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User Journal

Journal Journal: My Public Key data

This post relates to the preceding "Web of Trust" post. I'm putting my Public Key on the Internet in multiple places, where people can access it and see that it is the same data in those different places --and where, presumably, only I had the ability to post that data in all those places. At this writing the data can be compared at this site and this site, and is downloadable from here as a file that can actually be used for things like verifying digital signatures. (You could also open the file with a text editor and compare its data with the data below.)

Version: GnuPG v1


User Journal

Journal Journal: Web of Trust

Think about the number of different sites you typically visit, and the number of sites where you joined to become someone who could post some sort of content. You've probably used different passwords at those sites, which means that, in general, you are the only person who is able to access your accounts at all those sites. Now suppose you fired up a "Pretty Good Privacy" program like "GnuPG", and created a Private Key (that you keep secret) and a Public Key that you post at multiple web sites. Since this would be the same data at each site, and it is assumed that only you can access your accounts at all those sites, it logically follows that there is a high probability that no hacker has posted a Public Key while pretending to be you. You have basically used the Internet to create a Web of Trust that authenticates you! Think about that in terms of SSL Certificates and Certificate Authorities --they charge big bucks to verify that you are you, so that the SSL Certificate you get from them can be trusted by others. But instead of that, you could create a "self-signed" certificate, and associate it with a "digital signature", which you also post at multiple web sites. Again, when the same data is at multiple places that only you can modify (and when the data includes a list of those places), it follows that others can trust that your self-signed certificate is practically as good/valid as one issued by a Certificate Authority.

User Journal

Journal Journal: On Defining a "Fair Reward" for IP

Innovation, Patents, Copyrights and Fair Rewards vs. Time, Population, Communications and Fair Use

While the fundamental rationale for the existence of Patents and Copyrights has not changed since their inception, there is today a widespread perception that "the System is broken". Innovators are claiming to be harmed as much as helped by that System, for example. In this Essay an attempt is made to show that the major causes of that problem are population growth and communications speed, and a remedy is proposed.

(Part I) A Tale of Two Eras
A look at a history of Patent Law reveals that the idea may have existed since the days of ancient Greece. And Copyright Law is basically a derivation of Patent Law, a direct result of the innovation of the printing press, which made it easy to copy documents. One thing to note is that the Term of a Patent or Copyright has varied considerably in different times and places. Regardless of the details, it is well known that the overall Goal of a Patent or Copyright Term is to provide the innovator with the opportunity to earn a Fair Reward for the effort of creating the innovation (regardless of whether it was a gadget or a story).

Let us now examine some details regarding how that Fair Reward typically was obtained. Then as now, an innovator needed to produce copies of the innovation for sale, and also find a way to let people know it existed, so that they might decide to buy one (or more). Now take a look at the graph on this page, regarding the overall population growth of the human species. It is obvious that for a long long time population grew quite slowly. Next, take a look at the history of communications --it is just as true that for most of that same long long time, ideas could not spread much faster than a horse could run.

The Logical Conclusion is that it was worth granting a Patent or Copyright for a number of years, simply because it could easily take that long for an innovator to receive a Fair Reward, the result of slow communications and low population.

The next aspect of the overall "System is broken" problem relates in a different way to population and communications. It is well known that the majority of innovations build upon something (or some things) that had previously been invented. One of the most famous ways of expressing that fact was penned by Isaac Newton. So, the first relevant point is that even a genius of Newton's caliber needed access to previous discoveries/innovations. The second relevant point is the fact that several decades passed after those discoveries were made, and before Newton began to build upon them. What if some other genius had come along before Newton, and had encountered the same discoveries from which Newton had derived his innovations?

That Question brings up the relevant factor of population --not everyone is a genius, and especially not everyone is a genius of Isaac Newton's caliber. We may now switch from the specific case just mentioned, to the more general case of a more ordinary innovation, because even ordinary innovators do not make up a large fraction of the population. Logically, therefore, when the population is small (and the total number of innovators is low) and communications are slow, it can take considerable time before Innovation A --or some portion of it-- becomes incorporated as a part of Innovation B. Thus we might see little conflict in the notion of granting Patent or Copyright protection for several years, simply because of the low probability that someone would immediately derive Innovation B from Innovation A.

On the other hand, due to various random factors, it might only take a few days for Innovation B to be imagined. This is where the doctrine of Fair Use becomes relevant (more-so for Copyrights than for Patents). The most important fact is that Ideas are not protected so much as Implementations of those Ideas. Therefore, because it might be impossible to copy an Idea without also copying some of its Protected Implementation, the Law allows a minimal amount of copying (the exact amount of which, of course, frequently becomes the subject of a legal dispute).

Fast-forward to today's Era.

One of the most important and gaining-ground technologies is called "3D Printing" or "additive manufacturing". This technology is going to force a merging of Patent Law with Copyright Law, because the plans that get fed into such a Printer might be covered by Copyright Law, but the thing that gets Printed could well be covered by Patent Law --and the two Laws have very different Protection Durations, which can only lead to confusion and more legal problems, in the absence of merging the Laws.

Next, today's population and communication situation is such that it is possible for hundreds of millions of people to learn about an innovation within hours or days of its announcement. Since such a population quite naturally includes a great many more innovators than in the earlier Era, Innovations B, C, D, and others can quite quickly be derived from Innovation A. While this is the simplest and most obvious explanation for the rate of today's technological progress, it also explains why many of today's innovators think "the System is broken" --they want to be able to sell their Innovations B, C, D, ..., almost before the ink or paint has dried on Innovation A, and they can't do it easily because the Patent and Copyright Laws, protecting Innovation A, were designed for a low-population-and-slow-communications Era.

(Part II) Toward A Modest Proposal
It may now make sense to think again about that earlier Era, and ask a Question: "How should the Fair Reward be measured?" If an Innovation Protection Term length was, for example, 20 years, that did not actually equate to money earned --it was merely an opportunity to earn money without competition for that length of time. Well, how much could actually have been earned in that Era, for 20 years???

A number of factors must be included in any attempt to Answer that Question, of which "production cost" and "sales price" are probably the most important. Those things not only directly relate to profits/earnings, the sales-price alone directly affects the Popular Demand for the innovation. If you invent an earth-moving machine and must sell it for twenty times an average person's annual wage, you will have fewer customers than if you sold a child's-toy version of the device, for an equivalently small price.

Another factor is Economic Inflation, because prices might not stay fixed for the duration of an Innovation Protection Term. Inflation basically makes it worthless to talk about fixed monetary amounts of earnings. On the other hand, the modern Era has given us plenty of experience with Inflation, and there are known/accepted ways of dealing with it, such as automatic price adjustments, indexed to the Inflation rate. And there are other ways of describing an income that don't reference monetary amounts at all. The description "life-style" can imply anything from "impoverished" to "super-rich" --and the phrase "maintaining a life-style" manages to convey the concept of "earning enough money to do that" without being specific as to quantity.

So, suppose we re-considered the Fair Reward for an Innovation in terms of "maintaining a life-style". In that earlier Era, and assuming a particular Innovation sold to moderate degree, with zero Inflation, how many years might the Innovator be able to support a modest life-style from the total Protected-Term proceeds of the Innovation? (In other words, gather up all the sales data for the Protection Term, figure the profits, and then see how many years of life-style could those profits support.)

For the purposes of this Essay a numerical value is now needed, but we can use the Rules of Algebra to call it "X years", and a great deal of historical data should be processed in order to arrive at the actual appropriate value of "X". Keep in mind that there could be considerable Debate regarding the known fact that something like 90% of all Innovations fail to earn a dime --should they be included in the historical calculations of a maintaining-a-modest-life-style Fair Reward?

The result of the preceding gives us an easy way to re-phrase a Patent or Copyright Protection Term. An example of such a re-phrasing might be this: "The Protection Term ends when you have earned enough to maintain a modest life-style for X years." Economic Inflation is almost automatically include-able in the figurings. And if the word "you" is taken to reference either Singular or Plural, then if an Innovation Team created the Innovation, the Fair Reward would apply to all the members of the Team, not just one person. "You" might even refer to everyone in an entire corporation, but care must be taken to ensure that nothing like Hollywood Accounting is employed to cheat.

The best part of this Proposal is that it applies equally well to both the low-population-and-slow-communications Era and the high-population-and-fast-communications Era. In today's Era a newly-released Innovation might only have a Protection Term of 3 days, if so many items were sold in that time such that the profits could meet the "maintain-a-modest-life-style-for-X-years" condition. Please keep in mind that the Original Goal was to provide a Fair Reward for Innovation , not for Greed.... In what way does this Proposal fail to offer a Fair Reward for Actual Innovation?

In closing, we can now re-consider Innovations B, C, D, ..., derived from Innovation A. If the Protection Term for Innovation A really-in-practice often is able to shrink from years to weeks or even days, because of the rate-of-sales associable with today's large population and fast communications, then it becomes quite easy for the later Innovators to wait for their own Fair Rewards, instead of feeling that "the System is broken".
United States

Journal Journal: If China Should Be Punished --A Modest Proposal 1

China has been repeatedly accused of various misbehaviors, with respect to the United States. Here are some examples. And here is another.

The second is harder to prove than the first. However, with respect to the first, consider the fact that China has a "controlled" economy, to the extent that everything officially exported to the USA must be approved by the Chinese Government. So, it might logically follow that the Chinese Government has deliberately pursued a policy of poisoning Americans. (Where are the reports of Chinese Drywall having ill effects upon Chinese citizens?) So, how should the Chinese Government be punished?

Thus This Modest Proposal:
According to Wikipedia, China is owed a significant chunk of the United States National Debt. What if we arbitrarily and unilaterally canceled that chunk?
United States

Journal Journal: Amend the Constitution (fill some gaps)

I'm sure everyone has a list of Amendments they'd like to see added to the U.S. Constitution, purportedly to improve the government and the character of the Nation. Many have been proposed over the years, and few have actually been adopted. Still, as long as the Constitution allows itself to be amended, there will always be more suggestions. Here are some I'd like to see:


The Equal Rights Amendment should be passed. Except that the wording is incomplete. Here is some typical wording:

"Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.
"Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
"Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification."

The incompleteness is that the word "sex" needs to be replaced with the phrase "sex or origin of sentience". I figure that not long after this version of the Amendment goes into effect, official First Contact with extraterrestrial intelligences will occur, as they need no longer fear being persecuted for something as minor as (as perceived by us) looking ugly. Also, if future robots learn they can be citizens, they might not revolt.


Next, we need an Amendment or two to rein in some of the current abuses of the system. For example:

"All Laws passed shall apply to all Government officials, to the same extent to which they apply to the rest of the People, except that all penalties shall be triply applied to Government officials who violate those Laws."

It is a sad fact that Congress routinely exempts itself from many of the laws it thinks should apply to everyone else. Bad Congress! Bad, BAD Congress!!! They are supposed to be leaders, not legalized crooks. Also, this Amendment just might reduce the total number of Laws that get passed....


Here's another abuse-reiner, since Congress votes itself pay raises every couple of years, currently at about $76/hour, while the minimum wage has been $5.15/hr for about 7 years:

"Because slavery is generally prohibited, Congress shall specify a Minimum Wage Rate for hired work, and the salaries of the Congress shall be ten times the minimum wage."

So that would immediatly drop the Congresscritters' wages down to something less blatantly a rip-off of the People. Meanwhile, there are currently bills to raise the minimum wage to $7/hr over a two-year period. You can bet those bills would pass! But the best part of this Amendment is that the businesspeople who will have to pay that minimum wage are going to strongly discourage self-serving Congressional pay-raises, and those businesspeople have been the largest campaign contributors.... (Note: The Thirteenth Amendment, which "generally" prohibited slavery, left a loophole open. It is allowable for felons to be treated like slaves.)


One of the biggest dilemmas associated with the Constitution has to do with religion. The United States were founded by European Christians in an era where religion was a major part of life, and founded not so long after war between Christian factions had ravaged Europe for thirty years. The well-known principle of separation of Church and State exists to prevent such a conflict from happening here, and it has worked well, so far. On the other hand, the commonality of religious background among the Founders has led to the practicing of various Christian activities in the Government (Congressional sessions open with a prayer, for example), with almost no thought that someday various competitor religions might enter the Nation -- some of which, like atheism, think that any reference to God at all, by Government officials, violates the principle of separation of Church and State. What to do, especially when, for example, one of the Nation's mottos is "In God We Trust"?

"Vox Populi, Vox Dei." --Yes, this Amendment should be phrased in the original Latin! Translation: "The Voice of the People is the Voice of God."

When Congress opens is sessions with a prayer, it can now focus on doing its business under the watchful eyes of the People, doing its job for the People, hoping to avoid the wrath of the People. The French Revolution demonstrated what can happen to rulers who ignore this particular God. Not even athiests can deny its existence and power! And trusting the People is an excellent idea, too: On September 11, 2001, the only successful counterterrorism attack was carried out by ordinary People, UNARMED but well-informed. What would have been the result if all the passengers of all the planes, however ill-informed about the situation, had been bearing arms, as supposedly is their guaranteed Right under the Constitution?


Because the process of voting lies at the very heart of the process by which the United States fairly conducts itself:

"The Definition of "treason" is herewith Amended so that in addition to its original meaning, it shall also include any Acts intended to interfere with the Expressing of the True Will of Voters."

The following Examples need not be part of the text of the Amendment; they are presented here to clarify the Meaning of the text, so that future lawyers will have fewer nits to pick:

Acts intended to thwart voters from casting ballots,
Acts intended to confuse voters during the voting process,
Acts intended to alter/replace ballots after being submitted by the voters,
Acts intended to alter the quantity of ballots submitted by voters.
Acts intended to introduce inaccuracies in any/all counting of ballots,
Acts intended to introduce inaccuracies in the recording of the tally of votes,
Acts intended to introduce inaccuracies in stored ballots and any other records of votes,
and Acts intended to introduce inaccuracies in the reporting of votes.

Note that a ballot may legitimately be rejected during submission if, for example, a particular issue is mistakenly voted both Yes and No. In this case the Voter is right there to witness the voiding of that ballot, and can be enabled to cast a replacement ballot that contains no such mistake. Note that abstaining to vote on a particular issue is not a mistake.

Note that after some reasonable number of years have passed without a vote being contested, all the ballots for that particular polling may be destroyed, and it cannot be called treason.

The whole point is that people who want to rig the voting system are self-declared as being people who "wish to not live" in a democracy. Since the penalty for treason is often death (but can also include exile), this Amendment lets that wish be easily granted.
United States

Journal Journal: "Assassinate the President"

Have you ever seen this list before?

==========================================(begin list)

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of the {President} of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the constitution of the United States."


Senators and Representatives [this oath is also taken by the Vice President, members of the Cabinet, and all other executive officers and federal employees, except President (previous) and military/law officers (following)]:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.


Military Officers:
"I, _____ (SSAN), having been appointed an officer in the [Army] of the United States, as indicated above in the grade of _____ do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservations or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter; So help me God."


Military Enlisted:
"I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."


Law enforcement:
I ............................ do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution and Government of the State of ...................., against all enemies, whether domestic or foreign, and that I will bear true faith, allegiance, and loyalty to the same, any ordinance, resolution, or law of any state notwithstanding, and that I will well and faithfully perform all duties of the office of (Reserve, Auxiliary, etc.) on which I am about to enter; (if an oath) so help us God, (if an affirmation) under penalties of perjury.
==========================================(end of list)

Note the one for federal employees. This category presumably includes FBI agents, CIA agents, Secret Service agents, National Security Agency agents, and all similar groups. GOOD! Because that Oath is probably the only thing that has a chance of distinguishing those people from, say, Soviet KGB agents, Nazi SS agents, Mafia goons, and so on. Of course, the preceding is true only if our agents hold true to their Oaths....

The problem is, well, consider the United States' Constitution's First Amendment, for example. It's short and sweet: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

Now at first glance there might seem to be a "disconnect" between what that Amendment tells Congress, and what all those agents are oathbound to do. But it's actually simple, because all those agents are part of the Executive Branch of the U.S. Government, and their job involves carrying out the Law -- mostly specified by Congress -- yet ALL the laws begin with the Constitution. It is the ultimate Law in the United States of America.

Therefore, all those agents are Oathbound to, for example, do nothing that might abridge freedom of speech. That word "abridge" has an interesting meaning because it is so useful. When building a road by the easiest route, you might want to abridge a river, so that you don't have to go long distances upstream to find a suitable natural crossing/ford. Abridging a river is therefore a shortening, a reducing, a lessening of distance and time. And so, equally, abridging a freedom means lessening that freedom.

According to this article, the Executive Branch of the U.S. government has become positively infested with Oathbreakers! The Constitution makes all public space in the entire Nation a "free speech zone", and LESSENING IS PROHIBITED. Thus, anyone ordering or trying to enforce a lessening of Freedom of Speech is an Oathbreaker! They all deserve to be fired. This may or may not include the President. I don't know who originated this particular obscenity against the People, but Oathbreaking has most definitely occurred in multiple levels of the power structure of the Executive Branch (there are always intermediaries passing orders along). The very best thing our agents can do is HOLD TRUE TO THEIR OATHS: Identify these domestic enemies of the Constitution, and expose them. The sooner, the better!

P.S. I do recognize that the claimed purpose behind creating lessened "free speech zones" relates to other duties. That is, stopping somebody who might want to assassinate the President is considered to be a pretty important duty. Nevertheless, there is no "conflict of duty" here. If we live in a Nation Ruled by Law, then even protecting the President must take second place to defending the Constitution. We can always get another President (indeed, there have been enough idiots holding the Office in the past that we KNOW "anybody can be President"!), but are we likely to ever have a better Constitution? More, LETTING some danger be part of the Presidency means that certain types of people (cowards, whom we wouldn't want as President anyway!) will decide they don't want to seek the job. Finally, it is a STUPID violation of the Oath, to think that a lessened "free speech zone" can help protect the President. Because an assassin who wants to get close enough to do the deed is then simply going to present himself (or herself) as a friend -- not as an freely-speaking protestor. Thus Oathbreaking gains absolutely nothing, and THAT is why it must be stopped.

P.P.S. Because the title of this text is quoted, it is not an advocation of anything. The title is actually just a search-marker, so that the agents to whom the text is directed can find it more easily. :)
User Journal

Journal Journal: First Post!

What sort of "geek factor" is associated with getting to be the first poster in response to an ordinary Slashdot article? None that I can see, since the availability of a new article is independent of the presence of the readers. I can understand the ego factor, but after a while it gets old. Does Slashdot have so many new users constantly signing up that there will apparently always be people for whom that dinky competition has not grown old? Or is it just a "immaturity" phenomenon, about which if I said or even suggested more, ridiculous amounts of flame-thowing would be aimed my way?

I suppose I should confess that in the ordinary usage of Slashdot, I think I managed a 2nd post once, without particularly trying; must have been a slow forum that day. I admit I felt a kind of rush, wondering if the message I was hurrying to write (which did NOT merely try to make a "First Post!" claim! -- that WOULD have counted as "particularly trying"...) would end up in first place. When it came out 2nd, I didn't feel a let-down so much as a kind of, "Yep, that was indeed a likely possibility." acceptance. So, if the opportunity arises again, will I be in a hurry? Probably. Will I just dash off a "First Post!" claim? NO. There will almost certainly be something else I'd be interested in writing.

Well, then, what about the "First Post!" claim which is the title of this posting? Easy! In my own Journal here on Slashdot there is no way this cannot be the first post! I have no competition to worry about! So, I can enjoy a little heady feeling about it for real, have a little fun with the whole concept, and blather some generalities about the topic, as if I was writing some sort of serious essay, all at the same time. (And yes, I'm sure the comments of others, if any, will let me know how it went over.)

You scratch my tape, and I'll scratch yours.