[conspire] No more GNU HP Minis

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Fri Nov 13 20:02:25 PST 2009

Quoting Ruben Safir (ruben at mrbrklyn.com):

> Frankly, it is a fool's errand to try to detach moral issues from  
> technology.

A lot of people, reading a posting like that, would immediately fly
off the handle at the completely unjustified foundational assumption
that one's stance lacks a moral footing.  Which _does_ happen to be
false, and you are going off on a rather ludicrous flight of fancy,
_but_ offence-taking would just chew up time towards no particular gain.
And it's not the interesting part, anyway.

The interesting part is the truly vital consideration I learned as a
kid, from numerous wise people including my parents, at whose knees I
developed abilities to think about morals in the first place:  It's that
the very worst sin one can commit in advancing a moral agenda is to be
ineffective, to squander valuable time and energy that could have been
used to accomplish something.

This comes as astonishing news to many people, I notice.  They think
morality is about cultivating a good batch of outraged attitude, and 
making a lot of noise that makes them feel good.

Which brings me back to you.  You claim that getting more Linux preloads
on new computers is somehow vital.  Completely aside from disputing your 
assumption, I've also pointed out that nothing you're doing advances
that goal.  Your notion of how to bring it about completely lacks a
credible plan, and seems to mostly revolve around going onto LUG mailing
lists and making a lot of noise about slaveware, e-readers, and DRM, and
about how vital your cause is.

And that's kind of sad, because you're wasting your time and effort
doing things that produce no results whatsoever in the area you claim is
vital, and chews up a bunch of other people's time.  Moreover, worse 
than the fundamental failure of ineffectiveness on a moral agenda, you're
trying to get other people to join you in being equally ineffective in
the same way.  

In science fiction convention-running, we have a metaphor called "people
points" -- the energy, goodwill, and time of people you can call upon to 
get the work done.  To run a volunteer-staffed SF convention, you have
to spend some combination of money and people points, over 1-2 years of
lead time.  The more money your group has to burn, the more it can
econonise on spending people points.  Conversely, to save money, you
need to conserve people points and spend them wisely.

You strike me as someone in a huge hurry to burn up people points, yours
and others', and get very little in return.  And you really should fix

My approach, that of focussing on helping the people who're willing to 
substantively participate in our community, of keeping our forums and
insititutions alive and healthy, and staying away from areas that
achieve little benefit for the amount of time, money, and irritation it
would cost me, demonstrably gets worthwhile things done.  It's
effective.  And that's Rule 0 for me.  I see noisier efforts that waste
time and get nothing worthwhile done, and it looks like not just waste,
but immoral waste.  And when someone like you says I need to shift
priorities to do that sort of wasteage, my answer is positively steeped
in morals:  I say "Hell no."

Among the things I painstakingly eschew is trying to lobby manufacturers
to do Linux preloads, private free-of-charge technical support for 
strangers, and operating system advocacy aka trying for high "adoption
rate".  Because those are just time sinks, and don't work, i.e., don't
actually achieve much.

And yeah, you said you don't agree -- but if you bother to take a good
look, you'll find you not only have no results but also utter lack of a
credible cause-effect plan to get to them.

> There is NO category 1,2,3 of people...there are just PEOPLE.

If you care about being effective, you have to bear in mind that your
life and time and energy are finite, and decide where to optimise.
Again, I _know_ that my optimisation strategy does pretty well,
producing far greater and better results for less effort than if I did
things otherwise, and especially if I did things as you urge.

I don't think you can realistically say the same.

So, as the LOLcats people might say:  "Effectiveness:  You're doing it
wrong."  And that's a real shame, because I'd rather you be both
productive and happy.

> I KNOW system engineers who were big GNU fans, who have stopped using
> Linux because hardware support is a PIA.

Let me put it this way:  One of us runs an installfest twice a month,
twelve months a year.  It's not you.  If current distros (i.e., not the
last-but-one release) didn't work well on all but (1) extreme cutting 
edge chipsets just released, and (2) a couple of notorious types of
_bad_ hardware, especially really badly selected wireless chipsets, I'm
pretty sure I'd know.

> Hell, I've had a year so bad that it would make your testicles twist. 

I'm very sorry to hear that, especially as I gather that your marriage 
may have been among the casualties, which is a terrible thing.  Too much
pain for too many people, Ruben.   And I have _two_ people I care about
whom I'm visiting in hospitals, now.  That's a pair too many.

> Have a happy thanksgiving if we don't talk.

And you, too, Ruben.

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