I was wondering about the patent system in US after reading this article. I am and always was against the non-sense of filling patents for thoughts and algorithms but this weird system can be in fact helpful, the weird results of the pressure against small companies in the US.
It is known that animals (men included?) can develop cannibalism when in restricted environments (such as a cage with more individuals than its capacity holds) or that cyclones develop when you have an extreme conditions in the atmosphere and the Coriolis effect force the air to spin at speeds much greater than we’d like. In a nutshell, the bigger the pressure, the bigger the results.
The capitalism system is all around property. When slaves were not humans, the property of humans were more valuable than their lives. The freedom we have today is the freedom of owning things IF you have money to buy them. If you can’t find a job to feed your children because you didn’t have money to pay for a good school (and therefore didn’t attend a good college) and you eventually steal food for your children, you get arrested and no one will look further to see why you have stolen in the first place.
The patent system was devised to protect the intellectual property (if that exists) and, conceptually is wrong from birth. Ideas don’t have owners and even the Greeks knew that. The core of augmenting ideas is to share and enhance and not to protect it. The only reason to protect ideas is to get money in the end, again, the capitalism is more about money and property than freedom and happiness (I’m being redundant here, I know).
Anyway, the US is the uttermost expression of the capitalism and supposedly of freedom and equality. A system that protects anyones ideas is, in principle wrong but, egalitarian. If that system can yield you money, so you can pay for your son’s studies and he can have a “better” life it means that it’s giving you “freedom” to choose your steps from now on.
But we all know how bureaucratic this systems is and individuals just can’t start filling patents, they won’t even know how to start even if they had good ideas. Worse, if their parents weren’t rich they couldn’t have gone to good school and college and have good ideas on their own and the US is not famous for treating well poor people not even trying to find ways to fight against poverty (they’re too busy getting oil from Middle-East).
So, for a long time, the patent system was used to protect the big companies’ interests for decades. They’d hire great minds and incorporate their ideas to the company (not personal anymore) and if someone can answer me how can a company have ideas I’d be very glad to know.
But as always, the bigger the pressure the worse the answer. Small companies are filling patents like crazy for the last decade or so and they’re making a huge profit out of them. It’s still not right, companies can’t have ideas to protect but that’s the very ugly answer to a very high pressure. It is, in the end, equalising the US society, spreading the money from the big companies to the small companies and probably making the capitalism a bit fairer.
Still, as capitalism, the only group benefited is the rich. Poverty levers are still maintained (increasing?) and they won’t be affected by this change. Pretty much like in the French revolution where the people were used as a mass to disband nobles and kill the king and when everything was settled the (then unusual) group of non-noble rich people took the government and the poor were only poor again (still are).
I don’t want to go into that now but terrorism (in fact all small things that were wrongly put in the same basket called “terrorism”) is also a reflection of that pressure. For me, terrorism is much more the pressure it’s made on people than actually their response to that pressure! I’m not trying to justify any attitude, it’s still horrible and must be stopped, but it’s not by increasing the pressure that they will be stopped!
Humans, like animals, behave like that for millions of years, but I do believe that humans, unlike animals, can educate their instincts.
Recently I’ve posted this entry about how NFS cache was playing tricks on me and how sleep 1 kinda solved the issue.
The problem got worse, of course. I’ve raised to 5 seconds and in some cases it was still not enough, than I’ve learnt from the admins that the NFS cache timeout was 60 seconds!! I couldn’t sleep 60 on all of them, so I had to come with a script:
while [ ! -s $file ] && (( $slept < $timeout )); do sleep 5; slept=$(($slept+5)); done
In a way it’s not ugly as it may seem… First, the alternative is to change the configuration (either disable cache or reduce timeout) in the whole filesystem and that would affect others. Second because now I just wait for the (almost) correct amount of time and only when I need (the first -s will get the file if there is no problem).
At least, sleep 60 on everything would be much worse! 😉
Multics arose from the dead in the source code shape! MIT has just released its source and now you can see with your own eyes how it was back in ’64!
It’s not easy to retrieve the whole code (no tarballs) but it’s a good exercise to read its parts if you can understand the structure, of course. If you couldn’t, don’t worry, start here.