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

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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.
2:23 am
The Red Queen's Race
I got one amendment on my docket this week, so I'm up to five. I would be back down to four again, as I hope to be soon, if everything were approved and processed instantly, but that isn't quite how things work. I had an Appeal Conference this week with a fellow primary examiner, and with our supervisor, He Who May Not Be Named. We discussed one of the Appeal Briefs on my docket, and it was agreed that I should write an Examiner's Answer to the Appeal Brief, which I did. My fellow primary signed it, and now it awaits my Supervisor's approval.

I finished a first action rejection on my oldest Regular New case last weekend, and then I did a new rejection on the oldest (and only) Request for Continued Examination case on my Regular New docket. I also did a Restriction Requirement on one of my new cases, because the different sets of claims seemed to require different searches, and the patent attorney wasn't willing to elect one set; according to his secretary, he thought that his client would want to see a written action.

And now I'm working on another Regular New case, hoping to finish a first action by Monday at 3:00 PM, and then it's one more biweek until the end of the Fiscal Year.
Thursday, September 15th, 2016
12:31 am
What's Doping? What's a Disease?
There was an item in Slate the other day, saying that Russian hackers had leaked medical records, and "falsely" accused Simone Biles of doping. The accusation was false, not because she hadn't taken any drugs, but because she had been diagnosed with ADHD, and was therefore allowed to take a prescription medication for it under Olympic rules.

I am sure that, drugs or no drugs, Miss Biles is an infinitely better gymnast than I could ever be, and if her drug taking is within the rules, then there is no cheating, in a legal sense, to complain of. However, I do have to wonder whether the rules make much sense, since ADHD is a "disease" diagnosed by behavior and personal complaints, not a brain scan or a blood test. On what grounds, therefore, can we be sure that Miss Biles has this disease and Miss Ciles does not? If Miss Biles is able to improve her focus and energy by taking Ritalin or something similar, giving her an advantage over Miss Ciles, how is that fair? If Miss Ciles decides to improve her chance of a gold medal by reporting ADHD symptoms and asking for a prescription, on what grounds can we judge whether she is cheating, given that it is part of the human condition to have some degree of ADHD-like symptoms at times?
Tuesday, September 13th, 2016
12:50 am
Magic Molly Potatoes
I've read that the Genoese way to eat pesto is with a mixture of pasta and potatoes. I had previously tried potatoes as well as pasta, but decided that I preferred just pasta.

However, a stand at the local farmers' market sells purple "Magic Molly" potatoes, and I find that those work well; they're special, colorful potatoes with anthocyanins, and they have more flavor than white potatoes. And then ther's pesto with fresh basil, which I plan to enjoy while the basil season lasts.
Saturday, September 10th, 2016
2:27 am
The Red Queen's Race
This week, I dealt with my Special Amended case, and I got two new cases on my regular Amended docket, one of which is an actual amendment, and the other of which is an Appeal Brief, so I now have four amendments, two of which are Appeal Briefs.

I finished last biweek's oldest Regular New case before 3:00 PM Tuesday, and have made progress on this biweek's oldest Regular New, which I hope to finish this weekend or Monday morning. There are three weeks left in the quarter and the Fiscal Year, so I have to churn out production.
Thursday, September 8th, 2016
11:36 pm
Are High Taxes Good for the Economy?
Georgists are not 100% in agreement with each other. My friend Polly Cleveland has an article about taxes and inequality, where she presents James Galbraith's view that high taxes in the 1950's were good, because they encouraged corporations to reinvest profits in R&D misread of paying large dividends to shareholders or high salaries to executives who wouldn't be allowed to keep most of the money anyway.

That's a view, but it seems possible to raise objections. For one thing, I have a notion that top executives the tended to get payment in the form of lavish expense accounts and other perquisites, instead of taxable salaries. For another, Kennedy's tax cuts were followed by an economic boom, suggesting that tax rates had been too high. For a third thing, even if the U.S. could get away with high tax rates back when much of the rest of the world was in ruins from World War Two, and even get some social benefits from them, that doesn't mean that high tax rates would work the same way today, when people and capital can flow to other countries with lower rates, even including Russia.

Of course, in Russia, you would need to worry about paying off the siloviki, as well as paying official taxes. On the other hand, things may be getting to be that way here, as well.

Anyway, Dr. Cleveland proceeds to argue for land value taxation, and I definitely agree with her there.
11:17 pm
Job Anniversary and Snark
Back on August 31, I neglected to note that it was the end of my eighteenth anniversary at the Patent Office. Only twenty-two more years and I can retire.

That was the anniversary. As to the snark, I received an email from a relative the other day, referring to Donald Trump as a loathsome oaf. I emailed back that we may need to be careful saying things like that. If, Heaven help us, Donald Trump is actually elected, and succeeds in "opening up" the libel laws, calling him a loathsome oaf could lead to a lawsuit from the Loathsome Oafs' Antidefamation League.
Tuesday, September 6th, 2016
11:49 pm
New Glasses
I got new glasses last week, and they take a little getting used to. They have progressive lens, as did the old pair, but the progression is different, and I find myself seeing clearly through one part of the lenses, but having blurred peripheral vision. Also, the glasses tend to slide down my nose, into a position where they aren't as useful as when placed right.

Oh, well, I'm getting used to them.
Monday, September 5th, 2016
9:50 pm
The Frontiers of Product Customization
When I was searching for prior art on a quite different case, I came across a published application which might be of interest. This is a published application, not an issued patent; I am not the examiner for it, and I am expressing no opinion on its patentability. I'm just saying that you can, if you wish, go to the Patent Office website, http://www.uspto.gov/patents-application-process/search-patents#heading-1, select Publication Number Search, and enter 20160217518.

This, I believe, is on the frontiers of product customization, in its way.
Sunday, September 4th, 2016
8:51 pm
The Red Queen's Race
Belatedly reporting on the Red Queen's Race, I got one After Final amendment on my Expedited docket, and dealt with that, so I finished with the same three amendments that I had had a week before. I worked on my oldest Regular New case (as well as attending to a few other matters at work), but didn't finish it. I hope to be done with it before Tuesday at 3:00 PM.
Saturday, September 3rd, 2016
7:08 pm
Can I Post?
I've been having trouble with LiveJournal lately. Will this be posted?
Wednesday, August 31st, 2016
12:37 am
Georgist Conference in Orlando, Part Two
To continue with Ed Dodson's talk on Monday, August 15:

In 1973, Ralph Anspach came out with his game "Anti-Monopoly," and Parker Brothers threatened an infringement suit. There were years of litigation; Parker Brothers won and had thousands of allegedly infringing games buried in a Minnesota landfill, but Anspach managed to establish that Charles Darrow had not invented Monopoly, so the trademark (or copyright; I'm not sure just what was at issue) was invalid.

In 1982, a Court of Appeals overturned the verdict, and Parker Brothers had to pay Anspach much more than he had originally offered to settle for.

This is in Mary Pilon's book, The Monopolists.

Afterward, Dan Sullivan said that Richard Biddle had said the misspelling of "Marven Gardens" -- it's "Marvin" on the Monopoly board, but "Marven" in Atlantic City -- showed how Charles Darrow had copied from an earlier Monopoly board in every detail, including the spelling mistake.

Also, Lizzie Magie had had two sets of rules for "The Landlords' Game": with the first set, it was a game that one player won; with the second set, everyone shared in the land rents and prospered, which would be better in the real world, but not much fun as a game.
Saturday, August 27th, 2016
2:44 am
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
12:49 am
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.
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