Lee Daniel Crocker

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I am a professional computer programmer, semi-pro poker player, amateur philosopher (specifically a devotee of Karl Popper), and a dilettante at just about everything else. More details and more up-to-date information can be found on my personal pages, which also use the Wiki software. You can send email to lee@piclab.com, or to lcrocker@nupedia.com (Please use the latter address for Wikipedia and Nupedia related matters).

Because I am skeptical of the value of intellectual property law in general and copyrights in particular, I explicitly place all creative works original to me in the public domain. If you see an article here that looks like it was primarily written by me (such as ASCII, poker, copyright, and many related pages), and you wish to use it in a way not permitted by the GNU Free Documentation License, contact me. I may have a public domain version containing only my work which I will happily give you. I intend to put much of that on my personal Wiki.


Notes

It seems to be an emerging Wikipedia tradition to place personal notes at the end of a person's page. I hereby encourage that tradition, and invite all to do so here. I do ask as a matter of courtesy that you not check the "This change is a minor edit" box if you add or change content--doing so makes a "stealth" change that doesn't show up in the RecentChanges list, so I won't be aware of the change unless I check periodically.


Welcome, Lee! -- Larry Sanger


Hi, Lee! I just visited your homepage, and I got an immediate sense of Deja Vu. I've been there, recently, and so I now wonder how and why. I don't think it was in connection with Wikipedia, but maybe I'm mistaken!

Are you interested in TheSingularity?

Yep, I'm an active Extropian, so you may have found me through various Extropian/transhumanist/sigularity sites. You may also have run across me in connection with Freenet, or perhaps with the PNG graphics file format of which I am a co-inventor. I'm sure I'm linked in other places as well--I've been on the web as long as there's been a web to be on.

Your work on the United States Constitution page is stunning. Wow. --Jimbo Wales


I've found out that the best way to obtain a page about something is to begin the page, and someone like Lee will finish it ;)


Great Job with the Poker pages!


Did you read a book titled The Professor and the Madman? Well, you should. It is about the Wikipedia project, only 150 years earlier.

Yes; for those unfamiliar with the work, it's ISBN 006099486X, the story of the making of the Oxford English Dictionary and one of its most prolific early contributors, Dr. W. C. Minor, who was at the time imprisoned in the Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum. I second the recommendation. I'll have to write a page about the OED. Pity its 1928 copyright hasn't expired, it would be a wonderful source of info here.

You've been keeping me honest, I see. So far you've corrected one "egregious" assumption I made (Copyright/Berne Convention) as well as an omission (My Fair Lady) and a misremembrance (Computer Mouse/trackball). Point taken, even if you didn't mean one. :-) In future I'll be more careful.

I do admire your arguments in re: intellectual property quite a lot. (But at present I can't find the link, I'm afraid.) --KQ

Rest assured that I'm not picking on you--indeed I'm glad you're adding so much useful stuff. You just happen to be adding things in subjects I know a lot about, so naturally I tend to edit them. Creating an initial page is a great way to induce people like me to flesh them out.

I didn't take offense. As the saying goes, "if the shoe fits, wear it." The shoe fit. I haven't been discouraged from writing; I've just been busy lately, and not suffering insomnia. :-) I will continue to cut and paste the CIA info, as well as writing on movies and so forth when I have more time. And here's an article I think you'll find interesting, if outrageous: http://www.uniontrib.com/news/uniontrib/sun/news/news_1n13own.html :-D


Thanks for the explanation about memes. Now I understand the issue much more better. And sorry for the (little bit) strong language I used. ErdemTuzun

Thanks, I thought I might have been too strong in my criticism of your text. That's one of the things I love about Wikipedia--the more crontribtors argue and edit each other, the better the final result is.

LDC, your knowledge of poker is amazing! Have you competed in any tournaments?--KQ

Many, including one of the smaller World Series events ($1500 Stud High-Low in 2000). I played professionally for about a year in Vegas, and again for about six months in California, but I've never done well enough to earn nearly as much as I do being a computer geek. But at least I'll get some good articles out of it (many more to come).

You must be quite good if you can play professionally at all. But why not combine your two careers and play Bill Gates? ;-)

Oddly, Gates only plays casually at low stakes. I've seen him at the Mirage playing $3/$6 Texas hold'em, while I was playing $15/$30. I once calculated that if Mr. Gates decided to play with $1,000,000 chips, he would still be risking a smaller percentage of his net worth than I do regularly. I don't think I'll argue with how he chooses to invest his money--he seems to be making the right choices in that regard.

Lee, I admire your article about Karl Popper. You've inspired me to learn more about him. Are you familiar with the work of Michael Polanyi? I'm wondering how he compares with Popper. <>< Tim Chambers

I'll take a look, but at first glance I don't see much in common. Polanyi seems a bit too mystical for my tastes. Popper was, as am I, firmly dedicated to the idea that some explanations of reality and methods for discovering it are most definitely superior to others, and that proper application of the human mind and reason can discern which. He was not interested in any "synthesis" of religious and scientific thought, but rather in putting each in its proper place, and using the right tools for the job: religion may be useful for providing a basis for human values, but it is useless for determining how the world works, and vice versa. Likewise, religion might tell us what kind of society we want to live in, but only science and rational thought can determine the best way to achieve it.

Since you moved GUI/History to History of the GUI, etc., would you mind adding an appropriate link from History of the GUI to the main GUI entry (and do the same for History of Microsoft Windows and History of the Internet)? What was the motivation for not having them be subpages? --The Cunctator

Oops, I thought I fixed up the links, but I'll take another look and make sure they all work. I moved them to top-level pages because they are independent topics. Using subpages to enforce a conceptual child/parent child relationship upon two independent topics runs counter the Wikipedia design goal of not imposing any particular structure or category scheme on information. These pages also didn't benefit from the one use I have used subpages extensively for, and that is to be able to cross-link various jargon terms within a subject context. I'd like to move away from doing that as well, and I have suggested one way to do it, but until that's implemented I think that's one case where ease of editing wins out over conceptual cleanliness.

Maybe "\talk" is for smalltalk...:)


Oups, slip up! Just to used to using my own second first name (strange notion that :-) I guess. Sorry man! --Anders Törlind


Thanks so much for cleaning up and adding information to my draft at writing the Blackjack article. It didn't take you long, either--I posted my article (which was a an almost total rewrite of someone else's article that didn't say a lot and was actually inaccurate), and an hour later there were your changes! Thanks to your modfications, it is well formatted and covers the bases well that I had left out.

Thanks; your article seemed complete and organized enough to be worth editing.

Hey, Lee--I'll bet we could get a lot of new traffic and participants by soliciting links for your Poker pages here. What do you think? I could do this, or help do it. --LMS

I'm just about to add twenty-odd pages I've been working on. As soon as I do, I think they'll have enough content to invite commentary, and I will certainly solicit links and comments. I already mentioned the pages once on rec.gambling.poker with little interest, but certainly some other sites could use a good reference to point to.

With reference to American and British English Differences, are you saying that the term "driving license" is used in the US? My impression (although it may be wrong), was that the US term was "driver's license" (or maybe "driver license" in some states). --Zundark, 2001 Sep 27

No, you're generally correct about American usage. I'm saying the difference bewteen "driver's" and "driving" is so trivial that it doesn't merit being called a vocabulary difference; it's simply a minor usage difference, even less than one might find between cities of the same country. Some states might well use "driving license", I don't know, but it would neither surprize me nor confuse me in the least. Some states do use "operator's license", for example. Things like "lorry" and "snog" deserve mention because they might actually cause Americans considerable confusion (not to mention "fanny" and "fag"!), but I can't imagine any American not immediately understanding what a "driving licence" is.
Is British English that unfamiliar to Americans? --Robert Merkel
Far more so than American English is to Britons. After all, we export a lot more television shows and movies to that side of the pond than they do here. A typical American might have heard or have some vague recollection of terms like "petrol" and "barrister", but might be completely ignorant of words like "pram" or "bollocks". And if you asked a typical American where you could find a pack of fags, he'd point you toward a gay bar. Even those who have spent hours watching Monty Python reruns would still be confused by obscure things like "sticking plaster". There's just not enough incentive to learn, and they're certainly never taught.

Hi, thanks for the warm welcome! Dr.scientist is the DJ name I spin under, kind of a coded reference to doing research and digging for obscure music. Ironically, it's also fairly self-depricating in context. If you were part of the culture involved, you'd get it. I'll be sure to seek out your approval if I decide to become a real-to-life doctor or scientist, though! --Dr.scientist


You wrote elsewhere:

...honesty is more important than politeness, and a thick skin is more valuable than a civil tongue. Tolerance is an obligation of listeners, not speakers. That's how to get the most effective communications. --LDC

I respectfully disagree that tolerance is only an obligation of listeners. I don't think we can reasonably be expected to take abuse with smiles on our faces. I don't want to live in that kind of world. In my world, politeness among adults is expected, and rude people are rightly socially castigated. Politeness in communication entails both polite speaking and sympathetic listening.

Honesty at the expense of politeness is almost never a virtue. Why think so? There are almost always ways of communicating thoughts with reasonable clarity and honesty that do not insult the listener. There is a name for the virtue of stating what you mean without causing offense; it's called "diplomacy." I think we could use more of it on Wikipedia. (That's why I've been dwelling on this issue lately so much in my comments on the website.)

In thinking about these issues I often come back to how many women are likely to react to our more emotional antics on Wikipedia. It's not surprising that there are so few of them here. They really don't want to have their noses bitten off just for stating their opinion. As long as we have people who regard rudeness as their right, the women will continue to stay away. I personally love women and I wish there were more of them here.

--Larry Sanger

To me, effective communication among humans is exactly the same as for robust computer networking protocols: be conservative in what you produce, and liberal in what you accept. That minimizes the chance of protocol failure and miscommunication. But notice that the situation is asymmetrical: the more conservative the sender, the fewer messages the protocol can handle; the more liberal the listener, the more messages it can handle. So I can agree that politeness is a worthy goal and useful thing when it's possible. But let's not elevate it to an end in itself--it's only a means to the end of communication, and sometimes it does get in the way. If a protocol is so conservative that it can't produce a message that it needs to communicate, then the protocol is broken and dysfunctional. Likewise, if the receiver can't accept a properly-formed meaningful message from the sender, it too is broken.
I want to live in a world that values honesty and effective communication above all else, because that's what leads to learning, growth, improvement. Remember how Will Rogers defined "diplomacy": the art of saying "nice doggie" until you can find a rock. If people are going to club me with rocks, I want them to say "If you come near me I'm going to club you with a rock", so I'll know how to protect myself. I wouldn't mind having a few women around here either, but I don't see them as such fragile waifs that they need our paternalistic protection from a few harsh words. Perhaps I can modify my quote to "Tolerance is more an obligation of listeners than speakers".

I have responded to your commentary on my homepage Mark Christensen as well as on Wikipedia commentary/Faith vs science with regard to the Wikipedia. I just want to be clear, I'm sure we disagree about fundamental issues regarding the relationship between faith and science, at least partly because we define the terms differently, and I'd be willing to try to clarify those terms enough that we could find out exactly what our differences really are, but I think that would take some time and effort on my part, and I am totally overwhelmed with work this week, so I won't have time to think about this at all this week. MRC


I have a question for you at Caffeine/Talk, Lee. :-) --KQ


I made an animated gif of the Beatles albums a few yrs ago. I own it, it's on my web site and if you want a link on Beatles let me know. ~BF

The images are still under copyright. A collage is a derivative work; merely assembling the images into an animation doesn't change their ownership.

Hmmm so my photos of the Beatles albums are illegal to put on the web ? I think you are a paranoid turkey.

Probably (on both assertions--that it is illegal, and that I am overly paranoid). But one of the things I have learned in fighting copyright law over the years is that I must know it backwards and forwards and be especially scrupulous in following existing law; otherwise, my arguments against it have less force.

"Hi! On False document/Talk you wrote, "Confederate currency was the legitimate, useful currency of a sovereign country." A few months ago I got interested in this issue - whether the Confederacy should or should not be viewed as having been a sovereign country (I consider myself emotionally neutral on this issue). I discovered that no foreign government recognized the CSA. Since this is, I think, the most general, and probably one of the most useful, litmus tests for judging an administration sovereign/not-sovereign, I think we have to say that the CSA was "really" a "territory in rebellion" and not "really" a "sovereign state". Comments?

-- starting a new entry on Sovereignty, and posting this message to the / Talk there

This is just a semantic dispute with no substance as your use of scare quotes should make obvious; we all know exactly what the CSA was and what they did. Being a Georgia native and active libertarian I'm not very neutral on the issue, even if it is just a matter of definition. As far as I'm concerned, any nation has the right to declare itself sovereign and sever ties with its former government. Whether or not other countries choose to recognize you isn't really relevant except to them.

I don't know--is it? You write "any nation has the right". Okay then, what's a "nation"? The CSA? Afghanistan under the Taliban? Government of Tibet in Exile? "Independent Republic of Texas" or whatever they call themselves? If we all got together and declared ourselves the "Sovereign State of Wikipedia" (Scary thought, what? On second thought, our disputes are probably just trivial and cutthroat enough to make it work... :-) ), would we therefore be one? I'm not particularly trying to be argumentative here--I really wonder how people sort these issues out.

As I said, I'm a pretty extreme libertarian. So yes, I think Tibet, Texas, some Indian tribe, the Michigam Militia, Sealand, or any other group of people has the right to declare themselves sovereign; of course that means you give up the protection and any services of your former government, and either have to be completely self-sufficient and defensible, or get along well enough with your neighbors to establish trade and treaties. That's the sticking point: if all of your neighbors believe that you're just an insignificant rebel, then they won't be eager to make long-term trade contracts with you and they won't object too much when your former government reclaims your territory, so your philosophical sovereignty is moot. That's why in the real world "political recognition" matters.

Which I think returns us to the beginning of this conversation: AFAIK, no other government recognized the CSA, and if we apply what you just said, their philosophical sovereignty was moot.

But that wasn't quite where we stared the conversation. What I objected to was your characterization of confederate currency as "false"/"fake"/"phoney". I just pointed out that if a country can pay soldiers with it and they do in fact fight, and those soldiers can buy food with it, then it's real currency in every meaningful sense. Perhaps my describing it as the "legitimate currency of a sovereign nation" is a bit much, though, since their sovereignty was only theoretical.

I don't believe I ever characterized the currency this way; maybe somebody else on False document/Talk did. I agree with you about the currency. I was only interested in exploring the concept of national sovereignty. (In fact, checking back on the page, I see that I wrote "See the Pragmatists, Logical Positivists, and Wittgenstein [and for that matter, Philip K. Dick]. Something is 'real' in the senses we can use it. Monopoly money is 'real' for playing Monopoly. U.S currency is 'real' for buying things in the USA.") I think we're generally on the same page. Have a good one!



The false-document-as-art-angle on this is JSG Boggs. He is an artist who doesn't want to be sovereign. But his art is to explicitly infringe upon the rights of sovereign nations by making fake money that is obviously fake (though beautiful) and to then spend the beautiful but fake money for its face value. He's taking the power of authenticity that the CSA and the USA both use for political puposes and turning it into an aesthetic experience. He makes an otherwise mundane experience into a kind of magical moment. It's like he is using the transaction as a carrier signal for encrypted beauty. --trimalchio


So I'm sitting on the subway train, blithely reading The Transparent Society by David Brin, when I get to p. 102:

Lee Daniel Crocker, a member of the Extropians futurist society, typifies this view when he recently suggested that true accountability can take place only if "tag commentary" is taken to its logical conclusion. People who criticize a specific work on the World Wide Web should be able to "tag" that site with a compulsory "back-link" that will notify any future visitor about the critic's censure--whether or not the author wants his Web page to carry any disparaging tags.

The synchronicity: amusing and bizarre. The modest proposal: if only. --TheCunctator

If you're reading that book, you might also want to read my take on it here, which I gave as a speech at Extro5--with David Brin in the audience.

Hi. In Human cloning/Talk I was quoting from a linked-site which 200.191.188.xxx had placed in the article saying Gould etc.. believed that the mind began 'tabula rasa'. I didn't think that this article was representative of the current scientific thinking. I know that IQ has been strongly liked to genetics, but I don't know so much about personality - I'll have to do some research. However I like your replacement-sentence so I'll put it in, thanks :) --sodium


The software that created the PNG was Photoshop 5.0 LE, which came with Pagemaker 6.something. IIRC, a window came up with all sorts of save options; I didn't know anything about it and so just left everything how it was. I'll check but don't have much time right now. If that's not the case and I need to send an email, do you mind if I just cut and paste what you've said on my page? I think I understand it but I'm not sure. :-) --KQ

You're asking me if it's OK to copy something I wrote? :-) Wow, I wouldn't have expected Adobe to get it wrong, or to not have sensible defaults.

Well I thought I should ask, just as a courtesy. :-) What happens in Photoshop 5.0 LE when you save a .PNG is that it brings up a windows with PNG options. The first says "interlace" and has 2 radio buttons: None and Adam7; the second option is "Filter" and has more radio buttons below it showing these options: None, Sub, Up, Average, Paeth, and Adaptive. "None" is selected for each option by default. Then after you Ok your options it brings up an error message saying "Some image data, such as printer settings, cannot be saved with this file format. Save anyway?" You tell it to go ahead and voila! a PNG that won't work in IE 5.0. :-)

I intended to contact tech support, but at $149/year, I decided to put it under "feature requests" instead--"PNG saving that works with IE 5.0." <g> Maybe they'll still get back to me, in spite of my poverty. I'm sure they'd take a note from you more seriously, though. --KQ

I investigated a little more. It was broken in the full version of Photoshop 5.0 as well, and they fixed it in 5.5. I don't know if there's a 5.5 LE, but you might look for it. BTW, always choose "Adaptive" from the compression method screen; it should always come out better than "None", and frequently beats all the others as well. And I'm not saying that just because I invented it. :-)

Wow. I'm surprised too; usually Adobe has their ducks in a row. Thanks for the tip. So far as upgrading goes, I have 5.0 LE only because it was bundled with PageMaker, else I'd have the full version. If I upgrade, it probably not be to another LE; I appreciate the other features too much. -KQ


Lee, would you mind taking a look at the Taking Children Seriously article? My knowledge of Karl Popper is pretty light; I was wondering if this concept is really closely related to his philosophical ideas. --STG


Lee, I am new to Wiki (less than 24 hours!). Where should I put my article distinguishing between (what I see as) the three main currents in the evolution debate? In particular, I'd like to see that Intelligent Design doesn't get lumped in with Sudden Creationism and therefore dismissed. (Note that this desire is, I hope, without prejudice to ID's actual or perceived merits.) Ed Poor

There's certainly a place for coverage of creationist thought here. Theory of evolution should certainly mention the various ones and link to them, and Creationism should certainly mention different schools. But make sure that you're actually reporting what are, in fact, the major beliefs in the area--not just what you personally see as the important distinctions. For example, I don't know that I've seen the term "sudden creationism" much in the literature, but I've frequently seen "Old Earth" creationism and "Intelligent design", so the latter certainly deserve prominent mention; maybe the former too, but let's make sure it really is a major school of thought.
According to the Gallop poll I alluded to (and you actually linked to), Americans are split 45-49 on the question, Did God guide evolution? Whether public opinion can be dignified by calling it "schools of thought" might be relevant, I'm not sure, but they certainly are widely held beliefs and should get some sort of mention.
I don't mind if mainstream scientists rip those beliefs into shreds, as long as they get a hearing somewhere. Ed Poor
I don't think anyone dismisses "intelligent design" because it's lumped in with old earth or sudden creation; I, personally, dismiss it because it's simply unscientific and unfalsifiable. It's like solipsism--sure, it might turn out to be true, but there's no way to find out and no possible benefit to assuming it, so why bother? It should still be covered here--just as solipsism is--but let's face it, it does have more in common with creationism than with real science, so it's entirely fair that they are covered in similar ways.
Sounds like you want to stamp a 'philosophy' label on ID, rather than letting it call itself 'scientific'. Am I hearing you correctly? Ed Poor
Yes, exactly. Since it can't be tested (i.e., what physical experiment could you perform whose failure would convince you that God didn't intend to cause its result?), it is entirely outside of science. See scientific method.

Just a comment, Lee, I think you are right that the nature of a belief in God as omnipotent requires that every physical experiment must occur in the manner which God intends. Now if we could convince teachers to just teach the incontrovertible facts about Natural Selection without bringing their own religious or (more commonly) non-religious views into a Theory of Evolution, it would be a much nicer world.

It's my experience that most teachers do exactly that--for political reasons if nothing else. I have never encountered a single science teacher saying anything remotely resembling a denial of the existence of God or the involvement of God in creation, except as a solicited personal opinion. Most just shut up and never mention it. If someone on the other side deliberately brings it up in class, they'll say the scientifically correct thing, which is "Whether or not God exists or was involved is of no consequence to the theory". They can't reasonably say anything else, and if you object to that, then you shouldn't be in a science class.

Hi Lee -- were you talking to me? I *meant* to shout -- sheer frustration on the Prussian front rearing its ugly head. Didn't mean to offend, but its just SOSDD if it happened anywhere near the Baltics. JHK

I think I was talking to Ed, who put some words in ALL CAPS in a article.
<sorry, I'll try to whisper next time> Ed Poor
Don't stress Ed, but it is "accepted" Wikipedia protocol never to use uppercase - as is the general Internet custom, this is equated with "shouting". Is this documented anywhere? It should be - it's not fair to expect people to conform to rules they don't know about. (Lee - sorry for jumping in on your page, mate) - MMGB

How do I delete a page? I replaced the text with "delete" but that didn't work.

I moved two rants, with links at Ed Poor and am still open to suggestion. You seem to be an old hand around here and I appreciate your guidance, even if I'm slow to accept it. --Ed Poor

The software doesn't really support deleting pages, so generally what's done is to remove the contents of the page (preferably saving it on a Talk page or moving it somewhere else if it might have some value), and then list the page on the Wikipedia utilities/Page titles to be deleted page. If it sits there for a while without any major objections to the deletion, the admin should eventually remove it (but in the meantime, if the page has no contents it won't show up in site statistics and so on). It's not too common to delete whole pages around here, but there are certainly good times for it.

I invited your attention to peppered moths, so as to make sure what I had "heard" was known to scientists, and not wishful thinking by creationists. This is part of my new policy to avoid adding gratuitous nonsense to the pedia. Ed Poor

As I understand it, the peppered moth story really was a hoax, like the lemming-mass-suicide thing.

Lee, I browsed some of your wiki pages at http://www.piclab.com/cgi-bin/wiki.pl . Could you make available your modifications to the wiki code that allow for read-only pages? Thank you. -- BenBaker

UseMod Wiki already does that without any changes (it's called "page locks"). The only thing I did was the pink/blue background thing. There's a function GetHtmlHeader that produces the HTML header for the output pages; where it outputs the "bgcolor" and "background" attributes of the BODY tag, I simply put in a conditional "if (&UserCanEdit($id,0)) { ... }".

Cool. so is there an easy way to take out a page lock on a page? Also the links for commentary on your read only pages, do you add those by hand, or is the software smart enough to insert them?

It's one of the admin commands. I just make sure that I'm the only one with an admin password, and then only I can edit those pages (and, incidentally, they appear with a blue background to me). I put the commentary links in manually. If there exists a non-editable page without a commentary link, that's a mistake: it is my intent to allow commentary on everything.

Nice work on interpreted language, especially about my favorite language, Java. --Ed Poor

Re: Whilst -> While on Factoid. Nice to see you're following the spirir of Anti Rule 9 so closely (and not a minor edit either)-- GWO

Well, I really edited that entry to de-capitalize and quote "factoid" since it was in the middle of a sentence. But whenever I edit anything, I naturally edit it in the laguage I know, which is American English. I make no apologies for that, and I've already explained my position on the matter: I'm not competent to edit British English as such, so I won't. I honestly don't know whether or not "whilst" is proper usage or good style. It certainly isn't here. If you want to translate the whole article back into the language you feel comfortable with, be my guest, but make sure you also change all the "color"s and "-ize"s and everything else. What I don't want is for some articles to be chimeras, created in one language and haphazardly edited in another.