On being a gentleman

So I’m walking down a hallway at Penguicon 2014 and I notice one of the people who had tossed intelligent questions at me during my Ask Me Anything panel. He’s rather hard to miss; you don’t often see guys who fit the description “huge blond viking” so well, and when you do they are not apt to be wearing full drag, including a wig and earrings. Beside him is a rather pretty woman emitting wife-or-girlfriend cues that are not readily reconciled with the drag.

“Hey honey,” he says “that’s who I was telling you about.” Addressing me, he says “I’ve made The Art of Unix Programming required reading in my IT group.” OK, that’s worth stopping for, if only out of politeness. I say something agreeable.

“I started that”, says honey “but I only got two chapters in. I didn’t understand it.” Closer up she is quite attractive, slender and blue-eyed and fit. Also a bit tipsy, and if I’m any judge not quite as bright as viking-drag-guy even when sober – though this being an SF convention her IQ is probably comfortably above average anyway. This judgment informs my response.

I suggest she try reading The Cathedral and the Bazaar instead, as it’s more accessible to people without a programming background. Mostly anthropology and economics, I explain. Viking-drag-guy says “Huh. I guess that’s true.” I say a few relevant things about praxeology and Hayek. “I think I have a copy at home,” he says to her.

Honey is developing other ideas; there is now a bit of sexual edge in her gaze. “I want a picture with you.” Viking-drag-guy pulls out a smartphone and positions it. Nothing loth, I move next to her and she promptly pulls me into intimate range. I look at the smartphone lens and feel something damp on my cheek. Honey is licking me playfully. I make a startled noise. Viking-drag-guy looks amused. Then honey asks me to kiss her.

She is quite attractive and viking-drag-guy doesn’t look inclined to try to drop-kick me into the next county (an intention I’d have to take seriously from anyone that large, hand-to-hand training or no) so I comply. She kisses me most thoroughly, and while I don’t exactly escalate I do my best to make it an enjoyable experience for her.

To understand my reaction to what comes next, you need to know that various women in my life have insisted that I am quite good at this, and I think I know why; when I kiss a woman she gets my total undivided attention to that moment, contrasting with a lot of men who are distractedly thinking about, oh, I dunno what – their next move, probably. This is why I’m a little surprised when honey breaks the smooch and complains.

“You didn’t give me any tongue!” she says. Er…viking-drag-guy is still looking amused, and she’s still pretty, so I mentally shrug and go in for round two, though I am growing slightly uncomfortable with the situation.

Honey can tell this. “You’re too tense,” she says. “you need to loosen your lips. That’s what makes it passionate.” Uh oh. Now I must risk giving offense.

“I’m sorry,” I explained. “I am, actually, feeling a bit inhibited. I strongly prefer kissing women when they’re completely sober and responsible.”

Honey makes a visible effort to think about this. After a pause, she says “Isn’t that a bit unrealistic?” Those were her exact words.

Boing! A dry, Spock-like voice in my brain informs me that I have obviously encountered a woman who considers inebriation a normal part of the mating dance. I am just reflecting that, by report, this is statistically normal behavior which I can consider exceptional only because I choose my social contexts rather carefully, when viking-drag-guy interrupts my thought.

“He’s being a gentleman, honey,” he says. Whereupon I mumbled “I’m afraid I’m stuck with that,” and took my leave as gracefully as I could.

124 thoughts on “On being a gentleman

  1. Merciful $DEITY. I would not have expected that response from any woman at Penguicon. I find myself wondering if she would have been there at all if it had not been for her companion. (Who, I must not, I have not spoken with at all, but may be TG in some form.)

  2. That is the first time ever that I hear a story about a programming book as a potential pathway to get laid :-)

  3. The relationship between drinking and sexual consent gets discussed a lot online these days esp. Reddit. Funny it wasn’t really an issue where and when I grew up… we just avoided women who were so drunk that they could puke on us, because ewww. And then we just assumed everybody who can hold their guts in are sober enough, conscious and responsible enough. I guess it may depend on what people drink. For us puking always came much, much earlier than passing out. We liked cheap and bubbly sparkling wine which is basically like a pressure cleaner on the way back. Pretty spectacular, also gross. I guess if some drinks work the other way around, passing out before launching it back, the puke test would not work. Hard liquor, maybe?

  4. When you say “I have obviously encountered a woman who considers inebriation a normal part of the mating dance” it sounds like you interpret her comment as a general observation regarding “the mating dance”.

    Could it have been though that “Isn’t that a bit unrealistic?” was meant as a personal insult?

  5. so why didn’t you have her arrested for sexual harrassment? … ah, wait, you’re not a women ;-)

  6. This is one of the reasons why the überfeminist-driven “you must have clear, express consent for everything, and any alcohol or drug use negates such consent” is complete BS. Some women use alcohol to give themselves an excuse to do things a “lady” wouldn’t do. But saying “she wanted it” gets you instantly branded a brute, despite it being a fact in cases such as this.

    BTW, Your description of superior kissing sounds like it’s taken straight out of Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land.

  7. I owe RAH a great deal. I often think of him as my second father because he taught me so much.

  8. Given the total context of the scenario, I think you handled that about as well as any man could. Well played. Blonde Viking Giant seems like a good sport.

  9. Yeah, my wife was pretty out of control that day, not her typical form….. I hope we did not offend too much. We both enjoyed meeting you.

    Blonde viking guy, I think I like that.

    Oh, and that is not a wig, that is my actual hair.

  10. >Could it have been though that “Isn’t that a bit unrealistic?” was meant as a personal insult?

    Over on G+ someone else is reporting that after the fact she was announcing to all and sundry “I kissed Eric Raymond!”. So, probably not.

  11. >BTW, Your description of superior kissing sounds like it’s taken straight out of Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land.

    Appropriate, since that’s exactly where I took my model from. I wondered if anyone would notice.

  12. >I hope we did not offend too much. We both enjoyed meeting you.

    Nope, not offended at all. It’s not like she was trying to do me harm or insult me.

    >Oh, and that is not a wig, that is my actual hair.

    I thought it was, but my wife believed otherwise, and her eye for that sort of thing is usually better than mine.

  13. > Over on G+ someone else is reporting that after the fact she was announcing to all and sundry “I kissed Eric Raymond!”. So, probably not.

    In further pursuit of my theory, I’ll suggest that it could have been a shit-test.

  14. It was one of Jubal Harshaw’s female minions — Annie I think, but could easily be mis-remembering on that one.
    Jim

  15. >In further pursuit of my theory, I’ll suggest that it could have been a shit-test.

    Nah. She seemed genuinely puzzled at my reaction, not challenging.

  16. Knowing my wife, she was probably more focused on the ‘responsible’ aspect of your statement. As in, isn’t intimate contact, by definition a little “irresponsible?”

    Just my guess, she was drunk on an empty stomach. So, her normal, shy and analytic nature, goes to the four winds when she gets drunk, and she was up to 11 that day.

    Again, sorry if we made you uncomfortable. Was not our intent.

  17. >I thought it was, but my wife believed otherwise, and her eye for that sort of thing is usually better than mine.

    You kissed the girl in front of your wife? :S

  18. (Don’t get me wrong: I’m not suggesting you’re the kind of guy who would do these things behind her back. It’s just that I’m surprised that she actually allowed that to happen, as opposed to just being okay with it if you’d done it in her absence and then told her what had happened.)
    Hope you don’t hate me for all this prying. I probably shouldn’t have made that comment in the first place. But I did it out of sheer surprise.

  19. >Knowing my wife, she was probably more focused on the ‘responsible’ aspect of your statement. As in, isn’t intimate contact, by definition a little “irresponsible?”

    I guess that’s possible, though I wouldn’t agree.

    >Again, sorry if we made you uncomfortable. Was not our intent.

    No worries. She’s a good person, I could tell that even through the alcohol haze – I really liked that she paused and tried to pull herself together to think about what I said, instead of blurting out something boozily stupid. And, while I’m not unused to women finding me interesting, I’m far from jaded enough not to find it flattering when a particularly good-looking one flings herself at me. If she ever accosts me when sober I will smooch her as thoroughly as she likes, and that’s a promise. Oh, and we can be friends, too :-)

  20. >You kissed the girl in front of your wife? :S

    No, my wife was elsewhere at the time. She’d run into viking-drag-guy, though.

    SF fans are pretty relaxed about this sort of thing. If present, my wife would have criticized only if she’d considered me to be displaying poor judgment (e.g. by smooching a woman who was genuinely too impaired to know what she was doing).

  21. Bwahahaha, fair enough.

    I’ll make sure she eats better next year, and drinks less. She is the very definition of shy when sober, but she has been coming out of her shell more and more over the years.

    Oh, and she has started The Cathedral and The Bazaar, definitely more her speed. Economics is one of her interests. I should have tossed it to her sooner.

    Oh, and one thing:

    >emitting wife-or-girlfriend cues that are not readily reconciled with the drag.

    Not really, just remember that gender identity and sexuality are not the same thing. Related? Maybe. Intertwined? Not at all.

    If we make up the statistic that 10% of all men are homosexual. The same is generally true for cross dressers. Roughly the same percentage is also homosexual.

    Don’t get me wrong, I do thrive on the sheer amount of mental explosions I can tell I cause in some people.

    Okay, now I am off topic. kthanxbai!

  22. Not really, just remember that gender identity and sexuality are not the same thing.

    I really should know better than to check A&D while I’m trying to work. That aspect has Eddie Izzard’s “executive transvestite” bit stuck in my head.

  23. This sounds like a case of the Vegas Effect meets the Fringe Element.

    When done properly, life is an adventure.

  24. >She is the very definition of shy when sober, but she has been coming out of her shell more and more over the years.

    Gotcha. Actually, being considered safe to experiment with by girls coming out of their shells is something I got a lot when I was a teenager and younger man – seems I emitted just the right combination of masculinity and low threat to elicit this from a lot of shy and sexually nervous women. Evidence that I still do this is interesting.

    >Don’t get me wrong, I do thrive on the sheer amount of mental explosions I can tell I cause in some people.

    Right, I know in theory that there are lots of hetero transvestites, and I figured you were likely one of them because your body language and speech aren’t at all feminized. It’s still a bit jarring to encounter that presentation with a wife in tow, especially a gender-conforming one.

  25. >when I kiss a woman she gets my total undivided attention to that moment

    Wait, so the secret here is to merely acknowledge her existence? That doesn’t seem so hard to do.

  26. >Wait, so the secret here is to merely acknowledge her existence? That doesn’t seem so hard to do.

    Sadly, a lot of people aren’t capable of undivided attention to anything except under extreme stress or maybe while having an orgasm – their minds are undisciplined, too full of transient fluff and drunken-monkey self-chatter.

    There are various ways to fix this (notably meditation practice and some kinds of internal martial-arts training), but most people never grasp that it’s a problem and so aren’t motivated to ever try.

  27. Phew. Glad to see I didn’t piss you off. :)

    >There are various ways to fix this (notably meditation practice and some kinds of internal martial-arts training), but most people never grasp that it’s a problem and so aren’t motivated to ever try.

    Since you’re bringing this up: what meditation style would you recommend for a bloke who’s never meditated—and who can’t keep his back straight? Sitting in anti-ergonomic positions for years takes its toll. :(

  28. Jorge Dujan,

    I highly recommend the martial arts training then. It doesn’t even have to be a style where you hit anyone, no-contact tai chi will do it. The point is to get up off your ass and train yourself to use and be aware of your body. I speak from personal experience when I say it helps with the sort of body aches you get from sitting in unergonomic positions much of the day…

  29. @esr:
    > Sadly, a lot of people aren’t capable of undivided attention to anything except under extreme stress

    well its exactly the opposite with me, I’m only capable of undivided attention in the /absence/ of any stress (that’ why I very much focus on reducing stress) but the problem is probably the same.

  30. esr wrote: “Sadly, a lot of people aren’t capable of undivided attention to anything except under extreme stress or maybe while having an orgasm – their minds are undisciplined, too full of transient fluff and drunken-monkey self-chatter.”

    I don’t know I’d you ever read want Carlos Castaneda, but as part of his semi-fictional adventures in learning to be a mescaline-and-mushrooms fueled Yaqui “brujo”, he goes into a lot of detail about the need for “stopping the internal dialog”. I’ve found that to be extremely useful in almost any situation outside of intentional brainstorming/free-association.

    Castaneda informs us that this process of stopping the internal dialog was prerequisite to keeping your intentions/spirit “immaculate”, necessary in the “brujo” world view in order to make the forces of the universe your “ally”. 90 percent of Casteneda is crap but stopping the internal dialog is hard to do even when one learns that it is something that should be done.

    BTW: excellent way to comport yourself as a gentleman. Kudos.

  31. While I strongly agree with giving a woman undivided attention when kissing her (and after all, what’s more enjoyable?), I hope you’ll understand that I’d make a slight exception when her large Viking husband is standing nearby. >.>

    (That, and I’m not used to the convention scene. I don’t feel odd for not knowing the customs when kissing someone’s wife at one.)

  32. @esr on 2014-05-08 at 11:23:04 said:
    > > BTW, Your description of superior kissing sounds like it’s taken straight out
    > > of Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land.
    > Appropriate, since that’s exactly where I took my model from. I wondered if anyone would notice.

    That or (IIRC) “Revenge of the Nerds”.

    No, really. Go watch again.

  33. Re Revenge of the Nerds:

    “Just because I’ve never done it doesn’t mean I haven’t thought about it.”

  34. >Sadly, a lot of people aren’t capable of undivided attention to anything except under extreme stress or maybe while having an orgasm – their minds are undisciplined, too full of transient fluff and drunken-monkey self-chatter.

    Which is odd, because most people exhibit minimal self-awareness.

    At least a tendency to self-chatter has the potential to be directed toward introspection and self-awareness, and you can’t actually improve anything about yourself without self-awareness, in my opinion.

    You can’t be good for much or accomplish anything *outside* yourself unless you turn off the internal self-chatter. Lots of ways to turn off the monkey-chatter. Working with your hands, certain types of exercise/physical activity, playing a musical instrument. Oddly enough, even certain video games can help you achieve focus.

    I have a particular hatred for distance running. It’s *boring*. While engaged in it, I find it promotes monkey-chatter like few other things. Turns me into an incoherent babbling (internally) ADD fruitcake, and it’s very hard to resist.

  35. You did great. And yes, you are obviously a wise gentleman.

    That whole scene would have been very uncomfortable for most people.

  36. OT but: The CAFC has ruled on Oracle v. Google — in favor of Oracle. Eric’s legal analysis was wrong: APIs are copyrightable IP. Google may still get to publish Android as is, because the court ordered a retrial of the fair-use issue. But everybody else had better license up before attempting an API-compatible reimplementation of some proprietary library.

  37. Eric’s legal analysis was wrong: APIs are copyrightable IP.

    No, the Federal Circuit’s was, and there’s serious hope for an overturn, as the Supreme Court has been on a smackdown streak.

  38. Many things can stop or slow down the internal dialog – aka “the committee”. Dropping in on a big wave, sailing in rough weather, flying – especially takeoffs and landings, or cliff launches in hang or paragliders, power tools and manual work requiring full attention all will tend to quiet the mind and can be a form of meditation.

  39. I dis-like the ‘drunk sex ==rape’ debate. On one end, you have (scenario A) 2 people with a previous relationship having sex while equally, slightly drunk. On the other end, you have (scenario B) someone taking advantage of a stranger who is physically impaired or unconscious due to drink, having been tricked or encouraged get drunker than intended.

    A is a fun date night. B is rape, and no question about it. In between is a continuum of progressively skivvy situations. When people argue about this, it’s almost always one side picturing A and the other picturing B and both thinking that they are talking about the same thing.

  40. DysgraphicProgrammer on 2014-05-10 at 13:09:14 said:

    > When people argue about this, it’s almost always one side picturing A and the other picturing B and both thinking that they are talking about the same thing.

    That’s probably the problem with all human communication, and human language being inherently ambiguous is likely its main cause. You have an indefinite number of things, properties and relationships but only limited set of characters, and thus, usable words and sentences which can be built based on a limited set of grammar rules. Thus language has to be ambiguous and it’s unlikely the same words mean exactly the same thing to any two people.

    The only reason why communication actually seems to work is probably, the evaluation of its success is subject to the same problems as the communication itself. I.e. it is simply not discovered that most examples of human communication would have to be considered failed, if you could achieve an objective evaluation from an external point of view.

  41. Jeff Read on 2014-05-09 at 12:48:19 said:

    > OT but: The CAFC has ruled on Oracle v. Google — in favor of Oracle. Eric’s legal analysis was wrong: APIs are copyrightable IP.

    Great! If we had had that in the seventies already, it would not only have saved us from Android but from Linux, GNU, BSD and all the like. But as the WSGA – sorry – the MPAA has teamed up with the W3C to make the digital wire fence (DRM) really effective, we can expect a hunt down on those individuals who consider the internet an open range. This will help to heal the open sores especially the media industry is suffering from.

  42. >Great! If we had had that in the seventies already, it would not only have saved us from Android but from Linux, GNU, BSD and all the like.

    Please can I have a Poe’s Law check here.

  43. @Lambert:

    I thought mistaking the MPAA for the WSGA would do the job, but you may have a ;-) of course if you need one ;-)

  44. Great! If we had had that in the seventies already, it would not only have saved us from Android but from Linux, GNU, BSD and all the like.

    No. All that would have happened anyway. The primary loss would probably just be samba.

  45. No, the Federal Circuit’s was, and there’s serious hope for an overturn, as the Supreme Court has been on a smackdown streak.

    No certainty that they would take up this particular case.

    I also disagree that APIs do not represent creative endeavor and is only functional. Some APIs, like other creative works, may be trivial enough not to deserve copyright but complex ones do. Good APIs are hard to design. If you wish to make open the results of your endeavor all well and good. If not then it folks wishing to copy it require a license.

  46. I also disagree that APIs do not represent creative endeavor and is only functional.

    That’s not the standard. The distinction between the interface (whether API or user) and implementing code has been firmly established for decades.

  47. @Lambert:
    > What’s the WSGA?

    look for the Johnson county war, wikipedia has an elaborate article but there is ample other information on the net. It’s an interesting piece of US history, especially when reflecting on the development of the internet in the past two or three decades.

    @Nigel:
    > No. All that would have happened anyway
    If you really believe that, you better dig a little into the history of Unix

    > Some APIs, like other creative works, may be trivial enough not to deserve copyright but complex ones do.

    A complex API requires considerable effort to implement, thus it does not need special protection either.

    Furthermore the term Intellectual Property IMHO is a misnomer that was coined deliberately to transfer concepts from the hardware world to the software world. While I agree, intellectual or creative work in general needs protection, it is misguided to base that protection on the concept of property. There aint no such thing as intellectual property.

  48. If you really believe that, you better dig a little into the history of Unix

    Given that the BSDi case was settled in favor of BSDi (as in BSD 4.4 was allowed to move forward without further threat) then I would assert that I know more about Unix history than you do.

    A complex API requires considerable effort to implement, thus it does not need special protection either.

    It doesn’t need special protection. Just the standard copyright protection. 7000 lines of code is still 7000 lines of code and deserves the same protection of any other 7000 lines of code.

    There aint no such thing as intellectual property.

    Given its a legal term and the courts disagree with your opinion that it doesn’t exist your assertion has no merit. This is like attempting to redefine the word free into PC GNUspeak. IP exists in the US. It’s a matter of law.

    Copyright exists to protect creative works like software. You may argue that patents don’t have a place in software but copyright sure as hell does and has nothing to do with hardware. The only one conflating hardware and software IP concepts is you.

  49. That’s not the standard. The distinction between the interface (whether API or user) and implementing code has been firmly established for decades.

    Firmly established? Citation needed.

    If this is true why do I see copyright notices in header files?

    The majority of the time it never comes up because the API is covered by the source code license that governs the entire work.

    The only time it comes up is when someone is trying to copy a proprietary interface.

    As such the precedents and impact is largely limited to those special cases.

    There is some case law there but I agree that the copyright itself should not be the issue but whether this is a fair rights exception issue. I believe it probably should be to allow for interoperability. That would allow for something like Samba to exist.

    Google’s embrace, extend, extinguish attack on java may not and that doesn’t bother me any more than when MS got stepped on when they tried that. Google killed Sun’s J2ME business.

    They could have done the smart thing (and the ethical thing) and bought Sun and skipped all this but they didn’t.

    Too damn bad. Karma sucks.

    This ruling has zero impact on the average developer.

  50. I looked it up. At least the ‘War on the Rustlers’ is actually a war on someONE, not an abstract concept.

  51. @Nigel:

    > Given that the BSDi case was settled in favor of BSDi (as in BSD 4.4 was allowed to move forward without further threat) then I would assert that I know more about Unix history than you do.

    So you are telling me, the BSDi case was settled *after* the Oracle v, Google case. Then you’re probably the only one to know it ;-)

    > Copyright exists to protect creative works like software

    but Copyright is not a property in the sense used in the term IP, it’s a misnomer, as I said.
    > IP exists in the US. It’s a matter of law.

    Apartheid existed in South Africa in the 80ies, it was a matter of law.

  52. Manfred, copyright is property. It can be bought, sold, loaned, leased, and anything else you can do with any other property.

    That you disagree with it makes it no less real.

  53. @ Manfred & Jay

    ‘IP is property!’
    ‘IP is not property!’
    Let these two asses be set to grind corn!

    IP is based upon and has many similar aspects to physical property (buying and selling etc.) yet also differs in important respects (expiry and fair use etc.).

  54. @Jay Maynard:

    no, being able to buy, sell or loan something *like* property doesn’t mean it *is* property.

  55. Manfred: The law disagrees with you. Dislike it all you want, but you cannot deny it – at least, you cannot take action on that denial without it biting you in the ass.

  56. @Lambert:

    so you were a little bit faster. Now thanks for the compliment, that eliminates the need for any further discussion. Have a nice day, hope you get trapped in a copy of Heaven’s Gate Muhahahaha

  57. @Jay:

    which law? There are may laws out there in the world, especially when it comes to copyright. These laws are made by humans, usually those who are in power, those people change, laws change. Finally laws do not define what *is*, they define how to handle things.

  58. Jeff Read: thanks for the advice. As Bart Simspon once said, “I can’t promise I’ll try, but I’ll try to try”. ;-)

  59. So you are telling me, the BSDi case was settled *after* the Oracle v, Google case. Then you’re probably the only one to know it ;-)

    I shouldn’t respond when my tolerance for stupidity is so low but you accused me of not knowing the history of unix when it is clear that not just the APIs were at dispute but the right for BSD to proceed at all except as AT&T property.

    The fact remains that any copyright on unix APIs would have been resolved as part of the entire dispute AND the posix APIs was released as part of the ISO spec.

    So all the folks claiming the sky is falling is full of it. Open APIs would have remained open because that was the intent of the rights holders and released as open source along with the reference implementation. The only APIs that would have been impacted were those proprietary ones.

  60. APIs are not mere statements of publicly available facts but, like all software development, are a form of creative expression. Therefore, APIs are either copyrightable, or US copyright law has no meaning.

    Google got caught stealing from Oracle, and now has to comply with the law of the land as written. Either license up, or don’t use the technology at all.

  61. Jorge Dujan on 2014-05-08 at 15:06:09 said:
    > > ESR:
    > > There are various ways to fix this (notably meditation practice and some kinds of
    > > internal martial-arts training), but most people never grasp that it’s a problem and
    > > so aren’t motivated to ever try.
    > Since you’re bringing this up: what meditation style would you recommend for a bloke
    > who’s never meditated—and who can’t keep his back straight? Sitting in
    > anti-ergonomic positions for years takes its toll. :(

    There’s two separate problems there.

    In terms of general health solve the back problems first, they won’t get better with age. Stand, walk, lift.

    As to the other:

    Lambert on 2014-05-08 at 15:10:26 said:
    > And, more generally, how does one get into meditation?

    For the kind of work “we” do, it looks like “Mindfulness Meditation” is probably best. This really (at least from what I’ve read/heard) boils down to “training in focusing on the task at hand” and then learning to consciously task switch. The book I got, and the recordings that go along with it do not require that you sit in a specific posture, only one that is comfortable and conducive to staying awake.

  62. This ruling has zero impact on the average developer.

    The lack of the PC as a de facto open standard — predicated upon the ready availability of unlicensed reimplementations of the IBM BIOS — would have affected the average developer.

    Perhaps for the better, but the impact, had such a ruling been handed down thirty years ago — would have been enormous.

  63. A lot of dos programs hit hardware directly rather than the bios. When they didn’t it was a mix of language features, dos and bios. Meaning that MS was still in the position to enable a DOS compatible vs PC compatible market by bypassing the bios and building all of the HAL into DOS. There was a market of almost compatibles without the Compaq and Phoenix BIOS that were already DOS compatible and mostly hardware compatible. The key was to be Lotus 1-2-3 compatible…which was partly in x86 assembler.

    Finally it still depends on whether it would have been considered fair use to copy those portions of the bios for compatibility.

    Delay DOS dominance a year or two and even if Linux was DOA because of APIs you’d have had BSD emerge from the USL-BSDi lawsuit. Apple, Atari and Commodore simply didn’t have the legs to compete with either a unix desktop or and IBM PC desktop in the business domain. The players today might look a little different but we have largely the same outcome.

  64. The fact that Lotus developers could have designed the Lotus menu command hierarchy differently is immaterial to the question of whether it is a “method of
    operation.” In other words, our initial inquiry is not whether the Lotus menu comm
    and hierarchy incorporates any expression. Rather, our initial inquiry is whether the Lotus menu command hierarchy is a “method of operation.” Concluding, as we do, that
    users operate Lotus 1-2-3 by using the Lotus menu command hierarchy, and that the
    entire Lotus menu command hierarchy is essential to operating Lotus 1-2-3, we do not inquire further whether that method of operation could have been designed differently. T
    he “expressive” choices of what to name the command terms and how to arrange them do not magically change the uncopyrightable menu command hierarchy into copyrightable subject matter.

    Lotus v. Borland, the controlling law on this subject (this holding was explicitly upheld by the Supreme Court).

  65. Hang on! This was about kissing a pretty girl – how did it turn into an alternate history IP/Unix/DOS flame war?

  66. Lotus v. Borland, the controlling law on this subject (this holding was explicitly upheld by the Supreme Court).

    Except it’s not because the federal district rejected it as such and the issue was controversial in its day given it was affirmed without opinion on a evenly divided Supreme Court. More implicitly upheld than anything else given such a decision does not result in a strong precedence. Not enough for you to throw down a UI case as a trump card.

    And the controlling law is Computer Associates v Altai and the AFC test to determine what is copyrightable. At least that my recollection of Alsups comments.

    Given this was tried in the 9th circuit and not 3rd circuit Oracle’s try at Whelan v Jaslow should probably have failed at the appeals level. My laypersons understanding is that 9th circuit rulings should have held sway but evidently not so much.

    Perhaps that was their play all along. Either way it worked. Whether SCOTUS is willing to take this case is debatable even if they seem to like smacking the lower court around. Far more likely is it gets settled or it gets ruled fair use. If it goes to SCOTUS…well, it should be good popcorn fodder. But it’s not nearly as open and shut as you attempt to imply.

  67. Hang on! This was about kissing a pretty girl – how did it turn into an alternate history IP/Unix/DOS flame war?

    Because there no forum here the comments on any particular post end up far afield at times.

  68. @Jay Maynard
    “Manfred, copyright is property. It can be bought, sold, loaned, leased, and anything else you can do with any other property.”

    Sorry, but copyright is a government granted right of control over other people’s actions.

    It restricts the behavior of people in ways that are unknown of when real property of material goods are involved. What is covered by copyright is non-exclusive and non-material.

    Examples of differences are:
    – It prohibits certain speech, song, music, or acts, both ethereal or recorded for everyone without a written permission from some entity. You can share your cake, but not your CD.
    – There is no limit on the number of material copies it restrict, even if the material and tools are legally owned by other people. I can do with my cake what I want, but every CD I copy is the “owned” of someone else.
    – The “things” covered are non-exclusive, the cake can be shared and eaten, and everyone will have it too.
    – Positive externalities of use greatly outweigh negative externalities. Increased used makes it more valuable. Eating cake leaves me with no value at all, but sharing a program or music will make the work more valuable.

  69. @Jay Maynard

    Property from the ethical angle is a way to deal with scarcity, so it does not apply to non-scarce goods. Non-scarcity means that it is possible to take something from its purported owner without the owner suffering any kind of loss. Like the old Till Eulenspiegel tale about a innkeeper who wanted to charge a price for the smell of food, and Till paid him with the sound of coins shaken and tingling. The idea was that a smell is not scarce (in that frame of reference, let’s not nitpick) so taking it without consent or payment is not a problem because it does not cause a loss. I.e. it is not property.

    For example, stealing a shoe from a shoe merchant imposes a cost (Accounting 101: it will have to be written off from the Inventory balance sheet account to the income statement / P& L inventory loss account and thus materializes as a cost). And then we can say it is wrong because everybody should be free to choose their costs. However copying a song merely results in a lost sale, but does not impose a cost. Since nobody has any kind of inherent right to sales, as sales always depends on the consent of customers, I would not call it theft. I.e. from the viewpoint of the music vendor not being interested in a song or pirating it is exactly the same thing: no cost imposed, no sales occured.

    The best possible case I could create for intellectual property would be some kind of “indirect property” or “indirect theft” but it is fairly shaky.

    I mean for example I don’t kill animals but I eat them, because I don’t want to cause direct harm to them but if they are already killed then it does not matter for them what happens with the corpse, I may as well eat it. Some may argue that merely creating demand for killing animals by the fact of eating their already killed corspe I am indirectly harming them, and I am not really sure about whether that matters – I guess if it matters, it matters little. (This is why I don’t understand most ethical vegetarians, they focus too much on indirect harm. If you keep direct blood off your hands and avoid yourself doing the kill, and just eat things others have killed, to me you are already 95% in the clean… why bother with the rest?)

    The same way one can kind of argue that while pirating a song is not literally theft because it does not impose a loss of inventory, it is on the whole depriving artists from income because even people who really like their works will pirate it, and it is on the whole depriving society from motivation for artists and thus of art, so one kinda construst some form of an argument that that is “indirect theft”, the same way as eating an animal already killed is somehow if we look at it squinting an indirect harm for the next animal as it creates the demand for killing it, and the same way the indirect theft causes a kind of artificial scarcity of art and thus it is some kind of an “indirect property” – you can make this case, but it would be shaky.

    I would simply call piracy a local optimum. Entirely ethical on principle, just not socially optimal on the outcome.

  70. I find it humerus that an article on Eric necking with a strange woman can degrade into a discussion on the relative merits of copy right law and IP.

    And it seems almost natural.

    We really are a bunch of nerds, start out with sex, and it STILL goes back to computers. ;^)

  71. I mean for example I don’t kill animals but I eat them, because I don’t want to cause direct harm to them but if they are already killed then it does not matter for them what happens with the corpse, I may as well eat it.

    And you guys give liberals a hard time for being pussies.

    Since nobody has any kind of inherent right to sales, as sales always depends on the consent of customers, I would not call it theft.

    And nature will inform you that no creature has any kind of inherent right to live. When I eat a steak I’m part of the kill chain. When I pirate a song instead of paying for it I’m stealing it.

    This is why I don’t understand most ethical vegetarians, they focus too much on indirect harm. If you keep direct blood off your hands and avoid yourself doing the kill, and just eat things others have killed, to me you are already 95% in the clean… why bother with the rest?

    Because it’s that last 5% that is meaningful. If you’re going to do something, DO IT. Not hide behind some facade of “indirect harm”.

    Needless to say I don’t share your brand of “ethics”.

  72. I don’t see this as being about ethics. Private property is only ‘ethical’ in the sense that it allows people to reap the fruits of their labour, inscentivising them to be productive. Likewise, IP allows people to benefit from their intellectual labour, but fair use and expiry exist so that others can build upon the work (in a way that cannot be easily done with physical property). This ‘ethics’ (like a great many other social rules) is just optimising society to be productive.

  73. I find it humerus that an article on Eric necking with a strange woman can degrade into a discussion on the relative merits of copy right law and IP.

    Yes, it’s thigh-slappingly funny.

  74. I find it humerus that an article on Eric necking with a strange woman can degrade into a discussion on the relative merits of copy right law and IP.

    Well, for the folks carpalling about the off topic posts, the basic story about how “a drunk girl kissed me at a con” is in the same general category of “I got laid at Pennsic”. Other than a “good job” from your polite buddies or “who hasn’t” from your more sarcastic friends there’s not much more discourse to be had is there?

  75. “You’re so ugly, you couldn’t get laid after hours at a Renaissance festival!”

  76. Isn’t it a bi peculiar the men’s world always talks about *getting* laid while the women’s world complains about *getting* raped?
    So *who* the f… is actually *doing* it? ;-)

  77. Christopher Smith,

    The “controlling law on the subject” is Whelan v. Jaslow. While courts have, in recent years, preferred to use the CA v. Altai standard rather than the Whelan standard, the Whelan decision was never overturned, nor invalidated by an act of Congress, and remains established precedent. Structure, sequence, and organization is protected by copyright; if you don’t want to get sued over someone’s copyrighted API, the DON’T USE THE API WITHOUT A LICENSE.

  78. Oh, for fsck’s sake. @esr was talking about undivided attention and mental discipline through meditative practice and here you guys go yapping on about IP and the copyrightability of APIs. You guys are just full of fail.

  79. But meditative practice is not really necessary in this case; if a woman is any good as a kisser, she’ll have no problems holding the undivided attention of a sensible (heterosexual) man. I say this from experience, and as someone who tends to get distracted at the slightest–SQUIRREL!!!!

  80. Let me sum up

    @Nigel:

    > The fact remains that any copyright on unix APIs would have been resolved as part of the entire dispute AND the posix APIs was released as part of the ISO spec.

    I suggest meditating a little about the meaning of the phrase “If we had”

    > > If you keep direct blood off your hands and avoid yourself doing the kill, and just eat things others have killed, to me you are already 95% in the clean… why bother with the rest?
    >
    > Needless to say I don’t share your brand of “ethics”.

    Rightly so, while shenpen feels herself 95% clean because she does not kill herself, those who do feel the same because they don’t kill for themselves. This is exactly kind of ethics that made the holocaust and the like possible.
    The problem is, the human brain doesn’t like unsolvable problems, thus people invent solutions when there aren’t any.

    @Jeff:

    I used Java in its early days and AFAIK Sun never tried to protect their *API*, its just Oracle flocking the corpse of Sun who are trying to make money out of it. Kick Larry in the ass, that’s what he deserves.

  81. I used Java in its early days and AFAIK Sun never tried to protect their *API*, its just Oracle flocking the corpse of Sun who are trying to make money out of it. Kick Larry in the ass, that’s what he deserves.

    I don’t think what Oracle is doing is right. Word from former Sun employees is the day of the acquisition, Oracle lawyers went through Sun offices looking for and asking about code they can sue over. But the law of the land in the USA is that APIs fall under copyright; that the Java APIs haven’t been sued over is immaterial: if you wish to comply with the law, don’t copy that API!

    What this will probably mean is a hastening of the exodus of software innovators from the USA to places like Europe, where APIs are specifically excluded from copyright protection.

  82. Jeff, the sooner you move to Europe and quit trying to turn the US into yet another Eurosocialist state, the better off we all will be.

  83. Nigel, Unix-like operating systems have been in existence since before POSIX; some, like OS-9 and Coherent, were not based on Unix source code. POSIX was a post-hoc codification of existing vendor practice. Had API copyrights been established in the 1970s or rearly 1980s, it’s not clear whether there would be enough multi-vendor consensus to even have a POSIX standard in the first place. Even if there were, copyright over the Unix APIs would have been assigned or licensed to the IEEE, and would *not* go into the public domain. An OS implementer would have to purchase a POSIX spec license to implement the API therein (this is *not* free, standards bodies aren’t charities), and would themselves have to release the OS under a restrictive license that forbade redistribution of the API IP (header files, etc.). So it’s doubtful that Linux would have ever existed, or that BSD would have continued past the 1992 USL v. BSDi lawsuit, if it even got started in the first place.

  84. >Oh, for fsck’s sake. @esr was talking about undivided attention and mental discipline through meditative practice and here you guys go yapping on about IP and the copyrightability of APIs.

    Mainly Jeff Read’s fault. Next time he threadjacks like this I’ll delete the comment. Sorry, everyone.

  85. >Oh, for fsck’s sake. @esr was talking about undivided attention and mental discipline through meditative practice and here you guys go yapping on about IP and the copyrightability of APIs.

    This thread is still on topic, and giving an example of the subject.

    But only if you look at it from one meta-level up.

  86. Well, it’s your blog, but Jeff’s clearly OT marked comment only eventually sparked a discussion which brought up some interesting facts – until someone complained it was off topic and it soon degraded to a series of more or less unfunny jokes. Apparently the original subject wasn’t as interesting (and some men don’t fit into the feminist scheme where men can’t think of anything but sex ;-)

    That aside, advice on focusing on mental practice in general misses an important fact. The human brain is very powerful but it is limited by the hard facts of natural laws. You cannot solve truly physical problems with mental exercises. You may eventually work around them for a while, but that will only obstruct the solution of the real problem. Thus it’s necessary to discover the true cause of your problem, at least as soon as you realize mental training doesn’t really help you.

  87. “Other than a “good job” from your polite buddies or “who hasn’t” from your more sarcastic friends there’s not much more discourse to be had is there?”

    Plus, the thread-jacking probably saved the universe from a lengthy addition on kissing to the esr sex faq.

  88. Wait, I thought Read was in Australia?

    You know what an Australian Kiss is, right? Just like a French Kiss, but down under and around the other side…

  89. Oh yes, I see, returning to the original subject substantially improves the quality of the discussion.
    Well then, have fun discussing how undivided attention and mental training helps you to get the most of it when you put your tongue in someones a…

  90. >This thread is still on topic, and giving an example of the subject.

    >But only if you look at it from one meta-level up.

    Thread jacking and topic drift as monkey chatter?

    My classic monkey chatter moment- once I went on a school-sponsored trip to Germany. I think I was 12. Travelling with us at first was a similar group traveling to France. We started off on a 747 from JFK to Charles de Gaulle. I spent the flight sitting next to a fellow going on the France trip, and he spent the *entire* flight serving as my canonical example of monkey chatter. He sang, he hummed, he babbled incoherently and then he sang some more. All the singing was bits and pieces of ‘Magical Mystery Tour’- it was like his refrain, no matter where his babble led he’d always return to that insipid song. He was generally like a toddler with a particularly bad attention deficit, on speed. (Most uncomfortable flight ever, even worse than the time my travelling companion threw up on me. At least she was cute.)

    Some people have their own ‘Magical Mystery Tour’.

  91. @ESR

    Since you don’t drink, and when you are surrounded with tipsy people in a celebratory, festive mood, do you have any “tricks” of putting yourself in the same mood? Or do you know anyone who does? Meditation, breathing, perhaps supplements (L-Theanine etc.) ?

  92. @nuintari @ESR

    One thing I could never really wrap my head around with regard to transgender people is why do they work so hard to conform to the looks of the other gender instead of picking and choosing gendered expression element as they see fit? If you see gender a socially constructed and you are breaking out from it, it just makes no sense to me to make sure you conform so close to the social expectations associated with the other gender, instead of just picking elements from both genders that you happen to like. I mean, doing literally the opposite society expects from you is not freedom, it is just a negative kind of inverse reaction to the same stiff limitations.

    Like how the metalheads in our high school back in the nineties were scrupulously anti-fashion. They researched what is fashionable, in order not to accidentally wear it :-)

  93. @Shenpen
    “One thing I could never really wrap my head around with regard to transgender people is why do they work so hard to conform to the looks of the other gender instead of picking and choosing gendered expression element as they see fit?”

    Is this off-topic?

    I am not sure what you consider transgender.

    Transvestites pick and chose clothes etc. and tend to overdo it. That is, they often pick out an extreme cross-gender image that would entice their original “gender”.

    Transsexuals are more like people with a body-dismorphic disorder. They behave as if they have an internal body image that conforms to the other sex. I saw a TV show where they followed a number of transsexual teenagers, both boy-to-girl and girl-to-boy. They were all pretty plain in their new gender image. One boy-turned-girl was now a lesbian and had a girl friend. She did not dress any different from other girls.

    They are not all like Constance Wurst.

  94. >putting yourself in the same mood

    I think the main rationale for being tee total is not *wanting* to be in the same mood as drunk people.

  95. @shenpen:
    > One thing […] with regard to transgender people is why do they work so hard to conform to the looks of the other gender […]

    Because they want to *be* the other gender. Its their reaction to the realization that, under the surface, men are the most disrespected group in society. Thus they want to be something better, a women. In a similar way the same holds for gay people while lesbians celebrate this disrespect by sticking to their own kind.

    @Greg:

    singing and music in general is a classic way to fight fear

  96. Like how the metalheads in our high school back in the nineties were scrupulously anti-fashion. They researched what is fashionable, in order not to accidentally wear it :-)

    You’ve just described hipsters. People who self-consciously avoid things popular with the mainstream to seek out the obscure, in so doing considering themselves a higher breed of human. Of course these days, whatever metalheads wear is recognized as soon to become what everybody wears –“grunge” in the 90s became a fashion statement even amongst Beverly Hills princesses after all — so hipsters these days go even more extreme with the unfashionability. They dress like stereotypical nerds, replete with 1950s style Henry Mitchell glasses and cardigan sweaters in drab colors. But they still look down their noses at actual nerds.

    As to your original question, transsexuals and transgenders want to become the other gender from what their bodies were born as. They tend to overdo it on the gender expression because a) they feel they have to in order to “pass”; and b) many take hormones that their body isn’t used to, which profoundly affect their emotions and behavior.

    There is another class of person, sometimes called “genderqueer”, who do feel that gender is just a social construct and mix and match their gender expression as they see fit. Some may take hormones, some may not, some use unusual pronouns (e.g. “sie” and “hir”) to indicate their ambiguous chosen gender.

    Transvestites are secure in their own gender identity, but they are putting on a performance (on stage as a drag queen or offstage in everyday life), or they just don’t see any reason why they should be restricted in the clothing they wear. (As Eddie Izzard said, “this is not a woman’s dress; it’s my dress!”)

  97. So… kissing, meditation, APIs, trans* and now hipsters.
    To boldly derail where no thread has derailed before!

  98. >Mainly Jeff Read’s fault. Next time he threadjacks like this I’ll delete the comment. Sorry, everyone.

    Eh ?
    There isn’t a post in your blog over the past couple of years that doesn’t have an OT discussion in its comments. Recurring OT topics, regardless of what the original post was about, include smartphones, gun control, nanny states, and the evils of leftism.
    Why the sudden change of heart ?

  99. >Why the sudden change of heart ?

    It’s not a change. There are some kinds of comment threads I’ve always policed carefully. My mistake this time was cutting Jeff Read too much slack because he’s opposed to most of my views. I will try not to make this mistake in the future.

  100. And I must have mistaken which sorts of threads are appropriate for OT commentary. My bad.

  101. > There are some kinds of comment threads I’ve always policed carefully.

    Perhaps there’s a way to tag an article subject to such strict comment hygiene so that we know this before we transgress, reducing the need for any corrective action on your part.

  102. >And I must have mistaken which sorts of threads are appropriate for OT commentary. My bad.

    A good general rule, which everyone should apply, is: if you feel a comment needs to be introduced with “OT”, don’t write it at all. This is basic courtesy to other commenters, who are (no matter what you think) unlikely to be as interested in your digression as you are.

  103. A general rule/etiquette I follow on blog comments is that I treat them as places to express our thoughts on the article or the subject matter of the article posted. Otherwise if I have nothing to say, I simply avoid commenting. I try to avoid a blogger’s personal space as my forum for free expression.

    Perhaps ESR could start a google group for his personal friends/followers as a forum for free conversation on random topics of common interest. Such a group could also turn into a sounding board of ideas for future blog posts. .

  104. Well, it was significant tech news that you’d probably get around to commenting on eventually.

  105. >Note to self: must start attending Penguicon.

    While this is a good plan, it is extremely unlikely that I will ever smooch anyone named Steve. :-)

  106. I would propose that when ontopic discussion runs out of steam, digression should be more acceptable. I’d suggest in the longer run when it goes to 3 comments / day every thread could be seen as a free-for-all…

  107. >>While this is a good plan, it is extremely unlikely that I will ever smooch anyone named Steve. :-)

    Believe me, I’m totally fine with that, although I have been told I’m a good smoocher (as you say, the secret is paying attention). Penguicon itself was the attraction. You have mentioned it a few times before and all sounded like fun. Plus swordfights in the hallways? Yeah.

  108. >Plus swordfights in the hallways? Yeah.

    Hmmmph. We do not swordfight in the hallways!

    We swordfight in nice big rooms where we can maneuver better and not collide with random passers-by.

  109. esr on 2014-05-16 at 00:37:37 said:
    >> Plus swordfights in the hallways? Yeah.
    > Hmmmph. We do not swordfight in the hallways!
    > We swordfight in nice big rooms where we can maneuver
    > better and not collide with random passers-by.

    Oh. The easy way.

  110. Yikes, yikes, and yikes. As a female…just yikes. Good on you for not going anywhere with that! And as awesome as blond viking guy sounds, it seems that he and the honey have to work on their relationship.

  111. >And as awesome as blond viking guy sounds, it seems that he and the honey have to work on their relationship.

    Not necessarily. They might be poly; I didn’t ask.

  112. They might be poly; I didn’t ask.

    The followup in this thread makes that seem like more than a possibility.

  113. >The followup in this thread makes [them being poly] seem like more than a possibility.

    I agree. That is, in fact, why I didn’t ask.

    For the benefit of people following this thread who are not in contact with the poly culture, the reason I didn’t ask that question is because doing so could have been reasonably interpreted as a polite bid on my part to become one of Honey’s approved secondaries – in effect, accepting the proposition of an intoxicated woman.

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