Obvious Genius

There are so many things right with KSR v. Teleflex (pdf version) that it’s hard to know where to begin.

First, let it be said that patents only exist in this country because they “promote the progress of science and useful arts.” And second, well, I’ll let Anthony Kennedy’s unanimous decision speak for itself:

Helpful insights, however, need not become rigid and mandatory formulas; and when it is so applied, the TSM test is incompatible with our precedents. The obviousness analysis cannot be confined by a formalistic conception of the words teaching, suggestion, and motivation, or by overemphasis on the importance of published articles and the explicit content of issued patents. The diversity of inventive pursuits and of modern technology counsels against limiting the analysis in this way. In many fields it may be that there is little discussion of obvious techniques or combinations, and it often may be the case that market demand, rather than scientific literature, will drive design trends. Granting patent protection to advances that would occur in the ordinary course without real innovation retards progress and may, in the case of patents combining previously known elements, deprive prior inventions of their value or utility.

The question is not whether the combination was obvious to the patentee but whether the combination was obvious to a person with ordinary skill in the art. Under the correct analysis, any need or problem known in the field of endeavor at the time of invention and addressed by the patent can provide a reason for combining the elements in the manner claimed.

We build and create by bringing to the tangible and palpable reality around us new works based on instinct, simple logic, ordinary inferences, extraordinary ideas, and sometimes even genius. These advances, once part of our shared knowledge, define a new threshold from which innovation starts once more. And as progress beginning from higher levels of achievement is expected in the normal course, the results of ordinary innovation are not thesubject of exclusive rights under the patent laws. Were it otherwise patents might stifle, rather than promote, the progress of useful arts.

The Court hasn’t signifiacantly ruled on patent law for a while, so the country’s patent laws have essentialyl been written by lower courts. These courts have brought upon one disaster after another, making patents easy to get and turning them into cash cows for rentier, vampire companies. Companies that actually innovate and make new products are sued into the ground (or merely for a few hundred million) by lawyers who dredge up this or that new patent.

This doesn’t merely hurt honest businesses, of course. It also drives up the cost of computing, throwing friction into the economy and hurting the poor worst. For instance, take the great open source projects Linux and OpenOffice. Linux aims to provide a free alternative to Windows and other operating systems, while OpenOffice is a completely-no-cost riff on Microsoft Office. The harder it is to challenge patents, the easier it is for anyone to threaten to shut down those operations unless they are somehow paid money. This adds to the cost of doing business of every company that would use Linux and OpenOffice, and of course most seriously harms those least able to pay high prices charged by the rentiers and their friends.

Besides being good for honest businesses, good for consumers, good for the economy, and good for the poor, this ruling is good for the Gap. The Core requires would-be entrants to live under hte same patent regime that they do, so the easier the laws in the Core, the easier it is to enter the Core. Likewise, since 9/11. the New Core has been pushing highly developed countries like the United States to relax patents. This ruling helps to tie the New Core and Old Core closer together.

Thank you Anthony Kennedy, and thank you Supreme Court!

Thanks for a beautiful day…

… are owed to Brendan of I Hate Linux. I visited him by the lakes of South Dakota today, and we had a wonderful time eating lunch, exploring the local university, and of course enjoying his gorgeous XBOX 360 – Westinghouse HDTV combo.


The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

Particular, I enjoyed playing the fourth Elder Scrolls game — Oblivion. Elder Scrolls III (Morrowind) was stunning beautiful when I first played it, and it is the only game bought after the golden age of the mid 90s (which including Civilization II, Oregon Trail II, SimCity 2000) that I truly loved. I bought both expansion packs — Tribunal and Bloodmoon — and loved them as well. Oblivion, from what I saw on that beautiful display, is worth heir to the Elder Scrolls name.

Review of "H.P. Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life" by Michael Houellebecq

Michael Houellbecq’s (pronounced “Wellbeck”) Against the World, Against Life is a literary manifesto. Neither a literary biography nor an annotated anthology, Against the World is rather a vehicle for spreading the Lovecraftian voice in literature. Lovecraft’s writing style, and not just his written thoughts, are held up as examplars for all future writers. We should be so lucky.


H.P. Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life

Some deeper words are below the fold, but to keep your attention I’ll say a few words about sex and money. Or rather, Houelbecq’s interpretation of Lovecraft’s odd view of sex and money. Sex is never directly referenced in anything Lovecraft wrote, and has only two purposes in his universe: as a vehicle for the propagation of the human species (hardly a worth cause) or (infinitely worse) a vehicle for miscegenation. Money is known only by its absence: the declining fortunes of late ancestors which allow the narrator some measure of intellectual freedom.

Many critics of Lovecraft argue that the position of sex and wealth in Lovecraft’s work are merely the author’s quirks, and that Lovecraftian fiction can be written that incorporate different views. Houelbecq would disagree, and quotes Lovecraft (page 58):

“When I contemplate man, I wish to contemplate those characteristicks that elevate him to a human state, and those adornments which lend to his actions the symmetry of creative beauty. ‘Tis not that I wish false pompous thoughts and motives imputed to him in the Victorian manner, but that I wish his composition justly aprais’d, with stress lay’d upon those qualities which are peculiarly his, and without the silly praise of such beastly things as he holds in common with any hog or stray goat.”

If the point is unclear, a second point is given on the same page: I do not think that any realism is beautiful.


Against the World meditates mainly on eight stories that Houllebecq calls the “great texts”:

  • 1926′s The Call of Cthulhu,
  • 1927′s The Colour out of Space,
  • 1928′s The Dunwich Horror,
  • 1930′s The Whisperer in the Darkness,
  • 1931′s At the Mountains of Madness,
  • 1932′s Dreams of the Witch-House,
  • 1932′s The Shadow over Innsmouth, and
  • 1934′s The Shadow out of Time
  • These great texts serve as a deliberate rejection of reality. In every one, the real world is revealed to be terrible and those who are truly protected and loved do not know about it. Decline is everywhere, but the lucky do not know about it. The fortunate live only in nostalgia. Witness the Norwegian wife in the Call of Cthulhu, and the unlucky star-headed things who awoke At the Mountains of Madness.

    Against the World also addresses Lovecraft’s racism. And Lovecraft was a racist in the true sense. His hierarchy seemd to be headed by Anglo-Saxons, then other north-western Europeans, then “Italico-Semitico-Mongoloid” (Italian, Jewish, and/or Asian) persons, and lastly blacks. Yet Lovecraft’s racism was odd, as it centered on his fondness for the Puritan rejection of humanity. He saw no people in history more determined to separate themselves from Creation as the pilgrim settlers. No people, it seemed to him, were more clean or hygienic than those who did not wish to be people.

    H.P. Lovecraft was a philosopher and a writer of literature, and is perhaps best complemented by C.S. Lewis. Lovecraft’s stance against the world and against life is nearly identical to the mission of the National Institute of Coordinate Experiments from Lewis’ That Hideous Strength. And Lovecraft and Lewis agreed on the nature macrobes — the larger, stronger, and smarter creatures which must exist if the universe is hospital to life: they would be against us, in the way that we are against flies. Ultimately, what separates Lovecraft from Lewis, who recognize the failure of time and space to exist at a human scale, is Christianity. God grace to flesh is central to the Christian faith, but Lovecraft, like Jonah, consciously rejects it because of what such grace implies.

    Patrons of Lovecraft’s art have never had it so good. Many of his stories and poems are available online, and descriptive works (such as The Annotated HP Lovecraft) are now on the market. Even the Library of America has a pretentious Tales edition of some of the great works. Against the World is a brilliant addition to this companions of the literature.

    H.P. Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life is a beautiful defense of Lovecraft, quirks and all. Anyone who has felt drawn to the world that HP wrote into existence — R’lyeh, Innsmouth, Arkham, and all the rest — should buy this book.

    Houllebecq doesn’t much address Christianity — that last paragraph was more addition — but he does add some more thoughts on literature and life. The commandment, “Attack the story like a radiant suicide; utter the great NO to life without weakness; then you will see a magnificent cathedral, and your senses, vectors of unutterable derangement, will map out an integral delirium that will be lost in the unnameable architecture of time,” can be assembled from Against the World’s chapter headers, as the book’s prologue (by Stephen King) points out.

    H.P. Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life is available for $12.24 from Amazon.com.

    Other reviews are particular. Rick Kleffel emphasizes Houllebecq’s line, “Absolute hatred of the world in general, aggravated by an aversion for the modern world in particular. This summarizes Lovecraft’s attitude fairly accurately.” Lee Rourke ties the book into Hollebecque’s own writing style, and his run-ins with French censors. Emerald City compares Lovecraft to Tolkein while pointing out the book’s flaws. Dr. Pedro Blas Gonzalez advocates Against the World even for those who have never read Lovecraft. Michael Crisco pens a passionately critical attac on Houellebecq that misses the point, I think, but is still worth reading.

    Lastly, for those considering buying the book, translator Robin Mackay posted a draft translation on his blog (pdf).)

    John Wiley Interscience and Defensive Swarms

    In spite of an overly concillatory (if understandibly so) reaction, Jonh Wiley & Sons’ “Wiley Interscience” slappd-down of Retrospectacle apperas to be over. Boing Boing, SEED, Slashdot, Nature and other big shots entered the fray Even Scientific American spoke out on the power of the blogosphere’s immune system:

    The most effective fighting force a blogger has is other bloggers. I cannot be certain that Wiley relented for any other reason than bad press, which they were getting from a number of people–including bloggers associated with other journals, like Nature, who are now valid members of the scientific community.

    While some criticize the value or justness of autoimmunity, all bloggers can be thankful that there are other bloggers to stand up for them when powerful interests threaten them with judicial violence.

    Violent Intolerance

    Catholicgauze has posted his really cool powerpoint slides for “United Caliphates of Europe,” which he presented at AAG ’07. CG looks at retaliatory violence through the group level of analysis:


    Behead those who insult Islam

    Earlier, in “The Wary Guerrilla, I looked at the phenomonon on the individual level:

    Blah blah blah

    Stay tuned to tdaxp for an expanded version of “The Wary Student,” which will follow up previous research by looking at classroom settings. Or even check out the attack on Mike Daisey for another example of this sort of intolerance.

    John Wiley & Sons / Wiley Interscience, JL Kirk, and Courage

    Afarensis, Entertaining Research, Evolution Blog, Galactic Interactions, Jim River Report, John Hawks Weblog, Rebecca Hartong, Mike the Mad Biologist, Sharp Blue, Synthesis of Thought, The Panda’s Thumb, Thought Capital, and Thoughts in a Haystack are all writing about John Wiley & Sons / Wiley Interscience attempted takedown of Retrospectacle’s critical article on their “alcohol is good for you piece. These articles, joined by A Blog Around the Clock, Abnormal Interests, Adventures in Ethics and Science, Evolving Thoughts, Kitchen Table Math, Mixing Memory, Parentalcation,
    Notes from Dr. RW, Open Reading Frame, Pith and Substance, and Sandwalk, point out that Wiley Interscience / John Wiley & Sons is attempting to censor a blogger in retaliation for a critical look at data. While JL Kirk used the cover of defamation, Wiley Interscience is using copyright.

    Of course, I wish the very best to Retrospectacle and her “fair use piling on,” I am skeptical on whether or not it can work. And the reason is obvious: Retrospectacle has already caved.

    Retrospectacle complied with Wiley Interscience’s demands. You can view the original critique yourself, and see that this isn’t exactly a “profiles in courage” case. It’s nice and fine for Retrospectacle to curse John Wiley & Sons, after submitting to them, but it’s hard to get worked up about it. Unlike Kat Coble v. JL Kirk, unlike (modesty aside) tdaxp v. Nationmaster — unlike even King Leonides v. Persia — Retrospectacle calmly submits and then complains about the unfair treatment.

    If Retrospectacle is serious about defending her rights, criticizing John Wiley & Sons / Wiley Interscience, she will restore her post to how it was before the threatening letter. Otherwise, don’t expect a kirking.

    Otherwise, as Larry Moren points out, this bruhaha is just another reason to use
    PLoS
    and digital commons. Which is too bad, because John Wiley & Sons / Wiley Interscience has resorted to this thuggery before.

    Wiley Interscience "Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture" SLAPPs Retrospectacle

    0xDE, Gene Expression, gnxp, Good Math, Bad Math, Greedy, Greedy Algorithms, Respectful Insolence, and romunov are reportings that Shelly Batts (a U of Michigan Neuroscience PhD candidate) has been threatened with lawyers after writing a critical interpretation of a recent article.


    Shelly has been threatened for analyzing charts like this one

    Shelly not joins me and other bloggers are being threatened with strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPPs). I hope she stands up for herself. The academic and applied consequence of these nuisance lawsuits is increasingly well known. Just google “JL Kirk,” for example, to find out what happens when lawyers threaten bloggers after a negative review.

    Of course, there’s no need to search the internet for that stuff. It also hits the paper and the tv news.

    Mike Daisey Assaulted on Stage

    Mike Daisey, the hillarious author of 21 Dog years: Doing Time @ Amazon.com, had his notes ruined during an assault during a walk-out. The whole thing is on Youtube, and Mike’s blog.


    Aftermath

    Apparently, the criminal (Mike calls him a terrorist, and it’s hard to disagree with that term) is a self-described Christian. Of course the assalut wasn’t Christian. The assault was the opposite of Christian. This isolate crime — this particular act of terror — has a more in common with the Muslim cartoon riots. Which, perhaps, is appropriate. The assault against Mike Daisey is a perversion of a Christian, as Islam is an heresey of Christianity.

    Someday they will be loved

    Death Cab for Cutie. 2005. Someday you will be loved. Plans. Lyrics available.

    Sons are important. Songs are about human conflict, meaningful struggle, and often even love. Not just lust — the mad desire for a thing — but love — the longing to provide goods to another that cannot be denied by anyone.

    Earlier, I highlighted four songs by Guerrillas (19-2000, Clint Eastwood, Dare, and Feel Good, Inc.). Today I want to look at Someday You Will Be Loved, by Death Cab for Cutie.

    “Soemday you will be loved” is about abandoning love, about the limits of what humans can give. As the Iraq War winds down, its lesson about love abandoned applies to the population who will love any hope of real love if we leave: Iraq’s Sunni Arabs. For more than a year, prolonging the war has only bought them time. But for years, Sunni Arab culture, inspired by its Naser-Arafat habit of doing exactly the wrong thing, has aggravated the situation.

    We will leave Iraq. There will ethnic cleansing. The Sunni Arabs will not experience love in our generation, or perhaps our lifetime. But as the global economy continues to expand, and as the Afro-Islamic Gap is eventually shrunked, someday they will be loved.


    I once knew a girl
    In the years of my youth
    With eyes like the summer
    All beauty and truth


    For several months, perhaps a year, Bush had a chance of bringing a government to Iraq that would reasonably represent all of her citizens. However, the violent incompetence of two men: Abu Musab Zarqawi and George Walker Bush, made that impossible. The dreams of 2003 are the dreams of the past.


    In the morning I fled…

    America will leave Iraq, because America leaes all countries. We are not an colonial power, like those great states of Britain, France, Holland, and Japan. Too bad for the citizens of Anbar.

    Left a note and it read


    Given Zarqawi’s and Bush’s performance, the Constitution of Iraq is a death sentence for populations that oppose democracy. Ethnic cleansings are now inevitable, and true family liberation of the Sunni Arabs is a possibility

    Someday you will be loved.

    tdaxps_new_map_md
    Iraq’s Sunni Arabs are stuck the Afro-Islamic Gap, and without ties to the outside world (most especially, without friendly ties to Iran) she will remain their for a century.

    I cannot pretend that I felt any regret


    Ending the Iraq War means dividing up the country into “thirds,” but that’s really a euphomism. 65% of Iraqi is Shia Arab, and 20% of Iraq is Kurd. Only about 15% is Sunni Arab. Ending the Iraq War means the Sunni Arabs get the desert and, if they are lucky, the ghetto.

    Cause each broken heart will eventually mend


    Within 12 years, two minority-regimes fell: South Africa and Iraq. The Afrikaner population in South Africa recognized reality, and managed to have their ethnic cleansing be as peaceful and violent as possible. The Iraqi Sunni Arabs tried to swim against the tide of history. They have just begun to pay for that.

    As the blood runs red down the needle and thread


    While they disagree on many things, and both could have operated much more competently, Both Bush and Zarqawi sought to speed the killing. Both recognize the pre-War status quo as one of institutionalied hate, and both sought to change it. But Iraq belongs not to Southern Protestants nor to Sunni Arabs, but, ultimately, to the Iraqi People and their Shia majority.

    Someday you will be loved
    You’ll be loved you’ll be loved
    Like you never have known


    Arabs are not destined to live as either Masters or Slaves. Under western influence and protection, Arab states have been able to provide a good life for their citizens. Egypt under her golden age (-1945) and Qatar now are good examples of this.

    The memories of me
    Will seem more like bad dreams


    Chosen traumas are determined by present needs, not past actions

    Just a series of blurs
    Like I never occurred


    The American occupation of Iraq will one day fade into the mythic past for those in the Gap. Saddam Hussein will also live in the pages of legend. But the devestation of Anbar made possible by the Sunni Arab population will be a reality, probably until a larger shrinking of the Afro-Islamic Gap.

    Someday you will be loved

    You may feel alone when you’re falling asleep
    And everytime tears roll down your cheeks

    Bad Neighbors

    But I know your heart belongs to someone you’ve yet to meet
    Someday you will be loved


    China is perhaps the best hope of the Gap, because Beijing is will to build infrastructure and connectivity even for the worst regimes in the world. But Anbar is dry and landlocked, with nothing to give and no one to give it too.

    You’ll be loved you’ll be loved
    Like you never have known
    The memories of me
    Will seem more like bad dreams
    Just a series of blurs
    Like I never occurred
    Someday you will be loved

    You’ll be loved you’ll be loved
    Like you never have known
    The memories of me
    Will seem more like bad dreams
    Just a series of blurs
    Like I never occurred
    Someday you will be loved
    Someday you will be loved

    Global Guerrillas as Petty Realism

    John Robb’s new book is the talk of the town (see this review over at Haft of the Spear, for example). While I still have not read his work, I did read “Hollow States” from John’s blog, Global Guerrillas.

    The post reinforces my notion that “Global Guerrillas” is a generic term for those who seek to maintain a balance of power on the sub-state level. They sacrifice wealth and prestige in order to prevent the emergency of a leader and retain freedom of movement. “Global Guerrillas” are well known. They are called realists.

    The problem, of course, is that Realism can only work when geography trumps movement. Realism worked in Europe, for example, because the mountains and peninsulas of that continent prevented maneuver warfare until the late modern era. However, Robb’s talk of a virtual state amounts to little other than the fact that geography doesn’t matter. And so global guerrillas — these petty realists — have no hope.

    Unable to hold territory, and unwilling to join a minimal winning coalition capable of achieving victory, all global guerrillas can do is generate violence. All they can do is make some other group even more attractive, if that group promises to end or reduce the violence.

    On an individual level, global guerrillas can break things kill people.
    On a state level, global guerrillas can make non-guerrilla groups more politicall attractive.

    And that’s it.

    Global guerrilla theory is rightfully interesting to those who to study how people die or how insurgencies end. Likewise, Robb’s book will surely be interesting to those who are interested in the personalities of our little niche of the blogosphere, which is why I plan to buy it. But “global guerrillas” as some sort of self-sustaining phenomenon, and they are in no way new.