Not stuck in traffic, yet

Great stuff, Anthony Downs An Economic Theory of Democracy, summary from wikipedia:

Here is a list of the key propositions Downs attempts to prove in chapter eight:

  1. A two-party democracy cannot provide stable and effective government unless there is a large measure of ideological consensus among its citizens.
  2. Parties in a two-party system deliberately change their platforms so that they resemble one another; whereas parties in a multi-party system try to remain as ideologically distinct from each other as possible.
  3. If the distribution of ideologies in a society’s citizenry remains constant, its political system will move toward a position of equilibrium in which the number of parties and their ideological positions are stable over time.
  4. New parties can be most successfully launched immediately after some significant change in the distribution of ideological views among eligible voters.
  5. In a two-party system, it is rational for each party to encourage voters to be irrational by making its platform vague and ambiguous.

The conditions under which his theory prevails are outlined in chapter two. Many of these conditions have been challenged by later scholarship. In anticipation of such criticism, Downs quotes Milton Friedman in chapter two that: “Theoretical models should be tested primarily by the accuracy of their predictions rather than by the reality of their assumptions”

Here’s a rare occasion when I agree with Milton Friedman, and would add that Downs model from 1958 has weathered fairly well as a predictive framework.

Not stuck in traffic, yet

Tipping point reached

As a follow-up to my post “The tipping Point” from 07 December 2007, it seems that several other sources have come to the same conclusion I had: that the eeePC represents a tipping point.

First, there is LinuxFormat magazine, from the U.K., in its edition no. 106 for May 2008. (Still not available in all US newstands. It also has an article that I am very interested in, about sustainable aspects of free software, which I’ll just have to wait for. Also note that back issues of Linuxformat are available as .pdfs here):

Continue reading “Tipping point reached”

Tipping point reached

Things to gone…?


An alert reader has noted to me that the Science Fiction masterpiece of the 1930’s, Things to Come, is no longer available in higher resolutions from the internet archive. I had linked to it earlier in this post: Journey to the End of the Night (H.G. Wells Edition)

There is still a link to a lower resolution version here, though: Lower Res version of Things to Come.

Of course I have downloaded it, and will post here if it disappears from the internet archive. Why would the internet archive remove the higher resolution versions? Of course, I suspect that it is available over in a bit torrent download somewhere.

Things to gone…?

Everybody knows

Or I should say, everybody will know, a whole lot more about corporate sponsored disinformation campaigns. (But the chance to use a great Leonard Cohen song as a title of my post, I could not pass up.) In any case, the site I’d mentioned earlier, FRONT GROUPS, has a wiki. I think this will take off, especially after hearing about the rule of five: over at the blog Hyperpeople:

Earlier this year, I was privileged to go “on tour” with Jimmy “Jimbo” Wales, the founder and public face of Wikipedia, as we crisscrossed the nation, talking to educators in Adelaide, Perth, Sydney and Melbourne. Everywhere we went, people asked the same question: why is Wikipedia such a success, while my wiki languishes? What do you need to achieve critical mass? The answer, Jimmy said, is five people. Five individuals dedicated to an altruistic sharing of collective intelligence should be enough to produce a flowering similar to Wikipedia. Jimbo has learned, through experience, that the “minor” language versions of Wikipedia (languages with less than 10 million native speakers), need at least five steady contributors to become self-sustaining. In the many wikis Jimbo oversees through his commercial arm, Wikia, he’s noted the same phenomenon time and again. Five people mark the tipping point between a hobby and a nascent hyperintelligence.

From: Hyperpeople Hat Tip: Global Guerillas

Let’s not forget that web 2.0 places new challenges for those who would repress organizations promoting progressive social change. So when we add together: (1) a very motivated user group, much greater than five in number; (2) the possibilities of Web 2.0, to uncover and distribute secrets that many would like to remain secret and (3) an understanding of any conflict as being primarily about connectivity, a la Col Boyd, it’s my conclusion that those progressive social forces have every likelihood of unleashing the full revolutionary potential of democracy. So this process will grow.

Some interesting stories from the “Did you know?” section of’s wiki:

Continue reading “Everybody knows”

Everybody knows

It’s the Process, stupid…

A great post by Linux Torvalds [to linux.kernel newsgroup] that I’d read today, (Somebody had it on their blog, but I really don’t remember where, sorry!) and am reposting here. Three reasons: (1) It’s one of those great biological metaphors* and (2) it connects with the point I had made before about a passage in Jared Diamond’s book Collapse & most importantly, (3) So I can find it again when I am looking for it! Here’s Linus replying to a critique that Linux is making progress through “sheer luck”:

Continue reading “It’s the Process, stupid…”

It’s the Process, stupid…

In these cases, a cartel of multinational corporations collude to abuse our judicial system, distort copyright law, and frighten ordinary working people and their children.

Other titles that I considered for this post were: The RIAA loses, but doesn’t realize it or Boycotting the RIAA has never made more sense, or been easier… because this post touches on all these issues. But in the end, I decided on a snippet from the excellent blog Recording Industry vs The People.

The RIAA ‘wins’ the first case that has gone to trial for illegal peer to peer file sharing. They seem to think that they’ve won a major victory. My grandmother had a saying that went ‘don’t cut off your nose to spite your face…’ As reported on ABC news:

Woman Ordered to Pay $222,000 in File-Sharing Case
Experts Say Verdict is Clear Win for RIAA, Record Labels
Oct. 4, 2007

In the first lawsuit over file sharing to make it to court, a jury ordered a woman who record labels claimed illegally shared songs to pay the labels $222,000.

The lawsuit, filed by the Recording Industry Association of America, the record label lobbying organization, accused Jammie Thomas of sharing more than 1,700 songs on the now defunct peer-to-peer file sharing network Kazaa. The suit contended that Thomas violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act by distributing songs for free that belonged to the record labels.

“We welcome the jury’s decision,” the RIAA said in an e-mailed statement following the decision. “The law here is clear, as are the consequences for breaking it. As with all our cases, we seek to resolve them quickly in a fair and reasonable manner.

Hey RIAA, get a clue!  Do you really think Joe Sixpack believes that a $222,000 fine is “fair and reasonable”?

By the way, you have just:

1. Sued your own customer,
2. Made yourself look like a bully,
3. Made the DMCA enormously less popular,
4. Strengthened the case for copyright reform

So just like Dirty Harry said: Go ahead, make my day. The RIAA has engaged in plenty of obfuscation and smoke and mirrors of their own. That is about to end, thanks to the RIAA’s attitude towards their own customers. Thankfully, there are a great many places where you can get great music without supporting the RIAA.

Just who is the RIAA anyway? They really don’t want you to know, as they are engaging in a highly unpopular and undemocratic activity, so they obfuscate. Look at their website for the answer? Do you think you will find that information on their website? surprise surprise–you will not! But have no fear-wikipedia has unearthed the truth (again!)

Continue reading “In these cases, a cartel of multinational corporations collude to abuse our judicial system, distort copyright law, and frighten ordinary working people and their children.”

In these cases, a cartel of multinational corporations collude to abuse our judicial system, distort copyright law, and frighten ordinary working people and their children.

But what will the RIAA do with all the nukes…?

The case of the man who sued his drycleaners for 67 million dollars has nothing on the RIAA, who is suing the Russian web site for 1.65 trillon dollars. This exceeds the entire GDP of Russia. If they succeeded in this lawsuit and were somehow able to collect, the income from this lawsuit alone would be greater the the income of the recording industry from all other sources since the recording industry came into existence.

As reported by wikipedia:

On December 18, 2006,[11] the RIAA, on behalf of EMI, Sony BMG, Universal Music Group, and Warner Music Group filed a US$1.65 trillion lawsuit against the site. That equates to US$150,000 for each of 11 million songs downloaded between June to October 2006, and exceeds Russia’s entire GDP.[12][13] $150,000 is the statutory limit for copyright infringement awards in the United States.[14] Allofmp3 responded to the lawsuit saying “AllofMP3 understands that several U.S. record label companies filed a lawsuit against Media Services in New York. This suit is unjustified as AllofMP3 does not operate in New York. Certainly the labels are free to file any suit they wish, despite knowing full well that AllofMP3 operates legally in Russia. In the mean time, AllofMP3 plans to continue to operate legally and comply with all Russian laws.”.[15]

Continue reading “But what will the RIAA do with all the nukes…?”

But what will the RIAA do with all the nukes…?