04 February 2016

This is Insanely Sensible

The Virginia AG has set up an task force specifically to go after patent trolls:
Suing a company for patent infringement just got a lot tougher in the state of Virginia.

The state (technically a commonwealth) has created a new legal office focused entirely on patent litigation. Specifically, the state's Patent Troll Unit will look to extract penalties and legal fees from companies who make unjust patent infringement claims against businesses operating in the state.

The task force will seek out companies who file infringement claims on dubious or vague patents, seeking a quick payout. The legal team, reporting to the Attorney General, will file for injunctions against companies it deems acting in "bad faith" with infringement claims.


"Virginia businesses of all sizes can be targets, from a small, local business up to a large, high-tech firm," Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring told the local Augusta Free Press.

"Under the bipartisan legislation we were able to help craft last year, my office has strong new enforcement powers and we’re going to use them to protect Virginia businesses from these bad actors.”


Those who believe they are being targeted by a patent troll are being advised to contact the Attorney General's office with details including the demands of the patent troll, contact information and patent details.
This is an excellent idea.

Defending against a patent troll is frequently expensive, and so companies frequently settle. 

Having the Attorney General's office on your makes it far less ruinous to fight patent extortion.

Elizabeth Warren Is Not Going to Make an Endorsement in the Primaries, but This Comes Close

The distinguished Gentlewoman from Massachusetts just cut Lloyd Blankfein a new asshole over his whining about Bernie Sanders criticizing him:
Elizabeth Warren entered the intensifying battle for the Democratic presidential nomination, defending Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders from a new attack by the head of Goldman Sachs — a Wall Street behemoth whose executives have delivered hundreds of thousands of dollars to Hillary Clinton, her presidential campaign and her family’s foundation.

In an interview with International Business Times hours before Wednesday night’s Democratic town hall in New Hampshire, the Massachusetts senator — whose endorsement is coveted by both Democratic candidates — slammed Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein for asserting earlier in the day that Sanders’ criticism of Wall Street had created a dangerous environment in America.

"He thinks it’s fine to prosecute small business owners, it’s fine to go hard after individuals who have no real resources, but don’t criticize companies like Goldman Sachs and their very, very important CEO — that’s what he’s really saying,” Warren told IBT.

In January, Sanders pointed to billionaire Blankfein as a prime example of the corporate greed he says is harming the United States. Sanders also released a television ad in which he slammed Goldman Sachs by name, and he has criticized Clinton, a former senator and secretary of state, for accepting $675,000 of speaking fees and $930,000 of campaign contributions from the firm and its executives during her career. Goldman Sachs has donated at least $250,000 to her family’s foundation — which in 2014 held a donor meeting at the company’s Manhattan headquarters.

Blankfein responded to Sanders’ criticism on Wednesday in an appearance on CNBC, saying the intensity of the criticism created an environment that “has the potential to be a dangerous moment — not just for Wall Street, not just for the people who are particularly targeted, but for anybody who is a little bit out of line.”

Warren, a Democrat, disputed that notion in harsh terms, telling IBT that such statements show why American voters should focus on Wall Street’s power during the 2016 election.

“When Blankfein says that criticizing those who break the rules is dangerous to the economy, then he’s just repeating another variation of ‘too big to fail,’ ‘too big to jail,’ 'too big even to prosecute,'” she said. “That tells you here we are, seven years after the crisis and these guys still don’t get it. Seven years. That crisis cost an estimated $14 trillion, it cost jobs, it cost homes, it cost retirement funds. And Lloyd Blankfein stands up and says ‘Don’t even criticize me, I ran a company that was right at the heart of some of the biggest financial frauds in history and made money off it, but don’t you dare criticize me.’ That’s his position? That’s why we need voters to get really engaged.”
This isn't an endorsement as such, but it is a pretty clear indication that she has his back.

It Ain't just the Caucuses that are F%$#ed up In Iowa

There is a bill being mooted in the Iowa Senate proposing that Stanford University be published because their marching band is too mean.

There is something seriously wrong here, even without the whole "Bill of Attainder" thing:

Stanford's football team defeated the University of Iowa 45-16 in the game. In addition, the Stanford band, which has a history of irreverent performances, poked fun during the halftime show with a dancing cow, a frowning farmer formation and other tongue-in-cheek gestures that upset some Iowans. ESPN, which televised the game, cut away from the band's performance. State Sen. Mark Chelgren, R-Ottumwa, told The Des Moines Register at the Iowa Capitol on Wednesday that he introduced Senate File 2081 because he believes Stanford officials have condoned improper behavior by the marching band. "I think it's unfortunate because here in Iowa we try to teach sportsmanship," Chelgren said. "We try to teach courtesy, and when someone behaves in a way that is contrary to that, we need to point it out."

Good thing we can all ignore Iowa again until the 2018 state fair.
Seriously, what the actual f%$#?

03 February 2016

The Snake Had Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy

Another victim of repeated head trauma in the NFL, only this time it is a quarterback, Ken Stabler of the Oakland Raiders:
Former Oakland Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler, who died in July at the age of 69 of colon cancer, was found to have suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the degenerative brain disease found in people who have had repeated blows to the head, according to a researchers at Boston University.

Stabler’s diagnosis is the latest in a line of former NFL players who have been found to have the disease. Scientists in Boston said that on a scale of one to four, Stabler had high stage three CTE.

“He had moderately severe disease,” Ann McKee, the chief of neuropathology at the VA Boston healthcare system and a professor of neurology and pathology at Boston University school of medicine, told the New York Times.


After his death, Stabler’s brain was removed and donated to researchers at the NFL’s “brain bank” at Boston University, who spent months dissecting it for clues as to why the quarterback’s mind declined in his final years. During the last few years of his life, Stabler rapidly slowed down in his cognitive functions. He began complaining of a high-pitched ringing in his head, couldn’t handle bright lights or loud noises, and began repeating himself.

McKee, who conducted the examination, called Stabler’s case “pretty classic”.

“It may be surprising since he was a quarterback, but certainly the lesions were widespread, and they were quite severe, affecting many regions of the brain,” McKee, who conducted the examination, said. “There was no question about the diagnosis.”
If this happens to a quarter back, it happens to everyone on the field.

Mothers, do not let your kids play football.

Lloyd Blankfein Just Gave the Best Endorsement of Bernie Sanders Ever.

It appears that he considers the fact that Bernie Sanders does not worship his brilliance akin to terrorism:
Just days after a Bernie Sanders campaign ad singled out Goldman Sachs as "one of the Wall Street banks that triggered the financial meltdown," the head of the global investment banking firm said such criticism is "dangerous."

According to The Hill:

Sanders has railed against Wall Street throughout his populist campaign, accusing the sector of ruining the economy and holding down the middle class. And he has singled out [Goldman CEO Lloyd] Blankfein and his firm as a poster child for the greed and recklessness he says is endemic in finance.

In a January interview with Bloomberg, he specifically mentioned Blankfein as representing greed on Wall Street, for taking massive pay packages “after destroying the economy.”

"To personalize it, it has potential to be a dangerous moment," Blankfein told CNBC on Wednesday. "Not just for Wall Street…but for anybody who is a little bit out of line."

Blankfein also reportedly argued "that Sanders and his ilk are too rigid to get anything done," as The Hill put it.

On the campaign trail, Sanders has criticized not only big banks, but rival Hillary Clinton's cozy ties to them.

Bloomberg notes that Blankfein—who supported Clinton for president in 2008—also "declined to endorse a candidate for the 2016 U.S. presidential election, saying his imprimatur could harm that person's chances."
Oh, you poor delicate flower.

Bernie says mean things about you, and it's the end of the world.

Get over yourself, you pampered, overpaid, psychopath.

02 February 2016

Damn You. You Are Forcing Me to Defend Hillary Clinton, and I Do Not Want To.

Aver at Sic Semper TyrannisRichard Sale unloads on Hillary Clinton, with a level of venom that really is really off putting:

There are few things as ugly as this rampant self-worship. Under its gaze, ordinary life shrivels and diminishes. The vast universe contracts to a mere tawdry bauble kicked to and fro by contending rivals. Hillary has eyes only for those circumstances, facts and incidents that suit and confirm her own biases and which advance her own designs, however morally dubious they may be. Self-worship like hers is not blind in the least-- her temperament, her disposition, her power of analysis, enables her to select people whose ideals and ambition and desires are similar to her own. A political leader estimates his or her allies based on their usefulness in furthering the leader’s designs and schemes. Think of the people who occupy high positions in her campaign: her chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, or her deputy chiefs, Huma Abedin and Jake Sullivan, loyalists all, all working to cover up the e-mail scandal, a scandal that clearly threatens Hillary’s viability as a candidate. Staffers like hers bend the rules until they break. One suspects that aanything or anyone that doesn’t serve Clinton’s appetite for public power is cast aside, belittled, scoffed at, undermined or marooned. A political leader like her, sees people as furniture, objects to be moved here, moved there, placed where they will do the leader the most good. A close supporter of a leader has no will or desires or designs of their own. They suspend such things in the hope that their subjugation will be generously rewarded. They accept that their purpose in life is to be used by someone greater, someone who will prove a generous giver of favors, advancement, money and prestige. In other words, their destiny is to be the tool of another’s more powerful and decided will.
This is complete bullsh%$.

I do not support Hillary Clinton, but by the standards of mainstream Presidential Candidates,* she is not especially narcissistic or immoral.

In fact if there is one thing that is remarkable about her political career it is that there have been no tell-all insider books published by people who work closely with her.

Even Bill had a few while president, and if one of Hillary's acolytes had an axe to grind, they would get a 7 figure book advance from Regenry or other right wing publishers.

If she used people as you asserted, there would already have been such a book published.

Heck, it would have been published in the mid 1990s.

The loyalty of her people under these circumstances is remarkable.

I don;t like Clinton, but she is not a Borgia Pope.

*Apart from that Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play.

Told Ya So

Yesterday, I suggested that we wait a couple of days to see what the final vote tally in Iowa.

Today, we hear that votes are still trickling in:
Votes from one precinct in Iowa were still missing Tuesday morning, and Democrats from that neighborhood scrambled to find party officials so that they could report their tally: Bernie Sanders won by 2 delegates over Hillary Clinton.

With Des Moines precinct No. 42's results, Clinton's excruciatingly close lead narrowed further, making the final tally for delegate equivalents in the Democratic Iowa caucuses:

Clinton: 699.57

Sanders: 697.77.

It quickly raised questions about whether Sanders had won the popular vote in Iowa. Sanders backers called for Iowa Democratic Party officials to release the raw vote totals.
This is what happens in very close elections, and it won't be fully resolved until well after New Hampshire votes.

Of Course He Handled Losing Graciously. He's Gone Bankrupt 3 4 Times. He Knows How to Do This.

Donald Trump gave a remarkably magnanimous in acknowledging his 2nd place finish in Iowa:
Donald Trump, who no one thought was a viable candidate for President just 6 short months ago, managed to come in a solid second place in today's Iowa caucuses. For some, the fact that he didn't come in first was shocking, for other's, it was a relief.

Throughout the entire election season thus far, Trump has been the voice of xenophobic hate talk, blathering about building walls, deporting immigrants, ridiculing disabled reporters and offending pretty much everyone except white Americans. The fact that he was poised to come in first in Iowa terrified many. Although, having Tea Party favorite, Ted Cruz, come in first may actually be more terrible in the long run.

Regardless, Trump took his narrow loss with grace and gave a fairly humble and short speech.
It's almost classy.

Bullsh%$ Bingo Winner of the Day

There is a mildly amusing parody web site that does a compare and contrast of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, things like:
  • Bernie: Star Wars is a great series, and I thought that episode 7 is a nice return to the Franchise's roots,
  • Hillary: [Makes "Live long and prosper" hand signal]
It's kind of silly, and not too deep, and pokes fun at Hillary Clinton's perceived lack of authenticity,* but someone at Salon decided to use the meme to attack all Bernie Sanders supporters as male chauvinists, aka Bernie Bros:
………These jabs at Clinton’s imagined sonic preferences reinforce the tired idea that the tastes of non-cis-male cultural consumers—from teenagers on through boomers and beyond—are something to be mocked and disrespected.………
Don't even bother trying.

Annie Zaleski has won the bullsh%$ bingo game for this month, and possibly for the entire f%$#ing presidential campaign.

She has her head so far up her ass that she resembles a Klein bottle.

*Not her fault.   Bill Clinton does authenticity so well that if he were sharing a bill with Pope Frank, the Pontiff would look like the Andy Kaufman character Tony Clifton.

This is the Funniest Moment of the Election ……… So Far

On CNN, Van Jones, by way of a compliment, called Bernie Sanders a, "79,000-Year-Old Muppet-Looking Socialist."

The YouTube is prize:

01 February 2016

Iowa Caucuses

And tomorrow is Groundhog day, so expect the same crap from the pundits, day, after day, after day, after day

In terms of the actual numbers, as of 11:50 PM EST, with 98% of Republican caucuses reporting, a Ted Cruz has won the Republican caucuses, with Trump second, and Rubio a fairly close third.

Clearly, Rubio is not the (lame and not particularly intelligent) great white hope of the Republican establishment.

With 94% of Democratic caucuses reporting, it looks like the delegate talley will be pretty close, as Hillary Clintonhas 49.9%  and  has Bernie Sanders 49.6%, with O'Malley at ½%.

The race has not been called, and there are reports that O'Malley has dropped out of the race.

The Democratic caucus results seems to indicate that very little bit has been settled.

I would guess that the results will be the same in the morning, but given that the reporting software is written by Microsoft, I would wait about 48 hours for the final count.*

Ongoing results here.

*I am not suggesting fraud here, I am suggesting incompetence and poor execution, kind of like Windows Vista, Windows 8, Office 2007, and Microsoft Bob.

No Butts About It

I am not referring to the tuchas. I am referring to the archery practice, which for many centuries was mandatory for English yeomen.

And now an English vicar has invoked this ancient law:
A vicar has revived an ancient law to call members of her parish together for archery practice.

The Reverend Mary Edwards, of Collingbourne Ducis, near Marlborough, called residents to the village recreation ground on Friday.

Residents were rewarded for complying with the law with a bar, a barbecue and live music.

Church warden Mike Cox said: "It seems she's still entitled to do that."

"I've been checking on the web and most archery experts and clergy seem to agree she is," Mr Cox added.


"We are celebrating the building of a new loo [bathroom] in the church. After all these years we have at long last brought running water to the church."
It's a wonderful story, but it appears that their understanding of the law is not accurate:
……… And, in fact, it appears that the archery requirement was repealed quite a while ago.

While I would have preferred to fly to England and go rummaging through the Parliamentary Archives to confirm this personally, I had a deadline to meet, plus I am not especially welcome there anymore because of what I see as a simple misunderstanding as to whether their reading rooms are clothing-optional. So I have relied on the Internet, which is less authoritative but also less judgmental.

It is clear that there were laws requiring archery practice dating back to at least the 13th century. The motive was to make sure England had enough men trained to use the longbow, which for centuries was a crucial weapon for the English. (The most famous example is Agincourt, a battle that Henry V won in 1415 and is still going on about.)

The training requirement was usually combined with prohibitions on other kinds of games and sports so that people would focus on archery instead of, for example, “tennis, football, [quoits], dice” and other “games inappropriate.” The point was not so much to condemn games as to make sure they did not get in the way of longbow training. In other words, they saw nothing morally wrong with tennis, it’s just that it is hard to kill a French knight with a tennis ball, no matter how good your serve is.

In 1511 the requirement was expanded by “An Act concerning Shooting in Long Bows,” even though by then the importance of the bow was declining. This law provided that “All sorts of men under the age of 40 Years shall have bows and arrows” and practice using them. The playing of games continued, however, and in 1541 the law was expanded yet again by “An Act for the Maintenance of Artillery, and debarring unlawful Games,” the preamble to which declares that said games were believed to be the “Cause of the Decay of Archery” skills in England (There was another very important cause by then, namely guns–or, more specifically, bullets–but games always seem to get blamed for social problems.)

The archery requirement was extended to all men under age 60, and the list of banned games was expanded. As before, though, these restrictions did not apply to the aristocracy. They tended to become knights, not archers, plus they had the God-given right to play games if they liked. According to them, that is, not God.

At least some of this was still on the books well into the 19th century, but was probably repealed during the reign of Queen Victoria. In 1845, “An Act to Amend the Law concerning Games and Wagers” repealed any part of King Henry’s 1541 law making any “Game of Skill” unlawful or “which enacts any penalty for lacking bows or arrows … or which regulates the making, selling or using of bows and arrows.” If any of the older stuff survived, it was most likely repealed by more recent acts intended to get some of the ancient stuff off the books.
Seeing as how the good vicar did not threaten any sanctions against those who declined to practice archery, I won't spoil her fun, but it appears that she does not have the law on her side.

H/t Jill Junkala on Facebook.

So Not a Surprise

Global Witness, a not-for profit anti-money laundering organization, and ran a sting on lawyers who aid people in getting their ill gotten gains into the US:
With attention growing on the use of shell companies in high-end real estate, an activist organization released a report Sunday night that said several New York real estate lawyers had been caught on camera providing advice on how to move suspect money into the United States.

The report is the result of an undercover investigation carried out in 2014 by Global Witness, a nonprofit activist organization that has been pushing for stricter money-laundering rules.

The lawyers featured in the report include a recent president of the American Bar Association.

“It wasn’t hard to find lawyers to suggest ways to move suspect funds into the United States,” said Stefanie Ostfeld, a spokeswoman for Global Witness. “We went undercover because it is the only way we could show what really happens behind closed doors. The findings speak for themselves — something urgently needs to change.”

The real estate industry has been under growing scrutiny as evidence has emerged that suspect money is flowing into luxury real estate. Global Witness cited an investigation last year in The New York Times that documented numerous foreign officials and their family members buying multimillion-dollar properties in Manhattan and quantified the rising use of shell companies in real estate transactions.
This is not a surprise.

There is whole industry of unethical but (barely) legal money laundering, on Wall Street in New York, and in The City of London.

Hopefully a this additional attention will make doing this harder.

Our financial sector is aggressively complicit in the looting of the poorest societies on earth.

A Good Start

For profit academic research publishers are firmly in the category of, "Mindless jerks who'll be the first against the wall when the revolution comes."

A particularly nasty player in this sphere is Elsevier, the publisher of such items as The Lancet and Cell, and Gray's Anatomy, and it is particularly aggressive in its charges, and in its aggressive use of copyright to enforce its charges.

All for publications where the content providers, and the editors work for volunteers.

It has now engendered a boycott in its home base of the Netherlands:
A long running dispute between Dutch universities and Elsevier has taken an interesting turn. Last week Koen Becking, chairman of the Executive Board of Tilburg University who has been negotiating with scientific publishers about an open access policy on behalf of Dutch universities with his colleague Gerard Meijer, announced a plan to start boycotting Elsevier.

As a first step in boycotting the publisher, the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU) has asked all scientists that are editor in chief of a journal published by Elsevier to give up their post. If this way of putting pressure on the publishers does not work, the next step would be to ask reviewers to stop working for Elsevier. After that, scientists could be asked to stop publishing in Elsevier journals.

The Netherlands has a clear position on Open Access. Sander Dekker, the State Secretary of Education has taken a strong position on Open Access, stating at the opening of the 2014 academic year in Leiden that ‘Science is not a goal in itself. Just as art is only art once it is seen, knowledge only becomes knowledge once it is shared.’

Dekker has set two Open Access targets: 40% of scientific publications should be made available through Open Access by 2016, and 100% by 2024. The preferred route is through gold Open Access – where the work is ‘born Open Access’. This means there is no cost for readers – and no subscriptions.

However Gerard Meijer, who handles the negotiations with Elsevier, says that the parties have not been able to come close to an agreement.

The 2015 Dutch boycott is significant. Typically negotiations with publishers occur at an institutional level and with representatives from the university libraries. This makes sense as libraries have long standing relationships with publishers and understand the minutiae of the licencing processes . However the Dutch negotiations have been led by the Vice Chancellors of the universities.  It is a country-wide negotiation at the highest level. And Vice Chancellors have the ability to request behaviour change of their research communities.

This boycott has the potential to be a significant game changer in the relationship between the research community and the world’s largest academic publisher. The remainder of this blog looks at some of the facts and figures relating to expenditure on Open Access in the UK. It underlines the importance of the Dutch position.The 2015 Dutch boycott is significant. Typically negotiations with publishers occur at an institutional level and with representatives from the university libraries. This makes sense as libraries have long standing relationships with publishers and understand the minutiae of the licencing processes . However the Dutch negotiations have been led by the Vice Chancellors of the universities.  It is a country-wide negotiation at the highest level. And Vice Chancellors have the ability to request behaviour change of their research communities.
These folks are leeches, who have made their business plan out of the free effort of academics.

I'd love to dance on their corporate grave.

Interesting Factoid about Sanders

When you take a look at at previous "insurgent" challengers, they tended to get a lot of support from more affluent Democrats.

Not for Sanders:
Sanders’s strength with voters making less than $50,000 a year  —  and his relative lack of appeal among voters making above $100,000  —  sets him apart from Democratic primary challengers in years past like Bill Bradley, Howard Dean, and Barack Obama. All these “progressive” underdogs attracted their strongest support from wealthier voters, while struggling, in relative terms, to win lower-income support. (Nate Cohn notices the same trend in today’s New York Times.) 
Also this:
Bernie Sanders’s coalition once looked very familiar: He had strong support among well-educated and affluent liberal white voters of the sort who backed Barack Obama, Bill Bradley and Jerry Brown. He struggled among less affluent voters.

But his coalition has evolved over the last few months. He now fares much better among less affluent whites than Mr. Obama did eight years ago, suggesting he’s attracting a group that traditionally supports more moderate establishment candidates, someone like Hillary Clinton. If confirmed in the voting, it would vindicate his hope of building a progressive coalition based more on class than the coalitions put together by liberal predecessors.
I'm not surprised that the Democratic establishment hates Sanders.

There is an saying, "Republicans fear their base, and Democrats hate their base."

To the degree that Sanders talks to the base, and talks about the existential issues surrounding excessive (and undeserved) inequality in our society.

He is talking directly to the base, and they hate him.

It should make interesting time in South Carolina.

Lunchtime Thought on the Iowa Caucuses

I think that Hillary is likely to win, even though I think that most of O'Malley's support will end up in the Sanders camp, (O'Malley is also running a liberal populist campaign, like Sanders) because anyone who gets less than 15% in a caucus has to move to another candidate.

I think that it is going to be close though.

I think that Clinton has to win this, because if she loses it, then Sanders will clearly win in New Hampshire, and then South Carolina becomes iffy for Clinton, and Sanders is likely to run the table.

On the other hand, if Sanders loses, he still is likely to win in New Hampshire, particularly with the just announced debate on Thursday, which will be intensely watched by likely New Hampshire Democratic primary voters.

Sanders is, I think, less effected by the results, because his campaign was intended as an issue campaign, and remains that at its core, and could return to that with a minor adjustment.

With his large base of small donors, and a low burn rate, he can run throughout the primaries.

In either case, I do not expect O'Malley to continue his campaign beyond the March. He's just not getting any traction.

Posted via mobile.


Water balls, molten aluminum, too much free time: