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Comment It's not as bad as one would think (Score 1) 420

Reading TFA, it states "The 1st Circuit said a new judge assigned to the case could reduce the award again, but the record labels would then be entitled to a new trial."

A new trial, even if only for damages, is the last thing the record labels should want. Each new trial increases the odds that some jury will award a token amount in effect removing effective civil sanction. Given that Jammie Thomas-Rasset had her penalty reduced to $54,000, it is likely even a new judge will reduce the penalty to well below $80,000. That's not an amount that will destroy someone like Joel Tenenbaum's life, especially since he's now a public figure and comes from what appears to be a relatively well-off family. At worst the penalty will be reduced to $70,000 and the RIAA will simply have to take that amount versus going to a new trial.

Considering that Joel Tenenbaum has now achieved some notoriety with this case, it is simply a matter of monetizing one's 15 minutes of fame. I don't think he will come close to monetizing it to $1 million, but I also suspect he won't have much of a problem monetizing his fame to basically feel no pain at all from the penalty. Note that in this worst-case scenario Tenenbaum pays the fine but has no other obligation, versus a settlement where the RIAA could demand he goes away forever and never speak in public of his experiences again. Writing a book, giving talks against the RIAA, all of these would remain open to him.

One may object that maybe Tenenbaum is not in this to monetize fame, but from my experience, the last thing serious research scientists at the beginning of their careers want is unrelated distractions. There are papers to publish, conferences to attend, jobs to apply for, etc. He must be getting something from this trial even at risk of this penalty to make the time spent well worth his while.

Comment Dutch advantage of herring? (Score 2) 143

Relative to most other nations of the world, Holland is relatively well-run, and the Dutch are as capable of fixing such problems as anyone else.

Could the Dutch have an advantage that is somewhat a geographic accident, in that since the Middle Ages they have benefited from having an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D from herring? But the Dutch may have contributed to their own fortune by preparing and consuming herring in a manner that preserves nutrients. Note that under the section in Wikipedia describing pickled herring are listed several Northern European countries that are doing well and other groups with noted individuals of exceptional intelligence.

Comment A fable of fear of radiation (Score 1) 165

Once upon a time there was a country Germany that had the world leading technology in maglev trains. Unfortunately while the Germans had the technology, due to their regulatory system they could not actually build the systems in their own country, so they shopped their technology to a country that could, China.

The Chinese paid for building one demonstration system in Shanghai and seemed to be interested in paying for more maglev business from the Germans. Unfortunately after "public protests" of radiation further projects kept getting delayed so nothing was actually built. Then the Chinese developed their own maglev technology and no longer needed the Germans. The end.

Comment Rosen book and usage of open source term (Score 2) 174

On page 4 of Kenneth H. Rosen, Richard R. Rosinski, James M. Farber, and Douglas A. Host, UNIX System V Release 4: An Introduction, 2nd Edition, the subsection titled "Open Source Code" has the following first two sentences:

"The source code for the UNIX System, and not just the executable code, has been made available to users and programmers. Because of this, many people have been able to adapt the UNIX System in different ways. This openness has led to the introduction of a wide range of new features and versions customized to meet special needs."

The book by Rosen et al. cited above is has year of copyright 1996. There is apparently an earlier edition from 1990. This is no ordinary book by obscure authors--it was considered as one of the "bibles" for its subject at its time and would have been familiar to many. Already in the above description there are the crucial concepts of the importance of source code availability and adaptability.

Comment Knee-jerk didn't read article, dismiss Japan (Score 2, Interesting) 146

No, the most predictable thing on Slashdot is posters who don't read the articles and who parrot the most popular opinion.

The article doesn't mention anything resembling terrorism as the reason. What the article discusses in some detail is that the Japanese ruling political party, the LDP, has ruled the country virtually unchallenged for decades. The slightest bit of thought shows that the LDP has achieved almost every single goal of what the most progressive Democrats are advocating in the United States: universal health care, effective mass transit, a constitutional ban against the use of the military except to defend the nation, unparalleled Internet connectivity and infrastructure, all within the framework of a liberal democracy. (And for many environmentalists, Japan has achieved the ideal of negative population growth.) As part of the system that rules Japan, college entrance exams are used as a filter to establish that those who ascend to rule Japan are part of a meritocracy. This and not terrorism is the context of Japanese concerns to save the children. As has been discussed by the Christian Science Monitor, the Japanese are probably far more willing to accept Internet filtering to protect the children out of fear of web sites that discuss topics such as group suicides.

And given that the Japanese system works better than almost any other in the world (only a few Western European nations even have an argument), a response of apathetic indifference by the majority ruled by that system is indeed perfectly rational and defensible. The bloggers who fear being censored represent the malcontents, the rejects, the people who were not quite good enough, the people who have not demonstrated their ability to responsibly maintain what the Japanese system has built to the envy of the rest of the world.

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