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SUMMARY _ This List
Somebody needs to moderate this list, if only to keep the subjects
descriptive of the message contents.
So far, we have had ...
Return Economics -- This is an argument Mr. MOWBRAY noted that MS
may advance to the effect that they are a source of "positive
feedback" in the economy, providing ever better and cheaper goods
<despite> government tolerance of their monopoly.
Html Trivial Debate -- Self-Evident Geekery.
Legitimate Inquiry -- SAAG seeks clues in sniffing around
litigation someone else might start that OAG.TX could exploit for
whatever purposes, "substantive", he says, but opaque, as usual.
Java Story -- MS/Java dispute
MS Alternative Story -- Feeble threats to DOS/Windows(95/98) and
DOS/Windows(NT) from IBM OS/2 and Linux Freeware.
Discriminatory Conference Pricing -- Nader is importuned to make
rich plaintiff and criminal defense lawyers cross-subsidize
impecunious geeks who want to come to Washington.
Behrman's long-winded, offend-everybody contribution has been:
Return Economics -- I maintain that increasing returns to scope,
scale or cycle are old phenomena. Such returns are the intellectual
foundation for Hamilitonian tariff policy or modern industrial
policy. However, no such policies exist in the US today. Increasing
returns, if they exist in software technology, are not truly
exculpatory of violating plain, old common carriage or anti-trust
policy, called "innovative marketing practices" by MS apologists or
"bunko", when engaged in by members of less privileged or less
white classes, unless it can be shown ...
(1) That MS operates as an instrument of US policy generally,
a sort of East India Company, BDM, or Airbus Industrie; or
(2) MS actually internalizes economies of scope, scale or
cycle and passes on the benefits of them to both consumers and
to other producers through efficient, market-clearing pricing
of its, (i) development tools, (ii) operating system, and
(iii) applications technology products and services.
Given "generally accepted accounting practices", it is very hard to
demonstrate anything one way or the other about economies of scope,
scale or cycle. But, MS is actually charged in federal court at
this time with violating a consent decree. The USGovernment has
probably met its burden of proof on that semi-heavy charge. So, MS
may be just blowing smoke, not proving anything, and looking to
negotiate a better plea-bargain than the one they previously copped
to but did not quite live up to, pretty much what you often see
down at Juvenile Hall.
Html Trivial Debate -- I inadvertently started this and repent of
Legitimate Inquiry -- The Texas Attorney General certainly has
standing, indeed an historical and actual duty, to take the lead in
the matters at issue. He should have a strategy, a budget, a staff,
and serried ranks of the great and sovereign state of Texas'
considerable intellectual, political, and professional disciplines
behind him. Of course, he has nothing of the sort. This is not a
"One Riot, One Ranger" deal. In any event, Ranger Walker or Deaf
Smith is not quite who he sent to scout the Nader conference.
Java Story -- General Silver may have several provable conspiracies
to lay on MS, if and when its talkative intellectual property
lawyers start trying to whine or bully their way out of the
proposed sentencing order the Federal Judge will have in hand when
the miscreants show up for their hearing. However, the Java story
is not it. The Java community does not support a proprietary MS or
Sun standard. MS did not have to debauch the ISO delegation to get
a vote against MS. Sorry, conspiracy theorists, wrong again.
The problem here is that the USGovernment does not use its
Reagan-era, "Cold War", R&D consortia to really engage in
non-proprietary standards development or support, to deploy, as it
were, instruments of national policy comparable to the East India
Company, BDM, or Airbus Industrie. That is a shame. It will,
indeed, lead to "Balkanization" of the Java standard. The problem
is partly MS but just as much all the little wannabe MS's like
Javasoft. However, the failure is of the US, Texas, or, in the case
of Java, California State government. As just a bunch of
draft-dodging lawyers and bankers, these sham-republican,
pseudo-democratic governments simply do not know how to put
together a disciplined instrument of national or state policy like
the East India Company, BDM, or Airbus Industrie.
This is a serious mistake, if there turn out to be no economies of
scale in software development, but there are economies of scope
and, above all, of cycle that swift, little "Corsair" or
"Hanseatic" countries like Finland, Singapore, Israel, Switzerland,
and so on can exploit to their actual and legitimate advantage but
our disadvantage. There are two problems with letting individual
firms like MS or Sun or whomsoever anoint themselves defacto global
instruments of US national policy:
First, the US Constitution vests the US Congress or the
several states with such power, something a bit less than the
power to issue Letters of Marque and Reprisal but a tad more
than the power to charter corporate ordinaries. Just going
into the global instrument of US national policy business on
your own hook is, well, something between a violation of the
Neutrality Acts or piracy and was, before Iran/Contra, a
hanging offense here and elsewhere.
Second, such legal punctillo aside, there is the
phenomenological, existential, or, I would say, practical
problem of MS, or Sun, or any of these brave, young African
Explorers' tendency to lose in the league they are now playing
in. In fact, they are losing: Their intellectual property
lawyers, the ones who have disclaimed responsibility for
everything that could possibly happen under US law in their
cereal-box packaging, are getting creamed by pirates, boxers,
... whatever in South Asia. Are we to let these juveniles get
into giga-dollar disputes with Malaysian pirates and Chinese
warlords, then send in the US Army and Navy to collect the
royalties they -- the juveniles, pirates, or warlords -- have
pledged to some HIV-infected Too-Big-To-Fail bank? That is not
cool, but it is exactly what is happening today.
Finally, we have the MS Alternative stories. I do not think the
USGovernment can redeem OS/2 or ought to establish Linux as a
religion. If the FTC, actually, not the DoJ, required MS to stay in
the (i) development tools, (ii) operating systems, and (iii)
applications businesses if and only if adhering to all the usual
standards for marketing engineered goods like uncool steam boilers,
jet engines, and gas ranges, not sheet music, then I expect MS
shareholders, large and small, would quickly decide to sell off the
tools and break apart operating systems and applications. That
would allow lots of US firms to build lots and lots of 7-layer ISO
and 3-tier RFC stuff so robust and complex we would compete very
effectively in world markets. It would also make Bill Gates even
richer, which is OK with me, an old ward heeler, not a wannabe
zillionaire or Sun King.
My contention, wildly unpopular in the Geek Community and among the
Republic of Texas Militia set, is that the armed forces of the
United States, not quite the same thing as the Pentagon in
Washington or the binational military intelligence community in
Maryland or Cheltenham or wherever it is, do have a legitimate role
in Directory and Authentication Services. These X.500/509 things
are the only monopoly digital media can sustain other than a sort
of cyberpunk dystopia of general and universal armed piracy as
history knows it, of "monopolistic competition" as dismal
scientists call it, or, as has been noted by others, of "innovative
marketing practices" such as found in the economics of Haiti, bus
stations, and municipal sports facilities.
Directory and Authentication services are, properly, to this
low-bandwidth mind, the states' old monopoly of arms, or
"munitions", as they say in Washington or Brussels. So, I would
vest national responsibility for Directory Services with the US,
not the Royal, Navy and Authentication Services with Secretaries of
State and Adjutants General in the Several, United, or, in any
case, no longer Confederated States. That is quaintly old-fangled
and decidedly uncool. Nonetheless, it is very normal from the
standpoint of international conventions and certainly
Constitutional, for whatever that is still worth.
Finally, as to Discriminatory Conference Pricing, I and many dead
Texans I admire have been "working on the railroad" for generations
now, so I am against charging whatever the traffic will bear,
amusing as I find impecunious geeks and dreadful as some, usually
non-Southern, plaintiff or criminal defense lawyers can be.
Thanks to all my old and new friends or just other contributors on this
list. This is my last post here, but I will continue to monitor this.
Best wishes to my friend Ralph Nader in all his patriotic endeavors. I
do not know if I will attend the conference, but I will surely pay my
own way, if I do. Please derive as much benefit as you can from my past
postings, and do not take personal offense at anything I say. These are
important matters for men and women who are fully grown-up,
thick-skinned, and of high morale or, at least, of good cheer, Fellow
Citizens, you might say.
Bye and PLAYON JRBehrman sends.....
fn: John Robert BEHRMAN
n: BEHRMAN;John Robert
org: TETRA ENGINEERING, Inc.
adr: 1436 West Gray, Nbr 298;;;HOUSTON;Texas;77019;USA
title: Chief Analyst
tel;work: 713 610 1162
tel;fax: 713 610 1161
tel;home: 713 524 4154