crash and burn
= C =
crawling horror n.
Ancient crufty hardware or software that
is kept obstinately alive by forces beyond the control of the
hackers at a site. Like dusty deck or gonkulator, but
connotes that the thing described is not just an irritation but an
active menace to health and sanity. "Mostly we code new stuff in
C, but they pay us to maintain one big FORTRAN II application from
nineteen-sixty-X that's a real crawling horror...." Compare
This usage is almost certainly derived from the fiction of
H.P. Lovecraft. Lovecraft may never have used the exact phrase
"crawling horror" in his writings, but one of the fearsome Elder
Gods that he wrote extensively about was Nyarlethotep, who had as
an epithet "The Crawling Chaos". Certainly the extreme, even
melodramatic horror of his characters at the weird monsters they
encounter, even to the point of going insane with fear, is what
hackers are referring to with this phrase when they use it for
horribly bad code.
--The Jargon File version 4.3.1, ed. ESR, autonoded by rescdsk.