Olin Shivers wrote an acknowledgements section to his Scsh Reference Manual that worried his friends.

Acknowledgments should be filled with Thank you's and Couldn't have done it without you's. Olin Shivers acknowledgments section thanked no one. In fact, his acknowledgments section explains why people did NOT deserve his thanks, people like his parents, his graduate students, his colleagues. It's a rant only a mother could forgive...or maybe not.

Olin Shiver Acknowledgments

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 acknowledgments. I think not. I did it. I did it all, by myself.

-- Olin Shivers, Cambridge, September 4, 1994

Scsh Reference Manual


Olin Shivers says he's feeling a lot better now. He's offering dissertation advice and explaining the History of T, which is a good sign. However, his out-of-date homepage is missing his popular quote that explains his guiding philosophy:

I object to doing things that computers can do.

Sensible advice...just don't let Olin Shiver's write your acknowledgments.

Another Olin Shivers rant

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A Shivers Fan — 28 July 2007, 14:53

"Acknowledgments are suppose (sic) to be filled with..."

I'm a bit disappointed that you fail to recognize Prof. Shivers' original scsh "acknowledgments" as anything less than the work of genius that it is!

While some of his papers (e.g. Control-flow Analysis in Scheme) may be notable milestones in the field, the scsh rant is a truly a gem for the ages.

Brent — 05 November 2007, 07:42

So true, so true! What a terrific rant! There's a movie review on NPR (can't recall who) that generates the greatest movie pans I've ever heard. If I had a crummy movie, I'd want him to review it.