Saturday, September 01, 2001

did the "textiles of the future" convention actually applaud a WTO imposter as he suggested that ghandi was wrong and slavery was good? did the US government actually pay 'NSYNC $800,000 to spread anti-drug propaganda? does money actually make the world go 'round?

Friday, August 31, 2001

from HRC news: "Imagine if we picked up the paper and read that the state approved discrimination against Jews, or had sanctioned bigotry against Irish people, or had authorized prejudice against women. Clearly there would be nothing but universal disbelief, and outrage." -- Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening on the proposed November 2002 referendum to repeal protections for gays in employment, housing and public accommodations.
perhaps the least important mistake this site makes is to use bad grammar ("you're" - not "your"). is that bisexual stripper dope-fiend witch supposed to be sailor moon?
paul harvey tells an interesting then-and-now story about the black panthers and our former president. it's hard to find a good president these days.
i find interfacing brain cells with computer chips both exciting and frightening.
today dave writes: "It hardly matters that I was making generalizations about gender, that just happens to be what my mind revolves around, something I have in common with most adult women and men (another generalization of course)." while it is does indeed hardly matter what any one person thinks about gender, individual people make up society's collective attitude toward women. and when you're publishing your thoughts, you are taking an active step in influencing the rest of society. but it's nice to see that dave is writing "most" before his generalizations now.
i enjoy photoshop tennis.

Thursday, August 30, 2001

dave winer is considered somewhat of a champion of technological freedom - he's been nominated as a "tech renegade" by wired, and i've been a big fan of what he has to say about using standards to promote freedom for developers and users of technology.

but it's one thing fighting for freedom for independent developers as an independent developer. it's one admirable thing, but i don't find it as admirable as - say - white people fighting for black rights, or male feminists.

yesterday dave said: [1] "And software is developed by men with few exceptions. I'm not saying anything should change," and then [2] "We are a bunch of individuals, fighting for our own causes, not seeing the big picture, the benefits of working together. Of course it's this way, because we are men." and then [3] "Some people think I'm a sexist." and [4] "I know these ideas are generalizations, male and female energy come in all kinds of packages." and also [5] "I envision something greater, more inclusive, more fun. This is my way of expressing that." i'll try to refrain from copying the whole essay and move on to my response:

let's start with [3]: dave is a sexist. it takes a good deal of effort to grow up within a sexist society and not be a sexist. it's not like being a murderer, where you have to consciously go against society's values. if you just live a normal life and don't think much about gender equality (as i suspect dave has done for the past 46 years), you'll end up sexist. i know i did.

luke tymowski defends dave, echoing the misconception that there is no such thing as passive sexism: "I don’t believe there is any male conspiracy to keep women out of technical positions." for most of american history, there was no "conspiracy" to keep women from voting either (up until it looked like they might actually win the right) - that doesn't mean there was no sexism involved.

just to clarify, i'm not saying dave is sexist just because he's male. a good majority of females are also sexist, but getting the short end of gender inequality tends to give you good reason to think about things like why there aren't many female programmers. maybe this is why a lot of women were so indignant when dave just woke up one day and decided to address this problem.

or maybe just [1] really pissed women off. i know i cringe the same way (though not as much) when i read that as i do when i look at lynching photos. [2] is almost as bad, and i take more personal offense at this particular comment. having a penis does not mean i am obliged to be more interested in myself then in working with others. i might point to most of asia or young children as evidence of this point. masculinity appears very strongly to be learned behavior and not at all biological.

as for [4], this is a remark that needs to be made before any of the other comments - not as a postscript. too many people don't know these are generalizations, and even designating them as generalizations does not make them acceptable if they are, in general, false.

[5]: i've been reading what dave has to say for a few months now, so i know what he says here is not out of any inability to express what he thinks in words. that is, it's not that he's thinking good things and saying bad things - he actually thinks these things.

but it gets worse. he then turns his attention to more broad matters: "Art and war are the same thing. People overlook the creativity that comes from war." possibly the mass death associated with war plays some role in distracting people from the "art" of it all.

dave then goes on to summarily dismiss all who disagree with what he says with "Save yourself the trouble of making it about me, I'm just one person. Think bigger." apparently by "bigger" he means more like himself, as he has no issues with publishing the comments of those who agree with him. one such individual writes "Thus, while it ought not matter what color or sex or religion a person is, the fact is it does matter - to those people - it is their 'reason for failure'. And for those people it makes all the difference. They choose to be 'not willing' to accomplish the goal and yet they stay in the game!" i certainly hope i'm misunderstanding this when it seems to me that keith is saying that racism, sexism, and religious bigotry are merely illusions and easy excuses. were women and blacks just "not willing" to vote all those years?

Wednesday, August 29, 2001

"Minotaur is an extension which can be used from Tcl, Python, or Perl to run scripts in any of the other languages." this is a viable (and pro-freedom) alternative to .NET. now it just needs to be bundled with each distribution.
dave winer writes on .NET: "Sorry no migration of existing code. It's a one-way street. The developers come in, but they can't bring their code with them." and then "What do you do? Sorry no answers now."

here's an answer: activestate offers a version of perl that has a built-in system for passing variables between perl and vbscript. this kind of integration should be included in standard distributions of all scripting languages - like this. this reverses the situation, so the developers can "bring their code in" to any environment without entering themselves. manila is a good example of an environment i can code for without being "inside" it. but there are still (too many) limitations to this integration, and i suspect this problem has more to do with developer bias than with any large technological hurdles.
ira nayman writes "Technology will not solve the problem of the darkness in the heart of the human soul. For that, perhaps we need fewer computer programmers and communications scholars and more poets." perhaps we need more computer programmers interested in promoting freedom.

perhaps communication doesn't itself make us less hypocritical, but it seems to make it easier to expose hypocrisy. nayman's suggestion that we need more poets is interesting, as it suggests that it is not out of ignorance that we continue to hurt each other, but only that no one has phrased the issues in terms we understand.

the case of jane swift, the acting governor of massachusetts, changing her position on gay marriage after her gay step-son (publicly) pointed out her hypocrisy suggests to me that increased communication is a good tool. we just need to use it. and of course not everyone will use these new tools for good, but for those who will it's good that they have good tools.

Tuesday, August 28, 2001

the washington post writes: "Dmitry Sklyarov, 27, and ElComSoft Co. Ltd. of Moscow were charged with five counts of copyright violations for writing a program that lets users of Adobe Systems' eBook Reader get around copyright protections imposed by electronic-book publishers." under the DMCA, skylarov would be the first person to go to prison for writing software. nevermind if anyone was hurt by the software - or even if anyone actually used the software.
adam vandenberg suggests that Microsoft's .NET isn't about developer freedom at all - it's against it. in other non-news, dave winer agrees.
as an asian studies major, i guess i should be ashamed of (or at least embarassed by) my below-average score on the alllooksame? asian aptitude test.
andrew sullivan is quoted in the august 14 planetout mailing: "The crazed gunman who killed one person and wounded six after opening fire in a Roanoke, Virginia, gay bar has just received four life-terms for his crime. He was prosecuted in a conservative state under existing laws, just as Matthew Shepard's murderers were. More evidence of the complete pointlessness of hate crimes laws -- except to further balkanize this country."

the next day's first story: "Egypt resumes trial of 'immoral' men." as an example to the rest of the world, perhaps americans have some responsibility to codify our values (hate crimes are bad) as laws without regard to how these laws are executed. after all, following sullivan's logic, we should remove the promise of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" from our constitution as the phrase doesn't directly affect the sentencing of any criminals.