A Few Good Systems Programmers

Having recently learned a little C, and inspired by this hilarious take on systems programming by a Microsoft researcher, I was moved to write this riff on Colonel Jessup’s famous courtroom meltdown from A Few Good Men:

KAFFEE:  Colonel Jessup, did you make the off-by-one error?

JUDGE RANDOLPH:  You don’t have to answer that question!

COL. JESSUP:  I’ll answer the question!

[to KAFFEE]

COL. JESSUP:  You want answers?

KAFFEE:  I think I’m entitled to.

COL. JESSUP:  YOU WANT ANSWERS?

KAFFEE:  I WANT THE TRUTH!

COL. JESSUP:  YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!

[pauses]

COL. JESSUP:  Son, we use memory that has cells, and those cells have to be addressed by men with pointers. Who’s gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinburg? I have a greater responsibility than you could possibly fathom. You weep for LISP, and you curse manual memory management. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know. That segfaults and memory corruption, while tragic, probably saves processor cycles. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves cycles. You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about on HackerNews, you want me on those pointers, you NEED me on those pointers. We use words like alignment, type-punning, endian-ness. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent debugging something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who allocates and garbage collects under the blanket of the very performance that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a coredump, and load it into GDB. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you are entitled to.

KAFFEE:  Did you make the off-by-one error?

COL. JESSUP:  I did the job I–

KAFFEE:  DID YOU MAKE THE OFF-BY-ONE ERROR?

COL. JESSUP:  YOU’RE GODDAMN RIGHT I DID!

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