L. Neil Smith's
Number 265, April 4, 2004

Boycott Verizon Communications!

[Letters to the editor are welcome on any and all subjects. To ensure their acceptance, please try to keep them under 500 words. Sign your letter in the text body with your name and e-mail address as you wish them to appear.]

Letter from John LuValle

Letter from Joe Kultgen

Letter from Doug Heard

Letter from e.j.totty

Letter from Zan Lynx

Re: http://www.webleyweb.com/tle/tle264-20040321-02.html

L. Neil,

Thanks for the 'Story of the year' article. I was not aware of the thermal depolymerization process that the CWT people had come up with. Using flash depressurizaition to pull off water was a really clever finesse.

Thanks also for your stories, they've been inspirational.

Now about 'global warming'. I had thought I was fairly well wired into both the research and popular analysis on this, and have not seen evidence that it's been disproved.

To the contrary, the permafrost that isn't in Siberia and Alaska, the dwindling glaciers, some of which I've seen personally, and the breakup and increased melting of the ice shelves in Antarctica suggest rather strongly that if it isn't global warming, it's certainly significant global climate change.

What has been disproved are some of the models that were being used, particularly the assumption of a simple connection between ground heating and heating the troposphere. There's also a lot of question as to what's going on with the sun (vs. man made effects).

If you have a citation or other reference demonstrating that 'Global warming' isn't I'd be delighted to see it.


John LuValle

Re: http://www.webleyweb.com/tle/tle264-20040321-01.html#letter2

Dear Editor,

As an uncertified, free lance network tech I feel an obligation to dispute e.j.totty's assertion that a certification is some sort of license. It is nothing more than a statement that whatever has earned the certification has been inspected and meets a published standard. Lacking the certificate makes it more difficult to sell my services. New customers are purchasing an unknown quantity. As long as I have enough repeat business to convince me I'm supplying good value, I couldn't care less about certificates, and neither do my customers.

That doesn't mean I agree with Mr. Stone's assertion that intellectual property doesn't exist. It may be more difficult to assign a dollar value to an intangible but that doesn't mean it has no value. If a surgeon uses his talents and creativity to perfect a new technique that saves lives or gives results previously unobtainable, he has created a valuable property. The fact that others can duplicate his results, AFTER he shows them how, doesn't make his idea public property. If anything it makes his technique more valuable. What needs to be defined are the limits of how he can market his idea without interfering with the property rights of others.

He can certainly offer to teach others his skill for a fee and with a non-disclosure agreement. For a much higher fee he would probably be willing to modify the non-disclosure agreement to allow selected people toteach his technique to others on the condition that they in turn required anon-disclosure agreement from their students. At some point though the technique would become so widely known that enforcement of any non-disclosure agreements and recovery of damages would be practically impossible.

The problem with our current intellectual property laws is that they try to take a "one size fits all" approach regarding the marketable lifespan of a idea. They also try to extend that marketable lifespan to the point that there is often a long period where the original owner is no longer able to profit from it but the property is still withheld from the public domain. Times change and if patent and copyright law doesn't change with them the law will be ignored.

Joe Kultgen

Regarding Mr. Stone's "Law vs. Reality" article

Part 1: http://www.webleyweb.com/tle/tle262-20040307-10.html
Part 2: http://www.webleyweb.com/tle/tle263-20040314-02.html
Part 3: http://www.webleyweb.com/tle/tle264-20040321-03.html
(And Part 4, in this issue)

More Open Source Music, or "Election Year Blues"

While I didn't go into the detail Mr. Stone did I addressed the same issue in the Oct. 26th, 03 issue of TLE.

I didn't think I could change it from the top down, so I thought I'd try to change it from the bottom up.

Thus the appearance of open source music.

There are two more songs in my open source music system now both co written with another writer who has given permission to include them as open source music.

One called Chilli in the Wind written 20 yrs ago. One called Election Year Blues written two weeks ago.

While I haven't had time to get them posted to the web site yet due to a problem with my recording setup. I will post the lyrics to the second here as it is timely. Same open source rules apply.

Open Source Music

  • There are no restrictions on the use of this music other than that you don't claim you wrote it.

  • Feel free to modify it, write some more verses.

  • Feel free to perform it with out paying me for the privilege.

  • Feel free to record it make a million dollars and don't give me a cent. I'll be better off than if you hadn't have recorded it.

Election Year Blues—Douglas Heard and Dennis C. O'Neil © 2004

E C#m Dm E
Donkey and the elephant came to town
E C#m Dm E
Both are spreading lies (it) around
E A7
Don't believe what they say
B7 A7 G E
It ain't gona change on election day

Voted for Kennedy, young and alive
Went to Texas, shot and died
Don't believe what they say
It ain't gona change on election day

Voted for Nixon to get out of war
He just signed us up for more
Don't believe what they say
It ain't gona change on election day

Not for Ford, pardoned the crook
And Carter didn't have what it took
Don't believe what they say
It ain't gona change on election day

Reagan made us hope for a turn around
Then Bush came in, shot us down
Don't believe what they say
It ain't gona change on election day

Clinton had a pretty good chance
Couldn't stay out of the intern's pants
Don't believe what they say
It ain't gona change on election day

Now we're back to Bush again
Got us in a war we can't win
Don't believe what they say
It ain't gona change on election day

Kerry and Bush differ not a nickel
Might as well vote for a pickle
Don't believe what they say
It ain't gona change on election day

Repeat first verse (substitute Bull Shit for lies or it)

Ain't gona change till Judgment Day

I will get an mp3 posted as soon as I can get to recording again.

Anyone who wants help or to use it feel free to e-mail me. I would like to know if you are performing it or have changed it but hold no claim as to preventing you from doing either. If it would make you feel better I will send a release to anyone who wants to perform it or record it. I plan to distribute it to every 3rd party candidate I can find.

Good for Mr. Stone who I don't know personally but did correspond with last year about air travel. While we haven't talked about this problem it seems we both came up with the same idea (which neither of us own) from different perspectives, him from a listener and me as a composer. I can't own the idea and neither can he.

Doug Heard

Doug Heard is a part time computer instructor (computers for old farts), part time musician, part time composer, part time gunsmith, and part time web site designer. Has in the past taught HS sciences, trained birddogs, driven cabs, sold wholesale veterinary pharmaceuticals, and fought a war as a US Marine.

Letter from e.j.totty

Dear Mr. Ed/Editor,

I'll try my best to keep this short and succinct.

Mr. Stone, the third, proclaims them early man did not have any idea—or thought—concerning property.

Presumably the concept never entered their minds?

I'll like to ask Mr. Stone, the third, to please direct all of us to a referenced source which states exactly that.

Further, I'd like to know who it was that was able to read the minds of men and women long dead. That in itself would make for an interesting read.

I'm beginning to wonder if he has in mind something not unlike Hillary Clinton's séance/mind-meld with Elenore Roosevelt.

To, on the one hand, state that what a person may pickup and carry was personal property, but in the other claim that what was stood upon could not be, is ludicrous.

If I pick up a rock and claim it to be mine, and then place it down so that I may rest, is the rock still mine, or do I surrender it?

If I pick up ten such rocks, and do the same, what then? What if I do the same with a whole 1000 acres of rocks, gravel and whatever else?

I just might pick up several of them each day, just because. Are they still mine, or did those never belong to me?

If one states that those cannot be my personal property, then there can be no such thing as that, not even the rags on my back.

Now for the meat an potatoes of this missive.

Each human owns his/her (herein after known as 'his'—in keeping with conventional English grammar) body.

He also owns his own mind.

Now, if Mr. Ed were to hire me to conduct a labor which required physical exertion on my own part, my labor - before the fact—would belong to me. The compensation I would receive would be agreed upon priorly.

And, upon completion, the results of my work would thence belong to Mr. Ed.

For the less informed among us, this exchange of labor and capital is referred to as 'commerce' and the transfer of wealth.

Mr. Ed owns the capital, and I, the labor.

For a really excellent discourse on this, please read Adam Smith on "The Wealth of Nations."

Now, let's suppose that Mr. Ed wishes to have a technology that isn't yet in existence, but knowing that I am an engineer, he informs me of his desire, and describes what he'd like to have.

Understand here, that Mr. Ed, doesn't even know how to go about the matter of obtaining the object of his desire, only that he wants it.

So, he hires me to design the 'thing'—to bring it into existence.

We agree before hand that all of my efforts in the regard of what I do—including any intangible (intellectual property), will become his property in the process of bringing the project to fruition. This is to say that any expression of the intellect which is actually put to print, will belong to Mr. Ed, upon completion of the project.

The above scenario happens daily, and it is called 'the commerce of ideas': Someone thinks of a way of doing a thing, and someone else pays for the idea.

Herein lay the rub: If tangible property may be bought and sold, and if intellectual property—itself being intangible, may also be bought and sold in commerce, then it follows that the idea—the intangible, may also become 'property.'

If such were not the case, then Mr. Ed could well tell me to take a hike, regarding compensation for my 'ideas,' and commence to compensate me for my physical labors only.

If I posses an object, and someone else desires to either own it, or have something like it, they have only two legal options: Buy it, or make one for themselves.

Intellectual property is an extension of ownership of the mind and body. If you cannot legally steal my labor for your gain, then neither may you legally steal my ideas for your gain, because in neither case did you pay for them.

With regards to commerce, government in almost every land has instituted laws which protect for a limited time, the exclusive ownership of an idea—and the exclusive right to to express that idea in commerce.

Call this 'commercial propriety.' That is from middle English, and derives from the French, meaning 'property.'

What that exclusive right does not include, is the right to prevent anyone else from using the idea for themselves only.

This is to say, that if you desire to make the thing which has been patented for your own use—and no one else's, you may do so. But you may not legally engage in any type or form of commerce, with that 'thing' while the patent is still in force for it, and so far as I know, this has always been the case.

Ergo, I may make copies of music, software, or other things FOR MYSELF ONLY.

Commerce relies upon the fact of 'potential fall.'

Potential fall is a term used in the study of electricity and electronics to describe what must be in existence before a current of electrons may happen. The term most used is a 'difference of potential,' not unlike a body of water behind a dam.

Actually, you could use to term in may areas of engineering to describe what must be available in order for any process to happen that requires some type of energy transfer, flow, or reaction.

As I inferred previously, commerce requires a need, and a desire: You have something I need, and I have something you desire: The potential difference, with commerce being the flow.

If I had an idea—and a way of executing it into existence in order to realize its effect, and someone—like Mr. Stone, the third, for instance—were to approach me and say that he'd like to engage in commerce, but demanded proof that what I was about to sell must be proven first, why he could simply view the documents, abscond with the idea and commence engage in his own commerce at my expense.

That would be nothing less than theft, but that's ' exactly what he desires to engage in.

If everybody's thoughts belonged to everyone else, there would be no 'potential fall' in which to conduct commerce, simply that once an idea was expressed, nobody could engage in commerce—at least not with any great effect, thus the advent of patents and copyrights.

The transfer of wealth happens only because there is a desire with a consonant need—or similar desire.

If everybody is wealthy, then everybody is poor. This is so, because if everybody possess the same wealth as everyone else, then nobody has anything anybody else desires.

You simply cannot trade what everybody else has; what are you going to trade, more of the same?

Everybody has a wealth of air. How many people do you see trading air? Compressed gas is an entirely different matter.

While it might be true that everybody will be able to conduct their own manufacture of a process or object for themselves—especially if the ability to do so was without much cost or effort, regarding a patented thing, the likelihood of everyone doing so is quite minimal in most cases, simply because most people could not be bothered.

And in fact, the level of commerce we witness today would not ever have happened, simply because there would be no reason to pay anyone for anything, and hence no reason to engage in the manufacture of anything.

The industry of modern times would not be in existence.

In the worst case we'd all still be stuck in the medieval.

In the next worst case, only the few having the greatest amount of capital would be engaged in the manufacture of things, by stealing the ideas of all others. Prices would be artificially high, certain things would be available to only the few who could afford them, and the rest would get things with a level of quality befitting of a serf.

If there is any one aspect which has allowed so many people in modern times to acquire a great degree of wealth, it is the patent and copyright laws, because those extend to every last man, woman and child the ability to accrue to themselves the level of wealth which formerly had not been possible except to the already wealthy and powerful—priorly.

Additionally, and most importantly, it is those laws which have inspired so many people to bring into fruition ideas which have added immeasurably to both the health and creature comforts of humanity.

Indeed, without those patents and copyrights, we would not be having this discussion, nor would this form of communication even be possible.

In finality, Mr. Stone, the third, would remove the ability from everyone to achieve any degree of greatness, and instead would have all of us begging at the foot of some already wealthy tyrant.

If a man's ideas aren't to be worth anything to himself, then neither is he of any worth to anyone else—save except to be a slave.

In Liberty,

I have a couple of comments to make about Mr. Stone's article.

Mr. Stone writes, "Forget for a moment that copyright law exists— divest yourself of the idea that since government defines a right, it must exist. Just sit for a moment and ask yourself: "How does it initiate force against Shania Twain for Bill Stone to listen to MP3s of her songs that he downloaded from a file-sharing service as opposed to paying for a CD in the store?"

This is a true statement. Shania Twain suffers no direct harm from the copying of her songs. But copyright is better thought of as a "social contract." In exchange for more creative works, we, the citizens of the United States, agreed to pay for copies of creative works. That's what it comes down to, and Libertarians seem to agree that contracts should be enforced. The problem with this contract is that it was "signed" before any of us were born, and we have not each explicitly agreed to it.

In a Libertarian society, in the absence of copyright law, would each movie theater produce a contract document to be signed before receiving your ticket? If you then videotaped the movie and distributed it, you would be in violation of your contract and subject to penalties.

If there was no government enforcement of contracts through the courts and you refused to abide by the penalty clauses, I suppose the movie theaters would go by your reputation. By adding you to a black list of unwanted movie viewers, you might never be able to enter a theater again.

Mr. Stone also writes, "Other property rights DO exist in absence of government. You can buy a diamond, put it in your pocket, and say, "This is mine, not yours." If I then initiate force against you by taking the diamond against your will, you can shoot me, cut me open, and take your property back.

You can't do that with ideas. The best you can do is initiate force against others by killing them in order to keep the information secret."

This argument about property rights only applying to objects that require force to take from you is a bad one.

Is your car no longer yours because you left it parked? Can anyone drive it away, then? They did not initiate force against you in any way.

Is your land no longer yours because you cannot physically stop people from walking over it or taking trees from it, or drinking your water on it?

I think we would all agree that government needs to guarantee property rights that extend beyond what you can carry in your pocket.

Zan Lynx

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