Paraquat’s Techdirt Profile


About Paraquat

Paraquat’s Comments comment rss

  • Mar 10th, 2014 @ 9:22pm

    Property Rights

    Just wait until Big Corp starts lobbying for extending America's business model patents and copyrights to the moon and Mars. Viewing a crater of the moon through a telescope? You need a license! Writing a short story or a song about a mission to Mars? Hah, someone's got a patent on that! Want to flash a "moon" at somebody - heh, it's trademarked! You have to pay for play.

  • Jan 25th, 2014 @ 5:49pm

    Re: Microsoft Research's Open Access

    I wouldn't get too excited about Microsoft Research making their papers publicly available. Maybe I'll be surprised, but I would bet that Microsoft hasn't done any research of significance. Well OK, maybe legal research, like looking for innovative new ways to corrupt patent law and drive start-ups into bankruptcy - they've broken new ground there. It certainly was creative the way they funded the SCO UNIX lawsuits, and continue to fund patent-troll Intellectual Ventures. The amazing methods Microsoft uses to extort license fees from Android vendors ought to win them a Nobel prize.

  • Jan 24th, 2014 @ 6:05pm

    Should Google be a charity?

    I would certainly agree that if Google does business in the UK, then UK courts should have jurisdiction over any of the company's activities there. Google's lawyers were definitely reaching if they thought this tactic would work.

    That having been said, the case against Google seems like utter nonsense. If anyone feels that targeting advertising is a violation of their privacy, then they shouldn't use Google, or Yahoo, or Bing, or most search engines.

    Google makes its money from advertising - that's hardly a secret. Should Google be a charity? If so, then who is going to pay for their servers? Seems like a lot of people have a real sense of entitlement.

    Iif you really demand "the right" to use Google (and even Gmail) and not be subjected to the horrors of targeting advertising, trying turning off cookies and Javascript in your browser - you will no longer see pop-ups and many pages will load faster. Your browsing experience might be less colorful and convenient, but I think you'll survive.

  • Jan 14th, 2014 @ 1:48am

    hog rinds

    Late last month, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office denied an application to register a trademark for "Redskins Hog Rinds," a product wholly unrelated to the Washington football team. The USPTO's reasoning for refusing the trademark is simple: It's offensive.

    I agree entirely with the USPTO - the term "hog rinds" is offensive. As a long time supporter of boar rights, I think it's high time that we banished the racist term hog which has many negative connotations, as does the equally offensive word pig.

  • Jan 13th, 2014 @ 8:48pm

    I'm offended by the term "Microsoft"

    Personally, I'm offended that the term "Microsoft" has received a trademark. Obviously, it refers to penis size and state of the company's founders.

  • Jan 8th, 2014 @ 5:14pm

    They need to become banksters first

    If this group of whistleblowers wants to get an audience with Obama, first they need to get jobs as Wall Street bankers. Then donate a few million dollars for his presidential library. Then they will not only get an audience with the president, they'll own him.

    Rinse and repeat with members of Congress.

  • Jan 6th, 2014 @ 1:43pm

    The corporate president

    I long ago gave up on Obama, despite the fact that I consider myself fairly liberal. I watched as he sold out completely to Wall Street, first by failing to prosecute all the fraud and then by throwing bailouts at the companies that committed all these crimes. And those bailouts continue (in the form of QE3). He stocked his cabinet with corporate stooges. And then he completely kept his mouth shut during #Occupy while the cops beat the crap out of demonstrators - said not one word, as if it all wasn't happening. The Obamacare which miraculously failed to either have a public option or end the ban on drug importation (which would compete with highly overpriced US drugs) while pressuring other countries to accept ridiculous US drug patents. Then his big crackdown on whistleblowers (including Snowden) who piss of the corporate elite. Finally, there is TPP which is corporate dream come true.

    Obama does give nice speeches though. That's something, right?

  • Dec 18th, 2013 @ 5:02pm

    planting stories

    I knew a stock market analyst a long time ago, and he told me that some reporters get paid to plant stories. The obvious motive was to drive a particular company's stock price up or down. Even a small percentage move can generate a huge profit for an inside trader taking advantage of "leverage."

    This is supposed to be illegal. It's also pretty much the norm, especially nowadays since everything on Wall Street has been "deregulated."

    The awful deregulation mania was pushed onto the unsuspecting world due to the Financial Services Agreement (FIS) which was part of the WTO agreement, and this helped to greatly exacerbate the 2008 banking meltdown. Now TPP wants to take that further, making American-style blatant fraud the world standard.

  • Dec 4th, 2013 @ 5:58pm


    Closely related to the production of methanol from carbon dioxide, another useful fuel is DME (dimethyl ether). It works as a simple replacement for propane, a very useful fuel which can be used for cooking, water heating or even a replacement for diesel fuel in motor vehicles. DME has at least one advantage over battery-powered electric cars, because it isn't range-limited. Even more practical is to use DME in trucks and tractors. As usual, Wikipedia has a very informative page:

    Of course, turning CO2 back into a fuel requires energy. It would make no sense to burn a fossil fuel to recycle CO2, you'd need to use something like hydropower, wind, solar, geothermal or nuclear power.

    It certainly makes a whole lot more sense to create something like methanol or DME than it does to make ethanol from corn (which consumes about as much fossil fuel to produce as it "saves"). Whenever I read (usually on a "green" web site) that Country X or Y is getting 15% of its energy from "biomass" and this is touted as a "good thing," I don't whether or laugh or cry. Almost always, they are talking about ethanol, which is good for public relations but not for the environment.

  • Nov 27th, 2013 @ 5:19pm

    GM Foods, Inc

    ...A recent survey by researchers at Rutgers University found that half of Americans know very little or nothing at all about GM foods, while a quarter have never even heard of them.

    GM Foods? You mean General Motors makes food? Gosh, I didn't know that. I learn something new everyday.

  • Nov 25th, 2013 @ 4:17pm

    Google should move

    The best thing that Google could do is move outside the USA. Doing so would not absolutely prevent the NSA from spying on their customers, but it would make it a lot easier for them to avoid secret subpoenas that they can't talk about thanks to the Patriot Act. If Google chooses a country that does not have software patents, it would relieve them of that worry. Plus it would also be a public relations coup if they moved and stated the reason(s).

    Maybe such a move would even have a sobering effect on the US government when it finally sinks in that America's obnoxious behavior is driving away big business. Nothing speaks louder in the halls of Congress than money.

    If Google does move, they'll have to choose their new location carefully. They should scratch from their list any country that signs up for the TPP (assuming that obnoxious "trade agreement" actually passes). Actually, if Google is considering one of those countries that is negotiating TPP, they might do us all a favor by letting them know in advance that joining the TPP will eliminate their chance of getting the Google server farm.

    Well, I'm dreaming. But it's a nice dream.

  • Nov 23rd, 2013 @ 5:20pm

    front wheel has to be larger

    The Bowboard with that very tiny front wheel would be truly dangerous to ride, especially on a road that is a little rough or potholed. Hit a pothole with such a tiny front wheel and you'll get thrown over the handlebars. From the photo, it appears that the front wheel is what you'd expect to find on a skateboard or roller skates.

    I can back this assertion with some experience. I own both a regular motorcycle and a motor scooter (not electric, sorry to say, but gasoline powered). The diameter of the motorcycle's wheels are nearly double that of the scooter's - usually no big deal downtown where roads are good. But out in the boondocks there are some very bad roads and the scooter is unrideable in such places. Even downtown, potholes can suddenly appear after a heavy rain, and a friend of mine hit a sizable one with his scooter and got thrown off and seriously injured.

  • Nov 18th, 2013 @ 8:24pm

    Re: Plutonium is not in short supply

    There is a sh*tload of Plutonium-239, but a dire shortage of Plutonium-238. They are different isotopes, with very different properties.

    Despite its nasty reputation for being carcinogenic and toxic (plus the prime ingredient for making atomic bombs), Plutonium-239 is not very radioactive. In fact, you could pick up a chunk the size of a golf ball and hold it in your hands safely. I would suggest you wear rubber gloves though, not because of radioactivity, but because you wouldn't want any of the metal to rub off onto your skin and work its way through into your blood stream. Pu-239 is a heavy metal poison with devastating effects if it enters your blood stream. Which is why its a nuclear waste problem - you don't want it leaking into water supplies, for example. Plutonium 239 has a very long half-life (24,000 years).

    Plutonium-238, on the other hand, is highly radioactive, but with a short half-life (88 years). It puts out considerable decay heat, which is perfect for powering RTGs (radioisotope thermoelectric generators). NASA uses RTGs for powering all deep space probes.

    Give the Wikipedia page a read:

  • Nov 1st, 2013 @ 6:36pm

    Vitamins D3, B12

    In recent years, it's being found that Vitamin D is more important than previously realized. UV light shining on the skin produces large amounts of vitamin D and theoretically nobody needs to take supplements. However, many people don't get enough due to the fact that they spend too much time indoors. Plus it's also true that excessive exposure of your skin to sunlight leads to early skin aging and skin cancer, so you shouldn't spend your time in a tanning bed.

    Thus, taking vitamin D3 (as opposed to D2, which isn't as beneficial) makes a lot of sense, especially during winter when you are much less likely to be exposed to sunlight. In fact, many medical researchers have concluded that the flu epidemics in winter are the result of less vitamin D being produced in the body at that time of year. Vitamin D apparently plays a big role in helping the immune system.

    Just how much vitamin D3 should one take in winter? It used to be that the minimum daily requirement was established at 400 IU, but that is just barely enough to prevent rickets, a dangerous disease caused by vitamin D deficiency. These days, 2000 IU should be considered minimum, or about 5000 IU at the high end. On a sunny day, sunbathing will get you around 20,000 IU per hour (though it may also get you a bad sunburn).

    About vitamin B12 - no need to take supplements if you eat meat or fish. But the recent trend to go vegan poses a serious risk of deficiency. There are no plant foods that provide sufficient quantities of B12. If you're vegan, you'd be well advised to take B12 supplements. A B12 deficiency is serious - it can lead to brain damage.

    As it so happens, I'm a person who has to take B12 injections (I do it twice monthly, administering the shots myself). In my case it has nothing to do with diet, but it's because I've had intestinal surgery with the part of the intestine that absorbs B12 removed. Before I started doing the injections, I was developing all the classic symptoms of B12 deficiency - fatigue, depression, nervous system issues. Fortunately, caught it on time to avoid any irreversible damage. But I'm now acutely aware of just how important B12 is, and I tell my vegan friends (though none of them want to listen - they may live to regret it).

  • Oct 25th, 2013 @ 8:59pm

    North Korea's government is truly evil

    This article upsets me, because it greatly downplays the evil that is North Korea's government. It may be true that North Korea doesn't look so scary when you live thousands of miles away from it - looks a lot scarier when you live in Seoul (as I have) and you know that all sorts of chemical and bioweapons are pointed at you. But North Korea's dangers reaches further than the Korean peninsula.

    Weapon sales to dictators are a big source of North Korea's funds. OK, that is true for the USA as well (and indeed, I think the USA has a lot of evil to answer for). But North Korea is willing to sell conventional, chemical and bioweapons to any African banana republic with enough cash. I can't say I'd feel right comfortable if Sudan and Somalia are buying that stuff, paying for it with blood diamonds. Now that North Korea is alleged to have nukes, that adds a new dimension to this issue.

    Video games with Trojans are the least of my worries.

  • Oct 9th, 2013 @ 6:30pm

    It's fission or global warming

    I consider myself to be an environmentalist, and at one time I opposed nuclear power. But I'm now convinced that unless we develop 4th generation nukes, we will simply wind up burning more coal, oil and natural gas, with the disastrous result of global warming.

    Yes, I know all about wind and solar. I've even installed solar panels. You can get some intermittent power this way and it's better than nothing, but it's insufficient to power even a normal household let alone factories, railroads and the Internet. If we have to rely on wind/solar, get used to frequent brownouts, blackouts and economic collapse.

    I don't necessary like nukes, but the 4th generation designs like the IFR (Integral Fast Reactor) go a long way to solving problems of safety and nuclear waste disposal. But it's hard to say that in public without immediately getting attacked by people who are too lazy to even google "IFR" to find out what it is.

  • Oct 7th, 2013 @ 5:55pm

    fighting terrorism

    The government needs AirBnB's records to fight terrorism. If they had that info back in 2001, the World Trade Center would never have been destroyed. Bin Laden uses AirBnB, sends his emails via LavaBit, uses open-source software (thus violating Microsoft's software patents), and sings "Happy Birthday" without paying copyright royalties. Only when these are banned worldwide will we be safe.

  • Sep 3rd, 2013 @ 8:03pm

    the anti-vacccination cult

    I know people who have this anti-vaccination belief. It's not based on anything scientific - it seems to be based on Facebook rumors. Increasingly, I meet people whose whole life is based on Facebook. They'll believe anything if it's written on Facebook.

    As for vaccines, the only real risk for most people is an allergic reaction. It's rare, but it happens. It's for this reason that hospital and clinic staff always tell you to stick around for 15 minutes after being vaccinated. Allergic reactions show up quickly, so if you keel over, they can give you a shot of epinephrine which will almost certainly halt the attack. Unfortunately, most people ignore the warning and leave the clinic immediately after being vaccinated. I admit, I'm guilty of that too, but I've never had a reaction to a vaccine, and I've been vaccinated against just about everything.

  • Aug 23rd, 2013 @ 7:25pm


    I think there is some misunderstanding of the objections to GMO crops. I know that some are just ideologically opposed to gene manipulation, but that's not the real problem with GMO. If we're just talking about adding a gene to a crop to improve its resistance to disease, or to make it produce more vitamins, that shouldn't cause problems.

    But GMO creators (notably Monsanto) have taken it much further. They have added genes so that you can, for example, spray the herbicide Round-Up (also manufactured by Monsanto) directly on crops. In the past, this was never done since it would kill the crops, not just weeds. I the past, you sprayed a field first, wanted for the weeds to die, and then planted. The result is that we get a much bigger dose of Round-Up in our food - the herbicide finds its way into every cell of the plant. And there is no doubt that this herbicide is poisonous to humans. Monsanto simply claims this is not a problem, and then doubles down by suing (successfully) farmers who refuse to use their GMO seeds.

    Then there is the case of modifying the genes of a crop so that it produces its own "pesticide." True, it's not a chemical pesticide, it's just a natural toxin. The effect on human health is similar to making a salad with non-edible plants. A company called Aventis Crop Sciences produced a GMO corn called StarLink, intended for use as animal feed but not for human consumption. Nevertheless, StarLink corn found its way into human food, causing a financially disastrous recall or food by Taco Bell:

  • Aug 20th, 2013 @ 6:34pm

    the terraforming fantasy

    I agree totally with out_of_the_blue above - asteroid mining is science fiction fantasy. In reality, there is no way that it would be practical. The cost of the fuel to mine even one asteroid would exceed that value of whatever materials we could hope to gain.

    But asteroid mining remains a popular fantasy, in part because it's part of the "grand plan" to terraform Mars. The gravity on Mars is only 40% of the Earth's. So, to make life more comfortable for future colonists, all we need to do is gather up enough asteroids equal to 60% of the Earth's mass and crash them into Mars. While we're at it, we also need to gather up a few ocean's worth of water, plus an atmosphere. What could be simpler? Of course, it will take a lot of energy to do that, but surely Mars has loads of oil - after all, it does look like Saudi Arabia.

More comments from Paraquat >>