The Bayh Dole Act

One thing I learned over the years is that if a work is created by the government, it is in the public domain. This means if a book is written, a work of art painted, or even a photograph snapped by the government, it belongs to everyone and they can use it to their liking with or without the creator’s permission. This includes use for profitable and commercial purposes. Today I learned that there is more than meets the eye. Enter the Bayh Dole Act.

I noticed on the White House website that the government was somehow charging for use of patents created through government funding. Since I thought the government’s work was all public domain, this confused me a little. I decided to ask someone in the know. I found a ranking U.S. Department of Energy official’s email address and asked her. Her response was:

“Lab IP is owned by Lab M&O contractor, unless they pass on it back to ther federal govt.
See Bayh Dole”

After reading the Wikipedia article in detail, I thanked her for the information and went on about my day. Then it hit me… what if, for example, I funded billions of dollars of research and came up with a widget and patented it. Then the government decided to fund research for a similar widget and let the researcher keep the patent? My widgets would, understandably, be ridiculously overpriced to absorb the R&D costs whereas my competition could charge a percentage and still make huge profits. Something just isn’t right about that. How do we fix it? I can certainly think of a few ideas. Perhaps it is time for some grant funding reform.

Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief

Like many of you, my family and I are praying for the victims of the recent events in Japan. Unfortunately, when events like this happen, a crop of scams usually pop up. I think this post from Slashdot says it best:

Prepare For Massive Wave of Earthquake Scams

Posted by Soulskill on Friday March 11, @11:43AM
from the i-see-what-you-did-there dept.
wiredmikey sends this quote from Security Week:“Today’s tragic events of the 8.9 magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami, as sad as it is, is a dream for scammers and fraudsters around the world. Tragic events are always something scammers use to their advantage, helping them prey on and exploit innocent victims. Scams are already spreading across Facebook, which started in a matter of minutes after the news broke of the earthquake in Japan. As I write this, scammers are hard at work, registering new domains and cranking out templates for their fake donation sites. This will be followed with massive volumes of email spam, Tweets through Twitter, and Facebook posts, as scammers gear up to solicit donations from around the world.”As coverage of the earthquake and resulting tsunami has proceeded, collections of videos and pictures are showing the extent of the devastation. The NY Times makes the excellent point that things could have been much worse if not for building codes and quake-resistant engineering. A state of emergency was declared at one of Japan’s nuclear plants, after the earthquakecaused cooling problems at one of the reactors. No radiation leakage has been reported, and the US Air Force has helped bydelivering coolant by air.

If you choose to contribute to the recovery effort, I encourage you to contribute directly to the American Red Cross.

Franklin’s 13 Virtues

On occasion, I tend to re-read books that have helped me through the years. For example, I regularly re-read Dale Carnegie’s books, David Allen’s “Getting Things Done”, and others. Right now, I’m re-reading Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography. Although I don’t think he ever got around to publishing his “Art of Virtue” book, I do like reading how he applied his 13 virtues to his life. Here they are:

  1. Temperance: Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
  2. Order: Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
  3. Resolution: Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
  4. Frugality: Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.
  5. Moderation: Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
  6. Industry: Lose no time; be always employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
  7. Cleanliness: Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation.
  8. Tranquility: Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
  9. Silence: Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.
  10. Sincerity: Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
  11. Justice: Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
  12. Chastity: Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.
  13. Humility: Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

 

Terrorists threat levels, a British take on things

This arrived in my inbox today courtesy of Paul B. I’m a Monty Python fan, and this hit the funny bone for me today. Needed a good laugh, and HERE IT IS!


MOST YOUNG PEOPLE HAVE NO IDEA WHO JOHN CLEESE IS. BUT FOR US OLDER MONTY PYTHON FANS, THIS IS PRETTY INSIGHTFUL AND FUNNY:

ALERTS TO TERROR THREATS IN 2011 EUROPE

By John Cleese

The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent terrorist threats and have therefore raised their security level from “Miffed” to “Peeved.” Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to “Irritated” or even ”A Bit Cross.” The English have not been “A Bit Cross” since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies nearly ran out.

Terrorists have been re-categorized from “Tiresome” to “A Bloody Nuisance.” The last time the British issued a “Bloody Nuisance” warning level was in 1588, when threatened by the Spanish Armada.

The Scots have raised their threat level from “Pissed Off” to “Let’s get the Bastards.” They don’t have any other levels. This is the reason they have been used on the front line of the British army for the last 300 years.

The French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from “Run” to “Hide.” The only two higher levels in France are ”Collaborate” and “Surrender.” The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France ‘s white flag factory, effectively paralyzing the country’s military capability.

Italy has increased the alert level from “Shout Loudly and Excitedly” to ”Elaborate Military Posturing.” Two more levels remain: “Ineffective Combat Operations” and “Change Sides.”

The Germans have increased their alert state from “Disdainful Arrogance” to ”Dress in Uniform and Sing Marching Songs.” They also have two higher levels: “Invade a Neighbor” and “Lose.”

Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual; the only threat they are worried about is NATO pulling out of Brussels.

The Spanish are all excited to see their new submarines ready to deploy. These beautifully designed subs have glass bottoms so the new Spanish navy can get a really good look at the old Spanish navy.

Australia, meanwhile, has raised its security level from “No worries” to ”She’ll be alright, Mate.” Two more escalation levels remain: “Crikey! I think we’ll need to cancel the barbie this weekend!” and “The barbie is canceled.” So far no situation has ever warranted use of the final escalation level.

John Cleese – British writer, actor and tall person