Nilges v. the World

Herbert Schildt is the author of a series of books on computer programming, including about a dozen about C, which are widely considered by the C community to be, to put it bluntly, shit. Two of them, C: A Complete Reference and The Annotated C Standard have been roundly criticized by Peter Seebach and Clive Feather, respectively, and inspired a number of scathing reviews on the Association of C and C++ Users website. Even Steve Summit’s C FAQ includes a warning about The Annotated C Standard.

Recently, a certain Edward Nilges has been waging a highly entertaining crusade against Schildt’s critics on comp.lang.c (C as a Platonic pathology) and comp.lang.c.moderated (Statement on Schildt submitted to wikipedia today)).

The whole point of this entry is to share with you some exquisite gems from the latter thread:

In <clcm-20090910-0010@plethora.net>:

Seebach: I am mystified by these criticisms. I don’t see how you find any “religious fundamentalism” in my views of programming.

Nilges: That’s because complementarily to your mathematical and scientific intelligence, you have failed to see a textual isomorphism between religious fundamentalism and your technical fundamentalism.

In <clcm-20090911-0002@plethora.net>:

Nilges: You’re here worse than student “Otto” who sits in the back of the class with twenty years of assembler and no health insurance, soured (in CS Lewis’ words) by true miseries, and maddened by false promises, and decries C as a Communist plot.

You’re the plainclothes cop in the back of the class who in a police state objects to the prof’s narrative because it didn’t mention the leading role of the Party, or here, the holy, phallic register as opposed to the stack.

I’m dead serious, Peter. The difficulty of programming creates psychosexual noise even in the best brain, and the stack just bothered people, being flexible and soft: whereas the registers are always “there”, crystalline and hard.

Further down in the same message:

Nilges: Having left programming, in no little disgust at the personalities of programming, after thirty years, I teach English and creative writing in addition to intro computer science. I have learned that intolerant students, who believe words are things, make the slowest progress.

He’s certainly qualified for the “creative writing” part. Not so sure about the “intro computer science”. I wonder what his students think of him.

In <clcm-20090911-0003@plethora.net>:

Nilges: My favorite “theory” is that Schildt showed up at an early meeting and took your girlfriend away. I have no other way of explaining your unprofessional conduct […]

In <clcm-20090911-0005@plethora.net>:

Seebach: If you and [Jacob] Navia [author of lcc-win32; see Zero overhead overflow checking on comp.std.c] are saying I’m doing something wrong, I think I’m going to have to take that as complimentary.

This links in nicely with Francis Glassborow’s complaint in <clcm-20090910-0007@plethora.net>:

Glassborow: I am deeply insulted that you have not added my name to the above 2 [meaning Feather and Seebach].

I wonder what Schildt thinks of all this—if he’s even aware of it. In his place, even if I wasn’t embarrassed about having my books torn apart in this fashion, I’d certainly be embarrassed by Nilge’s defense.

Coincidentally, the moderation delay on comp.lang.c.moderated has gone down to almost zero since this thread began. The moderators must be having the time of their lives seeing this play out…

8 thoughts on “Nilges v. the World

  1. Sure, defending one’s own or another’s reputation is hilarious, Mr. Dag-Erling; if you’ve sold your soul to a corporation you learn never to do this, since that would be a humanism as opposed to a neo-barbarism.

    I suggest you investigate exactly what Seebach posted. It’s a few disconnected claims and a very dishonest reference to thousands of other “errors”.

    Like McCarthyism, Creationism, Holocaust Denial, Zionism, and Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, these causes have taken on new life on the contemporary internet, because these claims have all been amplified in a echo chamber filled with shouting fools, dancing trolls, and burning tires.

  2. Spinoza: I’m not defending anyone’s reputation, I’m making fun of you. Surely you’re smart enough to realize when somebody is having a laugh at your expense?

  3. Yes, especially when they do so because they’re not qualified at their jobs.

    There is no “C community”. Instead, there are people who parrot vendor lines as a condition of keeping jobs for which they are underqualified.

    Are you aware that the only source of the belief that Schildt’s books are as you say so charmingly “shit” are two poorly-organized documents (“C: The Complete Nonsense” by Peter Seebach and “The Annotated Annotated C Standard” by Clive Feather)?

    Are you aware that these documents went viral and by being repeatedly cited without investigation seem to be far more than they are?

    Are you aware that the person who started the canard, Peter Seebach, has recently told comp.lang.c.moderated that he’s never taken a computer science class and has ADHD, whereas Herb Schildt has a BS and MSCS in computer science from the University of Illinois?

    Are you aware that I do NOT consider the immediately foregoing a sufficient criteria, but that it’s confirmed by the trite charges considered weighty by Seebach and Feather and their own mistakes, such as Seebach’s claim that “The ‘heap’ is a DOS term”?

    Are you aware that “C: The Complete Nonsense” is a malicious libel under UK and US law, because it simultaneously claims that the 20 trite errata and matters of opinion listed are the known errors but there are also hundreds more?

    After thirty years in software which started with compiler development and debugging in machine language and included assisting John Nash in C, I am glad to be in a different career at this time.

    This was because at Bell Northern Research in the 1980s I noted the consequence of hiring people who didn’t know their profession, were incurious about it, and were hired as window dressing while code was farmed out.

    This was that the holders of the sinecures regressed to the fourteen year old level of sniggering at critique lest what Adorno called the secret contour of their weakness be exposed.

    “Hating Schildt” is a fashion statement.

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