• The Tao Te Chip

    Warning: This joke was obviously written by nerds and for nerds. If you are not familiar with Unix/Linux terminology or have never read parts of the Tao Te Ching, it won’t make any sense.

    Here are some tantalizing excerpts from the newest computer-assisted translation of Lao Tzu’s famous poem.

    With all due apology to Stephen Mitchell, whose translation was the basis for this, and, of course, Lao Tzu.


    The tao that can be tar(1)ed
    is not the entire Tao.
    The path that can be specified
    is not the Full Path.

    We declare the names
    of all variables and functions.
    Yet the Tao has no type specifier.

    Dynamically binding, you realize the magic.
    Statically binding, you see only the hierarchy.

    Yet magic and hierarchy
    arise from the same source,
    and this source has a null pointer.

    Reference the NULL within NULL,
    it is the gateway to all wizardry.


    When users see one GUI as beautiful,
    other user interfaces become ugly.
    When users see some programs as winners,
    other programs become lossage.

    Pointers and NULLs reference each other.
    High level and assembler depend on each other.
    Double and float cast to each other.
    High-endian and low-endian define each other.
    While and until follow each other.

    Therefore the Guru
    programs without doing anything
    and teaches without saying anything.
    Warnings arise and he lets them come;
    processes are swapped and he lets them go.
    He has but doesn’t possess,
    acts but doesn’t expect.
    When his work is done, he deletes it.
    That is why it lasts forever.


    When you overesteem great hackers,
    more users become cretins.
    When you develop encryption,
    more users become crackers.

    The Guru leads
    by emptying user’s minds
    and increasing their quotas,
    by weakening their ambition
    and toughening their resolve.
    When users lack knowledge and desire,
    management will not try to interfere.

    Practice not-looping,
    and everything will fall into place.


    The Tao is like a glob pattern:
    used but never used up.
    It is like the extern void:
    filled with infinite possibilities.

    It is masked but always present.
    I don’t know who built to it.
    It came before the first kernel.


    The Tao doesn’t take sides:
    it gives birth to both wins and losses.
    The Guru doesn’t take sides;
    she welcomes both hackers and users.

    The Tao is like a stack:
    the data changes but not the structure.
    the more you use it, the deeper it becomes;
    the more you talk of it, the less you understand.

    Hold on to the root.


    Graphics blind the eyes.
    Audio files deafen the ear.
    Mouse clicks numb the fingers.
    Heuristics weaken the mind.
    Options wither the heart.

    The Guru observes the net
    but trusts his inner vision.
    He allows things to come and go.
    His heart is as open as the ether.


    When the Guru administers, the users
    are hardly aware that he exists.
    Next best is a sysop who is loved.
    Next, one who is feared.
    And worst, one who is despised.

    If you don’t trust the users,
    you make them untrustworthy.

    The Guru doesn’t talk, he hacks.
    When his work is done,
    the users say, “Amazing:
    we implemented it, all by ourselves!”


    Throw away documentation and manuals,
    and users will be a hundred times happier.
    Throw away privileges and quotas,
    and users will do the Right Thing.
    Throw away proprietary and site licenses,
    and there won’t be any pirating.

    If these three aren’t enough,
    just stay at your home directory
    and let all processes take their course.


    When license fees are too high,
    users do things by hand.
    When the management is too intrusive,
    users lose their spirit.

    Hack for the user’s benefit.
    Trust them; leave them alone.


    If a system is administered wisely,
    its users will be content.
    They enjoy hacking their code
    and don’t waste time implementing
    labor-saving shell scripts.
    Since they dearly love their accounts,
    they aren’t interested in other machines.
    There may be telnet, rlogin, and ftp,
    but these don’t access any hosts.
    There may be an arsenal of cracks and malware,
    but nobody ever uses them.
    People enjoy reading their mail,
    take pleasure in being with their newsgroups,
    spend weekends working at their terminals,
    delight in the doings at the site.
    And even though the next system is so close
    that users can hear its key clicks and biff beeps,
    they are content to die of old age
    without ever having gone to see it.

    Credits: Jeffrey Sorensen (rec.humor.funny.archives)

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