21 December 2016

Musing on Link Sausage Casings

Just a few link sausages waiting for multiple surgeons to play with my insides in a couple of weeks. The irony that "link sausages" historically have involved some of those same body parts (ordinarily from different species) may be too much for casual consumption.

  • The Economist tries desperately to prescribe how to make sense of 2016 while utterly failing to acknowledge the fundamental precept:

    Democracy and liberalism are processes, not things

    And because they are processes, they (a) involve complex starting states, (b) involve intermediate products (often toxic or otherwise dangerous!), and (c) do not have pure outcomes. Just like comparing the oversimplification of most high-school chemistry textbooks to even basic organic chemistry labwork — the basic class, taken by legions of chemists and biologists and pre-meds in their sophomore years — let alone a living cell's processes.

    2H2O + Na+ ⇋ 2H2 + O2 + Na+
    (plus a big bang!)


    C6H12O6 + 3O2 + heat ⇁ 6CO2 + 6H2O
    (primary reaction only, no enzymes, no intermediates shown)

    This is just a glimpse, of course... and assumes pure reagents to start with! And there ain't nothin' pure about the starting state, reactants, or environment of "politics," as implied in a different piece at The Economist.

  • But I suppose it beats the Russian Revolution, which remains a mystery perhaps most of all in Russia.
  • Meanwhile, in a further demonstration that courts — as inconvenient, persnickity, slow, and expensive as they are — are a critical bulwark against short-term selfishness and reification of power structures, the Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled that European governments may not force telecoms to retain all user data for later use in even antiterrorism contexts. (No link to the opinion because there are technical issues at the moment.) Instead, the CJEU has demanded some kind of particularized showing as to particular subscribers for particular periods.
  • In further proof that PW simply should not be believed when writing about "copyright issues," consider this headline:

    Australian Publishing Is Losing the Copyright Fight

    That should concern an actual copyright issue, right? Not so much: It's about territorial exclusivity to legitimate imports of legal copies printed outside of Australia. This is not about copyright, you bloody fools. You arrogant shitheads, who spew forth that the publishing industries "speak for" or "on behalf of" copyright holders, when for trade publishing the publishing industries hold substantially less than half of the copyrights... and most of those improperly.

    And yet these are the arrogant shitheads listened to by the US Register of Copyright on policy matters — in exclusion of the actual creators, actual holders, and heirs thereof — so maybe it is about copyright. Just not in the way implied or intended...

  • ... or consistent with the Progress of the useful Arts and Sciences as stated in the US Constitution and supported by other research. Note to the MBA types out there: You should seriously consider understanding the concept of a Markov chain before you try to break processes down and analyze individual components for their purported profitability. I'm just sayin.'
  • And then there's the problem of "What is there instead of copyright?" Historically, it's been censorship. Information may want to be free, but those with power want to control information... and usually have the tools to do so. Copyright is a least-bad solution, or at least the least-bad solution that has been developed (or, to my incomplete-but-extensive knowledge, proposed).
  • Tenure is not a substitute, especially in the face of institutional imperatives that demonstrate that people and power get in the way of utopian visions pretty regularly.