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  • Sep 26th, 2017 @ 7:12pm


    My discipline in mathematics, category theory, has already done it. Our preeminent peer-reviewed journal is Theory and Applications of Categories. Authors retain copyright to their own papers but grant permission to the journal to offer the papers in perpetuity on the web and maintain print archival copies in several locations. The infrastructure is provided by Mount Allison University in New Brunswick. Just like commercially published journals, academicians donate the editorial services and refereeing, and mirable dictu no one is collecting monopoly rents on the donated labor of academician.

    The problem is each discipline has to step up and create peer reviewed journal run entirely by academicians in the field who aren't venial and out to collect monopoly rents for themselves.

  • May 13th, 2017 @ 12:09pm

    Re: Europeans

    Actually, the Europeans are just following America's lead on this: we are the ones who started this notion that our laws apply to non-citizens outside our borders Julian Assange and Kim Dotcom are but recent examples.

    I think the failing is not stupidity, but arrogance.

  • Apr 18th, 2017 @ 7:37pm

    Perhaps he can champion legislation to make that so...

    These remarks being made at the end of tax filing season are beyond risible. I invite Rep. Sensenbrenner to actually file his own Federal Income Tax and find a way to do it without using the internet. His office can then start working on legislation to make it so one doesn't need to use the internet to file one's Federal taxes.

  • Feb 16th, 2017 @ 12:01pm

    Thoughts on Flynn and related matters

    A modest proposal: Trump could pardon Edward Snowden, and offer him a top position in the administration overseeing intelligence matters. Besides really sticking it to the intelligence community that seems bent on, if not destroying his administration, at least destroying any chance of rapprochement with Russia -- the only upside I ever saw to a Trump presidency -- this also has the virtue of shocking and surprising everyone on both sides of the political divide.

    More seriously, whatever you think of Trump and Flynn, as an OpEd in The Telegraph (UK) asked is it right for the permanent apparatus of the intelligence services in a liberal democracy to be using leaks to the media, rather than passing information to appropriate authorities (in the US case, Congress) to bring political appointees and thereby harm an elected government? Divorced from the personalities involved, the answer is very clearly "no", and therefore the answer is "no", even if it's General Flynn who's being brought down, and Donald Trump who is being harmed in this particular instance.

  • Feb 3rd, 2017 @ 8:12am


    I think the joke was originally told about Malenkov.

  • Feb 3rd, 2017 @ 8:08am

    Rather misses the point of freedom of the press

    Having a government agency sit in judgement over what can or can't be published rather misses the whole point of the First Amendment. Enough factual matters bearing on public policy are matters of controversy that giving a government board the power to suppress what it judges to be false is tantamount to creating a government censorship board. (As an example under the Trump administration, publishing "value added" climate data with imputed data in the polar regions and adjustments downward of past temperatures made on the basis that some new measurement technique gives different results, might be suppressed as "fake news", while under the next Democrat administration publishing any raw climate data that doesn't provide prima facia support for the notion of potentially-catastrophic anthropogenic greenhouse-gas induced global warming might be suppressed as "fake news".)

    And, of course, when "fake news" means people circulating parody articles mistakenly thinking them to be real news, how exactly is the FTC to deal with this? Obviously by banning parody! (It's the only way to be sure.)

  • Jan 14th, 2017 @ 9:09am

    A modest proposal

    Perhaps all companies subject to NSL's should make a practice of keeping them on a server used only for governmental communications and secured with a trivial-to-guess username and password so amateur hackers who have not been issued a gag order can "hack" the governmental communications server and pass them on to wikileaks.

  • Dec 10th, 2016 @ 8:24pm

    Now which fake news would that be?

    Pieces by Jayson Blair in the New York Times?

    That big expose about a gang rape by a fraternity at U.Va.?

    The anachronistic Microsoft Word documents Dan Rather tried to pass off as early '70's National Guard documents about George W. Bush?

    Or just nitwits passing off pieces from The Onion or Onion-wannabes as actual news because they don't know better?

    As the old tabloid motto said "inquiring minds want to know."

    Somehow, I suspect it's only the last one. Maybe an education system that actually educates people with a view to the fact they might actually have to make policy decisions, at least in the voting booth, if not in elective office, rather than just "to get a good job" is the answer, rather than an attack on the First Amendment. As Will Rogers used to say, "In American, anyone can grow up to be President. . . it's a risk we all take." (The same goes for Senator and Congressman.)

  • Nov 18th, 2016 @ 8:09pm

    Re: Let's at least be clear about terminology

    Indeed. And like "Nazi" it's used both as an accurate descriptor of some people's tyranny-promoting ideology, and as a pejorative to silence those the left deems to be beyond the pale.

  • Nov 15th, 2016 @ 6:27am


    This strikes me as staggering ingratitude. The law applicable to the handling of classified information explicitly criminalized negligence and as such contains no mens rea provision, yet Comey used a purported absence of ill-intent on the part of Sec. Clinton in her routing of e-mails, including many containing classified information, and some marked (C) for classified, through her insecure private server.

    Of course perhaps she's right. Her treatment (contrast with that of a decorated Marine who sent one e-mail containing classified intelligence through an insecure channel in an ultimately vain attempt to save the lives of fellow Marines in Afghanistan) reinforced the impression that Washington elites have placed themselves above the law, and may have spurred some otherwise lukewarm voters to pull the lever for the business/entertainment elitist rather than the political elitist on November 8th.

    Full disclosure: I'm a #NeverTrump Republican who didn't vote for either of the wannabe Caesars.

  • Oct 12th, 2016 @ 7:19am


    Now let me get this straight, a government grant of a monopoly, to wit a patent, is property, but a government grant of an oligopoly, to wit a taxi medallion, is not. That in sum is Judge Posner's finding (and he was the one who called patents property in his ruling, though he also claimed that taxi medallions are not a grant of oligopoly rights, even though that is precisely how they functioned in most major cities until the advent of Uber and Lyft).

    This lawsuit seems to me to be a natural result of the intellectual corruption inherent in reifying government granted monopolies as property, seen in the phrase "intellectual property".

  • Oct 1st, 2016 @ 8:50am

    They also serve who only stand and wait.

    I have a feeling there would be no news story if the Border Patrol agent had been whiling way the hours with fantasy football or computer solitaire.

    The line from Milton was originally an expression of a particular form of protestant piety, but describes a great many government (and non-government) jobs in which merely being present in case something happens, in which case one must deal with it, is nearly the whole content of the job. I am guessing that the Border Agent in question had such a job.

    While we might hope that such Federal employees would do something more uplifting (of the mind, not the nether regions of the anatomy) than watching porn (for instance reading Milton's poetry) while waiting for something to happen that must be dealt with (e.g. an illegal border crossing), it seems churlish to deny them their preferred legal amusements as they while away the hours simply because a residual Puritanism persists in our generally libertine society. If other computerized amusements would have been acceptable pastimes for the employee during idle times, then, indeed, the fact he was not prevented from engaging in his favored amusement of watching porn is on the Federal agency.

  • Sep 3rd, 2016 @ 6:10am

    Anti-theater not actually an example of "moral panic" at the new

    While the anti-Edison piece is a comparable example to the "moral panics" over comic books, D&D and video games, the denunciation of the theater is not.

    Anti-theater attitudes have their roots in the conflict between Christianity and paganism (cf. the scandal caused by Justinian marrying an actress* and the ancient canons forbidding Christian priests from attending theatrical performances) and revive periodically (cf. Cromwell closing all the theaters in England).

    *Admittedly if Theodora's attitude toward sex was as recorded in Procopius's Secret History there was adequate reason to be scandalized by someone marrying her, but the polemics of the time were directed at her having been an actress.

  • Aug 23rd, 2016 @ 7:52am

    Unfortunately "To Serve and Protect" is just a slogan

    As the subject says, unfortunately "to serve and protect" is just a slogan. Part, perhaps only a small part, but part, nonetheless of the rot in American policing stems from the fact that according to the SCOTUS, police are not peace officers with a duty to protect the citizenry, their only function it to enforce the law. This can be fixed by the legislatures of the several states by creating a statutory requirement to protect the lives and property of citizens as part of the duties of police officers.

    The vast bulk of your point is correct, but if "we" are trusting cops with protecting us, "we" are deluded. As it stands, they are not entrusted with protecting us, only with enforcing the law, and that only by arresting and bringing to trial those who have already broken it.

  • Aug 11th, 2016 @ 8:33am

    Police Official or Legislators?

    A solution to this problem is within reach of every legislative body in the country:

    Pass laws providing that with the exception of undercover operations undertaken with explicit court approval, police officers lose their police powers if their recording devices are not on. Any unrecorded arrest is invalid and the "perp" walks, any ticket issued without the recording device recording the transaction is invalid and need not be paid, any violent treatment of a suspect that might have been justifiable as a police action, if unrecorded, is treated the same as if it had been done by an ordinary citizen. Under such a regime, the attitude of police officials is irrelevant, officers themselves would shape up instantly, to the point of zealously making sure their recording devices are well-maintained and fully functional.

    The question is, does any legislature have the will to take this route?

  • Jul 16th, 2016 @ 5:39am

    Re: Jobs?

    Which jobs? Are you worried about full employment for lawyers? Seeing that actual authors and artists are not the beneficiaries of the current arrangement, rather publishers and other "rightsholders" whose business model depends on a government-granted monopoly (does anyone remember the point of the original British copyright law was to give the rights to the actual authors, rather than publishers, something echoed in the American Constitution's wording?)changing the way the world works is exactly what most here advocate. And it won't kill jobs. I'm sure lawyers will find some other way to create billable hours besides interfering in the normal way culture was produced down until the Berne Convention and its successors replaced the English notion of copyright with the French notion of droites d'auteur, giving us "life plus" terms on monopolies that in the English-speaking world for that brief shining moment when copyright was acutally a boon to culture were granted to authors and artists only.

  • Jun 25th, 2016 @ 8:23pm

    Legal "reasoning"

    So by this "reasoning" in neighborhoods where break-ins are common, police don't need a warrant to forcibly enter and search a home because homes there get broken into and riffled through all the time.

  • Dec 10th, 2015 @ 8:40am

    Re: Just rewards (or is it alienation of the product of labor from the workers?)

    I am a strong supporter of the free market (of the sort who is too conservative to be a libertarian and too libertarian to be a conservative), but were all businesses run on the model of academic publishing, I would be a Marxist, because were that the case, Marx's critique of capitalism would have been true.

    Note: Elsevier's business model cannot function without state intervention -- while it may be capitalist, it is the very antithesis of free-market.

  • Dec 10th, 2015 @ 8:35am


    I'm still wondering what anyone would need Elsevier for? Cut the middleman and be done with them.

    Exactly what all of us who are signatories of the Cost of Knowledge boycott think.

    The boycott could have targetted any of the increasingly useless and increasingly abusive academic publishers, but Elsevier was selected as the academic publisher with the most abusive practices, on the wisdom of old Kansas lawman Batt Masterson who picked the biggest and toughest of a gang of misbehaving Texas cowboys to lay out with one punch to induce better behavior from the rest.

  • Dec 4th, 2015 @ 7:21am

    Plagiarism misunderstood

    The conception of plagiarism as "theft" has contributed mightily to the misconception of copyright and patent infringement as "theft" by way of a misunderstanding of what is, in fact, stolen by a plagiarist. It is not ideas, or even phrases or sentences, that a plagiarist steals, but the credit or honor for having originated those ideas, phrases or sentences. My having an idea or using a phrase or sentence does not deprive anyone else of that idea or use of that phrase or sentence, however, if I falsely pass myself off as the originator of an idea, phrase or sentence, I deprive the actual originator of the honor or credit of having originated it.

    The false notion that an idea, phrase or sentence, as distinct to honor or credit for the same, can be stolen is the root of the reification of patent and copyright monopolies as "intellectual property".

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