Archive for April, 2008

mission statement mashup

April 26, 2008


The central purpose of schooling is to help each and every child find something worthwhile they love to do […]


The best reason to give a child a good school…is so that a child will have a happy childhood, […]

on moths, orchids, and darwin

April 26, 2008

Today. a tweet from my friend Alec led to this:

understanding free software: who is in control?

April 23, 2008

Microsoft to customers:

As of August 31, 2008, we will no longer be able to support the retrieval of license keys for the songs you purchased from MSN Music or the authorization of additional computers. You will need to obtain a license key for each of your songs downloaded from MSN Music on any new computer, and you must do so before August 31, 2008. If you attempt to transfer your songs to additional computers after August 31, 2008, those songs will not successfully play.

When we use free software, nobody can control us this way.

a question for those who ask, “WWJD?”

April 22, 2008

If Jesus were to impregnate a female companion and she desired an abortion, would he support her?

absurd “it” talk

April 19, 2008

Hillary Clinton:

I have had the experiences on many, many occasions where I felt like the Holy Spirit was there with me as I made a journey . . . You know, it could be walking in the woods. It could be watching a sunset.

Or is she wink-winking, “Sometimes, it’s a walk in the woods and then off to watch the sunset”?

last-ditch emotional plea

April 16, 2008

No matter how the death penalty is debated, the dialog I often end up in boils down to something like this…

OK Peter, I understand what you’re saying but what if it was your kid that was raped and murdered? How would you feel? What would you want to do?

My response:

I might go insane with anger. Though I feel uncomfortable saying this, I have to admit I may feel like killing the perpetrator while inflicting a painful revenge.

Their response:


My response:

We should adopt laws expressing insanity and rage with the intention of vengeance?

fundamentally different viewpoints

April 14, 2008

Eric Hoefler:

Distributing copies of [books], in any format, without payment, is wrong according to my best understanding and ethical sense so far.

This gets right down to it. I see nothing ethically wrong with the noncommercial propagation of published works. What is unethicaljust (see comments) is law criminalizing this behavior.

the counterproduction of “intellectual property”

April 11, 2008

Keith Johnson on “intellectual property” in comments at Doug Johnson’s blog:

Chilling Effects aims to help you understand the protections that the First Amendment and intellectual property laws give to your online activities.

That is true for trademark law (e.g. as a consumer through the web). And, assuming the existence of fair use doctrine, this is also true for copyright law. Patent law however, has nothing to do with protecting my online activities.  This overgeneralization is produced by lumping together insubstantially related laws. As well, the term “property” signals a bias in treating the naturally intangible as somehow tangible.

Hopefully, Keith will consider editing the site (the same quote appears there too) to better educate its readers about how copyright law and trademark law can protect you online.

my hubris?

April 8, 2008

Doug Johnson (in comments):

Peter, I find terms like “stupidity” to be deliberately inflammatory. Let’s try to keep the degree of civility high on the Blue Skunk. I appreciate discussing ideas and sharing different opinions, but in atmosphere of respect.

My response (in comments):

Lumping these laws into an insubstantial aggregate called “intellectual property” is unproductive and misleading. Therefore, as an educator who wants to promote clear thinking and understanding, what would you call doing so?

“our” hub(e)ris

April 5, 2008

Wolfgang Huber:

“It is against the spirit of our ethics, the spirit of our ethical tradition, the spirit of the Christian image of a human person and against the spirit of our law,”

This view relates to similar arguments to criminalize abortion. Rather than advocating that others’ behavior should revolve around a particular “image”, Huber may be advised to promote morally accurate action by conscience and reason alone. Behaving based upon an (oxymoronically prescribed) “ethical tradition” implies meeting the present with a static past rather than looking at the (particular suicidal (or feticidal)) situation anew. Criminalizing either the assistance of suicide or the assistance of abortion (under most circumstances) is societally corrosive. Criminalizing the attempt to commit suicide or a self-performed (or attempt to self-perform) abortion is absurd. Of course, some such situations may reasonably require a psychiatric evaluation, but jail time (or any sort of punishment) is obviously a counterproductive approach.