"You're the guy who wasn't good enough to sling dope."

Wednesday, 22 May, Year 5 d.Tr. | Author: Mircea Popescu

thestringpuller @Mircea_Popescu "You're the guy who wasn't good enough to sling dope." << My new favorite insult.

I get that on Twitter I'm like... yeah it's pretty good but what does it have to do with me ?

Turns out it comes from my PR on bitcointalk. What she said was,

Stop imagining that if you can code you're worth two shits in the real world. Most of the time the reason you're a programmer IS BECAUSE YOU'RE NOT WORTH TWO SHITS IN THE REAL WORLD. Strictly. Strictly that.

Sure, some very talented people are programmers because that's what they chose for themselves. You're NOT THAT. You're the guy who wasn't good enough to sling dope.

Angry little camper is she. At any rate I do believe she has a point. It goes something like this : any profession (and interacting with Turing machines is a profession without any doubt) will have its elite. The competent, talented, smart people who actually have any business there.

On top of that elite some professions also have a fandom. Not all do, but some.

For instance the profession of cattle herding (back before ranching) had a fandom in the 1970s. Huge, huge fandom. Much to everyone's good fortune the profession itself was the stuff of legend by then, having been largely supplanted in the real world for about a hundred years. If this weren't the case you'd have probably seen good numbers of fourteen year old pasty ass boys from Ohio and Connecticut running away from home to "become Cowboys!!!" only to end up the cum rag of some hobo or other.

Obviously the profession of actress (or model... or uh... or dancer... or a... news woman) has its fandom. For every girl that ran off to Hollywood to become a star there's a few billion girls turning tricks, waiting tables and jumping from couch to couch in the hopes of finally landing on the promised casting one. This West Coast phenomenon has its East Coast equivalent, the "writer". You know, the neurotic chick that doesn't know how to suck cock and figures she doesn't need to, either. Because she's moving to New York where cocks suck themselves and everyone's too busy reading. It's convenient to blame Whatshername Horseface for this, but really it started with Retard Keaton and that Annie Hall disaster.

The examples could continue but I think morale is high enough as it is so we can move on. The relationship between the fandom and the actual profession is always, absolutely always and without exception one of extraction. Specifically, resources are sucked out of the fandom for the benefit of the profession. Whether it's the movie producer getting free - and very enthusiastic! - sex work done or the internet comic writer soliciting people to buy his stupid merchandise (nobody reads webcomics other than people who either aspire to one day write them or people who one day aspired to write them), the fans pay their alms to the pros. That's how it goes.

They don't do it for free, however. They get something in exchange : a token of participation. They're, no matter how marginal, no matter how tenuous, no matter how anonymous, they themselves are part of it now. That's what they get.

Computer programming works exactly the same except for one subtle twist : everywhere else the difference between the pro and the fan is marked and visible, and the entire show relies on it. The waitress, the cab driver hopefuls know they're not Elizabeth Taylor or Richard Burton. Their entire effort is powered by this knowledge.

The IT fan however doesn't know that he's just a fan. The IT fan honestly believes that he's a pro, "just like any other". The reason for this is quite simple : the IT pro community has long suspected, and the experience of the FOSS has clearly proven, that the best way the fan-to-pro extraction engine works in this space is through pretending equality.

That's why when you, random Internet nobody, report a bug the developers will mostly behave as if you're exactly their equal. Not because you in fact are, not because anyone but you thinks you are, but because that's the way they can obtain the maximum payoff from you for the minimum effort on their part. By focusing on the problem completely and ignoring the person completely they obtain in the end a better piece of software. You obtain in the end nothing.

They don't bother to tell you why you suck, and where. They just pretend you don't suck, at all. This prevents you from ever fixing your countless defects, and in due time convinces you that there's not even such a thing as your defects, nor could ever really be. This prevents them from having to spend the time at the arduous and resource consumptive task of educating humans. It's win-win : the pros win something and the pros don't have to lose something else for it. Cool, huh ?

The end result of this by now decade-old process is a vast sea of unemployed in a transitional phase right now freelancing "computer programmers" out of which one'd be hard pressed to find five people who can actually program a computer. And nobody has ever told you this, and nobody will ever tell you this, for the exact reasons VCs don't tell anyone they won't invest : nobody wants to give something to zeros. Nobody cares.

And so yes, if you're one of those guys who thinks he's a programmer but never made it into MIT and then never quit MIT on the grounds that it ain't all it's cracked out to be then you're deluding yourself. You're not a computer programmer, you're some dude that was too dense to sell real estate, too thick to sell cars and too slow to sell newspapers. You're the guy who wasn't good enough to sling dope. Certainly not more of a computer programmer than a "phone programmer" or "microwave programmer".

Anyone can set it to three minutes you know.

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33 Responses

  1. Someone has to carry the water. Seriously, stop telling people this stuff who will do all the boring bits?

  2. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Wednesday, 22 May 2013

    I don't think those are reading me anyway.

  3. You're wrong!

  4. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Wednesday, 22 May 2013

    No u.

  5. no

  6. Slinging dope gets a bad wrap these days. Almost a year later it has become extremely fascinating to me that the "highly university educated students" who come to me looking for work have been far less valuable than the dope dealers in my Rolodex who were always on time, never dry, and never got caught.

    Funny how that works.

  7. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Thursday, 17 April 2014

    There's a lot to learn on the street.

  8. A car salesman's skill is with people, not machines. How is he related to an MIT drop out? If the dropout is Francis Sargent, your assertions make sense. If the dropout is Arash Ferdowsi, or RMS, they do not.

  9. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Saturday, 22 November 2014

    Perhaps the problem here is I don't agree with this nonsensical "skill with machines" as somehow opposed to "skill with people". Maybe the way I see it is they're all skills with the head.

    Would you say that a female's skill is with the cock, and so of course women are inept at math ? Because if you're not willing to take it that far, you probably can't establish this distinction at all.

  10. I would not say that because a female has a cock-hole she cannot do math.

    Would you say that if someone can learn to sell cars or sling dope or in general perform some task involving selling to people, then they can write a kernel that will be run on billions of devices?

    Or is your argument more about having the agency to achieve entry into an exclusive institution, and then judge it to be lacking according one's own independent standards?

  11. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Monday, 24 November 2014

    If someone can be good at something, no matter what, that same someone can be good at anything else, no matter what. Because being good at anything is the same being good as being good at anything else.

    This does not hold true in the physical realm, obviously someone could be very good at golf and not good at basketball at all, as one's a sport for the old and the other for the young etc. But as far as we're discussing intellectual accomplishment, attempts to inherit traditional distinctions are entirely spurious. There's only one goodness with the head.

    But we've strayed very far afield the original point of the article, which is to say that there exists a large mass of derps, mostly unskilled young males, that are never good at anything but in each time and place pretend to be employed at whatever's fashionable then. The same boys that claimed to be "cowboys" and then starved or fed the daisies in the West cca 1800, the same boys that pretended to be journeymen and then starved in London cca 1600 are the same youths pretending to be "SEO experts" and "web developers" and coders and whatnot in 2000.

    Their failure is unspecific to the field they chose to polute with their unwelcome presence (and with which they, as Naggum aptly observes, have in fact very little if anything to do) ; it is unspecific to the time or to the place, it is strictly specific to the fact that humanity, like all mammal species, works by creating large masses of otherwise useless young males strictly for them to be butchered as part of competitive selection. There's a very good reason commercial flocks of all kinds survive just fine on a mix of one male to tens or hundreds of females. The same is exactly true of humanity as well, it's just that nobody bothers killing the surpluss beta boys (not anymore, at any rate). That nevertheless doesn't translate into anyone giving a shit as to what exact pretense they fill their otherwise pointless days with.

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  6. [...] not nuts, perhaps merely self interested. While you read "You’re the guy who wasn’t good enough to sling dope" with one eye, let's examine wheat with the [...]

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