Archives, page 1

Tue Oct 13 14:35:43 2009
God as Convenient Falsehood

Your analysis is incomplete, mostly because it is based on poor philosophy. The failing sits most squarely in two paragraphs, beginning with "If there really is no transcendent order imposed by God on human behavior ... once we progressed to the point that we grasped that morality was not universal and transcendent, b... we would be free from its power and able to do whatever we desired". This is poor philosophy because it in rests on a notion of morality that's external to who we are and what we want. Morality lies in our values - it is a formalisation of what we desire, on some level. We are already free, and always were, to do whatever we desire, to the limit of our ability. The things we call moral are duties attached to our values - they are based on our wants for society. When we are tempted to be hedonstic, we encounter a conflict between our values - when we decide not to be, it is because the values the act in question threatens are judged, in the heat of the moment, to be more important than the values advanced by the act.

The purpose of codification of values is to help us develop habits that protect us against bad decisions in the heat of the moment. We do not rape, kill, steal, because we empathise with the would-be victims, and their pain is our pain, even if we would get immediate value of some sort through that act. As societies, we struggle to produce codes to govern ourselves and others - some of these are laws, some are tradition.

We do not need an external source for our value systems once we have progressed beyond childhood. A firm reliance on such a system effectively makes someone immoral - the development of kindness and character does not come from external rules so much as a refinement of the self and a commitment to the good of humanity. We do this not because we are told by others, but because it is what we want.

Tue Oct 13 14:37:55 2009
Obama Birth Cert

JohnC, The certificate he's posted is a real birth certificate. He has met the requirement for the presidency. For most Americans, what he's posted is what they have - I was born in Texas, and my birth certificate doesn't have any more information than what Obama's has - I don't know what doctor delivered me, but that would not make me ineligible for high public office. Maybe there exists some longer form somewhere, but what was posted is sufficient.

Tue Oct 13 14:42:35 2009
Miguel de Icaza and Mono

It is not content free. It points out that CodePlex does not particularly care about freedom, is designed to whitewash a bad company's trojan horse technology, and is harmful to the open-source community.

Are there personal attacks? Only if you consider an attack on your life's work personal. Some time back (around when we first met at an O'Reilly Convention), you used to be involved in the production of software (like Gnumeric) that was unambiguously good for the community. Ever since you got into Microsoft's Java clone and its reimplementation, your actions have been not-so-clearly-good for the community - you encourage us to adopt patent-risky technologies that break greatly with Unix tradition, you strongarm the GNOME folk into adopting lousy technical decisions (we have a binary registry now? Oy) and continue to push them to making mono a required component of GNOME, and you keep telling us to cozy up with a company that has done its very best to undermine Linux, undermine Free Software, and drop legal and technical obstacles in our way. You want us to be technically just like them, and you want us to like them.

I don't see any criticism of you in your personal life - these are not personal criticisms, they are criticisms of the way you act in the community. You may have once done good for us, but you're certainly harmful now. For many of us, the best and most clear choice is to continue to try to avoid catching Mono, advocating its removal from our preferred distros and from GNOME, ideally removing you from any influence over GNOME as well. If you would simply go away, you would spare us the trouble.

Tue Oct 13 14:45:39 2009
Pacemakers and Police

Most of the police I've met actually are respectful in most circumstances. There are a few bad eggs in any police department, but I've generally seen more people disrespecting the police than vice versa.

I think a lot of it is people resent the notion that their are limits to their ability to do whatever they want, no matter how stupid what they want or reasonable the restraints might be, and they react to police like an angry child.

To whatever extent you're serious about the mutuality, I likely would agree with you.

Tue Oct 13 14:46:38 2009
ELF and Direct action

Number one rule for direct action:

Have your facts straight. If you target the wrong people, or if your science is bad, you're sacrificing credibility and making people angry for no good reason.

Tue Oct 13 14:48:50 2009

---------------- They're well-known criticisms because they're good criticisms. Taking the narrow view of liberty - that liberty from the state is the only kind worth thinking about, is in fact quite restrictive of people. Having a certain degree of independence from one's employer, not being squeezed by poverty, and knowing that many of one's basic needs are cared for by society as a whole rather than by a single terminable source gives people the security they need for actual independent living. Libertarian policies at best offer a good quality of life for those wealthy enough not to have this as a concern - it is a party of self-betterment for people who already have their basic needs and many of their luxury desires met, and don't want to keep contributing their fair share to the basic needs of others.

When the basic needs of some are not met and the luxury of others is satisfied, we should consider that an injustice. -----------------

Not everyone does.

Different countries have different ideas, and American political ideological ideas are pretty extremist in a lot of ways.

I was born in the states, and believed in free speech as an absolute until I started to study history, social movements, and the law. I still value free speech, but I no longer consider it absolute, noting that neither does the law in the United States (even if it considers it a very strong default) nor do other countries (and their restrictions are still fairly limited and sensible).

I don't want to ban reasonable discussion, but I believe exceptions to free speech might sensibly include banning speech of klansmen, neo-fascists, and some similar groups. A very broad but not freedom of speech seems more sensible to me than either having it be nearly limitless or have it be restrictive. If one is restricting expression of the views of more than 5% of the country, one either has a fucked society or a fucked notion of free speech.

Tue Oct 13 14:52:29 2009
Societies depend on trust

It's not feasable to make every part of society completely bulletproof, societal trust is part of many areas of this. People keep the trust because they are supposed to and because it'd be a big hassle to do otherwise.

In a neighbourhood, one neighbour may have a shed she doesn't want you playing around in. She might tie it shut with a rope, use a padlock, or even an electronic lock, depending on how much she cares. None of this is meant as a challenge - untying the rope, picking the lock, or messing with the electronic lock are all within the capabilities of some people. It's not cute to say "Your lock was not good enough, that's why I was in your shed".

I've read 2600 for years (it's sometimes interesting when one can get past the juvenile attitude), and know people in the community. The standard preface of "I am just doing this for intellectual curiosity and do not laud nor do things like this" is more legal covering of asses than anything else. In some areas maybe we can't rely entirely on societal trust and it's accidentally helpful to have people prodding at these systems, but they're still a nuisance and I would not trust the community in general to use that knowledge responsibly. I've known too many people who have bad attitude towards society in general and who would take these things as far as they can for personal benefit.

Being clever is great. Being clever in ways that hurt society is not.

Tue Oct 13 14:53:23 2009
Cultural Steering

You're talking as if western libertene thought is a faith. It's another way to run a society, and one that we've probably taken a bit too far (even if its foundations are sound).

We'd probably be better off if parents (opressors!) were to make sure that youth in the US have better role models than our rappers. Consumerism has, at least in some areas, created terrible role models for children and given us a cultural rot that wastes potential of individuals and encourages crime. We may be able to find ways to combat this that are compatible with a libertene culture (with or without the state, we have an obligation to do cultural steering). China's taking a more direct route to fix an obvious problem, while the worst flavours of our political philosophies have a head-in-the-sand attitude, refusing to use the state to do any cultural maintenance/steering/enrichment and refusing to see it as an obligation outside the state. The latter are proposing a suicide pact where they would have us watch as society falls apart because to do anything else would mean not being "neutral".

Thu Oct 15 18:30:04 2009
Wikis and how bandwidth/disk fails as an argument for Inclusionism

Over many years, the "is bandwidth/disk space an issue?" argument has repeatedly been proven bad for any wikis where it's dominant - the point of keeping things appropriate is a cultural/content maintenance issue, not a technical one (otherwise, we would not be using a wiki to begin with - every change we make adds another revision and more content for spiders to rummage over). We don't want mission creep - we need to maintain what the project is about, and prevent ego from distracting us from our goals. People and organisations often have a tough time learning how to be good wiki citizens - they have an urge for self-promotion and to effectively advertise themselves and their interests, regardless of the purpose of the site, and when wikis don't regulate that, one ends up with a lot of cruft, a lot of decent content handled inappropriately, and a site that has purpose-drift to the extent that nobody knows what it's about anymore, serving as the homepage for every person, group, and bit of trivia under the sun. I think we should firmly reject that, and restrain our argument to "what do we want the wiki to be about", ideally keeping that fairly narrow.

Mon Oct 26 17:12:31 2009
Gender and invititude to sport

Original: here

I would be concerned if Obama were avoiding basketball with females, and angry if he suggested that it is "not a sport for gals". However, we don't know what his social circles are like - people tend to do sports with people they know who are interested and of similar skill levels, and he may not be personally close to any females who play those sports. Personal recreation is not a PR event - people won't go to great ends to be representative in their personal lives.

We should assume it to be innocent unless he says something - I doubt most of us have perfectly statistically even distributions of friends. If we don't have a Chinese friend to go out drinking with, that doesn't necessarily say anything about how we feel about Chinese people.