No more monolithic law (or kernels?)

Okay, I won’t get into the linux kernel argument, but I will say that it’s time we moved away from monolithic laws and bills. It worked well in 1776 because they spent a lot of time and read the thing. The Constitution was such an important document.

They had tried and failed with the Articles of Confederation and wanted to get it right. In a lot of ways the creation of the Constitution mirrored the development of the kernel. After awhile the kernel took on collaborative creation and eventually became solidified. It’s bloated if you leave everything turned on, but no one needs everything and most distro stock kernels are solid.

Back to the law. Today most laws passed by Congress are mammoths. They are jambalaya. A bit of law, a bit of appropriation for necessary things, a lot of these stupid riders. We need to, as a nation, move away from single laws that do all these things at once. The immigration bill discussed during the Republican Primary debate is a perfect example.

They have a 400 page bill that covers everything and has to be debated on its merits as a whole. That’s like someone giving you a piece of proprietary software and saying “take it or leave it.” It’s bull-headed and backwards. Instead, I’m sure you’d prefer to get a piece at a time like I would, and evaluate that piece. Try it with a fence. Try it with amnesty or not, with ID cards and a database or not. See what it can do and what it can’t do.

If they would put the various pieces into independent bills and debate the merits one at a time and decide “Yes we need some kind of guest worker program, yes we need to have a process toward citizenship,” and so on, we could get a law that actually does the job.

Until then we’re stuck with a bunch of numskulls whining about the legislation not being perfect.


Apple hates gnu/linux

It’s been over four years since the iTunes Music Store launched. They’ve racked up over two billion purchases as of January of this year. And they still haven’t released an iTunes client for gnu/linux. They’ve routinely blocked attempts for people that use free operating systems from accessing music they rightfully purchased using their iTunes client on a supported platform.

On the whole they’ve been spoiled jerks about the whole thing. And now they’ve bent to consumer pressure against their Digital Rights Management and are adding the option of a higher-priced DRM-free track selection. They’ve just released a new version of the iTunes client to support the change.

And yet they won’t give linux users access to their market. They are effectively blocking those users from participating in the online purchase of media. I understand it’s not a huge market, but it’s roughly an extra 5-10 million songs a year in all probability. There’s a lot of linux users and they would reasonably buy 5-10 tracks each. And it’s a growth market.

Dell has recently announced and followed through with offering new computers pre-installed with Ubuntu. Numerous other firms including graphics vendors feel the linux market is worth their time to provide support. Even Microsoft feels linux is important enough to spew idle, vitriolic threats about their patent holdings and strong arm their own “open” document standards in lieu of the standards.

But Apple continues to completely ignore linux. They are making a sucker’s bet and missing out on that revenue. They’ll probably cave in another year or two, or else they will risk that sector of the market finding an alternative. The inherent risk there is that the alternative would become adopted by existing iTMS users costing Apple billions of dollars in future revenues.

If I were the CEO of a company faced with the choice between ignoring a viable market sector or spending relatively little developer effort to support them and keep a secure hold on the market as a whole there is no reasonable choice but the latter. It is a disservice to their stockholders and to the music industry that they so readily deny access to people who would love to use their service.

Update: Slashdot is running a story about the new DRM-free offering from Apple. Apparently each DRM-free track gets tagged with the account’s registered full name and e-mail address.

This might be okay if it was publicly disclosed, but it wasn’t. The exact purpose behind the move isn’t clear. Speculation focuses on the possibility that this would be used to track the tracks within iTunes or otherwise.

Of course, anyone with minor technical savvy could easily modify the tags (possibly to reflect the fact they were purchased by Steve Jobs). Moreover tracks not originating from iTunes could easily be tagged.

So why tag them at all? It seems like a very weak attempt at tracking and an underhanded one at that. Most of all it’s just a dumb idea.


Big Number, Big Deal.

Lots of multiple posts and tons of cease and desist letters surrounding a simple 128 bit number: 13256278887989457651018865901401704640.

Because it’s the critical number in breaking DRM of HD-DVD.

But it’s also a number. There are an infinite number of numbers just like it, but it is unique and yet it is the same.

It’s a positive integer. Good times. I won’t post the hexadecimal equivalent out of fear of being told to take it down. Anyone with the decimal value can compute the hexadecimal (although with more work than it would if it were binary).



Kucinich to Seek Cheney Impeachment

I hope he follows through with this. I don’t think it will win him any votes and probably will cost him some of the few he gets. I also heavily doubt the impeachment will proceed. Still, it will become a matter of public record and that will be valuable for future generations that seek to rebuild the government and restore the peoples’ confidence therein.


Post-Easter Reminder

Just wanted to throw this out there, what with an election next year and Easter (and more specifically Good Friday) having passed recently.

Majority doesn’t rule.

That’s not what our country or any democratic republic should strive for. Neither should we strive for our leaders to do our will or their will. That’s not why we join together in a government and society for.

We join not to have our way or to be taken advantage of by leadership, but to strive for a higher, objective and rational standard of interaction amongst ourselves.

The stark difference between these two processes is nowhere more clear than the parable of Jesus and the Cross. In that story, Jesus is taken into custody without due process, and is then paraded before the masses. They all vote to condemn him to death without a stitch of evidence or any form of defense.

Now while I recognize that according to Christian doctrine the crucifixion represents a major sacrifice by Jesus that was entirely necessary for everyones’ immortal souls to be eternally awesome with God, I don’t buy it. Call me crazy, but I think it sucks that Jesus got killed. It was stupid and it represents all that is wrong with humanity to this very day.

Now maybe it’s the Christian line that allows my fellow citizens to decry “Majority Rules” or some jibberjabber about how since Bush got elected it means the American People want a Fascist State and mandatory prayer and so on, or maybe not. I just know that there’s a lot of people out there that consider #1 first and it ain’t Jesus Christ, it’s their own view.

They are quick to call for less than equitable justice for detainees and quick to shout support our troops while mumbling don’t ask don’t tell. And then a group if British soldiers get captured and the same people are griping about how they were treated. So, just to wrap it up as neatly as possible: I’m not free until everyone is free. You’re not free until everyone is free.

The Pledge of Allegiance can have the word God in it until the cows come home and it won’t make a stitch of difference unless the people feel the weight of the words they chant before the sporting event, but those more important string of words at the end that are more important (and certainly would stop any further Jesus-style crucifixions): “with Liberty and Justice for all” (emphasis mine).