Some years ago Richard Gabriel, a demigod in the LISP programming world, wrote a thoughtful essay on why the LISP language (mostly) has failed to catch on as a software development environment --- and why a number of similarly beautiful concepts have likewise not succeeded. Instead of mathematical correctness and completeness, the Real World seems to reward the 90% solution: unaesthetic approaches that (mostly) work and that are also cheap and fast.

Gabriel's essay is titled "Worse is Better". It came to mind recently when I found a description of the game "Advocacy" on http://www.plover.com/~mjd/advocacy/ --- which happens to be a page by Mark-Jason Dominus, author of the delightful "How Regexes Work" (see RegExplanations, 6 Dec 2003). "Advocacy" players take a horrid situation and come up with reasons why it's actually great. Some examples from past competitions:

This also reminded me of the classic bumper sticker:

Imminetize the Eschaton!

... which (as I interpret it) is a call to make things as bad as they can get, and quickly too, so that an ultimate collapse will happen --- followed (presumably) by a transition to a far far better state than we now experience.

Or, as the Discordians might more simply say:

Hail Eris!

... as they spread chaos for its own sake.

TopicProgramming - TopicScience - TopicHumor - TopicRecreation - 2003-12-23

(correlates: RegExplanations, AnnotationPunctuation, GoingSolo, ...)