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Putting this here for posterity, I attempted to post this on Peter Radford’s post on Keynes notion of radical uncertainty at the Real World Economic Review blog.

Please forgive me barging in here, given that I am unfamiliar with the entire context invoked when Keynes referred to ‘radical uncertainty’ I may be off base with the following, however I have a hunch as to what he is talking about.

Uncertainty, on it’s face is the sine qua non of human existence in all of our human endeavors. Every certainty we ever have is, in essence, borrowed, to be taken back at a time not of our choosing. There are countless ways to express the same thought, all of them somewhat awkward and only obvious in hindsight. Another way of expressing the same is: The givenness of any particular thing, is itself, not given. We feign certainty, showing conviction, in order to justify, rationalize, that which does not comport to our expectations, after the fact. Radical uncertainty is a fundamentally different affair, for in radical uncertainty, our not knowing(the outcome in advance), is not itself problematic, but rather not even knowing whether or not we know something or not. It is routine for people to have doubts about their undertakings, what is not routine is to doubt so intensely that one looses any criteria by which one could delineate a specific doubt and convince oneself that whatever uncertainty exists is itself something that can be dealt with. Misgivings, trepidation and such are signs of radical uncertainty, and the experience of radical uncertainty is fundamentally related to the phenomena of conscience. The conviction that the ends justify the means is what renders the explorer intrepid.

I broke out laughing when I once heard Donald Rumsfeld, of all people!, pointing this out, while at the same time utterly missing the point.


“Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns- the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”

― Donald Rumsfeld

The point is: there is no reconciling “the ones we don’t know we don’t know” with “doing the right thing”. Actions undertaken in such situations maybe necessary but never sufficient to be deemed good, hence they are wrong, at least for those of us guided by our conscience. This delineation of known knowns, known unknowns, and unknown unknowns, in philosophy, is associated with existentialist philosophy and was rampant throughout the intellectual world between the first and second world wars. It almost begs the question why so many thinkers found their own consciences so tortured, in light of the atrocities unleashed during that epoch.

There is a price to be paid for that which we do not count, and this can be understood as a negative economy, but hear I am speaking as a philosopher and !not an economist.


The original response to the Huffington post blog(Sheri and Allan Rivlin):

Forgive me for being new to your blog but I honestly have been struggling  to grasp what the relationship is between what you state as being “the important provisions of the proposals that would do the most to help real people” and what people are genuinely hoping comes out of the political wrangling in Washington as it regards health care.

Maybe I can reconnect these two things with a little bit of semantic juxtaposition- for as stated by you there seems to be 2 distinct issues at hand: 1) what people are genuinely hoping for and 2) “the important provisions of the proposals that would do the most to help real people” . Now of course what the people are hoping for and any kind of legislation are qua definition two very different things-yet when people hope for something that should be addressed by legislation, they are hoping that the legilation being debated “embodies” in some sense their own hopes, moreover they hope that with passage of such legislation that the the newly drafted laws and regulations help make their own hopes manifest. Yet the gap I see between what the*(qualifier: many, many people beyond their ideological and/or political identities) people are hoping for and that described in what you have posted here is another type of difference, not merely the difference between hopes and legislation. Your formulation of the issues at hand here reduces the entire debate to being a simple matter of regulating the insurance industry.

If I take the phrase “health insurance reform” and replace it with “heath care reform” I can almost hear something which resonates tangibly in the ears of millions of Americans. But somehow “insurance” is the only issue left to discuss here. Perhaps “insurance” has become *the* issue at hand because it is seen as the universal problem in our oh so grandiose health care system. Yet if that was the case we might be having senate hearings to abolish health care insurance, but in our sad reality, rather, we are having hearings in the senate which are ultimately designed to guarantee the existence of said insurance corporations for all eternity and provide them with legally mandated clientèle-customers-citizens who *must* make an offering of %10-20 of their earned income per year to these mega-conglomerates which are the primary sources of injustice in the American health care system.

Perhaps I am simply to naive, for nowhere in  the issues at hand regarding our health care system do I see any real place for insurance.  In fact the rasion-d’etre of health insurance eludes me utterly. Collectively, as a society, each and every person in that society has a right to health care and a responsibility to utilize whatever resources are at their disposal to ensure their own well being. Failing this, the society must pay to take care of those who due to illness cannot contribute economically to society. Failure of society to pay for this leads to grand social injustices which rip at the fabric of the society itself. What the* people hope for is that when illness or injury comes, unexpected and unplanned, as is inevitably the case, that competent caring health care providers will be there to provide and ensure our recovery, and failing this to mitigate the suffering when recovery is not possible, and they hope for an environment in which access to health care, including preventive care, is second nature-common sense-where one need not worry about their economic status when it comes to deciding if and when they should visit a health care professional.

Health is an intangible thing, when we have it we rarely notice or appreciate it, and it can vanish in an instant, and recovery, if possible, can be a lifetime affair. Medicine can only define that which is not healthy, health itself is not quantifiable or definable, by definition. Yet almost everything in our lives depend on our health. Our dependency upon our health is but one of the roots of our common interdependency, that which make us human, our lives mortal, and defines us as human beings. When we are sick or ailing-we cannot, and ought not must, think about whether we will be cared for, much less whether we can afford such care and whether or not such care means our financial ruin. Any other way of looking at this issue is literally *unhealthy*.  Yet, as a society, Americans have relegated access to health care and the quality of that health care to a question of socio-economic status. The unthinkable does happen in this wondrous land, each and every day. The consequences of this equation of value of life and monetary value of health insurance-of the equation of human dignity and our socio-economic status are far, far to profound to ponder in any depth here.  But this entire debate has been reduced to questions of insurance, so all of this debate is meant to be captured in terms of cost(taxes, tax exemptions, tax incentives, costs of providing for the uninsured, the underinsured, emergency room bills etc.).

Interdependence can be viewed as a cost. We can view our fellow human beings as parasitic organisms which leach  on our paychecks and rob us of our relative economic freedom. We can deny that our fellow human beings, who we label as “illegal”, are the same fellow human beings upon which we depend. We are free to be ignorant and to ignore the consequences of our failed health care system until that day comes when we are ill or wounded and need the help of utter and absolute strangers-whose names we will never know-who will hold our lives in their hands and choose to care for us. Nothing less is at stake in the health care debate. We, as a society, could perhaps one day learn to OWN these costs, in which case they would form a foundation for our mutual obligations unto one another, because one way or another we are already PAYING these costs and nothing in this legislation will change that.

Hold on to a couple of simple relationships:
1) Everyone NEEDS health care at some point in their lives-nothing optional here
2) There is a significant body of the population who are trained to provide health care, many of whom have dedicated their lives to this.
3) There exists a need for a system which bridges 1) and 2) ,providing unfettered access to health care for everyone and ensuring just compensation for those who provide such health care.

Insurance, as a for-profit enterprise is, by definition, at odds with 3). There never will be a for-profit based Insurance system which provides *universal* coverage and *just compensation*. Not in my lifetime, nor that of any future generations yet to come. We can reform health insurance until the cows come home but what the* people hope for will never come to fruition in any health insurance reform.  The so-called “Public Option” is the only thing left in the current health care debate which has any real bearing on health care. If our legislators fail to pass legislation including this “Public Option” they will have failed to actually address the health care issue at all, and they will have signed into law the greatest entitlement legislation for a particular industry which any nation has ever seen-forcing Americans to tithe 10-20% of their income to for-profit Insurance corporations(argri-subsidies and the military-industrial complex  would be utterly dwarfed by such.) There can be no middle ground on this issue: conditio sine qua non=Public Option. Public Option means OWNERSHIP of mutual obligation, the thread of which every society is woven.

Just a couple of points:
1) Everyone NEEDS health care at some point in their lives-nothing optional here
2) There is a significant body of the population who are trained to provide health care, many of whom have dedicated their lives to this.
3) There exists a need for a system which bridges 1) and 2), providing unfettered access to health care and ensuring just compensation for those who provide such.

Insurance, as a for-profit enterprise is, by definition, at odds with 3). There never will be a for-profit based Insurance system which provides *universal* coverage and *just compensation*. Not now, not ever. We can reform health insurance until the cows come home but what the* people hope for will never come to fruition in any health insurance reform. The so-called “Public Option” is the only thing left in the current health care debate which has any real bearing on health care. If our legislators fail to pass legislation including this “Public Option” they will have failed to actually address the health care issue at all, and they will have signed into law the greatest entitlement legislation for a particular industry which any nation has ever seen-forcing Americans to tithe 10-20% of their income to for-profit Insurance corporations. There can be no middle ground on this issue: conditio sine qua non=Public Option. Public Option means OWNERSHIP of mutual obligation, the thread of which every society is woven.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Part of my allergic reaction to Asiegos post was an undertone which perhaps was not intended-when you state the x was the y of it’s day, you are saying that it’s days are numbered-ie. something else is going to replace it. Although I am not averse in the slightest to some new media framework competing with Gstreamer I just do not see any on the horizon. Helix has not gotten any uptake from the larger community. Xine and friends(ffmpeg, mplayer/mencoder, faac/faad etc.) have proven to be too legally “iffy”  for the commercial corporations spawning around FOSS projects and for commercial corporations which distribute Linux.

The whole legal/corporate politics of this stuff makes everything so damned complicated. All of these headaches because of mp3 royalties, decss, DVD menu navigation patents, h.264 patents etc. Even Helix is in the same boat. If their were no commerical interests in Linux we would all be using Xine and friends. Unfortunately the companies, in the FOSS community,  which hark the most on questions of patents and royalties are the same ones positioned to profit from the sale of such encumbered IP.  They of course are not the cause of the problem, but that they profit from this problems existence just leaves a bad taste in one’s mouth. From my POV I have payed the Frauenhofer Institute and the corporations behind MPEG-LA/MPEG2/CSS etc. over and over again-each time I purchase a device which can play this content the people who created these algorithms have gotten money from me-I fail to see why I must keep paying more and more money to more and more companies to get the right to play back the stuff which I already have bought. I know the legal reasoning but my gut tells me this is just plain wrong. And of course this all conspires to prevent people from freely(both in the sense of code and monetarily)  accessing the media of the world-which they are already paying for-  without paying even more money to corporations to do so legally.

From this perspective I cannot see any other FOSS media frameworks displacing Gstreamer in the foreseeable future. Any future attempts to develop such will end up facing the same BULLSHIT ISSUES again. Gstreamer is not perfect but it is the *only* solution which has proven viable in the FOSS world-ie. that the community embraces, and which is *squeaky clean* enough to enable commercial corporations to invest in it. And although I do have a bitter taste in my mouth about the damned patents and royalties I do not see Gstreamer as being merely the commercial interest of Fluendo(which is selling these codecs) and Collabra-maybe mistakenly, I see Gstreamer as a genuine grass-roots community-based  multimedia framework which has grown in size and capability to enable corporations to offer services and commercial applications based on it.

Guys I found this in one of the comments to Asiego’s blog:

It is from someone named Michael Pyne. And it is the first piece I have read about the Gstreamer vs. Photon issue which is not FUD and appears not to be based on misinformation. According to this text the *real* issue is binary compatibility-ie. that Gstreamer cannot and will not provide the ABI stability that KDE4 needs for the length of KDE4 lifespan, and not through any fault of their own.

According to this text the binary compatibility is the key issue here: in his own words:

“This isn’t to blame the gstreamer developers: Both gstreamer upgrades were a definite change for the better. But the problem is that they were still a definite change. We won’t be able to keep the Qt/KDE gstreamer bindings up to date, not to mention binary compatible, without limiting the scope of the API that we wrap. In fact, Phonon is about the extent of the amount of wrapping we’d be able to do.”

It seems to me that phonon is an extremely thin layer which wraps an abosolute minimum which is equally supported by all backends (directshow, quicktime, gstreamer, xine). It is a convenience API for QT/KDE app developers who do not need to do any real heavy lifting-ie. more demanding audio/video work.

You guys can go on and on about QT vs. Glib dependencies, or  LGPL vs GPL, or about how good gstreamer compatibility is acrosss various OS’s-but if KDE needs binary compatibility for the life of KDE4 and phono fills this bill then it is the best tool for the job.

Of course what would be really cool is if Nokia/trolltech would simply wrap the entirety of gstreamer and place it directly into QT. Then QT/KDE devs would have this amazingly simple abstract API which is pure magic for those devs and they would embrace the media framework developed by and for the FOSS community. Then work could be done to soldify the OS X and Windows gstreamer ports so that really shine.

And of course what would also be really cool is if QT/KDE would wake up and smell the roses and actually address the issues which Pulseaudio is addressing. I want to see support for XDG sound themes in KNOTIFY and I want KNOTIFY not to wreak havoc with other applications vying for access to my sound card. Hey maybe if the KDE community would embrace Pulseaudio there might even end being good ports of Pulseaudio to other OS’s 😉 And I want that when I use a KDE multimedia app that it registers itself with Pulseaudio and lets me redirect my audio to my PC connected to my home surround sound system.

Put another way it simply would not hurt QT/KDE to embrace gstreamer and pulseaudio and to do so publicly. Many act as if these two projects were GNOME projects-the reality is it is the distros which have made their interests clear-gstreamer is *the* FOSS media framework and pulseaudio is *the* FOSS sound server. This is not a GNOME vs. KDE thing-it is a KDE-runs-on-every-platform-under-the-sun-aspiration vs. Linux distributions. The linux community via gstreamer and pulseaudio is finally beginning to really address some its real shortcommings and
KDE is off touting Windows compatibility…major disconnect here…

And in the meantime we will just ignore the fact that most users don’t care about the legal obligations of the commercial corporations involved in gstreamer development and the commercial corporations involved in Linux distribution-us users will simply install xine and mplayer to deal with those things which gstreamer cannot deal with or only deal with by demanding outrageous sums of cash. At least KDE devs give us the choice to use xine-something the GNOME devs don’t do(ok I lied: totem-xine is still around ;)).

I use Gstreamer and I am quite impressed with it’s capabilities and the apps which utilize these to their fullest. But I must add that I find it sad that Gstreamer is *still* not capable of dealing with as many, and dealing as well with the formats supported by xine. Gstreamer has improved by leaps and bounds, and it has a tremendous community built up around including a number of commerical companies-a community much larger and more diverse than xine. Yet xine is still the only media lib I have found that religously works with any damn thing I throw at it. Of course on most distros xine is so crippled that it is basically useless-but here I am using xine on 64bit(which means no wincodecs) and the only thing that I find that it could still do better is navigate menus on DVD’s(I am just waiting for libdvdnav to be cleaned up and integrated in xine-the newest version with mplayer allows for flawless DVD playback). Gstreamer still fails to support a number of formats- and of those which it does support it often fails to do things like fast forward/rewind. That phonon can use both gstreamer and xine means that I can playback virtually any kind of media in existance. And it needs to be said that it is the commercial companies and their legal requirements which are the biggest limiting factors in Gstreamer capabilities-and it is this squeaky-clean image of Gstreamer which is driving it’s commerical adoption(3 years ago I could playback DVD’s far better with Totem-gstreamer than I can today, before the commercial interests basically took over gstreamer). Now Ubuntu can offer me gstreamer codecs to playback the contentious formats-$90 or I can simply use xine-which irks me greatly because the DVD drive which I purchased already included a license for DVD playback-just not for Linux-which to me is utterly absurd.

After reading this:

I just wrote down some of my thoughts.


Although I do not wish to speak for Johannes, when developers are talking about libraries and in *that* context speak of users they usually mean other developers, not end users. The *user* of a library is an API-consumer, ie. another dev/project which will be using the functionality of the new API. Any time a new version of a library comes out which significantly changes it’s API each and every dev/project making use of this library has to rewrite their code to adapt to the changes. A lot of what was in GNOME prior to GTK+-2.0 took a long time to get ported to the 2.0 API, some code never did. New features which are appealing, offering concrete benefits to the *users* of the API, ease the transition, make it easier to justify the time and labor.  If the new features trigger the “oh now I could finally do X with my app, which I couldn’t do before without great effort” then people rally around the new version and are want to rapidly port their software-this translates to concrete benefits for us end users-our applications make use of the newest features present in the API.

Personally I hope the devs take their time when it comes to GTk+-3.0. With time and patience 3.0 could be really amazing. Heres is a couple of things I would like to see:
1) Prior to 3.0 release their should be 100% coverage of the new API in all of the GTK bindings (Python, Ruby, Java, etc.)
2) Vala should reach 1.0 with complete stable bindings for GNOME platform-make sure Adjunta is ready to be *the* IDE for new GNOME apps using Vala.
3) Finish gobject-introspection, GTK bindings should autogenerated with each iteration of the new API-no more pygtk <=2.12, rubygtk >=2.14 etc.
4) finish the transition of GTK to Cairo, give our new desktops resolution independence.
5) get the mono/GTK# guys to sync with the new API.
6) document, document, document

If the time was taken to ensure the completion of these things prior to releasing 3.0- a) there would be enough time to smoothly integrate some significant chunk of Clutter into GTK proper b) devs would have a really mature, well documented and easy platform to create GNOME-3.0. If the bar is not set high many of the things listed here will be pushed to the side and get side-lined in the lure of playing with new tech, recreating much of the malaise currently existing. And I still wonder if Clutter will ever offer what a GTK-evas would(there is already a QT-evas port).

Further off I wonder if Tamarin/tracemonkey could provide GNOME with a way to offer javascript as *the* scripting language of the GNOME desktop(ie. create javascript D-Bus bindings, ensure that all GNOME apps expose their functionality via D-BUS and provide a nice jitting sandboxed environment to give end users a powerful scripting language to really take control of their desktop.


I would love to see something like this in a future version of GNOME. A couple of points I see:
1) object persistence- If I plug in a USB stick HAL/gnome-volume-mount should assign a persistent name to that USB stick. When I move the icon on my desktop for it, the next time I insert that USB stick it’s icon should appear exactly where I last placed it’s icon, and it’s name should be persisent- not disk/disk-/disk-2 depending on if it’s sunday, raining, or the wind is blowing.
2) a region of the desktop could be reserved for newly created/downloaded documents. But then again we have directories for this kind of organization. I personally would prefer to have the virtual desktops functionally utilized for this purpose-ie. each virtual desktop can have it’s own background and it’s own regions and allow users to configure which regions and which desktops are used for displaying which objects. Some regions could be defined to be present on all desktops, others for specific ones. Maybe something along the lines asiego talked about here could be inspirational: are all tech’s which lead in the direction of contextualization- “presence”)
3. Perhaps some of these regions could be embedded Nautilus windows( I use devilspie to create windowless embedded gnome-terminals on my desktop). If Nautilus was embedded in a region of the desktop without(hidden-accessible via key combo) menus and without window borders but with a scrollbar these regions could correspond to actual directories.
4. What I really would love would be a region for previewing files: ie. drag a file onto the region and preview the file there- drop a PDF there and let Evince show the contents of the PDF(without opening an Evince window)., drop a song there and have Totem play the file(without opening a Totem window), drag a DOC file there and let Abiword display it’s contents(again without opening Abiword)- expose a tiny subset of functionality-it 2 buttons appear above the displayed DOC file- Print and Edit, or for the song, Add to Playlist, or for the PDF simply Print. Can you tell how much I miss bonobo 😉

Keep up the good work-sorry if this is too long 😉

In response to:

I usually don’t want to be the one sending out stop energy but TFA is so ridiculously crack-inspired one has to wonder if those involved are on the same planet as we are.

This seriously reminds of Douglas Adams and The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy: a planet(a giant computer ran by rats) was built to find the answer to Life, The Universe, and Everything. After eons of calculations an answer was found, but none could remember what the problem was, so another planet was built to find the question that matched the solution found by the other planet. Unfortunately immediately prior to the successful completion of this project that planet was destroyed to make way for a hyperspace bypass.

Just a couple of notes in passing:

1) Differences in package management, repo structures and the tools involved in installing and removing software are the primary differentiators of Linux distributions. If this “problem” was solved, there would be remarkably little left to differentiate the distributions. And the only people interested in having such a “solution” are the one’s who already think that the LSB has already provided the answer to Life, The Universe and Everything.

2) On a superficial level there are ample opportunities for distros to reach practical consensi(pl?). XDG has been achieving this and making some nice progress for some time. These solutions do not try force distros to neuter themselves but rather to work together where there is practical benefit for all involved.

3) There will never be a single unitary package management system for Linux. Each of the various package management systems have advantages and disadvantages, each have their own problems, and each enable certain things which other systems do not. This is not merely chaos or mayhem- there is method to this madness: The organizational, social, and economic structures of the various distributions are mirrored in the particular package management systems of these distributions-in a sense, and very important sense really, these factors pre-condition each other. In other words the package management system *is* the distribution, ontologically speaking. The reasons for these differences reach into the raison d’etre of the distributions themselves-which ultimately devolves into questions of the viability of the distribution itself -whether socially, or economically.

4) Never use force to achieve what people are inclined to do anyway. With each version change in the fundamental libraries which make up the Linux ecosystem new functionality is exposed and form the basis for advances in the system itself. The individual distributions strive to take advantage of this infrastructure and utilize it for their own profit. This means that despite the rather large differences in the package management systems of the various distros that there is rather high degree of homogeneity in the version numbers of the fundamental core libraries which constitute Linux across the vast majority of distros. The differences in which actual versions are used are primarily a function of time-if the window of comparison is based on a one year time frame this homogeneity is *almost* universal, whereas if one takes 6 months as the basis there is a minor degree of diversity. Massive breaks in ABI are seldom and are surrounded by years where this is not an issue-far less often that Microsoft brings out new versions of it’s own OS.

5) the moment that any third party software mandates that my system conforms in some non-superficial way to some standard of which the distribution I am using is not part of is the moment that that software dictates which distribution I must use in order to have the priveledge of using that software. This is already the case for software like Oracle-I must use specific distributions which are endorsed by Oracle if I want to use Oracle software. Changing the distro I use for something which costs me many thousands of dollars is probably not unrealistic-but for me and the vast majority of Linux users there is no demand for extremely pricey proprietary software which would justify such. Back here, in reality, third party proprietary apps have to play ball according to our game. This does not mean that a lot cannot be done to make it easier for third party proprietary apps to integrate well within Linux-and I am all for such steps, but the LBA does not represent Linux-it represents Redhat and SUSE and to a lesser extent Debian and that’s it.

If you, as a third party propietary app developer, want to get wide scale adoption of your software in Linux then hire people who will get your software into the repos of the major distributions and provide tar balls for rest of us. Make use of the XDG tools available, target a rather actual core of main libraries (ie. not gcc-2.95) and target the infrastructure behind KDE or GNOME. If your software is enterprisy target Redhat, and SUSE(SLED) and perhaps Mandriva if you are feeling liberal-forget about the rest. If your software is for mere mortal beings target fedora, opensuse and debian/ubuntu. If you make software FOSS the community will do the work for you if your software is good enough to convince the community to support it.

If i have failed to address what the the author is looking to solve, please help me to see the problem, because I cannot find the problem which is being addressed by this solution.

Do you guys and gals remember when Richard did a short stint in a video for Sun following the announcement that Sun had decided to GPL Java ?

I can only imagine how happy Richard was on that day. He had every reason to be so. Not simply because Sun had chosen to use his license for Java-but rather because of a little bit of historical trivia that most Free Software users are too young to remember.

Now surely you know the name James Gosling. He was the one who created Java. But did you know that there is a rather interesting relationship between him and Richard ?

One of the single biggest reasons that Richard wrote the GPL and created what we now know as Free Software has everything to do with James Gosling.

In the early years (1984 to 1988), the GNU Project did not have a single license to cover all its software.  What led Stallman to the creation of this copyleft license was his experience with James Gosling, creator of NeWs and the Java programming language, and UniPress, over Emacs. While Stallman created the first Emacs in 1975, Gosling wrote the first C-based Emacs (Gosling Emacs) running on Unix in 1982. Gosling initally allowed free distribution of the Gosling Emacs source code, which Stallman used in early 1985 in the first version (15.34) of GNU Emacs.  Gosling later sold rights to Gosling Emacs to UniPress, and Gosling Emacs became UniPress Emacs.   UniPress threatened Stallman to stop distributing the Gosling source code, and Stallman was forced to comply. He later replace these parts with his own code. (Emacs version 16.56).  (See the Emacs Timeline) To prevent free code from being proprietarized in this manner in the future, Stallman invented the GPL.

Many people who are ignorant of this history have always been affronted by Stallman’s use of the phrase “Java Trap”. But is it really any wonder that Richard chose to use that expression-given what personally had transpired between him and James Gosling.

Bill Joy was the cofounder of Sun Microsystems. He is also the guy who originally wrote Vi. Bill Joy was also friends with James Gosling- and made Gosling’s baby practically synonymous with the name Sun.

This little bit of trivia adds a whole lot to all of the flamefests over the years about Emacs vs. Vi. SunOS, which we now know as OpenSolaris, was the first heavily commercialized version of what we now know as BSD. Bill Joy used the code written at Berkley to create the original SunOS.

That Java is now GPL is nothing less than Sun saying to Richard-“Richard, you were right”. And if one day OpenSolaris embraces the GPL Richard’s victory will be complete.

You may think this is nothing but propaganda-but I encourage you to actually *learn* about the history of these giants of the computer world.

Now that the OpenJDK is %100 Free, %100 GPL, Richard has received the kind of vindication that hardly *anyone* in life ever gets. Cheers to you Richard and Cheers to Sun for seeing the light.

Since I have been rambling on about this to friends for the past few days I thought it might be a good idea to actually write this stuff down.  I am probably wrong about this but future developments will be the final arbiter. Ok. What is this “this” that I am going on about ?

I think I may have stumbled on something which might turn out be a positive, if unintended, consequence of the policies of our celebrated most hated person in the world, President Baby Bush.

Right now, as we speak, there are shortages in staple foods being reported around the globe. At the same time the prices of these staple foods has been shooting through the roof causing unrest and protest in dozens of countries around the world. (note: this is *not* the positive part).

There are undoubtedly many factors which play a significant role in what is transpiring. Yet two factors seem to be almost conspiring in terms of the magnitude of these events.  Factor 1) the rising costs of oil. Factor 2) that America has diverted a large proportion of it’s argicultural production to the production of Bio-fuels.

The rise in oil prices cannot account for the shortages of staple agricultural products. And the skyrocketing price hikes for food reported around the world is only partly accountable due to increased transport costs engendered by rising oil prices. To my knowledge there have not been record crop failures which could account for such shortages.

America rose to it’s position of being the “Breadbasket of the world” during the course of 40’s, 50’s and 60’s.  For nearly 70 years America has exported more agricultural products than most of nations of the world put together. ( what would be necessary now is a statistical analysis of said exports and what percentage of agricultural exports is accounted for by other nations and trading entities(eg. Canada, EU).

Personally, I cannot think of one single policy pursued by the Bush regime which I could endorse. Yet sometimes good(TM) things happen inspite of the worst intentions and outright stupidity that one can imagine. The diversion of agricultural production for Bio-fuel production is one of Bush’s policy decisions. I won’t get into that regimes rational for this policy. But this policy decision appears to be causing shortages of staple products around the world. (note: this is *not* the good thing).

Ok. Now on to the good(TM) part. For many years I always wondered why it cost less to ship oil from various places around the world to the US than the actual cost of such transport. How can it be that the fundament of the modern global economy itself is valued a-economically, ie. that there is absolutely no discernible relation between the price of oil and the costs of drilling, processing, and distribution of said oil- and that there is no discernible relationship between the price of oil and the amount of available oil. For those of you outside of America these circumstances may not have been visibile but for Americans this has been clearly visible for the entirety of my life-oil is cheaper than bottled water and only in the past 10 years has this started to change. As a small child I remember gasoline being 25 cents a gallon(3.8 liters).  I remember how people panicked when the price went to $1 per gallon(early 1980’s). Now Americans are paying somewhere in the neighborhood of $4 per gallon. Again there are many factors which go into these prices-taxation, the relative value of the dollar etc.

One little piece of information finally managed to penetrate my thick brain this past year: Oil is only sold and purchased in US dollars. The US currency is the *sole* currency traded for oil.  Aparently this situation was instrumental in the formation of OPEC. This situation is the product of some key agreement between the US and the countries producing oil for export on the world market.

That which defines the boundaries of a system is itself not measurable within the system thus defined. If oil is the principle value of the modern global economic order, due to the fact that all other values are dependant on the value of oil itself, then oil itself, ie. its value, is not a function of this economy. Oil, the price thereof,  is the basis of the equation used in all calculations in the economy.

So what determines the price of oil ? Remeber that the availability of oil is itself dependent upon oil-ie. oil is required to distribute oil. Certainly the amount of oil in production plays some roll in the relative valuation of oil. But the value of oil is not a function of drilling, processing or distribution. The value of oil is also not a function of the amount of oil available-neither in terms of sheer existence, for noone knows what amount of oil is still in existence, or in terms of oil being at our disposal, due to the fact that oil is require to distribute oil. Welcome to negative theology 101. The value of oil is not a function of ….

Right now the speculators who determine the price of oil are panicking. We are probably only at the beginning of this-when all is said and done oil may reach $250 a barrell.  Why are they panicking ? The ways of the world market are inexplicable said the pastor as he became a manager. Of course the demand for oil is rising-China probably now has 150,000,000 automobiles-India’s demand is also rising. But why such spikes in the price of oil? why now ? Bush announced his plans to rape ANWR in order to squeeze out a few more drops of oil. Is the threat from Chavez and Co. to stop dealing oil in dollars what is triggering this panick behavior by the speculators ?

Whatever the reasons may be a couple of things become clear. The entire modern global economy has been based on two major factors: the low costs of transport(ie. the low cost of oil) and the tremendous superabundance of cheap agricultural products. These two factors made the neo-liberal global economic order possible.  It was on this basis that emmisaries from the Harvard School of Economics and the IMF/World Bank went around the world forcing nation after nation into adopting their economies to be export-oriented. Their reasoning was simple: it will cost you less if your own production is specifically targeted at the world market for we (the US) can provide you with food for far less than your farmers are capable of.

Of course these policies have been responsible for so much injustice throughout the world -cataloguing but a mere fraction of these injustices would require a multi-thousand page book. But these policies no longer work. A good(TM) thing. The two factors which previously mention colluded to make these policies economical-and surely enough major changes in one of these factors is having massive repercutions on the factor-the price of oil is skyrocketing at the same time as America is rediverting a massively large percentage of it’s agricultural production to Bio-fuel production.

The price of damned near everything is going up. The dollars is losing value at a historic rate. Noone of my generation can remember when there were such acute shortages of staple agricultural products-and this being reported around the world. Oil is far more expensive than it ever has been and in all likelihood it will never ever become less expensive again. On the whole this would seem to be major bad news for just about everyone in the world. Yet at the same time: when the superabundance of cheap agricultural products is no longer available and when the costs of transport negates the relative inexpensiveness of imported agricultural products-all those countries which have been forced into neo-liberal debt prisons are going to have to refocus their own economies for domestic consumption.  Otherwise there will be mass starvation. These countries do not need to repay their debts in order to do this. Even if America would change it’s course away from Bio-fuel production there is no returning to the unique set of circumstances which allowed for the previous neo-liberal global economic order.

Bush and his friends may have just inadvertently dealt a death blow to one of the most corrupt, oppresive and injust trade systems to have ever graced this earth.  Wow.

your thoughts ?


Karl here.