Nicholas D. Rosen's Journal|
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|Saturday, August 27th, 2016|
|The Red Queen's Race
Back on August 13, I did finish an Office Action on my then oldest Regular New case before flying to Orlando.
When I got back to work on August 22, I did not find any new amendments. This week, I got one new "amendment" which is actually an Appeal Brief; I've made an appointment to see my supervisor and presumably a third party to decide whether I should write an Examiner's Answer for the Board of Appeals. Meanwhile, I dealt with two older amendments this week, so I'm down to three amendments in total: one actual amendment, one Appeal Brief, and one Board decision awaiting action or abandonment by the applicant.
I have also started work on my oldest Regular New case.
|Friday, August 26th, 2016|
|Georgist Conference in Orlando, Part One
I arrived on Monday, August 15, greeted some old friends, and heard Ed Dodson speak on "Monopoly Revealed," a speech, he noted, which has gone down well with non-Georgists. (He was right, I gave a version of it to USPTO Toastmasters after getting back, and drew laughs and favorable comments.) There's a book by Mary Pilon, The Monopolists
, covering the history of the game.
275 million copies of the game have been sold; there are versions available in 43 languages and 111 countries.
The story of how Charles Darrow invented Monopoly is a lie pushed by Parker Brothers and then Hasbrough, he said.
There is a 1904 patent to Elizabeth Magie, later Elizabeth Magie Philips, who was the secretary of the Women's Single Tax Club in Washington D.C. The Economic Game Company of New York published it. Residents of the Georgist colony of Arden, Delaware, played it, and carved a version of the board in wood. Scott Nearing brought it to Philadelphia to use in teaching at the Wharton School. [My insertion: He later became a back-to-the-land farmer after losing his position as an economics professor for teaching heresy.]
In 1923, Lizzie Philips patented an updated version, bearing a definite resemblance to a modern Monopoly board.
Rexford Tugwell, who was later famous as a New Dealer, used it; he was a student of Scott Nearing. Quakers in Atlantic City took up playing it. In 1929, Ruth Hopkins brought it to the Friends' School, and one woman began making copies. Someone (I'm not sure of the name) grouped properties in threes, and added houses. Charles and Olivia Todd invited Esther Jones and her husband to play it with them, and Charles Darrow played with them.
These details matter, because the properties on a standard Monopoly board use names from Atlantic City, but the board has "Marvin Gardens," where the city has "Marven Gardens." Charles Darrow copied an earlier board right down to the spelling mistake.
Then Charles Darrow invented Monopoly all by himself. FAO Schwartz added it to their catalog, and it sold. Parker Brothers bought it from Darrow for $7000 and a royalty on every game sold. A patent was applied for August 31, 1935, and issued at the end of the year.
Elizabeth Magie Philips showed up and had something to say about this. The elderly Mr. Parker paid her $500 and agreed to market The Landlords' Game, but didn't market it very hard.
To be continued.
|Monday, August 22nd, 2016|
|Saturday, August 20th, 2016|
I have flown back to Arlington via Charlotte, North Carolina, and am safely at home.
I would like to tell a little story: this morning, a Mears Shuttle picked me up, and picked up a couple of other people, at the Wyndham Lake Buena Vista in Orlando, and then stopped at another hotel to pick up a pair of Germans, a man and a woman; the woman was wearing a black t-shirt that said, "Und Gott sprach [Maxwell's Equations] und es ward Licht." I told her, in German, that I had the same shirt, but in English. We exchanged a few more words, and I told her that I had studied German, but had not had much practice lately.
She complimented me on speaking German well, which was perhaps too polite on her part; I wasn't able to say very much, although I think my grammar and pronunciation were tolerable for the little I did say.
As we traveled to the airport, she and the German man held a conversation which I couldn't follow (so don't think too highly of my German). The shuttle let him off at one terminal, while the rest of us continued to another terminal. The German lady and I had already exchanged a few words about my Henry George Krawatte (Henry George tie), so I took the opportunity to tell her that he had written "Fortschritt und Armut" (Progress and Poverty) and other books, which one can read in English or German. Possibly she may become interested in Georgism; at least I did manage to practice my German a little further.
|Wednesday, August 17th, 2016|
Since Monday afternoon, I have been in Florida for the first time in my life, and specifically in Orlando, attending the 2016 Georgist Conference. So far, I have not been eaten by an alligator or shot by a deranged gunman, and, to the best of my knowledge, neither have any of the other people attending.
However, I have been occupied much of the time, and also, the complementary WiFi has been working only intermittently, unless the problem is with my iPadAir. My LJ friends can expect to read more detailed reports after the conference.
And the Red Queen can chase herself this week.
|Saturday, August 13th, 2016|
|"Sex With Shakespeare"
I have read Jillian Keenan's Sex with Shakespeare
, which deserves to sell a million copies to the many people eager to read Ms. Keenan's criticisms of Shakespeare's plays.
Er, ahem. The book, a memoir, does contain the author's thoughts on some of the plays, but it also contains descriptions of her growing up and finding her place in the world, and of sexual and romantic adventures along the way to her marriage. She's a masochist, specifically with a paraphilia for spanking; some of the descriptions of her sex life struck me as Too Much Information, but I do have to acknowledge her courage in describing her obsessions, her activities, her less than admirable behavior at some points, and her finally finding true love. I would find it very hard to write that way about my own lusts and my own relationships (not that I would have much material, since none of my dating relationships ever got very far).
But there is more to the book than s*x, about which, these days, you can easily find plenty of words and pictures. She writes about her experiences in Oman, and how Omani women read and discussed Shakespeare. Elizabethan English could be a struggle for them, but they were in some ways culturally closer to Shakespeare's England than are Americans today. A teenage girl in America would not normally have to worry about her father marrying her off to a man she didn't love, or refusing to let her, once she reached adulthood, marry a man she did love; in the Middle East, things are different.
Not that we don't still have messed up families, and there's some drama between Ms. Keenan and her mother, and also with her fiancé's father, an alcoholic and a meth addict.
This by no means everything you'll find in the book, which I do recommend to anyone with an interest in Shakespeare, spanking, human weirdness, or romantic love.
|The Red Queen's Race
I neither got any new amendments this week, nor dealt with any old ones, so I'm still at three regular amendments and one Board of Appeals decision awaiting a response by the applicant.
I finished my then oldest Regular New case last Saturday. This week, I have been busy with my new oldest Regular New application; my Office Action is almost done, and I expect to go in and finish it this weekend.
|Wednesday, August 10th, 2016|
I was working on a patent application; aside from substantive grounds for rejection, I also spotted minor problems which led me to write objections. I noted that one claim was inconsistent in using some infinitives and some gerunds as the verbs in the method steps it listed.
My mother would have been glad to learn that the time she had put in tutoring my ungrateful younger self in Latin did not totally go to waste.
|Sunday, August 7th, 2016|
For months, my left knee, and the whole area around it, has been itchy, not continuously, but intermittently. When I was trying to go to sleep, or to focus on my work, my left knee could start acting up with demands to be scratched. I could scratch, or I could apply over the counter cortisone ointment, or non-cortisone topical anti-itch lotion, or antibiotic ointment (especially where my scratching had damaged the skin), or a home remedy like honey. I might get some relief, but the itching would return.
When I had my medical check-up Friday, ?I told the doctor about it, and she prescribed Fluocinonide. I've been apply it twice a day, and my knee doesn't itch! It has ceased tormenting me! My quality of life has improved!
|Saturday, August 6th, 2016|
|The Red Queen's Race
Two post-allowance amendments showed up on my Expedited docket this week, and I dealt with both of them, approving minor corrections to claim language, so I'm left with the same three regular amendments and one Board decision on the Special Amended docket as last week.
I've been working on my oldest Regular New case, which is a mess; my Office Action is up to thirty-five pages and not finished yet, although I can see light at the end of the tunnel, and will be finished before 3:00 PM Monday.
|Thursday, August 4th, 2016|
I have finished Jo Walton's Necessity
, sequel to The Just City
and The Philosopher Kings
. I don't have too much to say about it, partly because saying much Bout the latest book would spoil the earlier ones. I have to credit Ms. Walton with both imagination and a capacity for logical thought: if you assume that Ancient Greek mythology is essentially true, assume that time travel is possible, at least for the gods, assume an attempt to put Plato's Republic into practice, and then assume extraterrestrials, things might work out as described.
I do regret not being able to find out what my father, the retired professor of philosophy, would have thought about all this, especially the first book, but it didn't go on sale until after his death.
|Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016|
|Georgist Without Realizing It
There's an article in Slate
about farmworkers being cheated of their wages, and what can be done about it
. One point that struck me is that someone is quoted as saying, "The land costs are extremely high, so you have to make up [for it] by squeezing labor costs."
Ah, yes, having read Henry George, I am familiar with the idea that wages tend to be high or low as rents are low or high, so it is, in a way, not surprising that someone else has noticed it. The problem is that most people will notice bits of truth like this without thinking through their implications.
|Saturday, July 30th, 2016|
|The Red Queen's Race
I got one amendment this week, and dealt with two older amendments, so I'm down to a total of four: three on my Amendments docket, and one Special Amendment case that is actually a Board of Appeals decision.
I also did an Office Action on my one Request for Continued Examination case, and I have been doing searching for my oldest Regular New.
I did some shopping after work today, ate a late dinner, took a nap, and am now online. This morning, I had a medical check-up, for which I arrived fasting; afterward, I drank a Bolthouse fruit juice-and-protein drink, and walked a few blocks to a mall where I expected to get a bagel, but the bagel place was gone, so I took the Metro to the Patent Office, and got a bagel there before starting work.
|Friday, July 29th, 2016|
|Education, For-Profit and Otherwise
Slate had a piece the other days, interviewing a man called Angulo, who has researched the history of for-profit colleges
, and doesn't approve of them.
No doubt he's right that some of them have been rackets, and that there is always a temptation to shortchange students in order to boost profits for share owners. Nonetheless, one is tempted to ask whether he found any instances of for-profit colleges that actually taught skills and knowledge that their students could use. One might also ask how things actually are and have been at non-profits, north public and private. There may not be any stockholders collecting dividends, but there can be bloated staffs of administrators collecting fat paychecks. There can also be lavish athletic complexes, and other edifices that have rather little to do with education.
There can also be instances of non-profits failing to prepare students for the job market, or of colleges endeavoring to propagandize students in place of imparting real knowledge and critical thinking skills, or of wasting students' time forcing them to take nonsense courses which neither teach valuable skills nor do much to contribute to a genuine liberal education. (I am thinking, inter alia, of the Independent Liberal Studies program when I was a freshman at Amherst.)
For-profit schools don't have to be perfect in order to be as good as other schools, and to have a legitimate place in the educational ecosystem.
|Thursday, July 28th, 2016|
|Trump's Tax Returns, and Other Matters
Peter Suderman had a piece in Reason about Trump's nondisclosure
of his tax returns, despite his repeated assurances that he would disclose them. And no, there's no law against disclosing your returns if the IRS is auditing them. Suderman compares Trump's mendacity and secretiveness to Nixon's tax scandal, and says that Trump makes Nixon look like a model of transparency and accountability.
Richard Cohen had a column he other day, saying that if he had to make the choice, he would vote for Kim Kardashian over Donald Trump. So would I.
If, ten years ago, someone had accurately predicted the current political situation, I would either have applauded his surreal satire, or sought to have him committed to a mental ward.
|Wednesday, July 27th, 2016|
The astronomer Phil Plait has an article in Slate
about quasicrystals. Normal crystals can be invariant under 180 degree rotation, 120 degree rotation, 90 degree rotation, or 60 degree rotation. Proper crystals cannot have fivefold symmetry, and be invariant under 72 degree rotation, but such quasicrystals nonetheless exist. You just have to take the right point in the lattice to rotate around, because rotation about some other point won't work.
I do recommend the article, but Plait dates the discovery of quasicrystals back to the 1980s. Having been a grad student in Materials (at first they called it Solid State Science) at Penn State at the time, I know a bit differently. There was a stir about quasicrystals at the time, but I remember when the famous Professor Rustum Roy handed out a copy of a page from a book written many years earlier, showing an image of that lovely fivefold symmetry, and containing a written description of the phenomenon. Quasicrystals had in fact been known years before they got their fifteen minutes of fame.
|Sunday, July 24th, 2016|
I finished reading Chernow's Alexander Hamilton
Tuesday, in time to participate in the book club's discussion, and I can definitely recommend the book to anyone with any curiosity about the man and his era, and time to read over seven hundred pages.
I am not a perfect and unambiguous admirer of Alexander Hamilton, because I have read criticisms of him both from an 18th century Republican perspective, and a modern libertarian perspective (not quite the same). I do not see a national debt as an unmixed blessing, to say the least, but then, neither did Hamilton; he saw it as being beneficial if not carried to excess
, a proviso which George Dubya and Barack Obama might have kept in mind. My hero Henry George regarded himself as a Democrat in the tradition of Thomas Jefferson, and believed that national debts ought to be renounced, since one generation could not ethically bind future generations to pay them.
One may oppose national debts, tariffs, and taxes burdening the poor, such as the whiskey tax that led to the Whiskey Rebellion, and still think that these measures may have been necessary at the time as an alternative to national collapse, foreign invasion, and other disasters. One may also believe that they set bad precedents, showing once again that the world is complicated.
When I was taking high school history, and reading books on my own, I was exposed to the idea that the Federalists were the party of using government to aid the rich and well born; my sympathies, therefore, were with the Jeffersonian Republicans. The situation was more complicated than that; for example, men like Jefferson and Madison were rich and well-born slaveowners, while Hamilton was an abolitionist. The Alien and Sedition Acts, I believe, were a national disgrace, and in particular, a disgrace to the Federalist Party, and to John Adams, an otherwise honorable and patriotic, if irascible, man. It is worth noting, however, that Hamilton was out of office at the time, and did not get along well with President Adams.
There is more to be said, but I invite my friends to read the book for themselves.
|Saturday, July 23rd, 2016|
|The Red Queen's Race
I got two amendments this week, both going to my Amendments docket, and I was able to finish with the After Final Amendment on my Expedited docket, so I'm now up to five amenmdents, four of them on my Amendments docket, and one (actually a Board of Appeals decision) on my Special Amendments docket.
I also finished a first action rejection on my oldest Regular New case.
|Friday, July 22nd, 2016|
|Scam "IRS" Caller
When I got home Monday, I found a message alleging that the IRS was suing me, and I should call a certain number. When I got home Tuesday, I found another message of the same kind, and this time, I noted the number; I thought I might give the scammers a hard time, or report the number to the appropriate authorities (just who are the appropriate authorities? -- I considered Googling to try to find out).
On Wednesday, I tried calling, and got a busy signal. A few hours later, I tried again, and got a message that the number was not in service. Did the cops close the line down, and perhaps round up the crooks? Or did the scammers decide that they had managed to fool a few people into paying them by credit card, and it was time to close up shop before someone caught up with them?
|Monday, July 18th, 2016|
|Dinner with Friends
I went out to dinner ttonight with mmegaera
, who's in the DC area as part of her grand tour of the U.S. and parts of Canada, kk1raven
, Karen Hunt, and Kenton Schoen, the last of these being a Bujold list lurker whom I didn't know of until a couple of weeks ago. Karen Hunt is a Bujold listee whom I met at Balticon a bit over a year ago (or was it two years?). We had a nice dinner at Woodlands, an Indian restaurant in Hyattsville.