10 June 2013

Carefully Avoiding What I've Been Doing Since Friday

xkcd, 10 Jun 2013After a weekend of trying to deal with accusations of unethical conduct made against me and some of my clients when an antagonist succeeded in gaming the system (and no investigation — or at least not any competent investigation was done to confirm any of the accusations — such as, say, calling the accused before going public so that the accused knows it's the accused), some of the following link sausages are extra-spicy. It's rather unusual for me to be the good cop...

  • Ironically enough, I had already set aside this nice, rational piece on why being an "infrastructure hawk" is better than being a "deficit hawk"... and it is at the core of what happened last Friday extending through this weekend. Infrastructure includes much more than roads and bridges and fire stations; it also includes systems and personnel. The 911 system (999 in most other countries) is an example of the former; getting the right information to the right people in the right place at the right time is kind of important. And people? Here are two contrasting views on the "right" kind of people for handling infrastructures: systems designed to avoid abuse (although outsiders have to trust that these systems are adequate... and I know some of the people involved, so I don't) and whistleblowers (as a general principle, and not defending this particular one in all, or even most, respects). In end, it really does come down to the human factor, and humans make mistakes... especially when they confuse the "urgent" for the "important."
  • RIP Iain [M.] Banks.
  • "Johnson" speculates on why Chinese has borrowed so little from English, certainly compared to other Asian languages, but neglects the two most obvious reasons. First, there hasn't been a truly extensive, nationwide occupation of China by native English-speakers (including family members) in the past century, like there has been in much of Pacific Asia (Japan, Korea, and to some extent Vietnam being pretty obvious examples). Second, unlike Japanese in particular, Chinese does not have a truly widespread equivalent of romaji — an accepted, if not always excessively accurate, transliteration system between the single-character syllables and the roman alphabet. These two issues are more than sufficient explanation, even if one includes Taiwan in one's definition of "China." Language does not exist in a vacuum; I'm afraid that "Johnson" was looking for the ether when far more mundane, nonlinguistic explanations would do.
  • Meanwhile, a trio of pieces at this blawg's only feline friend the IPKat concerns an aspect of copyright on which, objectively, the US vision is vastly superior to the default elsewhere in the world: The "fair use v. fair dealing" problem. That's not to say that the US conception (let alone its execution) is perfect; it is only to say that fair dealing is far more imperfect, as evidenced in Australia and Belgium (and explained by a Belgian jurist). At the IPKat's companion 1709 Blog, there's a note that even the UK itself may be moving closer to fair use.