US District Judge Rules Gene Patents Invalid
The abuse of the patent system is beyond repair. I say we completely overhaul the entire system and only grant 10 patents per year. There are not even 10 things that are patent-worthy invented in an average year. Not anymore. Combining a cellphone and a pen is not unique and nonobvious and should not be patentable. Give the 10 best, truly innovative inventions one of ten patents after an exhaustive review at the end of the year. No genetic patents, no "business method" patents. Only truly novel inventions should be patentable. Frankly I can't think of the last invention that I've seen that is worthy of a patent. 10 per year is still allowing at least 5 crap things to get an unfair monopoly that is completely undeserved.
New Software For Employers To Monitor Facebook
The views expressed by your employees on their own time do not represent your company unless you take the time and energy to point it out and MAKE it so. No reasonable person would think that a Walmart employee's ranting on his/her facebook page represents the official views of Walmart. Of course, nobody should say who their employer is on Facebook or any other such site. But we know that's not going to be a prerequisite for firings. People have and will be fired for their online content even when they don't mention their job/employer. What's to stop Domino's pizza from firing an employee because she is pro-choice?
There is going to come a point where the First Amendment will need to be incorporated onto the actions of private actors like big corporations. Frankly I think we're well past that point.
Verizon Tells Cops "Your Money Or Your Life"
Yes, exactly. You're the first person to say what I was thinking - the cops and the family want to find this purportedly missing person and none of them is willing to cough up a mere 20 dollars?
There is no privacy right in having your phone turned off or turned on, and many courts have held the police don't need a warrant to locate a cellphone (though some have, as I recall). Regardless, the issue is over a corporation being cheap. But the people looking for him were equally cheap.
Now, maybe the tried to pay but were told "sorry, only the account holder may pay" or "sorry we only accept money orders for overdue accounts, you can't pay by credit card on this account" or some other bullshit like that. In THAT CASE, with someone missing and maybe in danger, the company would be in the wrong. But nobody should ever have to shell out $20 to help the police (also known as the government). Plus this time they say it's a missing person, next time they say it's a missing person but it's really just some arab guy they want to spy on.
The company is certainly not guilty of murder/manslaughter (had the guy died) as some people are saying here. That's ridiculous. Nobody has any duty to assist in an investigation beyond providing information you actually know.
Battle Lines Being Drawn As Obama Plans To Curb Tax Avoidance
Closing a loophole to require owed taxed to be paid is not equivalent to "raising taxes" though that's of course the same pathetic argument the Republican-Christian party is making. "It's a substantial tax increase to force us to pay the taxes we've been dodging."
Why should I, a normal citizen with a normal job, pay more in taxes than a huge company like KBR?
It amazes me that anyone could side with tax cheats, and actually argue that not only should be be permitted to continue to avoid paying their taxes, but that it's bad policy and immoral to require them to pay such owed taxes. Unbelievable. Meanwhile a lot of the companies doing this tax dodging have been receiving bailouts from those taxpayers who do pay their taxes.
Nobody wants to pay taxes, and everyone wants their tax rate to be lower. How about some consistency, though - like everyone who owes taxes should pay them.
Strings Link the Ultra-Cold With the Super-Hot
I am a person who entirely believes in science, and as an atheist I greatly disapprove of anything resembling faith. I hate to say it, but so much of this superstring, 11 dimensional stuff sounds more like faith, or religion, than actual hard science. None of what's talked about here sets out a testable hypothesis, and it sounds like they're just making up stuff the way religious people do, though using words like "dimensional" instead of "power of Christ" to explain what otherwise can't be explained (or explained within the bounds of their own premises).
I mock religion all the time. I have to hold science and scientists up to the same standard. I'd be a hypocrite to accept unprovable scientific mumbojumbo, interdimensional whatnots and all. at face value while discounting unprovable religious mumbojumbo all the time.
Slashdot's Disagree Mail
There was a whole episode of American Dad ("Tearjerker") where Roger, playing a James Bond villian, was cloning hollywood actors/actresses, albeit with robots, to make the clones act in horrible movies nobody would want to see, so his movie would win the Oscar.
Crazy religious people should not be allowed to watch TV.
On the Economics of the Kindle
I have a Sony PRS-505 eBook reader, and I love it. I love the e-ink, I love having all my books in one place (and it saves lots of space - don't need huge bookshelves). I like being able to backup all my books. There are many advantages to eBooks. But I did not spend $250 on the eBook reader because i somehow managed to convince myself that since eBooks cost a few dollars less than traditional bound paper books I'd save myself money in the long run. Only an idiot would convince themselves that an eBook reader is a way to save money. It's not. You can always buy USED paper books (go to Half-Price Books or another used book store) cheaper than you can buy new-release eBooks. But that doesn't mean it's not a useful device.
That being said, many copyrighted ebooks can be downloaded for free on bittorrent sites (not saying one should do this). In that case, it would save money assuming you would otherwise be purchasing the books in traditional format from Amazon or somewhere else.
But don't kid yourself, buying eBooks for $14 instead of traditional paper books for $17 is not going to offset the cost of a $250-$300 electronic device anytime in your near future. Hopefully nobody is dumb enough to use frugality as a reason to drop a few hundred bucks on an Amazon Kindle or Sony Reader. People are dumb, but that's the level of stupidity at which people probably are not going to be doing a lot of reading, let alone book-buying in the first place.
I love my Sony Reader, but it was a luxury that I paid for, and I have no illusions that it will be saving me money anytime in the near future.
Resisting the PGP Whole Disk Encryption Craze
It is impossible to compress encrypted data, or at least data that are properly encrypted. If properly encrypted, the resultant cyphertext should be completely random - any patterns mean it is pseudorandom and thus not properly encrypted (by "proper" I mean unbreakable by means of cryptoanalysis, for example a simple substitution cypher does not result in an even, random distriubtion of letters - there will be more of the letter that represent "E" than the letter that represents "Z").
It is impossible to compress completely random data. As such, it is impossible to compress properly encrypted data, since it should be completely random. For this reason you cannot compress a PGP encrypted file (or hard drive, for that matter) since the cyphertext of the PGP encrypted file is completely random data, even if the plaintext is nothing but the letter "W" written over and over again ten thousand times.
Lessig's "In Defense of Piracy"
Copyright was never intended to prevent private copying for noncommercial uses. Please don't try to argue that "copying = not buying = commercial loss = commercial use" because it's a horribly disingenuous and intellectually dishonest argument. Stealing is depriving someone else of their property. Even if copying is depriving someone of a potential sale, there is no vested property right in potential sales. If so capitalism would not work, as competition would be equivalent to stealing. The makers of cars would be stealing from the makers of horsedrawn carriages. The makers of refrigerators would be stealing from ice manufacturers. The makers of calculators would be stealing from the makers of abacuses (abaci?). You get the point.
I should be able to copy and read/watch/listen to/play in my own home, for my own use, any media in existence.
The notion that without monopolies, creative people would not create has long been disproved. No monopolies are necessary to foster creativity. The best, most creative people will create regardless. The hacks are the ones who need monopoly protection. For example, without copyright, Neil Young would still be making music, but Brittney Spears would not.
Because copyright has been so greatly abused, because it's been proven to be based on flawed logic, and because it only serves to hinder creativity and make money for those who do not deserve it, copright should be abolished completely. There should still be protection for attribution to prevent plaigariasm, in some form.
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