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  • 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".

  • Dec 2nd, 2015 @ 2:30pm

    Re: Re: Re: If It Weren’t For Climate Change, The Human Race Woudln’t Exist

    No, 4 degrees Celsius translates to 4*9/5 = 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit. Of course with the precision climate models have shown over the last 18 years when compared with observation, I guess 7.2 is "just short of 40".

    Other scientists are telling us to prepare for a little ice age by 2030, and their models work correctly on much longer time-scales than the general-circulation models that are used to support the notion of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming.

  • Nov 5th, 2015 @ 8:07am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Um, no. A republic may have democratic elements to its constitution, as may a monarchy. But a republic certainly need not a democracy in either the classical or modern sense -- the Roman Republic and the Serene Republic of Venice come readily to mind as counterexamples to your assertion that a republic is a democracy.

  • Nov 5th, 2015 @ 7:53am

    Good enough for the Founders (shhhh! don't let the SJW's hear you)

    Oh, great! Once this becomes well-known, all the SJW's who fancy the Founders were all racist slaveholders and everything they did was illegitimate will all pile onto the anti-strong encryption bandwagon.

  • Oct 23rd, 2015 @ 7:56am

    Pro-business vs. pro-market regulation

    Proposition F is an attempt to get the voters of San Francisco to institute a regulation in support of large market incumbents (with familiar names like Hyatt, Marriott, Hilton,...) against a new disruptive force.

    A reasoned response to the supposed problem of AirBnB being used to create "unregulated hotels" would be to put limiting regulations on the use of AirBnB and similiar "sharing economy" platforms (like HomeAway) only in cases where the property is not the owner's residence (whether continuously, intermittently over the prior year, or is a primary residence from which the owner is obliged to by away throughout the prior year).

    Such a regulation would in no way fetter the renting out of a room or "mother-in-law" apartment in one's home, would allow those who had a reason for an extended absence from their primary residence to use AirBnB and similar services to rent it out, and would even allow those with a pied-a-terre in the city to do the same, provided they actually lived at it some of the time during the prior year, while at the same time preventing the supposed problem of "unregulated hotels" -- the hypothetical properties run by non-resident owners as businesses solely by renting accommodations through sharing-platforms.

    Of course, "unregulated hotels" are not the target. Squashing competition from the "sharing economy" is. Typical anti-market, pro-business regulation.

  • Oct 3rd, 2015 @ 4:43pm

    ... Like a Boss?

    Meaning, make your underlings all use Microsoft Office, even when it is suboptimal for their tasks because hiring a real IT department would use corporate resources that used otherwise would enhance your own year-end bonus?

  • Oct 2nd, 2015 @ 1:42pm

    Stick to Go

    If computers besting top-ranked humans at games is a problem for you, stick to go.

    They're not even close.

  • Sep 30th, 2015 @ 6:41am


    Cyberthreat, cyberinsults, cyberslander (when the online communication is substituting for speech) and cyberlibel against women and girls might conceivably be real, but threats, insults, slander and libel are not violence.

    Until an abusive boyfriend gets a robot to beat his girlfriend, someone hacks a woman's car to disable the breaks, or otherwise uses the internet-of-things to commit assault or murder against a human female, I think the issue of "cyberviolence" against women and girls is non-existent. And should things like that occur, I'm not sure how interesting the qualifier "against women and girls" will be in addressing the problem of actual violent crime committed via the internet.

  • Sep 29th, 2015 @ 7:34am

    Political Correctness run amok

    I think most of the posters are missing what's really going on here. Australia, despite having recently elected a right-of-center government, is about as politically correct as an American college campus -- or at least that's the impression I had from living there for three months in the '90's -- an impression confirmed on a subsequent shorter visit and by the very fact that Julia Gillard could ever become PM.

    The lame stupid examples like radical extremist alt rockers are there as a cloak for the one relevant example in the middle of the booklet, a fellow who published al Qaeda approved propaganda, so that mentioning it won't be regarded as "profiling" or "racist".

    Last I checked, the only really notable example of violent extremism (itself a PC euphemism) on Australian soil was committed by a(n older than teenage) loon who for years had fraudulently passed himself off as a moderate Shi'ite cleric, had a sudden conversion experience to Sunni Islam, declared himself a supporter of IS, and took hostages in a chocolate shop in Sydney. I don't think alt rock was involved at all.

  • Aug 12th, 2015 @ 9:47am

    Good ideas in the leader, but...

    The "leader" as The Economist calls their editorials is good, but doesn't go far enough, since it ignores the analogous deleterious effects of copyright on the arts (and sciences). However, despite the stated position of the editors in the leader, the corresponding article on patents in the body of the magazine still shows signs of drinking the maximalist kool-aid: the feature is labeled "intellectual property".

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