelings, so I side-step reasons why.)

    “One of the saddest things I’ve learned as I have grown older, however, is that the enlightened form of cherchez you and I learned to practice in SF fandom lo those many years ago is not a thing universally desired by women. ”

    I never really thought it was, so I wasn’t disappointed by the fact it wasn’t. There are as many drivers for desire as there are people, and many are mutually exclusive.

    But like everyone else, I’m selective. I may simply have a different set of selectors than the norm. I’ve never been interested in one night stands, and if the woman who plays ““riding the alpha-cock carousel” finds me boring and uninteresting, better for both of us. We wouldn’t get along. For me, *she’s* boring and uninteresting”.

    “Human mating. It is, in many ways, a tragedy for those who feel and a comedy for those who think.”

    And sometimes both.

  24. @esr: “>I have done so second, when someone else does so and I say “I knew Eric before he was famous.” It’s an effective antithesis to those looking to gain cheap status points.

    I approve.”

    In a broader context, it falls under the heading of “Why it’s not a good idea to make assumptions about who you’re talking to – they might just have been around longer, and know a lot more about what you’re pontificating about than you do.”

  25. who the fvck is esr?

    And on the opposite end of the scale I have a cherished document on my system containing the transcript of an IRC exchange between myself and ESR, this is the relevant line:

    13:26 <esr> FooQuuxman: That’s very good.

    Because when he says that about something you wrote it is worth keeping.

    /me prepares to receive the mallet

  26. So…and understood that given the type, it probably wouldn’t matter anyway, but…perchance…does hooking up with a hot hacker chick qualify under criteria #2? Perhaps #3?

  27. @esr: “Kids, this is why you shouldn’t go near that ‘religion’ stuff until you have internalized rationalist mental hygiene. It’s a kind of infection – if you let it into your brain without having defensive counter-memes in place it will fuck you up just that horribly.”

    That’s something we agree on. What we disagree on is the definition of “religion”.

  28. >does hooking up with a hot hacker chick qualify under criteria #2? Perhaps #3?

    An interesting question which I had not heretofore considered.

    I issue a ukase: provisionally acceptable under #3, but if I hear that persons have been dropping my name and then failing to properly satisfy said hot hacker chicks, the indulgence shall be withdrawn.

  29. @ESR;

    Indulgences. Not just for Catholics anymore ;-)

    “I issue a ukase: provisionally acceptable under #3, but if I hear that persons have been dropping my name and then failing to properly satisfy said hot hacker chicks, the indulgence shall be withdrawn.”

    Copy that, and no worries there my friend. It is a sad man who has not learned that the greater satisfaction you bring, the greater you shall receive.

  30. >>does hooking up with a hot hacker chick qualify under criteria #2? Perhaps #3?
    >An interesting question which I had not heretofore considered.

    Well, there is one difference between your fame and mine, Eric…

  31. Oh god(s). The religious skirmish doth begin…

    There are those who think that life has nothing left to chance
    A host of holy horrors to direct our aimless dance

    A planet of play things
    We dance on the strings
    Of powers we cannot perceive
    ‘The stars aren’t aligned
    Or the gods are malign…’
    Blame is better to give than receive

    You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice
    If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice
    You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill
    I will choose a path that’s clear
    I will choose freewill

    There are those who think
    That they were dealt a losing hand
    The cards were stacked against them
    They weren’t born in Lotusland

    All preordained
    A prisoner in chains
    A victim of venomous fate
    Kicked in the face
    You can’t pray for a place
    In heaven’s unearthly estate

    You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice
    If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice
    You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill
    I will choose a path that’s clear
    I will choose freewill

    Each of us
    A cell of awareness
    Imperfect and incomplete
    Genetic blends
    With uncertain ends
    On a fortune hunt that’s far too fleet

    Y’know, even as a kid I failed to come up with an imaginary friend. I recall my breaking process with an image – I’m reminded of a cartoon drawing I once saw when Bill Watterson announced that Calvin and Hobbes (I loved those as a kid) was over. There was an illustration somewhere thereafter which showed the boy looking at his tiger studiously, then turning and walking away.

  32. >Well, there is one difference between your fame and mine, Eric…

    *snrk* This is one case where knowing what would be right conduct for me does not settle the question with regard to namedroppers who are not me.

  33. > [ESR] points and laughs.

    I call on all here (especially the mighty Eric) to examine what intellectual and moral bankruptcy really looks like and really means. What does it mean to be “religious” and what does it mean to be “scientific”. Eric and I have sparred only a little in the past (he does not wish to participate, and the worst that I have called him is “coward”. He has acknowledged that he can’t possibly win, but denies the real reasons as to why.)

    You can go over that using Ctrl-F in your browser, and while doing so, bear the following questions in mind:

    - Who is pointing and laughing, speaking evil and slander of the other, and using ad hominem attacks to the nearly complete exclusion of rational argument?
    - Who more often defers to experience, experiment, testimony, logic, and evidence to support his cause?

    Actually, going back over the history isn’t my main point. Think about these above questions just on their own, and perhaps forget that they are about any particular individuals. Think of some debates that you have had and perhaps ask yourself this instead: You do you take more seriously? Who should you take more seriously? I know Eric’s answer already: I quoted a widely respected theological authority, and he called me crazy for doing so. Eric obviously considers what I consider “religious” above “scientific” (this latter a concept with more consensus than the former.)

    > Look at the crazy person. He thinks he can interfere with my ability to enter different modes of perception and cognition by praying to a Nobodaddy-God that doesn’t exist.

    - Is it Eric or is it Terry who is more prone to deny that what happens to him in this world are part of his reality? I can tell you who testified to experiences of “The Great Horned Lord” and proceeded to deny that such a thing could possibly be real. I can also tell you who was reluctant to consider the existence of the Spirit he was hearing from until he had several pieces of evidence from outside any potential delusional or human conspiracy to generate it (hint: it wasn’t Eric!)

    > Kids, this is why you shouldn’t go near that ‘religion’ stuff until you have internalized rationalist mental hygiene. It’s a kind of infection – if you let it into your brain without having defensive counter-memes in place it will fuck you up just that horribly.

    The participants didn’t result to vulgarities, but Ken Ham and Bill Nye indirectly examined this question on http://www.debatelive.org (check it out!) One of the very first things that Ken Ham did was demonstrate that his concept of God and the creation account in the first chapter of Genesis in the Bible had some consensus behind it. He had several recent recorded and written statements to prove that highly influential and educated colleagues agreed with him and the Bible regarding the concepts being argued about. Bill Nye does an excellent job of defending Evolution with the scientific evidence available, quite easily one of the best such presentations I have ever seen. Ever. (They both know that consensus does not confer truth, so don’t bring that up.)

    On the other hand, he foolishly attempts to deny that creation has any consensus and refers to his opponent as an isolated hermit: the “Ken Ham Model” to the point of ignoring the fact that it comes from a document base roughly 3400 years old. Eric makes him look like a real pro in comparison to his own antics towards me!! (The silly notion that Zoroastrianism had anything to do with the Bible it is an exception.) In that regard he should have been more like Eric and Richard Dawkins and categorically call everyone in that consensus crazy… but that would be undiplomatic, among other things.

    Further, Eric has denied the basic material needed to develop “internalized rationalist mental hygiene”. You can’t develop an information system without the information, which is why rote memorization in grade school is useful: It literally gives you something to think about. Isn’t it obvious that if you have nothing to think about, you can’t think about anything! It’s a bit like saying that Lego(tm) is a bad way to talk about how things are put together in the real world, and, to a degree, that is an accurate assessment. On the other hand, what else is there for the beginner? I would not advocate having a three-year-old tinker with welding equipment instead!

    We have lots of kids raised on fairy tales like “Ring Around the Rosy” (which is about the bubonic plague) and “Rock-a-bye Baby” (which is about an infant falling out of a tree!) turn out just fine. We’ve also had kids raised on TMNT and SpongeBob turn out quite thoroughly fucked up. In that context, Eric should have a very tough time convincing anyone that the story of Jesus Christ’s life, death, resurrection, and the Kingdom of Heaven are going to “fuck [kids] up just that horribly.” Just like the childhood cartoons, I have also seen plenty of people pick up the gospel and later drop it as they grew up (Jesus himself describes exactly that Matthew 13:20-22.) I certainly hope that you, all grown adults as near as I can tell, haven’t fallen for Eric’s notion of religion’s horrific brain-rotting infectious tendencies.

    Perhaps Eric is rather frustrated that people who internalize religious concepts (i.e. myself) are very reluctant to drop them in favor of his inconsistent and overtly meaningless system of nonbelief, and “fuck you up just that horribly” is merely a reflection of that and has no true basis in fact. In any case, I’m asking you to think for yourselves, not just buy the lines we’re offering.

  34. >”widely respected theological authority”

    You keep getting funnier. Unfortunately, it’s sick humor.

  35. > Your attitudes may be incomprehensible to those who might want to be famous as an end in itself.

    Thankfully they don’t succeed, usually, as they are too self-absorped to be able to sense what others want or need and work on giving it to them, which they reward with fame. Same with money or power.

    (Or at least this used to be the case. There is a disturbing new phenomenon of the scandal-chasing anti-celebrity who simply becomes famous through doing all sorts of trashy, shameless things other people find disgusting or revolting and this catches their attention and fascinates them in a negative, abhorring way. As the media only cares about attention and not positive attention this sadly works.)

  36. ESR’s name was dropped on me, many years ago, in the process of assessing a new hire to our company. “So, guess who Steve listed as one of his character references.” “Who?” “Eric Raymond.” “That Eric Raymond?” “Yeah.” I’d call this a case of #3 on my friend’s part, and I suppose #2 on Steve’s part. (I knew you initially through OSI and the Jargon File, I think (whatever’s happened to that recently, btw? I lost track of the mailing list), then secondarily through A&D.)

    Then I got to meet you and Cathy at Steve’s wedding, which was pretty cool.

  37. Some are unable to respond to forebrain courtship because they’re just dimwitted; others who are bright enough to be able are so fixated on what the PUAs call “riding the alpha-cock carousel” that guys like us just register as boring and uninteresting. One way to spot women in these classes is that they prefer to be approached when they are not sober.

    The people on the internet who sincerely use the term “alpha-cock carousel” as if it were an actual thing are, as far as I can observe, frustrated puatard chumps who have spent precious little time around actual women.

    The sluttiness ascribed to the “alpha-cock carousel rider” is uncommon in practice. What you are more likely to find are what I call wolf-tamers, a class of woman who seeks out dangerous men in the hopes that they can be “tamed”, and made dangerous to everyone except for her. The evolutionary pressure here is to seek out a strong mate who can protect and provide for her and her brood. This idealized “dangerous but tameable” personality is why stories like Twilight and Endless Love are so endearing to a certain (very large) class of female.

    Of course the drawback to being a wolf-tamer is that you encounter many wolves who don’t respond well to your attempts to tame them, resulting in a string of relationships that fizzle out quickly in disappointment, heartbreak or — worse — abuse and violence. To a clueless idiot this could well look like “riding the alpha-cock carousel”, but such people are generally so fixated on wondering why no one will ride their sweet, sensitive cock that they don’t bother to consider the evo-psy dynamics involved in what a woman really wants.

  38. @Jeff

    I might adapt your post to some melody by Shania Twain. No offense, but I would certainly hope that there is more depth to romantic relationships than implied by the stuff I find around here. Maybe there isn’t, and maybe that’s why I’m still single. (/me double checks to make sure his picture of kissing angels is still on.)

  39. >Name dropping ESR does not help you win a global warming argument.

    And I don’t see any particular reason it should. Most of the people you might try that on have no reason to be aware of how much I actually know about the subject. They would only be right to be impressed if they did know.

  40. No offense, but I would certainly hope that there is more depth to romantic relationships than implied by the stuff I find around here.

    I would hope so too! But the reality is that vast swaths of humanity lack the introspection or self-control necessary to enact conscious mating strategies that are much more than simply what their hormones and their hindbrains tell them to do.

  41. @Jeff Read
    Could you explain why “alpha-cock carousel” and “wolf-tamer” are not exactly the same thing, just seen from Different Points Of View(tm)?

  42. >Could you explain why “alpha-cock carousel” and “wolf-tamer” are not exactly the same thing, just seen from Different Points Of View(tm)?

    There’s no difference from the point of view of the wolves…

  43. >Human mating. It is, in many ways, a tragedy for those who feel and a comedy for those who think.

    And this is why youth is wasted on the young. It would have been nice to internalize its dynamics at 18 or so… it’s amazing how everything is easy and fun in the life of a college student, except this, but what a huge and painful exception can this be! And then by the time we figure out we are balding and have to deal with 123 kinds of depressive stress at work, elderly parents get ill and life just generally gets harder – while human mating gets almost ridiculously easy. This is behind the saying “youth is wasted on the young”.

    It’s a shame modern society is so good at improving a lot of things, except the romantic life of young people, which are often terrible and painful. We should be able to give to young people a “manual to life” on how to handle this. And this is slowly being figured out, although through many erratic, wild swings.

    Surely the PUA / redpiller culture has lots of excesses, because the pendulum tends to swing from one extreme to another. But I think this is typically that sort of thing that if some take it to the extremes, that makes it visible, and widely discussed, and then most other folks will just internalize 20 or 30% of it – and that is actually healthy. At some level it is cool if self-professed wolfish bad boys brag about how well their “asshole game” works with the carousel riders – it at least gets the message through that it is not actually a good idea to hook up with too bad guys, and it also gets the message through to nice guys to try to harden up a bit and stop being so needy and clingy and try to enjoy a bit of playful, teasing banter with women you like. Consider the “dread game” – asshole move when overdone, but perfectly healthy when it is just an expression that you are not entirely without choices, so you don’t have to put up with everything. Best gift to teenager daughters and sons would be a copy to Neil Strauss’s Game, with the messages of “don’t fall for this” and “do that 25% of it that is not obviously unethical”, respectively.

    BTW funny how actually difficult it is for young couples to treat each other truly equally. Wild swings from worshipping, pedestalization and cringey attempts to earn favors to being controlling and overbearingly, suffocatingly dominant… one advantage in marrying late, mind-thirties is that it is closer to the golden mean.

  44. Actually, I was hoping the Global Warming guy would understand you know code. They do this retarded appeal to authority, where only the gods of climatology can really comment on climatology because clearly we peons can’t possibly know anything. But you can comment on what their little hockey stick program does without necessarily knowing anything about climatology.

  45. Ah, but perhaps the more curious question might be: What is the policy on name-dropping Sugar?

  46. @Shenpen:
    >It’s a shame modern society is so good at improving a lot of things, except the romantic life of young people, which are often terrible and painful. We should be able to give to young people a “manual to life” on how to handle this. And this is slowly being figured out, although through many erratic, wild swings.

    Indeed so: Sex-ed classes and church youth groups do a great job (in terms of making clear to kids what the person in charge thinks they should do, your mileage *will* vary as to whether the message they broadcast is the right one in either case) of telling kids how to behave (specifically, how to avoid pregnancy and disease) once they’ve found a mate, but are pretty much completely silent (as is every other potential resource, including most parents) on the subject of actually finding and attracting a mate.

    So kids are left to use their peers as examples, which never ends well, regardless of whether they take them as negative or positive examples.

    I remember being a bit frustrated with the lack of advice given on finding a mate as a teen, and that frustration has only mounted in recent years, given that while I have a bit of a better idea of how things work on an intellectual level nowadays, I have a metric crapload to unlearn emotionally.

  47. >>Could you explain why “alpha-cock carousel” and “wolf-tamer” are not exactly the same thing, just seen from Different Points Of View(tm)?

    >There’s no difference from the point of view of the wolves…

    The only actual difference is that Jeff apparently hasn’t read enough to encounter the rationalization hamster yet. Heehee.

    Seriously, that’s the game that all the students and young twenty-something professionals are playing while bar and club hopping all over Boston. Not my thing, but it’s hard to not know anyone who doesn’t go in for that sort of foolishness. And yes, the carousel riders have a look. (Though each and every one of them has a different explanation for why *she* isn’t actually one of those.)

  48. >The only actual difference is that Jeff apparently hasn’t read enough to encounter the rationalization hamster yet.

    Indeed. “Sex with me will tame this wolf” is, if not the rationalization hamster’s favorite song, definitely in the top five.

  49. @esr re: fetchmail:

    Fetchmail probably will die, not necessarily due to problems with the project itself, but mostly due to the fact that it is becoming increasingly irrelevant as dial-up has all but completely disappeared. It’s far easier to just configure your MUA to poll your mail server directly than it is to have fetchmail to poll it in the background, especially on today’s high-bandwidth Internet connections. Plus, increasingly people are using Web mail (sad, but true), making even MUAs useless to all who don’t use a corporate mail server and/or use mail encryption.

  50. >[fetchmail] is becoming increasingly irrelevant as dial-up has all but completely disappeared.

    Huh? I use fetchmail to pull mail from my basement mailserver to my desktop. Over Ethernet. Because then, it doesn’t matter what MUA I use, the mail it right there in my system mailbox where it belongs.

    Dial-up vs. non-dialup is irrelevant. Proper separation of function is what matters.

  51. Well, I tend to agree with you about separation of function; I use fetchmail in a similar capacity at home. However, I’m pretty sure we’re in the minority.

  52. “I remember being a bit frustrated with the lack of advice given on finding a mate as a teen, and that frustration has only mounted in recent years, given that while I have a bit of a better idea of how things work on an intellectual level nowadays, I have a metric crapload to unlearn emotionally.”

    Yeah….every generation gets disgusted with their elders when they find that the older folks seem to be engaged in an active plot to prevent the youngsters from finding out about sex…what they don’t want to hear is that the oldsters are all tongue-tied because they know that there is NO advice that they can give that doesn’t have a huge downside to it. Truly, the screwing you get is quite often not worth the screwing you get….

  53. @LS:
    >Yeah….every generation gets disgusted with their elders when they find that the older folks seem to be engaged in an active plot to prevent the youngsters from finding out about sex…

    Well that’s just the thing: I did not find that there was any great plot to prevent me from finding out about sex. I heard plenty (which I generally found, and still find, to be fairly common sense) about how not being careful about how and when and with who I had sex could really screw up my life.

    What was missing, and more from inaction on the part of my elders than any action to mislead or conceal, was information on love, which I was generally told should precede sex, or indeed, any pointers at all on the comparative psychology of the sexes and how I should expect the opposite sex to think and react. I now have a somewhat better idea of that intellectually, but all my social instincts regarding the opposite sex are still based on a guesswork picture of female psychology pieced together in early adolescence from shoddily gathered and poorly interpreted data (and I’m not really a social butterfly to begin with).

  54. >[fetchmail] is becoming increasingly irrelevant as dial-up has all but completely disappeared.

    I also used to use fetchmail on my mail, because mutt is just that awesome. I had to switch to getmail for awhile, because I had to use maildir for some reason, but now I’m thinking of switching back. Now hopefully they maintain a unit file for systemd…
    /me starts to mess with pacman and /etc/systemd/system

  55. I name dropped you to a young guy, pointed him at How To Become A Hacker, and How To Ask Questions The Smart Way and then stayed to help answer questions.

    These things have helped shape his life. So on his behalf, thanks!

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