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

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Saturday, July 30th, 2016
2:06 am
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
12:08 am
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
12:58 am
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
12:12 am
Quasicrystals
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
7:05 pm
Alexander Hamilton
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
1:41 am
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
12:44 am
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
10:26 pm
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, mauveviolet, 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.
Sunday, July 17th, 2016
11:57 pm
Polling
A polite young man who said that he was taking a poll for a university called this afternoon and asked me some questions, which I endeavored to answer, but sometimes no answer fit my actual opinions very closely. For example, he asked which party, the Democrats or the Republicans, I considered more trusted better to enact gun control laws to reduce gun violence. I asked whether that meant laws intended to reduce to reduce gun violence, or laws which would actually have that effect; the two are not necessarily equivalent.

He told me, most courteously, that it was not his job to interpret the questions for me, and so I chose an answer.

This is a little reminder: When you read poll results, and your own answer to the question would begin, "Yes, but --", or "No, except --", or "That depends on what you mean by --", take the reported results with a very large grain of salt.
Saturday, July 16th, 2016
1:36 am
Trucks
The appalling incident in Nice proves that we need to protect our children from trucks. We need to enact common-sense truck control, and that means that we need to elect political candidates who care about us, not toadies of the National Truck Association.

Seriously, people can commit murder with firearms, and they can commit murder with trucks, or, like the 9/11 hijackers, with airplanes and box cutters; or with homemade explosives, like the Oklahoma City bombers; or with nerve gas, like the Aum Supreme Truth cult in Japan. There are other possibilities, but just in case my readers include members of Daesh, I won't go into detail. Banning guns will not make us safe, and it is likely to produce evils of its own.
12:26 am
Reality Imitates Science Fiction Again
Friday's Financial Times had an article about the employment of autistic people. Some of them, while they aren't much good at glad-handing customers, have talents that can be put to use in businesses.

This reminds me of Elizabeth Moon's The Speed of Dark, whose protagonist is employed, together with some of autistic friends; his abilities are valuable, even though he has trouble functioning in ordinary human society. I do recommend the book.

For that matter, I could be described as somewhere on the autism spectrum myself. Could the average extrovert examine patent applications for long without flipping his lid?
12:20 am
The Red Queen's Race
I got one regular amendment this week, showing up on my Amended docket, and one After Final amendment in my Expedited docket. I finished Office Actions on two of my older amendments. I did not write an Office Action on my new Expedited docket amendment, but I did some work on the case, and then a voicemail for the patent attorney, hoping that we can get the case finished and disposed of (by an allowance, if he is prepared to be reasonable). So I'm back to four amendments, but now one is Expedited, two are regular Amended, and one is Special Amended.

I also finished an Office Action on a Request for Continued Examination case before 3:00 PM Monday, so it was counted for last biweek.
Thursday, July 14th, 2016
1:02 am
Where Have You Gone, Joe Paterno?
My father was a professor at Penn State, and an acquaintance of the long-time football coach, Joe Paterno. Once past elementary school, I wasn't much of a football fan (although, when I was in first grade, my father got us season tickets, and took me to Beaver Stadium to watch the Nittany Lions play), but I did retain a good impression of Joe Paterno. He not only coached a winning football team, but raised money for the library, and had a reputation for insisting that his players actually got college educations.

Now the newspapers report sworn accusations that he failed to report to the police when several people told him about Sandusky molesting boys.

Accusations, even made under oath, are not proof, and we may never be sure just what Paterno, who is not alive to give depositions, failed to do, or what he knew at what point in time, but this surely appears to be an appalling stain on his life and career.
Sunday, July 10th, 2016
7:18 pm
MiniLoisCon Monday July 18
mmegaera will be in the DC area, so BOBTA -- that's the Barrayar Or Bust Travel Agency -- is being revived. We are planning to have dinner with our friend from the Northwest Monday, July 18, at 6:30 PM, at Woodlands restaurant (Indian food), located at 8046 New Hampshire Avenue, in Hyattsville, Maryland.

If you'd like to come, and haven't already been in touch with me about it, please let me know. I will want to make reservations, so that the restaurant employees can know how many are coming, and perhaps push a couple of tables together.
Saturday, July 9th, 2016
5:34 pm
Washington Post on Gary Johnson
My Friday copy of the Washington Post included an editorial taking a poor view of Gary Johnson, the Libertarian presidential candidate. I noted without reading it, and then found a reply in Reason online. I have not read or heard the original interview with Johnson, but the allegations of dishonesty, or at least definite bias, by the Post seem plausible.

The comments contain speculation about the editorialist's motives, such as concern that Johnson may take more votes from Clinton than from Trump.
12:55 am
The Red Queen's Race
I got one amendment this week, and didn't do any, so I'm up to a total of four (including my Special Amended case which is actually a Board decision).

I finished an Office Action on my one Special New application, and I have done work on my Request for Continued Examination case, which I hope to finish by Monday at 3:00 PM.
Tuesday, July 5th, 2016
11:13 pm
Putin's Buddy Trump
A day and a half ago, I would not have expected my opinion of Donald Trump's fitness to be President to fall any lower, but then I read this article in Slate, and it did. I am familiar with the concept of hit pieces, and realize that news and opinion articles should be read with some skepticism, but I do not believe that Franklin Foer is making it all up; too much comports with things I have read elsewhere.

I do not believe that Donald "Make America great again!" Trump is a conscious traitor to the United States of America. I do think that in view of his expressed admiration for Putin, and Putin's for him, his murky financial dealings with Russians, his isolationist willingness to turn his back on allies (when he isn't inconsistently boasting of what he'll do to ISIS), and the cronies likely to influence him and staff his prospective administration, it almost wouldn't matter if he were. He is utterly unfit to occupy the Oval Office, on this and other grounds.
Monday, July 4th, 2016
12:03 pm
Independence Day
Happy Birthday, dear country. May you be spared the presidency of either the evil candidate of the stupid party, or the stupid candidate of the evil party.
12:00 pm
Happy Birthday, Carbonelle
Happy Birthday, carbonelle! May you and your family enjoy cake, domestic tranquillity, and fireworks in the evening.
Sunday, July 3rd, 2016
7:25 pm
Toothbrush Problem
I have a Sonicare(TM) electric toothbrush, and it was time to change the brush. I tried to twist it off, but it remained stuck, and I was worried that it might be some time before I could get to a hardware store.

It turned out that Giant Food has a small hardware section, so I was able to buy a pair of pliers today, and use them to get a good grip on the recalcitrant brush, which I endeavored to twist free. Unfortunately, I broke the brushhead in twisting it, leaving part of the supposedly replaceable brush still in the handle cum charging mechanism.

I may have to get a whole new electric toothbrush apparatus. Fortunately, I do have a set on non-electric toothbrushes, which I mostly use to take to work and clean my teeth after lunch.
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