[nSLUG] politics

Peter Cordes peter at llama.nslug.ns.ca
Thu Mar 6 23:00:50 AST 2003

On Thu, Mar 06, 2003 at 04:20:47PM -0400, Donald Teed wrote:
> On Thu, 6 Mar 2003, Peter Cordes wrote:
> > On Wed, Mar 05, 2003 at 05:36:10PM -0400, Donald Teed wrote:
> > > Or perhaps it is completely political like drinking fair trade coffee.
> > 
> >  This is OT, but I see fair traded goods as more like giving to charity than
> > making a political statement.  As far as not continuing to exploit the
> > downtrodden has political connotations, there is a political aspect to it,
> > but it's really a moral, not a political thing.  (And moral clarity is IMHO
> > easier in this case than with Free software.  I can certainly see why not
> > everyone agrees with RMS!)
> > 
> >  Hmm, I guess it depends on exactly what "political" means.
> Anything moral can quickly become political.  It starts when someone
> looks down at your coffee cup which is missing the fair trade sticker or
> whatever and says "you're not drinking fair trade coffee".

 Ok, that's what I thought you meant by "political".  Anyone who buys FT
goods (solely) for that kind of political reason is shallow, IMHO.

> I happen to like fair trade coffee.  It tastes great and it is a good
> concept.  However, I don't like it when political correctness tries to
> push concepts and practises on people by shaming and ridiculing them.
> It has about as much depth as fashion (ala Bowie: "we are the goon
> squad and we're coming to town - beep beep").

 There's obviously a line between informing people of the reasons for the
existence of and need for FT goods (I've heard of FT coffee and
cocoa/chocolate), and ridiculing them personally.  I don't expect people to
go out of their way too much or drink coffee they don't like the taste of,
but if the choice is just financial (and the person isn't just scraping by),
I'd have a somewhat negative impression of someone who choose unfair trade
coffee.  Only somewhat, though, since you can't judge a person based on just

> The converse of this
> is when someone holds a cup of the politically correct coffee in
> their hand just to be seen in a positive light.

 Yeah, I hate the whole "politically correct" crap that's going on these
days.  People are so quick to jump on each other over a sound bite, not a
complete picture of their position on anything.  As with many of the ills of
modern society, the media are at least partly responsible for this, by
turning everything into a sound bite, instead of information.  If the only
way to get in the news is to go nuts over a remark by an important person,
then some will do that.

> I wonder if I've seen things like this when people talk about
> their favorite Linux distro, or BSD, or whatever.  Same for AMD
> versus Intel...  I have seen people at Linux gatherings who
> use Windows every day but are ashamed to say it.
> Myself, I don't see it like that, nor like a sports event where
> I have a side to support.  I like what Linux does, I like what
> Windows does in gaming and for tasks like web design, and I
> like working with the hardware and upgrading.  I will take a side
> in one area: don't replace my machine with a typewriter or
> gaming console!

 Yeah, I agree with you on that.  I don't use GNU/Linux because of the
image, but rather because I fell in love with Unix the first time I used it
(on Solaris at Dal, when I took my first comp. sci. course.  I think I
played doom on my dad's Linux box in his office a couple times before that,
but that's not really "using Unix".)  However, I use and promote Free
software not just because I find it useful, but because I really believe the
world would be a better place if there was more Free software, open
standards and file formats were more widely used, and all that.  That's the
other sort of politics: ideological beliefs and actions aimed at furthering
that ideology.  I like RMS's ideas on a lot of things, but I am more
pragmatic than he is.  Two of the family computers here run windoze, and I
use them for web browsing and ssh if they're closer than my GNU/Linux
machine.  The fastest computer is a wintendo, and it has the DVD drive +
video out connected to the TV.  (It dual boots, though.  I actually needed
to boot GNU/Linux to watch an encrypted DVD on TV because the DVD player on
windoze complained about some copy protection bullshit.)

#define X(x,y) x##y
Peter Cordes ;  e-mail: X(peter at llama.nslug. , ns.ca)

"The gods confound the man who first found out how to distinguish the hours!
 Confound him, too, who in this place set up a sundial, to cut and hack
 my day so wretchedly into small pieces!" -- Plautus, 200 BC

More information about the nSLUG mailing list