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Comment: Re:Don't stop at Paul Allen (Score 3, Insightful) 219

by david duncan scott (#36025514) Attached to: Woz and the RCA Character-generator Patent

Last I heard your boss's job is to delegate the work assigned to him. Assigning that work to you is precisely his job, and if you insist on doing it for him, I'd suggest going after his paycheck as well--apparently he's not earning it..

Besides which, you might end up looking pretty silly if you assign to yourself the work that your boss already knew was superfluous or even erroneous this month and you didn't even bother to check. Sometimes eager beavers dam up the wrong streams.

Comment: Re:An oxymoron (Score 2) 70

by david duncan scott (#36020122) Attached to: Air Force Wants Commercial Spacecraft

You figure silver is the index of all things? Why, pray tell, except for some sort of magical thinking? It was worth more in 1980 then it is now--are we on the right track?

Personally I go for days at a time without touching any silver at all. On the other hand, the medications that are currently keeping me alive didn't exist, at any weight of silver, gold, or unobtanium, in the fifties and sixties.I had a smallpox shot back in those halcyon days of economic splendor, a shot that my children didn't need.

If I need to examine the state of a nation, the price of some particular mineral enshrined solely by tradition wouldn't be the first place I'd look, any more than I'd glom onto the relative worth of cowrie shells or beanie babies. Do you really believe that people command 1/26 of the spending power their parents did, just because the price of silver has changed by that much? Do you claim that Americans are 26 times hungrier, colder, and sicker than they were in 1950, or are the Hunt brothers a lot wealthier for their manipulations of the price of a sometimes-useful metal (although, with film gone from cameras, I suspect you'll be able to watch the dollar grow stronger, or at least silver get cheaper.)

Comment: Re:An oxymoron (Score 3, Insightful) 70

by david duncan scott (#36018180) Attached to: Air Force Wants Commercial Spacecraft
Profitable private rail? The private rail that was built on massive amounts of federal land, and supported through government strike-breaking? That private rail?

And no, my argument is not that "people like things for free, so let's get government to do those things." My argument is that, on certain occasions, government can prime a pump. Do you honestly think that there is no demand for air travel? There wasn't nearly enough back in the twenties, so the Post Office came up with "airmail." Who really cared if a letter got there a day sooner, especially since a good many ended up strewn across fields amidst smoking wreckage--the point was to provide some of that demand until the airlines could get a market going. I know it's hard to picture Charles Lindbergh and Eddie Rickenbacker sucking up to the socialist trough, but without airmail contracts, speed and distance prizes, and other such interventionist folderol the US air transport industry might well have stopped with the Curtis Jenny (you know, that plane that the Feds pretty much gave to anybody who asked after World War I

Comment: Re:An oxymoron (Score 3, Interesting) 70

by david duncan scott (#36017336) Attached to: Air Force Wants Commercial Spacecraft

What if the government is paying for part of the demand? It's not hard to imagine situations in which some demand exists, but not quite enough to justify any particular company making an existential wager on it. An additional demand from a government customer might tip the balance.

How much purely commercial demand was there for small, portable computers before the Air Force wanted them on-board ICBM s? We went from "the world needs maybe six mainframes" to our current state pretty quickly, once some of the R & D was picked up by the Feds.

There aren't very many things for which there is absolutely no demand, but there are many things for which the price is as yet too high.

Besides, I like my interstate highways, even if they were just an Eisenhower-era military-industrial conspiracy. They have turned out toi be useful for a good many things besides rapid mobilization of troops.

Comment: Re:Multiple? (Score 1) 458

by david duncan scott (#35985064) Attached to: For Security, My Wi-Fi Access Point Relies On:
Nothing redundant about it. Shooting ordinary people, or even Federal employees away from their jobs, is covered by state, not Federal laws. This is why the FBI used to investigate lynchings as "civil rights violations," and also why it was significant that Judge Roll was attending the Giffords appearance to discuss her support of the Federal judiciary, rather than just as a private citizen.

Comment: Re:Safe harbor prov? Sorry, only if you're a big c (Score 2) 686

by david duncan scott (#35965800) Attached to: EFF Advocates Leaving Wireless Routers Open

You know, I have some sympathy for your point here, but I don't see a lot of evidence, either. Back in the misty days when Thompson sub-machine guns could be purchased over the counter and Clyde Barrow toted a BAR, the cops weren't notoriously polite to the people they arrested. Apparently the widespread availability of firearms did not, in fact, prevent "third-degree" interrogations and prisoners who never even made it to booking.

I suspect our perceptions of how it used to be are based on a sort of Pleasantville image of happy white people trusting their neighborhood patrolman, who spent most of his time helping lost children with melting ice-cream cones.

After all, before all those hippie liberals got in the way, it didn't occur to most cops that they shouldn't tap your phone, turn out your pockets, hold you for days without access to a lawyer, or "tune you up" before formal questioning.. Each of those issues had to be dragged through a court before Officer Friendly gave them up.

Comment: Re:tl;dr (Score 1) 59

by david duncan scott (#35965244) Attached to: My Crowdsourced Follow-Up About Crowdsourcing
The point? At least an intellectual exercise., and possibly a scheme that Facebook (who have stepped on their dicks any number of times over this very issue) might at least consider, along with anybody else who hosts user content and feels a need to monitor its appropriateness.

But hey, if it doesn't spin your prop, don't think about it.

Comment: Re:Faraday (Score 1) 127

by david duncan scott (#35684888) Attached to: Robert Bunsen, Open Source Pioneer?

I can often whistle a tune after I've merely heard it--that doesn't make me a composer.

I would argue that the simple, obvious-in-retrospect, inventions are the hardest. Complex inventions are frequently piles of simpler things organized in a new way. The stirrup, by contrast, is almost painfully simple,and is trivial to duplicate once seen, but men rode horses for some thousands of years before some gifted inventor thought of that simple, ground-breaking device.

There comes a point at which we tend to forget that things had to be invented--the lead pencil, the light switch, the telephone bell--because we have a hard time imagining their non-existence.

Comment: Re:Ma Bell Stifled Innovation? (Score 1) 354

by david duncan scott (#35658568) Attached to: Ma Bell Stifled Innovation, AT&T May Do the Same
You can argue that others anticipated the work, but Shockley, et al. built working transistors in the late 40's and early 50's. They may not have been the neat little cans we're used to, never mind the photo-lithographed IC's running this computer, but transistors they were.

Nothing succeeds like success. -- Alexandre Dumas