117 posts • joined 15 Jul 2010
Re: My golden rule since my card was cloned at a Texaco petrol station
"The" is known to grammarians as the 'definite article'. It connotes just one thing, in this case one wife. "A" is the indefinite article. "A wife" might imply more than one. "The wife" implies just one.
Congress might have something to say.
I hear the biggest problem with the USPTO was that it was expected to be self-funding. The more patent applications leading to approved patents, the more money to pay its staff, etc. No surprise then that rather more stupid and dangerous patents become approved than one might consider desirable.
With the best will in the world, Ms Lee might not be able to square patent reform with those elements in Congress who are lobbied by firms which benefit from the current regime.
Re: Not bad
I gather the movie is about a wormhole, at least in terms of the travel. My copy of Gravitation is stuck at the bottom of a cardboard box somewhere in the sleepout, but as I recall - over a span of decades - Kip Thorne discussed and calculated the creation of a wormhole using exotic matter (Z=0). He observed that not only were the energy requirements huge, but the wormhole would be initially the sign of a pinhead (and vast quantities of exotic matter would also be needed to enlarge it).
But for him the important point was that the rules of relativistic physics did not actually rule wormholes out.
What other ebook reader? Will it read your already purchased e-book?
"... people are upset that this kind of data is being collected in the first place – and will be looking for alternative ebook reader software that isn't spying on them."
Fair enough. What ebook reader, then? And will it read already purchased material?
Re: Maybe the author is from New Orleans?
Indeed. Some forty years ago I first encountered 'lagniappe!" in a Harlan Ellison story, "On the downhill side" (fairly depressing, second-law-of-thermodynamics kind of thing).
At the time I was pursuing a conjoint arts/science double degree, the BA in modern languages and the BSc in Physics and math. It piqued my interest enough to scramble for my Skeat's etymological dictionary - it wasn't there but I found it in Big Ox. Mark Twain had licked his lips over the word in "Life on the Mississippi" and I'm guessing Mr Ellison pinched it from Twain. It's since become quite widely used in science fiction.
What made me remember this was that 'lagniappe' came to English via New Orleans French, which got it from the a spanish creole, which ultimately formed it from the Quechua language spoken in Peru. This was peculiar. Peru is a hell of a long way from New Orleans. Also Quechua was one of three important languages considered to use SOV at the time (the others being Turkish and Japanese). What a wonderful journey that word had been on. Sort of illustrated Ellison's point.
Re: Please explain
That's a good question and deserves an answer longer than I can give here, but he's not really wrong about stroke order being important to meaning.
The overseas Chinese communities in Asia are still of huge economic importance, and they use traditional (not simplified) Chinese scripts in which stroke order is vital to the meaning of a new character as it's slotted into a learner's memory. And everyone in that mode of communication is constantly learning, and re-learning.
Remember, you need about 8,000 ideographs in memory to make a stab at reading a newspaper; a cultivated and literate reader might be more or less familiar with up to a hundred thousand. Without the variation in stroke order it can be very easy to confuse how ideographs/logographs are built up from radicals and other subcharacters. The loss of information in certain printed scripts is a real issue.
Re: Overgeneralisations much?
I might add, Korean Hangul script manages to be both a syllabary and an alphabet at the same time. It's the invention of one of their better monarchs but one still occasionally sees Chinese script (hanja) even now.
Re: Overgeneralisations much?
He didn't say "most" of Asia. He said "much" of Asia. I understood him perfectly. And yes, the Japanese do use around four different systems of writing - including Hepburn romanization, for example, and two syllabaries. But they also use what amounts to Chinese ideographs (kanji). So there.
Re: Google are no angels ..
Oh, I don't know. You seem to be saying that the central issue of patent exhaustion - whether the patentor was entitled to go after Google's customers despite a licence granted to Google - wasn't decided.
But it was, years ago, in a different case where Lodsys went after Apple's developers for violating a patent despite the fact that Apple had already a licence to that patent from the previous owner (Intellectual Ventures). That set the relevant precedent. I think Apple won in the sense that the judge ruled Apple had legal standing to fight on behalf of its developers and customers. Contract wasn't an issue there. The reason Google took the contract legal option was that it gave them remedies not otherwise available - another stick to beat the trolls with.
Now that's a big win.
Re: Perhaps A mandatory Name Change Next Time?
That's canonically the name of a losing client's law firm - who was representing the trolls?
Puhleeze. No Kiwi is under any illusions about Dotcom's motivations or character. It's the ghastly perversions of due process - not to mention the illegal seizure of chattels and property - which garner him sympathy, largely because if "they" can do it to him, they can do it just as easily to "us".
Re: This bloke is deluded
Typical Kiwi voters were indeed revolted by the prospect of a German, albeit a permanent resident, trying to tell them who to vote for in a particularly crass and graceless manner. However, the fact that Dotcom blamed himself for the electoral failure would tend to indicate that he is not 'deluded'. At least, not any more.
Otherwise, most of the above is fair comment, but with these caveats:
- That the email was a fake has not in fact been established. But it was certainly unsupported by other evidence.
- The Internet Mana party may or may not blame him for the loss, but in the TV broadcast of his self-flagellation one could hear loud shouts of "No!" when he blamed himself.
- It wasn't "his" party. Mana was a merger of two parties, one of which had existed long before, and the founding leader was Hone Harawira. Dotcom did however bankroll the merged entity.
- Mana spent only $60,000 NZ dollars on the campaign. Not $4.5 million. The money Dotcom provided didn't go to election expenses. One wonders how much was actually provided, and what it was spent on.
- The amount of money spent on the election was therefore vastly less than another unsuccessful party, the so-called "Conservatives", on the other side of the political spectrum. These are basically what a European would recognize as Christian Democrats. Their leader did bankroll their electoral effort to the tune of nearly two million NZ dollars - the second highest of any party contesting the election. (The highest spenders were the National party, which won.) In fact just after the vote the electoral commission filed a police complaint about two Conservative electoral officials for filing false expenses and spending more than was allowed during the election.
Re: A mea culpa and an apology?
Well yes. He wasn't running for office - he couldn't, being a German citizen, not NZ.
Re: environmental cost
As a tech for a university geology department I collected and analysed the environmental impact of gold mines, and it's funny how people miss the way big mining now has to 'remediate' the land they tear up to the point that the wetland wildlife gets vast areas of prime breeding ground, for example (although the small undercapitalized one-man or family outfits are altogether another matter).
And it's true that lots of places bear names testifying to ancient industrial importance, like (as you mention) the "Erzgebirge, or Krusny Hory" or perhaps Jarnberaland in Sweden, nicely illustrating the point that progression in tech results in new resources being exploitable. It's a bit like a mining version of Moore's law.
The funny thing about this series of disputes is that I agree with nearly all the hard facts and soft attitudes you allude to, even to the point of despising the lack of breadth in 'greenie' thought. (Not all greenies are so easily duped, though; the notorious Farley Mowat went to Russia to collect millions of copyright Roubles owing from his books - in the sixties - and wrote a book about the experience. In it he noted how on one flight he looked out his aircraft window and saw the vast blight on the landscape created by centrally-planned exploitation. This made his hosts very uncomfortable. Even Marx appreciated the productive power of capitalism's market rule, but no-one in the USSR realized that there's also a market in consumer appreciation of ecological improvement.)
And yet you're surely wrong about the long-term prospects for industrial civilization, just as Moore's law is running into trouble. Sooner or later there are hard limits and we will run out of the luck or ingenuity needed to bypass them; for your argument addresses only one of the sides of the squeeze, the supply side, which is improving steadily but is still a long way from matching the exponential increase in demand.
An exponential demand will always, sooner or later, be capped by a linear increase in supply. It might be at nine billion people. It might be at six hundred million. It might be at a trillion, or when the entire mass of the Earth is converted into people. Mathematically though, it will happen, and by the nature of exponential versus linear, the details hardly matter to the timing of the crunch.
Re: unfair, hurtful, discriminatory and an invasion of privacy
Indeed. Which is why am not now, nor have I ever been, a facebook user. Much to the annoyance of my daughters. Still, I would appear to be in the minority.
Re: You can't beat theromodynamics
You have a point about needing justification for numbers.
The UN has set itself the goal of containing ocean temperature rises to 2 degrees by around 2060, already far too high. Furthermore, "Rising greenhouse gas emissions this decade meant the 2 degree goal was “extremely difficult, arguably impossible, raising the likelihood of global temperature rises of 3 or 4 degrees C within this century.” That will cause chaos.
I'd observe that getting rid of heat into space by radiation is calculated following the black-body radiation curve for the amount of heat which can be dumped.
That's easily calculated for a given temperature difference between night-side Earth surface and the colour temperature of deep space. Nonetheless, when you perform the calculation you quickly realize that exponential growth (2-4% p.a.) implies black-body equilibrium at around six degrees celsius higher than at epoch 2000 in only a few decades.
Re: cannot reasonably or intelligently argue that either will not happen.
"We will continue to defeat your pessimism on production. The only real question is do we blow ourselves up."
Whatever new rabbits are pulled out of the hat by human ingenuity, this remains a finite planet, and sooner or later planet-bound solutions will run out.
Malthus' thesis was the flash of inspiration for Charles Darwin in his theory of evolution by natural selection. It's fascinating that (by no coincidence) it was also the flash of inspiration behind Alfred Russell Wallace's independently derived theory along the same lines.
The reason people persist in thinking Malthus an 'old fart' for arguing that the linear increase in resource availability will always be beaten by the exponential growth of population is that so far the brainpower of humans has opened new resource frontiers.
But brain power is itself a finite capability. Sooner or later it too will be defeated by exponential growth. Notice this geographical variation, from <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Population_growth>
Population growth 1990–2008 (%)
Middle East 51%
Latin America 30%
OECD North America 24%
OECD Europe 9%
OECD Pacific 8%
Former Soviet Union −1%
Non-OECD Europe −11%
Notice how Mr Worstall's UK and Europe as a whole are quite low-growth areas. Do you really think a woman in Niger, who may expect to have eight children just so one or two of them might survive to take the place of a non existent social security, will have the same opinion of Malthus' prediction as an European armchair commentator?
Perhaps more importantly, notice how the high-growth areas are also the high-population areas. And the mediterranean areas think they have a problem with illegal immigration now?
I'll back the beast with two backs
The only production we will continue to defeat pessimism on is reproduction,
Re: @ Identity
"Malthus is dead. So is his theory of population explosions and famine... ALL data point to declining birthrates across the world."
Nonsense, except for Malthus being dead. Only those places passing through a demographic transition, like Europe and Russia, have even or negative replacement rates.
Re: Parameter error
The UN's range of estimates goes from an optimistic 7 billion to a pessimistic 600 billion. 49 billion is actually quite a reasonable prospect. Regardless, there is an estimate out there that the planet can support 1.5 billion at a first-world standard of living. Whatever your estimate, it's far, far, far too high for a fair future.
"Limits to Growth is a pile of steaming doggy-doo based on total cobblers..."?
Whatever the defects of the initial conditions supplied to the system of differential equations by which they predicted collapse - and I don't agree with all your analysis of that, either - the planet is still about to face a crunch between the immovable object of finite resources and the irresistible force of population increase.
The first won't change short of space really being a new frontier - not bloody likely - and the second won't change till a great dying. Just when is a matter for debate. Say 2042. I won't be around to see it, thank a merciful providence. My (two) children might be.
So might you.
Viper-engined bike is not so strange
Jay Leno was interviewed in connection with his motorcycle collection. His favorite was the Y2K gas-turbine powered 325hp machine made by MTT, which last I checked was the world's most powerful production motorcycle and actually - as the TV show demonstrated - quite rideable. But hey it actually had fewer moving parts I guess, so was indeed simpler than the V10, and probably lighter too.
Even so, the Viper-engined is far from the worst-looking or worst idea along those lines. Old fogeys might remember another TV show forty years ago in which an idiot aircraft mechanic shoehorned a V12 Rolls-Royce Merlin inside a mini and periodically ran it up and down the runway of his airport. The engine occupied the entire interior of the mini. He had to sit on a seat cantilevered out the rear window and steer (!) it via an elongated steering wheel column also poking out the rear window.
Slightly more practical variants of Merlin or Meteor-powered ground vehicles included "The Beast" which was an awesome looking long-bonnet custom car which at one point was in the Guinness Book of Records as fastest road-legal vehicle. If I recall correctly, the first version was totalled and a second variant built. It was held to be an excellent autobahn vehicle.
This has been going on for a long time. Back in the sixties there was a V8-powered drag bike which had a helicopter direct-drive linkage for a transmission...
The Elephant in the room
Are the Getty images slavish reproductions of a 2-D original? If they are, Microsoft could probably win the case (courtesy Feist, and also Bridgman v Corel). But I gather that Microsoft would prefer to lose rather than be tainted as a copyright disrespector.
I'm surprised nVidia didn't mention the makers (ATI/AMD) of Radeon chipsets in the lawsuit.
Patents aren't supposed to foreclose on every possible way of achieving a function. But I can think of some cases where they did, and were permitted to by the courts (one that springs to mind is a clip for tying grapevines to supports). Similarly, copyright isn't supposed to cover every possible expression of an idea; the key principle there is originality, and it's hard to imagine an original expression covering every expression of what's communicated. But something close to that has happened before - a particular case involving the layout of a betting form springs to mind there, too.
Re: Thumbs up for nVidia
Exactly. I've actually been expecting this for some time.
Re: Man Up and Admit It
"That's what not paying for something with a price tag is, theft." One of the cases I had to deal with in second year law involved a stolen car which the owner then saw on a used car lot, with of course a price tag.. He still had a spare key, got in, and drove it away. In another similar case the rightful owner demanded it back - the used car dealer refused and was done for "detinue". You, my friend, really need to study up on your definitions. Theft is NOT taking something with a price tag. Many are those who attempt to copyright something not actually theirs and charge for it.
Re: "Copyright infringement is theft, pure and simple"
I think in the UK that's 'conversion' (taking without consent but returning the car).
Re: "Copyright infringement is theft, pure and simple"
The fun part is when the UK tries to issue freezing orders in the US and runs up against what my law lecturer calls the 'dead hand of originalism', a/k/a the provisions of the US constitution actually being enforced.
Re: "Copyright infringement is theft, pure and simple"
"permanently removing the value" - might be true but while that may be theft of value (which a court would not, I think, approve) it is not theft of the item itself. Basic logic failure.
Re: "Copyright infringement is theft, pure and simple"
You must be kidding. Taking a car "with permission" and returning it isn't even conversion, let alone theft.
Re: "Copyright infringement is theft, pure and simple"
Funny thing is that photographing paintings worth hundreds of millions is not even copyright infringement as was decided in Bridgeman v Corel by Justice Kaplan in the teeth of opposition even from such luminaries as Patry. And that held good in the US as well as the UK.. That's why the museum is reduced to a miserable "terms and conditions" violation, which is basically being naughty for buying admission and not observing the rules of the contract. Tut, tut.. Slap on the wrist, I wonder? But in any event, not theft.
Precisely. And making a copy does not permanently deprive the owner. Which is why copyright infringement is NOT theft by the legal definition. The minister's definition is irrelevant. Only the one used by a judge counts, even in Scotland.
But only the legal definition counts
Hah. Of course 'theft' can have more than one definition. But this is the "Law" section of El Reg and under the law the only definition which counts is the legal one. And under that law, making a copy but leaving the original with the rightsholder is an infringement, but not theft.
Never is a long time
""This isn’t a moonshot – it’s madness" - ho, ho.
I love it when pundits say something like a 'moonshot'' will "never happen". And then it does. Google is expert at making an array of bureaucrats suddenly see things its way. We shall see!
Re: Plenty of people disagree with copyright
An order of magnitude less than a couple of thousand years.
You didn't actually answer the guy's question. Straw man criticism or not, it deserved an answer. One review article referencing many studies purporting to establish that strong IP promotes invention is here:
A certain amount of skepticism is in order respecting such studies, since rights-holders (and the important ones are hardly the most creative) have an economic incentive to make people think their way. "Cui bono"/"To whom the profit" is a maxim to bear in mind. For that reason, studies tending to show the opposite are fewer on the ground, but for those interested here are two which at least attempt not to prejudge the issue:
A civilized discussion on Patents <http://skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/6647/do-patents-boost-innovation>
As to Copyright: For those who prefer to believe that if you did not found your business someone else would have done something similar, a report advocating the reverse proposition can be found here:
There were many who wrote, drew, and photographed 'for the love of the craft' before copyright protected them, and still managed to pay the bills. It may be that the creator deserves payment. What usually happens is that some non-creator buys the rights and takes advantage to a far greater extent than your grocery bill.
Correlation is not causality
While it is true that "The acceleration in technology over the past 300 years has coincided with the introduction of formalized IP and has been notably more advanced in countries with IP law," this correlation does not establish a causal link between IP and economic health of a nation. Such studies as have been done tend to disprove such causal links except in the case of pharmaceuticals. My impression is rather that those nations who industrialized rapidly did so because of comparatively liberal copyright and patent regimes (the US patent office required a working copy for any patent application till the end of the last century, for example, which stopped excessively broad claims dead). The current situation where rich nations have burdensome IP rules results from profit-seeking by entities which are usually not themselves terribly creative.
You also assert that "a state without money could manage without IP, but that would require its citizens to be pretty darn amazing people, practical applications of this idea have seen many starve." We currently have a situation in China where the regime is turning from ignoring or subverting other peoples' intellectual property to profiting from their own, which means actually beginning to enforce the rules they signed up to in order to benefit from eg WTO membership. This predatory behaviour is entirely to be expected from a rational government. I would expect in two or three decades, when their demographics have changed their phenomenal workforce, that the Chinese will be complaining about piracy in nations poorer than themselves.
"I challenge anyone who has their work taken without authorization not to get at least a bit angry."
You may well be a little angry, but so might the person you accuse of 'theft', especially since making a copy is not stealing under the law.
Authorization didn't exist in a lot of early societies. The idea that ideas or expression could be 'owned' is not a cultural universal. In those societies the notion that people needed authorization to use what you wrote, spoke, or invented would have been offensive to the point of combat.
Copyright dates from around 1714 in UK statutes and the idea of 'owning' expression is a lot older (cf. Colmcille) but it is not universally approved of even by creative individuals. Expect opposition.
There's so much wrong with this it's hard to know where to begin. The monkey never agreed to any form of contract and was neither an employee of nor an agent of the photographer, legally speaking. Therefore the 'work for hire' doctrine does not apply.
Furthermore, the word 'theft' is often bandied about by rights activists. The reason the courts do not call duplication of an image 'theft' (rather, it's at most an unlicensed copy) is that with theft there must be an intent to permanently deprive the true owner of the image. If the owner still has the original, there can be no theft, as has been held many times in the courts.
Of course, with the current trend to severe sentences for unlicensed copying, the offender may wish he had been charged with theft.
Ah! Room for a tech angle here?
Korolev and von Braun made a rocket engine the same way? Not bloody likely.
Actually von Braun (via Rocketdyne) were able to solve the combustion instability problems of large-nozzle engines but Korolev (via Glushko) never did, hence the difference in design philosophy (they used multiple small nozzles, which made for reliability problems).
On the other hand the Russians pioneered bleeding off some exhaust to power pump turbines (a so called 'staged combustion cycle') which meant another 15%, a sheer efficiency gain.
Rather than simply downvote you like all the others, I have to ask: what makes you think the neutron is an "extremely difficult-to-detect particle"? It might have no net charge, but it certainly has a magnetic dipole moment. Which is why the experiment can be done at all, of course.
Re: favourable launch location in NZ
Sorry, no, that's wrong, the place of launch would be about 37 degrees south and that inclination for technical reasons is excellent for the angle of orbit required in this application.
Why did they bother? It's been done before with reference to Kapteyn's star originating in the Omega Centauri satellite galaxy nucleus, specifically the central intermediate mass black hole. The novel was "Singularity", published two years ago by a fairly prolific author (William Keith).
Re: NSA Recruitment guy
May we expect emigration to China?
Since end of C19 SCOTUS has not heard all cases
You have no recourse. This means, since the Supremes are the final word on constitutional interpretation, that not all constitutional questions get decided except in the very limited areas where their jurisdiction is original, not appellate.
For the rest, since the late 1800s SCOTUS has operated on a certiorari system. They only hear around one hundred cases per annum.
Of course, this means in effect that the Supreme Court is not the Supreme Court for most cases. If they deny certiorari, which happens in nearly all cases, the last judgment appealed from will stand.
You're not wrong in the sense that the UK is held to have a constitution. But the word is also used in the sense of a founding or 'basic' law which can not be arbitrarily changed by the legislature. That is not the case for the UK constitution.
But it is not written down any one place, some of it is not written down at all, and all of it is subject to revision in the ordinary way by statute or legal interpretation. It shares these characteristics with some other realms, for example NZ where the (so-called) Bill of Rights Act cannot override statute. Furthermore, the entrenching provisions are not themselves entrenched.
This is not the case for the US where originalism and strict constructionism are live doctrines. While the US (still) determines the interpretation of such IP laws, through multilateral treaties and otherwise, the impact on actual US citizens living within its borders is lessened by the constitutional protections which are much stronger than UK or EU law.
Re: Damn thieves
From forty years gone I recall the safety chart in my Physics class noting that only 0.1A across the body will kill you.
Wait for SCOTUS
I'll just wait for the Supremes on this one. I'm not too impressed with Kimball's idea of what's reasonable here, but let SCOTUS make the decision. That's their job; they and their country will have to live with the consequences.
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