In the matter of Herb Schildt: the question of a "bad" book


S

spinoza1111

The centrepiece of the case against Schildt seems to be that some of
his books are "bad" in the language of the *imams* who preach *fatwas*
against Schildt to the *taliban* in their *Madrassah*,

But I can prove the following assertion: there is *no such thing as a
bad book*.

There is a reason why an educated and cultured individual never talks
about "bad" books for the same reason dog lovers say "no bad dogs".

Suppose an educated and cultured individual is at Border's bookstore,
and she picks up a book. She doesn't like it. What does she do? She
tosses it aside, or more precisely, she refiles it carefully on the
shelf out of concern for the staff at Border's.

[Educated and cultured individuals, as opposed to technically-educated
barbarians with PhDs and snot-nosed convenience store clerks, derive
some of their personal decency from humanist reading, and this makes
them more considerate of bookstore clerks as well as the personal
privacy of a computer author whose silence means "leave me the ****
alone".]

At this point, our educated and cultured babe does not KNOW and
because of her education and culture, will not SAY that this is a
"bad" book, because she has no "justified true belief" that the books
sucks; she has not read it.

It may be Godel's proof which commences with a lot of nonsense about
numbering mathematical expressions. It may be James Jones' The Thin
Red Line which starts with a bunch of hillbillies and Bronx types who
when they signed up for this man's army didn't realize that they were
gonna be in a fuckin' war.

It may be that she would prefer to learn C, if she must, from a Linux-
centric book.

The only people who KNOW that a book is bad in the meta-sense that "we
know they know":

* Kids who have to read Silas Marner in high school and who believe
it sucks (assuming that Silas Marner is "bad": I do not know, I have
not read it).

* PAID and QUALIFIED book reviewers who read books they do not like
out of intellectual honesty and moral seriousness, such as Sydney
Hook, who in 1962 read Ayn Rand's "Notes for the New Intellectual"
from cover to cover and demolished her in a New York Times review.
Note that Hook *knows" that NFTNI sucks whereas I believe, based on
dipping into Rand's crap and Hook's review, that she sucks. BUT I DO
NOT CALL NFTNI A BAD BOOK.

* Authors who knowingly write some sort of potboiler knowing it
sucks.

* People with obsessive-compulsive disorder that finish every book
they pick up.

Therefore, if Peter Seebach has not read "C: the Complete Reference",
he is not justified in calling it a "bad" book, or implying this, as
he does in CTCN-3 and CTCN-4.

If he has read CTCR (and tried out ALL code), we need not believe him.
You see, Hook was in 1962 the recognized dean or thought leader of
American philosophy. Whereas Seebach:

* Has done no academic work in computer science

* Has demonstrated here in CLC that he is not a competent programmer

* Was not the sort of member of C99 who we would ordinarily believe,
since Seebach was not invited on the basis of any accomplishment. All
he can say is that in one year, the fee was waived. This is not enough
evidence, since the waiver was probably the result of toad-eating.

Educated and cultivated people discuss IDEAS. However, twerps and snot-
nosed convenience store clerks are often unemployed and always in fear
of their jobs. They never know, if they discuss technical ideas, who
they might offend.

Therefore, twerps, snot-nosed convenience store clerks and Mama's boys
prefer to find people to bully.
 
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S

spinoza1111

I read an article by an excellent author where he gave how to become agood writer. He wrote: "Just write. Every 100,000 or so words you will

notice that you have become a bit better".

As spinoza1111 proves, it doesn't work for everyone.

I think the problem is that some higher brain functions need to be
involved during the writing process to achieve progress.

What do you mean? I think that there's a lotta meat in what I write,
and it's getting better. For example, can you refute my argument (that
we can only rarely KNOW that a book is "bad", and NEVER if we don't
read it in full)? Merely talking in a pseudo-scientific way about
"higher brain functions" (especially when we've learned that people
whose bodies are atrophied lose higher function, which may be
happening here to Seebach and Heathfield) doesn't really move the
discussion forward.
 
C

Colonel Harlan Sanders

What do you mean? I think that there's a lotta meat in what I write,
and it's getting better.
For example, can you refute my argument (that
we can only rarely KNOW that a book is "bad", and NEVER if we don't
read it in full)?

Most people would define a book as "bad" if it is not "good".
In other words, every single paragraph does not have to be bad for one
to feel justified in declaring that the book is. You can quibble
about just what proportion of "bad" is enough to condemn the book, but
it's basically a statistic, a proportion, so if you look at a
representative sample and find an unacceptable level of crap, you can
indeed declare the book bad. That is how industrial quality control
works, and it is just as applicable here.

For a novel, you may be more tolerant, and ignore minor infelicities
of spelling, grammar, even logic if the story carries you along. But
for a technical book, say about programming, the acceptable amount of
"bad" is very small. If you can detect obvious errors on most pages
you open at random, that's pretty much a fail.

Similarly for Usenet posts. If one sees that 95% of a poster's output
is repetitive off-topic rants, then you can safely killfile him and
feel secure that you aren't missing anything of value.

We all have limited time and don't owe any author the time to read
every single word before making a judgement. (After all, it's just an
opinion on a book, not a personal attack or criminal verdictwhere you
have to bend over backwards to give the greatest benefit of the
doubt.) If authors don't like being criticised, they shouldn't
publish. They have put their work out there for consideration and
can't complain (well, can't expect to be taken seriously if they do)
if everyone doesn't treat it with the reverence they would like.
 
S

Seebs

Most people would define a book as "bad" if it is not "good".
In other words, every single paragraph does not have to be bad for one
to feel justified in declaring that the book is.

Exactly. If I can establish that a book purporting to be a complete
reference for C omits several major and/or fundamental aspects of the
language, and makes a number of errors, that's enough for me to say that
it is a "bad" book.
Similarly for Usenet posts. If one sees that 95% of a poster's output
is repetitive off-topic rants, then you can safely killfile him and
feel secure that you aren't missing anything of value.

Eerily topical.
If authors don't like being criticised, they shouldn't
publish. They have put their work out there for consideration and
can't complain (well, can't expect to be taken seriously if they do)
if everyone doesn't treat it with the reverence they would like.

To be fair, though, we have not seen any evidence at all that Schildt
objects to any of this. Nilges is pathologically incapable of accurately
recording what other people say or believe, and no other source has
suggested that Schildt objects. Indeed, given that Schildt adopted some
of the suggestions made in the previous version of C:TCN, one presumes that
he appreciates the feedback. :)

-s
 
C

Colonel Harlan Sanders

To be fair, though, we have not seen any evidence at all that Schildt
objects to any of this.

I was being careful to speak in generalities. But certainly some
authors do take any criticism very personally. (Look up the Amazon
reviews of one prolific poster here and see how he responds venomously
to any criticism of his book.)
Nilges is pathologically incapable of accurately
recording what other people say or believe, and no other source has
suggested that Schildt objects.

Yes, specifically he has tried to give the impression that he is
acting for Schildt. To an extent he succeeded in getting some editors
on Wikipedia to think that Schildt had complained.

To go back to
I read an article by an excellent author where he gave how to become a
good writer. He wrote: "Just write. Every 100,000 or so words you will
notice that you have become a bit better".

There is more to it than that. To improve, the writer has to be able
to dispassionately assess his work, and also the criticisms of others,
discarding those that are unhelpful and using the perspective of
others without losing his own. But a busy professional non-fiction
writer might not think this reflection worth the trouble and just move
on to the next project.
 
K

Kenny McCormack

Colonel Harlan Sanders <[email protected]> totally missed the point when
he wrote:
....
Most people would define a book as "bad" if it is not "good".

Whoosh!!!

--
(This discussion group is about C, ...)

Wrong. It is only OCCASIONALLY a discussion group
about C; mostly, like most "discussion" groups, it is
off-topic Rorsharch [sic] revelations of the childhood
traumas of the participants...
 
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C

Colonel Harlan Sanders

Colonel Harlan Sanders <[email protected]> totally missed the point when
he wrote:
...

Whoosh!!!

I know what his point was. Same point as he always makes. He's a
genius and everyone else is a drooling idiot/fascist/faggot. I chose
to address a small part of his rant on a subject I was more interested
in.

It's clear he's mentally ill and believes everything he writes. I
suspect you have other motives.
 
S

spinoza1111

I know what his point was. Same point as he always makes. He's a
genius and everyone else is a drooling idiot/fascist/faggot. I chose
to address a small part of his rant on a subject I was more interested
in.

You have no gift for paraphrase. Yes, I often find people saying very
stupid things and coding very stupid code here, but I generally hold
my fire until they (like Dweebach) call other people stupid or conduct
psychotic campaigns against reputations. Yes, I've read Hannah
Arendt's The Origins of Totalitarianism, Adorno and Horkheimer's
Dialectic of Enlightenment and Shirer's Rise and Fall, and I found my
coworkers to be boring and authoritarian sorts for the most part,
easily mobilized against their own interests. I don't recall calling
anyone a faggot, but I saw a company destroyed from within by vicious,
self-hating, right wing homosexuals.
 
K

Kenny McCormack

I know what his point was. Same point as he always makes. He's a
genius and everyone else is a drooling idiot/fascist/faggot. I chose

I believe we're going to have to call "Whoosh!!!" again.

--
(This discussion group is about C, ...)

Wrong. It is only OCCASIONALLY a discussion group
about C; mostly, like most "discussion" groups, it is
off-topic Rorsharch [sic] revelations of the childhood
traumas of the participants...
 
S

spinoza1111

Whoosh!!!

Indeed, WTF!? Maybe Seebach's Mom? Naw, she's pretty smart, just not
smart enough.

So who gets to burn the bad books in der Alexanderplatz?
--
(This discussion group is about C, ...)

Wrong.  It is only OCCASIONALLY a discussion group
about C; mostly, like most "discussion" groups, it is
off-topic Rorsharch [sic] revelations of the childhood
traumas of the participants...
 
S

spinoza1111

Exactly.  If I can establish that a book purporting to be a complete
reference for C omits several major and/or fundamental aspects of the
language, and makes a number of errors, that's enough for me to say that
it is a "bad" book.

You haven't done so. You've found random "errors". Have you read any
edition of CTCR from cover to cover and worked all, or most, of the
code examples?

I can only conclude that you refused McGraw Hill's offer since they'd
expect you to do some work, and actually thoroughly review the book,
trying its code examples on a Microsoft machine, since McGraw Hill
intended to sell to a Microsoft audience.

Dan Appleman of Apress reviewed every word of my book and tried the
code out. This was a major investment of his time. I don't think,
given your sloppy code here and your self-confessed ADHD, you were up
to this project, and neither CTCN-3 nor CTCN-4 convince me otherwise.

You simply flipped through the books and found things about which you
could be "clever" and show off. You should be ashamed of yourself. I
wish Apress would pulp your own book, since I am ashamed to be from
the same publisher!
 
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C

Colonel Harlan Sanders

Indeed, WTF!?

To determine if a book is "good" does indeed require a complete and
close reading.

To determine if it is bad it suffices to find enough errors that even
if the rest of the book were perfect that it would be determined "not
good". At that point you can stop reading and give it a rating of "not
good". If you really need to know how bad it is, well keep reading,
but that's necessary only if you have some obligation to the author
(as grading a dissertation) to weigh the while thing. But otherwise
there is no absolutely no reason to drudge through the whole book once
you are sure that you will not recommend it.
 
S

spinoza1111

To determine if a book is "good" does indeed require a complete and
close reading.

To determine if it is bad it suffices to find enough errors that even
if the rest of the book were perfect that it would be determined "not
good". At that point you can stop reading and give it a rating of "not
good". If you really need to know how bad it is, well keep reading,
but that's necessary only if you have some obligation to the author
(as grading a dissertation) to weigh the while thing. But otherwise
there is no absolutely no reason to drudge through the whole book once
you are sure that you will not recommend it.

Not recommending, rube, is different from bad. Just as people here
constantly personalize issues, because it's actually hard for them to
think straight, they think in terms of "bad" books.

Intelligent people make good use of "bad" books. For example, I used
Sherman's "Programming and Coding for Digital Computers", which did
not cover the machine to which I had access to, to learn about fixed
word length architecture and simulation.

Mein Kampf is by most accounts a "bad book". Yet reading it provides
insight into minds like yours.

The sort of people who use "bad" in reference to books are the sort of
people who advocate the death penalty and carding Hispanics in
Arizona.
 
S

spinoza1111

To determine if a book is "good" does indeed require a complete and
close reading.

To determine if it is bad it suffices to find enough errors that even
if the rest of the book were perfect that it would be determined "not
good". At that point you can stop reading and give it a rating of "not
good". If you really need to know how bad it is, well keep reading,
but that's necessary only if you have some obligation to the author
(as grading a dissertation) to weigh the while thing. But otherwise
there is no absolutely no reason to drudge through the whole book once
you are sure that you will not recommend it.

This is the same insane psychology that informs layoffs in America.
Wall Street cheers when "bad" employees are laid off.

"School reform" becomes a witch hunt for "bad" teachers and their
layoff, as if they will be magically replaced by "good" teachers when
it would be crazy for a "good" teacher to take a job where he can be
laid off to please the public.

Office politics becomes explaining your own errors (such as writing a
shell procedure as a C program out of vanity, and fucking it up, or
showing the world how easy it is to do strlen(), and fucking it up, or
writing a virtual file system, and fucking it up) and gossiping to
third parties about the only person in the whole office (such as
Schildt, or Navia, or Nilges) who has a clue.

The regression is in fact to human sacrifice. Children of the Corn
stuff. Spooky!

In the Master's chamber
They gather for the feast
They stab it with their steely knives
But they just can't kill the beast

- The Eagles, Hotel California

There are no bad books, there are no bad people, there are no bad
horses and there are no bad dogs.
 
T

Tim Streater

spinoza1111 said:
Not recommending, rube, is different from bad. Just as people here
constantly personalize issues, because it's actually hard for them to
think straight, they think in terms of "bad" books.

Intelligent people make good use of "bad" books. For example, I used
Sherman's "Programming and Coding for Digital Computers", which did
not cover the machine to which I had access to, to learn about fixed
word length architecture and simulation.

Nah, that doesn't work. Just because Sherman's book didn't cover the
machine to which you had access doesn't make it a bad book. Whereas the
sorts of errors that Schildt is supposed to have in his book *would*
make it a bad book.

And you can certainly learn something from Mein Kampf. Shirer's
description of it led me to believe is was meandering and turgid, so I
never bothered, but it should suit you down to the ground.
 
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C

Colonel Harlan Sanders

Not recommending, rube, is different from bad. Just as people here
constantly personalize issues, because it's actually hard for them to
think straight, they think in terms of "bad" books.

Who, exactly, and when, in what post, said a specific book was "bad"?
If you don't specify that I will conclude it's a straw man.

And for you to criticize anyone for "personalizing" issues is so
fucking hypocritical that ... well, words fail me. There isn't
anything more absurd I can compare it to.
Intelligent people make good use of "bad" books. For example, I used
Sherman's "Programming and Coding for Digital Computers", which did
not cover the machine to which I had access to, to learn about fixed
word length architecture and simulation.

And people have said that Schildt's "The Annotated ANSI C Standard" is
useful as far as the parts that are cited from the standard.

But where do you get off saying that Sherman is "bad" because it
didn't cover your machine? Did it call itself a "complete reference"
or otherwise imply that it would cover your architecture?
Mein Kampf is by most accounts a "bad book". Yet reading it provides
insight into minds like yours.

You might read "A Beautiful Mind" (beyond the single sentence with
your name in it), for an insight into the mentally ill.
The sort of people who use "bad" in reference to books are the sort of
people who advocate the death penalty and carding Hispanics in
Arizona.

Ever topical with the abuse, eh Niggler?
 
K

Kenny McCormack

Tim Streater said:
Nah, that doesn't work. Just because Sherman's book didn't cover the
machine to which you had access doesn't make it a bad book. Whereas the
sorts of errors that Schildt is supposed to have in his book *would*
make it a bad book.

This is the CLC disease, writ large. The idea that there is only one
definition of a word (or concept) and that someone else's failure to use
your definition is simply an academic failure on their part. One that
can be corrected simply through (endless and mindless) repetition of
your catechism.

Mind you - I see where this is coming from. I've long argued this point
in CLC; I have recently become aware that it is true in other groups as
well. The point is that the people in charge realize that in order to
be able to communicate effectively, given the limited bandwidth of
Usenet (and online fora in general), it is necessary to set the
definitions and to, as Tim does above, completely ignore the possibility
that other definitions are possible.

The above may sound like a recommendation for this method; it is not.
It is a statement that "effective" communication is not necessarily
"good, correct, accurate" communication. It is the acceptance of a lie,
in order to make the wheels continue to turn.

--
No, I haven't, that's why I'm asking questions. If you won't help me,
why don't you just go find your lost manhood elsewhere.

CLC in a nutshell.
 
S

spinoza1111

This is the CLC disease, writ large.  The idea that there is only one
definition of a word (or concept) and that someone else's failure to use
your definition is simply an academic failure on their part.  One that
can be corrected simply through (endless and mindless) repetition of
your catechism.

Schildt's "errors" were typos, failures to use shibboleths including
the int main() superstition (literally, "my code can't suck because I
use int main()"), and artifacts of the grand failure that is C.

Kenny is right. Real words have fuzzy boundaries, and by usually
confessing that Schildt is a "clear" writer, his enemies concede the
case. Schildt is in the Microsoft/Wittgensteinian language game.

However, many CLC posters missed that class and think that there is,
or should be, a simple and childish correspondence of word and thing.

It is possible to construct this correspondence but it is an artifact.
There's no such thing as C, just a bunch of nerds and what they do
using electronic computers.
 
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S

Seebs

Who, exactly, and when, in what post, said a specific book was "bad"?
If you don't specify that I will conclude it's a straw man.

To save trouble, I will assert that "C: The Complete Reference", in the
editions I have seen (2nd, 3rd, and 4th) is a "bad book", by which I mean
that it is likely that someone who tried to learn C from it would end up
with some very serious misunderstandings of C that would take a great deal
of time to correct, and would find the learning process slower and more
difficult than it would be using a "good" book on C. I can hardly say it's
the "worst" book or anything like that, both because I haven't read that
many and because so many books are bad.

What I would say is that I would not only not recommend it, but if I found
someone to be using it, I would urge them strongly to stop using it and
find something else.
And for you to criticize anyone for "personalizing" issues is so
fucking hypocritical that ... well, words fail me. There isn't
anything more absurd I can compare it to.

It is amusing.
Ever topical with the abuse, eh Niggler?

Interestingly, pretty much every time he declares what "sort of people"
he thinks I am, he gets it wrong. *sigh*

I am beginning to suspect that this has no point. My advice is that we
pick another venue (I nominate Freethought Forum, just because people
there find stuff like this amusing) and respond to Nilges only there. He
can participate or not, then, but comp.lang.c is spared the overhead.

-s
 

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