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Comment Re:Washington Monument Syndrome (Score 1) 84

Yeah, nasty partisan news source there, but the fact that you're not getting that information from larger news sources should tell you something....

Nice. "The less reporting, the larger the conspiracy!" Even Infowars hasn't reported on Barack HUSSEIN Obama's quadrillion-dollar black budget for orbiting mind control rays ... that must mean they're already operating!

Comment Re:Cashing in on the Chick-fil-A effect (Score 1) 456

In my view intolerance and lack of respect for the views of others is no different than intolerance of race/religion/sex*/..etc. Intolerance is intolerance.

It's for ideas like this that the saying "it's important to be open-minded, but not so much that your brains fall out" was coined. Tolerance and respect for the views of others are, on the whole, a good thing. But the views of people who believe that other people are in the wrong simply for living their lives as they see fit deserve not tolerance and respect, but scorn and condemnation. It's pretty much the verbal equivalent of another fine saying, "your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins."

Comment Re:There is no "online piracy" (Score 1) 348

I remember people who cracked early DRM calling themselves "pirates" long before I heard politicians using the term. There was (at least) one fairly prolific cracking group back in the early 1980s that included amusing ASCII art of a pirate ship with every piece of software they distributed. So while I agree that the current legal use of the word is ridiculous, the fact is that we the geek-people kind of brought it on ourselves.

Submission + - Judge Orders Patent Troll to Explain its 'Mr. Sham' to Jury (

netbuzz writes: Judge William Alsup of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California has no problem calling Network Protection Sciences (NPS) a patent troll. What he does have a problem with is NPS telling a Texas court that NPS had an “ongoing business concern” in that state run by a “director of business development” when all it really had was a rented file-cabinet room and the “director” was actually the building landlord who merely signed legal papers when NPS told him to do so. Judge Alsup calls the alleged business a “sham” and the non-employee “Mr. Sham,” yet he declined to dismiss the patent infringement lawsuit filed by NPS against Fortinet from which this information emerged. Instead, he told NPS, “this jury is going to hear all of this stuff about the closet. And you're going to have to explain why ‘Mr. Sham’ was signing these documents.”

Comment Re:The most valuable part of some sites (Score 1) 276

This is painfully obvious on any thread concerning law, privacy, Big Data, religion, or economics. The hivemind has made up its mind on most aspects of these matters, so any comment parroting the approved opinion will be modded up, while any comment that opposes will be modded down, regardless of fact.

He says, in a post currently modded to +5.

On practically every issue, you'll see thoughtful, well-written posts expressing practically every possible opinion on that issue modded up, and trollish or semi-literate posts modded down. To be sure, there are certain opinions held by the majority of Slashdotters on a lot of these issues, and the ones you name are among them (with the exception of religion, where we're all over the map; believers who complain about anti-religious prejudice online are mostly just whining because their beliefs don't get the deference in forums like Slashdot that they usually do in our overwhelmingly religious society). But rarely if ever are these majorities overwhelming, and minority opinions very often receive upmods as long as they're expressed well.

AFAICT, the whole "hivemind" thing really only exists in the minds of a small group of people who've convinced themselves that it exists, and take pride in all thinking alike on the subject. ;)

Comment Re:No one needs a motivation to invent (Score 1) 234

" my point was that the only reason for a society to grant patents is to provide a viable alternative to the former system (closely held trade secrets) without the risk of the secret dying with the inventor?"

I guess my question would be WHY you see ONLY this reason, and refuse to acknowledge the others. I mentioned at least one of them. But you have rejected it without any real argument or refutation, and simply repeated your original statement again. The fact that inventions were created before the motivation of patents existed, is not evidence that patents do not create motivation. The real question, which you have refused to even acknowledge so far, is: which is BETTER? A system with no patents, or a system with patents.

Actually, you're changing the argument here. This part of the discussion was about why patent laws were enacted in the first place (was it to motivate people to invent, or to motivate them to disclose the details of their invention?). It was never about whether patents do or don't motivate people to invent thing, only about whether the supposition that they do was behind the creation of the patent system.

You argued that this was "obvious" from the constitution by imposing a modern perspective--shoe horning a Randian perspective on a document written a century and a half before that view gained currency--and a bit of selective reading. I countered that given the prevailing circumstance (e.g. trade secrets as a prevalent practice) and the clear written statement (e.g. the law itself, which I cited above) a much more probable explanation was that the intent was to motivate disclosure of existing inventions rather than (as you would have it) invention per se.

This may seem odd to modern sensibilities, in a world where "the profit motive" is taken for granted (and condoned) and we have more information at our fingertips than we could possibly digest, a world where cases such as starlite (which may well be a fraud in any event) seem like musty relics of pre-Victorian era, but I think it's safe to say the founders of our nation would have had as hard a time seeing things from our perspective as we have seeing it from theirs.

Likewise, as for your question about my phrase "the only reason for a society to grant patents" I think you are confusing motivations of the two parties (society and the inventor). There are many things that might motivate an inventor (dreams of wealth, fame, glory, desire to scratch an itch, prove a point, discomfit a rival, etc.) but society as a whole is largely indifferent to these. If we are to be strictly randian (as seems to be the tenor here, at least in so far as the constraints of historical accuracy permit) the only thing that works as a societal motivation is something that benefits people in general, imposing a cost on (in an ideal case at least) no one but the inventor. The most salient of the possibly candidates is clearly disclosure--we all gain information, and the inventor is out one secret.

I will, though, admit that "only" was too strong and there are indeed other (far less plausible) candidates. Perhaps we all love a Horatio Alger tale enough to want to foster them, or can't help but indulge our schadenfreude habit when a mustachio twirling industry is turned on its head by a plucky upstart. But I haven't been able to turn up any contemporaneous support for these theories.

By your argument, I could claim that firearms are not effective for hunting because animals were killed long before firearms came along. I don't buy it. It's not black and white, it's a matter of degree.

Again, I believe you are getting yourself tangled. You started this line of discussion by making the contrary black and white claim:

You: The idea (which history supports) being that when you don't allow people to profit from their own efforts, things don't get invented.

Me: That would make sense if there was a shred of evidence that people only invent things because they hope to patent them.

You: Well then, it makes sense, because we have far more than a shred. We have at least 300 years of historical evidence, continuing into modern times.

...and I objected, pointing out that history very clearly show that things were invented before patents, and that patents are not, as you seemed to be arguing, the only (or even the best) reason or people to invent things.


Comment Re:No one needs a motivation to invent (Score 1) 234

"That would make sense if there was a shred of evidence that people only invent things because they hope to patent them. Say maybe if the world were full of saying like "IP protection is the mother of invention" or "invent a better mouse trap and the world will grant you exclusive use of the idea for a limited time."

Well then, it makes sense, because we have far more than a shred. We have at least 300 years of historical evidence, continuing into modern times.

I would certainly like to see this supposed evidence that people only invent things because they hope to patent them. I can not imagine what it would look like, considering all the evidence we have that people invented things before there were patents.

"Of course, we don't see any of that. We don't live in that world and it takes a rather twisted view of human nature to swallow the notion that patents somehow cause invention. "

You are blaming abuses that exist in our current bureaucratically-fouled system on the very concept of patents. That's like blaming the 4th Amendment for the time the police broke down your door without a warrant.

You response to this point makes no sense. I have said nothing about any abuses here, and haven't blamed anything on anyone.

"If you want a patent on your gizmo, you have to fully disclose the details so anyone reasonably competent can make and use one after the patent expires. That is what society gets out of it."

No shit, Sherlock. What is your point?

Uh, my point was that the only reason for a society to grant patents is to provide a viable alternative to the former system (closely held trade secrets) without the risk of the secret dying with the inventor? And that that is the perceived social good that motivated the creation of the patent system? It seems rather clear to me.

"The promotion of progress isn't about gulling people into inventing stuff (they were doing that already)."

Nobody said it was. I didn't claim it was an attempt to trick people. It *ISN'T* an attempt to "gull" anybody.

Well, "motivate" then. I admit that "gulling" has a pejorative connotation, but operationally it amounts to the same thing. Your claim (which I dispute) is that people wouldn't invent things unless we offered them patents, and that we therefore offer them patents to get them to invent things. You can call it an incentive, a bribe, an inducement, a reward, or anything else you like.

" It's about making sure that other people can copy those inventions, build on them"

Only AFTERWARD. It's about MOTIVATING people to invent, SO THAT society can benefit from it later. We are arguing the same thing, except that you're denying the necessary first half of the argument.

No, we are not. You are claiming, despite considerable evidence to the contrary, that the intent of patents was to motivate people to invent things. I, on the other hand, am pointing out that the intent of the patent system was to induce disclosure of invitations.


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"Your stupidity, Allen, is simply not up to par." -- Dave Mack (mack@inco.UUCP) "Yours is." -- Allen Gwinn (, in alt.flame