It bothers me that I have to write this blog in the language spoken by the President. I'd write in Esperanto, Spanish, Yiddish, Nahuat even if there was someone who could read it. But as far as I know my readers, if I have any readers at all, speak only English.



My aunt is seriously considering buying enough Tamiflu now to hold her over should there be a bird flu pandemic. Her doctor has refused to give her a prescription but a cousin who is an oncologist probably will be happy to. Personally I don't think she should be stockpiling the stuff, and we engaged ourselves in a lively debate which she refuses to let me record. I will, however, attempt to convince her to type some comments on this post.

Me: Stockpiling is unfair because if someone cannot afford to stockpile and they get infected there may not be any Tamiflu left, while those who stockpile may not get infected and therefore may never need it.

Her: But Roche plans to make enough for everyone in the world.

Me: If they make enough for everybody, why do you need to stockpile it? If not, then who gets medication should be decided by who needs it, not by who can pay for it before the epidemic even reaches the continent.

Unfortunately, right about there she left the room, so no more dialogue. But the saddest thing is that she isn't really doing anything wrong by wanting to stockpile. Inevitably, those who don't stockpile will be unsafe. This is the prisoner's dilemma. Altogether it shouldn't be done, but individually everyone feels that they have to do it to survive.

P.S. Please comment on this.

The Dead

Doonesbury will always be a reminder of reality. Check out this Sunday comic. I will add to that page every Sunday until he finishes.



Ubuntu the Penguin

Little Ubuntu the penguin lived in a small cottage near a forest.

One day, Ubuntu went for a walk. He saw a man who looked very tired. “Who are you and why are you so tired?” asked Ubuntu.

“My name is Bill the Gatekeeper, and I am tired because I have just been fighting with that apple over there.”

Ubuntu walked over to the apple. “Hello apple,” he said. “What are you fighting over?”

“Do you see that silver castle over there? That’s the castle of wealth. Whoever lives there will be the happiest person in the world.”

“I want to live in that beautiful castle,” said Ubuntu. “But I don’t like to fight.”

Then he heard something. Was someone talking to him? It seemed to be coming from above. Ubuntu looked up. The sun itself was speaking to him. “There is another castle, you know,” said the sun. “The golden castle of happiness. Whoever lives there will be the happiest person in the world. But it lies deep in the dark forest, and even my light cannot get there. You will need a guide.”

Ubuntu went to Bill the Gatekeeper. “Will you help me find the golden castle of happiness?” he asked.

“Go away,” said Bill. “Never mention that castle to me again. It doesn’t exist.”

Ubuntu went to the apple. “Will you help me find the golden castle of happiness?” he asked.

“I’d love to,” answered the apple kindly. “But I have to keep fighting Bill the Gatekeeper.”

“I can help you,” said a shy voice behind Ubuntu.

“Who are you?” asked Ubuntu.

“I am Firefox, who brings light into the darkness. I can light up the forest path for you.” And indeed, his tail was alight with flame.

So they set off into the forest to find the golden castle of happiness.

They came to a young man in a red hat. “Hello,” said Ubuntu. “Can you direct me to the golden castle of happiness? Or do you want to come with us?”

“It’s that way,” said the young man. “But I can’t come with you.”

“Why not?” asked Firefox.

“You see,” answered the young man. “I want both the silver castle of wealth and the golden castle of happiness. So I live in this little hut exactly halfway between.”

“That man was too greedy,” said Firefox as they walked on. “He wants more than he can have, so he gets nothing at all.”

Finally, they reached the castle. But the door was locked, and they couldn’t get in.

“Let me help,” said a large horned animal. “I’m a gnu, and these strong horns can break through any lock.” He ran at the lock a few times and it fell off cleanly.

Ubuntu, Firefox, and the gnu entered the castle and lived there happily ever after.

Linux standards

Can Linux standards ever be specific enough that people will be able to develop universal software without letting a Microsoft-like giant have a monopoly? Anti-trust laws have the disadvantage of destroying standards. And let's face it, Apple and Red Hat would be just as bad as Microsoft if they could.