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Hardware Hacker Proposes Patent and Education Reform To Obama

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the listen-up dept.

Open Source 134

ptorrone writes "In a welcome turn of events, President Barack Obama spoke directly to the patent troll problem and the need for more comprehensive patent reform yesterday in a 'Fireside Hangout' — a live question and answer session (video) hosted in a Google+ hangout. The President was responding to a question by the prominent electrical engineer and entrepreneur Limor 'Ladyada' Fried of Adafruit Industries, who in 2009 won an EFF Pioneer Award for her work with free software and open-source hardware."

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Blablabla (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42928571)

Good question, but the answer was way too evasive, without any real committments.

Re:Blablabla (3, Insightful)

game kid (805301) | about a year ago | (#42928681)

That, to be clear, is because (like the last Obama-Google+ copout that I remember hearing of (and seeing, in that case) [huffingtonpost.com] ) this is a mutual promotional vehicle for the President and Google's social network.

If it were an actual exercise in journalism or even executive-branch outreach, there'd be more tough questions from the people, more focused answers from POTUS, and less "Look at us, we're YouTube and this is a Google+ hangout! GOOGLE PLUS!!!"-ness. It's grand puffery all around, even by propaganda standards.

Perhaps that was the only way Obama and Larry Page would let YouTube get the former to say anything, but I suspect that I didn't miss much when I missed this.

and he proposed what... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42928611)

did he propose taxing hte rich? More welfare? Whatever the fuck gets his party votes? Sorry, no faith in Bush3

Re:and he proposed what... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42928671)

Yeah, he's basically just Bush plus gay rights minus gun rights. Same economic and military policies, just a few changes in "culture war wedge issues" to give the illusion of choice in the elections.

Re:and he proposed what... (3, Interesting)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year ago | (#42929135)

Yeah, he's basically just Bush plus gay rights minus gun rights. Same economic and military policies, just a few changes in "culture war wedge issues" to give the illusion of choice in the elections.

Minus gun rights - Hell, Obama is the best guns salesman, ever.

Try to find a new gun, anything. They're back ordered. Everywhere. I was trying to find a replacement for a 1960 era 12 gauge shotgun which has a cracked stock and a wonky barrel (too many dings on the rocks). Ended up buying a replacement 'military' stock and a new barrel. Fortunately the receiver looks OK. Even the .22 caliber AR 15 clones in pink and black pattern camo sold after a couple of weeks at the local gun store. Bizarre.

And good thing I'm not trying to buy any ammo for it.

Re:and he proposed what... (2)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about a year ago | (#42929531)

Minus gun rights - Hell, Obama is the best guns salesman, ever.

Nah, Clinton sold more guns with HIS "assault weapon" ban.

That may change, once we get a new "assault weapon" ban - then I really expect to see guns flying off the shelves....

Re:and he proposed what... (2, Interesting)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year ago | (#42930193)

While I would agree that Clinton 'helped', I think that Obama's 'better'. That appears to be for several reasons - there seems to be a groundswell of pro gun opinion in the country. People that don't hunt, don't target shoot, were not particularly gun oriented have, for some reason (and despite every objective bit of evidence to the contrary) decided that they need firearms. There was a recent Christian Science Monitor article on that (too lazy to look it up), but it jibes with what I hear - people wandering into the local gun store looking for things explosive ( a neighbor owns the store).

Unfortunately, THOSE people are going to be really dangerous. Literally half cocked. Buy a gun, shoot it a couple of times and then more or less put it away.

But that, coupled with the recent end-of-the-world angst seen in the popularity of survivalist 'reality' TV, the Zombie epidemic and just general Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt has, I think, increased the desire for people to feel that they have some control over their lives. If they're looking for it by having some cold steel in their warm hands, I think the feeling of security is misplaced, but nobody asks me..

And for the record, I've plenty of firearms, spend quality time out at the range, used to hunt but gave that up after finding out the local deer population runs about the size of a medium dog and the ducks taste like seaweed. No elk and I just can find myself shooting a bear. They're perfectly nice creatures, most of the time, and they taste horrid. But guns, along with cars, Clorox and kitchen implements are dangerous and there are a lot of people out there who should not be entrusted to anything more deadly than a straw.

Re:and he proposed what... (2, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#42930309)

But guns, along with cars, Clorox and kitchen implements are dangerous and there are a lot of people out there who should not be entrusted to anything more deadly than a straw.

See, this is my problem with this whole argument. We're arguing about how we can best prevent assholes and idiots from doing shitty or stupid things. Why aren't we even talking about how we can best make more assholes into people who give a fuck, and more idiots into people who think occasionally? Instead of finding new ways to prevent citizens from themselves, let's make citizens better people. Not by some bullshit subjective measurement either; let's just give them more facts and more tools (logical ones) so that they can make better decisions on their own.

Oh shit, we can't have that, they might refuse to run the maze...

Re:and he proposed what... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42930901)

Some people simply can not measure up. We could do a study of this with the American black community. Given a tiny bit of opportunity many black families and individuals have made stunning progress since the bad old days. Yet some simply can not change ancient attitudes or meet modern expectations. It should not be a blame issue. Regardless of race or economic status there are quite a few people who simply can never adapt. I'm not so certain that education can make a dent in many cases. It can make a very big dent over generations and lift entire families who in turn lift individuals within a family. But that does little for the many tens of millions who have not stepped into the light that already exist. It is also an issue for society to deal with. When we reach the point, which we already have, that prison is a much better choice than freedom for many citizens and compound that by not being willing to admit that the individuals really are making a good choice by going to prison then society itself has to absorb some of the guilt.
                                    I could almost split a gut over the nonsense about getting good mental health care for the masses as the expense makes that a non starter. Good mental health care is rare even for people with substantial money and is almost unheard of for the poor. If you have a prison with 5,000 inmates you would need at least 150 highly skilled psychiatrist working full time to treat those inmates and you can bet your last penny that almost 100% need serious mental health care and will leave prison in worse shape than when they arrived.

Re:and he proposed what... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42930557)

You are actually the most dangerous type in this country. Disturbingly ignorant yet self-assured that you are wise. *shudder*

Re:and he proposed what... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42929647)

No kidding. I wish he and congres would just stop already. I need to get parts and ammo would be a bonus. Right now... forgetaboutit. This is crazy.

Obama talks a lot but never delivers (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42928649)

This is exactly the same thing he promised in 2008 .... and NEVER delivered. He didn't even discuss it for 4 years.

Re:Obama talks a lot but never delivers (0)

hcs_$reboot (1536101) | about a year ago | (#42928701)

3 AC comments in a row saying basically the same thing.. I suggest /. to display the (large) area from where come the AC comments based on IP ... I know, proxies and co, but most ACs won't bother switching proxies in between the posts.

Re:Obama talks a lot but never delivers (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42928973)

Yes, it's astonishing that people are panning Obama for his total neglect of patent reform.

This must be due to some terrible conspiracy amongst ACs. Buwhahahahahaha!

(or it could be that Obama .... you know .... hasn't done anything to reform patents ....)

Re:Obama talks a lot but never delivers (2)

letherial (1302031) | about a year ago | (#42930257)

Not that i care about defending Obama, but clearly you do not understand how our system works. Congress needs to do patent reform and the president needs to sign it, The presidents power is very limited and so read the constitution and you can figure it out. If your going to blame anyone for it, then you need to blame everyone for it, not just the president.

Re:Obama talks a lot but never delivers (3, Insightful)

tqk (413719) | about a year ago | (#42929035)

3 AC comments in a row saying basically the same thing.. I suggest /. to display the (large) area from where come the AC comments based on IP ...

I'm in Canuckistan (the Western part, but not too West). I saw nothing wrong with what they wrote. Obama's always talked a great game, but they're always platitudes. He's never shown the least lick of intention of actually carrying through on stuff that he says.

I'm sure he does have a personal agenda, but you'll never learn what it is just by listening to him.

Re:Obama talks a lot but never delivers (1, Informative)

guises (2423402) | about a year ago | (#42930439)

Obama said he had a priority to reform heathcare and it has been reformed. Are you complaining about the lack of a public option? That's valid, but that's ignoring some substantial gains in the Affordable Care Act.

Obama said that he wanted to push civil rights for gay people and already there are gains in the military. That was a significant step forward and it looks like more is coming. Are you complaining that it hasn't been moving fast enough? I can understand why that would be frustrating, but these things never happen overnight.

Obama said that he wanted to close Guantanamo and failed at that. Not only did congress block him, they added language to the must-pass defense bill that would make what was going on there legal. This was a loss for everyone of course, but not for want of effort and that effort has prevented the issue from fading away. A small silver lining.

I don't see where you're coming from with this "he doesn't do anything" nonsense. He's accomplished as much as anyone could have accomplished, and more than most, given his extraordinary circumstances.

Re:Obama talks a lot but never delivers (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42931445)

oh you naive child. Nothing has been reformed in healthcare. NOTHING has been reformed in healthcare. what has changed is that now people with children still can't afford healthcare, but the insurance companies are going to go from filthy rich to filthy richer with their state enforced kleptocracy.

Re:Obama talks a lot but never delivers (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42931453)

Government transparency
No lobbyists in the white house
Not coming after our guns
End to Afghanistan combat before the end of his term
Deficit reduction
 
Need I go on?
 
Oh, and that "Affordable Care Act" is only going to be affordable to those in the upper earning brackets. The rest of us are going to get screwed by it. I work in the industry and if you knew what was coming your way you'd distance yourself as far as possible from using ACA as a selling point to anything related to the Obama administration or the Democratic party.

Re:Obama talks a lot but never delivers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42929749)

that's a great idea! that would certainly stop me, i mean, us, from taking over the US by spamming /.

Re:Obama talks a lot but never delivers (2)

smpoole7 (1467717) | about a year ago | (#42929757)

> 3 AC comments in a row saying basically the same thing.

And if I had some mod points, I'd bump them up. Even if it is the same guy/gal posting three times.

This is healthy and it's time and PAST time that people began to realize this. Democrats and Republicans differ on some philosophical points, but when it comes to the Great Game (and all the monopoly money involved in same) there's hardly a stitch of difference between them.

"Meet the new boss, same as the old boss." Daltry and Townshend were ahead of their time. :)

I've said it before and I'll say it again: whether you're liberal or conservative or libertarian, the place to make a difference is in the primaries. YOU might run for office. Make a difference. Stop reelecting the same crooks from the same Country Club over and over again.

I don't see patent trolls as the real issue (5, Interesting)

Trepidity (597) | about a year ago | (#42928685)

Patent trolls are just a particularly visible example of exploiting low-quality patents. The main difference between patent trolls as "non-practicing entities" and practicing entities is that the mutually-assured destruction pacts don't apply to them, because they don't themselves build things which they could be counter-sued over in a retaliatory patent suit. But MAD hardly fixes the problem in the rest of the sector: all it does is turn it into a cartel-like system, where IBM and Intel don't sue each other because of MAD, but Intel is perfectly happy to sue startups that try to enter their sector and compete with them. That kind of anti-competitive, turf-defending patent usage is actually considerably worse than patent trolls imo.

If the patents are high-quality, on the other hand, representing actual non-trivial inventions, then I don't see much of a difference between practicing and non-practicing entities. For example, university research labs sometimes invent some significant things which they then license to a third party to commercialize, which is perfectly fine (and an intended use of the patent system).

Re:I don't see patent trolls as the real issue (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42928855)

The problem for me is the granting of absolutely obvious patents that you can accidentally "re-invent" by yourself.. If the patent is the result of legitimate research and innovation I have no problem giving a patent for it because I don't have to worry I might accidentally "invent" the same thing and have to pay out the ass for the privilege. Clear out the super obvious and overly wide "because it's on the internet" and "because it's over wifi" type patents and there would be a lot less patent mines to avoid while developing a product.

Re:I don't see patent trolls as the real issue (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#42930009)

Clear out the super obvious and overly wide "because it's on the internet" and "because it's over wifi" type patents and there would be a lot less patent mines to avoid while developing a product.

Easily said, but just how would you propose to do such a thing?
In fact, how do you propose to even DEFINE such a thing?

People always dug in the ground for food.
Then a caveman picked up a handy stick and used that to dig with.
Does that forever block patents on digging machines of all types, even when new technology comes along?

So when we invent tractor beams, digging with a tractor beam instead of a shovel is not patentable?
(after all, its still just digging with a tool).

1) You need to provide clear an concise guidance on exactly what you consider patentable,
2) you need to define what is too broad, and what is too obvious.
3) Then you have to get everyone to agree with you, or at least a majority.

If any part of 1, 2,or 3 were easy, whores would do it. This is a sticky problem, and blithely suggesting clearing out the super obvious and overly wide patents, without defining "super obvious" or :overly wide" isn't going to cut it. Hindsight makes a lot of things "super obvious".

Re:I don't see patent trolls as the real issue (3, Interesting)

Dachannien (617929) | about a year ago | (#42930041)

Actually, patent trolls are fundamentally an artifact of flaws in the law.

Take, for example, another (short-lived) attempt to exploit the law for unjustified gain: the (now amended) statute on false marking of patents.

The old law allowed anyone to file suit on behalf of the federal government when a product was falsely marked as being patented, and then the plaintiff would pocket half of the damages awarded. Numerous lawsuits were filed in cases such as products being sold that had been marked with a patent number during manufacture but where the patent had since expired. It was also unclear whether the damages to be awarded were per each falsely marked item or not, which led some defendants to settle rather than pay large attorneys' fees and risk an unknown judgment in court.

The flaw was that the law allowed a virtually risk-free suit to be filed with a potential for a huge payout. That's the same problem that leads to patent trolls and copyright trolls*, and it's one that is greatly mitigated by implementing a "loser pays" system.

(* Copyright trolling is further exacerbated by the statutory damages provision that allows for recovery of damages far out of proportion to the actual damages suffered. There is a "loser pays" provision in copyright law, but it is at the discretion of the court and is usually only applied in extraordinary circumstances.)

Low patent quality does play a role in patent trolling, but primarily by providing more ammunition for patent trolls to troll with. Speaking from experience, the USPTO examiners' hands are tied when it comes to patent quality (sideways swings and cat laser pointers aside), because case law and office policy don't give us the tools we need to say that a set of claims are so far removed from the disclosed invention as to be ridiculous; and in many cases, the relevant prior art is "in use" but the details are not published, which prevents us from making a prima facie case to sustain a prior art rejection.

Tackling patent fraud is a problem now? (1)

zenyu (248067) | about a year ago | (#42930725)

Take, for example, another (short-lived) attempt to exploit the law for unjustified gain: the (now amended) statute on false marking of patents.

I think most Americans think we should have more enforcement against criminals fraudulently claiming an item is patented when it is not. Civil enforcement of the law was starting to work, but the patent bar complained and congress acted within months to protect patent fraud perps.

Patent trolls aren't the main problem. A Sony, Microsoft or IBM at the door of an innovator is a much larger problem than a patent troll. Trolls mostly attack companies already profitable enough to put up a fight. The main problems are 1/ that the patent office hands out too many patents by an order of at east 10,000x, and 2/ there is not compulsory licensing at a reasonable rate. Both problems could easily be addressed, but we have serious regulatory capture going on in the patent industry. The USPTO today exists to benefit patent lawyers at the expense of all other industry. Since the greater economy is the last thing on most politicians' to do list I don't have much hope that the problem will be addressed anytime soon.

random token gold star winner (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42928727)

who takes products off the shelf and resells them with breakout boards, never inventing anything herself, is going to save the patent system

yay

prominent electrical engineer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42928741)

If reselling existing parts and coming up with cutesy descriptions for them is all it takes to be a "prominent electrical engineer", it's time to remove EE from universities.

"Trolls" Are Misdirection (4, Insightful)

Bob9113 (14996) | about a year ago | (#42928743)

[Obama] describes patent trolls as "a classic example," of the problem, and that "they don't actually produce anything themselves."

Whether a bad patent is wielded by a producer or a holding company does not change the fact that it should never have been granted. If we kill the trolls, we will still be left with the runaway, wasteful patent litigation over bad patents by companies that do produce things.

The problem is not production. The "patent troll" hobgoblin is misdirecting the patent backlash that should be directed at a patent system that is too powerful. We are getting bad patents because we grant them too easily and give too much enforcement power to those who hold them. That is every bit as true of the mobile patent wars between producers as with the network service patent wars of the trolls.

The "patent troll" misdirection is harming our ability to fix the actual problem.

Re:"Trolls" Are Misdirection (4, Informative)

tqk (413719) | about a year ago | (#42929131)

The "patent troll" misdirection is harming our ability to fix the actual problem.

Yet once you fix that problem, the fuckers sue you in order to break it again. [techdirt.com] We don't have enough lawyers (preferably politicos) on the ocean floor.

So much for the guns (-1, Troll)

holophrastic (221104) | about a year ago | (#42928863)

I guess that's it for the focus on gun problems. Patent problems must be more important than mass elementary school shootings. Congrats on, once again, not even making a single attempt to improve the situation. Good job.

Re:So much for the guns (3, Insightful)

bmacs27 (1314285) | about a year ago | (#42928911)

Actually, yes, I do think it's a larger problem than mass elementary school shootings.

Re:So much for the guns (3, Insightful)

holophrastic (221104) | about a year ago | (#42929017)

Hey look, you live in the right country for you, have the right president for you, and you have the right issues for you. Oh wait, I mean problems. You have the right problems for you. Glad you're happy with your problems.

However, as an outsider, I'll let you in on a little secret. With all of the wars, and all of the droughts, and all of the torture, December's shootings remain the most embarassing thing on the planet at this time.

You're losing what little respect the rest of the world has for you. And this after mortgage problems how long ago?

I'm looking at your last 13 years. I see terrorism, huge financial issues, loss of privacy, loss of civil rights, enormous expenses, loss of jobs, budget cuts to major exploration, mass shootings, recessions, pollution, miscounts, immigration issues, and mass corporate fraud. Oh yeah, and low-quality education. And also a lousy patent system.

I don't know what to tell you. I put the patent system at the end.

Re:So much for the guns (1)

bmacs27 (1314285) | about a year ago | (#42929077)

Well why don't we just confront the problem you put forth, "mass elementary school shootings." If you would, please elaborate on the multiple mass elementary school shootings thus constituting the plural of mass elementary school shooting.

Re:So much for the guns (2)

holophrastic (221104) | about a year ago | (#42929219)

Heh. Actually, I didn't say mass-elementary-school shootings, nor mass elementary-school shootings, nor mass elementary school-shootings, so I think syntactically I could probably get away with assigning the plural to the shootings, or to the mass, or to the elementary, without assigning the plural to the school, but that's definitely at the limit of my language skills.

I'd like to agree with you that one school shooting every 50 years is something of a curiosity, more than it is something to be dealt with. However, it came with a mass theatre shooting too. And correct me if I'm wrong but I think there was a random sniper public shooting of a few people soon thereafter?

I'm not sure that the mass shooting part of the mass school shooting didn't flow as an escalation from mass shootings in general. And it's hard to argue with the simple number of shootings across any given year in the country. It's a very big number, especially considering the numbers in other countries.

It's a number that rivals deaths from other causes like terrorism, volcanoes, mud slides, avalanches, and many different illnesses. And yet it continues to go unaddressed.

That's what concerns me.

Re:So much for the guns (3, Insightful)

bmacs27 (1314285) | about a year ago | (#42929277)

It rivals deaths from causes that.... nobody is particularly concerned with. That is, other than terrorism, which is arguably the same thing. Since I'd rather we didn't sacrifice so many civil-liberties concerning ourselves with terrorism, as frankly, it isn't a particularly significant threat, I'd similarly prefer they pay little attention to the crazies of all creed.

Re:So much for the guns (1)

holophrastic (221104) | about a year ago | (#42929349)

Clearly.

So I'll ask you what I've asked many. Draw your line. At what point is the problem too big for you to accept. My line was 20 young children in school. It was crossed. I got pissed off.

I don't care where your line is. Just so long as you have a line somewhere. So what's your line? Is it quantity? Is it frequency? is it method? Is it geography? If 200 infants in a hospitals in rhode island were killed every week by nuclear poison gas, would that cross your line?

Where's your line? What's simply not tolerable to you? When will you leave your country, dethrown your president, insist on change, refuse to pay your taxes?

Re:So much for the guns (2)

bmacs27 (1314285) | about a year ago | (#42929377)

Squelching innovation through abuse of the patent system. That's my line.

Re:So much for the guns (1)

holophrastic (221104) | about a year ago | (#42929505)

Good answer. Now where's your line on the other issue at hand? Again, I won't let you ignore the line between unfortunate and unsafe. Between alive and dead.

Re:So much for the guns (2)

wierd_w (1375923) | about a year ago | (#42930329)

Personally, I would put it at "systemic problem", and not at "One time occurrence."

The issue with "20 children", is that we jam that many into a single classroom, because of other systemic problems.

Much like "OMG! That airplane crashed and killed 900 people!" does NOT mean "OMG, Airplanes are unsafe! Look at all the people that died! WE MUST DO SOMETHING!" It means "One airplane crashed, and the 900 people we shoehorned onto it paid with their lives. Out of the many thousands of aircraft in service, this is a one-off occurrence and the large casualty figure is a consequence of mass transit."

In both of your examples, we have areas that 1) Service an epic ass-ton of people, and 2) have a large density of people per service run. Just like the hypothetical crashing jumbo-liner.

A much more drastic reduction in total children shot by crazy people can be achieved by putting fewer children in each school, and in each classroom. Studies suggest that this will also increase educational quality as a bonus. We don't do that, because of a big tangled ratnest of other problems that are systemic.

Rather than focus the attention on the rat-nest of systemic problems, (Cause like, that's hard and shit. Blaming gun ownership is much easier!) we jump for an easy to blame strawman we can shove all our problems onto, so we can continue to pretend that the systemic malfunction does not exist.

So, where do *I* draw *MY* line?

Ignoring systemic problems that create ripe opportunities for massive loss of life to begin with because ignoring those problems is easier than dealing with them properly, and the assignment of scapegoats and whipping boys to divert the attention away from those problems.

Is that answer satisfactory for you?

Re:So much for the guns (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year ago | (#42929217)

Yes, the Newton shootings are an embarrassment. If you believe they are the "most embarrassing things on the planet". You sir, need to read just a bit more history.

They're not even close.

Re:So much for the guns (0)

holophrastic (221104) | about a year ago | (#42929285)

The most embarrassing on the planet -- present tense. Certainly not the most embarrassing in history. No doubt about that, you're right.

But right now, today, and especially two months ago, very much the most embarrassing.

Re:So much for the guns (1)

bmacs27 (1314285) | about a year ago | (#42929315)

Right... because Bashar Al Assad looks like a regular statesman.

Re:So much for the guns (1)

holophrastic (221104) | about a year ago | (#42929419)

I don't know anything about him. But I have one simple question. Did he kill 26 young children and teachers?

Re:So much for the guns (1)

bmacs27 (1314285) | about a year ago | (#42929445)

I'm sure many more.

Re:So much for the guns (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year ago | (#42929567)

Well you SHOULD know more about him. And many others. It seems like your view of the world is a bit eurocentric and more than a little rose colored. Read up on current events in the Middle East and in Africa. Or even about the issues surround child abuse in Native American communities or the implosion of the social contract in some American cities or .....

Come on. Humans aren't exactly nice creatures and the world isn't exactly a nice place. We should work on changing that to the extent possible but hyperbole doesn't help.

"Those who do not understand history are doomed to repeat it" - George Santayana, one of the most prescient posts ever.

Re:So much for the guns (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42929805)

I don't know anything about him. But I have one simple question. Did he kill 26 young children and teachers?

Google is your friend. Suffice it to say that if he'd only been out to kill 26 children entire city districts wouldn't have had artillery fired into them.

Re:So much for the guns (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42929831)

You're a fucking retard.

Re:So much for the guns (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42930237)

More children choke to death each day than have ever died in all school shootings, combined.

Seriously.

And better, there is NOTHING to you could do to stop an activity like a school shooter. NOTHING. No law, no amount of money, no defense you can erect around the school. If a guy is determined, he will succeed.

Meanwhile, you'll drop $40000000000 per school and still fail. You'd save more kids by banning hotdogs.

Re:So much for the guns (1)

wierd_w (1375923) | about a year ago | (#42930385)

It is arguable that his policies are endangering that many, and more by a factor of 1000, or perhaps more-- by not just waving a gun around, but waving around nuclear devices.

When you really stop to consider the actual size of the event, we have 26 people, out of 300 million people, with a 5 to 10 year interval between such events. All things considered, the actual *rate* of such shootings is quite low.

Compare with what Assad's nuclear penis waving actually translates to in terms of endangering the lives of his citizenry.

The two are not even close to comparable in scope. Assad is by far the bigger embarrassment.

Re:So much for the guns (2)

cffrost (885375) | about a year ago | (#42929325)

With all of the wars, and all of the droughts, and all of the torture, December's shootings remain the most embarassing thing on the planet at this time.

Claiming that illegitimate wars are less embarrassing or serious than occasional mass shootings should make you embarrassed.

Re:So much for the guns (1)

holophrastic (221104) | about a year ago | (#42929451)

I'm saying that the ideal concept of a war -- one country attempting to protect itself from another -- is legitimate. Mistakenly acting on incorrect intelligence is an error, to be sure. But people making mistakes is understandable. Big people making big mistakes is unfortunately understandable too.

Illegitimate wars are embarrassing, but to some extent they are a necessary part of a system that includes legitimate wars.

School shootings are not. They aren't a mistake -- no one thought that the children might be angry aliens.

Re:So much for the guns (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#42930261)

Illegitimate wars are embarrassing, but to some extent they are a necessary part of a system that includes legitimate wars.

There is no logical basis for accepting entire illegitimate wars because some war is valid, and then not accepting illegitimate shootings when you are accepting that some shooting is valid, especially since war includes shooting. That is exceptionally hypocritical.

School shootings are not. They aren't a mistake -- no one thought that the children might be angry aliens.

The guns aren't for protection from aliens, angry or otherwise. You are a douchebag because that was a straw man, and you are prevaricating. Now, by all means, accuse me of Ad Hominem. I won't disagree, and you'll still be a douchebag.

Re:So much for the guns (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year ago | (#42929337)

That's a cute post. You start out saying how much you disrespect the GP and then somehow expect him to be interested in your opinion.

Here's a hint for you: most Americans don't actually care what a random foreigner thinks about the country. Lobby to your prime minister/president/whatever to prevent all trade/travel from your country to America. See how well that works.

Re:So much for the guns (1)

bmacs27 (1314285) | about a year ago | (#42929421)

Mod up. "Realism."

Re:So much for the guns (2)

holophrastic (221104) | about a year ago | (#42929487)

I don't need to. I've cancelled all of my tourism, I've stopped purchasing for your country, and I'm in the middle of switching suppliers away from your country. This year, about $25'000 of my dollars aren't coming your way. Next year, it'll be all $85'000 per year that I have traditionally spent in your country. The year following, it'll be all $200'000 per year for which I am responsible. And I'm spreading that sentiment.

The problem here is specifically that you don't care what the rest of the world sees. Those are your blinders. You lack that perspective. And you're only making things worse for yourselves.

We've always seen you as an older brother. But these days, you're a mentally challenged older brother, and it looks like we all need to help you out before you implode.

Re:So much for the guns (0)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year ago | (#42929787)

The problem here is specifically that you don't care what the rest of the world sees.

And this is a problem?

Re:So much for the guns (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about a year ago | (#42930289)

You know, if you were doing that for any other country than America, you would be a racist bigot.

Re:So much for the guns (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42930517)

... in America.

Re:So much for the guns (2)

DFurno2003 (739807) | about a year ago | (#42929343)

I'm not being critical here, but I don't understand the connection between this article, the discussion taking place and Gun control, or why you seem to be upset that the conversation taking place doesn't include December's shootings.

Re:So much for the guns (1)

holophrastic (221104) | about a year ago | (#42929469)

I'm upset that the president, who said that something would be done in january, did nothing and is now focusing on something totally different.

Re:So much for the guns (1)

DFurno2003 (739807) | about a year ago | (#42930241)

Umm, Just because a certain political leader says that something will be done on a certain time frame does not make it true. The president is not a dictator. Furthermore, there are many other critical issues in this country to be dealt with. Children being killed is a terrible thing, but it is very shortsighted of you to think that is the biggest problem in the world or that the president should devote every talking breath to gun control.

Re:So much for the guns (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42930603)

Spoiled little gun-hating child who has never known adversity demands that no one should ever own a firearm. You're a deep thinker. Keep your worthless monopoly money.

Re:So much for the guns (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42929443)

With all of the wars, and all of the droughts, and all of the torture, December's shootings remain the most embarassing thing on the planet at this time.

You privileged fucking prick.

Re:So much for the guns (2)

bmacs27 (1314285) | about a year ago | (#42929043)

Let's make this more concrete. Suppose patent trolls delayed the ubiquitous adoption of self-driven cars by one month. That seems somewhere between reasonable and conservative. It would also arguably cost roughly 1000 lives lost to drunk drivers. I'm not sure 1000 people have been killed in mass shootings over the course of United States history. This is just one example of how resolving the patent situation could save more lives than litigating arms prohibition. I haven't even touched healthcare.

Re:So much for the guns (1)

tqk (413719) | about a year ago | (#42929639)

Actually, yes, I do think it's a larger problem than mass elementary school shootings.

You must be a patent litigation lawyer; AKA psychopath. I don't think many bad patents have killed any kids. And no, I'm not anti-gun either. I think *everyone* should be taught how to handle and use them correctly from the time they learn to walk. I'm strongly in favour of criminals being surrounded by armed citizens (but I digress).

Re:So much for the guns (1)

bmacs27 (1314285) | about a year ago | (#42929839)

If I was a patent attorney don't you think I'd be perfectly happy with the status quo? I would contend that patents cost more lives than Newtown every day in the health care markets. That's not even touching the economic consequences, or other lives potentially saved by products stifled by patent litigation. Like I said in a post below, if patent litigation delays the ubiquitous adoption of self-driving cars by just one month it would cost roughly 1000 lives lost to drunk drivers. I don't think we've seen that many dead in mass shootings over the course of US history.

Re:So much for the guns (1)

tqk (413719) | about a year ago | (#42930147)

Good point. I stand corrected.

Re:So much for the guns (2)

wierd_w (1375923) | about a year ago | (#42930455)

Bad patents havent killed kids?

By what metric do you ascribe "Killed"?

Does death by withholding treatment count? If so, then drug patents have directly killed more children than every school shooting in the US combined.

"Oh, Sorry little Raj, but we need our 10,000 dollars for your life saving medication, even though your government can produce it for 10$. Because that undermines our business model, we have to sue your government to stop the inexpensive local production, and you have to die. It's nothing personal, just business. We HAVE to protect our intellectual property!"

Re:So much for the guns (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42930933)

We can not get real on this type of issue. Being that over population is by far the driving force behind almost all our woes and miseries it is a sad fact that actions that kill off a lot of people may make us feel awful but in the end we could suffer a loss of 80% of the world's population and be all the better for it although the stench would be dreadful.

Re:So much for the guns (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about a year ago | (#42928963)

Most guns will never hurt a single person as long as they exist. Patent trolls hurt millions of people every day.

Re:So much for the guns (1, Interesting)

holophrastic (221104) | about a year ago | (#42929113)

"Most guns will never hurt a single person..." but some guns will hurt many people. And I won't let you say that patent trollls hurt people. I won't let you use the word "hurt" to cross the line of physical safetly. There's an order of magnitude between money, liberty, luxury, benefit, and fun versus actually surviving the day. It's a very simple line. You can invalidate a patent ten years later. You can refund money. You can feed the hungry. You can't raised the dead.

I'm not against guns. I'm against systems that don't try to improve things when certain lines are crossed.

I don't care when one druggy shoots another. I don't care when a wife kills her husband. These issues don't threaten me.

Over the course of a year, a few random shootings of innocent people are upsetting, but to be expected from any large society. There's a number that is simply not able to be reduced.

26 people within an elementary school, being killed by someone outside of that elementary school, is across my line. I'm not asking for gun control. I'm not asking for security. I'm asking for anyone to try anything in an attempt to take one small step in any direction. It doesn't need to work, it just needs to be an attempt.

And so far, nothing's been done.

Since 1972 -- when an episode of "All in the Family" had precisely the same discussions. Those are 40 years of absolutely nothing being improved at all.

Congrats.

Re:So much for the guns (2)

bmacs27 (1314285) | about a year ago | (#42929167)

I don't want them to take a step based on emotional reasoning irrespective of effect which is exactly what you seem to be advocating. Every time they do so results in a restriction of civil-liberties, unintended consequences, and a perpetuation or escalation of the problem they aimed to solve in the first place. You have your own country's issues to worry about. Why are you worried about ours?

Re:So much for the guns (3, Interesting)

holophrastic (221104) | about a year ago | (#42929247)

Oh, I agree with you entirely. I'm upset that it's been 40 years of the same problems, and that you guys don't seem to be any closer.

Actually, my country doesn't have any problems that I feel need to be addressed within my life-time at the moment. The trouble is that we've got neighbours. And while I've recently decided to stop visiting, and stop contributing my tourism dollars, and I'm even working on cancelling my business dollars to find suppliers elsewhere, still many of your laws seem to be crossing our borders.

That's the problem. That's why I'm worried about your problems. Your "solutions" cross the border, often intentionally.

Re:So much for the guns (0)

bmacs27 (1314285) | about a year ago | (#42929299)

Canadian eh? Your problem is irrelevance. Oh yea, and Stephen Harper.

Re:So much for the guns (2)

holophrastic (221104) | about a year ago | (#42929403)

Irrelevance isn't a problem. It's a solution. We spend virtually nothing on a military, and we're protected from attack. Figure that one out.

I have money, I have freedom to go just about anywhere, I can purchase from just about anywhere, I'm safe, I'm happy, and as a business owner, my taxes are actually very low -- almost as low as yours.

Oh yeah, people don't die in our streets, they don't starve in our streets, they don't freeze in our streets -- which is impressive. Our banking system is awesome, and we were barely impacted by your economy collapsing.

Sure we have issues. None of them affect our fundamental lives.

Re:So much for the guns (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42930619)

You are hilariously ignorant and naive. Have you ever pondered why you're protected from attack? Do you think it's because the muslims think you guys are a-ok, and that it's just those damn americans that need to die?

Lets say America ceased to exist tomorrow. You canadians would be next on their fucking list. But keep kidding yourself douche lips.

Re:So much for the guns (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#42930287)

Oh, I agree with you entirely. I'm upset that it's been 40 years of the same problems, and that you guys don't seem to be any closer.

You are either disingenuous or insufficiently informed to open your yap. Gun ownership in America is rising, but gun crime is falling. And as well, the ratio of suicide to murder is heading towards the suicide (see what I did there?) and while we might reasonably discuss whether that is bad for society, it does suggest that we are in fact getting a handle on gun crime in spite of the many problems in our society.

And while I've recently decided to stop visiting, and stop contributing my tourism dollars, and I'm even working on cancelling my business dollars to find suppliers elsewhere, still many of your laws seem to be crossing our borders.

So you're upset with us because of your inadequate border control? Can't even stop a law? They're big things, hard to hide, you know.

That's the problem. That's why I'm worried about your problems. Your "solutions" cross the border, often intentionally.

We wouldn't even be here if it weren't for the French. Complain to them. Oh, wait...

Re:So much for the guns (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about a year ago | (#42929373)

26 people within an elementary school, being killed by someone outside of that elementary school, is across my line. I'm not asking for gun control. I'm not asking for security. I'm asking for anyone to try anything in an attempt to take one small step in any direction. It doesn't need to work, it just needs to be an attempt.

Which should be done not by banning guns, but by improving peoples' access to mental health testing and treatment. Banning semi-automatic rifles or high capacity magazines would not have stopped Columbine, or Sandy Hook. To advocate gun control as a method to solve problems such as this is like advocating cutting off my foot because a herniated disk in my back makes it hurt. Sure, my foot will stop hurting, but the underlying problem still exits. Target the cause of the problem, not the method through which that problem is expressed.

Re:So much for the guns (1)

holophrastic (221104) | about a year ago | (#42929493)

Cool. Have you tried that? It's been 40 years since the all in the family episode with the same conversation. I've seen no attempt in that direction either.

That's what makes me upset. I don't care about the guns either. I care about the problem.

Re:So much for the guns (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about a year ago | (#42929597)

And yet you are still advocating a solution that does not address the problem. Taking the wrong course of action is just as bad as taking no course of action, if not worse.

Re:So much for the guns (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42929431)

You say "There's an order of magnitude between money, liberty, luxury, benefit, and fun versus actually surviving the day", but seem to ignore that the lack of money, liberty, luxury, benefit and fun lead tens of thousands of people every year to choose death over surviving. You seem to think that death is worse simply on the grounds of it cannot be reversed, but clearly there's a non-trivial percentage of the population that disagrees with you rather strongly, having made the decision that death was the better choice. By this logic, the patent troll is FAR more dangerous, and FAR more deadly than any act of violence outside of full blown war.

The shooting was tragic, yes. But keep in mind, it was done with an assault rifle. Through the 80s and 90s we had an assault rifle ban, and it was allowed to expire simply on the grounds of it wasn't proven effective in having any significant impact on gun violence. I only mention this because you said "It doesn't need to work, it just needs to be an attempt" when there was this attempt, and it didn't work. Obama is pushing for it again when it's really just a feel good measure which has already been proven in the past to be ineffective.

Keep this in mind as well when thinking about gun violence. In the US there's some 30,000 gun deaths per year. Some 2/3rds of those are suicides. Clearly the biggest issue with gun deaths in this country isn't the guns themselves. Speculation on my part, but when people are down trodden enough, they either become suicidal or homicidal, so if we worked more on dealing with the root cause of the 2/3rds of the gun deaths (which banning guns will do nothing for since there's many more ways to kill yourself than a gun), I wonder how much that will also affect the remaining 1/3rd.

Re:So much for the guns (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about a year ago | (#42930039)

I'm asking for anyone to try anything in an attempt to take one small step in any direction. It doesn't need to work, it just needs to be an attempt.

So, you'd consider it acceptable if Congress passed a law requiring every person over age 15 to own a fully-automatic (NOT semi-auto, which is what the EVIIILLL gun used to kill those kids was) rifle? After all, that would be a step "in any direction"?

Alternately, a law forbidding automobiles within 1000 yards of any school would work as "a step in any direction".

In other words, don't be an idiot!

If you want more gun control, more power to you. It won't work to reduce the number of guns out there, and it won't work to reduce gun crime, but it's perfectly fine that you want that (and even better that you say it, rather than mealy-mouthed crap like "a step in ANY direction").

Note, by the by, that you look at Sandy Hook as an example of the evils of guns. I see a crime that took place in a "gun-free zone" - no law-abiding citizen had any chance at all of stopping whatsisbutthead even if they'd wanted to.

And, oddly enough, the law forbidding firearms in schools did NOT prevent whatsisbutthead from bringing a gun in and killing people.

And if there'd been an "assault weapon" in place, he'd still have been able to kill those kids - a shotgun doesn't care from age of target, nor does a pistol....

Re:So much for the guns (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year ago | (#42929041)

The skill of being a politician involves being able to compartmentalize issues and think about more than one in the same month.

Re:So much for the guns (0, Troll)

holophrastic (221104) | about a year ago | (#42929155)

That's precisely correct.

And the skill of getting things done is to have a singular focus until the task is complete.

Checks and balances a system specifically designed to ensure that leaders aren't able to get anything done. That's how you've solved the problem of corrupt leaders. And as a direct result, you can't effect change. Of any kind. At any time.

Think about it. If apples were suddenly poisonous, you wouldn't be able to outlaw apples. It would take you ten years and still the apple lobbyists and the apple industries, and the apple farmers and the apple black market, who all make money on apples, wouldn't let you make apples illegal.

Guns, drugs, cigarettes, grafitti, patent trolls, slavery, wars, poor education, wellfare, healthcare. There are countries that effectively have absolutely none of these problems. And do it without a significant military, and without even knowing the names of their leaders.

Re:So much for the guns (0)

bmacs27 (1314285) | about a year ago | (#42929187)

Sounds like pinko utopia to me.

Re:So much for the guns (1)

holophrastic (221104) | about a year ago | (#42929263)

I don't know what that means.

Re:So much for the guns (1)

bmacs27 (1314285) | about a year ago | (#42929579)

Was it this? [lmgtfy.com] or this? [lmgtfy.com]

Re:So much for the guns (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42930823)

You say you don't want to ban guns, and yet in your list of "horrible things that should be banned or removed from civilization", guns are the first item on your list. Many more kids die in car accidents or are deformed by fetal alcohol syndrome ever year than any rare and horrible circumstance like a school shooting.

Don't try to push your ignorant bereft of logic agenda on others sir.

US painted into a corner (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42928925)

The USA is increasingly reliant on its "intellectual property rights" now. Software patents help to maintain the status quo in favor of the USA for a while longer.

No matter how stupid and destructive software patents are, any US administration will fight hard to keep things the same.

Re:US painted into a corner (1)

tqk (413719) | about a year ago | (#42929667)

The USA is increasingly reliant on its "intellectual property rights" now.

Please stop using that empty phrase. It's "imaginary property rights." Just because you pass a law, doesn't make it real.

Dumb patents (3, Interesting)

flyingfsck (986395) | about a year ago | (#42928935)

The problem is dumb patents that do not advance the state of the art and provide no solution to anything. Most software patents are only problem statements and provide no solution to the problem at all, so they are totally worthless except to harass other people who actually invested the time and energy to solve the problem. If a patent describes something useful in a way that furthers the art, then no-one will have an issue with it. Every patent application should be accompanied by a working machine. Whether it costs 10 pence, 10 dollars, or 10 billion dollars to make that working machine - that will prove the value of the patent.

Re:Dumb patents (5, Interesting)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year ago | (#42929171)

The problem is dumb patents that do not advance the state of the art and provide no solution to anything. Most software patents are only problem statements and provide no solution to the problem at all, so they are totally worthless except to harass other people who actually invested the time and energy to solve the problem. If a patent describes something useful in a way that furthers the art, then no-one will have an issue with it. Every patent application should be accompanied by a working machine. Whether it costs 10 pence, 10 dollars, or 10 billion dollars to make that working machine - that will prove the value of the patent.

That would destroy drug patents as well as software patents.

It should require a demonstration to show practicality. In the case of a drug patent, that would mean a successful clinical trial

In the case of sotware (and yes, I think there should be software patents but not for obvious, workmanlike programs) it would be a working program that implements all the claims of the invention.) and a demonstration that it does what is claimed.

In the case of hardware, it would require a physical implementation of the invention and demonstration that it does what is claimed.

In the case of a gene patent, no such fucking thing unless you built that gene yourself and it isn't known to exist in a living organism in the wild. For example, if you invent a new DNA sequence that will cause bacteria to break down cellulose quickly and convert it into ethanol or methane, that would be an invention. And the modified bacteria could then be an invention, though I have qualms about letting any living thing be patented because if it escapes into the biosphere it becomes impossible to commercially control.

Re:Dumb patents (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#42930137)

I have qualms about letting any living thing be patented because if it escapes into the biosphere it becomes impossible to commercially control.

Being patented might well be the least of all worries if a "living thing" escapes into the biosphere. Patents have no bearing on such an event, or the potential harm (or good) that might result.

Re:Dumb patents (1)

nnnnnnn (1611817) | about a year ago | (#42929347)

"Most software patents are only problem statements and provide no solution to the problem at all"

I don't understand what you're talking about. You can't patent problems, you can only patent a solution to a certain problem. Even if you do patent a problem, good luck defending it against a PTO re-exam or in court, let alone collecting any kind of royalty.

From Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patent [wikipedia.org] : An invention is a solution to a specific technological problem, and may be a product or a process.

Re:Dumb patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42929417)

Dude, what he means is this: the patents are just statements of a problem not an actual solution. For example: "A system for printing spreadsheets over wifi", this isn't an invention it's a problem, as in "we need to find a system for printing spreadsheets over wifi". It says nothing about how you do it. Therefor anyone who actually creates a system for printing spreadsheets over wifi now has to pay the patent troll for solving the patent trolls own problem! get it now?

Re:Dumb patents (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#42930195)

You do not get patents for statements like "A system for printing spreadsheets over wifi".
You get patents for specific claims made in your patent which describe specific things.

You've fallen for the Slashdot Summary Title Patent Definition.

Yet when you trace down and SSTPD, and actually, Read the Fine Patent, you will find an actual METHOD and perhaps an APPARATUS for doing what the patent claims.

Re:Dumb patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42930659)

You assume the patent office actually follows its own guidelines. I mean if you just read the official documents of the USSR it sounds like a glorious place. Too bad what large bureaucracies say and what they actually do are totally different. You are either very young or very aspie.

Re:Dumb patents (1)

nnnnnnn (1611817) | about a year ago | (#42930993)

You assume the patent office actually follows its own guidelines

It doesn't matter what the patent office does. As soon as you try to enforce it, the other sides lawyer will rip up your patent that does not state a specific method of solving a specific problem.

Another idea for preventing bad patents (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42930293)

Make it a requirement that patent applicants document all of their R&D expenses associated with the specific patent (no counting the same costs multiple times on multiple applications) and submit this information with the application.

Award inventors who are doing serious R&D a patent with strong protections. Meanwhile, "inventors" whose R&D consists of two peoples' salary for a month while they pulled something out of their ass and wrote it up can get a very weak patent protection (eg. compulsory licensing at low cost) or none at all.

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