Interesting Question

The State is a condition, a certain relationship between human beings, a mode of behavior; we destroy it by contracting other relationships, by behaving differently toward one another....We are the state, and we shall continue to be the state until we have created the institutions that form a real community and society of men.

- Gustav Landauer, Schwache Stattsmanner, Schwacheres Volk!, June, 1910

Selected Correspondence:

18 June 2006

Fwd: Psychology of bad probability estimation

23MB MP3 Link
Psychology of bad probability estimation: why lottos and terrorists matter

Here's the audio from a South By Southwest 2006 presentation by Harvard's Daniel Gilbert on the psychology of probability estimation. This is important stuff -- it explains why we're socially willing to commit nigh-infinite social resources to fighting terrorism, though statistically, terrorist attacks almost never happen; though we barely lift a finger to help save people from routine traffic accidents, backyard pool drownings, and asthma, which mow down our neighbors by the thousands. It explains why people buy lottery tickets. It explains a great deal about many kinds of human activity. This is both sensible and entertaining audio, and it's got a great title: "How to Do Precisely the Right Thing at All Possible Times."

NetBSD foundation Membership Agreement

It has run space probes and ocean liners, it's in every recent Apple Macintosh and runs and most of the Internet including the site you are reading now. NetBSD and its decendents FreeBSD, OpenBSD and Linux. The NetBSD Foundation (TNF) required those people involved in its creation (committers -- coders with more than usual control over the project) to sign a legal contract by June 2006. As far as such documents go, it is not too draconian, but I felt it was the antithesis of what motivated me to be involved with the foundation (building something out of the love of creation and intellectual competition). It lacked spirit. I refused to sign, effectively resigning. I think these projects are "complete"; still a vital force behind global cognition, but like the telephone or the transistor, most creative effort is now going into making them faster or asking what colour they should be:
I understand the real politik behind this, namely, quelling fears of companies that productize NetBSD and perhaps personal liability fears of the TNF board members, but I think this is the wrong way to go about it.

We create the state through our actions and language. TNF through its contract document recreates the malfeasant corporate state within our programmer world. TNF should protect and nurture its committers, not ask them to fall on their swords at the first sign of danger. Limited liability as an organizational concept arose inorder to encourage investment. If TNF has any legal use, it is to sheild committers from TNF's actions, not the other way about.

IF the legal threat in the US is real and not a nightmare of the fearful, then TNF copyright and cvs should be moved to an offshore jurisdiction, of which there are many available that do not have US style patent or copyright law. The US node can be used to promote activities in the US and its Limited Liability can protect the board members in the role of those activities.

The contract as well as being an instrument of the state is written in the demeaning language of the corporate state. It should have been written in the language of our programmer world. Even in the world of the state it is not clear that the contract is valid, given that committers seem to give away rights and services to TNF but do not receive compensation from TNF in doing so.

I haven't committed for several years, so my refusal may mean little, but I encourage others to keep NetBSD a place of people united in creation, a place of collective defense for our programmer world, where bullshit is directed out, not in.

What are rights anyway?

Rights are freedoms of action that are known to be enforceable. Consequently there are no rights without beliefs about the future effects of behavior. Unenforcable general rights exist only insofar as they are argumentation that may one day yield enforcement.

Hence the Divine Right of Kings, the right of way, mining rights, conjugal rights, property rights, and copyright.

The decision as to what should be enforced and what may be ignored is political. This does not mean that rights are unimportant, but rather, that politics (the societal control of freedom) is so important as to subsume rights.

Politics emerges as the expression of the battle between our collective desires and strenghts. Due to the common nature of mankind, there is great commonality in some of our strongest desires. When these desires do not compete they drive politics forward to ensure their forfillment. This is what we usually mean by the capitalised Right, a powerword, a threat of collective enforcement.