Grokking Microsoft’s Waterloo

The GPL is their downfall. It’s almost amusing watching them get all tangled up in its terms. They can’t satisfy their greed and abide by the GPL at the same time. Poor SCO. Poor Microsoft. They will have to write their own software, and they can’t. They write it, but it isn’t as good. They can’t match our software because they won’t use our method. The open source/free method of developing software results in better, more stable, more secure code, and it’s developed blazingly fast in comparision to their pokey ways. They want the results, but they’re so terrified of the open process, they won’t use it. The apparent solution they have come up with is to steal GPL code. Maybe they think if they can get it put in the public domain, not that they can, then maybe Windows software will finally become secure, once it’s running on Linux, like Apple runs on BSD. – Groklaw

How is this guy not a lawyer yet? For those – the vast majority across the globe – who haven’t been following the SCO debacle, I’ll explain it briefly and almost surely more than a little inaccurately. But you’ll grasp the point.

1. The GPL is the license that allows anyone to use a large library free open source code, as long as they freely release the source code that they subsequently derive from it.

2. GPL code is very good, and many corporations want to use it.

3. They don’t want to abide by the GPL, however. But they are scared sans fecal matter since they also are trying to sell their software in competition with the free GPL software which in many cases is arguably better. This is Microsoft, in case you haven’t guessed, by the way.

5. SCO received a big investment from Microsoft in order to act as its sock puppet and attack the GPL in court, arguing that it is not legally valid and therefore they can use GPL code without having to operate under its restrictions. Some of the parties to the lawsuit SCO has brought includes their own customers!

Keep in mind that every bit of Microsoft software is licensed, which, if you read the fine print, means that even though you paid for it, it isn’t yours, it’s theirs, unless it breaks something or causes you to suffer some kind of damage, in which case the liability is yours – although you can sue them for the princely sum of $5 at which point your damages are capped. That license, of course, is considered Holy Writ, but a license that says: here, it’s free, you can use it if you want it, but you have to release anything derived from it under the same license, that is apparently unenforceable, null and void.

Why? Well, because it prevents Microsoft from making large sums of money off other people’s intellectual property! Considering that they’ve been doing it that way from the very beginning, no wonder Bill and company are having a hard time understanding that they won’t be able to do it here.

Skyclad is a state of mind

Gerald Gardner, writes Cerelia, “holds the distinction of bringing contemporary Witchcraft to the modern world.” Indeed he does. Somewhat awkwardly for those who maintain that Wicca is descended from an ancient cult of the Goddess, this retired British civil servant made most of it up sometime in the 1940s and 1950s. The eccentric Mr. Gardner’s pastimes were not confined to witchcraft. He was also a keen naturist and a fan of flagellation. Cerelia grumbles that many of Gardner’s “personal likes and fantasies” may have crept into the rites that he developed. Indeed they did. As she notes, the insistence that witches had to be “skyclad” (naked) while practicing their craft was “probably” (probably?) his idea, and her description of the initiation ceremonies in Gardnerian Witchcraft does seem to include a remarkable amount of binding, blindfolding and “whipping with cords.”

The estimable Stuttaford has written a timely essay for Halloween. It doesn’t surprise me in the least that an occupation which involves women running around naked and going in for bondage should have been conceived by a man. I always find it amusing how every new ‘religion’, from the first Gnostics to the Albigsenians to modern Gaiaism, always involves women taking their clothes off and sexually servicing men. And if you dig deeply enough, you can almost always find the clever, fast-talking Lothario who invented the new way to get some action.

There is nothing new under the sun.

Fooling the Gender Genie

The Gender Genie purports to be able to identify the gender of a writer by their choice of words and phrases, but it’s pretty clear that it’s only accurate in that men tend to write more about things and ideas and women tend to write more about their feelings and relationships. A man who writes about the latter or a female who writes about the former will likely be able to confuse it. I ran my last three columns through it and it came up with the following results:

Shadows, Sex and Sorrow = Female +36.4%

Breaking up with Bill = Female +9.3%

The End of Art = Male +19.9%

It did correctly identify a fiction short, though, as Male +16.8%. It occurs to me that these gender tendencies may be why I so loathe women writing about sports. Almost invariably, they tend to write about how the game affects them and their feelings, so their columns are devoted to how cheering for two different teams can pose a challenge to a relationship (McKendry), how other writer’s attitudes affect them personally (McKendry), how their knowledge of football can intimidate a man they are dating (Pressman), and then, you have the mystifying subject matter shear of how it feels to imitate Sarah Jessica Parker (Casey).

Meanwhile, the male writers are writing about who should get into the Hall of Fame (Dr. Z), who will be the best rookie wide receivers this year (Ralph Wiley), which team is blowing its salary cap (Pasquerelli), and how the Red Sox losing makes him sad (Simmons). Of course, the Sports Guy is clearly a bit of a girl from time to time – after all, he not only watches the Oscars, but keeps a running diary on them. Still, to be fair, his usual motif is massive multipart prognostications on how the various NFL/NBA/MLB teams will do in the coming season. Not to mention even longer pieces devoted to the seasonal fantasy drafts. And diaries of the actual professional drafts. A lot more snails and puppy dog tails than sugar-and-spice, actually, if you consider his entire oeuvre.

This subjective/objective dichotomy reminds me of a girl I dated long ago, a model who tended to attract an amount of attention wherever she went. I realized I couldn’t keep seeing her when we met up at a nightclub one night after having hit different establishments earlier in the evening. When I asked her how Club X had been – in other words, were there a lot of people there, was it fun, is it hopping tonight, should we go there later – she answered with an encyclopedic litany of who had noticed her and exactly how they had reacted to her. At the end of her recitation, I had no more information about the question I’d asked than before she opened her mouth. That brief glimpse into the yawning horror of life with someone who believes that the entire universe is nothing more than a mirror encouraged me to run, not walk, out of that relationship.

She was an extreme example of total narcissism, of course. But just as it behooves male writers to open up from time to time and allow their readers to learn more about them as human beings, I think it would also be a good thing if female writers – especially female sportswriters – would keep in mind that the subjects about which they are supposed to be writing generally have very little to do with them and their feelings.

Lighter fluid or paint thinner?

Bad enough that ESPN fired Tuesday Morning Quarterback Gregg Easterbrook, one of the more amusing writers dedicated to the NFL, for the sin of criticizing Michael “my evil plan to destroy Disney is working, ha ha ha!” Eisner and his role in pushing a carnucopia of gore on America. Unbe-freaking-lievable is that they replaced him with a little blonde girl who writes about riding the trapeze in New York City. Just like Sarah Jessica Parker in Sex in the City! Eek!

[insert expression containing roughly balanced degrees of vulgarity and disbelief here]

Did I miss it, or did ESPN hire its new web editor from Chick Flick magazine? This is akin to having Dr. Z write a hard-core article on offensive line blocking schemes for Cosmopolitan. Chris McKendry was highly annoying at times, but at least she knew a bit about sports. Now we’ve got Stacy Pressman and some older woman writing about their dating mishaps, a dork making lists about Hollywood actors, and now a girl living out her dream to recreate Sex in the City scenes. Bill Simmons – now, with Ralph Wiley, officially the only good thing about Page 2 – is no doubt debating whether he should use lighter fluid or paint thinner to set himself on fire.