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October 15, 2003

More than g

Wired has a long profile of Linux dictator Linus Torvalds. Note the contrast with Richard Stallman as far as personability. Though Stallman is probably the more brilliant individual, it is Torvalds who is more prominent because of his people skills. The point is that Torvalds is smart, but he combines it with a personality that is often lacking in his social set (brilliant programmers). Stallman, though he is probably even a brighter mind, is an ass.

On a note about Torvalds' saintliness, it might be interesting to note that Finland has been ranked as the least corrupt country for many years now, but this from a nation with is home to Nokia. My point is that Linus is not an anti-capitalist radical (like Stallman), but he is pretty averse to corruption or its perception.

Posted by razib at 12:34 PM




I read the article in Wired, which was interesting. Linus' self-effacing personality does serve him well (a little reminiscent of Walt Disney's management style perhaps).
BTW, how does your link provide evidence that Stallman is a total ass (not that I disagree necessarily)? It's a relatively mundane Amazon listing for one of his books...

Posted by: bbartlog at October 15, 2003 01:33 PM


Yes, - in fact based on the limited info I have I tend to agree that he's just as you both describe him. All I was saying is that the provided link doesn't really justify its label (or provide any evidence of Stallman's character at all, really).

Posted by: bbartlog at October 15, 2003 01:53 PM


Razib: "On a note about Torvalds' saintliness, it might be interesting to note that Finland has been ranked as the least corrupt country for many years now, but this from a nation with is home to Nokia. "

?????
Please explain, Razib, the part about Nokia. Do you mean that Finland thrives because of its lack of corruption?

Posted by: eufreunio at October 15, 2003 02:53 PM


I think that one of the reasons social democracy has survived in Scandinavia is that all those peoples are sort of stodgy, humorless, and moralistic about corruption, cheating, etc. There are many cultures which admire successful conmen and successful crooks, but not Scandinavia.

Pushing my argument a little farther, a certain proportion of the moderate number of crooks I have known in my time were politically conservative and anti-welfare-state, but at the same time felt not only justified in ripping off welfare-state programs, but almost obligated to do so.

Just to keep the argument from getting too heated, yeah, I've know left-wing and liberal crooks too.

Posted by: Zizka at October 15, 2003 03:57 PM


I'm sure that THIS Torvald is a prince of a guy, but when I read the words "Torvald's saintliness" I can't help but think of the chauvanistic husband in Ibsen's "The Dollhouse". I'm sure he's been teased about it.

"He's a political wingnut who demonizes anyone with a different point of view. The world is black and white to him - no shades of gray."

Maybe Stallman should have immigrated to America and become a pundit. Anne Coulter and Michael Moore have taken these qualities to the bank.

Posted by: duende at October 15, 2003 04:30 PM


GC writes:
The axiom of equality cannot be challenged in the media, and only stories that assume its truth are printed

Hm, so what do you call this blog? I think your thesis is strongest when applied to broadcast TV, where the need for deep-pocketed sponsors and federal licensing combines to create a really non-radical and consumerist viewpoint. Radio is next in its breadth of viewpoints (again the need for sponsorship and regulatory approval, then print media, and finally the internet. The pattern is that as the cost of expressing the opinion increases, the radical voices get sidelined by the commercial sponsors.

Posted by: bbartlog at October 15, 2003 06:38 PM


Godless -- as I've said elsewhere, if you wanted to send all liberals to Hell, wouldn't you put them in English departments? Aren't humanities profs about as powerless as you can get while still living indoors?

As for reporters -- publishers, who control the agenda, are much more conservative. Reporters, who do the actual work and have access to the facts, tend to be more liberal (though the stories as printed don't always show it, because of the aforementioned publishers). This knife cuts both ways.

To me Berkeley, taken as a whole, is at a much higher level of integrity and scholarly power than the Heritage foundation, etc. Even supposing that there's bias in both places, there are scholarly controls in the university not present in think tanks. For example -- as I understand, John Lott still has a job though he's been caught in lots of inaccuracy and fudging whereas Bellesiles really has been canned.

As for the axiom of equality -- you guys do have a long row to hoe to get that rejected. I'm not exactly going to be helping you out on this project, though I think that y'all have definitely got a bum rap on these questions. During your recent flood of visits from some of your less-appealing "friends", I think that maybe you guys got a better idea why a lot of us are not eager to have this particular can of worms opened.

Posted by: Zizka at October 15, 2003 07:58 PM


Duende -

Last I checked, Stallman was an American...

Posted by: jimbo at October 15, 2003 08:01 PM


One indication of what the problems are is that the kind of stuff people here are doing or want to do is NOT going to be seen in the media, but the Rush Limbaugh / Michael Savage lowbrow jokey nastiness WILL be. To me, when Limbaugh said to some guy with a black accent "Take the bone out of your nose and call back", that was not an expression of you guys' point of view. But what do I know?

Posted by: Zizka at October 15, 2003 08:02 PM


During your recent flood of visits from some of your less-appealing "friends", I think that maybe you guys got a better idea why a lot of us are not eager to have this particular can of worms opened.

In other words, you are saying that truth should be concealed whenever its profesors are politically unsavoury (in the sight of you and your friends).

Posted by: Sporon at October 15, 2003 08:30 PM


"Last I checked, Stallman was an American..."

stallman even endorses Kucinch for President:
http://www.stallman.org/

Posted by: Jason Soon at October 15, 2003 10:13 PM


yeah, i meant to link to be to a salon article (fixed it). blogging on the run (i admit i have less time to blog recently, and that will presist for the next few weeks, apologia ahead of time if i mess up more often ;) the reason that GNU never became what it was supposed to be, to some extent, what linux has become, is because of stallman's personality from what i hear....

Posted by: razib at October 15, 2003 10:38 PM


yeah, people like stallman are going to contribute a lot of the details in any given technical field-and stallman likes to point out that a lot of stuff out of GNU is integrated into the standard linux distros. that being said, the people who have to duct tape these things together, package and present them to the public, etc. tend to have different personalities.

a problem in many specialist fields is that the real leading lights tend to be less well known than those with more people skills and more accessible erudition (ie; scholarship rather than scientific breakthroughs). so, the public thinks that s.j. gould is a great biologist, that bill gates and linus torvalds are the greatest programmers, etc. etc.

Posted by: razib at October 16, 2003 12:36 AM


Sporon -- my perception was that godless and razib felt uncomfortable with the prospect of spending very much time with White Nationalists. Not just because it was bad PR, but because White Nationalists are seldom much fun and are not always terribly impressive specimens of humanity. Not usually rocket scientists, if you get my bigoted drift.

It's very difficult to talk about race without rousing age-old ethnic identies and resentments which tend to confuse and politicize the issue. One side of that is liberal politically correct rejection, and the other is redneck bigot support. (Even Dienekes, who's very sharp, seems to drift into Greek nationalism at times.)

The thing I like about GNXP is obviously not the racial realism; there's lots of other stuff here. Even so, I've damaged my reputation in some circles by hanging out here.

This is all off-topic, but I'm responding to godless.

Posted by: Zizka at October 16, 2003 07:29 AM


I think that one of the reasons social democracy has survived in Scandinavia is that all those peoples are sort of stodgy, humorless, and moralistic about corruption, cheating, etc. There are many cultures which admire successful conmen and successful crooks, but not Scandinavia.

Moralistic, yes -- but humorless, no way. Oh, okay, maybe the Finns. Personally, I get all my humorlessness from my American side of the family :)

Thanks, Razib, for your basic point ("More than g").

Posted by: Claudia at October 17, 2003 05:06 AM


A friend of mine was married into a Finnish-American family. He said that their idea of a warm conversation was "Please pass the butter". Finns seem to be the most taciturn people in the world, except on their Nokia phones.

Posted by: Zizka at October 17, 2003 09:38 AM