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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Nicholas D. Rosen's LiveJournal:

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Tuesday, October 25th, 2016
11:33 pm
Letter from Uber
I got another letter from Uber the other day, urging me to consider earning hundreds of dollars a month by driving for them on weekends. I might do it, if I didn't already have a job to keep me both solvent and busy, and if I owned a car, which I don't.

I'll bet that whoever sent out that letter didn't realize that I was a patent examiner who had allowed an application assigned to Uber.

Or wait, was that Lyft? One of them.
Saturday, October 22nd, 2016
4:24 pm
The Red Queen's Race
I got one new amendment this week, and I finished working on an old one Friday. On Monday, I was able to get an Appeal Brief off my docket and on its way to the Board of Appeals after my supervisor signed it, so my docket of amendments is down from five cases to four.

I also finished a first action rejection on my oldest Regular New case this week, and started on my new oldest Regular New case.
11:29 am
"Too Like the Lightning"
I have read Ada Palmer's first novel, Too Like the Lightning, and it's good in a weird way. It's set several centuries in the future, in a society with laws and institutions quite different from our own, and I won't try to describe it all. The narrator is a convict who can now own nothing, and must work for whoever wants him to labor, in exchange for which he may generously be given food and a place to sleep. One of his jobs is looking after Bridger, a boy who can perform miracles.

A sensayer, not precisely a clergyman, shows up to, among other things, offer guidance to Bridger on how he should and shouldn't use his powers, and why. There are competing power blocs, called hives, within world society; a person joins a Hive that suits his personality, goals, and lifestyle.

At first, this society seems more peaceful than ours, and for the most part, it may be, but partway through the book, the reader gets some squicky descriptions of extreme violence and sex. Be warned; this is not something to hand to your ten year old.

The book is incomplete, with the second half of the narrative set to follow in a sequel. There are certainly various plates spinning, and it will be interesting to see whether and how Professor Palmer can bring it all to a satisfactory resolution.
Thursday, October 20th, 2016
9:08 pm
Bob Dylan, Nobel Laureate
I'm not generally a fan of popular music, so I'm not familiar with Bob Dylan's work, and don't claim to know whether his poetry, combined with his music, is Nobel-worthy. The Wall Street Journal did print some excerpts from his lyrics, and I can't say that I was especially impressed. There are Echo's Children songs with wittier lyrics, and I hadn't thought of nominating Cat Faber for the Nobel Prize in literature.

I'm not going to wax overly wroth about the choice of Dylan; the Nobel Committee has in the past given awards to some dubious recipients, and neglected others with, many would argue, better claims. I do not, let me add, think that Dylan should be despised as a mere popular entertainer; some popular entertainment can be genuinely good, and some Serious Literature produced by members of the right clique can be of little worth.

I think it's shame that neither Robert Heinlein nor Poul Anderson ever received a Nobel, and someone ought to tell the prize givers that it's not too late to recognize Lois McMaster Bujold or Barbara Hambly. I'm just saying.
Monday, October 17th, 2016
11:25 pm
Minor Annoyances
A few days ago, I got a junk phone call about the backbrace that I had inquired about, after seeing it on TV. I hadn't inquired, and I don't watch TV.

I also keep getting emails from the Trump-Pence campaign, despite having unsubscribed several times. Well, a number of women could tell us that the Donald is someone who doesn't take no for an answer.
Saturday, October 15th, 2016
6:03 pm
The Red Queen's Race
There were no new amendments this week, and I dealt with an older one, so I'm down to five. Also, "McMullen" signed my Examiner's Answer, which I then forwarded to my supervisor, He Who May Not Be Named, so once he signs it, I should be able to get that off my docket as well.

I've been working on my oldest Regular New case, but it's a mess, and I'm not done yet.
Thursday, October 13th, 2016
11:15 pm
Plain Language from Down Under
The Legislative Council of New South Wales, Australia, has declared Donald Trump "a revolting slug unfit for public office."

This was found not to be unparliamentary language.

Also, the motion passed without opposition.
Tuesday, October 11th, 2016
12:08 am
Rendering Unto Would-Be Caesar
Some (not all) prominent figures on the Religious Right came out for Trump, which doesn't incline me to think very highly of them. Sincere Christians, like other people, sometimes have to choose between bad and worse where it isn't even clear which is which; that is something of an excuse for holding one's nose and voting for Trump.

But what is there to say about Jerry Falwell the younger's column some months ago that compared Trump to Winston Churchill? That was a far cry from saying, "I will reluctantly vote for this spiteful, crooked adulterer because I think the other candidate would be a greater public calamity."

When politically active preachers suck up to a would-be caudillo whose conduct is altogether against the teachings of their religion, one has to wonder what they really believe and stand for. Or, even if they don't quite value the more socially conservative major party above the teachings of Jesus, one at least has to wonder about their practical judgment.
Sunday, October 9th, 2016
6:23 pm
The Implosion of the Trump Campaign
God willing, the Narcissistic Peronality Disorder Poster Boy's presidential campaign finally seems to be imploding, with prominent Republicans un-endorsing him, now that he's been caught on tape boasting of committing sexual assault.

It surely should have imploded many months ago; Trump would be morally and intellectually unfit for the Presidency even if he had never attempted to hold hands with anyone but his lawfully wedded wife (and had had only one wife). I do have to wonder about people who have only now discovered his moral bankruptcy; were they hypocrites, or did they make the calculation that whatever his faults, Trump probably wouldn't do as much harm in office as Hillary Clinton? Some people whom I do not regard as utter deplorables did make that argument.

There is something to be said for doing the right thing, even when people do it for what I see as the wrong reasons.
Saturday, October 8th, 2016
2:08 am
The Red Queen's Race
I came in to work last weekend, made progress on my oldest Regular New case, and finally finished it Monday before 3:00 PM, so I brought FY 2016 to a successful close.

I have received two regular amendments this week, and one After Final amendment which landed on my Expedited docket. Late on Monday afternoon, I did an Advisory Action on the After Final amendment, advising the applicant that I still didn't think his claims were patentable, despite his latest amendment to correct certain problems.

I then wrote an Examiner's Answer in response to an Appeal Brief, and sent it to Mr. "McMullen," who is currently busy elsewhere; I hope he can approve it next week, after which my supervisor may do so, but for now it's still on my Amended docket.

Then I completed Office Actions on two other amendments, rejecting one and allowing one, and began on yet another of my older amendments. So for now, I'm back to a total of six items on my regular Amendments docket.
Thursday, October 6th, 2016
11:46 pm
There is a case to be made for voting for Hillary Clinton. Although she is ethically challenged, an authoritarian who does not respect authority, and a leftist pursuing an agenda with which I do not agree, she does have the virtue of not being Donald Trump. She isn't delusional or fraudulent at quite his level.

Nonetheless, I intend to vote for Gary Johnson. The prospects for him to throw the election into the House of Representatives don't look good, and I really do not expect to see him outright win. However, I do not believe a protest vote to be useless; for one thing, it may help the Libertarian Party in future elections, and for another, it sends a message to the elephants and donkeys: You don't have any entitlement to my vote. If you nominate someone abominable by my standards, you won't get it.

Meanwhile, I have made campaign contributions to help the candidates I prefer in several close Senate races; I have also donated to the Johnson/Weld campaign.
Saturday, October 1st, 2016
2:14 am
Evolutionary Psychology and Trumpism
I remember one of Sprague de Camp's essays, where he offered an explanation for the human tendency to believe the most absurd balderdash when proclaimed in a commanding voice by someone with a confident manner: Imagine three hominids in the Pleistocene, out hunting and gathering. Ugh says to Mugh and Gugh, "Sabertooth after us. Up a tree, quick." Ugh and Mugh scramble up a tree, and live to become our ancestors.

Gugh, treating the assertion in a properly skeptical manner, asks, "Can you be sure that what you heard or saw is actually a sabertooth? And even if it is, what reason do you have to think that it's after us?" Gugh becomes catfood.

Donald Trump makes confident assertions that, if one analyzes them, are often utter bilge, highly improbable, or contradicted by his other confident assertions. He has, so far this election cycle, overcome normal politicians, who, if not perfectly humble, skeptical, and thoughtfully nuanced, are at least less boastful and irrational than himself, which seems to fit de Camp's just-so story.

That can't be all there is to human psychology, or all countries would always be governed by Trumps. Also, this explanation of human gullibility does not tell us which competing demagogue will bamboozle the majority of the voters. I do fear, however, that there is a measure of truth in it.
1:53 am
The Red Queen's Race
I got two amendments this week, and didn't work on any, so I'm up to six amendments, all on my regular Amended docket, one of them actually being an Appeal Brief.

I finished a first action on my oldest Regular New case this week, and I'm working on my now oldest Regular New case, which really needs to be finished by 3:00 PM Monday to make my production for the final quarter of the Fiscal Year adequate. I worked until after 9:00 PM Friday, I came home and ate dinner, I took a nap, and now I'm online. I will do more work this weekend.
Wednesday, September 28th, 2016
8:46 pm
Patricia Swan, R.I.P.
Some of my online friends may remember Patricia Swan. I have now heard from her sister-in-law that she died on Sunday. She seems to have had her full share of pain and sorrow in life, and this past year she has been ill with colon cancer; at that, she lived ten months from the diagnosis, which was about three times what the doctors expected.

I'm told that there is a memorial for her on Facebook; I just stick with LiveJournal. Anyone inclined to pray for her can surely do so.
Monday, September 26th, 2016
12:00 am
Novels, Politics, and Americanism
Friday's Washington Post included reader suggestions for questions that ought to be posed to the candidates. One of them, from a certain John Metzger, was, "List five American novels you would recommend that every American read, and why."

I gave some thought to what I would say if that were posed to me, and here is an answer: "I think that every American should be grounded in American history and civics, as well as in other subjects necessary for a sound education. I don't think that it is the function of a politician or a president to tell everyone what novels they should read. Read what interests you, or what is recommended by people whose literary judgement you respect.

"Well-read people have read different things, although there is likely to be overlap, so I don't have any list of five essentials. Moby-Dick has been called the great American novel, but I lost interest and didn't finish it; I don't think that makes me unfit for good citizenship or public office. If you enjoy it, good for you.

"If anything, I think that an American should broaden his mind by reading non-American literature. If you read Oliver Twist, or Tolstoy's Resurrection, or The Laxdolla Saga, you will read about human beings like ourselves living in societies with laws, customs, and attitudes different from ours. I would recommend expanding your horizons this way, as well as reading American literature, both novels and non-fiction reporting."
Saturday, September 24th, 2016
2:59 pm
The Red Queen's Race
I got one new amendment this week, bringing me up to six, temporarily. The Examiner's Answer to an Appeal Brief that I wrote last week was approved by my supervisor, so that took one case off my docket of amendments. Then I wrote an Office Action in reply to my oldest amendment, so I'm now down to four amendments, one of which is actually another Appeal Brief.

I finished an Office Action on a new application Monday before 3:00 PM, and then I did an Office Action on a related case, which I finished Tuesday. I am now working on my oldest Regular New case, and then I will have to work on my next Regular New case, and somehow finish that by the end of the Fiscal Year.
Friday, September 23rd, 2016
12:17 am
On Tuesday morning, I had an Appeal Conference with ?He ?Who May ?Not Be Named and another GS-15, whom I'll call Mr. McMullen (not his actual name, since I don't recall his ever giving me permission to mention him on my blog). The two of them took just a few minutes to decide that my rejections were reasonable, and I should write an Examiner's Answer in response to the applicant's Appeal Brief.

Then (since we all work in the Knox Building, named after Henry Knox, President Washington's Secretary of War), Mr. McMullen said that he had a trivia question for me ("For you, it may not be trivia," he said flatteringly): Mr. Knox's wife had been named Lucy; did I know what her maiden name had been.

"Fluckner," I answered.

He asked me how I knew. I said that I owed it to a historical novel I had read a few years earlier, published as by Barbara Hamilton, although the author's real name is Barbara Hambly.

After a few more pleasantries, I went back to my office to work. The computer had not locked itself, so the whole meeting had taken less than fifteen minutes.
Monday, September 19th, 2016
11:43 pm
Dave Barry on Trump
The latest issue of Reason magazine contains a few choice words from Dave Barry: "I'm not saying that Donald Trump would be our first insane president, but he would be our first openly insane president."
Saturday, September 17th, 2016
3:02 am
Letter in the Washington Post
The Washington Post published a letter Friday written by my friend Walter Rybeck. He served in the Army during World War Two, and he's in a retirement home now, but his mind is still sharp. Here's the letter:

User fees aren't the answer

Lawrence Summers just missed hitting the nail on the head when he wrote in his Sept. 12 op-ed, "It's time to make infrastructure a priority," that there "is a compelling case that infrastructure investments pay for themselves by expanding the economy and increasing the tax base." Then he hit his thumb, so to speak, by proposing user fees and debt financing.

Apply this to our Metro system as a shining example. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority produces billions of dollars' worth of land values in wide circles around Metro stops. It also imposes user fees on its passengers with fares so high they discourage optimal ridership.

Mr. Summers should have urged charging the "free riders," the owners of sites who reap the lion's share of those land values generated by proximity to Metro. A robust recapture tax on all Metro-created land values (not on residential or commercial structures) would let this transit infrastructure literally pay for itself. Importantly, Metro could then reduce fares to a level that maximized use of the system.

Walter Rybeck, Silver Spring
2:30 am
Belated Henry George Day Entry
I scratched off a Virginia lottery ticket on September 2, but didn't win anything, so I'm appealing for contributions to the Center for the Study of Economics. (This does not apply to you if you have business before the Patent Office, or if it would otherwise be improper for me to solicit you for contributions.)

Checks may be sent to the CSE at 7488 Oxford Avenue, Philadelphia PA 19111, and contributions are tax deductible.
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