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The Automatic Copyright

It is called the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, and for every signatory country a minimum automatic copyright protection is granted without the requirement of registration. It is enough that I publish a work or perform it or display it. I don't have to run down to the copyright office and fill out a form in black ink (not blue ink) nor pay a fee. I also do not have to apply for copyright protection in several countries simultaneously. While this all sounds reasonable, the number of initial signatories to the agreement is small: Belgium, France, Germany, Haiti, Italy, Liberia, Spain, Switzerland, and the all important... Tunisia. The United Kingdom also signs but will not actually implement the convention until 100 years later. The United States will be a late signer and even later implementer of the convention. [1]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
While the general idea of an automatic copyright is admirable, and even necessary in the modern day, it assumes that all published works will remain significant and commercially viable for decades after the author's death. This is almost never true. While we would all agree that credit should be given where credit is due, what actually happens is that every artist is assumed to be guilty of a violation unless he can prove his ideas came from his own creativity. This proof usually comes from a creative diary, or prior art that can be fixed to a certain time. If I write a book, I must footnote everything, and not simply write out my thoughts. Otherwise, I can be accused of plagiarism when "great minds think alike". In the history segment I can't always lay my hands on an exact citation. Will jack-booted thugs knock down my door and arrest me? I'm not sure. Since there is nothing new under the Sun... oh... wait... is that phrase under copyright? I know Let's Roll!® is a registered trademark of the Todd M. Beamer Foundation! I'm totally hosed. [2] [3]

A Totally Useless Metal is Discovered... Germanium

The Periodic Table of Elements is a controversial arrangement of known elements that predicts the properties of undiscovered elements and suggests that certain groups of elements have similar properties. A few years ago the Russian scientist, Dmitri Mendeleev, predicted an element similar to silicon with very specific properties that he called eka-silicon. No one paid attention. This year, miners find a vein of silver with unknown impurities. After the German chemist, Clemens Winkler, separates out the impurities he finds "eka-silicon" and names it neptunium... after the planet Neptune, but the name has been reserved, so he settles for "germanium" (ger-MAIN-ee-um) after Germany. He finds that germanium is a poorly conducting metal of very little commercial value, so it will sit on the shelf for about 60 years until World War 2 when someone will need a SEMICONDUCTOR for a pulse radar detector. Production of germanium will jump from a few kilograms a year to 40 metric tons, and it will build from there. These "poorly conducting" metals are called "semiconductors" and will be used to make diodes, transistors and CPUs for your computer. They will also make possible the miniaturization of electronics that turn a computer that is as big as a house into a smartphone that fits into your pocket. [4] [5]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
CAUTION: there is some selective editing of history going on here that is almost unavoidable. Some very important events are occurring in quick succession. When you look back on these key events, the whole narrative looks like "The March of Progress"... that picture of a monkey turning into an ape, then primitive man, and then modern man. It gives the impression that progress is inevitable, but that is total BS. (Bad Science.) Look around you RIGHT NOW! What is the inevitable plan for the next 100 years? How about the next 30 years? We can see general trends, but what are the specifics? 30 years ago could anyone have predicted the iPhone? I remember entering a binary instruction using flip-switches to start my computer! (That was the IMSAI 8080 running at 2 Mega-Hertz with 64K of memory. You saw Matthew Broderick using in IMSAI 8080 in the movie "War Games".) What was the plan that led us inevitably to a computer in our pocket running a quad-core CPU at 2.23 Giga-Hertz? We ignore the missed opportunities, the blind alleys, the "better" technologies that never caught on, and the lame technologies that were made good enough. (I'm looking at you, Ethernet.) The people of the 1880's thought they had the puzzle all figured out. They just had to fill in a few of the missing pieces. They had no idea what was coming. None. [6] [7] [8] [9] [10]

In Other News

  • The Benz motorcar is patented. It is a 3-wheel horseless carriage with a rear-mounted engine, using a trembler coil and a dripping evaporator for a carburetor. (I'm surprised it doesn't burst into flames.) Daimler produced a 2-wheel version last year that looks like a motorcycle. [11] [12] [13]
  • "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" by R. L. Stevenson is published. The civilized Dr. Jekyll struggles with the evil animal-self of Mr. Hyde living within. [14]
  • Dr. Holmes buys a pharmacy from Mrs. Holton. He will become the famous serial killer stalking the Chicago World's Fair in 1893 with a body count reaching upwards of 200. He starts with Mrs. Holton who takes an "extended vacation" and is never seen again. [15] [16] [17]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1886, Wikipedia.

See Also


  1. Berne Convention - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 19 October 2016. “An author need not 'register' or 'apply for' a copyright in countries adhering to the Convention. As soon as a work is 'fixed', that is, written or recorded on some physical medium, its author is automatically entitled to all copyrights in the work and to any derivative works, unless and until the author explicitly disclaims them or until the copyright expires. Foreign authors are given the same rights and privileges to copyrighted material as domestic authors in any country that signed the Convention.”
  2. Let's roll - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 16 October 2016. “The Todd M. Beamer Foundation was eventually granted a trademark for uses of the phrase relating to 'pre-recorded compact discs, audio tapes, digital audio tapes, and phonograph records featuring music.'”
  3. Ecclesiastes 1:4-11 - 'There Is Nothing New Under The Sun'. bible.ca (2012). Retrieved on 16 October 2016. “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.”
  4. Germanium - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 16 October 2016. “In mid-1885, at a mine near Freiberg, Saxony, a new mineral was discovered and named argyrodite because of the high silver content. The chemist Clemens Winkler analyzed this new mineral, which proved to be a combination of silver, sulfur, and a new element. Winkler was able to isolate the new element in 1886 and found it similar to antimony.”
  5. Mendeleev's predicted elements - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 19 October 2016. “The four predicted elements lighter than the rare earth elements, eka-boron (Eb), eka-aluminium (Ea), eka-manganese (Em), and eka-silicon (Es), proved to be good predictors of the properties of scandium, gallium, technetium and germanium respectively, which each fill the spot in the periodic table assigned by Mendeleev. Initial versions of the periodic table did not give the rare earth elements the treatment now given them, helping to explain both why Mendeleev’s predictions for heavier unknown elements did not fare as well as those for the lighter ones and why they are not as well known or documented.”
  6. WarGames (1983) - IMDb. imdb.com (2016). Retrieved on 19 October 2016. “A young man finds a back door into a military central computer in which reality is confused with game-playing, possibly starting World War III.”
  7. IMSAI 8080 - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 19 October 2016. “The IMSAI 8080 was an early microcomputer released in late 1975, based on the Intel 8080 and later 8085 and S-100 bus. It was a clone of its main competitor, the earlier MITS Altair 8800. The IMSAI is largely regarded as the first 'clone' microcomputer.”
  8. March of Progress - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 19 October 2016. “The March of Progress, or simply March of Progress, is a scientific illustration presenting 25 million years of human evolution. It depicts 15 human evolutionary forebears lined up as if marching in a parade from left to right. The image has frequently been copied, modified and parodied, and has been the subject of controversy.”
  9. Akeroyd, F. Michael (2003). "Prediction and the Periodic Table: A Response to Scerri and Worrall". Journal for General Philosophy of Science (Springer) 34 (2): 337-355. http://www.austinlibrary.com:2138/stable/25171262. 
  10. Fite, Robert C. (January 1954). "Germanium, a Secondary Metal of Primary Importance". The Scientific Monthly (American Association for the Advancement of Science) 64 (1): 15-18. http://www.austinlibrary.com:2138/stable/21141. 
  11. Benz Patent-Motorwagen - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 4 October 2016. “The Benz Patent-Motorwagen (or motorcar), built in 1886, is widely regarded as the world's first automobile;”
  12. File:Patentschrift 37435 Benz Patent-Motorwagen.pdf - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 4 October 2016.
  13. Daimler Reitwagen - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 16 October 2016. “The Daimler Petroleum Reitwagen ('riding car') or Einspur ('single track') was a motor vehicle made by Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach in 1885. It is widely recognized as the first motorcycle.”
  14. Grun, Bernard. The Timetables of History: A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events. Simon and Schuster, 442-443. 
  15. World's Columbian Exposition - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 16 October 2016. “The World's Columbian Exposition (the official shortened name for the World's Fair: Columbian Exposition,[1] also known as The Chicago World's Fair and Chicago Columbian Exposition) was a world's fair held in Chicago in 1893 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus's arrival in the New World in 1492.”
  16. Larson, Erik. Devil in the White City: A Saga of Magic and Murder at the Fair That Changed America, The. Crown Publishers. ISBN 9780609608449. “They knew Mrs. Holton had sold the place. But why had they not seen her around town? Holmes smiled and explained that she had decided to visit relatives in California, something she had long wanted to do but could never find the time or money to accomplish and certainly could not have done with her husband on his deathbed.” 
  17. H. H. Holmes - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 16 October 2016. “Holmes arrived in Chicago in August 1886 and came across Elizabeth S. Holton's drugstore at the northwest corner of South Wallace Avenue and West 63rd Street in the Englewood neighborhood. Holton gave Holmes a job, and he proved himself to be a hardworking employee. After the death of Holton's husband, Holmes offered to buy the drugstore from Holton, and she agreed. Holmes purchased the store mainly with funds obtained by mortgaging the store's fixtures and stock, the loan to be repaid in substantial monthly installments of $100 (worth $2,600 in 2015). He continued to make money from the drugstore by selling water that could cure the sick. When he accumulated enough money to fund his activities, he left. Holton was never seen or heard from again, and whenever any regular customers asked Holmes about her whereabouts after she sold the drugstore to him, he would say that she moved to California to be close to relatives.”

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