8 th February 2005
DIARIES RECOVERED -
Entries for the first few years of this diary (covering the
NATO-Serbian war) were lost when a hard disk crashed some years
ago. I have restored the disk's operation and copied the files
onto the new web server. They are available in the Archives.
BRENDAN NELSON HSC PLAN -
Our Federal Government has finally taken steps to improve the
Your diarist was a teacher of Engineering for more than a decade, and
as an ex-teacher who had to cope with the progressive "liberalization"
of the TAFE system, believes he can speak with experience.
Teaching and examining are properly done by two different
authorities. Anything else is an invitation to corruption, an
invitation to give a favorable assessment whether for overt
(financial) rewards, or by influence to judgment generated by rewards
ranging from sexual blandishment to simple flattery.
Basically, a teacher should be a learning facilitator. His skill
should be in teaching the information that will assist students to
perform well in an examination that is set to a publicly stated
curriculum. Participation in the assessment procedure corrupts
the interactions that facilitate learning.
To those who object that the successful teachers will "teach to
exams" and will not teach the "soul" of the subject material, I would
retort that the examiners are then at fault. If they set exams
that test "soul", then good teachers will respond by teaching soul.
Of course Brendan is not going far enough. He should announce
similar plans for examinations across the educational spectrum, from
Law, Medicine & Engineering through to Secretarial Studies and
Microsoft has announced plans to reduce copyright infringement of
it's OS by regulation
of the online upgrades that protect from viral attacks.
I do not think that is a good idea. Linux would love it if
Microsoft managed to stop copyright infringement.
At the moment, many people learn about Computers on a (quite possibly)
pirated copy of Microsoft OS. These people grow up and
(eventually) either become successful, and use licensed MS-OS, or work
for somebody else and use their employer's Windows OS.
If Microsoft is successful in stopping piracy of it's OS, then a large
number of young people (who
through poverty will be forced to use alternative free Linux or similar
come into the workforce being familiar with Unix type OS.
(It is of course highly unlikely that the Microsoft strategy would
breaches of it's OS copyright. For instance, free programs such
protect even an unupgraded Windows OS against outside attacks, and
introduced by e-mail etc can be avoided by using hotmail and care.)
Microsoft needs constant cross fertilization from the market. The
Windows OS only became popular because the original web browser,
Netscape, would only function on a GUI (Windows) OS. (In private
of spleenie.com has raised issues with my version of the genesis of
Windows. I concede that he might have a point, but without raw
data on dates & takeup, neither of us can be certain. It is
certain though that Netscape had 90% of the market at the period of
greatest growth of internet usage, and probably during the greatest
windows takeup period.)
Which leads to my second point. The copyright laws of the world
are broken. The benefit given to the copyright owner is
disproportionate to the effort required to obtain the copyright.
It is also disproportionately expensive compared to the cost/effort
required to breach those copyright
laws by making illegal copies.
Looking backwards through time, the failure can be traced...
It sure is goin' to be an interesting
- The first instance of failure of the copyright laws was
software piracy of computer games & other software in the last
- This was followed by a progressive failure in the music
recording industry. Doonesbury (February 2005) has
illustrated the consequences (predicted here in
2003) of this failure. (1)
- This is currently being followed by video copyright
failures. (As instanced, I
was offered a copy of "Shrek 2" for $4 in the Canal St NYNY market two
it's official release). As with the music industry, existing
video stars are
probably the last generation of live stars. They will be
superseded by software generated images that are tailored to
perfection. The owners of those copyright images/stars
(digital copies of the movies in which those characters become stars
will probably be sold at cost, or offered free on the internet) will
most likely obtain returns on their investment by having their
characters endorse products.
- The new wave of copyright breaches will be
drug industry, probably initially generic drugs will be sold across
national borders, then they will be sold on the internet by
manufacturers in third world countries. Another possibility: in
years there will evolve a black market in lifesaving drugs, followed
a home "drug analysis & synthesizer" portable laboratory.
(Goodbye DEA and their efforts to control recreational drugs).
- Engineering patents will probably be the copyright breach to
follow drugs, as the price of a computer controlled manufacturing
machine comes within the purchasing ability of the individual.
It has for some time been the argument in these pages
that there is
nowhere safe for the average Joe to invest his retirement cash for a
safe haven and a good
return. Real estate has
been the safest nestegg for the last decade, but the flood of money
Australia, for instance, from legislated compulsory retirement
investment) represents a legislated
(enforced) "savings rate" has been driving the returns from stocks
& bonds down to a point where the return is not worth the risk.
Even the big funds cannot find good investments. For a
while they thought that copyright law (see above) would provide a
monopoly system that
gave guaranteed returns. They are in the process of learning
otherwise. The latest fad is to purchase utilities
infrastructure, (cf. Macquarie Bank) such as turnpikes, electricity
power stations, water
utilities, airports. There is a looming public response against
huge profits that will be extracted from those sources, and alternative
utilities venues will appear. (In the case of airports, for
legislation limiting traffic density might curtail expected profits,
and alternative airports accompanied by rapid rail could undercut price
structures.) Another "safe" investment has been banks, which are
selling their product (bank accounts) on security rather than
cost. However banking is a competitive business, and your diarist
is already considering moving his expensive, big bank accounts into
cheaper, co-op type institutions. Minerals are the coming
fashion, but nationalist sentiment levying higher taxes can be
What is our poor average Joe to do? My two cents suggestion, for
what it is worth, is take your money,
invest it frugally in your dream idea for a business, or, (if you don t
trust your dreams) put it into a
federally guaranteed savings account. I am confident that America
but the MBA's and capitalists who believe that they are America's core
are as finished financially as were the
landowners of the UK at the beginning of the now bygone industrial age.