Friday, March 17, 2006

Whine while you have your hand out

If you aren't familiar with open source software, it's software created by volunteers and made freely available to all without charge, including the source code. Since the software is free, it is very popular in 3rd world countries where most of the meager gross national product goes to supporting the President for Life and his cronies in the style to which they are accustomed. Sounds like everybody's happy, right? Wrong. The drones at the United Nations have their panties in a knot - Open source 'split by digital divide':
Local needs are not being met in developing countries, which are consumers not creators of open source software, says the United Nations University

Few programmers in developing countries get involved in the mainstream development of open source software, leading to a digital divide within open source projects, a researcher from the United Nations University (UNU) claimed on Thursday.

Researchers compared the number of open source mailing list postings from different countries with the Internet penetration of each country. When ordered by this metric, Western Europe came out on top.

Norway, which was found to be the country that is most actively involved in open source, has posted six times as many mailing list postings per 1,000 of its Internet-connected population than Brazil, and more than 100 times as many as Vietnam.
First, I'm stunned that there is a United Nations University. No wait, it's the United Nations University System with offices around the world. The good news is that their brochure claims they get no support from the regular UN budget - they live off a big endowment from Japan (home of UNU's main campus) and contributions from various governmental and other sources which thankfully don't seem to include the US government. Looking at their 2004 annual report shows that the UN itself and the US Environmental Protection Agency do toss them some taxpayer bucks, but it's chump change compared to the champagne tab at UN HQ.

The bad news is that they needed to do research to discover that there aren't too many programmers in Vietnam with time to spare to participate in open source projects. I'm shocked, I tell ya!
Scott McNeil, the general manager of the open computing initiative at UNU's International Institute for Software Technology, speaking at a UNU conference on free software in New York on Thursday, said that as few developers in open source projects are from the developing world this means that these countries have little influence on the direction the project is going.

"It is a problem, as local needs are not being met and developing countries are consumers not creators of open source software," he said.
No examples of unfilled local needs were provided, but since it's a fundamental tenet of the UN mindset, I suppose none are needed. The best part though is the whining that since the 3rd worlders get to consume the freebies, they should get to specify the menu. Of course, that's a fundamental UN tenet too.

Anyhow, we know what this means:
He said that education and mentoring are vital to "socialise" these developers into the global community of developers. The UNU has set up a project, called the Global Desktop Project, to help more programmers in developing countries get involved in open source projects.
Somehow I doubt that it involves hanging the President for Life from the palace portico. If these folks weren't so predictable, they'd be funny. As it is, they keep repeating the same old jokes.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

This is why Al Gore invented the Internet!

Celebs tremble as stalkerQuest takes off:
New York celebrities are quaking in their collective Ugg boots at the launch of gossip mongers's new Gawker Stalker site.

The site allows Manhattan star spotters to instantly post up the location and description of their targets on a Google steet map, according to the Daily Mail's foreign service. Critics are concerned that the precious stars might be mobbed everywhere they go. Unlikely-dubbed star agent Ken Sunshine, whose clients include Leonardo DiCaprio, Justin Timberlake and Ben Affleck, fumed that the Gawker site is "outrageous".
Well, no one loves celebs more than I do, so I had to check it out immediately at Sheesh, who are these people anyhow?
Saw James Iha weds night at 2A around 1 AM...i see him pretty often but i want to take this opportunity to say what the F*** is he doing with his hair? It's like a giant orange blond pompadour helmet. It's eating his head.

I'm afraid I'll have to stick with low tech gossip:
My mother in law went to Patsy’s on 56th last night. Sitting a few tables down was Liza Minnelli and her entourage of queens. The meal progressed without incident, until the dessert course, whereupon Liza got up, and, clutching a fork in her hand, went right up to the dessert cart and stood there and began sampling from the tiramisu, the cheesecake, and so on. Oy.
They probably had to sterilize the whole cart afterward to protect patrons from social diseases. Speaking of which:
Spotted Anderson Cooper at dinner tonight at Le Tableau, excellent French Bistro in Alphabet City. First walked in and sat down with obviously gay mulatto dude, then two handsome, hipster flaming white dudes joined them minutes later. The table nearly engulfed in flames.
Say hello to the anchorman of the future.

Be still my heart!

Seeking socialist glory in new Chinese game:
Doing good deeds, volunteering on building sites and obtaining Chairman Mao's autograph are some of the objectives of "Learn from Lei Feng," a new online game starring the Chinese Communist Party's legendary hero.

The plot revolves around Lei Feng, a humble, selfless People's Liberation Army soldier who, the myth goes, spent all his spare time and money helping the needy and serving the Party until tragically dying in an accident in 1962.
I wonder if he got to bayonet any peasants?
"For beginners, sewing and mending socks is the only way to increase experience and upgrade," said Jiao Jian, a young pupil and online game fan from the southern city of Guangzhou.
Dang, I'll be right over!
Party propagandists went into overdrive in 1963 after Mao called on the nation to "Learn from Comrade Lei Feng." As an unconditional Mao loyalist, Lei's name would be endlessly invoked during the chaotic Cultural Revolution, which erupted in 1966 and ended only with the chairman's death 10 years later.
Now there's a cachet!
While the new online game includes a treasure hunt, the prize is not a special weapon or pile of gold but a copy of Mao's collected works.
Insurance against a virtual toilet paper shortage, I guess.
Enemies in the game are "secret agents," Xinhua said. Players can replenish their strength after battling such evil forces by talking with the Party secretary, en route to a final meeting with Mao himself.
Gosh, I hope it wasn't some of those sneaky Falun Gong folks doing some unapproved meditating!
Online gaming has exploded in China in recent years, with an estimated 14.3 million people playing regularly and spending some $240 million on their hobby last year. Annual revenues are expected to hit $1.5 billion by 2008 for a habit that domestic media warn is taking a toll on children's studies.
I'm sure they are going to be flocking to this beauty.
But the developer of "Learn from Lei Feng" said the game was aimed at providing students with the tools to learn the pleasures of helping others, Xinhua said.
As opposed to like er, actually helping others?
"As long as my experience, reputation, skill and loyalty satisfy the game's criteria, I will win and meet Chairman Mao," Jiao said.
You die?

And kudos to Reuters for buffing up a Chicom propaganda press release and putting it on the wires. Now they can go back to the hotel bar.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Bologna meets the meat grinder

(Via Powerline) Check out Kofi Annan meeting with the United Nations Staff Union to explain a little downsizing:
The figurative booing from the international community about U.N. corruption is nothing compared to the literal booing that U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan heard this week. It came from the headquarters staff packed into a meeting in Conference Room 4 at Turtle Bay in New York City. As he walked in, deafening booing greeted him, and it continued periodically during the hour-long meeting with nearly 1,000 headquarters managers and staffers.
Couldn't happen to a more deserving guy.
When a printing department manager explained that Kinko’s could never replace his talented staff, Annan wondered aloud, “What is Kinko’s?” Staff throughout the packed room groaned.

Annan “reassured” the “international civil servants” that “no one will lose their jobs” in his plan for downsizing and outsourcing or moving certain responsibilities offshore. A few minutes later, he declared –– with a straight face and calm voice amid raucus laughter: “Buyouts won’t result in loss of personnel.” Besides, his plan will allow “those folks whose skills are no longer needed to leave with dignity.”

Got it? No jobs will be lost, but those who lose their jobs will be treated with dignity. The staff members were not comforted nor were they dignified as they yelled, pounded the tables, laughed at and made fun of the Secretary-General.
Kind of like me and I don't even work there. More hilarity by following the link.

Let's not go there, OK?

I have approximately zero interest in Craigslist, the Internet classified ad service, for a variety of reasons. However, its hippy dippy San Francisco founder, Craig Newmark, is always good for a few laughs. A case in point is Craig's keynote today at a conference as reported in the Valleywag:
"There was a conflict about people abusing the Casual Encounters section, and the upside was that I got to use the term 'randy' in its proper context."
"We have a lot of stats, and we can look at the numbers in, say, Casual Encounters [Craigslist's hookup section]. Casually looking at them, we can say...people everywhere have the same interests."
"People were posting scatalogoical (sic) fetishist obsessions about Hillary Clinton and -- ugh -- Theresa Heinz-Kerry. And these were disturbing fetishes, even for San Francisco."
Dang, that's scary!

Today's Hoot!

Gateway Pundit:
The enticing nakedness of peace mother Sheehan was determined to be too sumptuous for the Aljazeera male audience. The innocent, yet weak willed male readers, must be protected from such enticement lest it lead them to transgression.
I'm feeling all hot and tingly myself!

Where do they get these idiots?

From across the pond - Why black sheep are barred and Humpty can't be cracked :
TRADITIONAL nursery rhymes are being rewritten at nursery schools to avoid causing offence to children.

Instead of singing “Baa baa, black sheep” as generations of children have learnt to do, toddlers in Oxfordshire are being taught to sing “Baa baa, rainbow sheep”.

The move, which critics will seize on as an example of political correctness, was made after the nurseries decided to re-evaluate their approach to equal opportunities.
The Brothers Judd asks whether rainbow sheep might not be gay bashing, but I was thinking ole Jesse Jackson's would be whining about the Rainbow Coalition is it were done over here.
In keeping with the new approach, teachers at the nurseries have reportedly also changed the ending of Humpty Dumpty so as not to upset the children and dropped the seven dwarfs from the title of Snow White.
Why just the title?
A spokesman for Ofsted, the watchdog which inspects Sure Start centres, confirmed that centres are expected to “have regard to anti-discrimination good practice” and that staff should “actively promote equality of opportunity”.
Not to mention sponsoring "terminal cluelessness." My favorite part:
This is not the first time, however, that the nursery rhyme — written in 1744 satirising the taxes imposed on wool exports — has fallen foul of political correctness. In 2000 Birmingham City Council tried to ban the rhyme, after claiming that it was racist and portrayed negative stereotypes. The council rescinded the ban after black parents said it was ludicrous.
Ya think? All of which goes to prove that there's nothing bureaucrats love more than power in search of a problem.