Ex Bibliotheca

The life and times of Zack Weinberg.

Monday, 6 May 2002

# 10:20 PM

Sumana points out that Eric Raymond is giving a talk, er, right now, at Soda Hall. I have seen him talk before, so I'm not particularly interested in going (besides, that would involve getting up and dragging my ass all the way back across campus). In fact, I am singularly unimpressed with the stuff he's been writing recently. The issues he presents are all either so obvious as to be not worth saying, or a lot more controversial than he makes them sound.

It occurs to me that I'm singularly unimpressed with an awful lot of free software advocates—and developers too, come to that. The movement, like any other movement with a political component to it, attracts political kooks. Some political kookery can be necessary and even useful—there probably wouldn't be any free operating systems today if not for the Free Software Foundation's efforts, and the FSF was started by a kook of the first water. (Disclaimer: I hack GCC, which is an FSF project).

But compare this article with this letter. The fundamental message is the same, but one was written by a kook, the other by a professional politician and his staff. It's pretty clear which brand of advocacy is more effective, I think.

(To be fair, the politician has a distinct advantage here: he is responding to a specific letter which is written with so little understanding of the thing it attacks, that it might as well be a straw man. Except it isn't. Please note that the link above is a translation from Spanish; the grammar issues are not the fault of the original author, but I think it's safe to say the content issues are.)

# 10 PM

There was a fire in an apartment building down on Shattuck, not so far from where I live. I went by there on the way to the grocery store, and there were three fire trucks on the block and policemen directing traffic. Wonder what happened. It'll probably be in the local newspaper tomorrow.

I got my notebook back! Apparently I left it at the Other Change of Hobbit (local bookstore). The staff were kind enough to hold it for me. Now I don't have an excuse not to finish the Minicon report.