A friend on a mailing list bemuses...

Give me a break, oh, "But vi is on everything and emacs isn't so it's obvious the best Unix editor to learn, besides, what difference does it make that you can't tell what mode your in if you happen to answer the phone in the middle of and edit and it doesn't really matter that typing your name can cause you to program a complete web server if you happen to be in command mode, so vi is obviously really cool..."-type person!

Listen at you!

Anyone who's ever had to slash their way through an airport with an umbrella knows that the emacsians are the ultimate cult, so evangelistic they make the Moonies and IRS look introverted to the point of imminent collapse into neutronium. They grope at your pockets in those complex, secret signs they constantly make with fingers that never stop moving, trying to pick your pockets [1], all the while chanting "emacs good, all else bad!" [3]

And, son, the vi I am using even as we speak has this at the bottom of the screen:

-- INSERT --

because I am in (are you ready for this?) input mode. And at least my commands are limited to what can be typed with two fingers. I don't need all my fingers, thumbs, toes, nose, and a flexible tail to hit the requisite keys to tell an editor the size of King Kong [2] to go down a page.

Anyone with even a smidgen of sense knows that vi was written to the limitations of teletype and early tube-based computers, and it was really good in that environment (but, so was paper tape).

And, short of cutting a block of text that doesn't begin on the left margin, or pasting a block somewhere similar, it still does just about everything one needs an editor to do. There's something to be said for elegant design, as opposed to spontaneous emission and rabid, uncontrolled growth. [4]

Of course, it won't read my mail, graze news, surf the web, cook my dinner and double both as a floor wax AND a dessert topping, but for that I have Netscape.

Emacs is for the sophisticates, but I don't suppose you'd understand that, now, would you?!

Emacs is for people who desperately want to get drunk, but feel guilty doing so without a reason.

Oh, and if you have a bulletproof keyboard and a Class 3 license, emacs is useful for practicing intricate bullet placement in full-auto mode.

"Look, Mildred, I managed to hit the sequence to save the file and exit the editor, while simultaneously sending a Morse code message to Major Tom's capsule!"

"Sure, Ed, but ya used a whole 50-round clip!"

"But I got a perfect score - it takes 50 key strokes!"

  1. Looking for RAM chips, of course.
  2. Most modern versions of emacs are now shipped with a swap disk, so that Emacs can swap out the entire OS, since it not only consumes all available memory, but it doubles as an OS as well.
  3. And did you notice they all have coke bottles tattooed on their foreheads?
  4. Rather like cancer, or suburbs.

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