Linky Thursday #2


Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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100 Responses

  1. Avatar Doctor Jay says:

    Musk cited the open source movement strongly in his announcement. The open source movement would not be possible without intellectual property law. Richard Stallman created it with Copyleft – he used existing copyright law to attach a particular kind of license to software which allowed reuse by any party, so long as they complied with the conditions of the license, which was to share any modifications or improvements, not just with the licensor, but with the general public.

    I can’t tell for sure from Musk’s announcement, but it seems as though he’s doing the same thing with Tesla’s patents – they are open to use by anyone who shares reciprocally. This, to my mind, is not an argument for the abolishment of patents or any IP law, since “open source” type arrangements require an IP regime to work.Report

  2. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    [E2] — I was at a conference at a big luxury chain hotel earlier this week. If I’d wanted wi-fi access, I’d have had to have paid $15 for it.

    At first, I didn’t mind so much. Not being an overnight guest at the hotel, it didn’t seem so cheeky to be asked to pay. I recognize that the hotel pays money to provide wi-fi and looks to recoup its costs and generate profit. Other businesses like coffeehouses or fast-service restaurants may offer free wi-fi to attract customers or to get them to increase their orders; a hotel has a different business model.

    But, particularly when traveling on business, I’ve always wanted the hotel to build in the cost of the wi-fi into my room rate, and then not been charged. I could see having to join their frequent guest program or something. But when I’m traveling on business, I need the wi-fi to work; I’m not there for pleasure and even if I am, this is an amenity of the hotel and damn it, I’m paying for it so I want to be able to use it. They don’t charge me to use the pool; they build the cost of pool maintenance into the room rate. Why isn’t wi-fi the same way?

    Then I thought, but in a way I am a guest of the hotel, since my conference admission builds in the price of the conference center rental. So, wait, I am paying to use this space! Then I felt gouged.

    But then I figured, well, why am I here? Not to read my e-mail; I can do that at my office without the extra expense of being at a conference. I’m at the conference to listen to the speakers and network with the other attendees. So I elected to do without wi-fi entirely, and then it stopped being an issue for me.

    Still, I had that nagging sense of injustice — what if I were there for personal reasons, traveling for pleasure? I’d want the wi-fi then! I shouldn’t have to pay for it twice!

    …I kept going back and forth like that until a more interesting speaker took the podium.Report

    • Avatar Glyph says:

      Cool story, bro. 😉

      Can’t you just use your phone as a hotspot?

      Free wi-fi was a deciding factor for me when I chose a hotel recently.Report

    • Avatar Kolohe says:

      “They don’t charge me to use the pool; they build the cost of pool maintenance into the room rate. Why isn’t wi-fi the same way?”

      I have found high end business hotels to charge for the pool as well.Report

    • Avatar Michael Cain says:

      Because they can. No, seriously, people staying at a $450/night hotel can afford $15/night for wifi and have demonstrated a willingness to pay. People staying at the Motel 8 can’t (or at least, have demonstrated that they probably won’t). By the same token, wifi at the expensive hotel is also probably better than wifi at the Motel 8: more base stations, a fatter pipe to the Internet, rapid response to failures, etc, because most people paying those prices demand better service.

      Similarly, I have noticed that more of the small apartment complexes in the poorer parts of the suburb where I live have added “Free Wifi” to their signs. Everyone knows that it isn’t really free, but for many $10/month buried in the rent to share a few-megabit link is better than $60/month for a dedicated line.Report

  3. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    C1-The mutation of copyright law is great example of how the writers of the Constitution were really working in the dark. When they wrote copyright law into the Constitution, they thought that they would really be protecting writers, artists, and similar people for a brief but reasonably long period of time. None of them imagined huge corporations using copyright law to destroy the idea of the public domain and keep culture under their control in perpetuity. I really wonder what many of them would think about the current situation.

    L2-Nixon emphasized treatment over imprisonment in his drug plans. A lot of the ground work for the harsh and draconian war on drugs was laid in the 1970s, the Rockefeller Drug laws, but really viciouis enforcement did not start until Reagan’s election. If anybody his to blaime for the Drug War and the change of mood, its Nancy Reagan since saying the drug war was were pet project as First Lady.

    My opinion is that the big issue isn’t that drugs are illegal but that we declared war on them like Prohibtion. If we treated drug crimes like other crimes, say car theft, that is a regretable but existing part of modern life than we wouldn’t have the same problems. You can prohibit drug use and trade without having a drug war.Report

    • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

      Re: Drug war – exactly! The big driver is all that federal money that PDs get for drug busts. Nobody writes a PD a check for catching thieves & murders, but drug users & dealers; that brings in cash.Report

    • Avatar Hoosegow Flask says:

      I realize it doesn’t carry legal weight, but the length of copyright laws don’t pass a common sense interpretation of “limited time”. An entire generation was born, lived full lives, and died since Steamboat Willie was released, and its copyright isn’t due to expire for almost a decade (until the next extension, anyway).

      And as far as the “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts” bit goes, nodoby is deciding on whether or not to undertake a given project based upon their projected earnings 50 years down the road. If corporations and artists “only” had, say, 20 years to profit off a given work, it’s likely wouldn’t change the calculus much, if at all.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        Copyright extensions exist to benefit corporations & estates, not the creators.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Whatever the promote-creation argument for copyright, they are pretty much negated when it comes to retroactive extensions. We’re specifically talking about works that have already been created.

        Kind of gives the game away, right there.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        The worst part is that the laws are enforced only for companies in the ballpark of being as powerful as Disney.

        If you’re a schlub, you can’t really expect the law to be enforced on your behalf if you find it being broken… I mean, what can you do? Call the cops? What are they going to do? Send a cease and desist? That works best when you know enough about the person to be able to point a lawyer at them… and the ones who have mostly mastered low-level anonymity generally don’t target companies in the ballpark of being as powerful as Disney.

        So the laws are passed on behalf of the powerful for the benefit of the powerful and the schlubs are left darkling.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        [E1] — Guaranteed Basic Income (GBI) is an idea I often flirt with and continue to find attractive when contemplating the massive wasp’s nest of political and economic frustration that is our aggregate social welfare system. And the arguments in the article are reasonably persuasive. Well, except for this one:

        If the U.S. decides to implement basic income, what would prevent families from having more children to receive more checks?
        There is no evidence that child benefits induce families to have more children. On the contrary, families have fewer children when their economic security increases. [¶] But this concern really masks hostility to the poor. We have so many other perverse incentives in our tax system that have much larger budgetary effects, yet we harp on this one because it would improve the lives of poor people, who are often minorities. [¶] Children cost a lot more in terms of time, money, and foregone earnings potential than basic income would ever pay. With basic income, people will continue to have children for the same mix of reasons—good and bad—that they do now. No benefit program will change that.

        Frankly, that’s directly contradictory to experience I have personally accumulated in evictions: I’ve had more than one evictee who has lived on various forms of social welfare payments their entire lives plainly and directly explain to me, with the didactic tone of voice one uses when explaining obvious facts to a young child, that “More children means more money.” That’s coming directly from them, not from any hostility I might have towards them; it makes me think that this particular response to the challenge is a bit on the pollyannaish side. So I would think that what we’d want to see would be a graduated decline in the amount of money in the GBI payment on a household-by-household basis, since the marginal cost of increasing a household from 3 to 4 members is greater than the marginal cost of increasing it from 5 to 6 members. With that caveat, I remain strongly attracted to the idea.Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog says:

        @will-truman Whatever the promote-creation argument for copyright, they are pretty much negated when it comes to retroactive extensions. We’re specifically talking about works that have already been created.

        That was argued in 1999-2002, and the SCOTUS disagreed. I don’t think they were right, but there you go…

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


        Unfortunately the Supreme Court decided that limited time can roughly mean a day less than infinity.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


        What is also interesting to point out that the U.S. was largely the strictest enforcer of limited time and short copyrights until the 1976 Copyright Act. The 1976 Copyright Act was largely passed to make us in accordance with international standards and conventions on copyright. The 1909 Act was short with the possibility of two twenty-five year terms.Report

      • Avatar Hoosegow Flask says:

        I suspect (hope) that international standards for the length of copyrights will decrease over the coming years (decades) as individuals who have grown up in the internet age come into power.Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        That’s coming directly from them, not from any hostility I might have towards them; it makes me think that this particular response to the challenge is a bit on the pollyannaish side
        Your sample is likely biased. (Sorta like cops are biased into thinking far more people are criminals or victims than really are, because they’re far more likely to interact with a criminal or a victim as part of their job than an average joe).

        I’m not saying your wrong, but if your anecdotal data pool is “People I’ve met through proceedings aimed at their eviction”, I’m pretty sure you’re not getting a clear picture of the Joe Average Poor Guy.

        And the basic point is correct — number of children per couple drops as income rises overall and that the costs of an extra kid are not met by welfare (yes more money in, but much more money out), which is admittedly the sort of math many individuals are poor at (“immediate versus cumulative” but generally the problem with poverty is preventing kids is expensive (abstinence is a non-starter. Poor people can’t afford much in terms of leisure activity. They’re not going to cut sex) in of itself.

        Maybe the poor with guaranteed income are some weird, counter example…..but I think it’s more likely that your sample is somewhat biased and you’re falling into a few decades worth of “Poor people milk the system” PR. That’s been a constant drumbeat for my entire adult life — welfare queens and strapping young bucks taking my hard-earned tax dollars, despite it never being true.

        How many people on welfare have you met outside eviction proceedings that DON’T have extra kids for money? How could you even tell? So add potential confirmation bias on top of it — it’s the sort of question you really want good, solid statistics on and anecdotes.

        (Not that I’m bashing you or anything. I’m not even saying you’re wrong. I’m just pointing out that, well…social programs are such a football that impersonal statistics are needed to cut through decades of deliberate political noise, and all that noise pushes everyone towards certain conclusions on it’s own. Hence drug testing the poor, because they obviously can afford drugs. Amusingly, the drug they often can afford is meth, which makes working multiple jobs easier…)Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


        I think your sample pool is biased. I don’t think we are going to see GBI anytime soon but most of the people I see agitate for it are usually childless and usually well-educated 20 and 30-somethings who were hit hard by the recession and the rise of the “gig economy”. People who despite being well-educated have experienced years of underemployment and freelancing jobs instead of careers.

        I call this elite overproduction.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        Morat and Saul,

        I don’t think you and Burt are talking about quite the same thing. The article stated it as an absolute that people do not have more kids for the welfare benefits. As in, no people do that.

        Burt’s response is, I can tell you from empirical observation that some people do that.

        And I think you two are looking at whether it’s normal among poor people, or perhaps whether there’s a significant (or perhaps substantial, from a policy perspective) number of people doing so. Related questions, and from a policy perspective probably more important, but not quite the question Burt was answering.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        Thing is, when you relate your personal experiences, those are anecdotes. Interesting, but not a good basis upon which to form policy.

        My personal experiences are data, damnit! 😉Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:


        Surely there are people that do that. Literally anything you can name, no matter how dumb, has someone doing it. The whole ‘dumb criminal’ thing is full of it.

        However, building laws or programs on edge cases is a pretty bad idea — as a recent example, the trend of drug-testing welfare recipients costs more than it saves, by far — and past a certain level, auditing to prevent waste and fraud costs more than the waste and fraud it stopped did.

        And secondly, the article is still correct. One, the more your income, the fewer kids you might have and there’s no reason to suspect American poor are statistically different from this. Making policy on the individuals who are would be like making population decisions based on the Duggars. The Quiverful movement exists, yet they are not the average American family.

        And lastly — the article is still correct — some people MIGHT have more kids to ‘get more money’, but like criminals who rob convenience stores by dropping a twenty, asking for change and then stealing a register which sometimes contains LESS than 20 dollars, doesn’t mean they’re actually getting more money in aggregate.

        We can’t base a social program on the occasional moron, anymore than insurance can’t count on the average criminal stealing property worth less than what he leaves behind….Report

  4. Avatar Glyph says:

    [R4] is pretty hilarious.Report

  5. Avatar Will Truman says:

    Editor’s note: I have no idea why the child porn link ended up under the Copyright header. Dark magic, I assume.Report

    • Avatar Michael Cain says:

      Or related to [T1]. Once upon a time I saw a comparison of coding to dark magic. Basically, you have to get all the details of the incantation exactly right, or Bad Things happen. Up to and including demons appearing and eating you.Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        In either Vernor Vinge’s “A Deepness in the Sky” or “A Fire Upon the Deep” he proposes an old society, traveling the galaxy in sublight ramscoop ships (well, part of the Galaxy. Science gets complicated) — and one particular occupation, in this tens of thousands of year old society is “Programmer/Archeologist” because the computers are FULL of code, programs, and libraries — mostly forgotten.

        So any programmer often spends a great deal of time, diving into the deep past, to figure out what the heck is really going on.

        The example given is some far-future programer, bored on a multi-year trip, chasing down the origins of the time/date code that literally everything runs on. What he finds is layers upon layers of hacks and adjustments (modifying the previous clock to report in a new format or date or time system or to adjust for relativistic effects or whatever) and at the very bottom, long forgotten by anyone — the single counter, clocking up the time from some arbitrary event in the long distant past. (In short, the Unix clock).

        It was a surprising insight, given the fact that the book is 15 or 20 years old at this point.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        I have two programs that I use on a daily basis that are “old” code. One I wrote myself and it goes back at least 28 years; the other I inherited and tidied up (and eventually liberated by out-stubborning the corporate attorneys) that goes back at least 34 (and is probably a bit older than that). Both written in antique C. For the programmer/archeologists among us: (1) amazingly, I’ve been able to find some set of flags for every C compiler I’ve wanted to port them to that produces working executables, up to the present day; and (2) the one I inherited is the only interactive program I’ve ever seen that uses setjmp/longjmp to implement the main loop.Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        and (2) the one I inherited is the only interactive program I’ve ever seen that uses setjmp/longjmp to implement the main loop.
        One of my tasks is updating a long-neglected module that had, in the past, sadly been in the hands of a man who did not quite understand OOD, felt OOD was necessary (and updated the module accordingly) and lastly had a habit of deleting what he did not understand. (Much of my time has been spent rewriting all the various bits and bobs he just deleted.)

        Buried in the guts of it, thankfully unmodified by this idiot, is the core functionality of this code that does some complex manipulations of data before passing it onto a fortran dll for some really math intensive fun. This guts has goto statements. In C code. I’d forgotten C even supported goto.

        I’m literally afraid to touch it, and dread the day I have to make modifications there.Report

  6. Avatar Glyph says:

    [R1] – *smokes cigarette, stares off into middle distance, waits*Report

    • Avatar Chris says:

      “Existence precedes essence, so why should I care?”

      (Also the first entry into the Every French Novel Ever list.)Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      I don’t understand the objective. This is going to make them surrender faster?Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        There’s a follow-up article describing how French intelligence got wind of the Russian plan and, just in case the worst should ever come to pass, printed up large all-white pamphlets glued on dowels, to be deployed in response.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        The French have 72 different words for “I surrender?”Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        I sometimes feel kind of guilty about perpetuating hoary French stereotypes. I don’t know if it comes from too much Python as a kid. Or the fact that pretty much wherever I went in Europe that wasn’t France, they talk s**t about the French. The French are viewed like the America of Europe, in that respect.


      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        According to a recent poll, the French are among our biggest fans in Europe. Isn’t that weird?Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        @will-truman – see, even here my reflexive Francophobia bubbles up. “What are we doing wrong?!”Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        Ah! L’Etats-Unis! Nos amis d’outre-Atlantique nous ont donné tant de joie avec leurs cinemes d’Jerry Lewis! Ils ont si chaleureusement embrassé nos plus grands héros culturels, Gérard Depardieu et Jean Reno!

        Perhaps not surprisngly, when I did a GIS for pictures of Marianne and Uncle Sam embracing, I came up with nothing. The only images of both Marianne and Uncle Sam I found at all were two political cartoons, and in both Uncle Sam was antagonizing the poor girl.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        I’ve seen French postcards, and I don’t think the word is “antagonizing”.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        What’s weird about the surrender stereotype is that this is the country that conquered Europe in the first decade of the 19th century, and that stopped “The Hun” at the River Marne. Their forces had a 73% casualty rate in WWI, but they fought from Day 1 to 11:11 11/11/18.

        But the Franco-Prussian War, the speed with which they were defeated in 1940, and the fact that they left French Indochina with their tail between their legs has created the impression that what has historically been one of the mightiest nations in the world is full of a bunch of people born with a white flag in their hands.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        A lot of the current stereotypes about French cowardliness has to do with their intelligent refusal to endors Iraq II. The rest probably has to do with the fact that they are generally perceived as being a very cultured place where even the local village cafe owner is an epicurean intellectual. In the Anglo-derived tradition, especially outside the UK, the idea of a cultured, courageous man is something of any oxy moron. We like our fighting men uncouth and badass. Its probably a frontier thing. Thats why people can’t recognize that the French have a long and proud military tradition.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        @leeesq – no, I was making French jokes way before Iraq. 🙂

        Anyway, it’s not just the Anglos that have an anti-French bias, it’s the Germans and the Spaniards too.

        You could explain it somewhat with geographic proximity and sibling rivalry, I guess, since they all struggled for some of the same resources at one time or another, and France just happens to be in the middle of the mess; but ragging on the French seems to be like the one thing the rest of them agree on.

        Like I said, I’m not entirely comfortable with it, when I think about it. But I still do it.

        Part of the problem, I’m sure, is that I’ve spent very little time there, and have never really dealt with any French or French-speaking people on a regular basis.Report

  7. Avatar Fnord says:

    S2: This may be a radical thought, but why are we requiring astronauts to keep 24 hour sleep cycles in the first place? If, in the absence of 24 hour solar days, they naturally move to a 25.4 hour cycle, why not just let them work according to a 25.4 hour day?Report

    • Avatar Glyph says:

      Well *I’m* not paying ’em for that extra 1.4 hours! 😉

      More seriously, as long as they are “tethered” to command on earth, I imagine letting them go their own way could cause scheduling problems for tasks, as the earthbound and space “days” fall further out of sync?Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        That and the fact that humans are biologically very attached to a 24-hour day.

        In any case, as you note — it’s a lot cheaper to keep everyone on the same schedule (‘prime’ ground shifts getting the complicated work when astronauts are busy, with the later shifts being less skilled or experienced personnel — or just on-call folks), and of course the fact that if you add in 1.4 extra hours a day it’s going to through off internal and external calenders unless you treat the 1.4 as “time does not pass” on internal clocks.

        Otherwise, you’ll be a day off at the end of the month..Report

      • Avatar Fnord says:

        The entire point is that people AREN’T biologically attached to the 24-hour day. If they were, this wouldn’t be a problem in the first place; the entire problem is that humans apparently move to a 25.4 hour day in the absence of a 24-hour cycle of external cues.

        Now, it may be that given that we’re forced to run the command center from an environment where the sun cruelly rises every 24 hours, rather than the more biologically tenable 25.4, I’ll admit it might make sense to inconvenience the (relatively few) astronauts rather than the entire ground crew. But it’s just striking to me that our response to “humans don’t naturally keep a 24-hour internal clock” is always “so how can we force them to keep a 24-hour clock?”.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        @fnord – I would imagine if we ever do deep-space missions where all command is necessarily local, they will let the clocks fall where they may.

        Does anyone know of a theory WHY we go to 25.4 hours, when you would expect us to keep pace with the planet we evolved on? 25.4 is real *close* to the day, but not *quite* right.

        Is there any speculation that earth days used to be longer somehow (I would think if that were the case we’d know it from lots of other things in the historical record), or what?Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        Like, this is total spitballing, but could the massive asteroid impact that killed off the dinosaurs have altered the planet’s rate of rotation; but we still have a clock embedded way down at the bottom of our DNA that says “a day is 25.4 hours”?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        I would ask what clocks animals in the wild are on. From fish to fowl to… um… faunae, I’d see if any of them are on a different clock.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        Unfortunately, the Russkies killed the space geckos, so we may never know.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        Maybe it’s sort of a Nigel Tufnel effect, where in SPAAACE! everything goes one higher.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        “Russian sex geckos in space” will likely never be topped as the greatest headline ever.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        My brother is renaming his band and just asked me for suggestions…serendipity!Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Finally found the actual headline:

        “Russia’s sex geckos lost in space.”

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        To go back to the “longer days” thing, isn’t it believed that the dinosaurs inhabited a warmer planet, with much higher oxygen levels (facilitating their gigantism)?

        Would longer days/more daylight for plants to grow, as a result of a slower-rotating planet, partially explain that?

        Or would the also-longer night completely cancel out any excess solar energy gains?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        There was a humidity canopy that came to earth when the Lord God grew disappointed with man and then we had the Great Flood.

        This humidity canopy made it so that great lizards *AND* *PEOPLE* could live to such amazing ages. I mean, let’s say you see a really big crocodile. The only interesting thing about it is that it’s 20 or 30 years old. All a brontosaurus is, is a regular lizard that made it to thousands of years old.

        When the canopy fell, we got more solar radiation that caused us to die much faster and got us to the 3 score and 10 that King David saw.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        I’ll see your “Russian sex geckos in space” and raise you a “Headless body in topless bar.”Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        @jaybird – you truly are my brother from another mother.

        The worst part is, that explanation does make a surface sort of sense that is very appealing to a certain type of skeptical child mind that is trying to make all the pieces, that they have been told are literal factual truth, fit together.

        It probably put off the inevitable for a couple years, anyway.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        The earth’s rotation is currently slowing down, not speeding up, and has since we let that pesky moon get into orbit.

        The moon steals a tiny bit of our angular moment every day, which slows the planet down a touch. Granted, the slowing is measured in milliseconds a year, or something like that, but the earth has never seen a 25.4 hour day, and won’t for many thousands of years to come.Report

    • Avatar Chris says:

      The 25.4 figure is outdated. The most recent research puts the human circadian clock at pretty close to 24 hours.Report

  8. Avatar Michael Cain says:

    C6: Being listed as the inventor on a number of software patents that are finally expiring, I say it’s about time we got rid of the damned things. The time frames are too long (20 years is an eternity in software), it’s too hard to tell the difference between real inventions and things that any half-decent programmer would have done if asked to solve a particular problem, and most of the real inventions are algorithms (which are problematic).

    T1: It’s a complicated situation. To argue by analogy (yes, Vikram, I know), consider the world of bridges. Anyone can intentionally drop a log across a stream; we don’t presume that the ability to do so makes them a designer for mile-long suspension bridges. Mile-long suspension bridges are really expensive, so we don’t build very many of them; we need a very large number of very large software packages. We routinely ask that the software equivalent of a bridge for foot traffic be patched to carry railroads. Outside of the bridge analogy, we do know a lot about writing reliable secure software; OTOH, management seldom likes to be told that three-quarters of the code base and at least that fraction of the CPU cycles are going to go to checking data invariants.Report

    • Avatar zic says:

      We’ve had this discussion before, but I think that in all but a few instances where software is related to patented mechanical devices, it should not be patentable; it should be copyrighted; and software that’s part of a patented mechanical device should be covered under the device, not as a separate piece of software; getting a two-fer the price of one in market exclusion.

      Copyright itself has become something of a joke, since most people now seem to prosper by giving away what’s considered intellectual property (open source, blogging, etc.,) in exchange for the kudos (don’t you just love Iain Banks?) that leads to paid work; where the person is paid for their time and expertise — their intellectual capital — not their intellectual property.Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog says:

        Copyright is the only thing that makes open source software work though – in the absence of copyright, it would all just be public domain. Developers would have no way of creating an enforceable open source license that requires those who would extend the software to also release those extensions under the same terms.

        Plenty of closed-source vendors don’t actually respect the copyright of open source software, or understand the implications of the licenses, and pirate it by selling “their own” software that actually is mostly open source code, but that doesn’t invalidate the necessity of copyright, or its absolute necessity to open source.Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog says:

        Public domain, trade secrets, or horribly mis-applied patent protection, I guess – those would be the only two options I can think of.Report

    • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

      We routinely ask that the software equivalent of a bridge for foot traffic be patched to carry railroads.


  9. Avatar dragonfrog says:

    [S4] – looks like that’s the wrong link, a copy of the link from [S3].Report

  10. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    C1: This is really about the birth of mass entertainment culture thanks to innovations like movies, radio, TV, and to a lesser extent comic books and mass book publishing. Most copyrights are not worth the extensive protection they are given. There are a handful of properties (maybe more than a handful of properties) that are worth their roughly a trillion times their weight in legal and lobbying fees. A lot of these are obvious suspects like Mickey Mouse, Superman, X-men, Spider-man, Harry Potter, Bugs Bunny, etc. Figures that have largely become iconic in popular culture. There is really no way that Disney is going to let any of their characters enter the public domain. Same with Marvel and DC especially now that these companies are huge media conglomerates that can lobby for changes in the law until the end of time.

    L2: I would say that Nelson Rockefeller probably deserves more of the fame. Despite the yearning for a return of Rockefeller Republicans, he was a hardcore drug warrior. Nixon is a more iconic figure though and it takes a while for laws to have an effect. It is entirely feasible that Nixon started policies that did not really show an effect or result until well after Watergate.

    L3: I think the general term for this is poverty capitalism. The American public has simply grown to hate taxes way too much. The problem is that we are not willing to make changes to the criminal justice and other systems in order to correspond with low-level taxes. This means that governmental agencies need to get their funding in other ways and you see a rise in civil forfeiture, a decrease in the number of people eligible for public defenders, defendants required to pay their own court fees, and companies charging prisoners for their own incarceration. The only real solution is raising taxes and/or decreasing the number of people jailed. I don’t see either happening.Report

  11. Avatar Michael Cain says:

    T5: I still say that Word and OpenOffice are (useful) toys — if it can’t do a proper floating display, it’s not a serious piece of word-processing software.Report

  12. Avatar Kolohe says:

    R1: Of course it’s not going to work, it’s in English!

    But seriously, it doesn’t seem too much different than the psyops and civil affairs leaflets various coalitions in two different centuries put out against Sadaam’s army. (and before them, the Germans) The difference, of course, is that those words go down easier when you got TLAMs and Hellfires raining down on you. (which, from the article, seemed to be part of the Soviet plan as well).Report

  13. Avatar Pinky says:

    E3 – Interesting topic, bad article. He seemed like he wanted to make an argument against how economists view sunk costs, but he didn’t have one, so he talked about how it might be interesting if someone had an argument against it.

    Every field worth studying has a few foundational insights that are counterintuitive. One of the insights of economics is that you shouldn’t throw good money after bad. It’s not always true – a good article could have been written about the caveats – but it is generally true, and it’s also a good introduction to the field in that it teaches you to think rationally about economic choices.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley says:

      He also made some very bad comparisons. I don’t think he actually gave an example where the marginal costs were clearly less than the payoff to be gained. He just focused on huge sunk costs and suggested something like, “the economists say if you have sunk costs that big, the rational thing to do would be to quit,” and he ignored the value of the payoffs, as well as the remaining costs to be paid.

      I think that means he’s actually committed a sort of reverse sunk costs fallacy.

      Consider the hunter-gatherer on a long chase example. If you’re following hundreds of pounds of meat on the hoof, then there’s a big payoff ahead. Possibly you’ve already sunk in more than you should, but likely you’re getting closer to getting the critter, so what’s another couple of hours of chasing it compared to the caloric reward?

      Or the war example. Winning vs. losing a war is a very BFD. Putting in some more effort to avoid the cost of losing, and gain the payoff of winning, means there’s a very good chance your marginal costs of continuing battle are a good investment.Report

  14. Avatar Jim Heffman says:

    I don’t understand why someone gets to own a piece of land just because their father bought it fifty years ago.Report

  15. Avatar Roland says:

    With the higher income from his salary as compared to a student who only received allowances, he began to increase his bets; sometimes going as high as a few hundred dollars per
    stake (his salary was only about 2. Women have
    not only a truly self-serving media center stage, they have the very real legal
    framework to spearhead and catch their agenda. There is also a trend of many college students running
    up debts on sports betting.Report