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Comment Re:Good Sign (Score 1) 176

The theory is that this is just one guy. He can introduce all the legislation he wants but requires over 200 others to also be on his side. A judge, by contrast, holds unique power in the room (or at least, one of a very small number).

In fact, given the difficulties in trying to reach a 60 vote threshold in the Senate, which has become essentially mandatory, the odds of this legislation going anywhere are extremely low. If it gets anywhere at all, it will be subject to the votes of the rest of the Congressmen, who have to face reelection.

Corporations can push to elect candidates who are predisposed to be favorable to them. They can't fund campaigns directly, but they can put out advertising to influence those voters, but voters are subject to a lot of influence, and it's easier to get other Congressmen to say "no" than "yes".

I'm not trying to defend the system; it's obviously a damn mess. But it's also the essence of representative democracy, a fundamentally antagonistic system. Judges aren't supposed to be in an antognistic relationship; they're intended to seek balance while juries make the actual decisions. (The top-level federal courts do work antagonistically, and that's actually a disaster in the making.)

You can't have legislators drop out due to conflict of interest: "interest" is what they were elected to do. The voters are supposed to be the brake on that: no matter what corporate push they get the voters can still dump them if they don't like it.

Whether the voters will actually do so on an abstruse issue like the FCC... well, there's democracy for you, and I have no further comment.

Comment Re:How would it infringe? (Score 1) 264

As I read the application, it doesn't even require the period. It's confusingly written, as it says "The literal element of the mark consists of PI." where the period is part of the sentence, not the mark, and the mark is described simply as "PI", with no period. The images all depict the period, though what's being trademarked is the character, not the image; it is not restricted about font, color, size, or style. One image depicts the actual letters P and I, with no period.

The domain is "athletic apparel", and as far as I know the mark is not in wide use for that purpose, though it's surely not the first use of pi on a tee shirt.

So I'm a bit baffled as to just what has been trademarked here. The Declaration specifically says that they are the "owner" of the mark, and I can't conceive of how Paul Ingrisiano could claim to own either a single character or two letters, even just in the domain of athletic apparel.

Comment Re:Damn I'm old... (Score 4, Funny) 126

I kept thinking "I am the very model of a modern Major Perl Framework..."

I am the very model of a modern Major Perl Framework,
But here I am on Slashdot, trying harder from my job to shirk,
From HackerNews to 4chan there's no forum in which I won't lurk,
I am the very model of a modern Major Perl Framework!

Submission + - Councilman/Open Source Developer submits Open Source bill (

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes: New York City Council Member Ben Kallos (KallosEsq), who also happens to be a Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) developer, just introduced legislation to mandate a government preference for FOSS and creating a Civic Commons website to facilitate collaborative purchasing of software. He argues that NYC could save millions of dollars with the Free and Open Source Software Preferences Act 2014, pointing out that the city currently has a $67 million Microsoft ELA. Kallos said: "It is time for government to modernize and start appreciating the same cost savings as everyone else."

Comment A little late, but welcome (Score 1) 136

A cynic might argue that the key difference in this case was that, for a change, the ISP's, and not merely defendants, were challenging the subpoenas; but of course we all know that justice is 'blind'.

An ingrate might bemoan the Court's failure to address the key underlying fallacy in the "John Doe" cases, that because someone pays the bill for an internet account that automatically makes them a copyright infringer; but who's complaining over that slight omission?

A malcontent like myself might be a little unhappy that it took the courts ten (10) years to finally come to grips with the personal jurisdiction issue, which would have been obvious to 9 out of 10 second year law students from the get go, and I personally have been pointing it out and writing about it since 2005; but at least they finally did get there.

And a philosopher might wonder how much suffering might have been spared had the courts followed the law back in 2004 when the John Doe madness started; but of course I'm a lawyer, not a philosopher. :)

Bottom line, though: this is a good thing, a very good thing. Ten (10) years late in coming, but good nonetheless. - R.B. )

Comment Re:isn't that when G+ came out? (Score 1) 108

G+ isn't a Q&A site, and it's a really poor substitute for one since its whole point is just to link you up with your social circle. Q&A sites are designed to attract people by interest without having to become socially acquainted (even virtually).

Google did have a Q&A site, Google Answers, but it never really got going. It's too bad, since they were nearly unique in trying to actually pay for good answers. I'm not sure why it didn't work out, though of course trying to monetize anything has always been a pain in the butt so I assume it's just that kind of thing. They canned it (as Google is wont to when things aren't working out as well as they'd hoped.)

Comment Re:I had my own problems with Google (Score 1) 108

He *is* producing stuff. It's just stuff that people want to read, rather than physical stuff. Advertising is how he gets paid to produce it, simply because it's awkward to charge $.0001 directly to the reader for a page-view. The advertising, in turn, is intended to draw people to other things that they might want to buy, usually stuff that comes in bigger units and so is easier to pay for with money.

Very little of it is necessary. The bare necessities were a problem solved long ago, and require the efforts of a tiny fraction of the population. The rest is various forms of luxury. I'm actually pretty happy about that. If the mechanism by which producers are linked to consumers is awkward and ungainly, I'm content to live with that until a better system comes along. I strongly suspect the GP would be happier getting paid directly, but most consumers would rather pay in the form of a microscopic portion of attention.


The 69 Words GM Employees Can Never Say 373

bizwriter (1064470) writes "General Motors put together its take on a George Carlin list of words you can't say. Engineering employees were shown 69 words and phrases that were not to be used in emails, presentations, or memos. They include: defect, defective, safety, safety related, dangerous, bad, and critical. You know, words that the average person, in the context of the millions of cars that GM has recalled, might understand as indicative of underlying problems at the company. Oh, terribly sorry, 'problem' was on the list as well."

Submission + - Wichita Lineman 2.0: Bill Gates Wants Accelerometers on Power Lines

theodp writes: GeekWire reports that Bill Gates is listed as an inventor on a newly surfaced patent filing that proposes putting accelerometers on power lines to understand how far they move in wind and other conditions, and monitor how close they come to trees and other nearby objects. The idea is to detect issues with power lines before they cause serious problems. Gates and power go way back — a legacy system BillG worked on as a teen that helped manage the electrical grid for the Bonneville Power Administration was just retired after keeping the lights on for 38 years.

Comment 640k isn't enough for everybody (Score 2) 522

You can't fit even the shortest of his books into 640K of RAM. AGoT clocks in at 298k words, which is going to take up considerably more than 640k.

I suspect he's probably got each chapter in a separate file. And if I remember correctly the CP/M version of Wordstar had an overlay feature that was a kind of primitive virtual memory. So yeah, I believe it's possible, and there's a lot to be said for Just A Plain Glorified Typewriter. (I got to review the draft of a book by one of the Mac's original designers; it was done in double-spaced Courier with crude hand-drawn illustrations. The formatting was to be done by those who did formatting.)

I'm increasingly using Google Docs for my work because I like the fact that it doesn't allow, and thus doesn't require, much formatting. Less time fiddling is more time working.

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