[conspire] No more GNU HP Minis

Ruben Safir ruben at mrbrklyn.com
Mon Feb 15 00:57:20 PST 2010

On Sun, Feb 14, 2010 at 08:34:59PM -0800, Rick Moen wrote:
> Quoting Ruben Safir (ruben at mrbrklyn.com):
> [In response to my point that I was always taught that it's a prime
> secular sin to use ineffective techniques when trying to advance a moral
> agenda:]
> > My experience in this regard is that if you ignore or concede to
> > social forces that produce moral dilemas, that the result is that you
> > walk out the door one morning and disenfranced youth puts a tek-9
> > automated submachine gun in your temple and beats the crap out of you.
> Your fundamental assumption that I favour "ignoring or conceding social
> forces" is near as I can estimate, not correct -- though one would have
> to look at specifics.  Such a very abstract statement is rather
> difficult to evaluate, as I'm sure you realise.

The position you made, and it is not without rationality, is that
certain kinds of advocacy, like demanding GNU preloads from manufacturers, 
is ineffective because, aside from the technical reasons you cited, a
waste of time and provocative.  

I was told specifically the same exact thing about poverty and crime in
NYC, and it took the Crown Heights riots to finally move the electorate
towards doing something about it.  But once there was a decision to do
something about it, change came rapidly, and it was nothing short of a
miracle.  They leaders in change were certainly provocative,
controversial, often antagonistic,  and often loathed.  Mr. Guilliani is
still loathed.  So be it...

The same can be said about the civil rights leaders in the late 1950's
to the late 1960's.  (hows that for both left and right wing examples
although I don't believe that civil rights should be painted as a left
wing issue).

Free Software is every bit as critical of an issue, or worse, because
people fail to understand just how digital information systems shape
society and these systems are actively shaping society more broadly.  
And when they do start to figure it out, it is such a big
societal issue that they can't see the forest from the trees.

> > And that's not a hypothetical, but a real world experience.  People
> > need education, positive goals, and feeling of reasonable empowerment
> > for a healthy Democratic society.
> Again, a bit vague and abstract.  But here, in the next sentence, you
> return to specifics:

I don't see how this is vague or abstract.  Maybe I need to connect the
ideas clearer.  People need education, positive goals, and feelings of
reasonable empowerment for a health Democratic society and Digital
Systems is the sole means by which they can obtain this education, goals
and empowerment, as we are moving forward as a civilization.  And only
Free Software can provide these essentials as proprietary hardware and
software absolutely is designed from the ground up to prevent all of
those things.  They are designed to control access to information, and
to prevent individuals from designing, hacking and using digital systems
to empower themselves with regard to control of systems that feed the
vast majority of their education and social interactions.

> > They need this more than food.  Hence, Slaveware, and DRM really ticks
> > me off.
> Those same things annoy me too, _but_ that's not under discussion.  And
> that's a key point:  What was under discussion is what works and is an
> efficient and productive use of time, versus what simply doesn't work
> and is a noisy _waste_ of time.  Every one of us is obliged to decide,
> each and every day, what's the best use of limited time and energy, the
> most benefit, the most-fruitful approach.
> Upthread, you complained that I don't spend time doing particular
> things.  

Not complain, but was perplexed by what I perceived as an inconsistency.
You've explained that inconsistency very well, and I understand it now
in detail.  You have a very rational and well thought out position that
leads you to the conclusions you've made.  I have to consider your
perspective and add it to my strategies and thinking on all of these
issues because you make many irrefutable points.

> But I see many of those things as tending towards ineffective,
> inefficient, and counterproductive.  Not liking proprietary code and
> DRM, or even hating it with every fibre of your being, doesn't make
> particular activities in opposition a good idea if they _don't work_, or
> if they're horrendously inefficient and if much greater good can be done
> working on something else entirely.

"Mr Dillon, why do you rob banks?"  "Because that's where the money is."

I am very interested in the efficiency of strategies for advocating Free
Software.  But unlike you, I do believe that everyone needs Free

> > In any event, I think a lot of the difference here is whether or not
> > we need to save/change the world or not.
> No, honestly, that's really not it.  Not at all.  The difference, here,
> is over what works and is an effective, efficient, and productive use of
> limited resources including human existence.
> > I've been fighting losing battles my whole life.
> Some losing battles are worth fighting, but some are not.  And some
> fighting _tactics_ just plain suck, viz., 

Yeah...I strongly agree with you here.  I've seen organized efforts
self-destruct on the cusp of real impact just over disagreements of this
issue.  One needs to be very pragmatic in strategy, use of resources,
and tactics.  You can't have flights of fancy, a tie in with extraneous
political positions, and just flat out individual psychosis when
presenting to the public, lobbying or trying to create affective change.
You have to be laser like in your message, prepared, cool, and rational.
And by all means, you can't play whack the mole.

> the charge of the Light
> Brigade at Balaclava.
> So, getting back to the specific point, coming onto Linux mailing lists
> and yelling at Linux users about how they have a moral obligation to be
> more angry at OEMs about shortage of Linux preloads _sucks_, as a means of
> supporting free software:  It does nothing to advance your supposed
> objective, it needless pisses people off, it chews up your energy, it
> makes a lot of noise, and it accomplishes basically nothing at all.

Yeah - that wasn't my intention.  I thought I was talking to the chorus,
and actually became confused about the responses.

I don't know how many people are on this list, but if I wanted to
irrationally whale at Linux users, I think there are larger venues :)

> > Rick Moen wrote:
> > > 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.  
> > (This is way off topic and well into thread drift, but worth discussing)
> > 
> > I think that is too strong of a negative context to frame that statement
> > in. It's not a statement of personal judgment, it is a statement of
> > historical fact. 
> Frankly you really cannot imply that someone has "detached moral issues
> from technology" without creating the impression of personal judgement.
> One of two things is true about that, it seems to me:  Either you were
> saying *I* have in some sense detached moral issues from technology --
> which _is_ a statement of personal judgement -- or that sentence so
> badly reflected your intention that I really can't tell the intended
> meaning was.  ;->

People do try to detach the implications of technological choices from
moral decision making all the time.  I wouldn't categorize you in that
subgroup.  But I was surprised to the reaction that you had as well.  I
believe you also overstate my original message about the HP and GNU
preloads.  First of all, I was asking for help with HP, and believed
that I was speaking to crowd which already agreed with the basic
position, which I didn't know you didn't agree with.  I wasn't yelling
into a random crowd.  That would be ineffective.  Provocation is a
powerful tool that needs to be used sparingly and with a well conceived
plan.  As for it being a personal judgement, yeah...it is.  I personally
judge that people who support the use of slaveware systems as making a
harmful contribution to a healthy democratic society, and I'm not afraid
to say so, and to justify it with follow up factual information.  That
being said, I've also learned the sentiment of, "Kill of the Lawyers".
Any discussion in cyberspace can end up proving the sky is yellow
eventually if argued long enough and well enough.  At some point you
have to just be satisfied that what you said was heard, and that
thinking people can come away with a thoughtful understanding of the
points that are made, and hope the words can work their magic over time.
There is definitely diminishing returns to such conversations.

> FWIW, I _didn't_ fly off the handle at reading that, and just went on
> attempt to analyse what followed on its merits in fair-minded context.
> > It's been said, and I don't recall the author, that a man always
> > perceives the end of his field of vision as the ultimate limits of the
> > universe.
> I appreciate that interesting set of links, by the way.  Much obliged;
> will be having a look at them, as I have time.

The main point of the links was to forge the historical connection
between the shape society takes as affected by technology and control of
technology.  It is quite dramatic.  But in the process of writing it up,
it occurred to me that I didn't have the emotional reserves to put it all
together, and secondly, it is really a topic worthy of a PhD thesis, and
the more I looked at it, the more I realized that there was just more
and more and more and more material.  I was hoping to put something together that
not only answered for my position in this thread, but to also serve as a
permanent resource for future discussions and study on this topic, and
be a spring board for more research in this area, which is understudied,
and to lay out the rational for others to paraphrase in the future when
they discuss these issues when, say, when talking to their congressman,
librarians, educators, and the press.  I think that would be a valuable
resource and a good contribution.  I will write this up one day, and
publish it.  But not when I'm in the middle of a life and death struggle 
over custody of my kids.

I'm not happy with the general framework of discussion about Free Software 
and Copyright regimes.  I think even brilliant people in the field, Lessig
et. al, are missing the point, or dance around the point.  Software
has to be free because civilization is becoming entirely dependent on
it for the transition of civilization to future generations.  That is
a point that I believe every soccer mom can come to understand and want
to promote.

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So many immigrant groups have swept through our town that Brooklyn, like Atlantis, reaches mythological proportions in the mind of the world  - RI Safir 1998

http://fairuse.nylxs.com  DRM is THEFT - We are the STAKEHOLDERS - RI Safir 2002

"Yeah - I write Free Software...so SUE ME"

"The tremendous problem we face is that we are becoming sharecroppers to our own cultural heritage -- we need the ability to participate in our own society."

"> I'm an engineer. I choose the best tool for the job, politics be damned.<
You must be a stupid engineer then, because politcs and technology have been attached at the hip since the 1st dynasty in Ancient Egypt.  I guess you missed that one."

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