Contents tagged with Politics

  • What if… small businesses could get out of the patent system?

    The Monopoly patent was granted in 1935It should be pretty clear at this point that our patent system is broken. It’s been designed to foster innovation, but is nowadays stifling it. It’s supposed to protect inventors, but instead threatens innovators. Patent trolls are extorting billions of dollars from our top tech companies, and are threatening to do the same to small businesses and individuals. Meanwhile, big corporations amass enormous patent portfolios that they use as currency, with contents so vague that they can be used to attack their smaller competitors before they even start: if you want to start a small technological business today, don’t do a patent search: you are going to find patents broad enough to cover your innovation, and you may have to give up for fear of litigation that would kill you from the legal fees alone.

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  • The tyranny of liberty

    Liberty BellLast night, I watched one of Glenn Beck’s shows, and it surprised me: it actually had bits of thought in it, instead of the distilled lib’ral hating I was expecting. Sure, Beck is unnervingly arrogant and assumes everyone disagreeing with him is an idiot, but, maybe under the influence of his guest Penn Jillette, he followed a coherent train of thoughts and actually was interesting. I’m disagreeing vehemently with most of what both said in the show, but I also understood something.

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  • Elections are not democratic

    AgoraIt’s becoming increasingly clear that our so-called democracies really are plutocracies and always have been. But, I hear you ask, aren’t elections the guarantee that we the people are getting represented properly? Of course not.

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  • The Many Tribes Society

    King DavidIf I told you that the emergence of blogs, Twitter and Facebook have changed our societies in more profound ways than we imagine, you’d be justified in telling me that I’m being neither original nor very pertinent. There is certainly something to be said about the amplification effect those services have on self-centeredness and gossip, and how those are sometimes more powerful than the few examples we have of new media spreading freedom, truth and democracy. Still, I think we are seeing the first signs of a profound revolution, one that is remodeling society in a way that is more in tune with our evolutionary origins. One where the notion of tribe makes a comeback, but with a couple of twists.

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  • Of taste and right

    Portrait of James MadisonWhen a Dutch cartoonist drew the prophet Muhammad, the world split between those who thought that was a serious crime that deserved death, and those who thought freedom of speech was more important than anybody’s susceptibility.

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  • Despite all that, France is not a collectivist dictatorship. Go figure.

    académicien

    • The state owns a majority of railways, energy production and distribution, aircraft and telecommunication industries of the country.
    • There is a minimum wage, and it's pretty high: 1300 euros a month.
    • Health care is mandatory, universal and state-managed.
    • Cities have an obligation to provide cheap homes to poor people.
    • Several of the top TV and radio stations are state-owned.
    • Movies and art in general are largely sponsored by the state.
    • Public schools are often better than private ones.
    • Free college education for all.
    • Top 3 scientific colleges pay their students for being promising future contributors to society.
    • Owning a gun is not a sacred right guaranteed by the constitution.
    • The constitution is only 52 years old, and it can be changed by referendum.
    • People can't get fired from a permanent position for no good reason and without a severance package or time to rebound.
    • If you get fired, you get substantial unemployment insurance.
    • Religion and the state are strictly separated, to the point that cults and religions pay taxes like everybody else, and politicians rarely talk about their religious convictions, or lack thereof. No mention of God is made on banknotes.
    • 64% of the population defines itself as atheists or agnostics according to http://www.harrisinteractive.com/news/allnewsbydate.asp?NewsID=1131
    • Children in school don't pledge allegiance to the flag.

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  • News from the gym: oh the hypocrisy!

    Davy safety lampUh oh, I've been watching Fox at the gym again...

    The big thing they were talking about was Harry Knox, a White House advisor, having said the Catholic Church was "hurting people in the name of Jesus" by forbidding the use of condoms. Fox pundits of course were outraged, their arguments being that scientific consensus was agreeing with the Pope that condoms weren't preventing the spread of AIDS and that the Catholic Church was saving a lot more lives through its charities than Knox's organization, HRC.

    Let's look at these claims.

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  • The French are so lazy...

    The economist has a piece about how much American kids study (http://www.economist.com/world/unitedstates/displayStory.cfm?story_id=13825184&source=most_recommended) that starts with the requisite clichés about the lazy French.

    Did you know that the French are the fifth most productive people of the OCDE, before the US and way before Japan?

    It's true that the American work on average 11% more than the French but did you know that on average the French work more (and better) than the German?

    Interestingly, there seems to be an inverse correlation between hours worked and productivity: the less you work, the better you work.

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