March 2012 Archives

When I was a college freshman at the University of Washington, I took Anthropology 100 -- An Introduction to Anthropology. As in many introductory college courses, students were sometimes amazed by factoids that were thrown out that were believable, seemingly true but maybe based on little scientific evidence. In this class, we were told that there were tribes in Africa (or maybe it was South America) that believed that if your picture was taken, your soul would be stolen. So, they didn't want their pictures to be taken. To this day, I'm not sure if this is true or some racist urban legend propagated by an institution of higher learning, worthy of snopes debunking. 

Fast forward to the 21st century, I now believe this at some philosophical level.  When our picture is taken, it is potentially accessible by many.  How that image is used, altered, and re-purposed, is largely out of our control.  We've  given up a little part of ourselves.  The more pictures of us taken and used, the more we give up, and the less control of our identity that we have.  In effect, little by little, we give up a bit of ourselves each time a picture is taken and used.  In the end, indeed, I think we are giving away a little bit of our soul, picture by picture.

And, perhaps more interesting, our souls aren't being stolen, we are happy to give it up, without thinking about it too much.  Typically, we are "tricked" in do so, in exchange for some benefit.  For example, in order to see a taping of the Tonight Show, you are handed the card above.  Attendance to show is billed as free.  But when you arrive, you are told that to see the show you must agree to the "contract" on the card. After driving out to Burbank, standing in line for 2 hours, you are handed the card just before you enter.  What are you going to do?  You justify to yourself, not wanting to disappoint the rest of the party that you came with, what harm could come with a picture or a voice clip being used?

I'm not a lawyer, but it seems to say that NBC can take your picture or record your voice for any reason at anytime, regardless of whether it happens during the taping of the show or some other time.  And then use it for whatever they want anytime in the future.  A picture taken here, an advertisement used there -- your "soul" is taken from you, just a little bit.

Indeed, the cost of "free" is pretty expensive.  Perhaps each individual release to use a little part of you isn't very big, but the use and loss accumulates over time.  And you can never get it back.  In the extreme, imagine for the moment how this affects you if you are famous and there are thousands if not millions of pictures of you that are seen a billion times.  Have you lost control of your life and soul?

Increasingly, as privacy concerns rage on Facebook, the iPhone, Google, and Path, we're seemingly happy to give away a little bit of ourselves every day.  Today, it was brought to my attention that "free give aways" or drawings on the Internet are rampant, in which the "fine print"  allows our "soul to be stolen."  I recently saw a contest with a prize of $10,000.  You enter by signing up for the service and then there is a viral element that gives you more chances to win if you get other people to sign up.  In exchange for entering (not winning the contest), you basically give up rights, similar to the NBC contract:

"...Sponsor may use the winner's name, likeness, image, voice, photographs, biographical information, address (city and state) and written statements made by the winner about the Sweepstakes and Sponsor for promotional purposes, in all forms of media, in perpetuity and without monetary payment or additional consideration."

"Free giveaway," ironically, seems to mean that not only is the giveaway free; you are giving away your soul for free. A quick search on the web show that these kinds of contests are rampant.

Perhaps in the age where we expect  Google, Facebook, and music to be "free," I shouldn't be surprised.  We almost demand stuff should be free.  However, we should realize that the cost of free might be expensive.  We might just be giving away our souls.

Update: Shortly after posting, it's been pointed out to me that perhaps Pinterest, the current fascination on the Interwebs, is the most egregious soul sucker via pictures.

Rick Santorum to Save Programmers


rs.jpg                         VS      linux.jpeg

Unlike Al Gore, Rick Santorum  makes no claims to being the "Technology Candidate."  After all, he's not the inventor of the Internet.  And, yet his clear Pro-Life stance will certainly impact the world of programmers, technology, and the Internet.  While his agenda has yet to be made public, the unspoken word is clear --   He is here to save programmers.  To save them from a world lacking morality.  A world called "Unix."

The Roots


The beginning of modern programming  started basically in the 1960's and flourished in the 1970's.  The liberal agenda beginning with the Kennedy administration combined with the birth of modern "Time Sharing Systems" followed by personal computers created a "perfect storm."  These decreasingly expensive computational devices empowered Individual, encouraged radical thoughts, and challenged the tyranny of the main frame. The radicals creating Unix had names and faces -- people like Dennis Ritchie, Ken Thompson, and Brian Kernighan followed by Richard Stallman, Bill Joy, Marshall Kirk McCrusick and others.  Typically long haired and bearded, these men were out to change the natural order of the time. Could they be trusted?  While almost always denied, accusations of being communists were commonplace.  Just by looking at at this motley crew, you have to wonder.

Dig down beneath the seamy exterior, their moral fiber is quickly revealed.  Clearly radicals, they had their own "Bible" -- a book far different that the Bible known to you and me -- authored by Ritchie and Kernighan. 


Their mascot?  The devil himself!


From this, a world far different than that created by God was created.  A world called "Unix." This world had a language all of it's own with a lexicon not understandable by mortals:  "Awk," "grep," "sed, "ed," "vi"....this list goes on.  It is a secret language -- a code -- used by the technical elite -- to control, transform and rule the world.  To special decoder, called "permuted index" was created to decipher the language.  However, the decoder itself was also incomprehensible to any one on the outside.

These people must be saved!  Unfortunately, programmers flocked to Unix, creating a following that would change the world like no other movement, other than -- Christianity!

The Language of Evil

Sitting in on early conversations with these bearded radicals, we are able to truly understand the evil and why they must be saved.  The world of Unix is a world of evil. A world where we casually and commonly talk of:

- "aborting your children"
- "sending signals to kill"
- "debating why ABORT is better than TERM"
- "fingering your co-workers"
- "operating in promiscuous mode"
- "chmod 666"
- "accessing your friends private members" (a relative new concept introduced by Bjarne Stroustrup)

And, in this world, children come from an  process of "spawning" -- fork() and exec()?  This is not God's plan.  This is not natural.

Fortunately, the newbie programmers of the 21st century are sheltered from much of this unpolished and rampant evil.  New virtual, interpreted environments on top of Unix have been created.  Thus, new programmers need not be exposed to such evil. But, underneath bubbles the cauldron of bad.

The Unspoken Agenda:  New Hope to Free Us from the Depravity

Can Rick Santorum save us from the depravity of it all?  Can Rick get to the core of the problem?  Can he free us from this life of Hell and set us straight?

A secret memo yet to be released says baby steps must be taken  and core issues must be addressed first.  His Pro-Life agenda make it clear what the priorities are:

First, pragmatically speaking, we can't get rid of SIGABORT immediately.  However, we must legislate that whenever a process aborts a child, its parent must be notified first. 

Next, more radically, SIGKILL, SIGABORT, and kill(1) must be removed from the operating system.  Killing is wrong and abortion even worst.  Who will protect our unborn children?

Next we must review the tools of the devil that cause us harm.  Inappropriate commands are to be removed or renamed. head(1), tail(1), top(1) are at the top of the list. Clearly these overtly sexual if not homosexual references must be banned.

We must never allow our children to be killed our aborted. Rampant deviant sexual acts -- e.g. promiscuous access to your "privates" allowed by members within in a class (just because they are "friends"), "fingering" anyone you want -- must end. Don't even get me started when a parent shares a pipe with a child.  Stop it all!

Last, because of its play on words that mock our nonsecular Christian world, bash (the Bourne Again Shell) shall be banned.  That's not funny.

Unix: Evil at Its Core

Ultimately, no matter what Rick does to clean up this mess, I think it must be acknowledged -- At the core of this problem is Unix.  And, Unix is evil, as revealed in its name -- a pun and homophone of eunuchs.  Indeed, it's an operating system named after and acknowledges the ultimate act of a "no mo"-sexuality.  Ritchie, Thompson, and Kernighan mock us.  We must rid the world of Unix.  (Note: "Unix" is actually a play on "Multics," but we'll ignore that fact.)

Stop Unix today!  Whether it be Linux, FreeBSD, Mac OS, or System V, they are all bad.

Only with Rick Santorum can we eliminate this scourge on our country!

(Microsoft has not commented for this piece.)

A Programmer's Response

Rick Santorum considered harmful.  A statement of where he can go to has yet to be issued.