However, this last section really got under my skin. It seems completely inappropriate to devolve any well-intentioned email discussion into an appalling self-service ad-hominem attack.

I do not see any attack whatsoever, just advice which you took wrongly. of Fortunately without a backing argument),

'Fortunately' as is clear from the context, was in respect to your expressed casual attitude toward breaking code.  Some people have a negative reaction to that.  In any case, it is a separate issue from 'default arguments'.

> attempt to bully me out of my position (recomment you accept this behaviour
> is here to stay) are not appreciated.

He recommended that you not beat your head against a brick wall because of a misconception about what is currently socially possible.  He then suggested something that *might* be possible.  If that advice offends you, so be it.

It's not the content of the advice (don't push stuff uphill) which got to me at all, it was the tone and manner in which it was conveyed. Much of the email was well-balanced, which I fully acknowledged. Maybe you're just more inclined to overlook a few bits of innuendo, and probably most of the time so am I. However, it's actually not okay, and the implied personal criticism was very clearly present. It wasn't severe, ,perhaps my reaction was quite forceful, but it's just not okay to be putting people down.

I don't have a casual attitude towards breaking code, just an open mind towards discussions on their merits. I don't really appreciate the negative tones, and I'm sure that if anyone else is in the firing line, they wouldn't appreciate either, even if it to some extent it's all a bit of a storm in a teacup. Unless someone who is happy to cop a bit of flak stands up and says that's not on, then maintaining a "thick skin" -- i.e. putting up with people putting you down, be it through a clear and direct put-down, or through a more subtle implication -- becomes the norm. It becomes acceptable, perhaps indeed even well-regarded, to take a certain viewpoint then suggest that anyone who doesn't share it is doing something wrong.

Well nuts to that. Emails are, as everyone should know, an unclear communication channel. I've found myself on the wrong side of this kind of debate before, and I've heard plenty of stories of people who were put down, pushed out or made to feel stupid -- and for what? There are just so many stories, many of which I have heard first-hand, of people who have felt alienated on online lists where prowess and insight are so highly regarded that they become means by which others are put down. It's that larger problem which people need not to put up with.

However, I'm just about to go offline for 12 hours or so, and I know the US will be waking up to their emails shortly, so I just wanted to take this opportunity before the sun rotates again to say to the list and the original author that I'd really like to avoid a continued shouting contest or make anyone upset. I've obviously ruffled some feathers already, and I guess probably this email may ruffle some more, but really I just want to make clear that :
  (a) It's not okay to put myself or anyone else down, claiming some personal superiority
  (b) That attitude is all this email is about. It doesn't need to be any bigger than that.