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Microsoft

Gore: White House May Get Involved in MS Settlement Talks 332

Posted by Roblimo
from the be-nice-to-big-campaign-donors dept.
Amigan writes " C|Net news.com is reporting on VP Al Gore's visit to Microsoft's campus today includes a statement from the Vice President that "...he expected that the White House would get involved in any settlement talks between the company and the Justice Department when antitrust remedies get discussed. Why would the White House need to be involved?"
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Gore: White House May Get Involved in MS Settlement Talks

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  • Why would any politican get involved? Political brownie points and to garner votes.
  • by Oms (16745) on Monday November 15, 1999 @10:45PM (#1529634)
    ...as well as all the other significant advances of modern computing, it's only logical that they should stick up for each other!


  • by Fuhrer (111424) on Monday November 15, 1999 @10:52PM (#1529636)
    Gore needs public exposure. Everyone thinks he has no brain, and from the things he says it certainly seems like it sometimes.

    In any case, for him to be SEEN as doing something (whether he actually does is another matter) will make him look good, taking a tough line on the "evil Microsoft empire" will rake at least some votes for him. He *needs* it cause he needs all the support he can get.
  • by Daffy Duck (17350) on Monday November 15, 1999 @10:55PM (#1529637) Homepage
    Oh yes, Microsoft employees, although these are not political decisions, the White House will deifnitely be involved. Don't worry. Vote Democrat.

    This is meaningless tell-them-what-they-want-to-hear bullshit. Gore won't want to be anywhere near the settlement talks (if there are any settlement talks), because there's no way to gain political advantage from it. He can't very well back his own administration's prosecution of Microsoft AND go to bat for them in settlement talks without the press shredding him for it. Gore's not so hard up for money that he needs Microsoft's support. He just wanted to be seen hanging out with high tech types to show how in tune he is with the new millennium.

    Of course, all he said was that the White House would be involved. He didn't say which way. Nice, bland, noncommittal, non-responsive response. Perfect candidate.

  • Of course, Al Gore will have something to say about this ruling. He will have to do some simple math to figure out what to say. Basically if he says that this ruling is a miscarriage of justice, you can be ensured that political contributions from the Microsoft camp will increase. If he says that this ruling and the subsequent remedies are just you can be ensured of increased contributions from various Valley firms. Common citizens will still be puzzled why the Justice department went after a company for selling its product the way it saw fit.

    The mistake the Valley firms have made is inviting the federal government to regulate their industry. Now there is legal precedent for the government to come in at any point in the future and limit the competitive practices of the market participants. The Valley firms, Sun in particular, have now agreed to play a game whereby they will bid for the political favor of various powerful politicians, instead of spending their time and money on creating better products and marketing strategies. This can only lead to the weakening of many a great firm.

    Stuart Eichert
    U. of PENN student/FreeBSD hacker

  • by okie (72512)
    I wonder how much Bill Gates gave him? This could get bad for other OS's if politians get envolved.
    It will be interesting to see which Willy is slicker.

  • It doesn't seem that far-fetched that the White House should need to be informed about the proceedings of a case involving the justice department plucking apart the company that comprises the world's ninth largest economy. I find that the statements delivered by Gore on this occasion, despite the obvious shortcomings of some of his statements on other occasions, are sound and fair.

    However, Bill Gates' wallet makes him/M$ a "viable force" in American politics; adjusted for some technicalities in language, American politicians ARE for sale. It isn't that far fetched to think that the Microsoft antitrust trial could become "an issue" in the upcoming election...

  • Well, Gore is, as we all know, the father of the internet. How could y2k be a problem, in a country that has both MicroSoft and Intel ..

    ohwell, no wonder. Gore probably [try] to make sure that MicroSoft stays in one piece.


    --
  • Umm, it's not a case of hard up- MS funds a lot of politicians- sometimes inderectly, by sending judges to use their "spare" holiday homes, sometimes by paying congressment some campaign funds through shell companies.

    There's a reason why it took someone with the resolve of the estimable Janet Reno so long to get them nailed up in court- they have a LOT of political friends.

    Of course, now MS are openly lobbying to get antitrust fiunding cut back- as the SNL church lady would say, "how conveeeeeeeinient".

    I suspect that even people in the open src movement don't have a problem with companies making good per se, especially by dint of superior products.

    However, the tactics used by MS to saddle the world with their forth-rate software (strangely, their non-monopolistic hardware is very good- go figure) are distinctly beyond the pale.

    From this side of the pond (ie Europe), it all looks very unsavory.



  • Al Gore needs to get involved because this is all his fault. I think he feels bad.

    Microsoft didn't have as many chances to abuse their monopoly power ten years ago. But then Al, in his infinite wisdom, invented the internet.

    Microsoft would have never done those things to try to help the internet work better had Al never inventeted it. So it's really his fault.

    I'm sure tomorrow he will tell the judge that it isn't really Bill G's fault and how he will do better next time.

    Then again I bet big brother baby George B, is already trying to help. So big brother Bill G may not bother big brother Al G.

    *I know the story dosen't read like that, but I don't trust Al. How many any rockers remeber his wife's censorship trip at the head of the PMRC? Could you picture Tipper Gore as president^D^D^D^D^D^D^D^D^D err I mean first lady?

  • That VP Gore should wish to be involved is no surprise at all. He can play either add his bat to those wielded by the government enforcers or (if Microsoft can meet his price) he can call them off and instruct them to agree to a lesser punishment more agreeable to Microsoft. Sounds like an example of good cop/bad cop to me.

    What more does the average voter expect from a Demopublican with no principles?

    Maybe next time voters will vote Libertarian [lp.org] and endorse a society where people's right to buy (or not to buy) software of their choice is respected.

    First cigarettes, now software, what next?
  • I don't pretend to understand US government properly, but the WH is head of the executive isn't it? So I can imagine two possible reasons for WH involvement:

    1. As the DoJ's bosses -- this is a big issue, so
    is dealt with at the highest level

    2. Because many possible remedies would involve some part of the executive supervising M$'s future behaviour and there needs to be input on what would be feasible and who would be the right people to do it.

    In the UK I would certainly expect something like this to go up to cabinet level, which is the nearest equivalent.

    Steve
  • We all know that in today's disgusting political system what counts isn't your so-called "vote," but the amount of money you are willing to use to grease the palms of today's politicians. MS is just doing what's natural for a company in their position- attempt to use any resources at it's disposal (money- they got plenty of it...) to get their asses out of this mess. And we have a walking piece of filth like Al Gore taking them up on the offer. Gross. It doesn't have to be like this, folks. Politicians don't _have_ to be liars and cheats, but our couch-potato ball-game watching society doesn't care at this point... truly sad...

  • To refuse to even appear if press was not allowed I applaud.

    He is right to not comment on the case, however his statements about antitrust law make me think he is on the DOJ side.

    Microsoft has money but its not like the 17,000 votes from MS employees can equal the hundreds of thousands from all the other hi-tech companies.

    In other words, so what if we piss off Microsoft and its employees?
  • by ole (19909) on Monday November 15, 1999 @11:16PM (#1529651)
    http://www.bsa.org/government/govhelp. html [bsa.org]
    "Today, we are declaring war on software piracy... At home or abroad, intellectual property must protected." (Vice President Al Gore, October 1, 1998)
    http://www.gnu.org/philoso phy/words-to-avoid.html#Piracy [gnu.org]
    Publishers often refer to prohibited copying as ``piracy.'' In this way, they imply that illegal copying is ethically equivalent to attacking ships on the high seas, kidnaping and murdering the people on them.

    If you don't believe that illegal copying is just like kidnaping and murder, you might prefer not to use the word ``piracy'' to describe it. Neutral terms such as ``prohibited copying'' or ``unauthorized copying'' are available for use instead. Some of us might even prefer to use a positive term such as ``sharing information with your neighbor.''

  • Microsoft may try to stall and appeal until after the next president comes into office.

    This would mean that the many political appointments that are made could be beneficial to Microsoft.

    The current administration want to have a solution so that they aren't seen as being weak.

    They may also want to have something that will cause the next adminstration as much havoc as possible.
  • .. then why can't they take bribes from Bill G? It's patently clear what Gore's purpose is. "Hey bill, this can all go away for 20 million bucks!" I think it's extremely inappropriate for a presidential candidate to go sucking up to defendant in a major antitrust case. Gore can go to hell. -jcr
  • Adam Smith's unseen hand [blupete.com] can take care of software buyers far better (and a darn sight cheaper) than paying for the new age gestapo agents at antitrust.

    Microsoft and its tactics are all competing organizations need. BeOS, FreeBSD and Linux don't need the help of the USG to sell their product
  • My experience in Italy says that 90% of PC users think that MS is a sort of "only one existing choice". The fact that big machines and servers cannot even run Windows is often unknown, mostly as it is unclear to people that things very different from PCs exist -the existence of something unusual is probably due to that strange thing called Apple!
    If the White House plays a role in the game, the MS brand will be strenghtened among the IT-unaware ones, because those will see it as a necessary move. To them, to hit MS means to endanger the world of computing!
    I would understand such need if only Windows could do what it does, but we have alternatives!
  • >Of course, all he said was that the White House
    >would be involved. He didn't say which way.
    >Nice, bland, noncommittal, non-responsive
    >response. Perfect candidate.

    While the actual statement about White House involvement was noncommittal (and somewhat superfluous, considering that the DoJ is in the Executive branch), he pretty much flat-out said that he supported the DoJ's prosecution:

    . . . he said he supported the nation's antitrust laws and that the laws applied to software companies as well as other industries . . . "If dominance in one area is used to prevent competition in another area, that is wrong,"

    Sorry, but there's just not much ambiguity there...

  • I seem to remember pictures of Bill G and Bill C playing golf together before the 1995 DOJ anti-trust slap on the wrist. You know, the decree that MS basically got to author themselves saying that they were sorry for smacking DR-Dos and some other software developers around. This time around, the Clinton administration didn't get the ball rolling even after some congressional hearings and a lot of proding from Republicans.

    The DOJ didn't get involved until 20 states had already joined together to file suit. The DOJ was starting to look like they were more interested in protecting a Clinton friend and then had to take action to save face.
  • how M$ pressured him for his views on the antitrust laws, then M$ changes the subject to hate laws???
  • by maroberts (15852) on Monday November 15, 1999 @11:38PM (#1529661) Homepage Journal
    ..I have no influence on US elections,

    Judging from the transcript Al Gore was sitting on the fence and refused to come down [publicly] on either the side of Microsoft or the DOJ. A bit disappointing for a possible future leader of the country IMHO, especially when the MS case is probably going to have a huge effect one way or the other on the US economy.

    The fact that MS is such a large company explains why the White House is tempted to stick its nose in - of course, it may regret being associated with any decision come a few years down the line.

  • The suit is being prosecuted by the DoJ and 19 states. It would require a pretty complete change at the next election for all 19 attorneys general to change their mind about penalties, expecially in light of Judge Jackson's ruling. IIRC, some of the states are out for even more blood than the DoJ...

    Chris
  • by jsm2 (89962) on Monday November 15, 1999 @11:46PM (#1529664)
    Without wanting to seem patronising, have you actually read Smith? To use "the invisible hand" as an argument against antitrust law is a pretty damn appalling mangling of "The Wealth of Nations". Smith was absolutely aware of what happens to consumers when powerful companies dominate a marketplace; the judge's argument about "inhibiting innovation" is clearly traceable to Smith.

    A couple of quotes from The Wealth of Mations, showing what Smith actually thought about the Invisible Hand in this type of case:
    "Our merchants and master-manufacturers complain much of the bad effects of high wages in raising the price, and thereby lessening the sale of their goods both at home and abroad. They say nothing concerning the bad effects of high profits. They are silent with regard to the pernicious effects of their own gains. They complain only of those of other people."


    "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices."

    "The monopolists, by keeping the market continually understocked, by never fully supplying the effectual demand, sell their commodities much above the natural price, and raise their emoluments, whether they consist in wages or profit, greatly above their natural rate. "

    "In every country it always is and must be the interest of the great body of the people to buy whatever they want of those who sell it cheapest. The proposition is so very manifest, that it seems ridiculous to take any pains to prove it; nor could it ever have been called in question, had not the interest sophistry of merchants and manufacturers confounded the common sense of mankind. "


    You are entirely entitled to your views on Microsoft and the government, but please don't try to claim that Smith shared them (I would also suggest that in supporting Microsoft, you are not perhaps as consistent a libertarian as you think you are).

    jsm
  • Perhaps Mr. Gore realizes that Microsoft, through the Gates Foundation, controls a large amount of money distributed to some of the more vocal groups in US society. The fact that the Gates Foundation has received a sizeable amount of their wealth in stock already ties them to MS's well-being and makes their self-interest somewhat the same as MS's. Perhaps Mr. Gore knows that if he can broker an agreement with MS, with MS's support may come some or all of the people now attached to the MS teat. Or maybe I've just read too many bad spy novels...
  • Since Microsoft makes all of its money from patented software, it has opted into the system of coercion which is the basis of government, so your invoking of the concept of "initiation of force" is invalid. Microsoft benefits from a privilege granted by the government to impede the free use of information by others, so it cannot object to modifications of that (illegitimate) privilege.

    And I've always thought that a definition of "initiation of force" whereby a black man sitting at a lunch counter can be taken to be "initiating force" is rather silly, and certainly a liability rather than an asset to the libertarian cause.

    jsm
  • How many any rockers remeber his wife's censorship trip at the head of the PMRC?

    Yep, I do, and the thought of her as first lady scares me senseless -- and I don't even live in the US! Sure, Al's done quite a good job of silencing her more militant views so his politcal coreer isn't derailed, but I'll guarantee they're still there. Interesting to note that she's now claiming it as a major politcal victory, saying she was instrumental in get parental advisory stickers put on offensive records. She was actually trying to ban them outright, and fortunately, she failed.

  • Let's not forget it was one month after Janet Reno's appointed Anne Bingaman was in office that she had the DOJ take the Microsoft case from the FTC, where they had been sitting on the evidence for years; undecided if they shoud do anything. The first attempt by the DOJ was not too sucessful, but the DOJ continued on.

    Keep in mind that Haley Barbour, former head of the RNC,is a paid lobbyist for Microsoft is also a campaign advisor for George W Bush

    Recently:

    Ny York Post Online [nypostonline.com] ran an article titled "Microsoft waits for GOP to bail them out!" In it they suggest that George W will win, replace janet Reno and the others with more Microsoft friendly department heads!

    Just what do you expect Al Gore to say to a group of influencial Microsoft employees? Can he really
    afford to tell them they are screwed if he gets elected? No, the only thing he can do is say things that are not too definite, he didn't say the White house would let Micorsoft go, just that they would be involved.

    As I posted before, time is running out, the DOJ could be replaced by a more Microsoft friendly group after the next election. Don't be misled
    by a few, investigate all the facts before you vote next election. The Microsoft FUD machine is hard at work in Washington, has been for the last two years, they are there protecting their own interest, not the conusmer. Just because this is politics, don't get stupid.. it's still the same Microsoft using the same type of FUD, just trying to get everyone to support their candidates.

    PS, I'm running late, can't do much proof reading, please excuse any typos
  • Yeah, at least that ex-Cocaine addict guy used to have a brain. Gore, on the other hand, is running on a slightly specialized 6502 processor, which is great for running some legacy assembly apps. In fact, I've been thinking of porting over Ultima II: The Revenge of the Enchantress.

  • This is how clueless I've become, this whole time I thought the BSA was the Boy Scouts of America, like there's a new merit badge for 'Protection of Profits.'

    The only real reason I can imagine for Gore to go see MS is to give them a pat on the back while saying, "Keep up the crumby security, you're doing the intelligence community a favor."

  • The White House has no place in talks, this is a matter for the court system, not the white house, they are just trying to stick their nose into an area where The Constitution grants them No Power.

    In other Words, The white house has no right to get invloved with any talks with MS. I wouldn't mind seeing MS broaken up, but the only reason the goverment is even going after MS, is because the Billions and Billions of dollors they have, because the goverment has realised, that they cannot continue to raise taxes. Perhaps if the Federal staff were reduced, and all the freebie programs started by this administration were taken away, they would not need to tax people so hevely.

    They are doing the same thing with other industries, Ciggeret Industry, Guns (under the title that we need to protect the children). The people of the United States needs to wake up, and see what their elected polotitions are doing. will somebody please take the razor blade away from the wrists of the country, IE, elect new people, who are for freedom, and lower taxes, and their party name starts with a R.
  • Fresh off of their war on poverty, war on healthcare and war on big business, the administration is ready to take on control of the software industry. Doesn't this scare anyone besides me? Direct Whitehouse involvement should make everyone in the country shake their head in amazement that the government has taken on this role.

    This is about power and it's obscene. I don't want Washington to decide how a private company might be split up. Is anyone stupid enough to think that this hasn't become a completely political action in the continual pattern of demonizing anyone who's worked hard and earned great wealth. Say what you want about Billy Boy but he has done more for America (creating jobs, preeminence of the US in office automation and OS software market etc.) than any of those idiots in Washington put together.

    The private sector builds businesses and wealth. Government consumes it. They've screwed up public education with "feel good" but do nothing policies and centralized Washington control.

    Sorry about the rant. Flame away.
  • The executive branch, in theory and on paper, doesn't have any influence over decisions made by the Judicial branch. Legislature (spelling?) propose laws, Executive make them laws or drop them, and judicial enforce them (and make sure they don't violate anybody's rights), and no branch, again in theory, has the authority to interfere in another's operation....

    Of course, in practice things don't happen this way.
  • Bogus News [localhost] reports that Bill Gates visited the White House today, and stated that ".. he expected Microsoft to be involved in any decisions concerning national politics."

    Comments on Slashdot [slashdot.org] say that "..Gates need public exposure. Everyone thinks he has no brain.", and "Linux Rulez!".

    Watch out for Microsoft USA 2000, coming to a fishingboat near you.
  • Cut off from Chinese contribution funds, Bore is confronted with an opportunity to encourage spendthrift (in a political sense) tech firms to increase their bribes to public officials^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^ H^H^H^H^H^H campain contributions. After all, look at what constant hounding got for charity!
  • politics is such a thinly veiled influence peddling racket - with W's war chest bulging at the seams Big Al has to snuggle up to some real loud free speech. Whether he fires up the bullhorn and shouts, "We must leave business alone to innovate and create jobs!" or "We must protect consumer rights!" all depends on how many zero's are on the soft money check.

    How's that for cynicism?
    Reporting from the Gerrymandered Bob Scott district, this is

    Chuck
  • Neutral terms such as "prohibited copying" or "unauthorized copying" are available for use instead. Some of us might even prefer to use a positive term such as "sharing information with your neighbor."

    Rather than mealy-mouthed exulpation, some of us might prefer accurate terms like "theft."


    --
  • In the age of the Constitutional Aristocracy, (George Mason was right, Hamilton Madison and Jay appear to have evuntally been wrong. :P) you must have money to have a place in government, if you do not have money you must have some medium that everyone listens to and respects, unfortunately to have that you must have money. In this brave new age, if you don't donate money to political campaigns you are 'shaken down' so to speak, and if you do then the people tend to be shaken down.

    A New York Post story said Bill Gates donated to GWB's campaign to help him win the election then be able to have him get him off the hook. Sadly it appears GWB might be the lesser of the evils simply because hes accepted money from so many people that if he does one thing for one contributor he'll betray another.

    Therefore it is a sad fact of american politics that the most effective elected officals are the ones who do nothing at all, after all you can't get them to do anything meaningful for the people except lamer laws that look like they do something but are really quite trivial. This is why we want John McCain to win, who claims he'll reform all of this, but unfortunately he'll probaly lose to GWB because he has more money and the vast majority of americans who vote don't think, and instead preform block voting techniques and vote for everyone with their political affiliation by their name, the winner of the elections is always the person who can harness the 'ethnic votes' like how Al Gore and GWB are both trying to speak in spanish every so often so they can get the Mexicans to go out and vote for them, and if you can't harness the ethnic votes your next best bet is to just unleash a huge ad campaign and create a rockstar-type fasade, (or in Bill Clintons case, hes accused of alpha male.)

    Say, what the HECK were you brits thinking when you got rid of the house of lords one redeeming factor? Oh well, welcome to the world of constitutional aristocracy!


    -[ World domination - rains.net ]-
  • Who else do you want involved with this thing? I mean, come on, the guy made the internet! And on top of that he invented algorithms, too. Get it? Al-Gore-Ithms? AHAHAHAHhhhh... *sigh*


    If you think you know what the hell is really going on you're probably full of shit.
  • Now if only the US had regulated the level of bribes... er... political contributions, then perhaps this could be a way to bankrupt Microsoft...

  • If there is anyone who has a shot at fixing this mess it is him, unfortunately I don't think he can campaign against forbes and GWB for the nomination, although if GWB is the man he might get the nod for Veep, and get in from there, since GWB and John McCain are friends. Of course that strategy isn't working for Gore, heh.

    Still, vote John McCain.


    -[ World domination - rains.net ]-
  • by PD (9577)
    Hahahaha! Bill Clintons brain is an overclocked 486/66. But's he's got one of those overhead projectors and specialized MPEG hardware for looking at pr0n.

  • This seems a perfect opportunity to let the Vice President know just how welcome it would be for the White House to intervene. Oh, and put ABC News in as a 'cc' on your email. I won't both giving this group the email addresses; I'm sure you can find them.
    Instead of chewing on this with each other, why not strike a blow for effective Internet feedback?
  • by Shanoyu (975)
    And in turn the perfect opp. for a -1 score.

    People who complain about Score:2's and Score:1's should be shot.


    -[ World domination - rains.net ]-
  • Unfortunately they never really did get anywhere with the IBM trial, since IBM didn't have a monopoly. And they definately did not get to this point, so there was no real reason for IBM to bribe anyone. I'm going to go looking over for some prescidents like this but I doubt i'll find any, this is like the first time anything like this has ever happened, isn't it? (And by 'this' I am speaking of the operating system monopoly and the company being told that it cannot sell it's products at whatever price it chooses, kinda silly but intresting at the same time.)


    -[ World domination - rains.net ]-
  • What do you mean if politicians get involved? They are already involved. They have been. It's all fun and games until it's not in your favor. I'm not the biggest Microsoft-lover out there, but I dont' hate them by any means. I have one of their certifications. I also don't like some of the things they do. But when the political mess was all AGAINST Microsoft (and it still is I might add), all the *nix camps sat back and laughed about it and said it was great -- about time. But when Microsoft figures out that this whole case was caused because they forgot to grease some palms along the way, everyone gets upset. Politics works both ways. This whole charade was made because someone wasn't happy that MS had all that money and they weren't giving any of it to "compaign contribution" or lobbying as they like to call it. OK. So this may be flamebait of sorts, but it's neccessary flamebait. You can't have a discussion about this without stepping on someone's toes.

    My point in this whole jumbled rant is that the politicians always try to get involved. Sometimes you like what they are "restricting". Sometimes you are NOT. You cheer for the governement when you like what they are doing and you complain when you don't. My contention is that you should complain all the time. Government regulation will bite you in the ass in the end. Whether it's an agreement between the Gov't and the NAACP to remove GOOD literature from the school system, a fight to take the right to freedom OF religion away from people (notice it says freedom OF religion, not freedom FROM religion), or whatever your cause. If you support the governement in taking away those rights because you don't agree with them, I promise you it will come back to haunt you later. This is no different. If you don't want the governement stepping in when Linux or BSD or whatever OS makes it's way to the top, then I highly suggest you support Microsoft in this struggle to free themselves from Government regulation. It will only restrict YOUR freedom by siding with the government.

    Nuff said - kill my karma and flame me for whatever reason you feel neccessary.

    SL33ZE, MCSD
    em: joedipshit@hotmail.com
  • depends if it hits the Supreme court though...
  • by Alex Belits (437) on Tuesday November 16, 1999 @01:23AM (#1529698) Homepage

    Al Gore needed exposure and money for elections. He scheduled the meeting with what perceived as the most "advanced" company in the area that he is supposed to support, expecting to get positive PR from it to himself, declare his support for everything Microsoft does and look good overall. However before he arrives things turn ugly, and Microsoft suddently has a lot of dirt that Al Gore doesn't want to associate himself with. Microsoft sees any public event with Al "Is there some embarrassing statement about technology I haven't made yet?" Gore as possible PR disaster if anything antitrust-related is mentioned, so they are trying to keep press away.

    Al Gore realizes that considering his past praise of Microsoft, meeting behind closed doors will arise suspicions that he is either trying to help Microsoft using his current position, or promise support in the future if he will be elected, so to avoid being perceived as corrupt politician he demands to allow press at the meeting, and tries to avoid the whole issue of Microsoft troubles to be mentioned. Microsofties are trying to play along, however not being politicians they fail to realize that any mentioning of lawsuit will force Al Gore to either declare his support of Microsoft and be at risk of losing points in political battles, or declare the support of government in attempt to keep the image of "supporter of technology". So few dumbasses ask him about antitrust lawsuit, and Al Gore tries to play safe. Yet, not being smart enough to understand where he should switch into "I have no comment and no promises" mode, he gives in, and makes vague, stupid-looking promise to "do something about that" despite being in no position to do that.

  • AP Newswire - 11/16/1999 - Microsoft purchases the rights to Pokemon

    In what can only be described as a bizarre transaction today Microsoft announced they have purchased the rights to Pokemon, which will be renamed to microsoft-e-mon.
    A very happy Bill Gates had this to say about the announcement: "We are thrilled to own the rights to Pokemon. We have been looking for a way to help children to learn about Microsoft at a very early age and we feel this will be a terrific avenue for them. At Microsoft we have always focused on our customers and innovated to meet there needs, this acquisition fits well with our strategy. God Bless America !"

    An official spokesperson for Microsoft talked further about Microsoft's strategy for microsoft-e-mon. "All microsoft-e-mon toy figures will now be bundled with the state of the art browser IE5. We have always felt that children of all ages could benefit from our internet innovations, we look forward to being an integral part of the formative years of all children." The spokesman continued, "In an effort to teach children to be responsible and innovative we will also be charging a $5 per month licensing fee for all microsoft-e-mon toys. This nominal fee will help kids to learn about part time jobs and making monthly payments, skills which will benefit them as they become adults. At Microsoft we love children and are thrilled to finally be able to help them. God Bless America"
  • There's almost no support whatsoever in Silicon Valley for Microsoft. Ask around. Nobody likes them there; they're seen as outsiders.

    I'd think he'd get a lot more support by asking the DOJ to tear Microsoft to shreds, which, if you've read the article, he seems to be hinting at.

    - A.P.
    --


    "One World, one Web, one Program" - Microsoft promotional ad

  • by phil reed (626) on Tuesday November 16, 1999 @02:08AM (#1529721) Homepage
    Maybe next time voters will vote Libertarian and endorse a society where people's right to buy (or not to buy) software of their choice is respected.

    I have a simple question about your analysis: What happens if there is no effective choice, and that continuing lack of choice is enforced by the company providing the only possiblity?


    ...phil

  • .. I really don't have much influence either.


    ...phil
  • I'm not so sure. Gore was at Microsoft yesterday, and spent most of his question-and-answer session saying "no comment" whenever questions about the trial came up. However, the comments about values that he did make in that context sounded like he was on the side of the judge. There was an extensive NPR story on it this morning. Check the NPR web site - they should have a Real-Audio recording of it in a couple of hours.


    ...phil
  • by Zach Frey (17216) <zach&zfrey,com> on Tuesday November 16, 1999 @02:21AM (#1529730) Homepage

    This is about power and it's obscene. I don't want Washington to decide how a private company might be split up. Is anyone stupid enough to think that this hasn't become a completely political action in the continual pattern of demonizing anyone who's worked hard and earned great wealth.

    Boo hoo hoo -- let's all feel sorry for the poor oppressed billionaire, being persecuted by the Big Evil Gub'mint.

    Bill's company is not in court for being sucessfull, but for breaking the law. Repeat that over and over until it sinks in -- "it's not about success, it's about crime." (Of course, anti-trust law is funny in that you have to be successful in order to have the means to break these laws -- but if Bill & Co. are so smart, and have so many lawyers on their payroll, you'd think they'd have heard of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act before now ...)

    Say what you want about Billy Boy but he has done more for America (creating jobs, preeminence of the US in office automation and OS software market etc.) than any of those idiots in Washington put together.

    I do not subscribe to the theory that "what's good for Bill Gates is good for America."

    All of these points (net job creation, American business dominance) are ... arguable. There's certainly some folks at Netscape who would claim that Bill didn't help build jobs at their company ...

    Regardless, we must come back to the basic point: Microsoft broke the law. The DOJ action is not an example of government out of control -- it is an example of the goverment doing its job to enforce the (democratically enacted) law.

    Sheesh. Might as well feel sorry for those sucessful businessmen, the cocaine smugglers, when they tangle with government law enforcement. I suppose they ought to try using the defense that they are simply hard-working capitalist entrepeneurs, and that the goverment ought to leave private companies alone and not tell them how to run their business ...

    The poor have sometimes objected to being governed badly; the rich have always objected to being governed at all.
    -- G. K. Chesterton, "The Man Who Was Thursday"
  • I have no reason to doubt the quality of RMS' research

    What "research" went into the GNU Manifesto? What "research" went into the statement about piracy?

    None. It's an opinion. A reasonably well-argued opinion at times, but not one supported by research.
  • those who believe they have a right to give away their IP

    By "their" do you mean "my" IP or "your" IP? You will always have a right to give away your IP. The GPL does a wonderful job of helping you give your IP to lots of people and still retain some control over it. Isn't that neat?

    If you mean "my" IP, then fuck off.

    But I suspect that what you really mean is Microsoft's IP. Or Disney's IP. Or whoever has intellectual property that you want and "they" don't deserve. That poem I wrote my wife isn't going to do you much good, is it? But why should [big greedy corporation] be allowed to control the free and natural flow of information? Information wants to be free! Free my information!
  • Wow... This is such an incredible expression of the spirit of our times that I would love to frame it! Our political system works... Yeah, right! It works for the politicians! Amphigory's Law here set forth: the ability of any group to operate effectively is inversely proportional to the size of the group.
  • Campaign donations over $400 have to be disclosed, which is also causing a big stink about people using personal web pages to carry election web pages. Any conflict of interest would be readily apparent.

    Besides, Gates doesn't have enough to make Gore seem to have a personality. He's only worth $100 billion, after all.

  • Al's had a good teacher for the Ancient Art of the Waffle. Clinton's waffles were so stupendous that many of them were quite simply unbelievable. Maybe Al will follow in his footsteps. Mmm. Nice crispy golden-brown waffles for everyone!
  • I am mystified at some of the comments so far.

    Some of you are saying that Gore went to MS to imply that he supports them in the anti-trust case, presumably to get campaign donations. Excuse me, but can you read? He tried to avoid commenting on the subject, but the general remarks that he did make indicate that he is not on Microsoft's side. Here's another article [washingtonpost.com] at the Washington Post [washingtonpost.com] that makes this point more clearly.

    The most I think you can criticize him for IMO is his unwillingness to speak out more clearly on the case, but the argument can be made that the Vice President should reserve his comments on a pending lawsuit. And it did take some nerve for him to show up there, seeing as how he is second in charge of an administration whose DoJ is their opponent. To be sure, Al Gore is about as exciting as watching paint dry, but this is one of the most gutsy things he's done since taking on Ross Perot. (Of course, that doesn't say much for his Vice Presidency so far.)

    Here's the other thing I don't get: Some of you are all upset and surprised at the idea that the White House might have any role at all in this lawsuit. I'm embarassed to have to explain something that ought to be obvious, but the DoJ is a part of the executive branch and as such reports to the President. You can be certain that at some point while the DoJ was investigating MS and considering a lawsuit, Janet Reno briefed Bill Clinton on what was up. If he had insisted that they knock it off, it wouldn't have happened. At the very least, he didn't do that; and there may have been extensive discussions in the White House about the consequences of the trial. Indeed, Clinton probably asked Gore what he thought about it, particularly considering that it might affect Gore's presidential campaign.

    If you don't think it should be that way, what in the world do you want as an alternative? Do you think that the Department of Justice shouldn't be under the ultimate control of an elected official? Sorry, but that's crazy.
  • I've seen it before on other threads, and I'm seeing it here. /. posters must be the most ignorant ones when it comes to anything but computers (or specifically, Linux advocacy). In general of course, there are always the considered postings in each thread, or Jon Katz weighing in with thesaurus-benders.

    In general though, we see a naive libertarianism, almost an attitude of taking on every world problem with the same ease writing a Perl script. I mean "sex with Gates' wife"??? "Violation of judicial proceedings"??? What do these terms mean? Where is this garbage coming from.

    Do you people listen to NPR at all? Or PBS? Or, at least, ABC, CBS, or NBC? The news parts, that is? How does the most blatant ignorance about world affairs or politics get to /.?

    As for as the White House getting involved - they've been called into issues that involve the economy before. The GM strike, for example. Certainly the people on the business programs seem to think what happens to Microsoft is going to impact the market (if not economy) significantly. We know it's going to change a few things in software.

    The people up there are being paid to be involved. Remember, all of /. did not file the case against Microsoft, the government did. Now they want to follow through; just let them do their job.
  • Though I live in Missouri, I'll stick up for my Kansas brethren and say "catch a clue". For those who don't know what the reference is about, not too long ago, the State Board of Education in Kansas recently voted in a manner that allows local school districts to decide whether or not -- or in what form the theory of evolution would be taught.

    During the debate I heard numerous commentators discussing how Darwinistic evolution is "one of the pillars of Western Scientific thought" etc. and how a person couldn't be truly grounded in scientific principles without it.

    Which is a load of crap. Very few of the sciences actually have any direct relation to do with Darwin's theory, e.g., the airplane flies because of aerodynamic principles, not because of a useless debate over whether man descended from monkeys or was created (okay, you may now start the obligatory "creation vs. evolution flamewars").

    But to call a group of individuals "dolts" because they chose to return the power to decide how things will be taught to a local level? Hmmm. Sounds like you might be the type of person to vote for Gore after all under the theory that Washington D.C. knows best.

  • by Nehemiah S. (69069) on Tuesday November 16, 1999 @04:34AM (#1529820)
    Don't assume libertarians are naive because we think hammers are better than rifles for pounding nails. Some problems may require drastic solutions, but this isn't one of them. I find it ironic that on a site dominated by Linux enthusiasts, people constantly post in favor of industry regulation; justifying it by claiming Microsoft as an example of a market failure! Talk about pulling wool over your own eyes to make your hands invisible...

    To be honest, I don't care what Microsoft wants. I expect that they want to make money; so do I. So do you. If they pursue this interest in a way that harms us, such as by destroying companies we admire, they anger and alienate us and shatter what fragile loyalty remains. They can only do this so long before the reaction reaches critical mass.

    The best way to handle Microsoft is to write better code. The rest will fall into place. The worst thing that could happen right now would be for the DOJ to go AT&T on M$; it could paralyze the most vital industry we have left in this country.

    To get more on-topic: Vote against Al Gore. Vote against George Bush. Vote for the parties who care more about seeing their ideals in action than about getting into office. Keep America free.

    Scudder
  • by FallLine (12211) <fallline@NETBSDoperamail.com minus bsd> on Tuesday November 16, 1999 @04:37AM (#1529825)
    Gore made that statement to step on as few toes as possible. He didn't say that Microsoft deserves to be split, or anything to that effect. Gore made a general statement about anti-trust law, which will allow him to backout when it is politically expedient. (e.g.: MS did not use its dominance, therefore I now support MS...) While I don't think Gore is as ethically challenged as Clinton, I suspect he'll do the most expedient thing. When and if public opinion shifts, he'll follow it in proportion with the amount of harm that MS can do him (e.g.: by supporting him or his competition). You just watch...

  • If you don't want the governement stepping in when Linux or BSD or whatever OS makes it's way to the top, then I highly suggest you support Microsoft in this struggle to free themselves from Government regulation.

    I think not. Let me rephrase that and you'll see what I mean:

    If you like companies breaking the law to increase their profits, stifle competition, and give consumers sub-optimal products, support Microsoft in this struggle to be free from Government regulation. That's the same kind of government regulation that says your car company can't make airbags that shoot metal spikes into your skull instead of nice, fluffy pillows.

    Yeah, government sucks sometimes. However, that doesn't mean that it's not right once in a while. Anarchy ain't fun for long.

    --
    QDMerge [rmci.net] 0.4!

  • "or in what form the theory of evolution would be taught."

    You bold /theory/ as if it didn't hold much weight. In fact, the only thing keeping evolution a /theory/ is people like you bandying around the term. Evolution is for all intents and purposes NOT a theory. It is proven fact. It happens. Go to the Galapagos for a few months for undeniable proof with your own eyes. Call it "change over time" or whatever euphamism makes you feel ok, but it is certainly NOT controversial and is FACTUAL.

    "Very few of the sciences actually have any direct relation to do with Darwin's theory, e.g.,"

    Hmm...well, I'd say the whole field of biology is predicated on it. Any biologists worth their weight want to quibble on that?

    "the airplane flies because of aerodynamic principles,"

    Yes, and creatures change over time according to evolutionary principles. Saying aerodynamic principles are "controversial" and that somebody's god made it that way instead, is not only ridiculous, but unproductive.

    "not because of a useless debate over whether man
    descended from monkeys or was created (okay, you may now start the obligatory "creation vs. evolution flamewars").""

    I find the debate useless also, because it is typically one-sided: people who don't like the "idea" of it attempting to discredit its fact.

    "But to call a group of individuals "dolts" because they chose to return the power to decide how things will be taught to a local level?"

    Superficially this sounds logical. Unfortunately the people /implementing/ it aren't. The reason this was done was not for the false pretense of broadening options or liberating teachers. This decision was made only to remove evolution from the classroom. I'd like to see how many teachers /CHOOSE/ to teach evolution after this supposedly liberating decision. If all teachers choose to teach evolution then my argument is moot. If they don't, well, it will be directly BECAUSE of this verdict.

    "Sounds like you might be the type of person to vote for Gore after all under the theory that Washington D.C. knows best."

    Well, unlike free-for-all politics, /science/ was founded on the very principle of rational deduction, peer review, scrutiny and skepticism. So while I may not vote for a career politician because he/she "would know best", I /would/ listen to a scientist because by definition scientists know science.
  • I don't see in that quote a call for government intervention, although it does make clear that Smith considered collusion a bad thing. I'll go grep Wealth of Nations, but maybe you could quote some remedy that Smith offers for this ill?

    Oh, it might also be interesting to consider the GE conspiracy case in this regard. IIRC, GE could have lowered prices so far as to eliminate its competitors, but its competitors had asked it to conspire to raise prices. GE faced a dilemma: if it lowered prices it was using monopoly power against its competitors, if it conspired it was guilty of that. GE decided that the cost of a conspiracy case was less than the cost of an anti-competion case, etc.
  • The suit against Microsoft is being pursued in US Federal Court, which makes the federal apellate courts (which are federal apppointees) the forum where the penalties will be finally decided.

    The preference of the state and federal attorneys-general is immaterial at this stage *unless* Microsoft seeks an extrajudicial settlement; I'm sure that Microsoft is equally dissatisfied by the findings of fact (which, thank god, are more or less irreversible), but the reality of the situation is that it's an exercise for the judiciary from here on in.

    --
  • by twit (60210) on Tuesday November 16, 1999 @04:58AM (#1529847) Homepage
    The presidential pardon only applies to criminal, not civil, judgements. Nor could (Clinton, Gore/Bush) exempt MS from antitrust law - it isn't the perogative of the executive to make law.

    A new attorney-general, probably under a Bush administration, could stop the prosecution, or at least starve it of resources (letting MS get a much better deal on appeal) but that's as far as it would go - and the states are unlikely to fold as easily.

    --
  • All so-called scientific facts are in fact theory. No theory is ever considered proven beyond a doubt. Proven beyond a reasonable doubt perhaps, but one thing science always allows, no matter how overwhelming the evidence, is the notion that a theory can be supplanted should new evidence be brought forward. This flexibility in no way undermines the potency or relevance of theories which have proven themselves over time and are supported by overwhelming evidence.

    Even the so-called Law of Gravity is a theory, first put forth by Newton, later refined by such great thinkgers as Einstein. Evolution is a theory which has roughly the same weight of overwhelming evidence as the theory of gravity.

    Say, why don't we give local school boards the option to teach the theory of magic, rather than the various and sundry (and much drier) theories of physics. After all, they are theories, and we should be tolerant of those supersititous ^H^H^H^H^H^H^H individuals who don't buy into mainstream science. After all, they're people too, so their opinions should count for just as much as some aging physiscist in a white smock, right? After all, to do otherwise would be to buy into "the theory that Washintgton D.C. knows best."

    The idiots in Kansas who gutted their childrens scientific education in the area of biology are dolts. So are people who defend this idiocy by making trite pleas for tolerance. The scientific method is orthogonal to tolerance, as should be the standards for scientific education. Science is about forming theories and then backing them up with emperical evidence. The more emperical evidence supports a particular theory, the more credibility that theory has. Gravitation, and evolution, have a tremendous degree of credibility because they are supported by truly overwhelming amounts of emperical evidence. Science is not about tolerance, indeed tolerance of absurdities is not, nor should it become, a part of the scientific method, or the scientific curriculum.

    Oddly enough, current emperical evidence does appear to support "the theory that Washington D.C. knows best", at least when compared to Kansas. Pulling that off really took talent -- one must truly appluad the Kansas Board of Education on that remarkable achievment.
  • Making your own copy of someones copyrighted material is not theft since you're not taking anything away from the "victim".

    You are taking something away, it's just not something physical. But since the original work isn't physical either, that doesn't mean much.

    What you're taking away is some of the author's control over his own work, diluting his right (assuming you grant that it exists) to decide who can benefit from it and under what circumstances. It's a theft of power or control.

    If you agree that an author should be allowed to have such rights over his work, then you have to consider violation of those rights immoral. The moral equation changes if you don't feel that authorship rights should be so strong.

    BTW, (related to other messages on the thread), this has nothing to do with open source, since most open source depends on authorship rights to control its perpetuation. Otherwise, I could take Linux, modify it, and sell it without source code (kinda like FreeBSD .)

  • Should Al Gore become President (shudder), he will be the head of the Executive Branch of the US federal government. As such he will be responsible for enforcing antitrust laws in general, and their application to Microsoft in particular. It may be valuable for a member of the Executive Branch (which, as current Vice President, he is now) to attend, as he may have some valuable insight into issues such as enforcability.

    That said, this is obviously political grandstanding. I'd also like to point out that even though the Executive Branch may have valuable input which is consistent with the US Constitution, I wouldn't be surprised at all if the involvement were to end up violating Constitutional bounds in some manner. The Democratic and Republican parties seem more than willing to treat the Constitution as if it were toilet paper.

  • The story goes that while Bill Gates was on the campaign trail in Arkansas (a long time ago essentially), he raped her.
    She kept silent about it for years and years until all the new cases sprang up and she felt she should make her story known as well.

    The Wall Street Journal (obviously no Clinton fan) was actually the news source that came first with the most details, and how the story was buried. The article was huge, and Broaddrick's story is very believable (in addition to others who back her story).
  • *and* he uses this software instead of buying a copy from the local shop, how is this different than shoplifting a copy?

    The whole software *piracy* issue is based on this very shaky assumption.

    from www.m-w.com

    Theft: 1 a : the act of stealing; specifically : the felonious taking and removing of personal property with intent to deprive the rightful owner of it.

    Notice that "taking and removing", is not "using and not using one you have to pay for." Notice also, the "deprive the rightful owner" part is != "deprive the rightful owner the potential income if you ever got around to actually purchasing it."
    Theft, as a definition, doesn't apply to software (outside of shoplifting it physically off a store shelf).
    Piracy is a loaded word used to help build FUD supporting IP.
    Software should obtain it's value *through* widespread distrubution, not by artificially controlling scarcity. (All IMHO, of course)

  • I've always thought that an acceptable compromise would be to teach the kids in Kansas that evolution explains all the fruit flies, dogs, duck-billed platypuses and such all around us, plus all the plants, plus all the birds, plus all the apes, but that one single species of mammal called homo sapiens was no part of this process, hacing been created ex nihilo by an act of the divine will 6000 years ago.

    The beauty of this compromise is that the smart ones will see through it immediately (and also learn a salutory lesson about the honesty of authority figures), while the rest will never need to be troubled by things they wouldn't understand anyway.
    jsm
  • There's some excerpts of the discussion in this morning's Morning Edition report [npr.org]. He seemed fairly noncommital but expressed concerned that competition be preserved.
    --
  • The fact of the matter is none of science can be proven. It can only be disproven. In fact a pretty good definition of science is the minimal spanning set of theories that explain observable phenomena, and which make predictions that allow the theories to be disproven. Of course in the real world of which you are so fond, science is neither minimal, nor completely spanning, nor completely non-dogmatic (disprovable).

    In any case, evolutionary theory is a good theory that succintly explains a vast amount of complexity, makes useful predictions and fits the available data very well. I would argue that it is one of the most important watershed ideas in all of science, on par with Relativity.

    Creation theory has many logical flaws and is not useful at making predictions but the most critical flaw is that it is not disprovable. Since it is the only alternative to evolutionary theory that has any explanatory value in biology, anyone that opposes evolutionary theory wants either deny any way of organizing biological science, or offer a non-scientific substitute in the guise of science. This makes their intelligence questionable IMHO, since they miss the point of science.

    Intelligence and faith are not exclusive, but the proper place of faith does not include interference with the proper persuit of science.
    --
  • Is this why he insisted on publicness- because he had to choose between a thousand Microsofties with a billion dollars, or a million consumers with a million VOTES? It certainly looked in the Post story as if he was not playing to the Microsofties- his remarks were straight from the judge, in a way, especially given the context, where he could have just _hedged_ a lot and got away with it. It's interesting that he chose to get some jibes in that _had_ to alienate the Microsofties. So is this the meeting that he insisted on being public- and was it an artful pitch to consumers everywhere to side with Gore, 'the guy ready to call Microsoft on their abuses'? If so, does this have to equate to actually being ready to _do_ it, or is Gore capable of doing this and then turning around, taking a lot of money from MS and letting them go? Is he that treacherous, or is he not?
  • he beauty of this compromise is that the smart ones will see through it immediately (and also learn a salutory lesson about the honesty of authority figures), while the rest will never need to be troubled by things they wouldn't understand anyway.

    That's a scary rational for controlling (limiting) thought. "If you're smart enough, you'll figure it out on your own." time to change my sig...

  • *ahem* but I _do_ want the government stepping in when Linux makes its way to the top: defined as 90 percent of the desktops, no room for anything else in the stores, venture capitalists have to go talk to Linus or maybe Tux to find out what air supply they are planning to cut off today, and everything that isn't Linux begins to dry up and starve.
    You see, you are apparently a young kid who's never seen a non-MS-controlled computer industry, and you don't understand that it's not normal, healthy, or right for a single player to get that powerful. Most of all, it's not _normal_. Linux world domination would be about 60% maybe: that's enough! It's enough to always be taken seriously and be widely supported in hardware and software. There is NO REASON to believe that a normal competitor would even get to the 90% and up point: in order to do that you have to basically wage total war on letting your customers have a choice. If Linux started getting that arrogant, I would certainly want the DoJ to do something about it. If Apple (I run MacOS a lot) got 70% I would _expect_ them to run amok and go for the 90% and up, and I would want _them_ acted against by the government.
    If I, a mac user, can say that I would want Apple stopped if they started approaching 90% lockout of all other computer platforms, and you, obviously the loser in that situation, would agree with this protection of your choices, why in God's name do you expect me to consider supporting you in your shortsighted and uneducated defense of monopolies just because at the moment _you_ supposedly benefit from the current one? Note the supposedly: you don't actually benefit, because you yourself are starved of choices without being willing to admit it.
  • He's still blundering about.

    The situation in Northern Ireland, with his friend Mr. Mitchell, is tenuous at best; his first lady seriously botches a trip to Israel; his personally-driven mission in the Balkans has been marked by retribution from destruction of homes to outright murder and theft; he's mildly chided Russia, but refuses it to significantly condemn it for actions in Chechnya that are arguably far worse than anything that happened in Somalia...

    He's not a good foreign policy leader -- never was and never will be.
  • "(such as, it proves that God does not exist). That's just crap. It's not Science as a system of rational thought, it's Science masquarading as a religion. It's Science claiming to have all the answers mankind needs and will ever need.
    Look around you at the utopia mankind has created. That should be enough for anyone."

    I can guage your ignorance by these statements. If you had hoped to escape looney bin reserved for militia and conspiricy theorists you have just lost it now. Evolution does not attempt to prove that [any] God does not exist. Science is agnostic of any God. Science explains observed phenomena. Science may not give use all the answers you claim we need, and neither is anybody proclaiming it has provided a utopia, or was "meant" to. Your defensiveness suggests you are a reactionary who is just looking for enemies.

    "It borders on non-rational faith in Science, and preaches that we can replace God with our own ingenuity...But there are some principals that I believe strongly in, that some scientists seem to want to quash; the concept of a free will, the concept that religion is an important and necessary part of some people's life."

    No, this is a fiction fabricated by scared and desperate theists who cannot concieve of a world in which both rational science and their spirituality can exist.

    "When people try to force this evolution agenda on the masses, it's just as bad as forcing Christianity, because it's just as much the mixing of religion and government as the Holy Roman Empire. "

    What you call "forcing" and "evolution agenda" other people call education. What about those wacky "physics", "mathematics", and "chemistry" agendas. /What/ are we thinking with that? The point is, public education has the responsibility for enabling people to be productive in society and the economy. This productivity requires some knowledge. This is what public education provides.
  • Thanks very much for that link!

    While I imagine Microsoft does accept certain subsidies (property tax abatements and the like) I personally don't think that their competitors are under any disadvantage attibutable to any alleged "monopoly".

    I'd say that they operate using a government enforced monopoly on Windows (which is what copyright is, pure and simple). If you reproduce copies of Windows, then men with guns will come round to your door, just as surely as if you didn't pay your taxes. I also might quibble over whether they really operate in a non-coercive marketplace, but that's of secondary importance.

    I'd also disagree with you on whether corporations can be considered on the same legal footing as natural individuals. Limited liability corporations (as opposed to partnerships) are basically creations of the state, with all sorts of protections denied to the rest of us (most importantly, the right to walk away from their debts).

    My comment about "not a consistent libertarian" was a jibe against those who believe in the concept of intellectual property, and it was wrong of me to personalise it -- sorry. I just think that points 2 and 3 of the LP platform are inconsistent unless you do not allow intellectual creations to be property. And copyright and patents do not fit in well with the Lockean rule of acquisition of property, in that "as much and as good" is not left for others.

    cheers

    jsm
  • so he's not going to get many voters from Redmond then :-)
  • Even Darwin himself did not observe "macro" evolution, in fact, from what I have read (sorry, don't have the source in front of me to quote, so I am paraphrasing), he said that if transient species were not found within a certain number of years, then the "Origin of Species" theory should be discarded in favor of a more limited "micro" evolutionary theory, which is that species can and will adapt for their survival in limited ways.

    Which, incidentally, I agree with. For those not familiar with the issue, "macro" or "large" evolution would involve demonstrable fossil or other proof of one species changing into another. "Micro" evolution involves changes within a species which enhance the survival of a smaller subset within the overall group. For example, the Galapagos tortoise differs in it's neck construction than other tortoises which relates to the type of food it has available, and finches (Galapagos and other) seem to adapt in both coloration and beak construction based on local factors. But no one has ever found a finch that was could be stated as a halfway point in evolution to a parrot, or a tortoise that was halfway to whatever the next step down or up the evolutionary ladder would be.

    "Hmm...well, I'd say the whole field of biology is predicated on it." I do not want to downplay Darwin's role in the development of the biological sciences, but it depends on what you call biology and what you call history. Let me offer another example. Thousands of experiments with different types of chemicals (a.k.a. drugs) have shown that a given substance will have similar enough effects on mice, primates, and humans) that scientific experiments can be done as to the efficacy and safety of those substances. If Darwin's theory was disproven, none of these experiments would be invalidated, would they? So they don't depend on the theory, even if the original science that allowed the use of animals in experiments related to humans (60+ years ago) was essentially allowed because the theory was accepted as a possibility. (re: the Scope's Monkey trial).

    "This decision was made only to remove evolution from the classroom." Actually no. It was to permit teachers the freedom to teach evolution as a more theoretical construct, as opposed to an exclusive, 100% factual construct. What it allows is a teacher to say in effect "Charles Darwin's theory on the Origin of Species was and continues to be an important scientific question. Without disregarding (and therefore dismissing) the fact that macro-evolution hasn't been proven, let's see what we can learn from the theory. Also, we can now discuss alternatives to the theory without being punished." Which frees a student to learn and make up his own mind, versus being forced to accept something not proven as fact. Which IMHO would be the same thing as saying "Communism is superior to free market capitalism" and expecting a student to accept it as fact without a shred of evidence to support it.

    (I'll admit nitpicking on this next point, BTW) "If they don't, well, it will be directly BECAUSE of this verdict." It wasn't a verdict. It was a vote, which IIRC passed by a one vote margin. So in effect, the one vote margin ends up being a test of what will happen, because if the decision doesn't work well, ONE person on the State board can change their mind next time the issue is voted on, and the "test" will be over.

    "I find the debate useless also, because it is typically one-sided: people who don't like the "idea" of it attempting to discredit its fact." Well hmmm. How about the fact that people who don't like the idea that macro-evolution has never been proven to occur conveniently ignore that point and trumpet the whole construct as FACT?? Tie score I'd say: and we are free to disagree, unlike in science where a firm verdict/end point can be reached. (It's been proven that airplanes fly because wings generate lift based on the Bernouilli principle.)

    At some point, I will post my own thoughts on the whole issue on a website I am currently developing (CityOfDreams.Org -- not worth clicking on yet as I am still building the database back end.) In the meatime, BTW, I appreciate your cogent analysis and discussion of the "pro-evolution" side even if I am unconvinced by the arguments.

    Finally, in re-reading my original post, I realize that I was out of line in my comment about you probably voting for Gore. I just don't like the mind set which says that the federal gov't is somehow wiser than local folks, and your original post hit that particular "pet peeve" button. So I responded with a poorly written, sarcastic slap at the end of my post, for which I apologize.

  • "The idiots in Kansas who gutted their childrens scientific education in the area of biology are dolts." See the response I just posted about whether or not the "scientific education" will be or has been gutted. The decision was about freedom to teach both sides, not about removing the freedom to teach evolution. (Wish I had a link for all of the /. readers that either supports my arguments or blows it away, BTW. My analysis of the decision was based on listening to other analysts in the state of Kansas as interviewed on one of the better KCMO TV stations.)

    "So are people who defend this idiocy by making trite pleas for tolerance. The scientific method is orthogonal to tolerance, as should be the standards for scientific education. We are in agreement on the scientific method and it's exactness, but I disagree that "tolerance" is any part of the issue, because the "scientific method" has been used as a tool of persecution and repression too many times. I could use the scientific method to prove the superiority of a given race based on test scores, graduation rates, numbers of people in highly technical positions, etc. and my proof would be a lie, because it doesn't account for all the variations in the human condition.

    " Science is about forming theories and then backing them up with emperical evidence. The more emperical evidence supports a particular theory, the more credibility that theory has.... gravitation and evolution... have a tremendous degree of credibility because they are supported by truly overwhelming amounts of emperical evidence.... Gravitation: yes, macro-evolution: no. The fossil record is incomplete, and inconclusive, other than that different types of species appear at different points in the geologic strata of the earth. Which could also be used to say that some type of advanced Being or Beings created things in a certain order, setting up a food chain all the way back to the one-celled organism level, in a way that allows the one celled organisms to clean up the remains (waste and dead) of the more advanced creatures. And that same advanced Being or Beings also gave those creatures limited abilities to adapt to their environments. Think of it as sort of like a grand "Star Trek" "terra-forming" expedition lasting millions of years. Now then what I just wrote is a theory as well as Darwin's. And just as difficult to prove or disprove based on the archeological record.

    "Oddly enough, current emperical (sic) evidence does appear to support "the theory that Washington D.C. knows best", at least when compared to Kansas... Hmmm. I'd say otherwise. Kansas seems to have one of the most efficient, and fair state governments that I've seen. I've met Presidents (Ford and Carter), state governors (one from AZ and a couple from Nevada where I grew up), and numerous mayors, etc., and the current governor (Graves) of Kansas is one of the best of them. Lower corruption and more focus on the needs of the people than any other state in which I've lived (Nevada, Arizona, Texas, Utah, Oregon, and Missouri), and alot less elitism, pork-barrel projects and special interest peddling that dominate the current political establishment in D.C. So without any so-called "empirical evidence", other than the fact that you don't agree with the decision of that educational panel's decision in regards to a THEORY, I'd say your argument about the superiority of the federal government just doesn't hold water.

  • What you call "forcing" and "evolution agenda" other people call education.

    Yes, but in those wacky "physics", "mathematics",and "chemistry" agendas, we can do experiments and proofs which make it 99.9% sure that we understand what the truth is regarding the science underneath. So I as a student can gain an education into how the world works by observing the results of those experiments, etc. Unlike "macro" evolution, which has no such proof.

    So I would ask you how a more scientific approach(analyze both sides of the argument [evolution or other]) diminishes the ability of public education to fulfill (as you put it) "...the responsibility for enabling people to be productive in society and the economy."

  • My exception here is "useful predictions." I disagree. Rather, evolution can help explain an accurate historical record. Because there are no controlled experiments
    that can be conducted to test evolution, there is no way to predict results.


    By your thinking it would seem we would have to invalidate all of geology as well, since we can't replicate earthquakes or ice ages in the laboratory. But geology explains why the plates of the earth move at rates of centimeters a year and show how all the data fit nicely if you assume this movement has been happening forever.

    Evolutionary theory predicts that natural genetic changes in populations are sufficient to explain all of the organisms in the fossil record and those of present time. It predicts that all animals are genetically related, with branches in lineage occuring at identifiable times. It predicts that adaptations are suboptimal, since they are gradual and make usually use of existing structures. It further predicts that these forces and changes continue to occur. There are experiments that can test evolution: genetic lineage studies, breeding, computer modeling, fossil record analysis, among others.


    And vis versa, I hope. Science's place is to help explain and understand the inner workings of the physical reality. To step beyond that goes against everything that
    science is about. Likewise, religion cannot hope to explain, in detail, the structure of the atom, and for it to attempt to do so is foolish.

    I'm not quite sure if I know what you mean. We need some coherent theory of how change occurs on the planet if we are to make good plans for the future, surely you don't object to that. I agree that science tells us little about morality (although it says a great deal about how morality is learned) or purpose, or many of the most important things in life. I too, am scared with the prospect of someday understanding and being able to manipulate conciousness and thought, those things that are most important to our humanity.

    I wouldn't worry too much about the encroachment of science on religious issues, the one thing science can never do is disprove the existence of God. That's the point, if faith were disprovable, it would be scientific. I am just glad that God chose to make a comphrehensible universe. By fumbling in the dark and seeking to light a small corner of it, are I not revealing parts of the true wonder of God's creation?

    --
  • What about geology, or I suppose you dislike that as well. No one has observed /macro/ geology, yet the assumption that the forces at work in the present are the same forces that have been at work through all time has great explanatory and predictive powers.

    The problem with creationism is not that it doesn't make sense, just that it is not science. Science must be able to be disproven. I can never disprove creationism, because I can't disprove God. In fact I challenge you to disprove the assertion that the universe was created in it's entirety a millisecond before you read this message. It is a defensible but ultimately useless claim, because it has no predictive power.

    Evolutionary theory is science because it is disprovable, simple and makes useful predictions. I know of no competing theory that explains the diversity, similarity, and fossil evidence of life on Earth that holds to these tenets.
    --
  • I want to explain to my students:

    Why dinosaurs fossils are different in different layers of the earth.

    Why there are fossils and of humanoids who are like us but not exactly like us.

    Why we look so much like apes, and share so much genetic and behavioral similarities.

    Why studies on mice have any applicability to humans.

    Why we have many of the same or similar proteins as other animals.

    Why pollinating insects and pollinating plants are so amazingly well suited for eachother.

    Why human beings display distinct regional cosmetic and physical variation.

    Why respiration is so similar in animals and plants.

    Why male songbirds are so colorful.

    Why there is such a diversity of life, but a relative paucity of structures.

    Why is the Panda's thumb really a finger.

    What will happen (short and long term) to the creatures of the rain forest if their habitat is destroyed. How is catastrophic change different than gradual change.

    What does it mean for a species to be destroyed, will they ever come back?

    Why are there bacteria resistant to antibiotic drugs that didn't exist 50 years ago.

    etc.

    You may be able to explain one or two with hand waving, complex theories and "we don't know why but we know that it is true, look at these experiments" but I can explain all of them and more with a single simple coherent theory that they can use to make predictions and make sense of other areas of biology as well as earth sciences.

    The real question is, what do we want our students to learn from biology. A small set of facts and associations? Or do we want to tell them our best guess as to why things actually are and let them have some chance of organizing that vast complexity and making informed predictions. It would be as tragic and pointless as teaching children how to use a calculator but never teaching them how to add.
    --
  • I do not want to downplay Darwin's role in the development of the biological sciences, but it
    depends on what you call biology and what you call history. Let me offer another example. Thousands of experiments with different types of chemicals (a.k.a.
    drugs) have shown that a given substance will have similar enough effects on mice, primates, and humans) that scientific experiments can be done as to the
    efficacy and safety of those substances. If Darwin's theory was disproven, none of these experiments would be invalidated, would they? So they don't depend on
    the theory, even if the original science that allowed the use of animals in experiments related to humans (60+ years ago) was essentially allowed because the
    theory was accepted as a possibility. (re: the Scope's Monkey trial).


    The results of the experiments don't require the use of evolutionary theory, but any generalization or reasonable explanation of those results do. Without evolutionary theory, all of biology would be disconnected facts with complex theories to explain why dissimilar creatures are similar in so many ways.

    Which IMHO would be the same thing as saying "Communism is superior to free market
    capitalism" and expecting a student to accept it as fact without a shred of evidence to support it.


    We(including myself) commonly argue the reverse. If you want an example of a science with very weak theoretical footing, look no further than economics. When it comes time to take a class in theoretical micro-economics, you find that you can only prove the efficient market theory (the foundation of free market capitalism) if you assume a system with no time, perfect information, perfect competition, and perfectly rational consumers. That doesn't mean that the free market capitalism is worthless, but you'll never look at a demand curve with quite the same blissful acceptance again.

    I don't mind a "wart's and all" approach to teaching evolution, as long as you explain that it is the best scientific explanation put forward that fits the facts. And by scientific I mean that it must be disprovable. Creationism has no place in a science class because it is not disprovable and therefore not science.
    --
  • While I share your cynicism at times, I think it's the wrong compromise. Dishonesty is not a good policy in education. What are you supposed to say when the student makes the connection and asks about it? Deny that you know anything? In the end it is unfair because it makes it much more difficult to teach human biology properly.
    --
  • Well I don't know what "macro" evolution is, but why do you think evolution is less factual than any other of the sciences (physics, chemistry, etc.)? Scientific rigor is applied equally to all fields. A theory or fact in one field isn't more qualified to be a theory or fact than any one in any another field.

    "So I would ask you how a more scientific approach(analyze both sides of the argument [evolution or other]) diminishes the ability of public education to fulfill (as you put it) "...the responsibility for enabling people to be productive in society and the economy.""

    A more scientific approach /doesn't/ diminish the ability of public education to fulfill its responsibility. It increases it. Religious dogma of any sort has no place in public schools (learning /about/ religions, yes, promoting any one of them, no). As long as the constitution holds that church and state must be separate, religious teachings have no place in public schools, and /shouldn't/ be an option. If you don't like that, your argument is with the constitution.
  • Thank you for informing me about "macro" evolution . I'll have to check with my biology/genetics geek for a further explaination ;)

    "Thousands of experiments with different types of chemicals (a.k.a. drugs) have shown that a given substance will have similar enough effects on mice, primates, and humans) that scientific experiments can be done as to the efficacy and safety of those substances. If Darwin's theory was disproven, none of these experiments would be invalidated, would they? So they don't depend on the theory, even if the original science that allowed the use of animals in experiments related to humans (60+ years ago) was essentially allowed because the theory was accepted as a possibility. (re: the Scope's Monkey trial)."

    Science formulates /models/ of reality as theories. Theories are proposed and tested against over and over to see if they are consistent with measured reality. While it will take many tests over a long amount of time to "accept" a theory (or to even graduate from hypothesis to theory), any one measurement can break it. That is the business of science: proposing theories and trying to break them. Evolution has held up very well as a pretty good model. So far it hasn't been broken. While there may not be explicit evidence to support "macro" evolution, as you say, general evolution holds up pretty well, and nothing is flying in the face of it. As the "best-practice" it is entirely permissable and expectable to be taught in public schools. After all, public schools prepare children for the future, and all future biologists will be well prepared by learning evolution. What students need to know, as a prerequisite to any scientific teaching, is that science is the best approximation. Once that assertion is made, it is /unnecessary/ to then, also teach all alternative systems of belief. They can get their alternative systems of belief elsewhere so long as they get the science from school. Evolution and science does not explicitly refute any one person's personal beliefs. It is that individual's responsibility to seek alternatives if he/she chooses, not public schools to offer them (we can't teach /everybody's/ religion can we?). As long as children know that we are not trying to force them to belief this IS the ONE and ONLY correct way, we don't need to explicitly give them arbitrary alternatives.

    "Actually no. It was to permit teachers the freedom to teach evolution as a more theoretical construct, as opposed to an exclusive, 100% factual construct. What it allows is a teacher to say in effect "Charles Darwin's theory on the Origin of Species was and continues to be an important scientific question."

    Teachers should be teaching science as it is. They should already be saying this. Allowing them to teach arbitrary alternative curricula does not promote this. And as we both know, regardless of the pretense, segregated schools, bathrooms and water fountains /weren't/ really for the altruistic benefit of blacks, e.g. The pretense is to "liberate teachers", but the only /real/ reason it was passed is because people wanted to teach creationism and not evolution.

    "Which IMHO would be the same thing as saying "Communism is superior to free market capitalism" and expecting a student to accept it as fact without a shred of evidence to support it."

    Schools shouldn't (and aren't in my experience) saying science (or evolution) is /better/ than any one person's beliefs. They just teach it. You don't have to accept or believe it, but you have to know it. In school they [should] teach /what/ communism is. They don't/shouldn't teach whether it is "bad" or "good".
  • "Well I don't know what "macro" evolution is, but why do you think evolution is less factual than any other of the sciences (physics, chemistry,
    etc.)?"

    You explained this in your other post so ignore this one.
  • "Thank you for informing me about "macro" evolution . I'll have to check with my biology/genetics geek for a further explaination ;)"

    I did check, and it turns out there is substantial proof for macro evolution. According to Evolutionary Biology by Futuyma (sp?), there were two lines of thought. Both lines of thought acknowledged the /existence/ of evolutionary biology. One line of thought made a qualitative distinction between "macro" evolution, or "speciation", and "micro" evolution, variations /within/ a species. Supposedly speciation was caused by some phenomenon other than cumulative "micro"-evolutions, e.g. mutations, or electromagnetic radiation. This line of thinking was eventually discredited. The other, persistent line of thought said that "macro" evolution was merely an accumulation of "micro"-evolutions - that there was in fact, no difference in cause between speciation and variations within a species. This is taught in advanced college biology courses...certainly it is founded enough to maintain the teaching of evolution in general. Just one piece of evidence for this is a certain species of fly which has, under observation, changed environments and evolved into a different species incapable of breeding with the former. Once this breeding barrier is passed the new species only breeds with itself and breaks off.

    So I'd have to say that, while under the assumption that "macro" evolution was unproven your arguments seemed sound, I have to disagree with you now. There is no reason evolution should not be taught, and no reason arbitrary and possibly conflicting alternatives need be taught alongside it.
  • by Hard_Code (49548)
    /existence/ of evolutionary biology.

    =

    /existence/ of "macro" evolution

If a 6600 used paper tape instead of core memory, it would use up tape at about 30 miles/second. -- Grishman, Assembly Language Programming

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