Archive for December, 2007

nonsensical political babble

December 7, 2007

Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney:

Freedom requires religion, just as religion requires freedom.

Given the context of Romney’s statements, we can assume he’s referring to organized religion typically characterized by identity and a variety of beliefs. While it’s true that organized religion requires freedom of expression to propagate smoothly, it’s nonsense to claim that freedom requires organized religion.

Freedom opens the windows of the soul so that man can discover his most profound beliefs and commune with God.

Politically, freedom is the ability to act and express oneself in any way one wishes without interfering with another’s freedom. In short, it’s reasonable self-determination. To define freedom as a mechanism for opening “windows of the soul” and a way to “commune with God” is bizarre rhetoric. While this view is questionable in general, it’s dangerously irrelevant in the context of politics.

Freedom and religion endure together, or perish alone.

Again, nonsense. One without religion can be just as free (perhaps even more so psychologically) as identifier and/or believer.


Punished by McRewards

December 7, 2007

Those looking to improve education by offering rewards for high grades might benefit from a reexamination of their fundamental assumptions regarding human nature. Their beliefs on learning tend to be heavily biased toward a behaviorist view. Common sense (and research) tells us that dangling carrots detracts from the goal of inspiring life-long learning. Unfortunately, some push this pedagogical train wreck to a higher level of absurdity by punishing the body along with the mind:

The McDonald’s restaurants in Seminole County, Fla., and the Seminole County School Board have agreed to reward students for good grades and attendance during the 2007-8 school year with Happy Meals.

Q: Why don’t you call the system you use “Linux”?

December 5, 2007

I’m using the GNU system with the Linux kernel. Calling the system I use “Linux” would be spreading misinformation. Even Linus says that people use programs, not Linux. I don’t like spreading misinformation and realize that it can lead to confusion (perhaps that’s the teacher in me). Therefore, I call the system as a whole “GNU and Linux” when responding to questions like “What is <insert distribution name>?” and say “Linux” when referring to the kernel. When I type the name, it’s usually “GNU/Linux”. The fact is:

the GNU system is not the same as the collection of all GNU software. The GNU system includes programs that are not GNU software, programs that were developed by other people and projects for their own purposes, but which we can use because they are free software.

For example, Linux.

OLPC’s nonprofit status

December 4, 2007

Negroponte said OLPC’s nonprofit status is essential, as it enables the foundation to collaborate with leading technology companies in designing and building the laptop.

One wonders if that status will also affect the outcome of the lawsuits in Nigeria and (possibly) the United States.