Hearst Castle.  San Simeon, California.


by Philip Greenspun, part of Database-backed Web Sites

Hearst Castle.  San Simeon, California.

Common courtesy demands that I thank all of the people who've generously given their time over the years to educate me about the Web and RDBMS. However, as deadly boring as the average computer book may be, the acknowledgements are inevitably far more boring. I have only ever seen one acknowledgements page with a scintilla of literary value, that for the Scheme Shell Reference Manual. I reprint it here in hopes of starting a refreshing trend toward all computer book authors reprinting the Scsh Acknowledgements rather than thanking their families, dogs, editors, etc.

Who should I thank? My so-called "colleagues," who laugh at me behind my back, all the while becoming famous on my work? My worthless graduate students, whose computer skills appear to be limited to downloading bitmaps off of netnews? My parents, who are still waiting for me to quit "fooling around with computers," go to med school, and become a radiologist? My department chairman, a manager who gives one new insight into and sympathy for disgruntled postal workers?

My God, no one could blame me---no one!---if I went off the edge and just lost it completely one day. I couldn't get through the day as it is without the Prozac and Jack Daniels I keep on the shelf, behind my Tops-20 JSYS manuals. I start getting the shakes real bad around 10am, right before my advisor meetings. A 10 oz. Jack 'n Zac helps me get through the meetings without one of my students winding up with his severed head in a bowling-ball bag. They look at me funny; they think I twitch a lot. I'm not twitching. I'm controlling my impulse to snag my 9mm Sig-Sauer out from my day-pack and make a few strong points about the quality of undergraduate education in Amerika.

If I thought anyone cared, if I thought anyone would even be reading this, I'd probably make an effort to keep up appearances until the last possible moment. But no one does, and no one will. So I can pretty much say exactly what I think.

Oh yes, the acknowledgements. I think not. I did it. I did it all, by myself.

Olin Shivers, Cambridge, September 4, 1994

Well, I guess Olin thought it was easier than explaining why he had written a program to let people drive a 23-year-old operating system (Unix) in a 35-year-old computer language (Lisp) . . .