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Which 'exotic' meat would ESR find the most delicious ?
Sperm Whale 20%
Puffin 0%
Arabian Ocelot 13%
Tawny Owl 6%
Seal 0%
Prezwalski's Horse 0%
Buffalo 0%
Bison 0%
Monkey brains 13%
Human flesh 46%

Votes: 15

 Eric Raymond - Open Source hero ? or Environmental Pariah ?

 Author:  Topic:  Posted:
Jul 13, 2001
While browsing the only reliable source of news in America I came across this disturbing story about the dwindling population of Puffins in the United Kingdom and around the world. It seems as if this cute parrot-like bird may soon be brought to the brink of extinction. According to the BBC's rare bird correspondant "On Lundy Island in the UK's Bristol Channel In 1939, there were 3,500 Puffin pairs but today there are only around 10."

And its not just here that the birds are endangered. Iceland and the Faroe Islands have all noticed a dramatic drop in the puffin population.


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Which is why I was thouroughly disgusted and surprised to read this insensitve story on ESR's web page.

In case you are unaware, ESR is the 'hacker nickname' of Eric Raymond, who has very recently come to prominence as one of the chief advocates of "Open Source" software development.

In the story ESR describes his vacation in Iceland where he stayed in a five star hotel, and gorged himself stupid on a sumptuous meal which included the endangered bird as one the delicacies. I quote:

My entree was a "wild game feast" -- medallions of reindeer, wild goose (Cathy had a wild-goose entree), and puffin. The puffin was the interesting bit; strong-flavored, not unpleasant, but oily.

While ESR's behaviour here was not technically illegal, as a supposed advocate of 'open source' he should hold himself to higher standards than the rest of us.

No doubt he will argue that the Icelanders have been eating puffin for hundreds of years and that he is just joining in an established custom. But is this good enough ? It is interesting to note that he did not sample 'harkarl' - another Icelandic speciality based on the rotten flesh of an (un-endangered species of) shark that has been buried and left to rot for three months. Perhaps he is being a bit hypocritical here.

What enrages me the most however, is that some native peoples of the southern hemisphere will actually eat penguin if they can find it. In fact the penguin is not endangered, so this is as socially acceptable as eating chicken.

Who's to say that one day ESR's travels wont take him to Africa, China, Japan or the south pole?

Is there anything ESR would not eat if it was placed on a plate in front of him ?

Imagine the headlines if one of the USA's top open source advocates was seen chowing down on a roast Penguin (which is the unofficial mascot for the GNU/Linux system. The irony would be almost too much to bear.

It begs the question: is ESR an asset or a liability for the "open source" movement ? Perhaps it's time he stood down, and let someone with better judgement (and a bit more respect for the endangered species of our planet) take his place. He seems to be tarnishing the very community he claims to serve with his hypocritical attitudes.


Puffins & so-called Animal Lovers (5.00 / 1) (#1)
by bc on Fri Jul 13th, 2001 at 05:07:49 PM PST
The poor puffin is a much ignored bird. If it were as cute as a penguin or capercaille, no doubt it would not need to worry for its livelihood. Animal lovers and people in general only seem to worry about creatures that have the right anthropomorphic credentials. Raised on works such as 'Brer Rabbits a Rascal' by Enid Blyton and Animal Farm, that cutesy tale of Orwell's, they apply absurd standards to the animal Kingdom.

Have a cute nose? Or pretty paws? Not to worry. But if you have scales, slime or any fluid excretions then as far as the urban animal lovers are concerned you can go to hell.

It is a pity people are so swayed by the appearance of a creature. Did anyone weep for the lesser spotted Slime Toad when it tossed off its mortal coil? No! But as soon as an orchid or penguin is threatened whole countries go up in arms about it.

I would like to see an organisation devoted to caring for the put-upon members of the natural world formed. An organisation to defend such maligned organisms as the smallpox virus, the cockroach and various Stick Insects and Bats.

If the urban animal lovers won't defend them, pretending the creatures popularised by Disney, who will?

♥, bc.

what???? (none / 0) (#2)
by motherfuckin spork on Fri Jul 13th, 2001 at 08:39:57 PM PST
While ESR's behaviour here was not technically illegal, as a supposed advocate of 'open source' he should hold himself to higher standards than the rest of us.

nice leap of logic there, pal... I'm not sure how in your little mind these things equate, but you really need to get in touch with reality.

Open source software and endangered birds really have very little in common, with the miniscule exception of linux adopting the penguin.

Yes, it saddens me that puffins are having a hard go at it out in the wild. Yes, I think its dumb for people to eat puffin, even at a 5-star hotel. But being an open source supporter, advocate, even guru, does not make one some sort of super-human morally upright individual. You're making the same mistake that people have with sports figures: all because they can hit home runs, make slam dunks, or run touchdowns does not necessarily make them an icon for higher moral standards.


I am not who you think I am.

ESR recently coming to prominence??? (none / 0) (#3)
by Anonymous Reader on Sat Jul 14th, 2001 at 12:23:44 PM PST
Raymond has long been a player in the open source scene. Do some research next time and then at least your facts will have some base instead of a bloated opinion piece on whether or not people should eat an "endangered" bird. Animals die. Circle of life? Hello...

He hasn't (none / 0) (#4)
by Anonymous Reader on Sat Jul 14th, 2001 at 12:38:04 PM PST
ESR's grinning features first popped up from the parapets only a few years ago. Sure, he may have done some substandard programs before that, like fetchmail, but he didn't sieze an entree into the world of gasbag journo articles and sleeping corporate directorships until a few short years ago.

Either that or you are young and immature and don't really understand what a 'long time' is.

As I understand it, he STOLE the JARGON FILE. (none / 0) (#5)
by Anonymous Reader on Sun Jul 15th, 2001 at 01:40:35 PM PST
Raymond first came to prominence when he stole the 'Jargon File' and published it as a 'for-profit' book. He then became villified in the Usenet community, where to this day, people still know him as 'that fucking asshole wanker Raymond who stole the jargon file'.


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