The Null Device


A US lawyer has noticed plugging a dangerous hole in the world's intellectual-property regime, a hole which costs chefs and restauranteurs untold godzillions of dollars: the fact that food cannot be copyrighted, and it is perfectly legal for any pirasite who can determine how you created your culinary masterpiece to rip it off without paying you a cent. Not to worry: Steven Shaw has come up with a scheme for bringing food into the realm of intellectual property:

First, he'd propose changing the copyright code, possibly by making cuisine a subdivision of the existing category for sculpture or acknowledging recipes as a form of literary expression. For enforcement, Shaw leans toward creating a system like ASCAP, an association that collects composers' royalties for public performances of songs--on the radio, in nightclubs and so on...
Magnanimously, Shaw has left classic recipes like French onion soup in the public domain. Anything new, however, could be copyrighted. So if you invent a variant of French onion soup with a few extra ingredients, you could demand a licensing fee from anyone else who serves it. In Shaw's world, restaurants would be billed by collection agencies for the recipes they used, the takings of which would be distributed (after administrative expenses) among the authors of recipes. (It is not clear how this would apply to home cooking; perhaps cookbooks would come with a shrinkwrapped EULA which would give the user the right to use the recipes in their own home, feeding at most N people, as long as they had possession of the book; meanwhile, microwaveable ready meals and jars of sauce would carry a patronising "Don't Steal Recipes / Respect Intellectual Property" sticker.) The sudden influx of financial reward to previously deprived cooks would bring in a new golden age of culinary creativity as never before. The lawyers would allow themselves a moment to bask in the satisfaction of a job well done, though not more than a moment; after all, there are still other domains of human endeavour in need of rescuing from lack of ownership.

(via Boing Boing) copyright galambosianism 2

The latest fatwa posted on an Islamist website is against the Apple store in New York; an unnamed organisation claims that Apple's cube-shaped store in New York is "an insult to Islam", because (a) it resembles the Ka'aba in Mecca, (b) is known as "the Apple Mecca", and (c) "contains bars serving alcoholic beverages". Which is fair enough, except that (b) and (c) are false (or at least nobody officially calls it the "Apple Mecca"), and (a) is only true in that both buildings are cube-shaped.

(via The Reg) apple fatwas islam religion 0

Outspoken liberal Muslim woman Saira Khan (who also hosted a BBC Radio documentary on blogging a while ago) speaks in support of Jack Straw's recent comments, in which he stated that Muslim women in Britain should not wear face-covering veils:

It is an extreme practice. It is never right for a woman to hide behind a veil and shut herself off from people in the community. But it is particularly wrong in Britain, where it alien to the mainstream culture for someone to walk around wearing a mask. The veil restricts women, it stops them achieving their full potential in all areas of their life and it stops them communicating. It sends out a clear message: "I do not want to be part of your society."
This claim that women veiling themselves is a separatist/exclusionary act is certainly not disproved by some recent letters to newspapers from Muslims speaking out in favour of women wearing veils, which often speak contemptuously of non-Islamic British society as being comprised primarily of violent, drunken, sex-crazed undesirables whom one would naturally want to avoid.

Saira goes on:

Some Muslim women say that it is their choice to wear it; I don't agree. Why would any woman living in a tolerant country freely choose to wear such a restrictive garment? What these women are really saying is that they adopt the veil because they believe that they should have less freedom than men, and that if they did not wear the veil men would not be accountable for their uncontrollable urges -- so women must cover-up so as not to tempt men. What kind of a message does that send to women?
Many moderate Muslim women in Britain will welcome Mr Straw's comments. This is an opportunity for them to say: "I don't wear the veil but I am a Muslim." If I had been forced to wear a veil I would certainly not be writing this article -- I would not have the friends I have, I would not have been able to run a marathon or become an aerobics teacher or set up a business.

commentary islam religion society uk 19

Hans Reiser, the author of the eponymous Linux filesystem, has been arrested on suspicion of murdering his wife, who went missing more than a month ago. More sordid background details here. Meanwhile, the Slashdot peanut gallery has been busy; in between impassioned debates on the death penalty, sincere hopes that this does not disrupt a fine project (now that would be a tragedy!) and discussions on whether ReiserFS will be renamed if he is found guilty, there have been a lot of off-colour jokes:

What's the difference between O.J. and Hans Reiser?
Hans kept a journal.
If the transaction doesn't commit, you must acquit!
Not to mention the following observations:
This isn't meant to be funny or insensitive ... but if he did do it and is found guilty it seems like he'll have a bunch of time on his hand. You know, with the long jail sentence and all. Is their a reason why he can't continue working on this project from jail? Also, working on a OSS with your free time in jail seems like it might get you some good behavior points.
Glad to see someone's got their priorities straight...

(via /.) crime linux slashdot 1

According to Conrad Heiney, one of the worst things you can call someone these days is "well-meaning":

A well-meaning person is always doing the wrong thing. The phrase encompasses many sins. The well-meaning person is presumed to be ignorant of the world's harsh ways, naive, gullible, and full of an unwarranted optimism especially about human nature. Arrogance or at least hubris is implied too, in that well-meaning people have an exaggerated view of their own ability to improve things.
One thing is certain: well-meaning people always make things worse. They're always trying to feed babies when the real problem is that parents won't work. Or getting in the way of a war because of the horrors thereof when the real problem can only be solved by winning the war. Or providing shelter for the poor when the real problem is the oppressive system that keeps them poor. Well-meaning people always seem to have band-aid solutions and don't see the picture. Their attempts to make things better always result in disaster because of something called the Law of Unintended Consequences which says that every time you do something that seems to mean well it will mean more trouble later on, in the larger scheme of things.
This is a place where Social Darwinism, Marxism, and Malthusian pessimism meet after having been thoroughly dumbed down into one idea: don't try to be good. The task is impossible and will make you into a victim yourself. Worse still, it will obstruct the natural way of things which eventually resolves conflicts. The Tao of this worldview is cruelty, and you must flow with it.
The word "aggressive" is entirely positive in all contexts. It has come to mean "effective," and anything labeled "passive" is by definition a failure. One roots out crime aggressively, and also treats disease aggressively, and even an aggressive prose style is given the seal of approval.
I urge you to resist this. Mean well.

(via substitute) cynicism language society 0

Blogging has been accused of being a lot of things, and now, according to an Evangelical church, it is un-Christian:

"Blogging has become a socially accepted practice - just as are dating seriously too young, underage drinking and general misbehaving," notes the monthly of the Reformed Church of God, Ambassador Youth.
"People will now do and say things that should only be done in private, or, frankly, should not be said or done at all," rues Denee. "Propriety, decorum and decency are not elements considered on blogs. People simply blurt things out, without considering the contents or consequences."
The Reformed Church of God, who issued this particular fatwa, recommends in lieu of this unnatural and ungodly practice, "maintaining friends the "old-fashioned" way, through actual personal contact, as well as letter writing, emailing or instant messaging".

(via The Register) blogging fatwas religion society 0