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Advogato post for 2000-07-18 19:53:02

Whoa, with all that brain activity about freedom, I forgot to write the diary entry I actually wanted to write.

To­day's top­ic is one that prob­a­bly has nev­er been cov­ered in ad­voga­to (and there are more of those ;-): Alexan­dre Du­mas (père).

Why? Be­cause I late­ly see him ev­ery­where. For one thing, a few weeks ago, I watched a movie. I think the eng­lish ti­tle is "the ninth gate". That movie, while ap­par­ent­ly a books and demons sort of thriller with Mr. Dep­p, is based in a book by a guy called Pérez-Re­verte.

Now, that book is way bet­ter than the movie. In fac­t, it's one of the bet­ter books I've read in the last year or so, and I read a lot.

The book is called... El Club Du­mas. Which in eng­lish means rough­ly the same thing as in span­ish.

Now, I can un­der­stand why Ro­man Polan­sky would throw away half of the book (The Du­mas half) and keep the oth­er half (the dev­il's half), and mak­ing a movie based on the book would prob­a­bly be im­pos­si­ble oth­er­wise, but hey, it still suck­s.

Why does it suck? Be­cause the Du­mas side of the book is way bet­ter. It's fun. It has a plot. Or two plot­s. It has char­ac­ter­s. It has great di­a­log. The dev­il's half is, well, about the dev­il, and about book­s. Old book­s.

And I pre­fer the Du­mas half, be­cause it has a ghost of the re­al thing. That re­al thing be­ing, of course, Du­mas' work.

I had read Du­mas when I was a kid, and I thought it was fun­ny, and that I had out­grown it, un­til one day, two years ago, I felt a ir­re­sistible urge to buy a 1300 page mam­moth called "The Count of Mon­te­cristo".

In the first 120 pages or so, it has, love, pol­i­tics (with Napoleon!), evil schem­ing, pris­on, drugs, es­capes from pris­on, sex, re­li­gion, loy­al­ty, be­tray­al, and, the most im­por­tant thing, it's so much fun you don't even care about the stranger part­s.

I re­mem­ber a ar­ti­cle in Sa­lon a while ago, like a de­fense of the plot in lit­er­a­ture, against style. And Du­mas is the great­est ex­am­ple of why that makes sense. The style is not bad, mind you, but it's func­tion­al to the plot. Char­ac­ters in a Du­mas book ex­ist to do things. They make de­ci­sion­s, they try to ad­vance to their goal­s, they push and kill and fuck each oth­er as if their lifes de­pend­ed on it, and well, as far as a char­ac­ter has a life, does­n't it de­pend on it?

And then I re­al­ized the bad luck Du­mas' books have had when turned in­to movies. And I can't un­der­stand why. Af­ter al­l, they have ev­ery­thing to make good, or at least fun, movies. They have gun­s, ex­plo­sion­s, sce­nar­ios, ac­tion, and sex! Ask Pe­ter Drag­on to make one!

But last night I saw The Man in the Iron Mask on TV. Oh, man.

Ok, I un­der­stand that noone could make a movie about the man in the iron mask with the orig­i­nal ti­tle (The Viz­coun­t(sp?) of Bragelon­ne), be­cause peo­ple would mis­take it for a Mer­chan­t-Ivory movie.

I un­der­stand that they had to make Leonar­do di­Caprio in­to Louis XIV. Hey, he's not so bad at it, even. He does look like a bland in­breed with an at­ti­tude prob­lem.

I ac­cept that they had to cast 3 ac­tors from UK and the US as mous­ke­teer­s, and that they had to fake french ac­cents (why? the au­di­ence would­n't no­tice it is set is France if they did­n't?)

I can ac­cept the way they to­tal­ly screwed the char­ac­ter of Athos' son, turn­ing him in­to a mo­ron.

What I can't ac­cept is the end­ing.

In the book, Athos dies of grief. Porthos dies sav­ing his friend­s. Aramis (who is NOT, for christ's sake, the se­cret gen­er­al of the je­suit­s) re­tires to a monastery, D'Artag­nan dies many years lat­er in the siege of Maas­tricht (to match the death of the re­al D'Artag­nan), and Louis XiV win­s.

It's a very sad end­ing. But it ac­tu­al­ly makes sense. You don't go and re­place the king of a coun­try, get caught and then get away with it, sad as it may be.

The movie? Oh, well, let's see, the man in the iron mask be­comes king, Athos, Porthos and Aramis be­come his coun­selors, Athos gets the (new) king as a (new) son, as if it was a new gold­fish to re­place the flushed one, and the on­ly one that dies is D'Artag­nan, but he dies sav­ing ev­ery­one else, so it does­n't mat­ter.

Oh, and D'Artag­nan is re­vealed to be the fa­ther (with An­na of Aus­tri­a) of Louis XIV (and the man in the iron mask). Why was that? Some­one saw "The em­pire strikes back" while draft­ing the scrip­t?

And it's not the first time. Mon­sieur Du­mas has (ok, no, he's dead) seen many movie ver­sion­s, and each one mas­sa­cred the books in sim­i­lar ways.

And here I am, hop­ing one day some­one will burn 120 mil­lion bucks in a 5 hour epic called "The viz­count of Bragelon­ne".

With peo­ple speak­ing with­out ac­cents. Or in french, or with a re­al french ac­cen­t. And where ev­ery­one dies in the end.

Advogato post for 2000-07-18 18:57:16

Hey, first time I see a reply to one of my diary entries ;-)

Ste­fan: the free­dom of the de­vel­op­er is para­mount. If noth­ing else, be­cause the de­vel­op­er is the pro­duc­er. You know, the land is for those who work on it, and such ;-)

Be­sides, say­ing that the GPL de­fends the rights of the us­er fight­ing the rights of the de­vel­op­ers and dis­trib­u­tors still sounds a bit fishy for a few rea­son­s.

a) It pre­sumes there is a firm bound­ary be­tween one side and the oth­er. Pre­sum­ably, one of the free­doms grant­ed to users by any­thing that can be called free soft­ware, is the right to cross that bound­ary!

b) I don't see where the GPL ac­tu­al­ly pro­tects the rights of the us­er in a way BS­DL does­n't. Let's take a pro­gram called pro­gA, un­der the BS­DL. The us­er has more rights over it than over a progB un­der the GPL.

The usu­al GPL ad­vo­cate re­sponse is that if some evil com­pa­ny takes pro­gA and pro­pri­eta­rizes it, the user's free­dom di­min­ish­es. Well, AFAIC­S, it does­n't, since pro­gA is still just as free as it was.

Then, it must be as­sumed that the evil com­pa­ny ac­tu­al­ly IM­PROVES pro­gA while pro­pri­eta­riz­ing it. In that case, the free­dom is on­ly im­proved by a hy­po­thet­i­cal GPL ver­sion of it, if the GPL ver­sion would be bet­ter than what the BS­DL ver­sion would be, per­haps by forc­ing the Evil Com­pa­ny (T­M) to im­prove it and keep the im­prove­ments GPL (mak­ing it a Not Evil Com­pa­ny (t­m)).

That is so be­cause if the GPL ver­sion would be no bet­ter than the BS­DL ver­sion, the avail­able free­dom is:

A) Free­dom to use the BS­DL ver­sion or the pro­pri­etary one (pay­ing)

B) Free­dom to use the GPL ver­sion.

There­fore, if the BS­DL ver­sion is as good as the GPL ver­sion, free­doms in A) and B) is at least equiv­a­len­t.

Now, as­sum­ing that all that hoopla about the cathe­dral and the bazaar was ac­tu­al­ly cor­rec­t, should­n't the free BS­DL ver­sion im­prove at least at the same rate as the pro­pri­etry ver­sion? (Or the GPL ver­sion, for that mat­ter).

And when con­front­ed with the al­ter­na­tive be­tween a very free and a pro­pri­etary ver­sions of pro­grams that are ba­si­cal­ly just as good as each oth­er (per­haps the free one be­ing bet­ter), should­n't the pro­pri­etary ver­sion be marginal­ized?

So, we end, it seem­s, in a strange de­ci­sion. Ei­ther open soft­ware de­vel­op­ment is not re­al­ly bet­ter, or copy­left­ing is not re­al­ly bet­ter.

At least that's the way I see it, and I de­cid­ed to drop copy­left­ing, be­cause if it is not any bet­ter, it lacks any rea­son to be. Open de­vel­op­ment at least has oth­er good sec­ondary ef­fect­s.

Fi­nal pre­emp­tive re­buke: yes, I could keep on do­ing both things, even if one was ap­par­ent­ly use­less. But I am start­ing to find copy­left­ing moral­ly in­fe­ri­or (there was a good ar­ti­cle about ethics and free soft­ware a while ago).

So, when I find some­thing both moral­ly in­fe­ri­or, and in­ef­fec­tive, to me it's time to drop it.

Advogato post for 2000-07-17 16:40:29

The CVS logs today were impressive. Amazing what a dozen guys in a log cabin can do :-)

Ap­par­ent­ly there is yet an­oth­er fork of khtm­l, the viewml projec­t. Luck­i­ly, it's not near­ly as de­struc­tive as the gtkhtml one was, but it would be cool if these could just be avoid­ed :-P

Advogato post for 2000-07-12 19:03:06

I'm getting involved in a large thread in gnu.misc.discuss.

It is, in a way, fun­ny. The usu­al clue­less key­word drop­pers are there (jedi, for ex­am­ple), but al­so some smart guys (Dyson).

The short ver­sion is that ap­par­ent­ly Dyson and a cou­ple of oth­ers made a rather thought pro­vok­ing state­men­t: "The GPL is not free", and are de­fend­ing it.

The usu­al wis­dom about it is that such a po­si­tion is in­de­fen­si­ble, yet IMHO they are do­ing just fine.

I just snip from the side­lines point­ing out the in­ter­nal in­con­sis­ten­cies be­tween peo­ple who sus­tain the op­pos­ing po­si­tion (that the GPL is ac­tu­al­ly free).

I got sev­er­al in­ter­est­ing re­spons­es, like "of course the GPL does­n't pre­vent link­ing GPL and non-G­PL soft­ware".

Strange­ly, as soon as I point out that the FSF says it does, a cou­ple of posters fall off the sub­thread, and get re­placed by a cou­ple of new posters say­ing that it does.

Then I point ways in which that po­si­tion makes the GPL non-free, and the re­verse hap­pens :-)

So, my per­son­al guess is that it's im­pos­si­ble for a sin­gle per­son to main­tain both halves of that po­si­tion at the same time with­out in­ter­nal con­flic­t.

Advogato post for 2000-07-11 17:59:02

Ok, now I know the difference between brazilians and the rest of us.

When they say "tris­teza não tem fin", they ac­tu­al­ly are sur­prised.

Man, am I blue late­ly. It rain­s, it's cold, it's over­cast, and I'm lone­ly. I should get a cat. Oop­s, I have one al­ready.

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