If Lisp is so great

Then why is not everybody using it?

If living in a house, close to ground, ample space, courtyard, tomato garden - one can dream, huh? - is so much nicer, why are we still living in these cramped apartments, stacked one on top of each other, no balcony? There is only so much space available in a city. There wouldn't be enough space to accommodate us all, menial workers. One can move in the countryside if one wants fresh air. Plenty of space with flowers, orchards and animals. But one would loose the so-called comforts of the city. It's a trade-off. Increased productivity and efficiency at the cost of cramped apartments.

Remember that tasty dish you've had when you holidayed in Greece? You've said it was the best food you've ever had! If that's the case, why don't you eat that daily? Maybe it's not that healthy, after all? Or maybe you need variation, maybe it's hard to prepare it where you live, maybe it's too expensive, maybe it looses its freshness on the way to your remote apartment without a balcony. Maybe it's just a joy for your taste buds but not your stomach. Who knows.

What is the best country to live in? For that to have a real answer, one would have to live their whole life in one country. Then in another. Then in another. A few countries at least. So many lives one does not have at their disposal. To live in some of the most popular ones. In some of the more remote ones. To build a family there, to make local friends, to work there. Speaking of which, to be something other than a menial worker and not be compelled to give your time away for money, maybe to be a writer - ah, different kinds of lives might find different places so diverse in terms of possibilities they offer. Otherwise the opinion would be clouded by what you already know, by the kind of life you already live. Only in that place they maybe have better sunshine.

A classic one: if the best city is one where philosopher kings rule, why don't philosopher kings rule in every city? The best, whatever the definition for it, is not always the practical. Reality beats philosophy.

I wonder how Chinese software developers tap at their qwerty keyboards. And if they actually use qwerty, why don't they ditch their Chinese language for good and switch to English? That would be cultural blasphemy, of course. But just imagine the question. Or check out The Forgotten History of Chinese Keyboards.

You know all these famous dead people? Maybe Darwin, maybe Euclid, maybe Plato from the classical question above. There is endless talk of their excellency, even streets named after them, but very little study of them outside university circles and maybe from a madman here or there. So if they are so good, why doesn't everybody read them and instead burn precious light-bulbs at night with books talking about the classics. That is, in the best case scenario when one doesn't waste candles on Jordan Peterson.

When Covid was in full swing, the lady at the farmer's market selling cheese quickly adapted. She started selling cheese online and deliver door to door. What could I do, she said to me, the cattle don't know about Covid, they can't take a rest, I still have to milk them and we still have to earn our living from it. One day she delievered to an elderly lady for a second time, two blocks away from the market. The elderly lady informed the farmer that this cheese is the best I've ever had!. Well, you can come by the farmer's market any time and buy some more, the farmer told her. What? Is there a farmer's market nearby? Where? came the reply. To live your whole life two blocks away from a big green hall, close in size to a football field, to have no clue that it physically exists and still to buy your cheese from the German supermarkets as a result. The latter have non-stop commercials on the radio and the TV, the farmer at the market has none of that. She sells no-brand cheese. There is more than one variable in place when comes to choosing things, quality being just one of them.

Speaking of which, if bio products are the best products, health-wise, taste-wise, why isn't everybody buying bio all the time? I'm still finding hard to understand how there is still Coca-Cola all over the place. How chips and alcohol fill half the shelves at the supermarket. Again, half the story is commercials, the other side one being a larger population that needs to be fed, somehow. There isn't enough of the good stuff for everybody. And another part of the story would be that food is also a feel-good drug for a large percentage of us workers. It has nothing to do with nutrition but a life devoid of pleasures. I was gonna say meaning, but let's not go that far. Not this time.

If everybody would be crowned Caesar, there will be nobody to defeat and obey such a throng of Caesars. Caesar as a name would have no meaning. Caesar will have nothing to conquer and feed his insatiable thirst, ceasing thus to be a Caesar.

If everybody would have a golden crown then a golden crown would be something that nobody needs. It takes up precious space, gathers dust and has not practical utility. It itches, too.

Say you want to start biking. With a bicycle. You go down to your local dealer - that sounds like he's a gangster of some sorts - you go to your bike shop and ask What is the best velocipede?. So our gangster takes a good look at you to ascertain your physical fitness. But even if you didn't spend the last ten years of your life coding lisp dusk-to-dawn and look quite okaish physically, he might still have some questions for you. Best for what? Where do you want to go with it? To work? Shopping? Round the block? In the park with the little devils? Mountain trails? Is speed and asphalt your thing? Maybe you want a road bike? Even if the last one would be your choice, there are plenty of choices there, too. Are you fit enough to handle a speedy ride or a more upright, endurance kind of machine would fit your needs? And let's not get started on the price ranges. Best, unqualified, offers our bike hooligan close to zero information about what you want. And if you never rode a bike before in your life, chances are you don't really know what you want, either.

Dad started to use Linux in his seventies. He was no software guru, but I was tired of his rumblings about viruses, re-installs, updates, slow computers and whatever. He agreed to the switch from Windows - or did he? I can't really remember. Truth is, he used it and loved it. He loved it so much he didn't want to go back to the slow and buggy Windows. And still, Windows still dominates in some places. And it costs money, too. Why? I donno. But I do know that when a Ubuntu update crashed his machine, he found no computer wizard in that small town to fix it or even reinstall Ubuntu on his machine. Reinstall it. Not fix it, just install it from scratch. No! So he had to go back to Windows because enough Windows mechanics were around for troubleshooting. A big market share due to whatever historical or economical reasons is still relevant and distorts the discussion of which product is better for the user.

In the 90's we knew nothing about pizza. I mean, we knew just enough to have bad pizza. We saw it on TV, we've heard rumors about this super-food. So the best pizza was one that had everything on it. All the cheeses, sausages, hams and tomato sauces one could name. Everything. We couldn't name the virgin oil, it is true We haven't heard of it. Ultra-processed sunflower oil. That one we've heard of and that's what we've used. It seems that when a product or idea is new to one's taste or hearing, one tends to pick the shiny offerings, the ones with the most features or ingredients. A belief that more is better, a belief fed through a lack of experience.

Say you believe in experts but also believe in democracy and voting systems. The two don't get along quite well. An expert is one who, by definition, knows the best course of action in his respective domain. A voting committee is a group of people who decide a course of action based on the opinion of the majority. Maybe for political reasons, maybe because the team is big enough and conflicts might arise if members do not feel their opinions count to something - disclosure: they don't. Not necessarily the best, but the solution that generates the least friction if implemented is sought after. And like in a democracy, the votes and feelings of those who vote can be skewed in the right direction by the ones sporting a louder voice and can promise heaven on earth. A technical expert, though reasonable they might be, is the least likely to know how to manipulate opinions and be a man of the people.

After Caesar was stabbed to death, there was a political competition between Brutus and Antony for that warm emperor seat now turned cold. Brutus spoke first and offered the people their complete freedom from tyranny. Antony, on the other hand, with the help of Caesar from beyond the grave, offered the people something better than freedom. He offered them 75 drachmas each. Concrete money with which to plaster their insatiable stomachs. He is crowned by the people as their next tyrant as a result. There is a bit of uncomfortable position when one is free. Lisp macros offer endless possibilities but most other languages are set in stone. They feel more secure in the hands of their users. Some feel more comfortable when decisions are made for them. Not every tribe is willing to leave to comfort of their plain for the possibility of better pastures over the unexplored and dangerous mountain.

A classic of software forums has always been what is the best programming language? The more cautious members always answer with the for what purpose? Coming from a junior's mouth, the question is incomplete. The actual cause behind the question is usually what is the language that everybody is using? or what language will get me hired for a good salary? or what language is easier to learn? What language is in demand and pays, that is. The power of the majority wins the day. Again.

Best sometimes means similar to what we already know and do, only better, easier to use, more powerful, more popular. It becomes harder and harder to change one's mind if one gets used to a certain way of doing things for a long period of time. Take the bike gangster again trying to sell you a bike saddle. The natural, instinctive thing to do when one tries to increase the posterior comfort is to use more cushioning. That works in normal scenarios, like a couch, but not in a road bike. After a certain time threshold, like two hours, comfort increases not by adding cushioning but by removing it. It is not intuitive. Taking an endurance eight hours ride is a completely different sport than a ride in the park. Instinct and past experience does not translate to the new endeavor.

So to ask if Lisp is so great, why doesn't everybody use it is to ask a technical question as well as a sociological, philosophical, economical or political question. All in one. Sometimes the answer is driven by cultural habits or economical reasons. Other times a lack of resources plays a part. Other times a more idealistic answer is sought. The answer is bound to lead to a dead end if asked as such, without any other details as to what is one's purpose with it, and as a result the question is incomplete and thus irrelevant.