Sunday, December 20, 2009

Brunnian Link

Politically and mathematically, a link is defined as a knot comprised of multiple closed loops. The best way to differentiate between types of link connections is by first understanding a simple one loop knot. The most famous one loop knot is the one tied by Midas to hold the constructs of his father in place.

In ancient times, legitimacy of a king relied upon the fulfillment of oracle prophecy. In what Homer referred to as the "swift-horsed" and "many fortressed" land of Phrygia, there lived a king Otresus who had no sons. When Otresus died, a regent took temporary command of the kingdom until a new rightful heir could be determined.

The regent did not want to give up the throne, so he paid the oracle to create a very unlikely scenario: the new king would enter the capital city driving an ox-cart upon which an eagle would land. This seemed like a good test to the Phrygians because the trusted oracle said it would happen, and it wasn't likely to happen more than once.

Many generations of successful regents later, a poor peasant named Gordias rose in the ranks of the Phrygian senate due primarily to his outspoken critiques of the current regent and his willingness to accept bribes. Enemies of the regent paid a bird handler to train an eagle to land on the ox-cart of Gordias as he was entering the city. Gordias was instantly declared king.

By the time Gordias was succeeded by his son Midas, Phrygia had been transformed from a predominantly middle class society into extremes of affluence and poverty. The peasants did murmur and ask the oracle for guidance. Midas paid off the oracle to declare him the literal son of Cybele, the deification of the fertile Earth, the mountains and wild animals (especially lions and bees). The oracle also declared that anyone who would make a better king than Midas would be able to untie the knot that Midas had used to hitch his father's sacred ox-cart to a post.

Midas did not use an ordinary knot to tie his father Gordias' ox-cart to a post. He wasn't going to make the same mistake as the regent. Midas had an endless loop rope created of fiber from the bark of a European Cornel Dogwood tree. Such fiber shrinks after it is wetted and dried for the first time, never to expand again. Midas wetted the virgin fiber of his loop and folded it around the ox-cart ring and post. He put one side of the loop through the other and pulled it tight, and then used almost half of the rope to tie multiple overhand knots around the post and cart ring. With the other half of his rope loop, Midas created a second set of compounding overhand knots next to the first. The result was two large compound knots with a narrower section in between and the very last bit of loop left over. The king crossed the left over loop and stretched it over the unanchored side of the knot to reside in the middle, narrower section between the two complex knots. When the bark dried, the rope permanently shrank and the last loop could no longer be stretched over the complex knot at the end.

Midas effectively created the world's first Gordian Knot: a riddle with no solution; a game that appeared to have a winning scenario but in actuality, had none. The idea that a savior could come and untie the Gordian Knot placated the Phrygians enough to enable King Midas to steal the fruits of their labor for so long that visiting dignitaries reported the king to have a literal "golden touch."

Phrygian culture continued to deteriorate until it was eventually taken over or, as many Phrygians saw it, "rescued" by Cyrus the Great. Cyrus let folks worship their own Gods and oracles, so the sacred ox-cart continued to sit in the courtyard of the old palace until Alexander of Macedonia tried his hand at it. Solving the Gordian Knot riddle at this point would be the same as declaring war against Persia, but Alexander didn't care. He proclaimed the problem with the knot to be that it did not have any ends, something he easily rectified by slicing apart the key last loop Midas had stretched around the middle. The knot then came undone with no trouble.

The Phrygians declared Alexander to be their leader and the Persians to be their enemies. Many Phrygians understood that Alex cheated -- he did not win the game by the rules set down by the oracles -- but what were they going to do, tie a new knot?

Today we have another Gordian Knot in place, and another King Midas turning our middle class into beggars. As with the original Gordian Knot, ours had a solution within its own rules when the loops were loose, but as they contract, they constrict.

If we desired our own golden touch by draining the lifeblood from an otherwise productive civilization, here is how we would go about accomplishing it:

We start with any number of independent loops, each capable of intersecting with the others on a consensual basis. The ability to form relationships only where all parties consent guarantees that no intersection will be detrimental to any party.

Into this system that can only be constructive, we introduce the ability to punish. We weave a pattern around the independent loops specifically designed to give us the power to destroy constructs of others. Our loop will be a carrot, enticing the independents to form a Brunnian Link.

A Brunnian Link instantly creates dozens of indirect connections between constituents. This can generate profound instant growth by giving the entities an evolutionary advantage over their environment and competing loops. When the advantage is realized by the original constituents, we can start constricting the carrot loop we introduced. The other loops will let themselves be pulled in order to keep a good thing going.

To suck the wealth out of this society along with all it can harvest, in its superior form, from the environment, and all it can gain in conquest and enslavement of outside entities, we must create a self policing link. We must pull the loops into positions where they intersect with one another. At that point, the loops of our knot will maintain all relationships, not because each is necessarily beneficial, but because the only way to force the relationships they have come to rely upon is to force them all. The entire entity would be undone and all intersections would be lost if any loop failed to maintain any relationship and the other loops could not coerce it back into compliance.

At this point, we can suck massive wealth out of the loops because they have joined to become a superior life form. This new life functions as one being to rape the environment and subjugate everything around it. It exists only to make its constituents fatter because no other measure is possible. None of the intersections of the knot can be held accountable to any measure because they are all required in order for the knot to function. As long as its constituents keep expanding their affluence without lengthening their expense, the knot as a whole meets the only measure everyone can agree upon: that they are all fatter as one entity than they would be as independent loops.

Every knot eventually reaches a point where it cannot become any more efficient: the width to length ratio of each loop cannot grow within that knot configuration. The knot as a whole can expand, but it cannot become any more complex or continue to evolve. Entities outside of the loop that are still intersecting consensually, on the other hand, have the means to continue their evolution. Eventually, they will surpass our knot in size, complexity, and efficiency, but we don't care because we weren't trying to make a sustainable system. We made these loops powerful only so they could transfer all the wealth they could steal from their environment and other entities to us.

There isn't any way to get around the fact that when you artificially force intersections to occur, you are creating a monster with a limited life span.

As the poor creature loses its ability to steal from others and starts feeding on itself, we enter a volatile period that can be extremely rewarding to those of us sucking wealth from the link. At some point in its downward spiral, one of its constituents will come to the realization that the sooner they get out of the knot, the greater chance they have of not being completely wiped out by one of the other knots that are starting to form.

There is a way to get out of the knot, be we don't want them to figure it out because we want to suck every last bit of lifeblood from their systems. After these once thriving entities have served their purpose, we have no reason to leave them enough sustenance to keep themselves alive. We want to generate an illusion that the knot will somehow rebound. We want to keep the fantasy going for as long as possible. We want to spread the message of hope and change within a system that cannot possibly evolve with the rest of the world. We want them to blame each other, some elusive entity or even us, but we never want them discussing ideologies or even precise definitions of their terms because that would lead to the inevitable conclusion that the knot to which they jealously hold is the only thing enslaving them. We want them to keep religiously defending the instruments of their destruction till they draw their last breaths. If they ever let go of their hatred and fear, they'll remember that the only power the knot ever had over them was their unwillingness to let go.

The Fed's monetary scam would never work in a Constitutional Republic protecting "consent of the governed." A knot had to form and bind its constituents to it. Once we had reason to police each other, exposing the knot and its side effects became counterproductive because constituents rightly saw threats to any one intersection as a threat to the entire link.

The strength of the Brunnian Link is also its weakness. If only one person publicly refuses to obey the illegal edicts of a civil court judge and "gets away with it," nobody else would have any reason to keep trying to comply with orders they believe to be criminal, immoral, unethical or (increasingly in the Fed's dying economy) physically impossible to fulfill.

Will you be our modern day Alexander? Will you cut the link before our society is completely obliterated? If a thousand people demonstrate that they are willing to protect you from physical and economic coercion, are you willing to stand in front of a civil court judge while being televised and proclaim that you are bound only by the law and by the lawful contracts you sign, but never by the edicts of a judge?

I am.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Can Oracle Kill MySQL?


Because MySQL is open source, Oracle cannot cease development without effectively handing the project's reigns to someone else, but Oracle can easily turn MySQL's development arc so it never intersects that of its flagship product. If the EU recognizes the Oracle-MySQL merger, the database industry leader could not only quash the potential of MySQL's open source version, but it could create a no-cost commercial version with a feature gap sufficient to kill development of earlier forks.

Everyone I know who is watching the EU vs. Oracle battle over the future of MySQL wants to know the answer to one question: Can Oracle Kill MySQL?

Right now, this is the single most relevant question the human race can ask about its future. We will either have a hierarchical global economy or a neural global economy depending on whether we, the people, can create something neural before the elites create something hierarchical. Those of you who are fighting for no global economy are unwittingly helping the elites.

An economic system requires communication, distribution and accounting. An entity that can keep you from achieving one of those three requirements has control over your economy.

Communication: Three weeks ago, the FCC declared itself to be an enemy of the United States by voting to grant itself the right to control communication on the most popular brand of global network. The Internet brand consists of an insignificant "backbone" (less than 1% of global connectivity) controlled by Washington DC and a wide array of private networks that agree to use the protocols of Washington DC's "backbone." Some of those networks also use different protocols. Washington DC hates it when a private network uses a different protocol because it makes it hard to spy on the users of that network.
The FCC is illegally claiming authority to revoke communication licenses unless private networks exclusively use protocols approved by Washington DC. AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and Charter telecoms are willing to comply with the FCC's illegal coercion. They have taken over the "last mile" of wire running from the homes of most citizens of the States to the web of private networks. In order to restore uninhibited communication, we are going to have to connect directly with each other. We can no longer rely on the big telecoms to connect the "last mile" of wire to our homes because they can be coerced through Washington DC's licensing scam.

Under the guise of controlling unregistered immigrants, the Fed has placed hundreds of customs checkpoints in an area one hundred miles wide around the perimeter of the United States. You can google hundreds of stories and videos demonstrating that the Fed's "border patrol" is much more interested in trying to control the "black market" (trade without Fed Notes) than unregistered immigrants or drugs. In order to restore uninhibited distribution, we're simply going to have to look beyond the fancy uniform of the Fed's "border patrol" to see them for the criminals they are. They have no legal authority whatsoever. If they attack you, they are committing a criminal act and you may legally defend yourself by whatever means you deem necessary

Accounting: Beyond uninhibited distribution and communication, a global neural economy also requires an uninhibited scalable method of detailed and automated accounting. By 2005, our good friends in Sweden had provided us with a robust open source relational database foundation for such accounting: MySQL. Unlike most open source projects, however, the Swedes did not fully give MySQL to the world. They retained ownership of the software under a license that let them do whatever they wanted with it while granting a second license to the open source community. In other words, all derivatives of the free copy of the software must remain open, but the Swedes could make independent derivatives of the copy they kept that they could close if they so desired. When you take brand name recognition into consideration and the fact that MySQL relied on third party storage software (that Oracle started buying up in 2005), it became feasible that the owner of MySQL could effectively kill the product or make an advanced, stagnant commercial fork more attractive. 

The potential for disaster enabled by MySQL's joint licensing was disconcerting to some developers who gave their time freely to promote the project's evolution, but these coders felt confident the Swedes would never sell out to what they called "the evil Oracle," MySQL's only viable competitor after it had surpassed Microsoft and IBM in both its growth curve and number of installations. Instead, the Swedes sold MySQL to Sun Microsystems, a behemoth legacy computing company in its death throes that had nothing to gain by purchasing an open source relational database company except to make itself more attractive for purchasing.

Sure enough, Oracle immediately found Sun Microsystems to be very attractive and offered to buy the realistically worthless behemoth for billions of dollars. Yet, Oracle now promises that it is not shelling out all this dough for the sole purpose of killing MySQL. Its founder, Larry Ellison may have been the richest man in the world before MySQL cut into his massive relational database monopoly from the bottom, but Ellison assures us that his intent is not to kill the world's only viable hope for future Oracle competition. Let's see if Oracle's stock holders believe him.

Oracle and Sun officially announced their pending marriage on April 20, 2009, but they had been discussing the idea, making agreements and finalizing details for some time before that. Looking at the stock price of both companies, it is pretty easy to see when the inside traders got the word.

Sun and Oracle were in a general downward spiral until March 10, 2009, but on that exact date, both companies simultaneously experienced a profound reversal of fortune. Investors suddenly found both Sun and Oracle to be very alluring. Yet nothing Sun had to offer Oracle would increase the attractiveness of its database. When investors suddenly moved to revalue the companies 57.4% and 125.78% higher, did they smell monopoly?

It's nice to think a corporation would be so humanitarian that it would try to replace its hundred billion dollar flagship database with a free one, but realistically, corporations have to do what is best for the bottom line, or their investors would leave or sue them. Ellison himself owns less than a quarter of the company he founded. While he has more power than any one person at his corporation, he does not have the ability to override the monetary good of the shareholders. As long as Oracle owns MySQL, if investors can make more money by letting it whither on the vine, that's what Ellison has to do. Even if he so desired, Ellison could not do the right thing through his company. He would have to purchase MySQL with his own money and change the dual licensing into an exclusive general public license.

Proponents of the merger note that MySQL is not in a position to unseat Oracle's high end database monopoly because no other software has the capabilities of the Oracle database. Yet MySQL's current technological position is insignificant compared to where it is going and how long it would take to get there. On its current growth curve, an uninhibited MySQL would unseat Oracle in less than ten years. I am sure that Ellison is smart enough to realize this.

While I believe that humans should have a method of holding corporations accountable to individual measures, the mechanism for doing so has been subverted in the United States and in most of Europe. Being forced to complain to the EU is a horrible method of accounting. Yet, without the three legs of a scalable neural economic system, it is the only method currently available.

If Oracle's acquisition of MySQL is recognized by the EU, Ellison could effectively kill open source database technology in three different ways:

1: Because of the dual licensing of MySQL, Ellison could create a commercial fork far enough ahead of the open source fork to prevent it or any other attempt at a high end open source database from evolving. For example: if Oracle gave a freely distributed, but commercial (not open source) version of MySQL one of its high end toys, everyone who uses MySQL would prefer the commercial version. Without users, the open source version would no longer be developed. Without competition, the commercial version would also cease to evolve.

2: MySQL uses a variety of storage engines. Oracle has been buying them up since 2005. With the acquisition of Sun, Oracle would own even the Falcon engine that is being developed to free MySQL of its reliance on third party storage software. Ellison could effectively kill MySQL by commercializing the storage engines MySQL needs. Once again, the dual licensing of these engines enables the owner of the software to endow a commercial fork with enough improvement that the open source version cannot compete. If Oracle did not own the software, it could not license a commercial fork to kill the open source version. Granted, even without buying any engines, Oracle could create a MySQL compatible storage plug-in from scratch for the express purpose of killing MySQL, but that route would be considerably more difficult and the antitrust issues would be more obvious.

3: Sometimes there is only one right way to improve software. If another vendor has already improved a commercial fork along the right path, he can claim ownership of the only right path of improvement. Civil courts tend to frown on claims to own the only logical growth path, but proving there is only one path can be a legal nightmare. Whenever legal nightmares can be produced, the court can be used as a weapon. Oracle's team of legal experts could effectively kill forks of MySQL or its engines by tying their development up in civil court with claims of copyright infringement. Because Oracle and MySQL have taken fundamentally different development paths, claims of infringement between the two would be frivolous, but if Oracle owned a commercial fork of MySQL, the similarities between it and the open source fork would be close enough to make a case.

It would be best for Ellison's company and for his personal fortunes to control and suppress future development of MySQL. Yet, sometimes when a man holds the fate of the world in his hands, he can transcend his personal bias and even the bias of his small group of friends to do what is right for all mankind.

If your name is Larry Ellison, I want to congratulate you on owning the most awesome private boat I've seen. Using boats as a standard, you have certainly proven your worth, but I hereby challenge you to meet an even higher standard, one that Bill Gates has spectacularly failed to achieve despite his best efforts: that of giving something to the world that it desperately needs without having to control it. I would recognize you as the greatest human being in my lifetime if you would take a small percentage of your billions, purchase MySQL from your company, and give it to the human race.

Throughout history, only a few men can say they made a contribution that kept evolving and enriching humanity forever. You can be such a man.