Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the science-unfair dept

Sometimes, the best way to make a point is to channel someone else who already made it well. Such is the case with this week’s most insightful comment, coming in on the post about the student whose science fair win attracted patent threats. Mason Wheeler passed along a quote about the folly of placing too much emphasis on being first:

What do men consider the most valuable of talents? One mentioned artistic ability, as you so keenly guessed. Another chose great intellect. The final chose the talent to invent, the ability to design and create marvelous devices. Aesthetic genius, invention, acumen, creativity. Noble ideals indeed. Most men would pick one of those, if given a choice, and name them the greatest of talents. What beautiful liars we are. In this, as in all things, our actions give us away.

If an artist creates a work of powerful beauty – using new and innovative techniques – she will be lauded as a master, and will launch a new movement in aesthetics. Yet what if another, working independently with that exact same level of skill, were to make the same accomplishments the very next month? Would she find similar acclaim? No. She’d be called derivative.

Intellect. If a great thinker develops a new theory of mathematics, science, or philosophy, we will name him wise. We will sit at his feet and learn, and will record his name in history for thousands upon thousands to revere. But what if another man determines the same theory on his own, then delays in publishing his results by a mere week? Will he be remembered for his greatness? No. He will be forgotten.

Invention. A woman builds a new design of great worth – some fabrial or feat of engineering. She will be known as an innovator. But if someone with the same talent creates the same design a year later – not realizing it has already been crafted – will she be rewarded for her creativity? No. She’ll be called a copier and a forger.

And so, in the end, what must we determine? Is it the intellect of a genius that we revere? If it were their artistry, the beauty of their mind, would we not laud it regardless of whether we’d seen their product before? But we don’t. Given two weeks of artistic majesty, otherwise weighted equally, we will give greater acclaim to the one who did it first. It doesn’t matter what you create. It matters what you create before anyone else. So it’s not the beauty itself we admire. It’s not the force of intellect. It’s not invention, aesthetics, or capacity itself. The greatest talent that we think a man can have? Seems to me that it must be nothing more than novelty.

— Wit, The Way of Kings, Brandon Sanderson

In second place, we’ve got a response to NSA Director James Clapper’s statement that publicly discussing the details of the NSA spying regime ” will have an impact on the behavior of our adversaries and make it more difficult for us to understand their intentions.” That One Guy figured out how to best interpret this:

Makes sense if you swap in two words
If you take out ‘adversaries’, and replace it with ‘the public’, then his statement makes perfect sense, as an informed citizenry is and always has been the greatest threat to would-be tyrants.

For editor’s choice on the insightful side, let’s circle back to the post about the science fair winner, to highlight two comments (both from anonymous commenters) that made other good points about the situation. First up:

I seem to recall something about patents having to be “non-obvious to those skilled in the art” or something along those lines.

A high-school kid just proved that this particular invention is obvious to persons NOT skilled in the art. Patent application rejected.


And up next:

You’d think instead of threatening a lawsuit they might offer the kid a job?

If she found technology to help/solve the problems the company has been sitting on for 20+ years (developed in 1980s and not produced by 2013?!), maybe they’d get more money from employing the student rather than suing them?!

On the funny side, we start out with this week’s triumph of common sense: the grand jury refusing to indict the teenager who was arrested for posting some dumb rap lyrics on Facebook. An anonymous commenter took first place by cobbling together his own verse in response:

The kids rhymes were so bad, they put him in jail.
The jury filled with poets, got him out without bail.
This is a chilling effects cautionary tale.


Next, we go to this week’s triumph of irony: the growing evidence that John Steele uploaded infringing material himself. Another anonymous commenter proposed some appropriately poetic justice:

How about we allow him to settle?

Maybe the attorney in the case should send John one of those “settlement letters” offering him the opportunity to settle out of court for a sum of money (equivalent to roughly how much he’s “earned” using the same technique).

Otherwise, the findings will be forwarded to his family, neighbors, etc. detailing what kind of person he is.

After all, an IP address == a person and if it’s his, well…

Karma. Gotta love her.

For editor’s choice, we start out with one more comment from that post about John Steele. Avideogameplayer suggested one possible alternative explanation:

Maybe it was Alan Cooper…

After all, he was responsible for practically everything else in this story…

And finally, since we started off with a commenter who passed along an insightful quote, let’s end with a commenter who passed along a funny one. On our post about Morgan Pietz, a lawyer opposing Prenda in one of its ongoing battles, objecting to more typical Prenda tricks, Arsik Vek dug through the emails and found a great example of that formal passive-aggression that is the signature style of annoyed lawyers everywhere:

I love the line from Pietz’ May 22 email

“I wanted to follow up and inquire: were you planning on complying with the Court’s order, and, if so, when?”

Were you planning on complying… now them’s fighting words.

See you tomorrow, folks!

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