Subject: Re: Ethics in programming
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: 1995/11/04
Message-ID: <>

[Daniel Finster]

|   That may be true for you; I use -good- tools, like Symbolics Genera.
|   I choose to avoid tools that are anything less than the best.

that's good for you.  however, you again miss the point.  the resources
available to any one person are limited, so most people go for the _better_
of the choices available with those resources, instead of the best choice
in a minor area to forfeit the rest.  few can afford to refuse to work with
tools and under conditions that they consider inferior.  I do, and this
limits my options, as I'm sure Symbolics Genera limits yours (e.g., I rent
a small apartment instead of owning a condo or house like most of my
classmates do these days, I don't have a car, and I neither smoke nor
drink, and so don't need to make more than about half of what passes for
"normal living standards", much to the dismay of the IRS (equivalent), and
thus can work almost solely on projects I consider "worth doing").  some
will find such limits too tight for their comfort, and opt for a wider set
of choices, albeit of less quality.

I think you need to realize that yours is not the only valid choice (of
what constutues "good") in this situation.  I think that peace consists of
universal agreement on what are the _wrong_ choices and respect for those
that choose among those that are _not_ wrong.  anything better than that is
very hard to obtain, perhaps impossible, in a society of any significant
number of people.

|   I wonder what's wrong with the cretins that want to give him a nobel
|   prize.

and why did they have to be _cretins_?  I think I missed that argument.

|   The same is true of those that are seriously enthralled by the guy:
|   they do not present the whole truth, only the part of it that they
|   self-servingly want to be perceived as the whole truth.  They do not
|   present actual arguments, reverting instead to "RMS is such a cool
|   stud, and he provides all this nifty software for free, so how dare
|   you possibly say anything bad about him?"

how many people of this kind do you actually know, Daniel?  you attribute
to people opinions and motives they simply do not hold.  this is far worse
than missing an occasional shower in my mind.

I _could_ interpret your previous comment as saying that you wonder what's
wrong only with those cretins that happen to join the crowd of brilliant
people that want to give RMS a Nobel prize, but that is not very likely.
the same applies to regarding the above statement as being a depiction of a
small group of lunatics who just happen to be "lunatics for RMS" -- you're
tarring a community of excellent software authors with a mighty broad
brush, and this is so incredibly unfair and unjust that I wonder how you
can live yourself.  are you really prepared to face all the people you have
vilified randomly and repeat your statements to them individually?

|   But, in the spirit of fairness, I am trying to present a more on-track
|   viewpoint.  You have to realize that I'm not slamming the guy.

are the following comments of yours "more on-track" and "not slamming"?

|   I think he needs to be dumped in the cold-load stream with a bar of
|   soap. Leave him there for a few hours to clean up, cut his frigging
|   jesus beard and hippie hair off, and lock him out of the AI Lab for a
|   few months or so to let people disinfect the building.
|   Then maybe they can let him back in, after they have replaced his
|   eunuchs workstation with a SHOWER.

I'm glad to see that the most important, most "on-track", issue with RMS is
his personal hygiene.  that would be somewhat like someone having read my
works on SGML over the last five years and come and visit me and exclaim
"there are _cat_hairs_ everywhere, your whole place smells cat food, your
clothes are full of tiny holes, and your hands have scars from playing with
the furry devils; how can we trust what you have written about SGML?"

I take it that you see the obvious flaw in this "line of reasoning".

I think we have converged on maximal divergence in this thread, Daniel.
there really isn't much more to say.  I also don't think you can make the
Nobel committee deliver the Nobel prize in coupons redeemable only at
beauty salons for hackers.

#<Erik 3024513763>
a good picture may well be worth a thousand words, but on the WWW,
even bad imagemaps cost tens of thousands of words.