mjh writes: "Tim Lee is subbing for Atlantic blogger Megan McArdle while the latter is on vacation. Tim has done a 3 part review (part 1, part 2, part 3) of a book called Patent Failure. The review does a pretty good job of laying out the groundwork for how patents can be successful, where patents meet that criteria and where they fail. It also makes (IMHO) sensible suggestions on how to reform the patent system to get better results. Tim's conclusion (wikipedia links added by me):
I hope it's clear why I'm uncomfortable with the analogy between patents and traditional property rights. Outside the pharmaceutical industry — and especially in the software industry — the patent system is more like a rent-seeking operation for the benefit of the patent bar than it is a functioning system of property rights. It's possible that the reforms I suggest above (and others Bessen and Meurer propose in their book) could improve things sufficiently that patents will work as property. But until that happens, I think it's a category error to regard patents as a type of property right.
mjh writes: According to The Guardian, "A study has found a direct link between skill at video gaming and skill at keyhole, or laparoscopic, surgery. Young surgeons who spent at least three hours a week playing video games in the past made 37% fewer errors, were 27% faster, and scored 42% better overall than surgeons who had never played a video game at all." The sample size they quote seems rather small, but it suggests that Steven Johnson might be right.