Jack Nicholson Channels Programming Languages

31 May 2017

So last week I overdosed on a heady combination of expresso and free Turkish Delight (thanks Josh). Whilst in this altered mental state I had a revelation - the secrets to understanding the characters of popular programming languages are contained within the filmography of Mr Jack Nicholson. Let me show you what I mean...

C++ (Colonel Nathan Jessup in A Few Good Men)

Colonel Nathan Jessup in A Few Good Men

C++ boots up every morning with a hundred other processes who are trying to SIGKILL him. Or so he says after a few whiskies. He's definitely done one tour too many and has the thousand yard stare of a man who's seen pointers stuffed into integers and cast operators overloaded. The rest of his unit bought it back in 96 when some REMF forgot to virtualise a base class destructor and a single call to delete smeared their remains all over a core dump. He's never been the same since. If you get him in a talkative mood he'll tell you how he was calculating derivatives on a 286 before most languages were even compiling themselves, but its obvious his glory days are long since gone. Whatever you do don't ask him about that new Lieutenant Go and his big plans for the regiment, he'll lose it and go all template metaprogramming on your ass.

JavaScript (Randle McMurphy in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest)

Randle McMurphy in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest

JavaScript thinks he's the only sane one in the asylum. All the others keep wandering around in a daze, muttering about syntax trees, validation and semantics but he just does what he wants when he wants. That Scala guy in particular keeps drawing in red crayon on all the windows, muttering about formal proofs. Meanwhile he's at the fridge making a tuna, avocado, Stilton and ice cream sandwich - its always tastes the same to him. He used to run around throwing water bombs at all the other residents, but his therapist Dr Eich has him on a new drug called ES6 thats totally chilling him out. His social worker Dr Crockford says he'll be all better soon, able to go into the world and run code just like the sane people do. He just needs to keep remembering who he is every time he runs a function...

Java (Warren R. Schmidt in About Schmidt)

Warren R. Schmidt in About Schmidt

Java is clinically depressed. Despite over twenty years of loyal service to the industry it seems like he's not getting the respect he deserves. Now close to retirement he tries to keep up with current trends, especially that functional malarkey, but his heart just isn't in it. Back at home his three kids (Scala, Clojure and Kotlin) wont talk to him and slink away in embarrassment every time they go out as a family. His weird hipster nephew Groovy does call by from time to time but its really not the same. He keeps talking about modularising the family home, so the kids wont have to tidy up so much when he's gone. Secretly though all he really cares about is outliving his neighbour (that fancy pants Mr Sea Sharp) who always made a big thing of being a younger and more virile version of himself.

Lisp (Jack Torrance in The Shining)

Jack Torrance in The Shining

All parenthesis makes a language perfect

All parenthesis makes a language perfect

All parenthesis makes a language perfect

All parenthesis makes a language perfect

All parenthesis makes a language perfect

All parenthesis makes a language perfect

All parenthesis makes a language perfect

All parenthesis makes a language perfect

All parenthesis makes a language perfect

Python (President James Dale in Mars Attacks!)

President James Dale in Mars Attacks!

The thing about President Python is that he's just so damn likable. OK maybe he's not the most complex guy on earth but he'll see to all your scripting needs and throw in a new gazebo for the park while he's at it. Those tree hugging communist intellectuals may go for more erudite options, and he can have trouble handling more than one thing at once, but he gets the popular vote time after time. If you gave him a baby he'd probably kiss it, and then have it writing a ToDo List app in a couple of hours...

C# / F# (Jack Napier / The Joker in Batman)

Jack Napier / The Joker in Batman

C# started as just another hoodlum from the notorious mob family that spawned C++ and Perl. Perhaps more ruthless and violent than most, but thats only to be expected when you're the chief enforcer for the Redmond Syndicate. Then one fateful evening back in 2008, during a break in at LINQ Cosmetics, he fell into a frothing vat of Lambdas and was changed forever. Now he wears make up, purple suits and will only answer to the name F#. He seems to have repressed most of his past and is determined to enforce an immutable reign of terror, where developers walk around with frozen smiles endlessly proclaiming the virtues of Monadic Composition and Referential Transparency. If they know whats good for them that is. His no1 guy is a simple-minded hood called VB .NET, or Bob for short. He's only really good for parking the car or dumping bodies in the river and its surely only a matter of time before he iterates externally in front of the boss and ends up sleeping with the fishes.


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Garth Gilmour

Head of Learning