No public domain until 2019

Thank Disney for the artificial and immoral expansion of “copyright”:

Current US law extends copyright for 70 years after the date of the author’s death, and corporate “works-for-hire” are copyrighted for 95 years after publication. But prior to the 1976 Copyright Act (which became effective in 1978), the maximum copyright term was 56 years – an initial term of 28 years, renewable for another 28 years. Under those laws, works published in 1957 would enter the public domain on January 1, 2014, where they would be “free as the air to common use.” (Mouse over any of the links below to see gorgeous cover art from 1957.) Under current copyright law, we’ll have to wait until 2053.1 And no published works will enter our public domain until 2019. The laws in Canada and the EU are different – thousands of works are entering their public domains on January 1.

What books and plays would be entering the public domain if we had the pre-1978 copyright laws? You might recognize some of the titles below.

    Samuel Beckett, Endgame (“Fin de partie”, the original French version)
    Jack Kerouac, On the Road (completed 1951, published 1957)
    Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
    Margret Rey and H.A. Rey, Curious George Gets a Medal
    Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel), How the Grinch Stole Christmas and The Cat in the Hat
    Eliot Ness and Oscar Fraley, The Untouchables
    Northrop Frye, Anatomy of Criticism: Four Essays
    Walter Lord, Day of Infamy
    Studs Terkel, Giants of Jazz
    Corbett H. Thigpen and Hervey M. Cleckley, The Three Faces of Eve
    Ian Fleming, From Russia, with Love
    Ann Weldy (as Ann Bannon), Odd Girl Out
    A.E. Van Vogt, Empire of the Atom

These works will instead enter the public domain in 2053… unless Disney finagles another extension. The fact is that there is no such thing as “copyright”, it is nothing more than a government-imposed intrusion on real property rights. No one need have any qualms about copying digital goods – including my own music and ebooks – because it is cannot possibly be considered stealing if you leave the original owner in the full possession of his property.

I’m not opposed to a limited copyright in order to encourage innovation. But the original term of 28 years was more than sufficient. What we have now is unjust, immoral, and the result of corpocratic government.


“Fixing” the NFL playoffs

Someone needs to punch Mike Florio in the mouth for being so abjectly stupid and trying to break what isn’t broken:

Today, the NFC West has a trio of 10-win teams; the fourth-place Rams have the same record as the Seahawks did when they won the division in 2010. But winning the division, no matter how bad a division may be, continues to carry a playoff berth and a home game.  While it would be unfair and impractical strip a division winner from a berth in the postseason, why does the best of four bad teams deserve a home playoff game?

The league has shown no inclination to take the automatic home game away from the division winner, but there’s no reason to continue to reward the best of four bad teams with a home playoff game.  Home-field advantage in the postseason should be earned not via six divisional games but by all 16.

Fortunately, the NFL has shown in recent years that it understands what so many media idiots do not, and that is the value of the divisional rivalries. The single reason there have been so many good games at the end of the last two seasons is that the NFL has finally gotten wise to the notion of ensuring that teams play a divisional rival on Week 17. This increases the chances that a Week 17 game will matter; three of the four NFC divisional championships were determined yesterday.

Here are the two primary problems that all the “seeding” criers fail to recognize. First, it would absolutely not be more fair to ignore the division winners and seed each conference by record. Because each team plays each divisional rival twice while not playing some teams in the conference at all, the schedules are not directly comparable. Within the division, the schedules are much more evenly matched, since each team not only plays each other twice, but also plays against teams in the same division. Each of the division races are therefore qualitatively different.

Second, even if we ignore the schedules and decide that the regular season records are the only things that matter, then how can it be argued that conferences are important when divisions do not?  If it is unfair for San Francisco to have to play at Green Bay when the 49ers have the better record, how can it be denied that it is even more unfair for a 10-6 Arizona team to miss the playoffs when an 8-7-1 NFC North champion Packers and a 9-7 San Diego wild card team qualify? If records matter more than divisions and conferences, but “it would be unfair and impractical strip a division winner from a berth in the postseason” then shouldn’t Arizona not claim the last seed in the AFC playoffs?

In fact, if we stick with the logic being cited, it should be obvious that it is unfair to permit a single game to decide the NFL champion rather than 16 regular-season games. In addition to getting rid of divisions and conferences, record-based fairness demands getting rid of the playoffs. Sound ridiculous? That’s precisely how Serie A awards Lo Scudetto. That’s how the English Premier League settles the English championship, along with every other European and Latin American country.

The NFL isn’t broken. People like Florio should stop trying to fix it. There are legitimate some problems, such as the officiating and the concussion/tackling issue, but there is absolutely no problem with how teams qualify for the playoffs. The move to four divisions per conference was a good one and the importance of the divisions, and winning a divisional championship, should not be reduced.


NSA backdoors the tech world

The NSA appears to have been bent on destroying the ability of American companies to export hardware as well as sell software services internationally:

They claim the performance of the company’s special computers is “unmatched” and their firewalls are the “best-in-class.” Despite these assurances, though, there is one attacker none of these products can fend off — the United States’ National Security Agency.

Specialists at the intelligence organization succeeded years ago in penetrating the company’s digital firewalls. A document viewed by SPIEGEL resembling a product catalog reveals that an NSA division called ANT has burrowed its way into nearly all the security architecture made by the major players in the industry — including American global market leader Cisco and its Chinese competitor Huawei, but also producers of mass-market goods, such as US computer-maker Dell.

These NSA agents, who specialize in secret back doors, are able to keep an eye on all levels of our digital lives — from computing centers to individual computers, and from laptops to mobile phones. For nearly every lock, ANT seems to have a key in its toolbox. And no matter what walls companies erect, the NSA’s specialists seem already to have gotten past them….

The ANT division doesn’t just manufacture surveillance hardware. It
also develops software for special tasks. The ANT developers have a
clear preference for planting their malicious code in so-called BIOS,
software located on a computer’s motherboard that is the first thing to
load when a computer is turned on. This has a number of valuable advantages: an infected PC or server
appears to be functioning normally, so the infection remains invisible
to virus protection and other security programs. And even if the hard
drive of an infected computer has been completely erased and a new
operating system is installed, the ANT malware can continue to function
and ensures that new spyware can once again be loaded onto what is
presumed to be a clean computer. The ANT developers call this
“Persistence” and believe this approach has provided them with the
possibility of permanent access.

Another program attacks the firmware in hard drives manufactured by
Western Digital, Seagate, Maxtor and Samsung, all of which, with the
exception of the latter, are American companies. Here, too, it appears
the US intelligence agency is compromising the technology and products
of American companies.

At this point, why would any European or Asian company buy products from an American company? The NSA is totally out of control and it has to be dismantled as soon as possible before the American tech sector is devastated.

And what are they doing with all this access? Stopping terrorists? Interdicting drug smugglers? Preventing bank fraud? No, they’re listening to American soldiers have phone sex with their wives back home.

The NSA has zero credibility at this point. Zero.



Unpublished

For reasons that will become clear in a few weeks, and which I am not presently able to disclose, I am no longer publishing my books with Marcher Lord Hinterlands as of today. There haven’t been any problems or a falling out, and indeed, even our most recent collaboration has been successful, with 1,100 copies of QM being sold in its first month of release. I have merely arranged to reacquire the full publishing rights to my books.

What this means in the short-term is that neither the Selenoth books nor the Quantum Mortis books will be available from Amazon or anywhere else for that matter. I expect the books to again be available on Amazon, the Apple Store, and elsewhere, by the end of January.

I very much appreciate what Jeff has done with Marcher Lord. Were it not for his contacting me a few years ago and asking me if I had anything that my other publishers weren’t likely to publish, I would never have written Summa Elvetica. And were it not for Summa Elvetica, I very much doubt that I would have proceeded to write A Throne of Bones or to write the nine shorter works that presently make up the land of Selenoth.

Rest assured I am still hard at work on both QM2 and TAODAL 2. I’m hoping for September and December releases there.

Due to some vagaries with regards to the Kindle Select program, please note that it is possible that AMB, TWC, TLW, and QM:GK will continue to be available on Amazon in some capacities until the end of February. If that is the case, it is not necessary to inform me that they are still being loaned or sold.


Bring back Bud Grant!

The Minnesota Vikings are in the market for a new coach.

While the Browns got a head start on Black Monday last night, we have our first firing of the day, as Leslie Frazier has been let go by the Vikings. The Vikings announced the move via their Twitter feed moments ago.

“Unfortunately, we did not achieve consistent success and did not achieve the progress we expected,” Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman said in a statement. “We believe a coaching change is needed to help build a successful team moving forward.”

The Vikings fell off a cliff this year, following an impressive playoff run with a 5-10-1 mark. That left Frazier 21-32-1 in three years and change with the team.

I thought Frazier would be fired since the first quarter of the second game of the season. I couldn’t believe he chose to start Christian Ponder after it became perfectly clear, in the first game, that Ponder is a backup quarterback. Combined with some serious coaching cowardice that demonstrated his inability to play the percentages as well as some truly strange player selections, I never saw any reason to keep him as a head coach besides the fact that he is a good and decent man.

One of the more remarkable things about the NFL is the inability of coaches to make reasonably quick decisions. They always seem to have to wait until something is inescapably obvious to even the most casual fan before making a decision. It’s eminently clear that many of them are not as intelligent as their quarterbacks.

I don’t have a strong opinion on any of the potential candidates except Jack Del Rio. It would be a huge mistake to hire him, as he is not only a previously failed coach, but a man of suboptimal character as well. One can perhaps excuse that sort of thing if you’re getting a Darth Hoody, but Del Rio is hardly Belichick.

Ken Whisenhunt struck me as a pretty good coach when he had a quarterback. Of course, after his post-Warner experience in Arizona, he might be less than enthusiastic about the situation in Minnesota.

Some think Spielman should go, but I don’t think so. He made some brilliant roster moves, including dumping Percy Harvin at precisely the right time. He blew it on Ponder, (a pick that was completely inexplicable at the time), but he’s neither the first nor last to miss on a first-round QB. I very much like that he isn’t overly enchanted with the Vick-style Quarterback 2.0 types, so it won’t surprise me if he gets the next one right.


The tough questions

Were there any walruses under your pillow?

Um, no. Why do you ask?

How do you distract a walrus?

Presumably with a fish, I suppose.

On a totally unrelated subject, I encourage you to submit nominations for 2013’s top ten posts on VP. It’s not really my call, so please suggest up to three posts in the comments here. I’m curious to know what the readers here find most interesting, as I suspect that the number of comments per post are not necessarily the best metric for determining that.


Mailvox: the Flat Gene Society

Physphilmusic inadvertently reveals the inner fascist that lurks within most cultural liberals:

I guess that is the root of our disagreement. It’s not that I don’t think genetics plays a significant role (although concerning exactly how much I probably disagree with you), it’s that if I adopted your strategy, I see no reason to stop at merely discriminating against blacks. Why not eugenics altogether? Your concern about genetics logically leads to this. You advocate measures which are effectively indirect, long-term forms of eugenics. But if you have no qualms about hurting a few people’s feelings, why stop there? Why not support the sterilization of people below certain IQ levels?

A focus on feelings is a reliable hallmark of those with no moral core at their center. The idea that opposing forced desegregation is necessarily indicative of hatred, much less a secret desire for genocide, is not only irrational, but exposes the ravenous, immoral beast at the heart of modern left-liberalism.

Observe the twisted left-liberal logic. First, there is the determination to deny reality. The genetic differences between the various human population groups either exist or not. The intellectual and behavioral limits imposed by those genetic differences either exist or not. And while for the last 50 years it has been de rigueur to claim that there are no genetic differences between various population groups, or that any differences are meaningless, advances in human genetics mean that is now the genetic equivalent of belonging to the Flat Earth Society.

Second, there is the illogical claim that recognizing those genetically imposed limits between various groups must necessarily lead to eugenics. This can only be true if one is operating from an immoral assumption of the right of some central authority to impose minimum capability requirements on the population. Needless to say, I completely reject this notion. The fact that some people are observably incapable of living in an advanced civilization does not justify harming them or treating them as sub-human. There is no reason they should not be able to live in the sort of society in which their predecessors have successfully lived for thousands of years.

Why stop with mere feelbad? Because human beings do not have the right to not experience hurt feelings. It is not possible to construct a legal system, much less maintain a society, on the basis of the avoidance of hurt feelings. However, humans of every genetic melange and intellectual capacity have the right to life, the right to self-defense, and the right to procreate. Segregation may advantage some and disadvantage others, it may cause many to feel hurt and rejected, but it does not intrinsically cause material harm to anyone; billions of people of every creed and color would not have historically self-segregated if it did. Sterilization and eugenics, on the other hand, obviously do inflict a considerable amount of direct and material harm on the individual.

Moreover, segregation is a natural and organic process. To fight it is to literally fight nature. Consider that despite its overall population being swollen by an alien invasion and relentless propaganda cheering the manifold blessings of diversity, London has seen its white-British population fall by 620,000 in only ten years, much faster than any of the experts expected. After fifty years of “civil rights” America is still unofficially segregated by neighborhood, by city, by suburb, and even by state.

Leo Tolstoy wrote about the great tides of human events that are totally beyond any human capacity to control. He used the example of Napoleon at Waterloo and showed conclusively how Napoleon didn’t know what was happening during the battle or even what units were involved in its most critical phases. In like manner, the precise way in which the inevitable reaction to the imposition of mass immigration and cultural invasion is impossible to predict, but no one with any sense of history can reasonably deny it is going to take place.

My opinion is that it would be much better for the governments of the West to align their actions with that inevitable reaction than to oppose it, but I have little hope that will be the case. Many will argue that because the reaction has not taken place yet, it will never happen, but one could have accurately said that prior to every large-scale event in human history.

Cry raciss all you like. It will change nothing. Deny the existence and the significance of human genetics until you turn blue. It will change nothing. Profess your undying allegiance to the religion of human equality with all the fervor of an early Christian martyr. It will change nothing. For as the white liberal aid worker raped in Haiti came to discover, there is no magical incantation that will save you from being out-group when the in-group turns against the outsiders.

The Flat Gene Society is even more ridiculous than the Flat Earth Society. At least those who belonged to the latter had the excuse of correctly observing what they saw with their own eyes. The Flat Gene Society requires ignoring science and history as well as the evidence of one’s own eyes.


2013 VPFL Champions

79 Greenfield Grizzlies
42 Fromundah Cheezheads

The Greenfield Grizzlies are your 2013 VPFL champion. It’s been a banner year for the White Buffalo, as he also defeated me in our other fantasy league, 77-57 AND won his picks league at work as well. This will make him absolutely insufferable for the next nine months.

Thanks for playing, everyone, and the very small silver lining in the gargantuan cloud that is the Greenfield championship is that thanks to one of the permanent players winning the league, there will be six open spots next year instead of the usual five. I will post a call for volunteer players about a month before the season starts; as always, new players will be given the priority.

As for the NFL, here is to hoping that Leslie Frazier heads back to coordinating defenses and Bill Musgrave is doing something besides calling successive off-tackle plays for Adrian Peterson.


Pretending to teach, pretending to learn

Jerry Pournelle reflects on the failure of the California State College system:

Back about 1970 I was involved with the Council that was to draw up
the Master Plan for the University of California system. The program was
very structured: the University System would have a limited number of
campuses, and would do all the graduate school education. There would be
a limited number of undergraduates at each of those campuses, and they
would be the elite applicants. Tuition would be low for state residents,
and very high for out of state and foreign students. This would be the
University system, and it would be for the best and the brightest.
Salaries would be high for an elite faculty.

In addition, there would be the California State Colleges, which
would not be permitted to award graduate degrees. They would do
undergraduate education, and send their best and brightest to compete
for places in the University system graduate schools. Their primary
purpose was teaching, and it was on their ability to teach that faculty
members would be chosen and retained: no publish or perish, because
their purpose was to teach, not to do “research”. They were not to
discover knowledge, but to convey it to most of the undergraduates in
the state. A small number would go to the University undergraduate
system, but about 90% of all undergraduates enrolled in state higher
education would be in the California State Colleges. This would include
colleges of education and teacher. Again the focus would not be on
‘research’ or anything else other than producing great teachers for the
California schools.

Of course as soon as the Master Plan was adopted and funded, the
California State Colleges began a political campaign to be turned into
universities, with salaries comparable to the Universities, and graduate
schools with research, and publish or perish, and all the rest of it;
and instead of being teaching institutions they would become second rate
copies of the Universities, with a faculty neglecting teaching in order
to gather prestige in research and publication, or, perhaps, at least
to look as if they were. In any event the California State Colleges
became California State Universities, their commitment to actual
undergraduate education was tempered to make room for the graduate
schools, budgets were higher, costs were higher, and tuition, which had
been designed to be very low, began to climb.

Everyone always wants elite status without being required to provide elite performance or assume elite responsibility. Unless your system specifically accounts for and prepares for the inevitable push to degrade status, it is doomed to fall in precisely the same way the California State College system did.

The irony, of course, is that by democratizing the elite status, it is destroyed. That is why university degrees, and increasingly, advanced degrees, are literally worthless these days. Once everyone has the credential, it ceases to mean anything anymore.