Friday, January 28, 2005

Reporting as it's supposed to be done.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

This is cool.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Running Viruses Under Linux

It's not easy to do. One has to use the Windows emulation layer (WINE). Even then, you have to give most of them a lot of help, setting things up just the way they like it. Despite all theat, most of them poop out. Linux just isn't up to Windows standards yet! Details are here.

Monday, January 24, 2005

A New View

We're all used to talking about the "War on Terror". There seem to be two views about al Qaida's attack on September 11th. One is that they started a war with us and we should finish it, the same way we finished the Civil War once the South fired on Ft. Sumter. The other view is that we deserved to be attacked because of our policies toward the rest of the world. The exact policy that is at fault seems to differ from author to author, the only constant is American and Western guilt. Examples which prove our supposed culpability include: support of Israel, not signing the Kyoto treaty, the Crusades, colonialism, supporting Saudi Arabia, etc.

It is astonishing to realize that these competing narratives actually share a common assumption, namely, that al Qaida is operating in a rational way, that there is reason behind their actions. What if this is not so? What if their action has nothing whatsoever to do with reason? That's the view advocated in this amazing article.

It's a must read.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

A Shot Across the Bow

The election has been held, the votes have been tallied, and the new president has taken his oath of office. Has there been sufficient time yet to discern what it all meant?

There are currently two competing narratives making the rounds. Republicans believe that Bush's reelection represents an endorsement by the populace of his War on Terror. Democrats began the post-election process with depression (there are any number of stories out there of Democrats who were too depressed for a month to do anything) followed by denial (witness the crazy conspiracy theories involving Diebold being passed around in email) and have finall moved to the stage of creating an alternative narrative. Theirs is "We were defeated by the religious nutcases who voted in record numbers, so our defeat is specious." This convenient narrative obviates the need for any change in policy or attitude on the part of the Democrats and their leaders.

I would like to offer a third alternative, different from b0th of the above. This is that Kerry was simply the weakest candidate to be offered the American people since George McGovern. Kerry completely failed to connect to the heartland and likewise completely failed to connect to the middle class or the working class. Kerry was the perfect candidate of the upper class, the idle class, those who are exempt from working and feel a need to push the country in the direction of higher causes in order to find meaning in their own lives. Kerry is neither hunter nor farmer, has never worked in a serious job, and possesses scarcely any knowledge of the myriad tasks necessary to keep life moving. An introvert who rather obviously cares little for "little people", he had nothing to offer any people whose life it is to put food on the table or keep the buses rolling. Kerry was in short a terrible candidate who's only message was "Kick Bush out!".

Considered from this point of view the election takes on a completely different meaning. It means that Bush barely won what should have been a cakewalk. Support for the War in Iraq is weak, support for the War on Terror is weak, support for the forced Democratization of the Middle East is weak, and support for George Bush is weak.

Republicans would do well to watch their step very carefully. Exultation is not the appropriate order of the day.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

I thought this from an author with a literary background who just finished a new book on Linux was interesting.

I'm a programmer or technician only by amateur or theoretical inquiry, not by trade. My background is literature and philosophy, which has brought the advantage of perspective. The secret that most people don't seem to know, because of what our culture has become in recent decades, is the fundamental idea that computer software is not, strictly speaking, technology at all. A program is just a literary work; it's a kind of technical literature. I talk about this in the introduction.

Forty years ago the United States was the greatest producer society in the world. What happened in that interval and how does it relate to Linux? Part of that transformative shift was the adoption of the view that computer programs were objects that you bought at the store, that they were somehow new "technology" to bank on. This obscured what they really were - written works to be published and examined and read, as well as performed by the hardware. When you remove that from the culture and only sell it as a sealed object in the box, you have a fairy-tale economy and a culture that is sliding into irrelevance, decadence, and decay. Linux is a return to the old tradition, to the individual inventor-scientist and industrial entrepreneur as the productive member of an educated populace. That's what so exciting about it.

Blue Unions, Red Suburbs?

What's fueling the bizarre political divide we're seeing these days? I don't know (and I abhor the terms "red" and "blue", but there you are), but the following two posts seem to seem to shed some light on a confusing situation.

First, this interesting post by Paul Musgrave. Is it all about public-sector unions with their noses in the trough?
The growing, or at least persistent, power of municipal governments has the effect of turning naturally Blue cities even more azure. Most private-sector employees in New York City backed Mike Bloomberg; most public employees voted for Democrat Mark Green. Bloomberg's anti-tax, anti-spending campaign was a direct threat to the jobs of many city workers, who feared having to find new ways of earning their living. Because their jobs are on the line in every election, government workers are especially mobilized in politics: Although they account for only a third of the workforce in New York, Malanga notes, public sector employees represented 37 percent of the electorate in 2001.

Not only local politics but national politics are affected by this shift in composition. Because government workers are reliably Democratic, and because Democrats need to maintain their metro base even as they woo suburban voters with promises of middle-class subsidies, the municipal and government workers' unions are big players in the national Democratic movement. This is a predictable, if unconscious, response to the unions' power at the local level. The natural result of overregulation and business-hostile bureaucracy is economic weakening within cities as firms flee to the suburbs and friendlier areas. The unions have turned their cities and school systems into private fiefs. Now, to preserve their power and their members' paychecks, then, public sector unions have to try to extend their reach beyond municipal boundaries.

For generations, the Democratic party was the party of private-sector unions. Now that the trades union movement in the States has been broken, the donkey has a new rider. If Republicans want to ensure better government and preserve their political predominance, weakening these public sector unions has to be high on our agenda.

Then, this interesting comment by the ever-interesting Thibaud, a frequent commenter on Roger Simon's blog. Is it about families living in the suburbs?

The red-blue divide does not run along state or even county lines. It's primarily a divide between a shrinking inner-city blue core population and a swelling red-to-purple nonurban population. The natural allies of the municipal government unions are all those social groups that comprise large downtown populations: the very poor and very rich; childless secular yupsters; gays. From a Democratic perspective, what's wrong with this picture? Aside from the very poor, whose real needs (eg good schools, secure neighborhoods, honest local pols) often go unaddressed by the Dems' platform, none of these groups is much inclined toward bearing and raising children. So along with the replacement problem you have a substantive problem: the Dems are, increasingly, out of touch with US families and family life. Secondly, it's not a good idea for any party to be so heavily dependent financially on downtown gazillionaires like Soros, Lewis and the other guy who gave Kerry and his allies more money than they could figure out how to spend intelligently. How to break out? Try traveling a bit, say, ten miles or so, to a suburban mall or church or soccer field, and TALK TO PEOPLE. LISTEN TO THEM. I'm willing to bet that Pelosi, Kerry, and Kennedy have not set foot in a suburban mall or ballfield more than once or twice in the last decade. Pitiful, really, when you realize that Tip O'Neill's faithful have all moved to the suburbs. That's where elections are won and lost today, and yet O'Neill's party is now led by downtown goldiggers, socialites, rich kids and investment banker types.