Welcome Blogs!

This month, tdaxp is proud to welcome four new sites to the blogroll, and only gently demand that Brendan of I Hate Linux raise his posting average to more than once a month. 😉

Foreign Dispatches is added, and highly recommended. Abiola Lapite’s blog entry on / appeared almost simultaneous to mine, and his post on The Korean Economy Under Japanese Rule has been referenced here on tdaxp, in “Thanksgiving” and “The Commonwealth of Korea and Japan.” His blogroll includes links to The Economist and MIT OpenCourseWare: enough said. (Of course, tdaxp is a fan of The Economist and MIT OCW, too.)


Lost Nomad, a Korea-centered blog, also joins the tdaxp linkroll. Note that his feature, Girl Wednesday, has nothing to do with making LM a must read. Nothing at all.

Live from the FDNF and Mountain Runner are both great sites, with meatier-than-usual military analysis, with both writing recently about Private Military Companies ([Live from FDNF], [Mountain Runner]). Plus both share reading interests with tdaxp: FDNF enjoys Freakonomics, while MR reads Neither Shall the Sword.

Dan Nexon‘s Duck of Minerva joins Tom Barnett and Chet Richards as blogger phds linked to by tdaxp. But why refer to DM as Dr, Nexon in the blogroll, when the site has three other bloggers? Simple: Dan Nexon has commented here before ([1], [2], [3], [4], [5], [6], [7]). Visit and ye shall receive….

Last, Aaron’s Groundrocket is back online. According to a poll, a plurality believes it was down because of incompetence. I’m not arguing. 😉

Guerrillaz, Part IV: Dare

conflict_and_the_dances_ahead

“It’s coming up
It’s dare

You’ve got to press it on you
You’ll just be thinking
That’s what you do, baby
Hold it down, dare

Jump with the moon and move it
Jump back and forth
And feel like you were there yourself
Work it out

I Never did no harm
Never did no harm

Jump with them all and move it
Jump back and forth
And feel like you were there yourself
Work it out”

Gorillaz, “Dare”

There’s more…


Dare,” by Gorillaz, Demon Days, 24 May 2005, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DARE_(song) [buy the album, read the lyrics, watch the video].

To not feel bad in Iraq, we need to change our operational rhythm and align ourselves with the gun-smoking righteous.

To feel good in the Global War on Terrorism, this , we must dare. We must recognize the inevitable, that:

  • a strategy of shrinking the Gap requires more Iraqs
  • America’s ability to act will be constrained by the orientation of the American people
  • America goes to war with the citizenry it has, not the citizenry it would prefer to have

Combined with the fact that any invasion does harm — what Machiavelli called “evil” — we must recognize that certain strategies are out of reach.

We have to dare, not letting a Vietnam-style zero defects policy get in the way. We must embrace defects, realizing that the goal of wars like Iraq are system perturbations and connectivity, not the swift implementation of the ideals of a few of us. In particular

(I am happy that of the above three search terms, only “liberal democracy” found no hits on whitehouse.gov. At least Bush is a third of the way there.)

Jumping back and forth, fast transienting, is an essential element of victory.

What Fabius Maximus has called hubris has been a costly mistake so far in Iraq. Fortunately, it’s a mistake we need not make again.


Guerrillaz, a tdaxp series in four parts
Part I: Feel Good Inc
Part II: 19-2000
Part III: Clint Eastwood
Part IV: Dare

Lecture and Reading Notes for Modern Postivist Approaches in Political Science

Discussion and reactions on Political Psychology (New Political-Psychology) and Rational Choice (New Economics-Psychology) follow… Boring for all but the bravest


Political Science Stages and Rational Choice
beginning: institutional and legal

Behavioralists/social-psycologists (“The American Voter”, 1960)
– 1950s/60s: atheoretical, very empirical, uncoordinated, piecemeal, “no interesting works or big questions”
– 1980s/1990s: reintroduction with more theory and rigour

Rational Choice Theory
– 1950s/1960s: first economic models are introduced, but mostly ignored
– 1980s: reintroduction with emphasis on systematic, rigrous, rational choice paradigm approach

Rational Choice never overtook Behavioralism, but was most dominant alternative
– rational choice had a broader domain than behavioralism, but behavioralism emphasized vote choice
– offers a high degree of precision (because of its reliance on mathematics)
– good mechanism for generationg counter-intuitive hypothesis (for example, instead of why not vote, why vote?)

Definitions and Conventions in Rational Choice Theory
Rationality – Self Interested: focus on maximizing utility with minimal outlay
Methodological Individualism – focus on the motivations of each individual
Purposeful Action – all action is goal oriented (equivilent to “Action is Oriented” in OODA loop?)
States of Nature – the settings that influence the outcomes (this is rarely known perfectly – Decision Making Under Certainty/Risk)
Preferences – things you like over outcomes
Postulated Preferences – theoretical assumptiosn about what peoples preferences are
Spatial Models – uses Euclidean n-dimensional grid to define current position, optima, indifference curves, etc

Definitions and Conventions in Political Psychology
– more heterogenous than rational choice, no universal list of assumptions here
– also more electric methods than rational choice
– socialization is important
– importance of information processing
– methodological individualism & “groupism”
– focus on motivation (cognitive? attitudinal? emotionalism? groups? genetics?)
– context
– internal states (orientations? orientation state? OODA state? stance?)

Dominance of Domains:
Behavioralism: American, Comparative
Rational Choice: Everything Else


Below follows the notes for my second reaction paper:

Ordeshook Emerging
-materialist
-pol-econ syncretism
-university interia as a burden
-“time to move on”
– importance of game theory
— sucessor to behavioralism
— languished as a backwater
– conflation of psychology and sociology?
– early math approaches technical, worthless?
– need to use same tools in politics and economics
– “translat epreferences… into a social decision” 20
– “every election platform can be defeated by some other election platform”
– early failures of game theory everywhere
– “rationality itself is ill defined”

Ordeshook Game Theory
Assumptions of Formal Theory
– methodologicla individualism
– purposeful action
purposeful does not mean “carefully and consciously”
other people are exogenous/static
state of nature + action -> outcome
Action-set is exhaustive and exclusive
ditto Outcome-set
both are countable, finite
but easier to let be uncountable and in
uncountable, infinite sets can be pictured
states of nature
– conditions before voting as example
what about fuzziness in these sets?
Preference relation
o R o’
completeness: either o R o’ OR o’ R o
transitivity if o R o’ AND o’ R o” THEN o R o”
indiffiererence o I o’ IF o R o’ AND o’ R o
strict priference o P o’ IF o R o’ AND NOT o’ R o
problem: cake R bach?
solution: becomes meaningful when context is specifiied
problem: indifference to small increases, preference in large increases
solution: transitivity only works with strict preference
Ordinal Utility:
R : =>
I: =
P: >
Ordinal Utility Function: allows mathetical manipulation of proferences and outcomes
not all ordinal utility functions are equivelent ot each other, so be careful!
Directions of Research:
Proceed Directly to Interest or Work from First Principles
“more on personal taste”
good explanation of spatial models
“indifference countours are continuous” – not if they are curves in higher-dimensional space than is being visualized
game theory over quantitative, not qualitative, changes? (Boydian)
how to integrate baynesianism to this the probability discussion?

Lane
psychologicla influences?
study of power
economics too materialist?
“beyond the povery level — level of uncome is unrelated to subjectiv wellbeing or happiness”
“Peoplw who score high on [the materialist scale] are unhappier than low scorers”
mention of Piaget
people are aroused more by “fraternal deprivation”
“self-interest ordinarily does not have much effect”
psych=inductive;econ=deductive
“internalizes the purpose of an organization”
“the size of a state today is a result of its politicla culture yesterday”
Brehm: if C is denied, those who used to prefer B now prefer C
polipsych avoids methodological individualism?
gourmet tastes when field is small
(expertise as limiter or choice?)
criticism of rational choice
little correlation between democracy and happiness
activate the left subcortext where the pleasre center lies
lane’s argument is normative

Sullivan/Rhan/Rudolph
history of polipsych
Piaget -> Information Processing
cognition v. economics in politics
“serial shift,” synthesis?
psychoanalytic perspectives
bayesian!!! – majorities think they are super-majorities

Elisabet Sunde: Sexual Predator

Elizabeth Sunde? Elisabeth Sunde? Elisabet Sunde?

The minor details of the case keep changing. Is her name ? , as the Orange County Clerk of Courts maintains? Perhaps ?

elizabeth_sunde_face
“Elizabeth Sunde”

Is her age 19? 26?

Whatever it is, she deserves twenty years in prison, and she’ll probably get a fine.

elizabeth_sunde_md
Elizabeth Sunde, 26 (09.26.86), 8037 Gables Commons Drive #127, told investigators that she was approached by five or six “French men” in her apartment…


First, what we do know about her. She was born on September 26, 1986. She’s 5 foot 4 and 140 pounds. Her address was:

Elisabet Sunde
8037 Gables Commons Drive #127
The Commons
Orlando, FL 32821

8037_gabbles_commons_drive

And she used switchboard, (407) 560-2280, for incoming calls.

She was booked on March 3rd, 2006, and currently resides in cell B-FD-4. Her address at Orange County Incarcerationshas been

Elisabet Sunde
06009224 B-FD-4
P.O. Box 4970
Orlando, FL 32802-4970

Sickeningly, if I’m reading her inmate record, correctly, she can be out with only $500 bond.

She’s a slut. That’s clear. She had sex with four men. From the videotaped evidence she enjoyed it.

Much, much worse (Elisabet’s private life, after all, is her own) is that she cried rape. Some people believed her. Fortunately, skepticism and video-taped evidence won the day.

For attempting to ruin the lives of several young men, almost nothing will happen.

The most horrible part is the lack of punishment she’s facing. If we are to believe the Orlando Sentinel‘s account, she’s been charged with of breaking Florida State Statue 837.05(1)

(1) Except as provided in subsection (2), whoever knowingly gives false information to any law enforcement officer concerning the alleged commission of any crime, commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

And Florida State Statute 837.06

False official statements.–Whoever knowingly makes a false statement in writing with the intent to mislead a public servant in the performance of his or her official duty shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

Misdemeanors. She may get more from getting arrested while carrying marijuana.

A fellow blogger makes a good point:

Women who make false charges of rape should face the same harsh penalties as a man accused of rape, and she should have to register as a sex offender. She should also have to inform every man she dates or has sexual relations with that she has made a false charge of rape in the past; if she fails to do so it would mean a mandatory life sentence without parole.

Elisabet Sunde is a sexual predator. The law should treat her like one.

Just like Sharon Irons should be.

Defending Psychological and Economic Perspectives on Political Science

Peter Ordeshook. 1986. Game Theory and Political Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press. Ch. 1 (pp. 1-52).

Peter Ordeshook. 1990. “The Emerging Discipline of Political Economy.” In James Alt and Kenneth Shepsle, eds., Perspectives on Positive Political Economy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Ch. 1 (pp. 9-30).

John L. Sullivan, Wendy M. Rahn, and Thomas J. Rudolph. 2002. “The Contours of Political Psychology: Situating Research on Political Information Processing.” In James H. Kuklinski, ed., Thinking About Political Psychology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Ch. 1 (pp. 23-47).

Robert E. Lane. 2003. “Rescuing Political Science from Itself.” In David O. Sears, Leonie Huddy, and Robert Jervis, eds., Oxford Handbook of Political Psychology. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Ch. 21 (pp. 755-793).

The second reaction paper for this semester.

From all sides political science is being invaded by alien ideas. Good. Well, mostly.


The readings for this week were on game theory by Ordershock and Lane and Sullivan et al on political psychology. But really these articles are the story of the invasion of our scholarly realm by imperialist economists and insurgent psychologists. While these are very different approaches, both are useful and should be welcomed by our fellow political scientists.

But first, let me say a quick word on my personal perspective. I am a computer scientist, and graduated with an MA in that field on December 2004. My thesis, “A Computer Model of National Behavior,” tried to computationally model the national identities of Europe . This bridges political science and psychology. Likewise, my coursework involved predicate calculus, which appears very similar to the “fundamental notation and definitions” that Ordeshook introduces on his game theory article. Therefore I root all of these approaches on.

In his two articles, Ordershock relates a mathematical approach to politics that is rooted in economics. Surprisingly for the degree of formal logic he uses, Ordershock clearly enjoys visualizations and describes a “euclidean geometry” of political preference. This gives a new perspective in many ways. For instance, he mentions that he assumes that “indifference contours are continuous” as a mathematical convenience — but one can visualize all discontinuous shapes as continuous if one ads a dimension and assumes that a given n-degree euclidean space is just a shadow of an n+1-degree

Likewise, the majority of the psychological perspectives presented by Lane and Sullivan et al are valuable. In particular, Lane’s criticisms of the materialism of traditional economics approaches are devastating. If it’s true that “beyond the poverty level — level of income is unrelated to subjective wellbeing or happiness” or that people are agitated more with “fraternal deprivation” than losing something themselves, rational self interest is in deep trouble. Admittedly, Ordershock does mention this ongoing conflict, but instead of defending a materialist view he simply moves on. Without the broader definition of self-interested generated by a psychological perspective, an economics perspective would be deeply misleading.

If Oudershock’s second article was more economics than political science, the second psychological article (by Sullivan, Rhan, and Rudolph) is more psychology than political science. Their discussion of Piaget and information processing (that is, cybernetic) approaches was delightful to the psychology-student in me. Yet they too demonstrate he necessity of a trans-disciplinary approach, eventually circling around to a bayesian statistical view of cognition, which would logically lead us back to economics-style mathematicism.

However, all of the articles assigned do have their deficiencies. Just as we political scientists can benefit from the desegregation of academic thought, so to must we cleanse the cockroaches from academic field everywhere. This is most notable in the psychological reading. Lane’s article contains far too much majority thought. Meanwhile, the Sullivan reading spends an excruciating length of time on psychoanalytics. We political scientists already have our own pseudoscience in Marxism — we do not need another one.

Perhaps the greatest contributions political scientists can make is to become a melting pot for the best ideas in all the sciences. Lane, almost as an aside, notes that politics has traditionally been the study of power, a special case of interpersonal relations. If this is the case, then there is gold for us in the hills of electromagnetic physics. Resistance, friction, potential energy, kinetics, and waste heat have been rigorously related for us by the engineers. If politics, a form of group psychology is but the study of power, political science can meld the worlds of physics and psychology together, taking the best ideas of both.

Let’s do it.

Why Geography Matters

a tdaxp Special Report by “Aaron”

aaron
Aaron is a Noted Beacon of Non-Partisan Sanity

Harm de Blij’s book, previously shouted out on tdaxp (I, II, III, IV, V, VI) gets a mention on www.kuro5hin.org along with discussion about shortcomings by American students in the area of geography. Read the whole thing.

The brief article did touch off a neuron or two. tdaxp and I frequently argue, over Chinese food naturally, of the utility of public vs private school. So I did some digging. Many conservatives would state that public schools spend too much time teaching hippy ideas and equality and not enough time teaching facts / knowledge. I would argue strongly the other way, that sports, popularity and increasing sexual awareness keep anyone from learning anything in public school. I figured, someone, somewhere has to have dug up some figures. I was right, and they’re not that old.

Now, the point here isn’t to stir up a new argument. That’s actually only secondary. What I want to point out here is that Lutherans outscored Catholics. Since I recently transferred to a private Lutheran college, strictly for the degree, I thought I’d stick it to tdaxp ( and lesser to co-conspirator Catholicgauze) as tdaxp is into Catholicism strictly for the trivia.

Eat hot Eucharist, fascist pig!

Guerrillaz, Part III: Clint Eastwood

neither_shall_they_be_caged

‘”Oh oh oh oh oh

Hey, I’m happy, I’m feeling glad,
I got sunshine in a bag.
I’m useless but not for long:
the future is coming on.

Finally, someone let me out of my cage.
Now, time for me is nothin’ ’cause I’m counting no age.
Nah, I couldn’t be there. Now you shouldn’t be scared.
I’m good at repairs and I’m under each snare.
Intangible, bet you didn’t think so,
I command you to, panoramic view:
look I’ll make it all manageable.
Pick and choose, sit and lose.
All you different crews,
chicks and dudes, who you think is really kicking tunes?

Picture you getting down in a picture tube
like you lit the fuse.
You think it’s fictional, mystical – maybe a
spiritual hero who appears in you to clear your view
when you’re too crazy.
Lifeless, to know the definition for what life is,
priceless, to you because I put ya on the hype shift,
you like it?
Gun smokin’, righteous but one talkin’ psychic
among knows possess you with one though.

The essence, the basics: without it you make it.
Allow me to make this child like in nature.
“Rhythm you have it or you don’t”:
that’s a fallacy
. I’m in them,
every sprouting tree, every child of peace,
every cloud at sea. You see with your eyes
you see destruction and demise,

corruption in the skies
from this fucking enterprise that I’m sucked into your lies,
through Russell, not his muscles,
but percussion he provides.

With me as your guide, y’all can see me now
’cause you don’t see with your eye,
you perceive with your mind
(that’s the inner).
So I’m gonna stick around with Russ and be a mentor,
bust a few rhymes. So motherfuckers
remember what the thought is:
I brought all this so you can survive when law is lawless.
Feelings, sensations that you thought was dead.
No squealing, remember that it’s all in your head.”

Gorillaz, “Clint Eastwood”

There’s more…


Clint Eastwood,” by Gorillaz, Gorillaz, 19 July 2001, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clint_Eastwood_(song) [buy the cd, read L007 lyrics, read SL lyrics, watch the video].

President Speaks to the Untied Nations General Assembly,” by George Bush, 21 September 2004, http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2004/09/20040921-3.html.

Contrary to current conventional wisdom, Bush’s Big Bang strategy will be treated very favorably by history, by Thomas Barnett, Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog, 1 March 2006, http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/archives2/003018.html

Lowering U.S. Goals in Iraq,” by Daniel Pipes, Real Clear Politics, 1 March 2006, http://www.realclearpolitics.com/Commentary/com-3_1_06_DAP.html.

When we dance to the music of our enemies, we feel bad. Now is the time for feeling glad.

The Iraq War goes badly because we cripple ourselves. Our greatest tool, the ideological-ethnic militias, are held back in the name of a “united Iraq.” For instance, President Bush told the UN:

The U.N., and its member nations, must respond to Prime Minister Allawi’s request, and do more to help build an Iraq that is secure, democratic, federal, and free.

Note that Bush implicitly defined a united Iraq, a sustained artificial state, as a prerequisite for victory.

But as correctly points out:

Of course, the regional experts will decry all this change, saying we’re in far worse straits now than we were before. We’re “losing” Iraq and al Qaeda, we are told, is “winning” if Iraq is split into pieces. How Iraq-the-pretend-country’s break-up would equate to al Qaeda’s victory is beyond me, but I lack the subtle defeatism of some, and I guess I just don’t swallow Osama’s propaganda like the regionalists do, having watched this idiotic program before with the Sovs in another life.

Local militias should be a central part of an reconstruction effort. They have the on-the-ground knowledge will lets them move in the local environment, rapidly fixing problems that American contractors may not. They would allow to us do something hard easily, letting us throttle down our Reconstruction efforts into what Chet Richards might call “”.

Happily, the tide has turned. Even Ayatollah has mobilized a militia. The ability of 15% of Iraqis to hold the rest hostage is rapidly ending.

Organizations like the SCIRI militia (the ), the Kurdish militias, and other organizations are gun-smoking (they can teach our enemies a lesson with kinetic force) and righteous (they are tools of connectivity). They assist in exporting our rule-sets to new corners of the world, while evolving those rulesets to best fit local conditions.

Local militias don’t suffer from the political correct uselessness of the State Department’s “planing” for Iraq. Rather, they are organnically grown, conceived like cubs.

Dr. TPM Barnett described his system-level A-Z Ruleset as

“Front Half”:
1. UNSC as “grand jury”
2. G20 as Functioning Executive
3. US-enabled Leviathan Force

“Back Half”:
4. Core-enabled SysAdmin force
5. International Reconstruction Fund (IRF)
6. International Criminal Court

While much of this is wise, such as , Step #4 especially hits us where we are weakest (our aversion to wide-ranging multilateralism) and stops the rise of local stakeholders. Instead, to operationalize Gorillaz‘s “Allow me to make this child like in nature” with

3. US Fucks Up Some Country
4. Local Stakeholders are Conceived
5. IRF funds “childhood” of local stakeholders
6. Mature society emerges

An advantage of having highly-trained US or Core peacekeepers, or even Chet Richards‘s expanded Army Corp of Engineers, is that things will be done better. But locals doing something badly is preferable, for both us and to them. “Reconstruction “you have it or you don’t”: that’s the fallacy.” Let locals to the job.

Standing up locals has another advantage: it doesn’t hurt our moral will. America has difficulty seeing bloodshed, but little trouble merely knowing about it. By giving the necessary post-major-conflict police actions to locals, we minimize the damage done by critical media.

Local militias, stakeholders near the people, will help us and them survive when law is lawless. Barnett reminds us that terrorism is local. So is justice: there is no world body capable of protecting us if we do not protect ourselves. In the case of the Samarra Tragedy, it signals “the determination of elements in Iraq’s long-ruling community to reassert its dominance”. To win locally, we must fight locally.

And we must dare.


Guerrillaz, a tdaxp series in four parts
Part I: Feel Good Inc
Part II: 19-2000
Part III: Clint Eastwood
Part IV: Dare

Free Software, Open Source, and al Qaeda

The Islamist Attack on Intellectual Property, by Thomas Lifson,” RealClearPolitics, 28 February 2006, http://www.realclearpolitics.com/Commentary/com-2_28_06_TL.html.

Shortly after I commented that leveraging (“exploition”) is a normal part of politics, I was enraged at a particularly dishonest form of leveraging in the world of patents. Such is life.

Tom Lifton notes that some Islamist, somewhere (he doesn’t bother to cite, opposes the idea of “intellectual property”

It becomes clearer with every day that the Islamist faction within the Muslim world has an idealized vision of society entirely at odds with foundations of American society, and with the values of modern civilization. Free speech (including cartoon speech), religious pluralism, or female equality are only starters, important though each of these principles may be to us.

Recently, I was reading an Islamist website and discovered the following logo in an advertising-like box:

“Oppose Intellectual Property”

Of course, “intellectual property” isn’t mentioned in the U.S. Constitution


What is mentioned is the “exclusive Rights to their respective Writings and Discovers” for “authors and inventors” “ To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts,.” Unlike actual property that is diminished by sharing, “intellectual property” is an artificial, temporary, government-granted monopoly on an abstraction. There is no “value” (that is, moral) issue associated with it. Rather, like the ability “to establish Post Offices and post Roads” that immediately precedes it, the exclusive Rights is a utilitarian device of the Congress to help economic growth.

To me, this article seems like a stealth attack against free software and open source software. I won’t go into the difference between “free” and “open-source” software, except to note that the free software crowd is more ideological while supporters of “open source” are more pragmatic. I used both for my thesis and my blog.

Both are part of the same decentralized tradition, that helped America win the cold war against the Soviets, Britain win the culture war against the French, and blogs win the 2004 election against the mainstream media.

Fighting against this people-power, against both the free software and open source movements, against the British newspapers and American blogs, are the monopolists. From the monopolists’ last gasps in the media to continuing political power, they seek to concentrate power for themselves.

Such behavior is natural. As are attempts to bolster their power by conflating people-power with al Qaeda. But it’s still sickening.

Defending 4GW Against MountainRunner

Last May I defended 4GW against . Now Mark of ZenPundit blogs that Matt at Mountainrunner has joined the fray:

Generational warfare is based on technology and tactics. The Napoleonic shift a radical change in how and why wars were fought. With his destabilizing impact on the nature of the state system at the time, how was what he did not 4GW? Generations of warfare are best described through technological and tactical changes. The Revolution in Military Affairs of Napoleon is remarkably similar to the RMA today, but with some aspects in reverse (professionalism -> amateurism -> professionalism). Fourth Generation War has ‘happened’ before and throughout time. It is how and why wars are fought. It simply does not offer anything new.

I respond:

“Generational warfare is based on technology and tactics. “

Specifically, tactics. A 4GW can be fought with atom bombs or knife-cutters. A 3GW can be fought with horse cavalry or tank cavalry.

Currently there are 12 comments, with Wiggins (who was recently linked to by Tom Barnett) and Federalist X participating as well.

Read the rest

A.3 Open Source and Free Software

Note: This is an excerpt from a draft of my thesis, A Computer Model of National Behavior. The introduction and table of contents are also available

A.3 Open Source and Free Software

According to the Open Source Initiative, the license for open source software,

“…shall not restrict any party from selling or giving away the software as a component of an aggregate software distribution containing programs from several different sources. The license shall not require a royalty or other fee for such sale.”

The proliferation of open source software means a wide collection of powerful software applications are freely available. This has allowed the author to develop the software for this thesis with high quality tools. Without these programs, the cost of development would have been much higher, and much of what has been accomplished would have been cost prohibitive.


The following open-source applications were used in the building of the model. They are grouped by category, and a short commentary follows each category.

Servers
Apache HTTP Server
MySQL Database Server

Apache and MySQL were the base over which almost everything else was built.
Commonly used together, the world’s most popular web server according to Netcraft and the world’s most popular open source database according to the vendor were invaluable. They allowed the author to leverage his experience to rapidly build the tools needed for this thesis. They also ensured that the thesis was platform independent. Development occurred mostly on a Windows XP home desktop, while the final simulation was run on 4-way Xeon industrial server machine.

Programming Languages
PHP
Perl

PHP was used in conjunction with Apache to build web-based tools for this thesis, especially Mapper and Merge. Additionally it served as the basis of the content managers. Perl was the language of choice for the simulation itself, as well as MapMaker and numerous small tools.

Content Managers
Geeklog
phpMyAdmin

Geeklog served as a machine-independent journal for development and ad-hoc change control mechanism. With Geeklog, the author was able to comment changes, make back-ups of key functions, and track his progress through time. phpMyAdmin is a visual front-end written in PHP served through Apache for the MySQL database server.

Text Editors
Jext
Syn

Jext and syn replaced Microsoft Wordpad and Microsoft Notepad respectively. Jext’s color highlighting and careful selection of fonts and colors make it a friendly environment for coding. Syn is able to open and search very large files quickly, and it becomes especially important when examining large log files.

Office Suite
OpenOffice.org

OpenOffice.org, or OOo, is composed of Writer (word processor), Calc (spreadsheet), Impress (presentation), and Draw (illustration). OOo has very good Microsoft Office import and output filters. It also has an open and simple file format, while allowed reports to be generated quickly by custom written scripts. Every component of OOo has been used during this thesis.

Image Manipulation
The Gimp
Image Magick

The Gimp assisted in basic image editing, such as cropping screen captures and preparing images for display. Image Magick, through its Image::Magick module for Perl, was critical in allowing images to be drawn from a computer program. The maps and dials used in the reports, for example, were written with Image::Magick.

File Management Utilities
Zip
7zip

Zip is a windows port of the GNU zip utility for unix-like systems. It was necessary for the operation of OOOlib with minimal changes, and was incorporated into dhaOOO. 7zip is a visual compressed file manager similar to Winzip. It proved to be the most user-friendly and stable compression tools with compressing files larger than a gigabyte.

Other
OOOlib
Mozilla Firefox
Wikipedia

OOOlib is a small utility for generating OpenOffice.org documents from a Perl program. It is the basis for dhaOOO. Mozilla Firefox is a web browser that was used to view Merge and Mapper. Wikipedia is an open source encyclopedia used for reference in the writing of this thesis.