Category Archives: Politics

Hang on Egypt

I’ve been following the news as closely as possible about the protests in Egypt this past week. I’ve come to be more aware of what’s going on in the world because of contact with people on It’s more real when you can get the news directly from the source.

I also realize I can no longer be ignorant to things that don’t affect me directly. The truth is oppression does affect me, especially when it comes at the hands of a man the US has supported for years.

I remember when Anwar Sadat died, but honestly haven’t kept up much on the Mubarak regime. I don’t know all the details, but I know this struggle is about people who want to choose their leaders and I stand behind that.

First Dan Lynch did a song about Egypt then David Marsden followed suit. I felt inspired to put my thoughts into a song also. This is the first take I could get through the song without too many mistakes so it’s rough, but it says what I want to say. It’s released under a creative commons BY-SA 3.0 license, so feel free to reuse it under those terms.

Hang on Egypt in ogg and mp3.

Lyrics and chords in OpenOffice Writer ODT format.

Hang on Egypt

30 years ago Sadat was shot
Mubarak came to rule his land,
Time has passed we see this leader’s not so hot
No the status quo won’t stand

The US turned a blind eye to all his abuses
As long as the oil got through
We liked religious freedom, so rare in Arab lands
We liked that he kept peace with the Jews

Hang on Egypt, the world is at your back
I love your spirit and how you take a stand
I wonder if I’d have the strength to be beaten in the street
To stand for freedom in my land?

First they shut down the lines of communication
but somehow you got word through
You inspire us in every nation
When they come to take my Internet, what will I do?

People have to know the time of kings is over
One mans voice can no longer rule a land
The people need to speak and watch their rulers
Apathy leads to tyranny and freedom is the cost

Canonical: Ignorant or Evil?

I’ve been thinking about the recent flap over Canonical’s small contribution to GNOME and what that means. Thinking so much that I woke up at 3:00 AM and still can’t get back to sleep. I usually don’t get involved in these things because others do a better job, but I’ve not seen anyone who really gets to the point I’d like to make.

The best summary is Brian Proffitt’s article Canonical’s Disconnect with Linux Developer Community, and the original spark was Greg DeKoenigsberg’s article where he takes Canonical to task. It’s true Canonical’s commits to the GNOME codebase have been miniscule. Proffitt also points out their Linux kernel contributions have been weak. Jono Bacon responds to all this by pointing out that while Canonical hasn’t contributed directly, they’ve worked on projects outside of GNOME in their own development system (Launchpad). Others have pointed out that Canonical contributes users to Linux, so they should be excused for their lack of technical contribution.

This makes me wonder if Jono, Mark Shuttleworth and the rest of the shapers of the Ubuntu philosophy are ignorant of open source tradition, or if they just don’t care. The best synopsis of the open source development model is in The Cathedral and the Bazaar where Eric Raymond points out that free software developers aren’t driven by money, they create to have something useful and to win the respect and acknowledgment of their peers. Becoming “somebody” in the Linux world comes from contributing. You become a recognized contributor on a project by getting code commits. My name is in the Jokosher credits because I committed documentation.

It seems Canonical wants to short-circuit this model. The right to drive GNOME development comes form contributing. The more you contribute, the more merit your words have. As Jono points out, Ubuntu development is done in Launchpad. Rather than investing in GNOME and developing a reputation through contribution, Canonical has built their own system, developed their own projects and worked only on Ubuntu. When you make your own project you instantly become King, and you don’t have to work your way up.

As Jono points out, the code is open and you can come and get it out of Launchpad. This isn’t how it’s supposed to work. There’s no law against developing outside of upstream, it’s just a selfish thing to do. Developing in your own system means you care more about yourself than the upstream project. Red Hat, Debian and Novell have bowed to the leadership of GNOME and shared their vision. Canonical has decided to go their own way.Shuttleworth may talk about building an exciting new future for Linux, but he’s only concerned about Ubuntu. Linux may benefit as a whole, but by others also turning their backs on the upstream projects and going the Ubuntu way. Canonical has created 2 camps, the Linux community and the Ubuntu community.

It’s true that Ubuntu brings new users. It’s true that they’ve welcomed new users and helped them along and given them something they could be excited about. They’ve filled a niche that needed filled. My concern is that they’ve begun to teach these users a way of thinking that’s foreign to Linux and Free Software. Ubuntu is built on a deep foundation created by others. Ignoring that foundation is dangerous.

So I’m left with the question: is Canonical just so enthused with their success that they’re willing to ignore the open source principles they’re founded on? Do they really not know how to be a good citizen in the Linux community, or is Shuttleworth building the Ubuntu brand at the expense of Linux as a whole?

Why I voted for Barack Obama

After an hour of standing in line I cast my vote today. I didn’t comment before the elections, but most people have made up their minds by now, so here goes.

Last presidential election I voted based on one or two specific issues and I got George Bush. It seemed right at the time. It certainly takes a lot of the work off of me. I don’t like the results, though. I don’t feel George Bush upheld the moral beliefs I have.

I have a friend who is passionate about abortion and that’s why he’s voting for John McCain. He’s a Christian and it’s his sacred belief that abortion is always wrong. He goes on and on about it. For the record, the Bible doesn’t have anything to say about abortion or the “sanctity of human life.” Just read it and it won’t take too long before God orders Israel to kill entire nations and destroy all their stuff. That’s a topic for another post, though.

My religious beliefs are central to who I am, but I don’t think God wants me to care about just a few pet Christian issues. That kind of black and white thinking is one of the things Jesus challenged people over. Look at when he broke the law by working on the sabbath to show people things aren’t always cut and dried.

So this time I decided to consider everything each candidate had to say and compare their platforms. I planned on reading the policies on the issues from both McCain and Obama’s web sites, but I didn’t have the time to read every word. I did read a lot of the top issues for me and compare point by point and build up a tally.

What I found is that I agree with Barack Obama more than I agree with John McCain. Obama’s policies are complete and well thought out. He is intelligent and more willing to speak the hard truth (neither candidate is willing to be completely honest about how screwed this nation is).

I find McCain’s policies to be behind the times and out of touch. He’s still calling for a Summer gas tax holiday as part of his economic plan. Has no one told him the summer is over? He also plans on increasing the value of the dollar so we can buy more. Is there some switch you can flip in Washington that regulates how much the dollar is worth?

I’ve read economists who believe Obama’s economic policy will have more effect per dollar spent than McCain’s. That’s important to me. I really like Obama’s stance on education. His energy policy is much better (hint: if oil and nuclear power were the answer, we wouldn’t have a problem).

I could go on, but the point is I voted for a man and his ideas, not his stance on one issue. You may disagree, but spend your vote however you want.

I’m going to light a cigar, pour me a beer and wait for the results to come in.

Apple Computer != treehuggers

Just saw this earlier today. Apparently Apple’s touchy-feely image doesn’t extend to environmental friendliness. To be fair, lots of electronics (like nearly every cell phone) are toxic and dangerous if not disposed of correctly. It’s really difficult to find a safe way to dispose of NiCD, NiMH and Lithium ion batteries.

Still, Greenpeace seem to think Apple is worse than most. Just like their “we like software freedom” image, when you look below the surface you find that Apple aren’t who they’d like you to think they are.

Rally Against Terrorism

I went to a rally in Blue Ash yesterday sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati.

One report estimated 1000 people were there, which sounds right. I’d say half were Jews, 25% were non-jewish supporters of Israel, and the other 25% were the counter protesters. This last group was almost universally pro Palestine, with plenty of Palestinian flags to be seen. There were about 3 young white kids wearing white-supremacist stuff standing near (but not with) the pro-Palestine group.

Slogans on the pro-Israel side ranged from “Israel must defend herself” to “Hezbollah out of Lebanon and Israel” to “stop terrorism everywhere.” I didn’t see much openly confrontational stuff, if any, although a few people seemed to be taunting the counter protestors and waving flags at them.

The counter-protestors were just there to distract and demoralize. Nearly every sign I saw was negative and offensive. There were plenty of pictures of mutilated bodies. The worst was orange posterboard held by a high school aged girl with [star of david] = [swastika] on it. How out of touch is that? I saw maybe a couple pro-peace signs on that side.

I don’t think they did themselves any favors by being there with no other agenda than to disrupt. I hoped to see some Lebanese presence to stand in solidarity against the hezbollah terrorism. There were a few, but not many. It’s unfortunate that the loud and hateful are the ones who always get the press.

The rally consisted of a opening remarks and several speakers. Congress members Jean Schmidt and Steve Chabot were there. Chabot was pretty intelligent, but Schmidt mostly just said whatever would get cheers. Several members of the Jewish community spoke, and a Hindu priest spoke briefly. There were a few first-hand stories about anti-jewish terrorism in Israel.

I was most impressed by Arna Poupko Fisher, president of the Jewish Community Relations Council, who spoke last. She was the only one to acknowledge the counter-protestors. She said “shame on you for heckling during the national anthem,” which was exactly how I felt. She went on to challenge them to give up the hatred, say enough is enough and stand with the jews against terrorism. Whatever Lebanon has against Israel, harboring Hezbollah isn’t helping.

Personally it was a new experience. I’ve been to DC during the first gulf war, so I’ve seen protests, but this was different. I got a bit of the sense of what it means to be jewish in America. There were police with machine guns and grenade launchers (probably tear gas). There were guys on roofs with camoflage and sniper rifles. Things were under control, but there was a sense that things could go very bad very quickly.

I understand terrorism has been committed by Israelis against Palestinians. I don’t think that’s a reason to justify what’s happening now. Israel is in a bad situation, surrounded by enemies. They want to live in peace, but they have neighbors who want to see them all dead. I’d love to see anyone who stands for hatred brought to justice, Jewish or Palestinian. It was good to be able to stand with Israel and support their right to have a place to live in peace without fear.