Avoiding Problems by Avoiding Decisions

Andreas Pour pour at mieterra.com
Fri May 14 03:14:01 BST 2004

George Staikos wrote:

[ ... ]

> > I admit however that such a pragmatic solution is not without costs,
> > besides this rediculous discussion, there are consequences elsewhere.
> > Recently the Debian maintainer Herbert Xu  left the Debian project, because
> > during an equally heated discussion it was pointed out that some Debian
> > packages, namely kcontrol, already called Taiwan: Taiwan.
> > But like in the case with Niel Stevens, we can't really be responsible for
> > the lack of tolerance in extremists developers.
>    Ok I can only judge by these responses that what I am saying is not clear.
>    1) We do not have the right to decide who is and who is not a country, nor
> do we have the ability or facilities to determine this ourselves. Nor can we
> determine what they should be called.  Period.  I don't see -how- you can
> debate this.  We may have this one day (when there is no more code to
> write?), but we most definitely don't now.

It's very simple:  call people what they ask to be called.  You want to be
called George Staikos, so that is what I call you.  I don't argue with you about
it, or claim my uncle was named "George" and you have no right to take his name.

Deferring to the ISO standard, which is simply a regurgitation of the UN names,
means calling people what they do not want to be called, which IMO is far worse
than offending officious meddlers.

>    2) We are hypocrites if we decide to ignore a standards body such as ISO
> because we want to make a political statement (which is -exactly- what it is
> when we make our own country list and edit it as we feel fit to do), but them
> complain that software companies don't follow open standards.

Software standards are meant to allow binary programs to interoperate.  

If you want to standardize non-technological issues, then let's decide what is
the official dictionary of each i18n language and make sure all i18n strings
comply with those ;-).

>    3) I don't care what that list says about Taiwan, Greece, Macedonia,
> Canada, or any other country.  If I have a problem with it, I'll take it to
> ISO. 

I cannot take you seriously.

Here's a test, though:  why don't you propose Iraq be renamed to "Iraq, Occupied
Territories of", mutatis mutandi for Afghanistan and Chechnya, and see how far
you get?

> If you don't like the standard, take it to ISO, or create your own
> proper standard with the other opensource projects.  If I have a problem with
> the design of email, which I do, I don't rework kmail to follow my own
> standard instead because I think it's better.  I would propose my changes in
> an RFC or similar.

Country names are inherently political.  Is there a Tibet on the ISO list?  No
(though I realize it is also missing from the KDE locale list), I guess, they
will have to pick "China" for their locale, sorry, Tibetans, you lose!

>    So, I propose taking an international standard and basing a [controversial]
> decision on that, irrespective of content, and I am declared to be acting in
> national interest of various countries.  Meanwhile, the accusers insist on
> retaining full control of the contents simply so that they can -arbitrarily-
> dictate who is included on the list, who is not, and what they will be
> called.  *wow*

Picking the name, a people chooses for itself, is not "arbitrary".



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