I'll start the weblog by announcing the Gestalt System project. This is heavily influenced by my many years as a SAS programmer, though it's not "free SAS". GS is seen as being a framework linking together existing data manipulation, analysis, reporting, graphing, and publication tools in an open and extensible framework. Currrent targets are R, Python, MySQL, and Zope.
This is actually rather similar in spirit to SAS, which I've taken to calling a state-of-the-art reporting and analytic system -- for 1969. SAS incorporates much from PL/I, the TSO/ISPF editor, and mainframe storage and programming models, though it proprietized the concepts. GS should be seen as taking the best from available, existing tools, but bridging rather than trying to encapsulate them.
For more information read the Manifesto for which I give much credit to my partner in crime, Tim Churches.