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Comment Re:I'm tired of this RMS bullshit (Score 1) 647

I feel like I'm repeating myself, but I'm trying to make sure I'm clear, because I don't understand why you didn't get this. There are lots of aspects of what I said that may not be obvious, but this one seems simple.

No, it was I that wasn't clear. US patent law (and many others) specifically exclude mathematics from patentable inventions. It has nothing to do with who funded the research. (While the US govt. can't claim copyright, etc. my govt. can, for instance.)

So if your argument boils down to: "If it was hard to come up with, users should pay." Then why the exception for mathematics? Or physics? Wasn't that equally hard to come up with? Why shouldn't users pay? Why couldn't e.g. FEM (finite element method) as an idea be patented? Why shouldn't other researchers that build on it pay?

Comment Re:I'm tired of this RMS bullshit (Score 1) 647

I'm talking about difficult, complex ideas that took significant effort, ingenuity, creativity, and resources to develop. Millions of dollars can be spent just to yield one page worth of information. Does the fact that the answers fit on one page obviate the fact that you may have needed an expensive particle accelerator, had to crash 1000 cars, or had to pay 10000 test subjects in order to get it correct? Even if all you had to do was spend a few months doing calculus and differential equations to solve the problem, that's still a significant expenditure of time and energy by someone who had already invested years in developing the necessary expertise. In order to justify that kind of effort, whose results could be of great benefit to society, investors require assurance that their investment will yield a profit. Without IP protection, they would not have that assurance, so they would not invest, and the invention would never happen.

OK. I have an example for you. E=mc2. That certainly meets your requirements. The US govt. spent a significant fraction of your BNP to build bombs based on that very result. (Science is of course littered with similar results). They are certainly worthy of the kind of protection you're talking about. And yet, they are unpatentable, uncopyrightable and untrademarkable.

Paradoxically, the dearest results that humankind has produced (i.e. the scientific results that tells us about the order of the universe, from the atom to the cosmos) can not benefit from any such protection, even though they certainly sometimes have been very costly (LHC...), and have had profound impact on our lives and economies.

Why should they be any different? They certainly meet your criteria?

Comment Re:So people really have this much time and money? (Score 1) 377

But to get to your point, the greatest energy use occurs on..... Hot. Sunny. Days.

Not here (Sweden). Cold days in the middle of the winter trumps summer by a long shot. Solar you can forget (Sun barely rises), and the coldest days are without wind (clear skies).

So does that mean we get to keep our nuclear plants? And you don't?

Comment Re:So people really have this much time and money? (Score 1) 377

Why do nuclear fanboys try to pass the blame on to coal?

Because that's the only realistic alternative when one considers the scale needed. The only other technology that can realistically produce that amount of power cheaply and efficiently is hydro, and that's of course limited by geography and not available to everyone. So when e.g. Germany decides to shut down their nuclear power plants that means they'll be burning that much more coal instead. (It's even the nasty, peaty, brown stuff they have that's even worse.)

Why do you try to compare the polution levels between the two without ever mentioning that nuclear waste will be around for thousands of years or the disparity in the number of power plants? 1436 coal vs 104 nuclear in the U.S.

Why would number of plants be a useful measure? You get approx 1/5 of your electricity from nuclear and 1/2 from coal. Why would having fewer plants produce a larger proportion affect safety, security etc? But by all means, more smaller nuclear plants is something that should be looked into.

In either case, both "clean coal" and fourth gen. nuclear are pretty much a done deal. There are no major technical obstacles. It wouldn't be hard to do either, but the economic incentive is not there. Burning the nuclear "waste" (something we should do to not make plutonium mines in the future) is not a problem and has been demonstrated on smaller scales. However, it cost more than just using approx 1% of the energy value that we use today. We need regulation to solve that one.

It's not that nuclear is problem free, or ideal or anything even remotely like that. But it's one of the few realistic options available. Sure, we'd all like a magic unicorn farting rainbows, but barring that, nuclear/hydro/coal are the only large scale, economical options available. Of these three, I prefer hydro and nuclear from an environmental standpoint, with nuclear first, hydro second and coal a distant, distant third.

Comment Re:It is Yule Tide... (Score 1) 745

We're talking about changing the name, and have father christmas (Jultomten) actually show up and hand out the presents on the evening of the 24:th. That's about the extent of it.

Slavery was actually abolished here in 1350, no-one's suggesting a come back. Of either that, or the Vikings.

Comment Re:huh?!?! (Score 1) 272

Well, it'd be nice if that were true, but if you read the whole report that's not what you come away with.

We were talking about the bottom 20% surely that's not "degree" territory? Also, since we were comparing parents to their children, the "senior widget maker"-effect shouldn't come into play. The father/mother would already be a "senior widget maker". So all you're saying there is that an individual will probably make more money later in life than earlier, and that parents make more money than their children for a long part of their lives? Neither is a very interesting observation, right?

Yes, the opportunity is there. But it's akin to winning the lottery, i.e. not a very realistic outcome. (The report said 6% went from rags to riches, i.e. grew up in the lowest 20% and ended up in the highest.) Sure, that's 1/20 which I find very high, but it still a far cry from any sort of majority. It's a bit like the boys at my sons school that all think they're going to be professional soccer players. Statistically exactly zero of them will have that career. While it is (theoretically) possible, it's not something to build much of anything on (public policy, individual economic plans, education etc).

Comment Re:huh?!?! (Score 3, Informative) 272

But the people who are in those percentiles are not the same. Only 5% of the people in the lowest 20% stay in the lowest 20% after 20 years.

This says otherwise. "Forty-two percent of children born to parents in the bottom fifth of the income distribution remain in the bottom, while 39 percent born to parents in the top fifth remain at the top". This was in the period late sixties to late nineties/early "oughties".

Sure, those were children, while you ostensbly talk about all people, but I'm having difficulty believing that (almost) all the parents of the earlier generation somehow got ahead, at the same time leaving their children behind. Just doesn't add up IMHO.

Comment Re:It is Yule Tide... (Score 4, Insightful) 745

Which is of course, a pagan holiday, so distinctly not atheist. How about a real atheist name? Midwinterfest?

Well you could just continue the "Yule" tradition, as that's what's it still called up here in the cold north (i.e. the nordic countries); Jul. Pronounced pretty much like "Yule".

So, even if your(?) ancestors had to resort to exporting Christianity all the way up here to solve the Viking problem, they couldn't dethrone the name for the seasonal festivities. It's time for us Viking ancestors to export it right back I say. :-)

Comment Re:My Pet Rock Is Better (Score 1) 493

Not a fan of the TSA, but not a fan of allowing knives on planes either.

You already do. Plenty of rather big knives in the galley. Just ask your friend the flight attendant. (Not while flying obviously, that'd make them nervous. And that's bad for you.) They're just told to not show them to you and keep them put away so that passengers can't see them.

So no need to carry your own knife on board. Just pull away the curtain to the first class galley and tackle the 150lbs flight attendant and you're in business. (Yes, it's already happened in the history of aviation. Several times. Not recently though. There just aren't that many would be terrorists/hi-jackers.)

Now, if you want to keep machetes from commercial passenger aircraft I'm with you all the way. But confiscating nail scissors while allowing bottles and ball point pens that's just useless.

Comment Re:The stupid! It hurts! (Score 1) 251

OK, that's not what I was told in the one study I took part in. (Which covered just this scenario, i.e. old drug - new use). But I claim no further expertise.

Still don't think it warrants a new patent. Smells too much of "business method" patent for my taste. And we don't allow those here. You can patent the drug and that's it.

Comment Re:Legal fees (Score 1) 251

And there's absolutely no reason you couldn't select successive generations of mutations until you had a gene that also happened to be found in a fish. It would probably take a long time -- a very long time -- but if you were determined enough, you could probably do it. Like I said, GM is simply a more efficient technique than relying on chance

That's like saying cryptography is inherently unworkable since you could always brute force the key. Scale and work factor matters in life. Here as well. Throwing e.g. fish at tomatoes in the vain hope that something will stick is a fools errand. GMO makes the practical difference between success in short order or intractabiltiy.

But it's not reasonable to say that GMO is inherently more dangerous or unhealthy just because the genes were modified by a different method.

Yes it is. First; like I said, we'd like to throw out Belgian Blue as well, even though that was genetically engineered the god-old-fashioned way. Second, and more important, the kind of experimentation that GMO allows gives whole new degrees of freedom for the likes of Monsanto. Ways and means they didn't have before, or were even close to having.

Again work factor counts. In fact, it's the "it's just genes modified another way" that is the straw man here. (A slogan invented by the GMO industry, no doubt.) It's no different from saying; "Hey, an M240 GPMG is just as dangerous as a bow and arrow. After all, all they do is make holes in something. If you allow the bow and arrow there's no reason to forbid the M240. Saying there is a difference is just a reactionary knee-jerk."

I've made a bow and have had fun shooting it with my 8-year old. Haven't seen an M240 since the army took it back (actually my brother was the asst. machine gunner, but you get the gist). And you know, I'm fine with them making that distinction. And I agree with it. Work factor counts!

Finally, you're creating a strawman with regards to Monsanto: Just because they're a producer of GMO doesn't mean I'm defending their business practices. I'm not. I'm saying that making blanket statements about products based solely on the fact that they're genetically altered is reactionary, alarmist, and unproductive

Yeah, and I'm saying that we'd like to see proof of some actual tangible benefit from these products (other than lining the pockets of Monsanto and the FDA) before we consider them. We don't let them inject beef-to-be with growth hormones either.

Now, the potential for harm is clearly there. Technology in and of itself is not necessarily value neutral/morally neutral. But even so, we're willing to reconsider if we saw one product with a tangible benefit that didn't also have a drawback/risks that were insufficiently studied. Making "blanket statements" about something based on your unequivocal observation of each instance you've come across is called "experience".

If you want to call that "conservative" then by all means, go ahead. "Reactionary" it's not. We don't have any (or at least nearly) the debate when it comes to medicine research/production using GMO. It's the people in the food industry using the technology we don't trust. Not the technology. We're just sceptical about that. We haven't got any good reason to be otherwise.

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