Older blog entries for kholmes (starting at number 13)

Under God

Can an atheist pledge his allegance to his flag, under god?

That would be hypocritical and might make the atheist feel unwelcome in his country. One might go to another nation wishing to respect the values of that place but, this is his country!

So I'm not upset when the 9th US Court of Appeals said the phrase "one nation under God" amounts to a government endorsement of religion in violation of the separation of church and state.

Bush thinks the decision is rediculous. Of course, I feel the same way about his election--but that is another story. Lets just say I'm not surprised.

Being American isn't particularly hard. But when asked what it means to be American, people tend to blurt out whatever they've been told. Questioned a little, Americans would struggle or become stubborn in their viewpoints. My newspaper has quotes from people who seem to say that Americans are theists, but without saying it. That the American Declaration of Independence says "Creator" means that to be American is to be Christian. Yet it is that document that tells us our national leaders should not be decided by God but by the consent of the governed (the previous election notwithstanding). Behold, a step towards rationality.

So it would be contradictory for a nation that respects true religious freedom to hold the country under a certain religion's God and to ask for trust in God on the nation's currency.

There is no need to censor religion. But simple changes can be made. Like reverting the pledge of allegiance to its former version without "under God". And removing "In God We Trust" from currency bills. Hopefully, no one worships money anyways.

But this is not such a big deal. I've been saying the pledge of allegiance all this time--knowing full well the hypocracy. But there really shouldn't be so much controversy over a decision that serves only to make America more American. It makes America more inclusive for people like me.

"Cool. Jul 4, 2002 has been declared wIndependence Day."

Whose turn is it for the Obi-Wan Kanobi outfit?

First, I shouldn't be a Journeyer. I haven't contributed anything to Free Software. I think I'm an example of the cert inflation you guys are talking about.

Second, tobacco should become illegal. Marijuana, by most accounts, a less harmful drug--and provided there is sound reason on the illegalization of Marijuana--then it only makes sense to illegal tobacco as well. Note however that such a move would kill anyone's political career.

In other words, its not gonna happen.

At first, the hard drive seemed to crash. I took it out, put in another--seems it doesn't work. Put the first drive back in and it works again. Remember back in the day when hard drives crashed they stayed crashed?

Anyway, is it just me or is the GNU/Linux vs Linux debate over? Some guy writing an article on lwn doesn't think so. The conlcusion to the debate is that even though GNU/Linux makes more sense in almost every way, "Linux" is way more popular. So "Linux" wins and I rebel.

In addition, Apple is evil. To the core.

sej, sorry. I've only now read the news :)
sej, kind of a slippery slope there, ay? rms does advocate the GPL and the copyleft. Is this the same as asking people not to license free software under non-copyleft licenses? Most likely. Is this the same as him implying that people who license under a non-copylefted FS license don't understand the license they choose? Absolutely not. If he actually did say something like that more or less directly, then I take what I say back.

But if you listen to RMS's critics too much, you can easily make him out to be a tyrant. Everything that he has written, said, or done has been greatly exagerated. Its not hard to fall into the same trap yourself.

scandal, I feel the same as you do. Business is business and like a candle in the dark tends to change its environment rather than be changed by it. This "United Linux" move seems more like a PR move by corporate types than any technical need to standardize. But I only have to remember two things that keep me optimistic. I have access to all this free software. And I'm not a corporate type.

lilo, I never take IRC very seriously. The amount of chest thumping there is horrendous. And its easy to get addicted to that some people believe its a world of its own. For me to take online messaging seriously, it would need some kind of authentication and identity mechanism. Surely this is contrary to what privacy advocates have been saying, but until our government actually does turn over and becomes a tyranny, people often need to be tamed by the social stigmas that exist in the real world.

Other People's Systems

jfleck, I have nothing coherent to say really. Just the phrase "Other People's Systems" hangs over my head after reading your entry. I don't judge by saying your concern of being eaten by seals is good or bad. But out of pure curiousity I ask, why do you care?

Why would anyone want a web browser when you can have a Flash animation viewer instead?

I hate applications in web browsers. If I had my way, I wouldn't use the web.

Sometimes my GNOME desktop does funny things. Like once, I logged in and nothing happened--no panel, no desktop icons. Then I got desktop icons, but no panel.

I think that desktops should be stable. So I'll find a way of dislodging GNOME from my startup and stick with sawfish (we need less lisps--one size fits all).

The usual answer is to report a bug. The kicker is that the bugs have to be reproducable. What hope is there for stable software with this requirement? Functional programming using formal methods of proving correctness? Code audits? I have a better idea. I'll just draw windows and dialogue boxes on the screen of my computer. Afterall, I only use computers to fit in with everyone else. :)

Right now I am reading "Atlas Shrugged" by Rand. So far, its been an entertaining read.

Reading "The Future of Ideas: the fate of the commons in a connected world" by Lawrence Lessig. Probably has summed up all the political problems that many in this community are concerned about. The increasing power of copyright. The DMCA. DeCSS. Lots of stuff like that. And he seems to be able to express this stuff eloquently. Sometimes dramatically but the drama is right on target.

The only problem I see is this book seems to be for people who aren't already aware of the issues. But who, of these people, would read the book?

He, overall, feels that the problem is that these legal problems will stifle our culture. And I think thats not too far from the truth.

I haven't finished the book yet, in fact, I haven't been able read the book cover-to-cover. I just skip through it until I see some topic I find interesting.

On the side I am having a conversation on gnu-friends where I argue that Episode I was very weak. I even made the statement that most Star Wars films are a step backwards for our culture. Whoops :)

If I was smart, I would stop posting to online forums altogether. I have this strange gift of stepping on all the mines. I'm not trolling either since I really feel the way I do.

But I'm not that smart.


Well...I'm playing with emacs again. Its not the editor I like but its potential that fascinates me. And Lisp, by many opinions I've read online, is the subjectively best programminig language out there. I guess Paul Graham's advocacy did me in. Still looking to order ANSI Common Lisp when I get the money together.

But personally, I'd like an editor with a bit more eyecandy.

In response to this diary thread that I seemed to have picked up on, there is something I've been wanting to say for a while about the what you may say is the "Linus Torvald's philosophy" which I don't really consider a philosophy.

One thing that has always bothered me about getting into technology was how people involved with technology were seen by others. Its not the perception that bothered me-- what concerned me was how much reality there was behind it. The perception is that technologists are the pawns of society while someone else leads the show. As someone who has deep value for my independence and autonomy, this bothers me.

So what do I see when investigate this "Linux" thing? I see a movement of software lead by a large collaborative group of hackers. And it almost seems that this movement has a motive--a real goal.

On further inspection, it turns out there are two barely compatible sides of this community of hackers. One side, the Open Source Movement tries its best to be as accomidating as possible to the needs of society. Success is measured in popularity. The point is to legitimize the "hacker culture" to the popular media.

The other side is called the Free Software Movement. This is a social movement that works toward a goal--an ideal of ethics and freedom with regards to software.

So it should be obvious which side I take seriously. And everytime I hear a programmer say that software is only a tool, I see someone who has accepted their position as a tool of society. Since if their only goal with what they create is to be well used and to amuse themselves, then what other purpose can they serve?

And thats why I don't regard Linus Torvalds as highly as many people do. He tells us to write software to amuse ourselves, not for any more lofty goal. He wrote a popular kernal and has had his face on Forbes magazine. These things don't matter to me. And he even offends me at times when he says to us, more or less, that us technologists should be happy with the way things are. And if any of the many national governments or large corporations do anything we consider unethical or wrong, that leaves us left to making fun of them on slashdot or on internet mailing list. Because thats the fun thing to do. At least thats my interpretation of some of his public comments.

Now, I don't mean any disrespect on Linus Torvalds. But some people are so public that it is very difficult to not have an opinion on them. This is my opinion.

I promise...I won't speak any more on this subject since it is well used up. On other notes, I am still trying to figure out what the various orbital elements mean. I think I might go major in Astronomy rather than CS since it seems to have a lighter course load. Although I consider myself intelligent, it seems I have a difficult time staying on task. Now I just need to find a school....

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