Happy 60th Richard Stallman

Richard StallmanSome interesting people were born on this day. Three Nazis: Josef Mengele, Dorothea Binz, and Traudl Junge (Hitler’s last secretary—not so much a Nazi). And there are lots of great birthdays. Jerry Lewis is 87—I don’t know how many more birthdays he’s going to see. Bernardo Bertolucci is 73. Game show host Chuck Woolery is 72. The great Jerry Jeff Walker is 71. The unintentionally hysterical Erik Estrada is 64. The beautiful and modestly gifted Nancy Wilson is 59. Gore Verbinski of the three lesser Pirates of the Caribbean movies, Mouse Hunt, and Rango fame is 49. So is the lovely and talented Patty Griffin. And actor Alan Tudyk is 42.

But none of those people matter. Well, I guess those two Nazi war criminals matter, but in a bad way. This guy matters in a good way. Richard Stallman is 60 today. You may not know who he is but he’s affected your life. He started the GNU Project and the Free Software Foundation. If it weren’t for him, there would have been no Linux. And it wouldn’t have mattered if there was because there wouldn’t have been anything to run on it. He is a programmer. He is probably best known for creating the Emacs editor. But he did far more important work with compilers and other base development tools. But none of that is as important as his political vision and work as an activist.

So a big “Happy birthday!” to Richard Stallman. But also: a big “Thank you!”

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