A few points of reference:
- For some years, Richard Stallman was something of a hero to my young techie self.
- After a while, however, Richard Stallman seemed at best cuckoo and at worst not very good at what he thinks he’s good at anymore.
- Then I learned that Richard Stallman may well be a pedophile. If nothing else, he is on record questioning whether “voluntary pedophilia” should be illegal. (As well as offering guidelines for best practices in incest (use a condom) and necrophilia (get permission from next-of-kin), among others.)
So, my esteem of him has been in pretty much steady decline since the early 90s.
I don’t want to do it, but I love the idea that there is someone going through life calling bullshit on these guys. I may not love much else about Stallman any more, but for a minute, he’s my hero again.
There are a lot of smart crackpots out there who regularly publish refutations of relativity and quantum mechanics. There are good reasons to do so: both theories are highly counter-intuitive. There are good reasons not to do so: both theories have consistently held up under experimental scrutiny. There’s a big problem: these two theories contradict each other.
Nonetheless, they are the cornerstones of contemporary physics, upon which far more grandiose (and far less stable) theories have been built.
So, it’s absolutely delightful to see one of the grandfathers of contemporary physics apply the common sense “sniff test” to the whole grand edifice: Behold, Roger Penrose.
Pretty much every word he utters in this interview is something I think on a regular basis, when I think about theoretical physics. That doesn’t mean I’m worthy to fetch the man his evening scotch-on-the-rocks, but it is very gratifying to learn that it’s going on.
The main point is simple: University as vocational training is a new concept, and I suspect it is one that is about to make an exit. It’s simply not the right tool for the job.
This is B.S.
I was once a young man who thought anarchy was cool. (Until I read Ursula K. LeGuin’s marvelously nuanced The Dispossessed.) I get it that young people want to rebel, and get arrested and get photographed and generally express their (justifiable) outrage at a crazy world that makes no sense and which does not seem to welcome their input.
I just wish they understood that this is exactly what conservatives want to happen, because it marginalizes liberals and forces even hippy mayors like McGinn to hand power over to the police. More importanly, it reinforces the fear that the center has of any kind of counter cultural expression of anger, and at least in the current environment, pushes the center to the right.
Some broken car windows, some slashed tires, a few broken bank windows, some minor damage to government buildings is trivial in the long run, but it’s just a huge hassle to everyone in the short run.
So, while they want to be changing the world, what they are really accomplishing is solidifying the status-quo as an increasingly stratified, polarized entity. Given enough time and dedication, efforts like these could even topple our democracy — and replace it with the dictatorship they pretend we have today.
I was really impressed with the occupy movement last year which accomodated the punk anarchist crowd without empowering it to violence. Unfortunately, there was no such moderation today.