samth is currently certified at Journeyer level.

Name: Sam Tobin-Hochstadt
Member since: 2000-05-22 19:00:19
Last Login: N/A

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I'm a fairly new free software developer. I spend most of my hacking time working on the AbiWord project, and fooling around with XML and associated technologies, something that has potential to change the way we see the web (and for the better).

My other 'free software-esque' involvement is with anti- censorship work. I maintain censored information on my web page, and was forced to move my copy of cphack off my personal machine by the University. I'm currently active in the OpenLaw DVD project (run Harvard Law School). We are about to submit an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief in the NY DeCSS case.

When I'm not hacking, I spend my time playing Ultimate Frisbee, or watching Law & Order obsessively.

Finally, when I'm not doing other things, I'm an undergrad CS and philosophy major at the University of Chicago.

People I have certified:

  • cuenca - Joaquin Cuenca Abela, the maintainer of the GNOME port of AbiWord, and all around quality coder. We would be far poorer without him.
  • sterwill - Shaw Terwilliger, who works for Sourcear and used to work on AbiWord. We all hope you come back, Shaw.
  • aaronl - Aaron Lehmann, another AbiWord developer
  • schoen - Seth Schoen, free speech activist and OpenLaw contributor. All around good guy.
  • jab - Justin Bradford, one of the people that makes the AbiWord Word Importer work.
  • RyanMuldoon - Although we disagree, he knows lots about philosophy.


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I just wanted to thank lilo for his most recent diary entry. It saddens me to see people who don't understand what they are buying into with the new media that content distributors are trying to push on us. But far more sad are the people, such as those here, who do understand, but are still buying into the system, simply because it offers a few creature comforts.

This reminds me of something a friend of mine said to me several years ago, well before I started using free software. I had said that I like some MS software, and would just use that, as opposed to using all of it, the way they wanted me to. He responded that that wasn't enough, I had to reject it all, or eventually I wouldn't have a choice about any of it. This was before the antitrust trial even began.

I leave you with one last analogy. You wouldn't want to be in a relationship with someone who came with more baggage than you could handle (trust me on this one). Don't do it for software, or movies, or anything else, either. Eventually, you have to pay.

3 Dec 2000 (updated 3 Dec 2000 at 15:15 UTC) »

schoen: I have thought of a much better reason for rejecting the idea that God has falsified reality - it is irrelevant. We assume that God did this well enough so the world was entirely consistent. Then, there are no features (or even possible features) that could distinguish the world I believe we live in for the fraudulent one created by God. So, what is the meaning of the claim that "God could have faked evolution"? Not only is it non-falsifiable, like most creationist statements, but it is also non-verifiable. So it's meaningless. I might respond to the rest of your arguments after I get some sleep.

And what, precisely, does

grep a{0}
match? I'm quite curious.

deekayen: First, since AIDS is a subject upon which you are clearly clueless, why do you choose to bring it up? Do you feel threatened by people's concern for the victims of AIDS?

Second, what about unprotected sex causes the participants to forfeit their right to life? You seem to believe that even condoms don't make a difference here, yet the odds of being killed driving to meet someone at random is higher than the odds of dying of AIDS contracted from that person, if you use a condom. Are people who drive cars deserving of death also?

Third, do you have any idea just how racist and stupid you comment about Africa was? Not only did you make ludicrous claims about subjects you obviously know nothing about, but you claimed that Sub-Saharan Africa has merely one culture.

Fourth, if you have no sympathy for the people who have contracted AIDS while engaged in activities in which you disapprove, at least feel for the the babies, infected in their mother's womb. Or the children who have lost their parents to AIDS. Or the remaining members of the villages who lose half their population. Or every person who has someone they care about die of the disease. Better still, get a clue:

I'm not even going to try to address the truly repulsive "survival of the fittest" notions you mentioned.

Thanks, schoen for the /dev/mem trick that saved this entry from Mozilla.

pjones: Sadly, I appear not to have made myself clear enough, since you seem to believe I find belief in the original creation of the world by God incompatible with all science. This is neither what I said nor what I meant. What I did say was that in order to do science, we must ignore the possibility that our senses are being used by a higher power to decieve us, since if we do not rule that out, all experiment and experience is useless. There is clearly room for God here, but not a god that tricks us.
pjones: First, as to the term theory.

One, the people that tend to emphasize the word theory in "theory of evolution" are the same people who want to use that to mean "hypothesis". Evolution is certainly a theory according to the scientific definition, as is gravity, and lots of other things.

Two, Newtonian Mechanics fail on macro scales too. In fact, one of the original confimations of relativity was that it correctly predicted the procession of Mercury's orbit, while Newtonian physics mispredicted this by 43 arc seconds per century. See this page, about 2/3 of the way down, for more info.

Second, as to the reliability of measurements.

It is certainly possible for an all-powerful God to have fabricated the evidence for evolution, if such a God were to

exist. However, once we allow this, then all of science goes out the window quite quickly. How can we know anything about the world, if all of our sensory perception could be fabricated? Clearly, we can't. So we are left with a few choices:

  1. Abandon all study of reality as futile.
  2. Invoke a loving God to ensure that nobody tricks us.
  3. Assume that our sensory perception is not being fabricated by some powerful being.
I don't like choice 1 much, for obvious reasons. Choice 2 is a cop-out of the highest order, and is what Descartes chose, when confronted with this problem. This leaves choice 3.

Therefore, since I see belief that our senses are being faked as an abandonment of science, claiming that the evidence for an old earth has been faked is similar. At least, that's what I'm left with.

rakholh: The people mrorganic is complaining about are not people similar to the way you describe yourself. They are people who believe the about 6000 years ago, God created the earth in a span of 144 hours, where hours are defined the way we normally do. Naturally, this belief is incompatible with real science. It doesn't help that these people want their beliefs taught in school as science. Additionally, these people take other elements of the bible overly literally, such as the portions about the subservience of women.

pjones: The belief that God (for some value thereof) originally created the universe a long time ago is not incompatible with science (knowledge of what happened before the big bang is impossible). Similarly, the belief that the process of evolution was either begun or helped by God is non in conflict with science, although it is non-falsifiable.

However, the belief that the Earth is only 6000 years old is incompatible with science, since there is huge quanties of evidence suggesting that the Earth is much older. Similarly, the belief that speciation is impossible (widespread among creationist I have known) is also incompatible with science.

Finally, which is a better candidate for belief, a theory which has 150+ years of accumulated evidence, or a theory that was proved incorrect almost 100 years ago? Despite this, however, many people continue to drone on about the so-called "theory" of evolution, all the while taking Newtonian mechanics as truth.

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samth certified others as follows:

  • samth certified jab as Journeyer
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  • samth certified sterwill as Journeyer
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  • samth certified samth as Journeyer
  • samth certified schoen as Journeyer
  • samth certified jallison as Master
  • samth certified RyanMuldoon as Apprentice
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