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Early morning philosophy...

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The reason a good citizen does not use such destructive 

means to become wealthier is that, if everyone did so, we would
all become poorer from the mutual destructiveness. This is Kantian
ethics; or, the Golden Rule. Since I do not like the consequences
that result if everyone hoards information, I am required to
consider it wrong for one to do so. Specifically, the desire to be
rewarded for one's creativity does not justify depriving the world
in general of all or part of that creativity.

Stallman arguing Kantian ethics in the GNU manifesto.

I like Kantian ethics, they are rational, not emotional, so I was pleased when I read this this morning.
But, Stallman, rather embarrassingly, confuses the Golden Rule with the Categorical imperative (but argues with the later).

The Golden Rule is based on reciprocity, it states:
"Never impose on others what you would not choose for

yourself." (Confucius :))

Or in the positive:
Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do

to you, do ye even so to them (Matthew 7:12)

I remember discussing the Christian version of the Golden Rule with my teacher in 4th grade. She claimed that following the Golden Rule would mean we would be all nice to each other. Being the logical thinker that I am I argued that this is not necessarily true, if someone for example likes to be hit, this would mean this person can go around hitting others. I remember because I was surprised that I had managed to make a grownup blush.

While the Golden Rule is personal the Categorical Imperative is political (as is the GNU manifesto). One should behave in a way, that if the behaviour is universalised it does not "create incoherent or impossible states of natural affairs". Or how my mom used to put it: "What if everyone would do that?"
Societies are created by individuals and by our individual action we state in which kind of society we want to live in. For some this means founding the free software movement.

CSS art

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So, do you believe in UFOs, too?
This is the title of my piece for art night, an idea from Shannon, to which my first reaction was: "What the hell would I do for an art night?"

It is a short animation summarizing my views on political systems.
It plays on the "I want to believe" poster from the "X-Files", a) because I like the "X-Files" and b) the perception of people with similar views.
I rather use stick figure diagrams than symbols as they are easier understood and have fewer connotations attached to it. And ever since "human movement analysis" classes in university I have a habit of drawing them.
The animation is pure html and css and should work on any modern browser.

You can see it here and can download it.
As everything on this blog it is licensed under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 3.0.

Posted on - Categories: Geekery

Why you should care about prism, even if you are not an activist

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Whenever I have conversations about privacy on the internets with people other than members of certain political parties (arrr!) the reaction is mostly pretty much the same: I don't care, I don't have anything to hide. The usual answer to this is: but what if the government turns evil? I think this is too small an answer. Here is mine.

When I lived in Iceland, in Blönduós to be precise, I seldom my locked my front door. I simply trusted that people would not come in, take things or go through my stuff and read my diary. And no one did. Partly of course, because my diary does not make a great read and there might be legal consequences as well, but mainly because they wanted to live in a society where they can leave their door unlocked and still have people respect their private space. Even the authorities.
In the internet it is extremely difficult to keep your door locked. Even if you host your own data and are extremely paranoid. In terms of gmail, facebook etc, there basically is no door. As we now learned, this means the government sits in your living room watching you make dinner. Maybe you don't care. You are probably not putting poison in it to kill your husband. But the question is: is this the society you want to live in?
I'm not on facebook, as you probably know. If you look around my little corner of the internet, however, you might see that I'm not particularly shy about being public. So why not make my live easier? I would lie to say that not being on facebook does not restrict my social life, hell in Iceland it was severly restricted. Partys, trips, social gatherings I was not invited to, because people were too lazy writing an email (or forgot). So why do I bother? Because I do not want to live in a society where my social live depends on the whims of a misanthropic company. Do you want to live in one in which you privacy is at the mercy of people who have no problem walking in and out of your private space without even asking?
Living in a democracy (what all these programs claim to protect) means having the possibility to decide on the kind of society one wants to live in.
Go ahead then, make a decision...

Smartphone addicts!

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I added a mobile friendly layout to this blog (at least I think I did, testing is a bit hard without a proper smartphone) Use this opportunity to play with your phones some more! And feedback, please
Posted on - Categories: Geekery

An active day in bed (not what you think! really, there are children reading this blog!)

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Today was surprisingly productive, considering I spent most of it in bed. I should really get a heater.
I started on Version 2 of my blog and might even provide an Icelandic translation, if I feel like having my head explode. But at the moment a plug in system is in place, so one can chose which features to add and a "contact form" and "creating a gallery" plugin exists. I also re-posted some pictures on my travel blog while testing the gallery script.
Most of the day was spent hunting articles for my thesis though. And a hunt it was! I do need to get access to Science Direct, anyone out there affiliated with a university, who feels like downloading some articles for me?
The interesting thing about public health related articles about China is the diversity. One can find articles on the health effects of poverty and life-style induced diabetes with data from the same city. What a sad comment on wealth distribution in Chinese society...

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