Free, Open Source, and Microsoft

I used free and open source software in my thesis and my blog. Currently I heavily use the Firefox web browser and OpenOffice.org office suite. My post on the Black Gangster Disciple Nation, which was picked up by such blogs as Freakonomics and Live from the FDNF, also used Inkscape and OpenClipart. However, I also use the kinda open source Paint.net, co-developed with Microsoft, as well as the non-free non-open XP operating system.

Therefore, a collection of Slashdot stories as particularly interesting to me…


About the same time that Microsoft said OpenOffice was ten years behind, a collection of organizations called the OpenDocument Foundation Alliance began to education government about the benefit of open document formats (such as those provided by OOo). Consortium Standards Blog reports that one of the members of the ODF Alliance is IBM, which also will not upgrade to the next version of Windows.

Free and open source software allow increased productivity, by removing a costly “barrier to entry” into business. It empowers individuals to do more, just as blogs do.

Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office are great products, but they keep too many out of our interconnected world. Let’s hope they are replaced soon by free and open source alternatives.

Bush Trying to Lose Iraq

U.S. Is Seeking Better Balance In Iraqi Police,” by Edward Wong, New York Times, 7 March 2006, http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/07/international/middleeast/07military.html (from Democratic Underground).

While his Chief Justice sidelines international law and supports the military, our Commander-in-Chief prepares to blow it away. If John Kerry was President, we would have a flip-flopper in charge of the military. The current situation is worse.

Let’s hope we withdraw from Iraq as soon as possible, before Bush can do more damage.

Or at least, let’s hope Bush starts reading tdaxp

neither_shall_he_read_tdaxp


Bush has not stopped dancing to the music of the guerrillas. He has not embraced the inevitable. He has not dared.

Earlier, I wrote about the need to realize that the American Federal government can’t do everything in Iraq. From military contractors to ethnic militias, the super-state of America requires help from sub-state actors. This is the shape of the coming normalcy.

As John Boyd wrote in Patterns of Conflict, a central element of victory is attracting allies and isolating enemies:

Shape or influence events so that we not only amplify our spirit and strength but also influence the uncommitted or potential adversaries so that they are drawn toward our philosophy and are empathetic toward our success,

Penetrate adversary’s moral-mental-physical being in order to isolate him from his allies, pull him apart, and collapse his will to resist.

Bush’s policy is the opposite of this. al Qaeda in Iraq’s destruction of mosques, weddings, and funerals has sickened the world. George Bush’s repeated appeasement of the -supporting Sunni Arabs, designed with the short-term goal of “separating the insurgents,” has succeeded merely in bloodying the hands of the United States in Iraq. Iraqi political leaders like al-Hakim, who obtained his role after al Qaeda religious assassination of his brother, noted that US Ambassador “gave the green light to the terrorist groups.” What other explanation is there, when we respond to terrorism with prizes?

Sunni Iraqi Arabs tribes support al Qaeda in Iraq. Sunni Iraqi Arab tribes are infested with terrorists. Sunni Iraqi Arab tribes have pushed the Kurds and Shia to defend themselves, because we will not defend the innocents ourselves.

Our response? Stop!

As the threat of full-scale sectarian strife looms, the American military is scrambling to try to weed out ethnic or religious partisans from the Iraqi security forces.

Uh oh, it looks like some political parties may control the Iraqi government:

The United States faces the possibility that it has been arming one side in a prospective civil war. Early on, Americans ceded operational control of the police to the Iraqi government. Now, the police forces are overseen at the highest levels by religious Shiite parties with militias, and reports of uniformed death squads have risen sharply in the past year.

Why are the religious Shia parties running the Iraqi government? Because they won the election. . Because they are very popular. Because unlike the Sunni Arabs they do not harbor massive anti-civilian terrorist groups. Because unlike the Americans they do not try to hollow out Iraqi democracy.

The article gets so bad, it’s funny

The American military is trying an array of possible solutions, including quotas to increase the number of Sunni Arab recruits in police academies, firing Shiite police commanders who appear to tolerate militias, and sending 200 training teams composed of military police officers or former civilian police officers to Iraqi stations, even in remote and risky locations.

That’s right. We have a violent, rejectionist, 15% minority that is responsible for Iraq War in the first place. The proposed solution: giving them the army. With quotas.

At a time we should be embracing the Shia as allies in the war against al Qaeda, we now want to cripple the Shia police force:

The Iraqi Army poses less of a problem than the police, because the American military has direct operational control over it, and because the Americans took more care in building it up. Kurdish militiamen, though, make up a significant part of it.

Tom Barnett has called this period the Bush post-presidency. He’s wrong. A post-presidency would not be nearly this disastrous. As far is Iraq policy goes, we are in the Bush anti-Presidency.

The real Bush post-Presidency begins with President John McCain‘s inauguration in January 2009. It may be a long 33 months.