Nicholas D. Rosen's Journal|
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|Sunday, January 25th, 2015|
|The Just City
The highly estimable Jo Walton's latest book, The Just City
, has been published. To give a short version, which shouldn't spoil much, the goddess Athene decides to try out Plato's Republic, and sets it up before the Trojan War, on an island destined to be destroyed by a volcanic eruption. Various people from history -- ancient Greeks, Renaissance humanists, Victorian gentlewomen excluded by their sex from academic careers, and so forth -- are transported back in time to become the masters of the Just City, training the children who are to grow up as citizens. The requirements to be a master are that one must have read The Republic
in Greek (English isn't good enough), and one must pray to Athene for a chance to make it real.
Plato wrote that the first thing to do would be to expel from the city every citizen over ten years old, but he was thinking of reforming an existing city. Athene and her assistants instead acquire 10,080 children aged about ten, all or almost all bought as slaves. The Platonists attempt to raise these children to be the citizens that Plato would have wanted, and with some degree of success, but things don't entirely go as planned. For one thing, children do to some extent confirm to the norms of the society which raises them, but they also have wills of their own. For another, Sokrates shows up, transported to the Just City from immediately before his death. He doesn't agree with all the words which Plato puts in his mouth, and he asks troubling questions.
Once the children are young-adult citizens, there are further difficulties, because they're supposed to join in temporary marriages at festivals, after which the resulting offspring are to be raised communally, with mothers and fathers not knowing which infants are theirs. Also, the late-adolescent citizens are not supposed to engage in courtship or sex outside of the festival marriages, and should do their civic duty within their temporary marriages whether matched with a special friend, a near stranger, or a definite unfriend. As Plato should have realized -- and perhaps did realize; it's been disputed at least since the publication of Aristotle's Politics
how seriously The Republic
was intended as a proposal -- this conflicts with deep-seated human nature.
I won't give away all that happens, but I will say that there is drama, and that this is the first book of a trilogy, the next being The Philosopher Kings
. I found this to be a fascinating novel of ideas and of human beings, and I look forward to learning what happens next.
A personal note: When Jo was reporting her progress with the book on her blog (papersky
), I left a comment asking whether the book would be a suitable present for a retired professor of philosophy who had written about Plato, and she affirmed that it would be. It takes time for books to be published, though; if The Just City
had appeared a year or so earlier, I would have given a copy to my father; as is, I suppose I'll never hear his thoughts on it.
|Friday, January 23rd, 2015|
|The Red Queen's Race
I got two amendments this week, and I didn't actually work on any amendments -- no allowances or final rejections -- but I did confirm the abandonment of the case on my Special Amended docket. In the two months after the Board affirmed my rejections, the applicants did not file a Request for Continued Examination with a further amendment, and did not appeal to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit; they just let the case go abandoned. That leaves me with seven amendments, all on my regular Amended docket.
I also did a first action on my oldest Regular New case, and I'm working on another Regular New, which I hope to finish before 3:00 PM Monday.
|Wednesday, January 21st, 2015|
I made borsch Monday, and at least some recipes call for cabbage. I didn't have a cabbage, and didn't want to buy one just to use a couple of leaves, but I did have some kim chee, Korean spicy pickled cabbage with carrots and other stuff, so I used that, and it works well; it adds a tang to the Russian soup.
If you dream of someday qualifying for my job (yeah, as if), you may be interested to learn that the Patent Office has an unpaid extern shops to help you gain experience. There positions at the Alexandria, Detroit, and Denver offices; there are positions beginning May 26, and positions beginning June 8. If you're interested in learning more, try reading the announcement at https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/39180300
|Monday, January 19th, 2015|
|Back from Philadelphia
I'm back from Philadelphia, where I stayed overnight with my mother (that is, Saturday night), and then saw my sister and her family, and held a belated exchange of Christmas presents. My niece needs to practice saying "Thank you," but my sister is working on that. My mother was delighted with the book and preserves I got her. The dog didn't say anything when I gave her the chopped Tofurkey sausage I had brought her, but she was friendly and affectionate with me.
Then I drove back Sunday late afternoon and into the evening.
|Friday, January 16th, 2015|
|You Should Be Able to Let Your Children Walk Home Alone
There was a recent in incident in Maryland, where a concerned busybody saw two children, ages ten and six, walking home, and called the police. The police and CPS have been harassing the family. I first read about this on the Reason
blog, but now it's becoming known to more than a few libertarian cranks; the story has made the Washington Post
, and Hanna Rosin has written a piece on Slate
,supporting the Meitiv family and the general right to let children go about without constant supervision.
This may create a public stir, and a reaction against this kind of petty tyranny by officious cops and social workers. When I was five years old, I walked four blocks to Easterly Parkway Elementary School, and other children my age did the same. When I was a little older, I visited friends, went to local playgrounds, and walked the dog we later got. Children today should be free to do similarly, and I stand ready to contribute to the Meitivs' legal defense if need be.
|The Red Queen's Race
I got three amendments this week, but I dealt with four of my older amendments, so I'm down to a total of six, one of which is on my Special Amended docket, and is actually a Board of Appeals decision. I don't expect that to remain there much longer; either it will go abandoned, or the applicant will have to file something, like a Request for Continued Examination with an actual amendment, or possibly an appeal to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
I also did a new first-action rejection on a Request for Continued Examination case on my Special New docket, and began work on my oldest Regular New case.
|Thursday, January 15th, 2015|
|Sundown: Whispers of Ragnarok
I've been listening to Sundown: Whispers of Ragnarok
, a song cycle of Norse mythology performed by Sassafrass
; the impressive Ada Palmer is the composer. I don't know whether you can order your own CD yet; I got mine by participating in Kickstarter to help finance the production of the CD, at the urging of papersky
, also known as Jo Walton.
I've heard some pretty good a cappella singing, with songs in a variety of moods. Norse mythology can get pretty grim, of course, but there's some amusing sniping between the Seeress and Snorri, for example.
|Monday, January 12th, 2015|
|Georgist Conference in Newport Beach, Part Twenty-Nine
Our first afternoon session onWednesday, July 7, was a talk by Don Parks on "Social Media tools, Tricks, and Strategies That Will Work for You
." My notes aren't great, but he mentioned 1.28 billion people on Facebook, and also Twitter, Google Plus, etc. TweetDeck is better than the Twitter platform, he said. Twitter is just talking.
Search for relevant tweets. New tweets can be scheduled to post later.
There's hootsuite (did I get that right?), the social media dashboard, which can cover 35 social media.
There's the Georgists Unite Twitter account.
Meet-ups in person.
Kids these days have never not
known computers. Google glasses, computer in your eyeglass frames. Ray Kurzweil, the singularity -- scary possibilities.
|Saturday, January 10th, 2015|
|The Red Queen's Race
I didn't get any amendments this week, but I dealt with one on my docket, so I'm down to a total of seven amendments.
I also finished an Office Action on my oldest new case, and then did one on my next oldest new case, which kept me at the Patent Office until after 9:00 PM Friday. It's the last weekend of the first quarter of FY 2015, so I'm really trying to get some things done on time.
|Tuesday, January 6th, 2015|
I decided to order a dinner tonight, and eat the leftovers tomorrow night, so I called China House, and asked for the Veggie General Tso's Chicken, at $11.50 (I expected to pay more for delivery). The woman on the line explained that the minimum for a delivery was $15, and I said I was willing to pay that, but she pressed me to add a vegetarian Spring Roll. I had trouble understanding her, but it seems that their minimum was $15, but the computer wouldn't print that if I bought a cheaper order, so I finally agreed to the Spring Roll as well, which brought the total to almost $17 with tax and delivery charge; I also tipped the deliveryman.
I did like the dinner, and I'll have something to eat tomorrow; besides, ordering in is an occasional indulgence. Still, I'll be prepared next time.
|Sunday, January 4th, 2015|
|"Loudmouth, Corrupt, Philadelphia-Born"
I've been reading Doug Most's The Race Underground: Boston, New York, and the Incredible Rivalry That Built America's First Subway
, current reading for the No Strings Attached Book Club. On page 127, I found the sentence, "Hewitt easily defeated a loudmouth, corrupt, Philadelphia-born economist named Henry George, who represented the United Labor Party, and a young, aspiring, reformist Republican named Theodore Roosevelt."
It may be fair to call Henry George a loudmouth, although unlike some loudmouths, he had cogent thoughts behind his speeches and rants, but I know of no support for Most's description of him as corrupt; he ran for mayor of New York despite having been offered Tammany Hall support in running for another office -- Congress, I think -- where he would not have been able to accomplish much. As Mayor, even if he could not have implemented everything he wanted to, he could have had real impact, and he was not to be bought off by office and a salary.
As to the word "easily," Abram Hewitt's margin of victory may have been large, but someone probably had to work hard to make it so, by stuffing ballot boxes, and disappearing all the ballots for Henry George found floating in the East River after the election. Hewitt may not have been personally on the take, and he may, as Mayor, have ordered the police to crack down on prostitution, but he was the candidate supported by the corrupt machine.
I don't think that Doug Most set out to slander Henry George in return for a hundred bucks from the Richard T. Ely
Society, but I do suspect that he came across some anti-Georgist polemic from the 19th century, and didn't bother to check whether it was likely to be true or false.
I wonder what else in his book he was careless about.
|Friday, January 2nd, 2015|
|The Red Queen's Race
One new amendment showed up this week, and I disposed of three old ones, bringing my total down to eight. I also did some work on another amendment, which should bear fruit later.
I have started working on my oldest new case.
|Wednesday, December 31st, 2014|
|Georgist Conference in Newport Beach, Part Twenty-Eight
After the roundtable discussion on alternatives to existing monetary systems, there was a question and answer session. There were questions about Ithaca dollars (local currency) and other matters. People ranted about the Fed's 0% interest policy, as bad for senior citizens with investment income.
Mike Curtis quoted Bob Clancy (an active 20th century Georgist, now no longer with us): in good times, any system of money and credit seems to work. In bad times, none seems to work. There were further comments on that.
Mr. Dodson, the moderator, thanked everyone for a stimulating discussion.
Then we broke for lunch (this was Wednesday, July 9), where we heard some more reports from member organizations, and, if I recall correctly, had the presentation of the Georgie awards to several Georgist activists.
|Sunday, December 28th, 2014|
|Georgist Conference in Newport Beach, Part Twenty-Seven
To continue with the morning of Wednesday, July 9, there was a roundtable discussion among Deirdre Kent, Ellen Brown, Dr. Fred Foldvary, and Dan Sullivan, with Ed Dodson asking questions. He began by asking what the first step needed was.
Ellen Brown said that education was needed first. Deirdre Kent said that we needed intense commitment of the committed. Fred Foldvary proposed eliminating the monopoly of the Federal Reserve, which could still be permitted to exist. Dan Sullivan suggested finding a small country not deeply in debt, and without major natural resources. The exploiters wouldn't pay much attention, so that country could implement a Greenback plan. He commented that the Bank of North Dakota couldn't have happened in Connecticut, or at least, didn't.
Dodson then asked whether they saw a strong connection between rising land prices and monetary inflation.
Sullivan and Foldvary agreed, pretty much. Kent said that the imperative to keep growing is the fundamental problem. Brown said, as nearly as I can figure out my notes, Yes, but it would be possible to expand the money supply without land prices going up. It could stimulate the economy, she said. [Something] could only be spent for consumption.
Sullivan pointed out problems with that. People could spend their paychecks to buy land, and drive up prices.
Dodson asked whether the U.S. government debt would lead to hyperinflation. Foldvary said that there would be a temptation for the Federal Reserve to buy up debt and create inflation. Brown was in favor of doing this, saying the government should borrow reform it's own central bank. Sullivan said that the debt problem could lead to an inflation problem.
Dodson asked the panelists whether they were optimistic that their reforms had a realistic chance of being adopted. Brown said yes. Kent said, not soon. Foldvary said, not anytime soon. Sullivan said that the Greenbacker/Chicago Plan was the least likely to be adopted, since it confronts privilege directly.
To be continued.
|Friday, December 26th, 2014|
|The Red Queen's Race
I got two more amendments this week, and didn't work on any, so I'm up to ten.
I finished an Office Action on my oldest Regular New case Wednesday, and then started on another Regular New case. I came in and did further work on it today, and I hope to get it out by Monday at 3:00 PM. Then I can work on a few amendments.
|Wednesday, December 24th, 2014|
Merry Christmas to all. Peace on Earth, goodwill to men -- at least, one can hope. One can keep hoping.
|Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014|
|Road to Recovery
I'm feeling better than I was yesterday, not in ideal shape, but better. I drank a little juice after I got up ("after I got up" dies not mean "in the morning"), and then went to grocery store, where I bought some supplies. I then drank some Gatorade, and ate a container of soy yogurt, as well as taking a spoonful of pink syrup. So far, I've kept it all down, and seem to be recovering.
Tomorrow, I hope to go to work, and deal with neglected matters. I had an interview scheduled with a patent enrolled agent; I'll have to apologize to her for not being in.
|Monday, December 22nd, 2014|
I've fallen ill, some stomach bug with the usual effects. I had to stay home, and most of today, I haven't been drowsy enough to sleep, but not energetic enough to get anything done. I finally bestirred myself to make a sort of tea with fenugreek. According to an article in Science News
a while back, fenugreek may be effective against some GI tract nasties, and at least I got some fluid and warmth into myself.
|Saturday, December 20th, 2014|
|Georgist Conference in Newport Beach, Part Twenty-Six
After Fred Foldvary's talk, we heard from. Dan Sullivan on "Money Without Banks: The Greenback Solution." This was still the morning Of Wednesday, July 9. Dan said that money should be fixed in value, and the. Supply should fluctuate.
Also, there is an element of privilege in. Ones, and there can be no free trade in privilege. For example, if the government accepts Bank of Wells Fargo at par for payment of taxes, but a Bank of Fred Foldvary money at a 50% discount! the Wells Fargo is privileged over Dr. Foldvary.
Allocating money to worthy borrowers should be a private function. Creating the money should be a government function.
There used to be government without money. People paid taxes in kind, or by performing militia service or road repair. With money, they could pay without serving directly.
[Here's a note: I think Dan was replying to what Ellen Brown said earlier about public banking. Pittsburgh is the city with the highest percentage of owner-occupied homes without mortgages. In 2000, it was the most affordable city in America; in 2005 (after it ended its two-rate tax system) it was not. Pittsburgh isn't North Dakota (with the Bank of North Dakota).]
Dan said to suppose there's a fixed supply of gold/money, but economic growth, so prices fall. If you have money, your claim to what other people produce has doubled with no effort on your part. How is that just?
Dan also asked how people could pay back their loans with interest if a bank keeps the same amount of money in circulation.