BT et C

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Early MASOTY nomination

You will observe that the annual MASOTY awards just occurred in April of this year, and are not yet due. But I simply have to fire 'em up because a certain individual obviously has his eye on a prize:

Most Annoying Senator of the Year: Marc Pacheco, State Senator of Mass.

Memorable Quotes:

"So you're saying Citizens against Government Waste or Americans for Tax Reform are a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft? Is that what you're saying?" ( src)

This in response to a suggestion that since Microsoft provided substantial funding to these groups, one should look critically at their opposition to ODF.

Grover Norquist of ATR, personally received $60,000 from MS in 1999.( src). I have no info on more recent paymentsd, and leave it to the reader to decide how wholly owned they are.

"I am concerned that when I look at proprietary software companies bidding on work under the Open Document standard, if you do have an Open Office format, if you have an Open Office product, and it's an Open Office product which has GPL as one of the elements, then obviously in order to meet the standard then that would mean that proprietary company would have to release its code. That's what I understand. Now tell me where I'm wrong on that."

Let me help you, Marc: Where you're wrong is in getting your notion of what the GPL requires from Microsoft press releases. (e.g. "The GPL is designed to prevent commercial development of software distributed under the license. It does this largely by requiring licensees to make available, at little or no cost, all of the source code for any program that incorporates any amount of GPL code." -- -- which is outright false)

"Again, in keeping faith with what the Open Source community itself has put on the table every time they have approached me about being open, having see-through type of system, democratic process, from what I heard here today we've had far less than a democratic process."

I don't know if he scores a point here or not, because I can't speak about the exact process by which the ETRM was revised. I will say that this illustrates a kinda bad logical leap that I see all the time. Something like "you claim to be all about openness, but look at the front door of your HOUSE! It's closed!" i.e. the fallacy of ambiguous terminology.

It's possible that Kriss et. al. really did sorta conspire to get an ODF-friendly recommendation nto the ETRM. But it's also possible that this was called-for, because public discussion of stuff like this can get noisy and unreliable as people -- even dead people -- spout their usual FUD.


  • Pacheco is just arguing how politicians argue. Pacheco is just a typical politician. Which is to say that he is "prescribing outcomes in advance, circumventing the process of competition and experiment in favor of [his] own preconceptions and prejudices." (src)

    If you're going to give a special MASOTY award to Pacheco over this, you better just make it MABOTH (Bureaucrat of the Hour) and give one to Hamel as well because this is very typical in the bureaucratic political circus we call our government.

    In response to this Pacheco question:

    "...have you consulted these groups at all that have expressed these types of concerns and tried to understand where they're coming from or explain to them what you're trying to do?"

    Hamel gives no answer to that question, and instead shows her own "preconceptions":

    " most cases you will find Microsoft funding behind the group. And I think that that's an important factor to take account of when you think about competition."

    Which shows Hamel was the first person arguing against a straw-man - that the groups needed not be included because they are influenced by Microsoft. WTF?

    again later...

    "...some of the groups that would appear to be grassroots entities actually have corporate sponsors."

    Which is probably not the best thing to say in a room full of politicians that "actually have corporate sponsors." So that set Pacheco off.

    I like Quinn's great lines. I'd rather see ITD (via Quinn) continue to vocalize the merits of an open society/culture/technology approach to governance.

    "We really don't care whose technology, what you do with it, what transpires in that technology."


    "...everybody came absolutely on the side of Open Standards and open formats. And I thought that that played a very very -- was just a very healthy thing because it allowed everybody to compete and it wasn't directed against anybody."

    Which I think is the best case to make. Going off into subjects like how much ATR or CAGW gets from MS is not relevant nor constructive - it's accusatory, and Hamel started it. ITD's arguments for the benefits of Open Standards apply just as readily to ATR & CAGW as they apply to Microsoft, especially since their arguments are just the same as MS.

    So in response to Pacheco's question, why wouldn't Hamel just say no, but then give the same point-by-point refutations of ATR/CAGW/MS's published "concerns"?

    By Blogger luke, at 9:26 AM  

  • Yes, in fact you kinda caught me here. I started writing up the MASOTY nomination after reading that "wholly owned" bit in isolation. I read (most of) the full transcript and he only said these 3 dumb things, which isn't as bad as all that. But having started a blog post I just had to finish it ;)

    The guy's definitely not a frontrunner for this award. But look again at the graf that prompted the CAGW/ATR exchange. Can you make heads or tails of it?

    -Pacheco had numerous meetings with (inaudible) and they all indicated that they feel perfectly free to bid and compete etc. Wonder if there are a lot of vendors of office suites in there...
    -not in the business of dictating business models? um ... ? oh and he says it twice ...?
    -Re: Hamel's asserting that the ETRM will open up competition, Pacheco just quotes CAGW's statement. Isn't that kind of obtuse?

    And look again ... Hamel's reply isn't unresponsive. She explains why CAGW might say this "limits competition" when it (pretty obviously) opens up competition. It's not a preconception. It's a theory of why they'd say that.

    Anyway, I agree Quinn rocks, and don't want to talk any more about Hamel.

    By Blogger Matt Crouch, at 11:01 AM  

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