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User Journal

Journal Journal: Let a 1000 flowers bloom

Sun seeks to increase and boost corporate blogging

Reminds me that great helmsman, Chairman Mao, when he encouraged Chinese intellectuals to express themselves. Shortly afterwards came one of his infamous cultural revolutions where he discovered that, in actual fact, his omlette needed a lot more broken eggs. But go ahead, Sunnites, you who have more faith in your management than the rest of us, blog away to your little hearts' content.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Back on track

Ok, the project is back on track after a long drought.

+5 Comments here and here attracting moderator favour. As always, correct and re-use at your pleasure.

I do admit that the first must have been a timing thing because it wasn't very original, but then, that's the point of this project, remember?

Those Sun guys are a bit touchy. The responses to the 2nd comment and ensuing conversation at least show passion. The fact is, they're still wrong.

User Journal

Journal Journal: My Life

How on earth did Clinton come up with the same title for his autobiographical work as Adolf Hitler?

Are there laws in Germany that will preclude its publication in that country?

Answers on the back of a postcard - please.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Copenhagen Consensus 1

I'm not a big fan of Bjorn Lomborg, or at least the manner in which his populist "Skeptical Environmentalist" is usually mis-presented. Too often, the glib assumptions and misrepresentation of data Lomborg accuses others of is evident in his own work (and those that use it for citations).

That being said, I like the look of this Copenhagen Consensus project he has sponsored - which looks at how to "set priorities among a range of ideas for improving the lives of people living in developing countries".

I do agree that control of HIV/AIDS has got to be one of the biggest challenges, particularly in Africa where so much the already small institutional capacity has been wiped out by the disease.

Equally, terms of trade for agricultural produce has got to be changed. When will the average person in the street in the West wake up, subsidising inefficient, western producers is not only poisoning us, robbing us of huge amounts of tax, increasing the cost of basic produce - it's condemning the rest of the world to to grinding poverty.

I see from The Economist that their list doesn't gain much support from environmentalist. There is a tendancy for this group (which which I sometimes associate myself) to ignore the immediate and pressing needs of the human race, and on the face of things to act as a protectionist lobby for western workers.

Yes, global warming is a concern, yes carbon emissions are important issues - but more important than aids, malaria, starvation - I don't think so.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Least we forget

From a recent interview on Fox News:

"MCCAIN: Well, I think that's one of the points here. There's a blurring not only on Secretary Rumsfeld's part, but on the American people's part of the difference or similarity between Iraqi soldiers and terrorists. And I think that there was some blurring there that may have accounted for some of this.

And on that line, Chris, my friend Joe Lieberman mentioned that Al Qaida didn't apologize after the attacks of September 11th, and the people in Fallujah that killed and dismembered American citizens didn't apologize.

But I want to point out also that America is defined by its greatness, its goodness, and one of those factors is defined by our treatment of our enemies. We cannot be equated with those people. That's why we're in Iraq, to bring them a better life, to bring them freedom and democracy in an open society."


"MCCAIN: I respond by saying America's greatness is defined by the treatment of our enemies. And if we came to Iraq to install a regime, or just replace one authoritarian regime with another that's not quite so bad, it's not worth the sacrifice of over 700 American lives.

And we came there as a beacon of hope and liberty. And many of these kinds of words are being disparaged by many so-called "realists" now. But that's what America's all about. And if we treated prisoners the same way that -- or to a lesser degree, but in a violation of the rules of war, and the clearly laid out Geneva Conventions, then we have to apologize, and we have to make sure that it never happened again. "

Strikes me the so-called "neo-cons" have lost sight of these issue (what makes America "great" and "good"). If, indeed, they ever appreciated them.

Thank you Senator McCain.,2933,119402,00.html

User Journal

Journal Journal: Outsourcing, Robert X Cringely and the Great Depression 1

I've been thinking about this how to write entry for quite some time now. Whenever the topic of outsourcing is raised on /. I cringe at the froth, venom and xenophobia that seems accompanies the topic. Then a phrase from Eben Moglen's (of FSF fame) recent lecture to the Havard Law School caught my eye. I used it in an brief email exchange I had with Robert X Cringely (yes - he sent me a nice reply, to which I replied and he may reply back. I'll keep you posted). All of this had the effect of allowing me to organise some thoughts, so that I can put them in one place, here, which I can then point to or cut and paste from every time the topic raises it's head.

See, I always assumed /. gets "it". There is this OSS thing, built by world wide communities, underpinned by a philosophy of individual liberty and freedom that has a very natural home in the USA. Then there is the internet thing, again, building bridges and opportunities across the world and underpinned by some forward thinking (no, not you Al) and financing largely from the USA. This creates huge change and huge opportunity, particularly for a rich, high tech. economy like that of the USA. All is good, the savvy /. crowd are onto it, they understand, so I thought.

Then comes an economic downturn, under the current administration 2 million jobs are lost, a few of these in the tech sector where massive hype over the potential of the internet had created over-investment and over-employment and fraudulent accounting. And now, oh the ignominy, some of these jobs have gone to coloured folks in India. India! how could those people possibly do our highly skilled, highly paid, First World jobs.

Don't get me wrong, being out of work is not easy, been there done that and may end up there again, who knows? But be assured that clamouring for state and federal government to introduce protectionist legislation is the last thing that will help. You don't believe me, read about how protectionism helped turn a stock market crash into The Great Depression from someone who was there over the time (Google for the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930, if you like). Look at world economic growth over the last 50 years. World GDP has grown five times over this period. International trade accounts for 25% of world GDP. Despite this impressive figure the economic disparity between rich and poor nations has widened considerably, meaning that countries like the USA have benefitted to a higher degree than most. What is holding back the world right now is not a lack of protectionism but too much of it, specifically in the form of agricultural subsidies paid by Europe, Japan and the USA to keep grossly overproducing, inefficient farmers in business and at the same time condemn Third World producers to grinding poverty.

This is the true crime of our new century.

India, is actually doing something sensible in this skewed climate, trading on its intellectual capital in which it has invested very heavily. White collar workers in certain 1st world countries are finding that maybe their jobs aren't quite so skilled and rare as they once arrogantly thought and are suddenly demanding government protectionist measures - and this in the land that clamours for "small government"!

So, back to Prof. Moglen. The phrases that caught my eye were:

"The result [of Free Software] - celebrated everywhere that capitalism is actually believed in -- is that existing firms are going to have to change their way of operation or leave the market. This is usually regarded as a positive outcome, associated with enormous welfare increases of which capitalism celebrates at every opportunity everywhere all the time in the hope that the few defects that capitalism may possess will be less prominently visible once that enormous benefit is carefully observed.

"Mr. McBride does not want to go out of business. This is understandable.Mr. Gates does not want to go out of business either. But they are bothon the wrong side of a problem in the political economy of the 21stcentury." (full text here on Groklaw).

Ironically this speech has been widely lauded in the /. and OSS community at large. Maybe people don't understand what he was saying. He is talking about a revolution. He was saying "if you don't change your business and attitude you *will* go bust". We clapped vigourously because he mentioned this in the context of our betes noires, McBride and Gates. Why, if we can so easily apply this thinking to SCO and Microsoft are we so unable to apply it to ourselves?

The Moglen comment applies equally to how the internet and globalisation are creating economic opportunity and change. This is not new. It wasn't new when the skilled cottage based wool spinners of rural England were put out of business by the infernal mills.

As I said to Bob...(:-o) "I'm sure the English spinners argued just as you do about quality of product versus price, I know the British coal miners in the early 1980s argued as you do (their coal was better, cleaner anthracite), as did the steel workers and car makers. Maybe they were right and maybe you are right but I don't remember seeing many of my fellow programmers at the time taking to the streets on their behalf, or demanding legislatures protect their jobs. They were all too busy earning exorbitant wages and driving BMWs. If, as you say, it [outsourcing] makes marginal sense then the decisions will be reversed - otherwise those companies will go bust."

I believe that with its very large, rich and generally healthy economy America and its citizens are in the box seat to continue taking advantage of the global economy. The world *is* getting richer, GDPs continue to grow, year in year out and America will benefit from this exponentially and continue to develop new technology and infrastructure on a scale that will not be matched anywhere else in the world. You don't need protectionist measures for that, in fact they are counter productive. America has been experiencing a period of economic downturn, the causes of which are probably self inflicted but if treated properly this is not a terminal state and already things are picking up.

Hell if my /. pal RevMike can find work, anyone can!

**Stop Press**

Bob replied to my reply...I'd better stop replying as I sense a slight terseness in the most recent response (maybe I'm too sensitive). Although I'm equally amazed that he does as - many thanks Bob.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Sunny Side Up

Whilst I'm in a warm and glowy vein about the good ol' US, well Southpark anyway, have a look at RevMike's journal. Helps chew up the working day.

I was remembering last night how, as a teenager, I invented a new way of frying my eggs. Once the bottom was nice and crispy I would flip it over and fry the top. So all the runny stuff was cooked. If the yoke broke that was ok, less runny stuff.

Years later I happened on a breakfast diner in San Francisico and ordered breakfast. I you could have knocked me over with a feather when a bemused waitress explained what "sunny side down" means.

You see, in America they have all those good little things you've ever discovered packaged up and made part of everyday life.

For a little less sugar here are some questions that Michael Moore would like answered.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Why Use OSS? 4

I have written a document (avaible in Open Office) outlining a business case and economic case for using OSS. I'm not very clever. A large number of /. people are.

Soooo, if you come across this journal entry and have comments that will help me refine, condense and improve the agruements please let me know.

Please also be aware that the target audience is non-technical. Politicians, CEOs and so on.

The New Zealand Open Source Society have kindly posted an html version up on their site.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Quickie for a fiver

Subject: Patents, again

I really don't like patents, all patents. If you are bored by the subject - sorry (no, really).

Anyway, here is a +5 for the project. Correct and re-use at your pleasure.

It has to have the most typos per line than any other comment I've posted (which is saying something).

Whilst we are on the subject, finding this site was like having a wet dream come true.

Good God almighty that Friend / Fan thing is a bit arcane - isn't it? I found, accidentally, I have a couple of fans (huh? Maybe that should read " a couple of accidental fans"). That's nice, I thought, I'll have to write and tell mother. Anyway, I thought it would be equally nice to reciprocate.

To cut a long story short, on /. you beceome someone's fan by making them a friend. Strange to think that Eminem has so many friendly fans.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Humour II - The Empire Strikes Back

In the past I have suggested that the citizens of the USA suffered from some form of humour impairment. (Here and here if you must know.)

I now find the evidence is against me. On a very rare foray into the world of TV I caught a re-run of the infamous Southpark "Ladder to Heaven" episode - you know, the one where, amongst other things, Saddam is building WMDs in heaven, right under God's nose! It was VFF indeed. As with "ball hits man in groin" it works on many different levels.

Even on /. I can find the following:

In Germany they have this weird concept that a seller liying in an advertisement is fraud, as the seller is misrepresenting the product.

In the USA, we are more enlightened than that, and judges have ruled that is quite Ok to lie (even when the company *knows* its lying) in an add as this constitutes free speech.

So, there you go. Counter-proof - and not a moment too soon.

User Journal

Journal Journal:

To quote Danny Kay "Get it, Got it, Good.", or Bruce Willis in Moonlighting "Don, dead? Damn!".

On this day in history the nz DNC allowed the registration of level 2 .geek domains.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Going down on me

Finally moderators are modding down. Whilst it hurts to see a comment that you've laboured over for all of 30 seconds reach the golden "5" only to have it booted into touch with a couple of "overrated trolls" I would have to say that it is about time.

Frankly, if I see another SCO/IBM script marked "5 Funny" I think I'll give up on /.

Mind you, my ealier points on humour and perspective in the US still stand. Anything vaguely critical of the USA is always worth a -1 Troll or two.

Enough of this incoherent rambling - on with "The Project".

Subject: Linux Desktop

Mandrake Does it For Me.

Obligatory repost to the constant carp about Linux != "The Big Time" bullshit.

I particularly like this because, word for word it has been re-used.

I'll throw in the following two as they made it to five only to be hammered by the antis. Also shows a good method of raising the ire of the more patriotic moderators out there:

Subject: Bombs 'n' Stuff
A bit of a troll ;-)
Some more reasoned follow up


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