Why Software Should Be ‘Free’

Interesting philosophical argument here.


Constiutional Originalism

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia believes that the Constitution is a fixed, legal document ushered into being by the Founding Fathers with the role of the Supreme Court to strictly interpret based on the Founder’s intent. Here’s why his view is severely flawed:

1) The Founding Fathers did not have all the answers. And they were not specific in the document they created. It is obviously meant as a structure to build upon. In fact, they knew this and if we are to stictly interpret their original intent, then we need to view the constitution as more than simply a legal document to be administratively intepreted. Our country and this life that we lead are more complex than a single piece of paper.

2) Scalia’s emphasis on the legislative branch of government denies two very imporant governmental considerations:

i. Balance of power. Western tradition compels us to view judges as possessing wisdom beyond passing fads and current fascinations. Without the ability to interpret the law of the land in a manner that favors this wisdom over prevailing trends, the Supreme Court becomes merely an administrative body that quibbles over minor details of technical legal matters. Scalia’s ideal Supreme Court does not share any kind of real power with the other branches of government.

ii. The limitations of strict democracy. Regardless of how laws are formed by the legislative branch, there are inherent limitations that stem simply from the inability by this branch of government to closely examine the possible consequences of every single piece of legislation that is passed. Even with oversight by the executive, there are still possible unintended consequences of seemingly benign public policy. Without a powerful third branch of government, we are left with, at best, gross inequities, and, at worst, simple mob rule. The rights of the minority must be protected in order for a society to be free of fascism. A strong Supreme Court makes this more likely. A weak Supreme Court open the door for the wealthy, influential elites of either political persuasion to coerce the country onto paths that restrict, rather than encourage, positive freedoms.

“Gifted people can either use their talents to help other people or hurt other people. We [protesters] agree that Scalia has used his gifts to hurt people.”
–Bert Leatherman, NYU Law Student, in reaction to his school’s law journal honoring Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia.

Read about it here.

Thanks to Richard for this story.

Jocelyn Elders

One of the biggest mistakes Clinton made is pushing the former Surgeon General out of office. Here was one of the most innovative and progressive medical minds to come along in ages, who dared suggest that people be taught the birds and the bees at an early age, who had the audacity to tell the truth – that masturbation is not only healthy, but should be encouraged – and what was her reward for having bold, new plans to help fix our pathetic ‘sick-care’ system? See ya! Wouldn’t wanna be ya!

It’s fascinating that only later on that we began to realize the deep-seated reason for Clinton’s squeamishness concerning sexual topics. It became apparent later on that he had an immature attitude towards women and sex in general. Unfortunately, that is a hallmark of the evangelical protestant set, of which Clinton is a part.

Just a Thought

I find it interesting that most ‘public’ radio is financed by huge corporate donors and private foundations and the ‘private’ airwaves are heavily censored by the U.S. government, a public entity.

Perhaps the reason for that is the same reason that we park in the driveway and drive on the parkway.

Notes on a Human-Centered Approach

Because we are humans, our systems and, overall, our ways must be human-centered. Not just humanistic, which implies a watered-down philosophy focused on human needs. No. Fully human-centered. We must look after human needs. Any approach that is not human-centered is lunacy.

In many endeavors much is made over the issue of efficiency. Efficiency should not even exist in the lexicon of human systems. In machine systems – yes. Machines are not human. Humans, however, should never be made to feel equivalent to a machine.

Why are people made to feel like machines? Greedy control freaks. Greedy control freaks insist on a system of automation that reduces human labor to organic robots. In many ways, humans are less expensive to run than robots on an assembly line. If you reduce their wages, their expectations concerning living conditions, then they will work for next to nothing and when they die of exhaustion, you simply put them in the pit with the other bodies and make sure you keep plenty of lime in stock.

Human needs are the needs that interfere with machine-like efficiency. Machines can be designed to run for days on end with little or no maintenance. Maintenance is not a word for humans. Maintaining a level of respect for human life in a realm far beyond machines requires other terms. The human is not simply a non-mechanical animal.

None of this is meant to absolve our responsibilities concerning the environment and ethical concerns regardings other non-human life. In fact, the reason that we rape the environment and make it unusable for the future is due to a distinctly non human-centered philosophy. It is a god-centered philosophy. Some humans don’t believe that they are human at all. They believe they are above human. They believe they are gods. They maintain the edifice of monotheism only as a placeholder for themselves. Let their will be done. Damn the consequences.

Personal Woes

The last two weeks have been a bit horrendous for your humble correspondent. First, a group of blisters showed up on the ball of my right foot. It’s possible that they showed up through the intervention of a phenomenon involving alien abduction. However, it’s more likely from an insidious combination of weight loss I’ve experienced (a good thing) and a hill – an actual, physical hill – that I must climb everyday to get from where I park to my place of work. Foot shrinks from shedding fat (not like I was big before, but I suppose I’m leaner now) and shoe gets a little loser. Blisters. I met with Dr. Scholl’s a few times and that did the trick. (Note to the Schering Corporation – owner of Dr. Scholl’s – please deliver my payment for this product placement directly into my PayPal account. Thank you.)

Anyway, then file this one under – ‘bizarre, stupid, nearly fatal, yet completely harmless accident stories to scare and/or bore your friends.’ I was driving along on a beautiful spring day, this past Wednesday actually. I drive a refurbished 1991 BMW 318is with a sunroof. I had that sucker rolled back and the sun was beating down. So, I thought, it may be a good idea to wear my hat. I was behind a row of cars on the Belvidere Bridge, which overlooks Belle Isle, here in Richmond. We had just stopped, so I went to reach for my Virginia Tech Hokies baseball cap, which I have, in true school spirit sitting up in my back window (I’m taking a Master’s Program in Public Administration through their Richmond Center). I reached back and realized the seatbelt/shoulder restraint was, duh, holding me back. So, I was already up a bit out of my seat, pushed the button, and simultaneously twisted around to grab the hat. Now, I’ve had the car since last August or so, but sort of am still used to the headroom of my little Mazda 323 hatchback, which actually has more than you would think in a compact car. The BMW 318is is kind of a small car itself, leaves a real small footprint when compared to others just sitting there in a parking space. Bang. I hit my head as I twisted my neck, and basically gave myself whiplash reaching for that hat. I though I was going to have to pull over or something, but I couldn’t just sit there. So, I managed to get myself back in my seat, despite the excruciating pain, and get over the bridge, and get home. Several doses of over-the-counter medicine (read: straight Vodka) later, it felt a lot better. Yet oddly sore much later on and even now not at 100% functionality. A bit stiff. I’m grateful, though, not to become another one of those Faces of Death victims where some poor soul gets his head chopped off or breaks his neck performing an otherwise innocuous task.

Meanwhile, out of the blue, I have been experiencing partial numbness in my left pinky finger and ring finger from a completely unknown affliction. Possibly early onset of carpal tunnel. Imagine the moment at which you realize that your foot, hand, or other limb is falling asleep. Imagine the onset of that tingly feeling as it begins to go numb. Just before it is about to merge into complete deadness, you can still feel it, but it has this strange heaviness. You have feeling in it, but just barely. That’s what these fingers feel like perpetually so far for about four or five days. I have a meeting with a neurologist on this subject at the end of the month, the earliest I could get.