Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
DEAL: For $25 - Add A Second Phone Number To Your Smartphone for life! Use promo code SLASHDOT25. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! ×

Journal Journal: Bill Gates - AntiChrist or just Evangelical Creationist?

Alright, I'll admit it. I'm pissed - in just about every sense of the word. I'm pissed at Bill Gates on a number of levels, pissed (well at least annoyed) at the Slashdot editors and perhaps a little drunk. (Which is a meaning only if you're British.)

I submitted an article to our beloved Slashdot about the subject I'm about to mention and wasn't terribly surprised with I saw this: Bill Gates - Closet Creationist? - Monday August 22, @10:03PM - Rejected

But that wasn't what inspired me to blog^H^H^H^H journal this subject it was actually inspired by the fact that I've been chasing a bug for the past week (maybe a week and a half) in which .asp sessions seem to randomly loose variables. People have been yelling at me about this ever since around the time of the SP2 upgrade and I've been trying to track it down. Finally, after exhausting EVERY setting - both on the server and on the browser, replacing every global.asa, after searching and editing every include file and after intermittent successes reported by users I finally discovered today that using IIS 6.0 and Windows Server 2003 .asp sessions will (no matter what you do) randomly loose variables. But this isn't the worst of it. The kicker is - it is an Explorer specific bug. I downloaded Firefox and was able to successfully fill out the form 5 times while the simultaneous Explorer session logged one success and then failed four more times in succession.
I immediately had to delete my test posts because they were (I think understandably) filled with comments like, "Fuck Bill Gates right the ear!!!!!" and some other things that were impolite (and perhaps inappropriate for work) as well. (See my previous journal for more of what I think of Microsoft.) So without further ado - here is the article that the Slashdot editors didn't think was worthy of your time or their space...

Our story starts with a place called the "Discovery Institute". The "institue" is financially backed by funds from people who back a heavy evangelical Christian agenda. The "institute" is the genius behind a number of recent rash of "intelligent design" mentions in the news including the focus group tested talking points of "teach the controversy" that President Bush seems to have picked up recently out of the blue.
"So what?" you say, evangelical Christians have as much right to found pseudo-institutes that back pseudo-science as much as any other cult, right? "This is America - the land founded on freedom to practice whatever wacko religion is frowned upon in the old country."

The difference here is is that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation contributes 1 million dollars a year and specifically $50,000 of the directors $141,000/year salary.
At least according to this NY Times article. (See page 2 for the gory details.)

So what are we to make of this? The seemingly secular and pro-education Bill Gates paying a million dollars a year to fund dissemination of religion dressed as pseudo-science in both the political and education realms? Why is his institute that actually does some decent things with his (obviously undeserved) money backing this lunatic venture? Is there more to the agenda of the Foundation than we know or is this simply an oversight?

And perhaps most importantly, why is it everytime I start to think, "Maybe Bill Gates _isn't_ the focus of evil in the modern world" does he actively do something to remind me that he is?


PS And about the Server issue? Since for at least some of the realms I think Explorer is the only "approved" browser so I'll probably forced to add a bunch of trash session variables around the variables I really need in hopes that Explorer will "lose" the chaff variables rather than the ones I really need. I couldn't bring myself to write such ugly, pointless, hackish code today. I'l try to face it tomorrow - with the hangover from drinking today. Thanks to Bill...

"He drove me to drink and it's the only good thing I can say about him!"

PPS Maybe I'll even change my .sig to point to my journal. This would mean changing my /. .sig for the first time _ever_. (Note the ID number.) Am I that pissed? I just about am...
More on the "Discovery Institute".


Journal Journal: What Microsoft is not...

        The realization hit me suddenly and completely one day as the truth so often does. The truth in this case was one of those annoyingly obvious things that, when finally realized, had been right in front of me the entire time. It was one of those full-on blue pill, forest for the trees, emperor's new clothes moments.
        I was, as usual, cursing at some brain dead behavior of some Microsoft product. While it doesn't matter which one it was I believe it was Frontpage - oh, sorry, Microsoft Frontpage. After six years of development this supposedly fourth generation product is still virtually unusable - missing features that any second generation software would be embarrassed not to have. I was trying to delete an extraneous cell that had been created when I foolishly tried to split an already existing cell in a table using the supplied tools. I placed the cursor in the cell and switched to straight HTML mode and found myself looking at the top of the html code page. Shaking my head I switched back and highlighted a single word and switched again to HTML mode trying to locate the extra cell in the html code without having to search through the entire source by hand. Now the entire body of the code was highlighted. Shaking my head I wondered, for the millionth time, how Microsoft, with teams of developers and essentially limitless resources, could consistently produce software that was on par with what I would expect from a part-time single developer effort.
        The usual pat answer floated up as it always does: "Microsoft is a monopoly - they don't care because they don't have to. When a single car company exists they do a poor job too - Microsoft is the Yugo of software." But for whatever reason this answer didn't satisfy the way it usually does. I continued to wonder how any company that cared about its products could so consistently and thoroughly create vastly inferior products. That's when the realization of the obvious truth hit me.

  Microsoft is not a software company.

        In retrospect it is easy to see how I was fooled - or maybe I'm just trying to make myself feel better about having missed the truth for so long - but the truth is Microsoft only looks like a software company. Microsoft is a 'new economy' company in an 'old economy' sheep's clothing. Simply put an old economy company sells what they produce: Ford makes and sells cars and trucks. A new economy company makes something different then what they actually sell: NBC makes shows but sells viewers. They will make whatever shows attract the most viewers per dollar spent because the number of viewers is what they are actually selling. As much as NBC will talk about quality and their commitment to their programming that's not what they're actually selling so their flagship show will go in the can to make way for some new reality show at one-tenth its cost in a second.
        So while Microsoft resembles a company that makes and sells software it is, in fact, something very different. Microsoft is a company that produces a software product but what they actually sell are software licenses. The license is what Microsoft is really concerned with selling to you. Any functionality you actually gain from the software is incidental to the license sale just as any laughs you might get from watching Friends is incidental to the real purpose of the show. NBC only cares if you laugh to the extent that that might make you watch the show and therefore watch more commercials. The software is just the vehicle that Microsoft uses to transfer the license to you and that is the software's primary purpose while its secondary purpose to encourage you to buy more licenses from Microsoft. After those purposes are fulfilled the software, in theory, does something useful or serves some purpose - but that is only because Microsoft needs to justify the actual sale to you.
        That's why the quality of Microsoft software never made any sense - because I assumed that the software was the product. There is no explanation as how a company with the resources that Microsoft has can turn out such a horrible product - until you realize that the license is the true focus of the company. The license is a wonderful well designed product that is well conveyed by the thing you thought was the product - but is actually just the transmission medium. The fact that the software is horrible actually supports the renewal of the license with the continual upgrading of the software. Microsoft is actually rewarded in their true goal by the creation and release of the software at which you're cursing because high quality software wouldn't support the selling of another license.
        Now it all makes sense. If you think I'm off base take a look at Microsoft's ultimate goal - leased software. Every few years Microsoft floats this idea and then retracts it when they get too much resistance but it is their ultimate objective. This is a self-perpetuating license that sells itself over and over without any need to actually release new software, encourage and intimidate people into upgrading. It is the perfect Microsoft product. What else could explain Microsoft's complete abandonment of conventional software numbering to move to a goofy year based system of designations. The name Microsoft Word 2001 conveys none of the useful information that conventional numbering does but it does some other things. I hides the fact that you're paying (again) for the umpteenth generation of a word processor that should have been complete at version 3 or 4 and it gets you used to the idea that software should be named yearly.
"It's 2003 - why my Word must be out of date - just look at it's name! I better upgrade!"
And both of those things support the sale of, surprise, more licenses.


Slashdot Top Deals

New York... when civilization falls apart, remember, we were way ahead of you. - David Letterman