Tuesday, August 26, 2003

And we've come full circle

An excellent article concerning SCO, IBM, and patents.

Thursday, August 21, 2003


Since the SCO lawsuit is against IBM I have been trying to follow the case when I can. I recently came across an analysis of the recent SCO slide show that I thought was interesting. I have no idea how biased it is.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

I Believe

Am I a bad man if I was happy when I read about Michael Vick?

Intellectual Property?

I do have some more rambling to do on charity, and it looks like it's a pressing topic as I may have a voluntary/forced community service project next week, but for now I need to get this patent stuff off my chest.

Up until recently I never thought about patents much. I mean sure there's the old quote, "I think everything has already been invented" or some such, and certainly I knew about patents from the point of view of say, the telephone. But I never looked into patents in the here and now and I never really thought about the concepts behind patents. Working where I work, and keeping in touch with the computer industry has forced me into thinking about the concepts. With Napster and copyright, and Linux and patents, it's hard to find an interesting, or at least unbiased, discussion about intellectual property. A few days ago I included the two best finds on deeper thinking in the area.

First things first, there are some whacked out things that have been patented. I mean 1-Click? Come on. I think everyone "invents" that whenever they tire of filing out a form on the web and think, gee couldn't this be easier. And some other patents out there seem to be just too broad. If I come up with an interesting way to sort numbers, can I really patent the idea of sorting numbers? So I think it's easy to say the patent office has a little work to do, ok A LOT.

Once I started thinking about the concepts behind patents, what I really started to wonder was can you really own an idea? And really let me say this here and now, read those other links for a much better discussion on this topic. Let's say Tom has this idea in his head about electricity, he discovers electricity. Then he puts his engineering skills to good use and builds a generator. So first, the idea in his head about electricity I think he owns. Thoughts in your head, you own. That part just seems logical, but does he own the idea of electricity? Certainly he discovered it but I mean its just physics. You can't own a physics concept can you? Now the generator, that's different story. I mean he thought long and hard on that one, and used engineering for goodness sake, he's gotta own that idea.

But wait a moment, what if Bob across the street just came up with the idea for a generator all on his own. Who owns the idea for a generator? Is it really the guy who fills out the right forms, gets an attorney and gets it accepted by a government agency first? Does the other guy really just get screwed? It would seem that they could both sell generators if they wanted and people would just buy the better generator so it's all good economics wise. Property ownership wise I think we are ok as well. I mean Bob didn't steal Tom's generator so no property rights were violated.

Now what if Joe buys a hand made Tom generator, takes it apart, figures out how to build one, and sells his own. Is Joe in the wrong? Did he steal an idea? Maybe his taking it apart and figuring it out is enough to say he got the idea on his own? Why do I feel the need to keep using questions?

There does seem to be the problem of high R&D budgets. Would a pharmaceutical company really invest millions in developing a cancer drug if they had to compete with any other drug maker once they came up with the drug? Certainly consumers would benefit from competition, but if the company never develops the product in the first place it doesn't really matter.

While I like examples to see how things would play out and to gauge how I think about things, its really the concepts that make up my mind. So can you own an idea, an invention? Certainly you put time an effort into it, labor, and it would seem you should somehow own the fruits of your labor. That concept works perfectly fine for a physical object, such as a chair, but does it work for an idea, an intangible?

It would seem this affects copyright as well though I haven't really thought that far. I am just sitting here thinking, if you can't own an idea, copyright and patents make no sense and have to go. But then reaching that conclusion I feel something must be wrong if that statement is true. Anyone? Anyone?

Monday, August 18, 2003

Impressive. Very impressive.

Did anyone else realize google could do all this?

So my sister came in town Thursday night and since then she has been able to rent an apartment, buy a bed, and move all her stuff. As of tomorrow she will actually be living there. I realize she has done this a few times now but I am still impressed.

Friday, August 15, 2003


"Americans are three times as likely to believe in the Virgin Birth of Jesus (83 percent) as in evolution (28 percent)." Wow.

There but for the Grace of God go I

So it seems even some of the hardcore Objectvists feel charity has a place. I find the concept of voluntary charity as a nod to the cosmic roll of the dice an interesting idea and I may be close to forming an opinion on the matter. A more traditional view of charity can be found in the Jaycee Creed. Is a life of unselfish service the best way to live?

Wednesday, August 13, 2003


Tonight is guy night with BIL so nothing long winded from me right now. Patents have been on my mind lately though so I leave you with this and this. I know they are libertarian in nature, but with all the copyright debate over mp3s and patent debate over crazy software patents, it's hard to find a good discussion on the concepts behind IP. These two pages are the best I could find today.

That's what I call a Tuesday night

Hut's, Ginger Man, Red Fez, Library, Joe's ... software patents?

Monday, August 11, 2003


Since I am about to make this site public, I figure some friendly linkage is in order.

First off I need to link to Tom. Tom's blog was the first blog I had ever heard of so he deserves to be first. Next comes Richard and Taylor. Checking those two daily is what gave me the push to do my own. And finally there is rebecca's pocket. I have no idea who this person is, but she knows the history of blogging and her blog gives you a good idea of what one can be.

Economic and Social Justice?

So I have been having trouble lately with the concepts of charities. First, a little history. I went to Catholic school for something like thirteen years and all that time I thought the right thing to do was to give your money to the poor, not all your money of course but a goodly sum once you made enough. Then I had to go and read Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. I had been making decent money for a little while before reading the book and hadn't donated any of it yet, so you could say I already had issues with charities in my mind. I would say I just had engagement and marriage on my mind. After reading the book my ideas about charities went in the direction of my new economic view, which is to say "way right." All of a sudden I think "from each according to his ability and to each according to his need" is an evil saying and I start to wonder if we are providing a rewards system for bad habits. Have I been brainwashed? Are current social programs too short sighted? Do rich people only give money to charities if they feel guilty about having so much money? I don't have any answers. I feel like there must be some middle-ground, but then I think I am just being shoved back into a mindset forced on me by the norm of society and my Catholic upbringing.

First of all it would seem to stand to reason that in an economically free society, people can do whatever they want with their money, and thereby they could give them to charities if they wanted. Whether they should or not is a different question. So from this view you can say that at the very least, any sort of government social program is a bad idea since the people providing the money don't choose where their money goes. I know I know they choose by way of their representatives, but I think that's any easy out myself. This no government charities idea I think I can get behind easier. It's a radical view to be sure, but I really don't like the idea of government as a means to redistribute wealth and to me that's all this is. The next question is private charities. Should you give to them? Still not quite sure how I feel about this one but seems you can make an economic case for it, depending on the charity. Of course people don't usually try to make an economic case, they try to make a pity case, but that's back to the earlier discussion. If the charity is teaching people how to fish and you make fishing gear then it would seem to make sense for you to send a little money their way. That may be a simple case, but I think you can take it further and have it work. My high school religion teacher would shoot me after making that last point, and part of me does feel dead inside, but really that's a different issue isn't it?

If I don't want to pay for someone else's food or education or clothing, does that make me an uncaring elitist? a Social Darwinist? a bad person?

(hang on, switching gears)

This week is Sibling Week in the Dickey household. Should be interesting.

Saturday, August 09, 2003

Double Old Fashioned

Today I try my hand at having a more traditional weblog.

Apparently IBM is a dominant company when it comes to microscopes. I work there and I didn't know that.

Moving tech jobs to India will hurt America, right? Not necessarily. Once again things are more complicated in the long run than they first appear.

Thursday, August 07, 2003

Love the One You Whiff

We watched Monster's Ball yesterday. I really had no idea what to expect and I think because of that I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. Certainly the first half of the movie gives you reason to be, but I stayed there the whole movie. Its tough subject matter but I thought it was handled well. Setting a movie in Georgia but then filming it in Louisiana doesn't make much sense to me but it was nice to see sights I was familiar with so I really shouldn't complain. Halle did a wonderful job and I can see why she won the Oscar, though I don't understand why they didn't nominate Billy Bob. The ending worked for me, but I really was waiting for the other shoe to drop the whole time. I can't go as far to recommend it to anyone, but I enjoyed it and thought it was worth seeing so there you go.

Today I had one of my last "leadership" classes that work has been sending me to. Its been a while since we had the last one and I was thinking today how much of what we have covered I am actually using at work. I don't think I am using much. Maybe its just going on in my head somewhere and I don't realize it, but I doubt it. Certainly some of the classes I didn't really like, but some I thought were quite good. Why am I not using the stuff I learned? I mean sure it's just so easy to fall back into the routine at work and do what you've been doing, but why I am going if I'm not going to use any of it. Maybe I could make a cheat sheet list of skills and keep it on my desk. Anyway, today's class tried to explain business ideas like the balance sheet and the income statement. I respected the effort but it's not something most people want to know about and its also a hard thing to explain in a day. There were other points to the class too, like working in the business vs working on the business, and I think those other point came across, I was just surprised the guy attempted to explain something it takes many college courses for accountants to understand. Overall it was a good class, and though I am worried about the next one, I really am going to miss the people I have been sitting with. I really should have done a better job of making friends with the people. Only now do I realize that they could have been friends outside of work.

Taylor, Jerry, and I played nine holes after work today. Why we decided to play golf on the day that the temperature goes over 100 is beyond me. Richard was missed and playing as a threesome just isn't as fun as a foursome. We did get paired with a single and it turns out it was the same older man that I had played with when I went out over a year ago and played nine holes by myself. How weird is that? I seemed to find my driver but the ninth hole is still my nemesis. 51

Monday, August 04, 2003

Mawage is wot bwings us togeder tooday

Yesterday Melissa and I celebrated our one year anniversary. Here's a highlight of the day with some commentary. Pirates of the Caribbean is actually a pretty good movie. I had my doubts from the first previews but then the buzz said it wasn't half bad so I was ok going. Something about that time period appeals to me and it’s reminiscent of a Jimmy Buffett lifestyle. Paraphrase of favorite line "What are we supposed to do, sit on the beach all day and drink rum?" Response "It’s the Caribbean way." Johnny Depp played the slightly drunk pirate much better than I thought he could. Much impressed. After the movie we dined at Zoot. Lately I have been impressed at how good "good food" is and Zoot helped confirm that feeling. I had beef tenderloin that practically melted in my mouth almost without the need to chew, which for me is always a plus. The place itself looked more like a house than a restaurant and I think the waiter filled up my water after every sip. It really would seem to be true that you get what you pay for. After dinner we sat down to a slice from the top layer of our wedding cake. I fully expected it to be horrible. Turns out, you can stick a cake in a freezer for a year and have it still be good. Who knew?

Last night Melissa called her cousin Ben. Ben and Teresa recently had a baby and turns out they want Melissa to be godmother to the baby. She seems pretty excited about it. It wasn’t really surprising since there aren't that many female LeSaicherre's. Actually there's just the one. The real shocker is the godfather. Me. They want me, the cousin by marriage, to be godfather to their baby. I think I am still in a state of shock and I was told about this over 24 hours ago. I am not comfortable owning a dog yet and these people think I am the best person to care for their child if something happens to them? But the more I think about it, the more I am ok with it. I mean it’s still a little weird and I still haven't grasped the Catholic ramifications of it, but I think I am ok with being someone's godfather. And that of course leads to two thoughts in my mind. One, Melissa and I really need to get down to Houston to see the baby. Two, maybe we can start thinking about that dog.

Softball team had another game tonight. Ouch. Let's just leave it at that.

Sunday, August 03, 2003

fear is the mind-killer

I finished reading Dune on Thursday. For some reason I always thought I liked science fiction as a kid, but really all I liked was Star Trek and Star Wars, and so to me that meant I liked science fiction. In an effort to see what science fiction was really all about I read Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and then I read Dune. People kept telling me to read Hitchhiker and I already knew half the jokes so I figured that just made sense. Regarding Dune, I watched the SciFi mini-series, "Children of Dune," liked it, and figured I should give the original book a shot. For some reason I always thought of Dune as something too "geeky," like Star Trek conventions. Turns out I was just wrong. I should have realized that way back when after I was told much of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series seemed to get its ideas from Dune. Well now I know.

So Dune. Wow. What can I say? It’s really good. It makes me realize what good sci-fi/fantasy can be. I really liked the politics aspect of it, plots within plots within plots. Politics in today's world has such a bad connotation but I never really thought of it that way. I think of it like in this book. Basically politics is dealing with people. You try to understand why they are doing what they are doing, and what they are really trying to achieve. You can then use this knowledge to help you in your own goals. And now I just made it sound like its just manipulation which really sells it short. I am trying to think of an example to help get my point across but one isn't coming to me right now. Maybe I'll come back to this later.

The other concept I liked was the idea of control over emotions. After I saw the mini-series I started using the "fear is the mind-killer" speech to help myself out with public speaking. It worked quite well for me and so when I read the book this really resonated with me. Right from the beginning when there is a distinction drawn that some people are human and some people aren't, I knew this idea would have my attention. This same concept seems to be in almost anything I think about. In my leadership class they talked about emotions being a chemical reaction, a fight or flight instict, that was good for survival in the caveman days, but not so good to have in the modern era. Star Trek movies seem to say that emotions are what makes us human and pure logic is not enough. And then there's the whole pop psychology thing of head vs heart, which I think is a corruption of Descarte’s dualism idea. So which is it? Does feeling make us human or does thinking make us human? First off I think the pop psychology head vs heart thing is bunk and really is just an excuse. "I know I should study but I really don't want to." If that’s true then you really don't think you should study, you're just saying that because you think that's what people want you to say, or to make yourself feel better or something. So with that idea out of the way I tend to say its the thinking that makes us human. For me many thing that I do, that afterwards I think I handled badly, are because of emotion. If I had just sat there and taken a few deep breaths and composed myself, things would have gone a lot smoother. I am trying to work on this and we'll see how things go.