Apr 30

Memetic Success

Bwahahaha! My sinister master plan for world domination is
working. Straight from the pages of the highest-quality general-news
magazine in English, check
this
out! The money ‘graf is the last one:

Moreover, the ease with which the internet spreads
wrong-headedness–to say nothing of lies and slander–is offset by the
ease with which it spreads insights and ideas. To regret the glorious
fecundity of new media is to choose the hushed reverence of the
cathedral over the din of the bazaar.

There’s an old saw to the effect that there’s no limit to what you
can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit. More precisely,
when your signature memes start showing up as generative metaphors in
elite and popular usage with your name stripped off them, you
know you’re winning.

Winning, that is, at the only game that is really interesting —
changing the world.

(Hat tip to my blogson Walter Hunt over at Stone of Remembrance,
though I’d have seen it anyway in my weekly Economist and
later did.)

Apr 17

In the Belly of the Beast

In the beautiful-irony department, I have just learned that my name
and copyright now appears in the EULA (End-User License Agreement) of
a Microsoft product. A vector-graphics editor called “Microsoft
Expressions”, apparently — thanks to Martin Dawson for the
tip.

The history behind this is that GIFLIB is open-source software for
hacking GIF images — the direct ancestor of libungif, which is
the name under which the codebase is more widely known these days.
The original software was by Gershon Elber for DOS; around 1987 I
ported it to Unix, cleaned up the architecture, added numerous new
features, and wrote documentation. When Unisys started to jump salty
about the GIF patents in the mid-1990s, I handed the project off to a
maintainer outside U.S. jurisdiction, Toshio Kuratomi.

I have no idea why the copyright on this EULA is dated 1997, I
think that is a couple of years after I passed the baton to Toshio
Kuratomi.

Subsequently I did a lot of work on libpng, implementing 6 of the
14 chunk types in the PNG standard and designing a new more
object-oriented interface for that library. So if you use open-source
software that handles either of the two most popular raster-image
formats, it is rather likely that you rely on my code every day. Yes,
that includes all you Firefox and Netscape and Konq and Safari users
out there.

And now, my code is in a Microsoft product. This may not be the
first time; in fact, thinking about all the other places it would
have been silly for Microsoft to pass up using libpng and giflib,
it probably isn’t even the dozenth time.

I’m OK with this, actually. I write my code for anyone to use, and
‘anyone’ includes evil megacorporate monopolists pretty much by
definition. I wouldn’t change those terms retroactively if I could,
because I think empowering everyone is a far more powerful
statement than empowering only those I agree with. By doing so, I
express my confidence that my ideas will win even when my opponents
get the benefit of my code.

Besides…now, when Microsoft claims open source is inferior or not
innovative enough or dangerous to incorporate in your products or
whatever the FUD is this week, I get to laugh and point. Hypocrites.
Losers. You have refuted yourselves.

Apr 14

Apologists for Islam

Since I posted Dan Simmons’s
Message From The Future
, I’ve had a couple of Muslims show up on this
blog protesting that I’ve got it all wrong, that Islam is a peaceful
and tolerant religion and Islamic terror is an aberration not sanctioned
by the Koran.

Here’s a challenge to all you apologists for Islam: stand up in
your mosque and declaim, loudly, that religious violence is an
abomination against Allah — that those who use terror in a
program to restore the Caliphate, those who would execute ex-Muslims
who convert to any other religion, those who would condone ‘honor
killing’, and those who incite hatred against Jews and other Peoples
of the Book have fallen from the Narrow Way and will burn in hell with
the sons of Iblis.

If you are unwilling to do this for religious reasons, or fear to
do it because of the reaction of your fellow Muslims, then shut the
fuck up
about your so-called ‘religion of peace’, because you
are a liar and a hypocrite.

That is all.

Apr 10

My Comment Policy

I deleted a coment this morning.

This is not something I normally do, except for comments that are both anonymous and content-free — abuse and invective do not count as ‘content’ for this purpose. The comment I deleted this morning was not anonymous, and it could be argued that there was some content in it.

However, the content (if any) was drowned in a sewer-main’s worth of crude insults hurled by one respondent at another. I will not tolerate this, even when the insult-hurler is nominally on ‘my’ side of an issue.

Armed And Dangerous is not a public square and “free speech” standards do not apply here. If you have nothing to contribute to debate over the things I write about, I can and will cut you off at the knees. This applies to those who broadly agree with me as well as those who disagree. (If anything, I give my opponents a little more leeway than my allies.)

In my own small way, I’m trying to defend civilization here. So keep it civil. Or else.