I have two papers that I wrote for classes that I am editing down to the length required by the national conference next year. It’s painful, as there was not much fluff – if I included something, I included it for a reason. Ah well, that hard part is done. Now I need to re-read to make sure everything still makes sense, edit again, and then send off before the deadline.

Interesting Take on Russia

Certainly, this piece is more balanced than the self-contradictory Cold War thinking we got during the Georgia War.

Much of the advice comes down to just trust Gazprom. Should we provide security for pro-European states in Europe? Not if we can trust Gazprom instead. Should we try prevent more energy cut-offs when democracies anger Putin? Not if we can trust Gazprom instead.

The take on Russia is a bit deceptive — it sounds so much more reasonable than the hysterics we got last August I want to agree with it, but ultimately cannot. The piece is to transparently the work of an employee for an energy services provider on behalf of another large energy company.

It’s hard to give up on a once promising analyst, but over the last few years the feeling of reading press releases has grown stronger and stronger.

Should we have more monopolies?

A writer at gnxp thinks so:

Still, some of the recent ones are deserved, such as cloning a sheep and sequencing the human genome. Overall, though, the pattern is pretty clear — we haven’t invented jackshit for the past 30 years. With the two main monopolistic Ivory Towers torn down — one private and one public — it’s no surprise to see innovation at a historic low. Indeed, the last entries in the building / manufacturing and household categories date back to 1969 and 1974, respectively.

On the plus side, Microsoft and Google are pretty monopolistic, and they’ve been delivering cool new stuff at low cost (often for free — and good free, not “home brew” free). But they’re nowhere near as large as Bell Labs or the DoD was back in the good ol’ days. I’m sure that once our elected leaders reflect on the reality of invention, they’ll do the right thing and pump more funds into ballooning the state, as well as encouraging Microsoft, Google, and Verizon to merge into the next incarnation of monopoly-era AT&T.

via Gene Expression: Monopoly allows innovation to flourish.

Having recently reviewed Dr. Narain Gehani’s Bell Labs: Life in the Crown Jewel, it certainly appears that Bell Labs research profoundly suffered after the divestature of the 1980s and “trivestature” of the 1990s. Likewise, it is hard to think of anything very new in terms of computer science — most of what we had is refined version of what we had 15 years ago.

However, monopolies (and companies too big to fight, generally) bring us horror stories like $11,000 cell phone bills, theft from the public domain, rule by MBAs, and other bad things.

So, are some monopolies good for innovation? And if they are, what sort of monopolies should be encouraged?