can't blame you, Tom

Story: Why I Stopped Promoting Linux in GovernmentTotal Replies: 25
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Mar 29, 2006
12:11 PM EDT
...but, since I've spent 38 years in CA state civil service, and expect to retire from there eventually, neither can I give up.

The trick is to HAVE NO expectations.

No, please don't think I'm even THINKING of being critical of YOUR choice!!

I'm a real windmill tilter from Day 1. You pretty much HAVE to be Don Quixote to keep at it when you know the deck will always be stacked against you.

But, although I have no -expectations-, I haven't given up hope and won't until BOTH feet are in the grave.

I DO appreciate VERY much all you have already contributed to the effort, and I know there are others IN government agencies across the nation who will keep trying by every hook (don't want to add "and crook" as the crooks are the problem!!! :-) ).

If ONLY we could convince a prominent crook the issue were in his/her best interests politically ... and THERE you're more likely to find Democrats than Republicans, I think (said by a lifelong Conservative Republican...).

But, I'm glad you aired this... it would be wonderful if it helped a few people wake up...

Mar 29, 2006
12:20 PM EDT
phubert: I appreciate your commitment. It helps me get who you are in the matter. I think that having no expectations is the only way to survive it. My mom was the chief court officer and chief probabtion officer for the Ciminal District here for 30 years. She resigned and went part time. I know she survived by lowering her expectations. I really respect her for it too.

I want you too know how much I respect and admire you for making a difference.


Mar 29, 2006
12:29 PM EDT
By the way, I know there -are- honest elected officials, but I also know they have their own goals that demand all their efforts so that something outside their scope is almost completely impossible for them to even consider. I tried working with one here in CA and realized MY problem was not understanding how to make such an issue comprehensible to such an individual.

So, it isn't only an issue of dealing with the roadblocks thrown by the 'crooks' but also getting a time slot with any who are not but are (a) computer illiterate (or, at least, I'll call it that) and (b) completely consumed with the battles THEY have chosen.

My -hope- is for real reform of the structure OF the government agencies and government IT. That needn't necessarily address proprietary vs. OSS head-on, or initially even address it at all.

Still, that might be even more an uphill battle than what you were attempting.

Every election cycle, I try to get someone's ear, but again, they have their own issues and agendas and I suppose I'm simply not a very good communicator to this audience... if you run across anyone who is, let me know!! :-)

Mar 29, 2006
12:35 PM EDT
> I want you too know how much I respect and admire you for making a difference.

Well, I don't know either of you well enough to "respect and admire", but I do want both of you to know that all such efforts are appreciated. All we can do is try, success or failure is often not in our hands.

Mar 29, 2006
1:18 PM EDT

I continue to be awe-struck by your experience. However, you do have an annoying way of confirming everything I believe about 'our' government. :-(

Mar 29, 2006
2:08 PM EDT
Quoting:I know there -are- honest elected officials

Having worked with ones I thought had a sincere level of honesty and integrity, I was blown away when I saw their names on Abramoff's payoff list. I began to question my own ability to judge people. But as I reviewed my exchanges with them, I always felt a little funny about them. One especially bothers me because he's on the House Committee for Homeland Security.

jdixon: I respect and admire any public servant whoworks in the system for 38 years. I know what it took for my mother to do it, so phubert has my admiration.

NoDough: I'm a conservative republican socially and fiscally. I almost busted a gut when I found out how Bush sold out to Microsoft. He was the governor I respected. We exercised and ran at the same club in Dallas. His daughters went to the same elementary school as my step-daughter at the same time. But anyone who would have truck with Microsoft can take a dive off the high board into an empty swimming pool.

BTW, the enron email data base is at Carnegie Melon. Do you get sick easily? Don't grep it. btw, all the attachments have been stripped. What's that tell you?

Also, everything you want to know is in the registration lists in both the House and Senate.

Now, what's this annoying way of confirming what you believe. Is it my tone? I won't apologize for that. Unfortunately, I believe and have expectation with regard to the political process. You may not understand what it takes to work the polls or to become a delegate. It takes a toll on our bodies and then our souls.


Mar 29, 2006
2:42 PM EDT
Well, maybe it's just a matter of spin, but this time I agree with you whole heartedly. The "conspiracy" if there is one is not so much party politics as it is in the entrenched bureaucracy. I worked at DoE too by the way, and State, and HHS and Postal Service, and even at the freaking Smithsonian, and they are all the same, only with differences in degree of corruption in different areas. I hate to step on any family toes, but the problem all of these agencies have in common is that they all feature practically guaranteed lifetime employment. Most of the government people I worked with had never worked anywhere else, and had no intention of doing so. That didn't stop them from complaining that they were not paid enough or that their benefits were not good enough. The group-think that pervades these institutions is almost like a disease, and it it too bad that so many of us (myself included) have come to the conclusion that it is incurable.

I think this issue need to take a prominent place on the national stage, with both parties competing for ideas about how to clean up government. While I happen to think that the "smaller government" mantra of the Republicans will have to be at least a part of the solution, that does no good if they don't do anything to implement their campaign ideas. At the same time, the Democrats haven't figured out a way to mobilize their base with any sort of "clean up the bureaucracy" message. To do so would make them sound a whole lot like Reagan Republicans of old.

Mar 29, 2006
4:30 PM EDT
macb: I felt right at home reading your post. Pretty to the point.

Did you hear about the Lobbyist reform bill in Congress. What a fracking joke.

I guess they're afraid they'll all get exposed if they really made it a reform issue.


Mar 29, 2006
10:32 PM EDT
All: thanks for describing your experiences

Here in Germany (and probably also over there at your place), it's the "Think Tanks" which are the problem I suppose, esp. the "Bertelsmann Stiftung" - you wouldn't believe who is on their paylists. And as I recently learned, your RAND organization isn't any better, with ppl like Rumsfeld and Rice on board... this must really be like fighting windmills...

Another "thanks" to Tom, who is still doing a great job after all these years.

cheers, wjl

Mar 30, 2006
4:40 AM EDT
The earlier comment about GWB echos my own 'problems' with the man's performance. And, even after some self-examination, one must ask whether someone we would consider 'good' will always behave that way.

'Honest' politicians, as I have seen them, do not seem to -stay- in politics very long ... with rare exceptions. I suspect they are rarer at the national level (including the House of Representatives) .. but, then, it also seems at times that corruption is more rampant in the backwaters!

Maybe that's because we have more opportunity to see it when it's in our back yard.

But, I just commented to a close friend: whatever wrong or corruption or evil we see is only a result of what humans are as a whole.

It really isn't 'corrupt politicians' but rather corrupt human hearts at every level.

However, I have commented many times before that I believe that honest people are rarely interested in power. They might be interested in actually -serving- the community (for whatever reasons, posterity, faith, conviction), but they are very unlikely to really want power. It may be true that some who started with the best motivations became corrupted by the lure of power (I'm using shorthand language for things that could be discussed, in themselves, at length).

Which is why I think (idealilstically) that no one who WANTS power should ever be permitted to HAVE it.

Can we really ever walk away from the battle? Well, we may very well need a rest at times... but I don't think any who see the need should ever give in.

I think political issues can keep people who are like-minded about the fundamentals of 'rightness' on opposite sides... and I'm afraid, aside from my own faith perspective, I haven't quite resolved that yet.

I do think we need to remind ourselves it's not any particular segment of the world (the U.S., Iran, Muslims, terrorists, immigrants, politicians, corporate executives, etc.) that is the problem: from the very beginning (Cain and Abel) the problem lies within ourselves and is all around us. Any other focus only serves to divide and create artificial oppositions that I believe may be a result of the problem but should never be seen AS the problem... as that is only a smoke screen.

Tom's comment about lobbyist reform is, of course, right on. People IN power will never really limit their own power... except in unusual circumstances. There have been times when conscience won over greed and lust... but those are uncommon events.

Think of how we vote when we know an issue will affect our jobs or comfort... perhaps that's a simple test of real courage.

Mar 30, 2006
5:02 AM EDT
Oh, one little aside. In my teens, a friend asked me to help him put up posters for his father's run -in the Republican primary- for a state assembly seat.

The district ALWAYS went Democrat and anyone with the least bit of sense would be aware that would be the result this time as well, so the 'competition' was for, perhaps, some minor power position -within- the party, itself.

However, as stupid as the whole effort was, I saw dirty tricks in that campaign. It was eye-opening for a teenager. The other candidate had the party's backing... i.e. he was a shoo-in. Even so, he and his supporters resorted to dirty tricks.

That set the tone for me on my view of politics as a whole. Indeed, I've learned some other nuances since then, but the sour taste is pretty much the same... is it really anything different from some of the dirty tricks kids play in the schoolyard? Do we really expect adults to have 'risen above' all that???

Mar 30, 2006
5:15 AM EDT
Quoting:is it really anything different from some of the dirty tricks kids play in the schoolyard? Do we really expect adults to have 'risen above' all that???

I do expect people to grow out of that stage of life. When they don't it creates a dilemma for me. Should I out them? Or should I pray for them in silence?

I'm more inclined use the guillotine and not have to suffer internally. It just doesn't work that way.

Mar 30, 2006
5:30 AM EDT
Well, when I begin to see God's hand in things around me, I have to kick myself into remembering what Jesus asks me to do... I'm afraid my attitude is so often so far from his perspective... and keep forgetting what he said of his kingdom vs. this world's...

Do good to those who hurt you, who spitefully use you... love your enemies... hmmmm


But I really HAVE done it and seen it work... so what does that say of me??? Dull witted, thick headed, self-willed...

Anyway, we keep TRYING to muddle through... :-)

Maybe much of it comes down to realizing which battles -we- are really being asked to fight... and what are the best tools FOR the battle.

Have you seen any email about Darfur? I find the source interesting: the American Jewish World Service (dunno if I'd ever heard of them before) ... caring about genocide against a Christian population...

Others are fighting battles that mean their entire existence.

Mar 30, 2006
6:42 AM EDT
Tom: I didn't mean that YOU are annoying. Just that it's annoying when my long held suspicions/beliefs about government corruption are confirmed.

Mar 30, 2006
6:49 AM EDT

I just wondered want you were thinking. Not that I know, I'mOK with it.

I behaved as an the eternal optimist knowing good people ousted Lyndon Johnson the president who enslaved a generation.

It took a lot for me to realize that in the greatest country in the world, it's much less than perfect.

Mar 30, 2006
12:43 PM EDT
The best way to get things done is to proliferate Linux....then more and more people will know and use it.

The more people, the more chance Linux has in the government...afterall, I'm moving to a government job and will push linux there as well (on Monday) so we are making innroads...we just have to keep pushing. Someday it will come.

Mar 30, 2006
1:22 PM EDT
I once spoke with a Microsoft 2nd level tech who was doing just that ... he said he was building about 200 boxes a year for friends & family (hmmm... LOTS of 'friends and family' there!) ... and was loading them all with Linux!

Hard to beat that.

Mar 30, 2006
1:22 PM EDT
devnet the eternal optimist. ;^)

Mar 31, 2006
10:12 AM EDT
Every cloud has a silver lining my friend ;)

Mar 31, 2006
11:24 AM EDT
I prefer gold, but silver will defintely do!

Mar 31, 2006
10:26 PM EDT
Curious to know why Congress does not mandate the use of OSS in Government.

Recently French have voted to open up iTunes

Mar 31, 2006
10:32 PM EDT
jawahar: Congress doesn't mandate the use of OSS in Government because MS has them by the short hairs.

Apr 01, 2006
3:42 PM EDT
> Congress doesn't mandate the use of OSS in Government because MS has them by the short hairs.

Well, yes, but there are actually good reasons for Congress not to "mandate" tue use of OSS. Strongly encourage, yes, but not mandate. There are some tasks for which OSS is still not suited, and government agencies and managers need the freedom to use the best tools available.

Apr 03, 2006
11:56 AM EDT
However, I think "strongly encourage" should be extended to all significant government entities (every state and major city/county, for example) joining a governmental open development effort ... providing 'template' solutions to common tasks (running a 9-1-1 call center, as ONE example; various uses of GPS, and more...) ... with the larger entities taking leadership for their area (California State IT for all cities, counties, special districts and school districts, for example).

All this COULD be and SHOULD be.

No, I agree about "mandate", but I also believe this would be far stronger ... while also a far greater threat to proprietary software providers!!!

...which, of course, is also why we're MOST unlikely to see it!!!

Oh, 'strongly encourage' could include required language for all procurements regarding TCO and cross-platform availability of software solutions.

Apr 03, 2006
1:12 PM EDT
Quoting:government agencies and managers need the freedom to use the best tools available.

Humm, but then, Government should then have access to the source, and, the right to modify or correct code to suit.

Apr 04, 2006
6:56 AM EDT
Well, nice thought, but most unlikely.

Certainly, vendor lock-in should always be considered, but government IT in general (federal, state, local) is not at all monolithic. Each agency in each area has its own issues and often its own procurements and IT staff (if any).

In other words, there is NOTHING really centralized (tho there may be in smaller states) and competency varies greatly.

Since there are so many independent jurisdictions, we can suggest 'good advice', but effecting change must be on a case by case basis.

State governments SHOULD have some opportunity to provide leadership within their borders, at least. And, as an example, to other jurisdictions.

However, the political landmines, as Tom has pointed out, are many and extremely difficult to navigate, while public interest in such an esoteric topic as "Information Technology" is so negligible as to be completely invisible.

In other words, just how and where do you start if you wish to educate or lobby the issue??

I don't think it's hopeless, by any means, but I DO think all of us who are concerned need to put on our thinking caps and, if nothing else, lobby informally wherever we can... letters to the editor, email to vendors, letters to our representatives, etc.

Now, does anyone know of any web site dedicated to all this? I believe there is at least ONE for Education, in general.

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