A Simple One

Nothing fancy. 

Teacher writes to the founder of the Helios project "which brings Linux to school kids in Austin."

 "Mr. Starks, I am sure you strongly believe in what you are doing but I cannot either support your efforts or allow them to happen in my classroom. At this point, I am not sure what you are doing is legal. No software is free and spreading that misconception is harmful. … This is a world where Windows runs on virtually every computer and putting on a carnival show for an operating system is not helping these children at all. I am sure if you contacted Microsoft, they would be more than happy to supply you with copies of an older version of Windows and that way, your computers would actually be of service to those receiving them…"

"Starks pens an eloquent reply, which contains a factoid I have not seen mentioned before: "The fact that you seem to believe that Microsoft is the end all and be-all is actually funny in a sad sort of way. Then again, being a good NEA member, you would spout the Union line. Microsoft has pumped tens of millions of dollars into your union. Of course you are going to 'recommend' Microsoft Windows."

I'll leave the question of eloquence aside, but the screaming ad hominem circumstantial is something a Logic teacher with an exam to write must love.

8 thoughts on “A Simple One”

  1. Actually the whole thing begs the question as to why, in an environment like the public school system - that tends to be overwhelmingly dominated by Apple products – Microsoft is the subject of debate instead of the Apple o/s?

  2. A nice example of Impugning Motives, viz: “…Then again, being a good NEA member, you would spout the Union line. Microsoft has pumped tens of millions of dollars into your union. Of course you are going to ‘recommend’ Microsoft Windows.”

  3. Uh, unless the kids are going to be A) learning sysadmin materials, or B) stuck without a basic GUI like KDE or Gnome, then the choice of OS is utterly irrelevant.  OpenOffice is a worthy replacement for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, and that should be all the kids need.

    Pointless squabble.

  4. “Actually the whole thing begs the question as to why, in an environment like the public school system… ”

    I would expect in a forum devoted to logical analysis that someone would point out that the common usage of “begs the question” as a synonym for something like “invites the question” is incorrect usage of formal logical terminology. In a logical context, “begging the question” means restating the question in a different form as the answer.

    For example, if you ask “Why do college students eat so much pizza?” and then answer “Because it’s their favorite food” –that is begging the question.

  5. And it means more than that as well Glenn.  But I would say by now that form of “begs the question” has become common usage, however wrong in a strict logical sense.  I would add that the example you give (about pizza) is not an example of begging the question.  The fact that college students eat a lot of pizza does not obviously entail that it’s their favorite food.  While that may not be a very satisfying answer, it doesn’t beg the question (as stated).

  6. jcasey,
    I accept that the technical definition is more complex.
    Perhaps my example would be more acceptable in this form:
    Students like pizza because it is their favorite food.

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