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The First Modern Patent

The Patent Act of Venice was the first attempt to register and protect their inventions. This is more significant that it may seem at first. The Republic of Venice covers a much larger region than the city located in modern day Italy. It includes the coast of Dalmatia which is part of Croatia. [1] They also rule over Korfu, Cyprus, parts of Ukraine and Russia. That doesn't include all the countries with which they have trading agreements. They also have a powerful (if diminishing) navy to enforce their regulations. At this time Venice sets the standard for the gold ducat (meaning "duke's coin") to the point where the single word "ducat" now means the coin from Venice. [2] [3] [4] [5]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Enforceable patents are an important advance. It draws investment money to your country, and gets your smartest citizens thinking of more efficient, and economic ways to do things. Most importantly it allows those products to get to market before they are copied. Eventually a government wants the product copied, thus allowing a good product to propagate. (A good example are generic drugs.) That is why the patent time is shorter than copyright, but a business must make their fortune. The problem with patents occurred in 1962 in the UK and 1972 in the USA when the patent office allowed software patents. As a part owner of a software patent myself, I see the value of such patents but the patent office cannot discern between a unique software method and a vague idea like "podcasting." This has caused the phenomenon of "patent trolls" who wait for people like Adam Carolla to make enough money to be worth suing. The major pitfall of software patents is the patent office itself. I see no way to fix the patent office so I am convinced that software patents should be disallowed. [6] [7]

Plato and the Ethics of Translation

Latin is the language of scholars. The works of Plato are written in an ancient Greek no longer used except in Constantinople. With the fall of Constantinople those people have moved west and have fueled an interest in ancient Greek works once more. Marsilio Ficino [mar-SEE-lee-o Feh-CHEE-no] is an Italian priest who has been laboring long and hard to translate the works of Plato into Latin so that western scholars can study Plato once more. Although he has released partial translations before this time, this year he has finished his work and has unleashed it all on the world. [8]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
A modern reader of an ancient text can be baffled or misled by things unsaid. Remember that ANY translation is ALWAYS an interpretation. Even a so-called "literal translation" can be misleading because there are assumptions made by the author about what the reader knows or doesn't know that a literal translation does not capture. Example: Would a story about a journey by car across the United States in the 1950s make sense to a reader of the 31st century with anti-grav flying cars? Will he understand that "stopping for gas" means more than just refueling? There is always something unsaid in any communication. It is assumed the reader will understand through context, but context is difficult to translate into another language. Your translator is leaving stuff out or adding things in order to provide that context, so that you'll not be misled too much. Just remember that unless you are reading in the original yourself, the translator is leading you like a tour guide. He's hitting what HE THINKS is the most important stuff, but you might not agree if you knew what he was leaving out. [9]

Commerce Wars and the Sinking of the Lusitania

How the war started: The King of Denmark and Iceland prohibited trade between Iceland and any other nation. This created a lucrative smuggling business. Englishmen from the town of Lynn ran ships into Iceland and ports in Germany making good money against the law and incidentally murdering a governor and his family in Iceland. A fellow named Christian was upset by this illegal activity and attacked Lynn's shipping. (This was considered a perfectly reasonable thing to do at the time.) Christian gave fair warning to every town in England (except Lynn). The Hanseatic League (or Hansards) tipped off Christian to Lynn's activities and that snitching (not the murder nor smuggling, nor attacks on shipping) enraged King Edward the 4th and had the Hansards in England arrested. Thus began a war between the Hansards and the English. After four years of the Hansards kicking the backside of King Edward at sea, he finally signs a peace treaty, offering them ownership of the London Steelyard. A Hansard warehouse will be constructed in Lynn next year where the building will remain until the modern day. [10] [11] [12]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
The Lusitania was an English passenger ship sunk by the Germans in 1915 during World War 1 before the USA had joined the war. It was classified as a passenger cruiser but it was carrying war munitions and thus was a legitimate target of war. Nevertheless, Germany took out ads in US newspapers warning Americans about the Lusitania because Germany didn't want to give the USA an excuse to get in the war. A German U-boat finally put a torpedo into the ship. It went to the bottom in 18 minutes. When the Americans learned that 128 US citizens had drowned, they were outraged. This incident contributed to the declaration of war by Congress and President Woodrow Wilson in 1917. Wilson had run for President a year earlier under the slogan "he kept us out of war". [13] [14]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1474, Wikipedia.

See Also


  1. Alex Shrugged notes: Dalmatia is also the place were a particularly popular breed of dog comes from.
  2. Patent - Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved on 21 November 2014.
  3. Republic of Venice - Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved on 21 November 2014.
  4. Ducat - Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved on 22 November 2014.
  5. Patentgesetz von Venedig. wolfgang-pfaller.de (2009). Retrieved on 21 November 2014. “"Among us live large and brilliant men who are capable of inventing ingenious devices and to discover; and more such men come in view of the size and power of our city every day from all over to us. Now, if provision would be made, that others who see the discovered devices and works of these men, they can not build and take the inventor's honor, then more men would use their talents would discover and build devices that are very useful and beneficial are for our community."”
  6. Software patent - Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved on 23 November 2014.
  7. Generic drug - Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved on 23 November 2014.
  8. Marsilio Ficino - Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved on 21 November 2014.
  9. Greek language - Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved on 24 November 2014.
  10. Treaty of Utrecht (1474) - Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved on 21 November 2014.
  11. Anglo-Hanseatic War - Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved on 21 November 2014.
  12. Salter, F. R. (January 1931). The Hanse, Cologne, and the Crisis of 1468. 3. Wiley on behalf of the Economic History Society. pp. 93-101. Template:Citation/identifier. http://www.jstor.org/stable/2590626. 
  13. RMS Lusitania - Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved on 25 November 2014.
  14. United States declaration of war on Germany (1917) - Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved on 25 November 2014.

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