Subject: Re: free software as a delivery vehicle for lisp
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: Fri, 05 Apr 2002 03:41:36 GMT
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

* Kent M Pitman <>
| Maybe it's that I read too much of Slashdot, but I hear a lot of people
| who seem to think that the world would be "just great" if there were a de
| facto monopoly operating system tht was Linux.  That is, that having no
| choice would be fine as long as there was no one making any money.  To
| me, that is just as wrong as the Microsoft effect, and fixes nothing.

  This is all very natural, really.  Few people seem to be able to grasp
  the notion of "alternative system" and manage to think about what things
  would be like if some serious changes were made.  So if Microsoft has
  gained monopoly power, what is bad is not "monopoly power" but that
  Microsoft has gained it and things would be better if some less evil,
  possibly even "good", monopoly power could replace them.  This is, of
  course, evidence of the traditionally accepted human stupidity in action.

  Microsoft is not a monopoly that just sprung up out of nothing.  It is
  based in a pathologically paranoid leader, Bill Gates, who is so insanely
  competitive that he thinks someone will topple Microsoft any day.  So the
  only way _he_ can win is to topple other companies first.  Since he and
  his fellow Microsoft staff are the only ones who are so _nuts_ that they
  think this way, they "win".  Normal people do not consider _everybody_ a
  threat to their existence and do not compulsively acquire and destroy
  their "competition", nor do they seek to undermine _every_ other player
  in the market by coercive tactics.  There is simply something wrong with
  the mental health of the Microsoft senior leadership when they manage to
  instill this kind of fear in their own employees. Insane competitiveness
  is contagious: everybody else have to prepare for it and work themselves
  into a frenzy.  The whole point with a civilzation and a legal system is
  that people shall not have to fend off every possible predator on their
  own, but the American legal system has seriously failed to protect people
  (both businesses and customers) from predators in the market, so they
  have to get into a predotory mind-set themselves.  Microsoft has proven
  that the old adage "dog-eat-dog" competition is not dead yet, and that in
  order to fight this evil monstrosity, people now believe they have to
  engage in similarly evil tactics.  However bad the Microsoft people are,
  the proper solution is not to become like them and fight them on their
  own terms -- because whetever someone _thinks_ is "their terms" is most
  likely _not_ their actual terms, and they just see them as attacks they
  have a right to defend themselves against -- just increasing the amount
  of violence the predator needs to use to "win".  Just listen to that
  psycho Steve Ballmer and his hysterical shrieks about Free Software!  On
  the other hand, maybe some of the anti-commercial software people here
  have done just that, and almost hear the voice of that lunatic when they
  read Kent Pitman's articles?  In a twist of irony, paranoid people have a
  tendency to create an environment in which their fears come true, and
  that is just the case with the psychos who run Microsoft -- they have
  single-handedly created an environment where other business people, their
  own customers, and politicians want to see them dead and destroyed, and
  so, too, with the Free Software people who are, and this is important,
  not _wrong_ in wanting the death of Microsoft.

  However, the only way to beat a tyrant at his own game is to be a worse
  tyrant.  Since the real evil is that tyrants can evolve in what was
  supposed to be a free economy overseen by a powerful government that
  would crush criminals in time, the government needs to crush the
  criminals quickly and mercilessly when it is too late.  When the United
  States military forces can crush the Al Qaeda by carpet-bombing
  Afghanistan and have hopefully destroyed some of the "pharmaceutical"
  production of that country, and can stage wars on the "pharmaceutical"
  production of Columbia, it can and should be used to carpet-bomb Redmond,

  Most good people do not want to fight, but some of them become bad when
  they think they have to or are somehow "forced" to, instead of being
  smart enough to figure out more precisely what they need to do.  Since
  bad people is a fact of life, being smart enough to counter-act them
  intelligently is vital to the continued existence of civilization.  What
  we see in the software industry is that the sheer naïvité of engineers,
  who are generally far less assertive and aggressive socially than those
  who want to "make it" as business leaders, retreat to the disciplines
  they master, and _therefore_ become so fantastically hostile when they
  think they are "wronged" and instead of having the decency to think long
  enough to figure out what they experience, erect images of "enemies".  Be
  it in newsgroups or in the market, where the "worker" rebels against the
  "forces" of a "market" he does not understand, or in Free Software, where
  the same naïvité idolizes the hobbyist and scorns the professional, the
  pattern is the same: some experience of some form of pain causes a person
  to stop thinking and to declare whatever appears to be the source this
  "enemy" and that absolutely anything goes in fighting this "enemy".  I
  cannot imagine a less intelligent or less mature way to respond.  (This
  is one reason why I think the only real threat to human existence is the
  failure to stamp out stupidity.)

  For the current problem of Free Software, it has become a lot worse with
  the increasing success in beating Microsoft, but, again, it has been a
  highly emotional and personal fight, instead of the professional fight it
  should have been.  Microsoft "competes" by slaughtering the competition,
  while most other companies tries to compete in good spirit by offering
  better products.  People who have been hurt by Microsoft, and I consider
  the fact that a computer crashes on you so you lose your work as being
  hurt by their willful incompetence, tend to hate them, and this is very
  understandable, but it is precisely that hatred that has made the evil
  monstrosity possible: People who hate are extremely predictable and very
  easy to make _completely_ ineffectual, and some paranoid and competitive
  psycho like Bill Gates or Steve Ballmer can easily and quickly tame this
  hatred and even turn it into a force for his own purposes, and what would
  be more beneficial for Microsoft than a huge war between programmers who
  thought they had to fight Microsoft by giving away their works on the one
  hand and the evil monopoly that could give the customers what they want.

  Some have said that Microsoft cannot take GPL'ed source and just use it,
  but they can: They break every other contract they enter if they think it
  is to their competitive advantage to do so.  And who would be able to sue
  them?  Besides, how do you find out that some source code in a closely
  guarded secret-source system is ripped off from "free" code?

  All in all, the Free Software is playing right into the hand of Microsoft
  -- by legitimizing their tactics and their goals, by giving away their
  own work, and by creating a business community where Microsoft can use
  their "might is right" philosophy to crush competitors, which is what
  everybody will expect when they start to compete with Microsoft, anyway.
| I'm not formally trained in economics.

  I would recommend Aswath Demodaran's Investment Valuation to get a better
  grip on economic value.

  In a fight against something, the fight has value, victory has none.
  In a fight for something, the fight is a loss, victory merely relief.

  Post with compassion: