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Posts posted by Bryan

  1. So according to your definitions, you own it but don't control it? I think we've gotten to the root of why you aren't following me.

    You create it and voluntarily release it for other people to use. It'd be like owning a piece of land, donating to a third party organization under the conditions that you can't take your private ownership back, but you can use the land whenever you want. Obviously, this idea doesn't make a lot of sense for physical property, but it works very well in some software development situations.

    I'm talking about UNIX. Linux is a UNIX clone. The heart of which is the C language. See

    For the most part, the Open Source community does nothing except copy and tweak things that commercial companies invented and made successful. Sure, coding up clones is hard work. Just as moving blocks for a pyramid is hard work. But that's not the most conceptual, valuable part of the development process. Surely Objectivists should give the most credit to the Creators of the original systems that were laboriously cloned.

    One exception here has been mentioned already: Emacs. But that's the exception not the rule.

    I don't think its fair to say that Linux is simply a UNIX clone. Linux is definitely designed under the philosophy of UNIX, but I would consider more of an evolution of UNIX. Every modern operating system is, to some degree, a derivative of an OS that previously existed. Operating System Comparisons

    What about when commercial companies decide to make their original products open source for others to improve upon or learn from? Sun recently made Java open source. Netscape made their web-browser open source (which evolved into Firefox, IMO the best web-browser available). John Carmack (Doom, Quake, etc.) releases all his video game engines open source after their economic life-cycle ends. I guess I'm confused why this is viewed in a negative light.

  2. I am gathering that it is fair to say that the Stallman viewpoint on open source is anathema to Objectivism.

    Does anyone know how far the Stallman-viewpoint license underlies ALL Linux operating systems?

    In other words, if all the Linux distributions are pretty much permeated by Stallam-esque socialist antipathy toward profit-making, how far is it fair to conclude that fans of Ayn Rand should not be involved with the use of Linux?

    It is my understanding that Stallman has very little influence in today's open source and Linux community. Most people (correctly) find his ideas to be crazy. Although, he did create Emacs, one of the best text editors of all-time. As far as antipathy toward profit-making, I would check with Linus Torvalds about the riches he's accumulated as a result of creating the original Linux kernel.

    An interesting side note, this forum is powered by at least one open source technology, PHP. And I'm guessing it also uses MySQL, an open source database.

  3. So what if they copy what they don't own and save it to a CD and sell it? That has nothing to do with what we're talking about. The issue is about ownership by those who wrote the code. Ownership of the source and being able to read/modify the source are completely different issues, but "Open Source" blends these two as if they were the same. They're not.

    I'm not sure I understand your question. Aside from the company names and logos, there is nothing proprietary in any Linux distribution released under a public license. Mandrake (now defunct) used to take the Red Hat distribution, make a few modifications and optimizations, and release it under their name.

    If you write something and voluntarily release it for anyone to do whatever they want with it, it doesn't change the ownership. You "own" the original source code in that you created it, you're just making it available for other people to use. The consequence is that you have no control what they do with it.

    Linux is a great OS. But the really hard and unique part was done by a commercial company. Linux just copied the ideas and reimplemented them. I love Ubuntu, but that doesn't mean I love the way it was created.

    What do you mean the "hard and unique part was done by a commercial company"? What ideas did they copy and from whom?

  4. Yes it's good to be transported, but no it's not good to use taxes to pay for it (open source is partly funded by taxes, partly by altruism).

    Do you have evidence of open source software is funded by taxes? And don't confuse altruism with philanthropy. For example, I don't consider anything Mark Shuttleworth did to start Ubuntu Linux as altruistic.

  5. That is what "Open" Sourcers want you to think. That it's merely about being able to see or change what's under the hood. But that point is a red herring. Read the licenses at You'll see that no commercial company can let users see and modify the code and still call it "open source". There is no license there that covers that. All of them have the central communist idea at root: the author gives up his creation to the community.

    If that were true, then why can you go to your local Best Buy or CompUSA and purchase a distribution of Linux? How is Red Hat a publicly traded company?

    Open source software is more about a voluntary exchange of ideas than it is about communal ownership. It provides a way for people to work on projects that they feel passionate about and to work on things that they would not normally have an opportunity to do.

    Some the best minds in the software development world today are very active in open source projects. It is not because they are socialist; it is because the open source model provides best way to create the product they desire to make.

    In my opinion, Ubuntu Linux is the second best desktop operating system available (second only to Mac OS X). As each day passes Microsoft loses more of its market share to open source operating systems. This is not because of some communist conspiracy; it is because the open source software is better.

  6. 2. Also, I am sad to report that I cannot use the Oliver Computing Objectivism Research CD. The Virtual PC program Phil and others have mentioned would swamp my mini, according to three sources. On a bigger Mac it might do okay, but I don't know for sure. Beware.

    Do you have the brand new Mac-Mini model? The one with a 1.5GHz Intel processor? If so, you should not have any problem running The Objectivism Research CD through Virtual PC.

    I have a 1.5GHz PowerBookG4 (a processor considerably slower than the one in the new Mac-Minis), and I can run The Objectivism Research CD perfectly. The overall performance of Windows through Virtual PC isn't very good, but it works fine for programs that are not computationally intensive. The Objectivism Research CD is essentially a text reader, not a major CPU hog.

    Of course the simplest solution to the problem would be for Mr. Oliver to release a Mac version :)

    As an aside, welcome to the world of Apple. OS X works the way operating systems should work. Here are a couple OS X programs that I have come to love:

    Quicksilver - has changed the way I use my computer.

    Shiira - the best web browser I have ever used.

  7. I read in the paper the other day that the City of San Francisco is planning to have a city-wide hotspot. I'm not sure if they are making it a public service "free" to all, or if they are going to charge a fee to users, who will be issued a login.

    Even though I think the local government should not engage in this venture, and leave it up to a private company instead, I do think it's pretty cool. I'll use it. Internet on the beach or in the park sounds awesome.

    It appears that this is actually going to be provided by Google for free:

    Google bids to help San Francisco go wireless

  8. I recommend using Firefox, I have been using that with Windows machines for almost 2 years and I haven't had any trouble with spyware. It seems that most spyware exploits weaknesses in Internet Explorer specifically. In addition, Firefox is more streamlined than IE and webpages will load faster.

  9. You will often see pragmatist big business accepting taxes, fees and regulations as long as they are "predictable". They prefer arrangements with government to competing in the market and know that smaller competitors are often unable to tolerate the "overhead" of the government restrictions and costs. Such cozy relationships established between government and business are otherwise known as fascism.


    I wouldn't go as far as to say that the relationship between oil companies and government as 'cozy'. There are several reasons why dealing with the government as a land 'owner' is sometimes easier than dealing with private landowners, but the primary reason is that they want to make it simple for oil companies to pay them lots and lots of money. But other aspects of government regulation, especially on the operations side of things can be a nightmare. My boss was telling me that the State of Wyoming used to only allow us to operate wells for certain months out of the year. Other months the wells would sit idle, for no particular reason, just on some bureaucrat's whim.

    What is the nature of your work in the oil industry?

    I actually work in the title and lease department, dealing with leases and contracts. Specifically, I handle the division of interests on wells. Simply put, my job is to make sure that everyone pays and gets paid correctly based on their interest in a particular well. It is a sort of integration between the land dept, operations, and accounting.

  10. Of course it has a special meaning and is in addition to other taxes.  It's still a tax, an exaction, whatever you want to call the official seizing of wealth. The government "acting strictly as a property owner" is quite an "act". 

    To an oil company it's the same thing as paying a regular royalty owner. The government is actually a lot easier to deal with than private land owners, the royalties are smaller, and the lease terms are already negotiated.


    Is the 12.5% royalty on leases really that simple?  Usually they impose all kinds of complexities and costs in everything they do.  Are you connect with the industry? 

    It's actually remarkably simple because, as I said before, they function as a landowner, not a government agency. You simply cut them a check every month for the revenue produced on their leases.

    I just started a semi-permanent career at a fairly large oil company, I've been working in the industry for about a year.

    When I see how much money the federal government takes in from oil and gas production, it floors me. Between royalty interests and taxes they probably get over 20% of the gross revenue of oil and gas production in this country.

  11. I did not say it collects royalties on all US oil production.  They call the taxes on production "royalties" on the nationalized resources.

    In regard to oil and gas production, the term 'royalty' has a special meaning separate from tax payments. An oil company pays the government a 12.5% royalty payment on all gross production on government owned lands. These are terms laid out in an Oil and Gas Lease. In this context, the government is acting strictly as a property owner. On top of that, the company has to pay taxes on their own revenue gained from production.

    As far as the term 'nationalized', I take the definition to the transfer of assets to government ownership. If the land in Alaska was never privately owned, it isn't nationalized, it's simply owned by the government.

    There is no Constitutional provision empowering the government to own and control production of natural resources.  The Federal government was supposed to have permitted claims to formerly unowned land and resources as it did in some regions with the Homestead Act and with the Mining Act.  In the situation with oil today we have private companies discovering oil fields and producing crude oil with perpetual extortion payments to the government called "royalties" for nationalized resources in place of recognizing ownership rights.

    On this point, we agree. If an oil company develops lands controlled by the government, ownership of the land should be transferred to the company.

  12. I wrote: "the US government long ago nationalized much of the source of crude oil, specifically off shore and in Alaska (where less than 1% of the land is privately owned)."  How is that misleading?

    It's misleading to say that the US government collects royalties, as opposed to taxes, on all US oil production.

    And when you say that the US government nationalized the oil sources, who owned them before?

  13. Regarding the taxes on oil: there is much more involved here than the taxes you see buried in the price of gasoline.  From the very beginning of the production process oil companies pay enormous "royalties" to government (which ironically also happen to be the source of funding for Federal and much state land acquisition, but that is only a small part of the taxes that go into the Federal General Fund). The oil is taxed as "royalties" because even the US government long ago nationalized much of the source of crude oil, specifically off shore and in Alaska (where less than 1% of the land is privately owned).

    This is slightly misleading, royalties are only paid to the government if they own the land where the oil is extracted. If the land is privately owned, royalties are paid to the private landowner. Federal and state governments always get a standard 12.5% royalty interest on their oil and gas leases. The standard royalty on a private lease is usually 15%, sometimes as high as 20%. Whoever the owner, royalties are paid to them.

    The question of whether the government should be allowed to own land and directly profit from oil and gas production is another matter altogether.

  14. Next time you buy the coffee and the cashier asks you how much it is, tell them it costs $14.98/lb. :). Do that for as many lbs. you got at the inadvertent discount.

    Actually, I would just let it go. The error was not yours, it was theirs. The price of the coffee was obviously ambiguous or the mistake would not have been made and the fault falls completely on the store.

    I worked retail for several years while I was in high school and college, and I can not tell you how many thousands of dollars I've given away in discounts because things that were priced wrong, ordered incorrectly, or damaged during shipping/stocking. These things are simply costs of doing business in retail.

    Look at your discount on the coffee as your reward for being honest. Think about the hundreds of dollars the store loses through shoplifting each day, and contrast that with the type of customer they have in you. How many other customers would make the effort to correct the mistake as you have done?

  15. In one day I went to all of the other branches and basically spoke with them-for informational purposes.  I wanted to know if they would work around me being in College.  I did not stay long at each office-did not sign any paperwork or anything of that sort.  Hopefully I haven't tainted my integrity yet?

    I wouldn't worry too much about your integrity, I'd worry more about theirs. So far you've done everything that you were supposed to. On the other hand, they've messed up your paperwork and lied to you about the length of your training, something that would have messed up your education.

  16. I wonder how the heck they managed to create such an extensive database of 3D maps.

    They're not actually 3D, its difficult to explain without actually looking at them. The perspective is altered slightly on the standard overhead satellite photos and the result is a fairly effective 3D look. There's an option to switch back and forth between 3D and 2D.

  17. Great show. You can really see how much Larry David influenced Seinfeld by watching his show. I only discovered it last season so I guess I have a bunch of older episodes to look forward to. 

    Larry David is George Costanza. The way he portrays himself in Curb Your Enthusiasm is exactly how George Costanza would act if he were a multi-millionaire living in Southern California.

    As to new episodes ... I know they started shooting for a new season several months ago, and I would expect the new episodes to air very late Summer or early Fall.

    That's the best news I've heard all day. I know there was some doubt whether or not there was going to be another season.

  18. What I particularly love about this show is the trademark plot structure:  a single event or item (pez dispenser, kashmir sweater with a red dot on it, Kramer putting a hot-tub in his apartment, George buying a Frogger machine, a single pen being given to Jerry) causes the plot to suddenly break into several sub-plots.  Each one accelerates dramatically then comes crashing back together at the end usually to the ruination of George, Elaine or Jerry: Kramer on the other hand always seems to slide through unblemished :D

    I also noticed this plot structure when watching Larry David's newer series, Curb Your Enthusiasm, on HBO. Everything always comes full circle at the end. I speculate that is has to do with Larry David's and Jerry Seinfeld's roots in stand-up comedy.

    A lot of stand-up acts work the same way, they have a central bit that is built upon and split into other lines of jokes and then the act returns to central (presumably funniest) joke in the finale at the end of the act.

    Seinfeld has absolutely ruined me from watching other sitcoms on network TV because nothing can hold a candle to it. I actually think Curb Your Enthusiasm is better though, and I highly recommend any Seinfeld fans who have not seen it to check it out (the first three seasons are out on DVD).