One of the things that went wrong with X was that we tried to pull too much of the OS into X so that we could run on every old platform out there. Or to put it more bluntly, bending over backwards for fringe platforms
He seems to forget that Linux was once a "fringe platform". Sigh.
Authors don't have to pay that much for an ISBN when they self publish. Lulu.com for instance charges $40 for a "global distribution package" which includes an ISBN.
I agree with the idea of dropping the dollar bill but it it would be a politcal and economic disaster for Massachusetts, thus won't happen for a long time, if ever.