Seriously. Like, "there's an emptiness and it gnaws at me" kind of missing it.
I know why PJ went off the grid, and I respect her concerns, but it still sucks. In the meantime, anyone who feels the same can pay a visit Here, where some folks that used to frequent Groklaw are trying to re-establish a community that cares enough about the same things to keep them visible and discussed.
You should all drop by sometime.
...And before you say "OMG Apple sues over every silly patent!" remember that Samsung sued Apple for the bounce-back effect when you scroll a list and reach the end (no I'm not joking they really did).
Aside from the fact that you have that precisely backwards, that's correct.
From the column you linked to written by Florian Mueller (not exactly an Open-Source evangelist):
...For example, Apple is suing Samsung over a feature called "rubber-banding." It's the iconic bounce-back effect when you scroll a list (such as your phone's address book) and reach the end. I like it, but if you have rubber-banding and I don't, we can still keep in touch. No nuclear threat there...
I do agree with your sentiment...."The best thing the government can do if insisting on directly promoting development of technology", I guess I should have said.
Whether that is, in and of itself, a means to positive fiscal ends (increased tax revenues, govt energy savings, etc, etc) is way too long of a discussion.
The logical thing (as with every technology) would be that its time will come when the value of said technology exceeds the cost. Could be that fossil fuel gets more expensive, could be that manufacturing costs for solar go down...or efficiency rises sharply at the same cost.
The problem (as noted in the summary) is not with government investing in research, it's with government backing production. If you want efficient, cost effective non-carbon-based power sources, then you need demand and competition, not lack of demand and competition avoidance.
Either climate change or energy prices are going to continue to push the "expensive" needle for hydrocarbon-based fuel higher and higher without stopping, which will help make solar/hydro/nuclear more attractive, which will in turn lead to more production and economies of scale.
The best thing the government can do is to throw around research dollars and get the fuck out of the way.
True...on the other hand, there might be a push (technically, there *is* already a push) to include telemetry monitoring on all new vehicles.
Doing that, and adjusting rates for everyone based on it (everyone who is insured, anyway) would provide a financial incentive to drive a certain way. It would be an unacceptable invasion of privacy to many (including me) for it to be forced, but then, so are many other things.
I suppose I am being insufficiently precise.
Math is a collection of systems pertaining to the relationships between and manipulation of numbers, shapes, and spaces, using mutually agreed-upon symbols.
Math *is* abstract. You cannot build me a physical thing that is the same as 1+1=2. You *can* build me a physical thing that looks like one of the commonly agreed-upon representation of the symbols used to describe that mathematical utterance.
Software is always a mathematical utterance that describes an algorithm. It is absolutely creative, yes, which is why software is deserving of copyright protection. I've written plenty of software. I'm familiar with the effort it takes and the level of skill required to create something useful, efficient, and interesting.
An abstraction *is* thought. When we talk about things in the abstract it means that there is an imaginary construct that describes or replaces some other real or imaginary thing for either convenience sake or because there is no practical way to discuss something without said abstraction. If you insist that an abstraction is not an abstraction, then I don't expect you would ever be able to fairly judge my reasoning.
You can think about physical, tangible things (puppies, automotive parts, trees)), and you can think about abstract things (math, emotions, philosophy). Just because I can think about love or good or evil or pride or shame doesn't make them more than abstract thought. That's my main statement...there are physical things that you can patent and abstract things that you can't. Software falls in to the latter category.
They have you keep it in the car long enough to make most people forget that it's there. There are probably a small number of people who can maintain a level of awareness about being monitored long enough to not have their "real" driving noted, but I'm guessing that's a pretty small number.
I've been a pretty conservative driver since not long before my 30's, when I realized I wasn't really in a hurry, and I'd rather watch somebody else do something stupid and get in a wreck. I leapt at progressive's offer (and got something like 22% knocked off my "normal" rate after a few weeks of monitoring).
By that logic programs are also all particles, electrons to be precise...
No, no they are not. Programs are thought. They are symbols. We have machines that let us store those symbols and perform calculations with them that are called computers. Most computers rely on electrical signals, true, but the electrons in a computer are not the software (fluidics is a pretty neat illustration of how electrons aren't what software is made of, bu then so is a computer science student debugging pseudocode with pencil and paper).
...You can't say something isn't patentable simply because it can be described by math...
True, and I didn't say that software can be described by math, I said it *is* math, because it is. I can do the same calculations (run the same program) as a computer using pencil and paper. I'm going to do it a *lot* slower because I'm not a machine designed to perform calculations. Computers are incredible inventions that are amazingly well-suited to doing rapid calculations based on symbolic instruction code (algorithms written as what we commonly call programs or software).
The distinction is not in whether something can be described by math, the distinction is between whether something is an abstract idea (like a program) or a concrete physical system (like a circuit). Software is not a physical object any more than a paragraph is a physical object. Paper and ink are physical. A computer monitor is physical. Software is math...thought...abstract ideas. Ideas are useful, but ideas are not inventions in and of themselves.
Hardware is not all physics. Hardware is all particles. The universe is not nothing but math.
The difference between the abstract (a number, i.e. a mathematical symbol) and the concrete (a chunk of silicon, coal, iron, etc), as a practical matter, makes a big difference. Failing to make that distinction makes for a poor discussion on the topic.
The reason that I'm trying to make the point is because it's both true and crucial to answering the question of why software patents are just as bad an idea as patents on other types of math. That difference between abstract and concrete is nearly the only important thing in terms of understanding *why* software isn't patentable.
I think you may be conflating a disdain with his ideology/politics from whether or not he's capable in the role of Senator. I can just as easily think of many more Senators with no record of military service that I wish were out of a job.
I also recall that in that particular book, you didn't have to be in the infantry to get those rights...you could be a cook or a pilot or a medic, etc. The idea of being willing to sacrifice as a litmus test for suitability as a government servant in another capacity isn't a bad one. We (in the US) only really have the military as a way to serve in that capacity...the peace corps would be a similar example that I think Heinlein would have seen as falling into this category.
It's not a bad idea...why trust someone with the responsibility to make decisions that will impact the lives of everyone when they never had any skin in the game?