Friday, April 22, 2016

It's been so long...

... so long since I've done a proper link dump, I can't even remember how to do it! I long ago stopped reading other blogs due to time issues, and cut down my online activity to the bare minimum of what I thought I could manage quickly. I'm not sure I know how to find all my sources I used to read. It's so strange to have time again!

Ok, don't panic. I still have interests. I just haven't been able to share them.

Let's start with Popular Science's article on better batteries that were made by accident. Sometimes I think all the best discoveries must be by accident, considering how many cool things are created by experiments not working like expected. I think it's important to realize that failure in science is almost as useful, sometimes way more useful, than "success". You come up with your hypothesis, you test it, and something is wrong... sometimes that's the moment real discovery starts. In any case, these batteries, with the potential to last 400 times longer than current batteries before needing a charge, are extremely promising.

Drones are the new UFOs. Apparently, lots of pilots who hit things now are thinking those things are drones. That's an interesting twist of perceptions. Having attempted to fly a drone and failed (with a long hike involved to find and collect the drone) I have my doubts that most small drones can get up high enough to threaten planes. Larger drones... you would expect the operators to have more of a clue. Then again, not all drone operators have shown off brains so far.

Southern Fried Science enjoys some Aquaman science. Love it!

Speaking of comics, this report of sexual harassment at DC is very depressing. But I'm hoping by spreading this information, more people will have questions and maybe something will be done about it. I can dream. Comics aren't exactly friendly to women, yet. Not quite as bad as some segments of gaming, but the sexism and boys club attitude is there.

I'll finish up with a piece from Atlas Obscura on pirated research libraries. In short, journal costs can be so high that, in order to cite other recent studies, some broke scientists are turning to pirated documents to get what they need to help science progress. Of course, read that last line to see that it's not all about research.

I still maintain that copyright has been extended so long that it is now meaningless to the current generation. If copyright lasts a lifetime or longer, and it does, then nothing produced today will ever go into the public domain. This makes things that were possible only a couple of generations ago impossible, including a new Disney producing movies using classic public domain stories. I think there should be copyright, and I think it should be renewable, but I don't think it should be automatic after the first term, say 10 years. And renewal should cost some fee to maintain the database of copyrighted works. That means that works that aren't making money for the copyright holder are more likely to fall into the public domain where they can be remixed and turned into new works.

But if we continue the way we have, copyrights are basically going to become a speedbump to cultural progress, bankrupting artists who can't afford obscene fees to use music that should be in the public domain. Corporations will own most copyrights and come down hard on people who violate them, while individual authors won't be able to protect their own work from pirates because of the costs of litigation. For a reason why eternal copyrights are stupid, read Melancholy Elephants by Spider Robinson.