Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Linus Torvalds Officially a Hero 406

Posted by kdawson
from the laurels-for-tux dept.
CortoMaltese writes "The European edition of the Time magazine has selected Linus Torvalds as one of the heroes of the past 60 years. From the main article: 'In the 60 years that Time has been publishing an Atlantic edition, extraordinary people have emerged from the churn and turmoil, creativity and chaos of a period that witnessed the aftermath of world war, the toppling of communism in Central and Eastern Europe, the vanquishing of apartheid in South Africa, the advance of women, the failure of old certainties and the rise of new fears. These people are our heroes, and in this special anniversary issue, we celebrate them and their many achievements.' The article on Linus is titled 'By giving away his software, the Finnish programmer earned a place in history.' Linus is cited in the 'Rebels & Leaders' category along with Nelson Mandela, Mikhail Gorbachev, Margaret Thatcher, and others."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Linus Torvalds Officially a Hero

Comments Filter:
  • Re:Heroes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Abreu (173023) on Monday November 13, 2006 @02:56PM (#16826692)
    Haha, this confirms that the difference between a Freedom Fighter and a Terrorist resides only on who gets to write the history books afterwards.
  • by Srin Tuar (147269) <zeroday26@yahoo.com> on Monday November 13, 2006 @02:57PM (#16826704)

    You have a pretty faced popular guy who gets acclaimed as the hero, and a snarling rough-edged guy behind the
    scenes who is the real hero.

    Linus isnt a charlatan or a bad guy, he just doesnt want to change the world.
    RMS isnt entirely grouchy, but its popular to credit him with being so.
    Meh, maybe its not such a good analogy.

    But the main point stands: Real "Heroes" are not always the popular/friendly/nice to look at types.

  • by jdgeorge (18767) on Monday November 13, 2006 @02:57PM (#16826716)
    How proud Mandela, Walesa, and the others in this list of "Rebels and Leaders" must be to have been included in the august company of Linus Torvalds, a man known if for nothing else, for his unwavering commitment to the ideals underlying the successful proliferation of his operating system kernel.

    Congratulations for that acheivement!

    Ahem.... On a less sarcastic note, this is a recognition of the real leadership Linus has demonstrated in keeping the herd of kernel developers working together fairly efficiently. Congratulations, Linus.
  • Hero, why? (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 13, 2006 @02:59PM (#16826748)
    Hero? Why? Because someone wrote a piece of software and decided to give it away instead of charging money for it? I guess that would make Microsoft's IE browser team heros back in the 90's. Cue the Linux fanboys please.
  • by Wills (242929) on Monday November 13, 2006 @03:00PM (#16826762)
    In the copyright sense, "Linus Torvalds giving away his software" is not an accurate description. What happened is that "Linus Torvalds retained the copyright on his software and published it under a licence". "Giving away software" is more akin to "putting software in the public domain".
  • by Anti-Trend (857000) on Monday November 13, 2006 @03:01PM (#16826774) Homepage Journal
    Personally, I think the thing that sets Linus apart from others in the open source movement is that he has quite a bit of charisma for an engineer (I hesitate to say "free" because that often implies "cheap quality" in our day & age). Others, like our good friend RMS, contribute a huge amount as hackers and in other important respects but lack the some of the trickier diplomatic skills which are required to hold things together. I agree with RMS on almost every issue, but I think it's important to have a relatively moderate personality like Linus' in a position of such high visibility, to really humanize things for everyone. Some people may disagree, but that's what I feel on the matter.

    That said, congrats Linus! You're certainly my hero, and I've been living the open-source dream for years now. Also to RMS, the FSF, and the rest of the GNU, Linux and open-source community. Hats off to you all; without your hard work and ideals, there would be no Linux!
  • by RLiegh (247921) * on Monday November 13, 2006 @03:03PM (#16826796) Homepage Journal
    Sorry, but all that Linus did was to get help on his pet project. The real people who advanced freedom and the cause of free software were the folks over at the GNU project and (at the time) the CSRG. Usually I agree with the people who roll their eyes when Stallman goes on about GNU/blah but this time I can see his point... Linus winning this award actually helps to bury them, and worse yet it detracts from the ideals of the GNU movement (and remember, in 1992 if there had been no GNU, there would have been no Linux; period).

    Sorry, as far as impact and influence goes -like him or loathe him- Stallman has had more of an active, positive influence on the open source movement; Linus is merely a clever student who managed to wring the most homework help out of the internet...Stallman started the movement which eventually led to Sun opening up their crown jewels.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 13, 2006 @03:06PM (#16826842)
    Conferring the title, "Hero", to Linus Torvalds is like conferring the title, "Hero", to a popular rockstar or a successful basketball player. Torvalds, the rockstar, and the basketball player are skilled at their jobs, but being skilled does not mean that they are particularly ethical or particularly brave in promoting good ethics.

    Unfortunately, in America, we equate tremendous wealth, beauty, fame with "goodness" and "heroism". When Mother Teresa died, no one cared. When Princess Diana, estranged wife of Prince Charles, died, we cried to the heavens for the passing of a good person. What is the difference? Though Mother Teresa promoted good ethics, she was financially poor and physically ugly. By contrast, Princess Diana was rich and physically beautiful.

    [side note]
    There is considerable irony in America, the so-called Christian nation. Though a slim majority of American consider themselves to be Christian and supposedly tout how ethical they are (Can you say, "torture in Abu Ghraib"?), they quickly ascribe the term "Hero" to people -- like Linus, Princess Diana, Mick Jagger, and Magic Johnson -- whose main "achievement" (i.e., accruing money, fame, or beauty) has nothing to do with ethics. 'Tis time to jettison the notion of "Christmas" and all the hypocrisy that goes with it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 13, 2006 @03:07PM (#16826864)
    Frankly, if you were to only pick one person from the whole Free/Open Software world, it would have to be Richard Stallman. I give him 'hero' status because he's the man who spelled out the four freedoms of software [gnu.org] which are more important than the GPL(any version).

    • The freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0).
             
    • The freedom to study how the program works, and adapt it to your needs (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
             
    • The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2).
             
    • The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements to the public, so that the whole community benefits (freedom 3). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 13, 2006 @03:09PM (#16826886)
    Margaret Thatcher!? Wtf?

    Oh, it's a US-owned publication. No wonder it's on the extreme right-wing.
  • by Klivian (850755) on Monday November 13, 2006 @03:11PM (#16826920)
    The most common form of hero is the person that actually goes about to get the hard parts done, not the one preaching about doing it.
  • by rs232 (849320) on Monday November 13, 2006 @03:12PM (#16826940)
    "Hero? Why? Because someone wrote a piece of software and decided to give it away instead of charging money for it? I guess that would make Microsoft's IE browser team heros back in the 90's. Cue the Linux fanboys please"

    The someone who wrote the browser was Spyglass and was based on code licensed from the NCSA. MS first tried to get an exclusive deal with NCSA then went to Netscape and finally Spyglass. The deal was for royaltees to be paid on every copy sold. MS then proceeded to 'give' it away. Spyglass then went broke.

    was Hero, why?(Score:1, revisionism)
  • by duh P3rf3ss3r (967183) on Monday November 13, 2006 @03:13PM (#16826946)
    I agree with the essence of the parent's comments. There is no question that Linus is a gifted and accomplished hacker. At the same time, though, there is no question that, without the GNU tools, there would be no Linux today. In one aspect, though, I do feel Linus was visionary, and that's in his finally settling upon the GPL as the kernel's licence. Without a doubt, that's his single most important stroke of genius. But, again, where did the GPL come from?
  • by dedazo (737510) on Monday November 13, 2006 @03:22PM (#16827062) Journal
    And without Linux these "but GNU is teh best" arguments would simply not exist, because it was Linux that propelled the GNU project to where it is today, not Stallman's bitching or his obvious inability to ship a working kernel. So maybe they should be co-heroes or something?
  • by quill_n_brew (1011327) on Monday November 13, 2006 @03:23PM (#16827072)
    OK, I'm biting the scorchingly off-topic bait... Point of fact: Mother Theresa died within a week or so, if memory serves, after the death of Princess Di, for whom the world gloriously mourned, as you observed. And for the few hundred million or so of us who genuinely care about matters spiritual, the ugly woman who took care of lepers in Calcutta was indeed mourned silently -- but widely. Why? To find the answer to that, you'll need to look beyond your own nose... ; )
  • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@nOSpam.yahoo.com> on Monday November 13, 2006 @03:23PM (#16827078) Journal
    There is nothing wrong with doing things to make a profit. There is also nothing heroic about it. Torvalds is a hero because he did something for the greater good rather than persuing selfish ends. Doing something for the greater good with little thought towards personal profit is pretty much the definition of heroism.

    Ballmer not only does everything for personal gain, he actively suppresses those who do things for the greater good, because they cut into his profits. That is what makes him a bad guy.

    The difference between a hero and a villain is in the means, not the ends. In the end, there is no altruism, and everyone does everything for their own selfish reasons. Gates and Ballmer have actively harmed others for profit. Linus wrote a free operating system as a brag to the world: see how great I am, I can give the fruit of my labor away and still be a success. Both were selfish acts, but society benefits from one sort of selfish act without rewarding it, whereas the other sort of selfish act is rewarded with riches. So we should laud Linus and not Gates or Ballmer as a hero. Those two have already gotten their reward from society in the form of wealth, they shouldn't be called heros as well.

  • by kentrel (526003) on Monday November 13, 2006 @03:24PM (#16827092) Journal
    Bill put a desktop on every desk, in every home.
  • by daybot (911557) * on Monday November 13, 2006 @03:26PM (#16827122)
    What about CowboyNeal?
  • Troll ? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 13, 2006 @03:26PM (#16827126)
    Come on mods !

    You may or may not agree about what parent says, but it raises a good point. I know this is Slashdot, but if you RTFA, you will see that this article is fully biased (even the author says that "I am proud to be a Thatcherite.").

    Saying that Margeret Thatcher is a hero because she played a major role in the falldown of the former Soviet Union is as relevant as saying that G.W. Bush is a hero because he played a major rôle in the war against terrorism by invading Iraq. And refusing to compromise doesn't prove anything and is not always heroic. Sorry to invoke Godwin's law, but Hitler also didn't compromize with anybody, which doesn't make him a hero neither.

    Anyways, there is no reason to compare Linus Torvals to neither Nelson Mandela nor Margaret Thatcher. One did computer stuff, another spent years in jail and the last ruled a country with an iron fist. Apples and oranges anyone ?
  • Sad... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by madhatter256 (443326) on Monday November 13, 2006 @03:26PM (#16827132)
    This is sad. They award people like him, compared to people volunteering in central Africa risking their lives for refugees. People like those deserve such awards. Nelson Mandela, Gorbachev, Thatcher are very prestigious people. With Linus on the list, he really didn't contribute to anything except for corporations having a "free" option. Linux does not feed people in Africa and other poor nations, no sirey. His presence on that list dilutes the other recipients prestige.
  • by qwijibo (101731) on Monday November 13, 2006 @03:27PM (#16827136)
    Anyone who can get a bunch of programmers to work together has patience beyond that of mere mortals.
  • Re:And (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ClamIAm (926466) on Monday November 13, 2006 @03:27PM (#16827138)
    Actually, this is more on point than you might think. From the article:

    Torvalds has achieved fame as the godfather of the open-source movement, in which software code is shared and developed in a collaborative effort rather than being kept locked up by a single owner.

    The title of "godfather" probably more accurately describes someone like RMS or Theo de Raadt, who are both very, uh, ideological with their software. Linus, on the other hand, is simply the chief hacker on a very important piece of software in the Free/Open ecosystem. He himself even says that he's more a coder than any kind of revolutionary.

    Personally, I think it's a bad idea to focus too much on any one person, as no one can really claim to be the most important. Sure, the kernel is maybe seen as "most important" in some ways, but we shouldn't forget the hundreds of other critical pieces of software that people use every day. And even within a project, there is often a core group of people who defer to one head. For example, the core kernel team: people like Alan Cox, Andrew Morton, Ted T'so, and on and on.

    Then there are people who pushed free software/open source forward in other ways. People like Michael Tiemann, who pioneered the business model of selling support and development services for the GNU toolchain. Or the folks inside Netscape (including Jim Barksdale) who pushed for the release of their code.

    I guess my point is that "journalists" should really try to not oversimplify things, and to get the facts right besides.
  • by eldacan (726222) on Monday November 13, 2006 @03:32PM (#16827230)
    The most common form of hero is the person that actually goes about to get the hard parts done
    Like (co)developing a compiler (GCC), a debugger (GDB), a programer's editor (Emacs), which Stallman did. Not the most visible parts of a working system, but quite essential ones.
  • by duh P3rf3ss3r (967183) on Monday November 13, 2006 @03:37PM (#16827328)
    No, I'm sorry but you are wrong. The GNU tools were useful and were used a great deal before the Linux kernel came along. Just look at how many of them shipped with the various flavours of BSD (several of which pre-date Linux, I might add.)

    Yes, the Linux kernel filled a huge void on the road to a completely GPLed operating system. But it did not create the concept of a free OS nor did it create the concept of freedom. Those concepts pre-date Linux and were embodied in the GNU project.

    I'm not trying to get into a RMS/Torvalds flamewar -- we've had too many of those. But I also don't accept revisionist history that says that GNU would be nothing without Linus's kernel. If you truly believe that, perhaps you can explain to me how the GPLed parts managed to exist for almost a decade before the kernel came along. Do you think that, once the kernel appeared, someone said "Oh, yeah, there was a bunch of mouldy stuff in the bottom of the drawer over there that was invented nearly a decade ago and we couldn't figure out what it was for -- let's try it here!"
  • by rumblin'rabbit (711865) on Monday November 13, 2006 @03:39PM (#16827352) Journal
    Superb point. Linus doesn't just lead - he manages development carried out over the entire globe.

    Given the sociophobic nature of software developers, that is no small thing.

  • Re:Heroes (Score:3, Insightful)

    by smitty_one_each (243267) * on Monday November 13, 2006 @03:39PM (#16827360) Homepage Journal
    Probably knighted or something. No, wait: that's been done.
  • by diegocgteleline.es (653730) on Monday November 13, 2006 @03:50PM (#16827498)
    and remember, in 1992 if there had been no GNU, there would have been no Linux; period)

    And if there had not been Linux (GNU was already developing Hurd at that time...) there would have been GNU? Yet another chicken/egg stupid question.

    I'm sick of this "linus sucks, RMS rocks" attitude, and the contrary. The reason why FOSS is success is because of the COMMUNITY. Both RMS and Linus made possible FOSS. No one was better than other. FOSS is about COOPERATING, about community progress. It's shocking to find people forgetting such important thing FOSS forum trying to put all the success under the back of a single individual. Linus has also made a lot of efforts to make FOSS possible - like not accepting jobs from redhat/suse/etc just to be "fair" to the linux environment, which forced him to keep maintaining the linux kernel despite of the lack of time (which annoyed lot of kernel hackers because of the undermanagement of the project), and so on. He worked hard to make FOSS succesful, so did RMS, so did I, so did you, so did everyone involved.

    Yes, time thinks linus did all the job. Everyone thinks the same. Linus didn't search it, history is such a bitch. Just deal with it.
  • Re:Flamebait much? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Da Fokka (94074) on Monday November 13, 2006 @03:50PM (#16827510) Homepage

    As one of the slim majority of Americans who considers himself ethical and didn't have anything to do with Abu Ghraib I don't think your post is actually very insightful.


    Of course you did not have anything to do with Abu Ghraib. But why is there no public outcry about the terrible things that are happening in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay? Why aren't more Americans angry about this? The Democrats won the midterm elections because of the war in Iraq. But it was not because of the 100,000 civilian deaths. It was not because of the atrocities and the torture. It wasn't even because of the fact that the war in Iraq has made America unsafer. It was because of the 2,800 Americans that have died in the conflict.


    I can understand how families are angry that their sons, brothers and fathers will not come back. They have every right to be. But why weren't more Americans angry that president Bush practically legalised torture? The American soldiers fighting in Iraq went there to fight for the freedom of the Iraqi people. I'd say that the atrocities in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay are an insult to the memories to those who gave their lives


    Yes, you had nothing to do with Abu Ghraib. But sometimes not having to do anything with something is not enough. After all, Edmund Burke was right when he said: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing"

  • by NineNine (235196) on Monday November 13, 2006 @03:55PM (#16827602)
    Dude, this is article is for the general public. The general public does not know, and does not care what the difference is. It's accurate enough for this audience.

    The IT community is incredibly myopic in they seem to think that what is important to them is important to the rest of the world. Other groups of people tend to be a lot more realistic in their views of the world, in that they understand that what is important to them is not necessarily what's important to other people.
  • by RLiegh (247921) * on Monday November 13, 2006 @03:57PM (#16827630) Homepage Journal
    >And if there had not been Linux (GNU was already developing Hurd at that time...) there would have been GNU?

    Yes, because the GNU tools were preffered (to vendor supplied ones) on most unix platforms at the time, and many of them were incorporated into 386BSD when it was released in 1990/1991.

    There was a ton of corporate sponsorship of the FSF before Linus submitted his homework request to the net because the GNU tools were considered superior to what was shipped with most Unixes.

    So yes, virginia; if Linus had never come along the GNU movement would have been just fine.
  • by Per Abrahamsen (1397) on Monday November 13, 2006 @04:17PM (#16827918) Homepage
    (and I'm falling for it)

    Corporations have a free option ... so does the rest of us. Including people in less developed countries, who is now less dependent of those corporations.

    Linux is a single but important brick in a a world-wide free computer infrastructure, which has the potential of bringing more freedom and prosperity than any revolution in a single country.
  • by ClickOnThis (137803) on Monday November 13, 2006 @04:18PM (#16827924) Journal
    Frankly, if you were to only pick one person from the whole Free/Open Software world, it would have to be Richard Stallman. I give him 'hero' status because he's the man who spelled out the four freedoms of software which are more important than the GPL(any version).

    Agreed. If someone is going to be called a hero, they ought to have done something heroic. RMS might just manage to belong in the same league as Nelson Mandela or Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, but surely Linus doesn't. Linus was clever, effective and (dare I say it) opportunistic, but hardly a hero.
  • by Antiocheian (859870) on Monday November 13, 2006 @04:23PM (#16827990) Journal
    all that Linus did was to get help

    This is precisely what heroes do.

  • Re:Heroes (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sp3d2orbit (81173) on Monday November 13, 2006 @04:29PM (#16828080)
    Osama would be happy to see that you've swallowed the Islamo-Facist-Propoganda hook, line, and sinker. Most people understand that a freedom fighter, well, fights for freedom for themselves and others. Most people understand that freedom fighters don't fly planes into buildings, they don't behead those who don't share their ideology, and don't shun the diplomatic processes that could actually lead to freedom. See, most people understand that there is a huge difference between someone fighting for freedom and someone who calls themselves a freedom fighter to win the support of the mentally weak and susceptible.

    I guess the term "most people" doesn't include the parent or the moderators that promoted this dribble to +5 insightful.
  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday November 13, 2006 @04:35PM (#16828176) Journal
    Well, HURD (note capitals; it's an acronym) wasn't really usable in 1990 (and only just is now). Net/1 didn't run on x86, as I recall, and wasn't ported until a few months after Linux 0.1 was released. Minix was around, but wasn't Free Software (it is now; BSD-licensed). In the userspace corner, don't forget the MIT-licensed X server and the BSD userland tools.

    To really address the impact, it's interesting to see what would happen if you took a particular tool away. If you took Linux away, then you would only be able to build a Free Software system with:

    1. OpenSolaris
    2. FreeBSD
    3. OpenBSD
    4. NetBSD
    5. DragonflyBSD
    6. Minix
    7. Others?
    Now try taking GCC away, and see what you're left with. There are a couple of Free C compilers that could possibly be used, but I'm less sure about FORTRAN, C++, Objective-C, and the other languages supported by GCC. Now take GDB away too, and try developing Free Software.

    It might be possible to build a Free Software system without any GNU software, but it would be really, really hard. Building one without Linux is trivial.

  • No (Score:3, Insightful)

    by G3ckoG33k (647276) on Monday November 13, 2006 @04:37PM (#16828202)
    No, he would be sued, by SCO. For what? SCO wouldn't know, but Gates would. SCO: You know what you've done!
  • Re:Heroes (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 13, 2006 @05:10PM (#16828776)
    Selectively reading Time I see. Gates has been in TIME and on the cover far more than the mention of Linus.

    How sad and pathetic is it that the creator of an OS is labled a hero. Linux is good, probably even great, but that doesn't make Linus a hero and diminishes the real heros in the world.

  • by fumblebruschi (831320) on Monday November 13, 2006 @05:28PM (#16829150)
    Princess Diana, OTOH, was vocal about her chosen cause -- removal of mines in warfare and helping the non-military victims of them -- and raised millions for it

    It's worth pointing out that Diana's cause was "chosen" for her by her employers, the British government. Her charity work was a clearly-defined part of her job description, which she accepted as part of her marriage agreement (it was, you'll recall, a political marraige arranged by the monarchy.) When she and the Prince of Wales were divorced, her employment with the British government also ended, and she stopped doing charity work and settled into the comfortable everyday life of European aristocracy. That doesn't make her a bad person in any way, but I still wouldn't compare her to Mother Teresa, who was genuinely ascetic and devoted, whether the allegations you mention are true or not.
  • by dedazo (737510) on Monday November 13, 2006 @05:31PM (#16829214) Journal
    No, I'm sorry but you are wrong. The GNU tools were useful and were used a great deal before the Linux kernel came along.

    I'm not saying that's the case, of course the GNU project and the toolchain predate Linux itself. What I'm saying is that Linux is what has brought the FOSS thing to where it is today, and it brought everything else along for the ride. Without GNU Linux would have taken a lot longer to push out; without Linux GNU would not have had the visibility and maturity that it has today. The FSF would not have nearly the same pull as it has today. It's a symbiotic relationship, and the "you must call it GNU/Whatever" crap from Stallman doesn't help. That's all.

  • Re:Heroes (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Forseti (192792) on Monday November 13, 2006 @05:33PM (#16829242)
    So, under your definition, George Washington and the American revolutionary army could not qualify as freedom fighters since they did not rely solely on diplomatic measures and took up arms, right? Yet, no one can deny that they were fighting for the freedom of themselves and others. I personally don't think they were terrorists, but I can see how the Brits might have seen them that way...

    Is that the point you were trying to make? I think your chosen distinction between the two concepts puts the Taliban and the American revolutionary army in the same boat, and I don't think that's necessarily fair to the Americans.
  • by Endo13 (1000782) on Monday November 13, 2006 @05:33PM (#16829250)
    He may have somewhat worked hard, and he definitely built a business. But he never released a superior product, and his prices have never been reasonable. All MS/Gates/et al have ever been good at is marketing.

    It's quite possible to build a large profitable business without using the despicable tactics used by MS.
  • Re:Sad... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SEMW (967629) on Monday November 13, 2006 @05:41PM (#16829380)
    >People like those deserve such awards. Nelson Mandela, Gorbachev, Thatcher are very prestigious people... Linux does not feed people in Africa and other poor nations, no sirey. His presence on that list dilutes the other recipients prestige.

    Absolutely! Let's all get together and admire the great work Margaret Thatcher did to improve the plight of the poor; both in Africa, and through greatly improved social welfare programs in Britain. And lets not forget her stellar work on the NHS, without which it may not have been the well-funded bastion of easy access to essential healthcare for rich and poor alike that it is today!

    . . .

    ...Oh, wait...



  • Re:Heroes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) on Monday November 13, 2006 @05:48PM (#16829502) Journal
    See, most people understand that there is a huge difference between someone fighting for freedom and someone who calls themselves a freedom fighter to win the support of the mentally weak and susceptible.

    Are you sure? Most people reelected Bush.
  • Re:Heroes (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hdparm (575302) on Monday November 13, 2006 @06:12PM (#16829934) Homepage
    You guessed right. The way you make billions must count for something, too.
  • Re:Heroes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Stalyn (662) on Monday November 13, 2006 @06:18PM (#16830030) Homepage Journal
    I don't want to defend Osama bin Laden but he did issue a fatwa in 1998 listing all his grievances. Plus he has offered a truce several times. I think though you are missing the larger point. History is not a science in which you can determine who is ultimately right and wrong. The people who survive and create the power structures thereafter are those who write the histories and those histories reflect their biases.

    Surely if we Americans had lost the Revolutionary War, George Washington would have been looked upon as a traitor and a rebel. He would have been hanged and the fickle masses would have cheered it.
  • Re:Heroes (Score:3, Insightful)

    by donscarletti (569232) on Monday November 13, 2006 @07:04PM (#16830760)

    To solve the Cuban missile crisis and avert nuclear war we basically abandoned our friends (Turkey) in return for Russia doing the same (Cuba).

    You don't really believe that missiles were in Turkey or Cuba for the benefit of either of those two nations do you? They were there simply to allow a ballistic missile to hit the capital of the other power before they had a chance to react, not for any intrinsic protection of the host nation. Also, neither country was put into danger from withdrawals.

    Also, did anyone really think too much about what the Mujahideen stood for in the '80s apart from getting the Soviets out of Afghanistan? Someone must have known what they were about, since their name literally means "dudes on a jihad". Most of the west got their information from either Regan or Rambo 3, you know when Rambo is fighting Russian tanks and helicopters on horseback and when they are all blown up it ends with a dedication to them. People just thought of them as patriots trying to get an invading force out of their country rather than religious nuts.

  • Re:Heroes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hotdiggitydawg (881316) on Monday November 13, 2006 @08:01PM (#16831554)
    while both parties engage(d) in violence, only one of the two groups had (have) an interest in ending the battle and making the lives of themselves and others better.


    Rubbish. Both sides always want the war to be over, but only as a victory for themselves. The only people who want war to continue is the few who stand to gain from it continuing. I'm sure Muslim extremists think all our lives would be better under a global Islamic caliphate. Personally I disagree, strongly, but I'm not that one-eyed that I can't begin see where they're coming from. They've lost countless numbers of people simply by being at the wrong end of Western (read: US) foreign policy. No doubt there's a bit of tall poppy syndrome there too, but in their eyes the oppressive regime they are fighting against is the West. I'm sure they consider that their actions and principles are righteous and Western ones are evil. You can bet that, if they won next week, the history books 50 years from now would portray suicide bombers as heroes, Western forces in Iraq would be invaders instead of liberators, and Bush would be compared unfavourably with Hitler. One man's freedom fighter is another man's terrorist - it all depends on your point of view. ...and now that I can smell my karma burning anyway (like napalm in the morning), let me put my opinion on the table so the Trolls needn't starve - I hope the US wipes Al Qaeda off the face of the Earth. What they did in New York was inexcusable. I also hope that the Western forces get swiftly booted out of Iraq, causing the people of the Western countries to remove their respective governments, because their presence there is just as inexcusable, and is actually giving terrorists more incentive. The sooner someone knocks off all the warmongers on both sides, the better. But hey, I can say that because I voted for the other guy...
  • by delirium of disorder (701392) on Monday November 13, 2006 @08:11PM (#16831630) Homepage Journal
    This is because genetics works on the level of species, not individuals, and for the species, fairness and reciprocity are more successful strategies than competition. We have to compete with every other species in nature, what sense is there in competing amongst ourselves for survival?

    You aren't quite correct. Yes, it is evolutionarily better for organisms to cooperate, sometimes even at the detriment of the survival of an individual, than it is for everyone to compete to the death, but genetics does not work on the level of the species (or the "group" or the individual). Genetics works at the level of the gene, and this manifests itself in the behavior of the larger categories. An individual organism will tend to help others to the degree that they are genetically related to them (parents help their offspring a great deal, herds are basically a cooperative extended family, members of the same species are less likely to hunt each other than to hunt other species, and symbiosis can even develop across different clades). "fairness and reciprocity" are important behaviors, but in situations that reduce to the prisoner's dilemma, there is a strong incentive for an individual to cheat: to receive the benefit of a altruistic peer, but to not reciprocate. In these situations, the "sucker" organism tends to punish the cheat if they discover it's cheating, at the very least by not helping it in the future, or at most by harming it. Moreover, when it comes down to a choice between the survival of one individual and it's genes or the survival of several distantly related others of the same species--a zero sum game type situation like predators starving due to lack of prey and resorting to cannibalism, evolution will never favor an individual that sacrifices itself "for the good of the species". Please read Richard Dawkin's The Selfish Gene to learn more about situations where evolution must favor competition. If you are looking for situations where genetic survival is favored by cooperation, I recommend Sociobiology or other works by E.O. Wilson.

    People will naturally both compete and cooperate in different situations. I do agree that our society has been shaped by the economic elite to destructively stifle cooperation and encourage competition. I don't know of any corporate leader that deserves to not be called a villain, much less a hero.
  • Re:Heroes (Score:3, Insightful)

    by a.d.trick (894813) on Monday November 13, 2006 @08:41PM (#16831928) Homepage
    freedom fighter, well, fights for freedom for themselves and others

    If only life was that simple. Often there are many motives behind insurgents (desire for freedom, power, revenge, etc). We use the word 'freedom fighter' as a euphamism to describe an insurgent with good motives and 'terrorist' as a dyphamism for an insurgent with bad motives. For example, take the rebels in Chechnya a few years ago. They were fighting for the 'liberation' of Chechnya and caused a lot of collateral damage. The Russians swore that they were terrorists, but the US called them freedom fighters.

  • Re:Heroes (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Xyrus (755017) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @12:04AM (#16833664) Journal
    "Osama would be happy to see that you've swallowed the Islamo-Facist-Propoganda hook, line, and sinker."

    As you've swallowed the the GOP rhetoric I assume. What the hell is an Islamo-Fascist? The term doesn't even make sense! Please show how radical fundamentalists blowing up infrastructure, businesses, and people even remotely resemble fascisim.

    "Most people understand that a freedom fighter, well, fights for freedom for themselves and others."

    Yeah....and....

    "Most people understand that freedom fighters don't fly planes into buildings..."

    In WW2, the Japanese happily gave their lives for their cause. That meant becoming human torpedoes and flying planes into anything that even remotely looked American. If they were closer to us, you could damn well have bet on them strapping explosives to their planes and dive bombing into our cities.

    In fact, if the US wasn't seperated from the rest of the planet by two oceans, we may have gotten a good taste of what total war actually was like. How many our heroes sacrificed themselves by doing actions that under any other circumstances would be consider insane, if not deplorable?

    One could argue, for example, that "most people understand that freedom fighters don't drop nukes on cities". Well guess what, we did. Twice. How many civilians died as a result?

    The typical argument I hear in return was, "Well that's different". No it isn't. We did it because we believed we were fighting for our freedom. We did it because we felt threatened. We did it because it was better than the alternative (a land invasion).

    Who are you to judge someone else's beliefs. How do you know that those that flew into the Trade center felt any less strongly about what they believed in than you did after the trade centers fell?

    Was it right? Hell no. Not by any stretch. But neither was our invasion of Iraq, where far more have died.

    Beliefs in the hands of humans can be very dangerous things.

    "...they don't behead those who don't share their ideology"

    Counterpoint, the French Revolution. A lot of heads rolled in that one.

    "...don't shun the diplomatic processes that could actually lead to freedom"

    Uh, yeah they do. They usually do it when diplomatic methods either fail or yield poor results, usually due to the fact that the opposing entity is much more powerful than you. See American Revolution.

    The other way diplomatic channels fails is if you aren't given one. That seems to happen more often than it should.

    "See, most people understand that there is a huge difference between someone fighting for freedom and someone who calls themselves a freedom fighter to win the support of the mentally weak and susceptible."

    Please. Osama and clan used the same tactics against the Soviet Union, with our aid. We called them freedom fighters at the time.

    People wouldn't follow if they didn't think there were some merits to what Osama et al are preaching. This goes back to the whole "winning the hearts and minds" of the people, which so far we've done an absolutely miserable job. We aren't viewed as friends, we are viewed as occupiers. People are miserable, angry, and afraid. When people get to that state, they rally around someone who is a kindred, shows strength, and leadership. Sort of like how the nation rallied around GW back when the trade towers fell.

    But let's change the situation. Let's say the tables were reversed, and somehow the Iraqis invaded our country and took it over. Let's say they used the same pretenses we did, were just "as careful" to avoid civilian casualties. Let's say a guided missle blew up your house, and several of your close firends and relatives were inside at the time.

    Now take those fellings and add them to the fact that some foriegn force has invaded your homeland. Tell me you wouldn't want to inflict as much harm on the enemy as you possibly could.

    Perspectives and beliefs. Both easily understood, both just as easily misguided. Once enough
  • Tea Parties (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jc42 (318812) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @10:14AM (#16837106) Homepage Journal
    While it's silly to compare the Boston Tea Party to the World Trade Center attack, I've read a number of comparisons between the Boston Tea Party and the Iraq war.

    The Boston Tea Party happpened in response to the UK government giving exclusive licenses to a few companies to trade with the colonies. This effectively locked out businesses in the colonies from engaging in foreign trade. The Boston Tea Party was to send a message like "We won't buy from your companies; we want to run our own companies that hire our people as workers."

    It turns out there's a direct parallel to this in Iraq. The US government has spent a lot of money of "reconstruction", but has refused to hire local contractors who know local conditions and could do the job cheaply with local labor. Rather, the money has gone mostly to big American corporations. Part of the intent of Bush's crowd was to bankrupt the local companies, so that American corporations could buy them cheaply, and Americans would then own much of the Iraqi economy.

    But it has't worked that way. The Iraqis understand quite well what's being done to their economy, and when a company has to lay people off due to lack of business, a significant number of the workers have gone into the resistance. They understand, as did the American revolutionaries, that if their local economy ends up owned and operated by remote corporations, the result will be permanent poverty and servitude. They are primarily fighting a war for their own economic independence.

    American politicians see what they're doing as a "war on terror", but much of the Middle East sees it as an attempted takeover of the Iraqi economy by powerful foreign corporations. This is very much like the story of the Boston Tea Party.

    Just last week, Bush made a comment in a speech that has been ignored by the American media, but widely noticed in the Middle East. He explained that the US has to control the Iraqi oil fields, because otherwise the "terrorists" will end up in control, and they'll be able to affect the US's oil supply. Actually, this remark was noticed in a lot of the world. For example, it might be a tipoff that the US will occupy the Venezuelan oil fields in the near future. (And maybe the North Sea fields after that. ;-) It's further evidence that the war is partly about the economy.

    In both of these historic wars, the actual story is a lot more complex than the grade-school "us against evil them" categorization that you hear in so much politica rhetoric. Political and social independence is part of it, but people have often fought for economic independence, too.

  • Complete rubish. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jotaeleemeese (303437) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @10:40AM (#16837408) Homepage Journal
    When se went embracing people with AIDS for example, she did so during a time of great ignorance about the disease.

    Nobody is perfect, but to try to micro criticize people no matter what is frankly unfair and in some cases dishonest.

A penny saved is a penny to squander. -- Ambrose Bierce

Working...