Thursday assorted links


3. A small step toward a much better world.

I wonder though: if they copyrighted all possible melodies, then they are trying to copyright some melodies from previously copyrighted music. Does that open them up to being sued?

In order to sue you need to have standing. Prove that you suffered some damages from the other party stealing your work. Since they aren't selling anything, no one would have any standing to sue. It would be immediately dismissed.

For infringements of registered copyrights, one may pursue statutory damages, not just actual ones.

And ripping off Spider Robinson along the way, in a certain fashion.

I don't know why Google doesn't copyright everything in the Library of Babel. With Google Books scans and existing search they can check that the work is new, copyright anything else. They can generate according to natural language patterns, too, which will cut out a lot of the dross. Although there still will be plenty of dross.

"5. If you lose Taiwan, you lose Japan."

History says No, that's not the way it works.

The most obvious response is that event of a full out non-nuclear war, Japan starts getting supplies from across the Pacific. Alternately, ships could go south around Indonesia. Yes, it would drive up costs, but it would still have a functional economy. And of course, such a war would also cut off shipments of raw materials to China, Oil being the most obviously critical resource. China currently imports 10 million barrels a day.

Of course, it's all kind of moot. If China can seize Taiwan quickly then it can just effectively wait out a war. I'm not sure that the US could free a conquered Taiwan outside of a massive WW2 style build up.

Agreed. The analysis makes no sense whatsoever. It's a big ocean. The current shipping lanes are the most efficient, but why would the alternatives be cost prohibitive? Are we missing something or is this as idiotic as it seems?

I read through the whole thing, and the author jumps to China being able to get its nuclear ballistic subs to deep water and its attack subs out around Japan. But the nuclear ballistic subs don't mean anything in a conventional war; and whose flag is currently flying over Taiwan doesn't mean anything in a nuclear war.

That leaves the attack subs. Sure, on some level the capture of Taiwan will make those a bigger threat, but so what. I don't know why China cares about Japan very much if it's already captured Taiwan.

Yes. To their credit though they partially recognize that. This quote from the PLA's book is potentially instructive: "The Taiwan Strait, it notes, is a Japanese maritime lifeline that runs from Europe and the Middle East, and based on PLA studies, Japan receives 90 percent of its oil imports, 99 percent of its mineral resources, and 100 percent of its nuclear fuel needs from ships that travel across these sea lanes."

They do note that those statistics are not determinative; it the Strait of Taiwan is closed off then Japan would switch to other shipping routes. So, as the comments have already noted, those numbers are meaningless.

But that quote does raise a question. Does the PLA use those kinds of stats and that type of thinking when doing its strategic and military planning? It's the kind of thinking that caused the US during WW II to think that since modern vehicles needed ball-bearings, all they had to do was bomb Germany's ball-bearing factories and the German war machine would grind to a halt. Or the thinking (thankfully rarer these days) that if we assassinate the head of Al-Qaeda, or the Taliban, or whatever, that organization will be badly hurt because it's lost its leader.

There's fragility out there, but organizations are not quite that fragile.

Do you really think it will be non-nuclear war?

#5 And if you lose Japan, you lose 80's Yuppies and anime fans. If you lose them, you lose Conservatives. If you lose Conservatives, you lose Evangelicals and the Deep South. If you lose Evangelicals and the Deep South, you lose the Electoral College. If you lose the Electoral College, Senator Sanders win. If Senator Sqnders win, you lose South Korea. If you lose South Korea, you lose K-Pop fans and the cycle begins again.

the great gary chamberlain once wrote: I was in dire straits financially, emotionally I was a wreck, and spiritually I was bankrupt.

Gary was another of that increasingly rare breed, a gentleman and a scholar, a genuine loss in more ways than one. RIP.

Very human, Tyler and Alex. Learnt over the years. Rest you can filter in and out. Odisha anyone?

But TC will say you must be suspicious of praise.

I am a musician and I've used MIDI since 1985. I don't know what "every MIDI melody" means.


I don't care, the reason: there is no such thing as that in the headline, and I want to read the article after that?

Why bother reading anything with a headline?

1. Meanwhile Magnus is back into the top 50 in Fantasy Soccer ahead of some of the most difficult weeks strategically speaking. I can't overstate how impressively consistent he's been at forecasting against so much noise.

For once, I actually beat Tyler to a topic:

That ... doesn't work at all.

The library of babel stores every possible combination of the 23 letters and spaces already. That doesn't mean the library of babel has "copyrighted" every text in existence.

For copyright to hold, it must be created. You can't "copyright" a natural process or have a computer run through everything and then say you own the copyright.

Think of the flipside, if these programmers hadn't released it all the the public domain, did they just claim to own a copyright on all of melodies? They can use any artist for coming up with any song?

That's absurd, and not correct. You need to create something on your own (i.e. It cannot just be computer generated, you have to have some input to the specific work) that has some amount of artistic merit to it on its own. A random jumble of sounds doesn't count.

Music lawsuits depend on the claim that the artist allegedly violating copyright actually listened to the "original" melody. I can come up with a melody before a big name artist, but if only 10 people listened to it on soundcloud, I can't prove they listened to it so I can't sue.

If on the other hand I come up with a melody before a big name artist and record it - I can reuse it at a later date and that would prove that I did not steal it from the big name artist. I was well within my rights to use it.

That's the idea behind this music bank. It gives artists an out to say they got the melody from this public bank of melodies. Now I agree it won't hold up in court - if it were more modest, perhaps if they came up with a smaller selection of melodies that follow certain rules of composition it would have had a shot. But as it stands it will probably fail.

"So maybe if these numbers have existed since the beginning of time and we're just plucking them out, maybe melodies are just math, which is just facts, which is not copyrightable."
That's just complete nonsense. Based on this, everything ever written would not be copyrightable, as every character in the alphabet is just a number (ASCII) and authors are just "plucking them out" and maybe novels and plays and lyrics and any other written material is just math, and facts and not copyrightable. Like I said, buillshit.
These guys seem to have forgotten what copyright is about -- creative expression.

All I can say is thank you. We didn't grow up saying that word - reciprocity was understood. Of course, one can't universalise it. Intersecting universalities?

7. Rumor has it that Gary Chamberlain was a legend... Very sad.

5. Stoking war with China by insisting China wishes to conquer Taiwan and using Japan's annexation of Taiwan in 1895 as proof. Talking about projection. It's true that China wants to control the sea lanes in the South China Sea, but that's for economic advantage not military advantage: the challenge to China comes from its neighbors, such as Vietnam, the threat being the shift of production by western firms from China to China's neighbors. Of course, that was the point of the TPP. Trump defeated the TPP, thereby maintaining China's economic advantage in the region. If China controls the sea lanes in the South China Sea, China's trading competitors might have to re-route shipping, which would be difficult and expensive - glance at a map of the region and identify a good alternative route. It's true that Taiwan lies on the north side of the gateway from the South China Sea to the Pacific, but the more strategic land mass is the Philippines on the south side of the gateway. That's why China has been courting the Philippines' dictator. China's prosperity depends on trade with the west, and trade with the west depends on good relations between China and the west. Annexing Taiwan would sour relations with the west. The problem with the conventional western view about China is that it's a military view with a focus on military conflict, while China's economic mercantilism is the better, more accurate view. Let China be China, don't make China what it's not by projection.

Have you even read the article?

The “projection‘s” basis for Chinese military interest in Taiwan and the nearby Japanese Islands is not taken out of thin air but military manuals for senior level PLA members handed out e.g. at the PLA Air Force Command College in Beijing.

Wether their geo strategical reasoning is sound or not is less important than the fact that they are training for that.

FWIW the only one projecting here may be the PLA, eyeing Taiwan because of their concept of a “first island chain”.

"Stoking war with China by insisting China wishes to conquer Taiwan "

rayward, the article was dumb, but your comment is even dumber. China does wish to conquer Taiwan. They've publicly said so. Many, many times.

"President Xi Jinping’s report at the 19th Communist Party congress offers some clues. In the address, he identified “one country, two systems” and the reunification of the motherland as a fundamental strategy of a “new era” for China. " October 2017

#5: Reads like a Halford Mackinder trying to fit in with the locals.

4. Good thread. Another advantage of globalization is that it has made people richer and thus healthier, improving natural immunity to disease. Notably, the worst modern pandemic, the Spanish Flu, occurred because the breakdown of globalization led to World War I, wartime censorship and lack of information exchange, and widespread poverty and hunger among the Central Powers which made their people more vulnerable to the flu. If the Spanish Flu started today, it's pretty certain that far fewer people would have died.

5. Why would China want to blockade Japan, one of its biggest and most important trading partners? The Chinese desire to control Taiwan is easily explained in terms of wanting to finish the Chinese Civil War, not as some first step to global domination. The Chinese desire to have control over islands off its coast is also easily explained in defensive terms if you study the wars of the 1800s. Frequently, the Chinese army did okay on land, but China had to surrender anyway because control of the seas gave the invading armies better mobility that let them cut off vital Chinese shipping. The Sino-French War is the clearest example of this where Chinese armies were arguably victorious on land, but the French were able to gain large territorial and economic concessions after taking Taiwan and beating the Chinese at sea. The First Opium War and the First Sino-Japanese War are also good examples of this (although by the First Sino-Japanese War, the Chinese army couldn't do anything on land either). By contrast, never in Chinese history has China used those islands as a springboard to launch military invasions further ashore. Chinese defense doctrine in its near-abroad seems defensive and reasonable in light of this history.

China loses all claims to self-defense if they invade Taiwan who would have the much stronger claim at that point. Like the Paracel and Spratly Islands, Taiwan doesn't belong to China just because they say so.

#2: Looks like a good review of a good book (I've read the review albeit quickly; haven't read Scheidel's book). The only obvious weak point, or incomplete point, that I see is Scheidel's claim that political fragmentation meant that European states had a bigger incentive to engage in overseas colonialism and trade than the Chinese empire did. I don't see why that would be the case, maybe Scheidel has a good argument that Koyama omitted.

But the rest of the review makes Scheidel's book look like a measured and careful attempt to take on one of the biggest of questions, and the review itself appears to be measured and careful.

I suppose another argument that one could try to make against Scheidel is that political fragmentation is at best necessary but not sufficient to explain the various Great Divergences, but I imagine that Scheidel would be the first to agree with that. Koyama at one point seems to imply that he puts a little less emphasis on the importance of political fragmentation: "Scheidel’s relentless emphasis on the centrality of state fragmentation is fairly persuasive—in my own published work, I have also stressed its importance." But both agree that it was important and I'm inclined to agree.


Lee Hsien Loong's speech here is a masterclass in how to communicate effectively. Also, because this speech comes from a country where I can't detect the political subtext, it seems more comforting than if the same thing were said by any other politician which I have more familiarity with.

It's harder to consider someone statesmanlike when you're aware of their political biases and you like/dislike them for it (Trump, Boris, Xi, Salvini, Morrison, Macron).

agree....earnest, eager , humble and obviously competent. When will we have such leaders ?

It helps that Singapore has a more trustworthy government than most. Having less corruption in leadership goes a long way to making words mean something. Otherwise its just PR soundbites and spinning.

This video should be mandatory viewing for everyone in the West

Calm, reasoned, informative, provides perspective, personally useful

Where is the need to panic over a virus that is more infectious than SARS but far less deadly?

In practical terms death will mostly come to the elderly some will come down with a very bad flu more will become ill but there body will fight it off

This is not the end of our world as MSM reporting suggests

#6 Search about Singapore's position on freedom of press, homosexuality, long hair for men and we can talk again about effective leadership, communication and effective government

That's what I meant about being aware of someones existing political biases. It's not that it doesn't exist.

I did detect his point about 'spreading rumours', but that was the only one.

If China manages to conquer Taiwan by military force, somehow, that suggests a world in which the US can no longer be trusted to guarantee the security of East Asian democracies.

South Korea and Japan would feel pressure to develop their own nuclear deterrent. At a minimum, Japan would probably abandon its old pacifist constitution and boost defense budgets from its paltry 1% of GDP closer South Korea's 2.5% of GDP.

#3, it is silly that we need that kind of solution, but our courts have proven to be pretty silly over the years. It makes me think of the rise of patent trolls and the weaponization of lawsuits, where the purpose of many lawsuits isn't even to necessarily win the case but to drag it out and deter others even if their action is completely legitimate (e.g. Trump against journalists, Weinstein against women, etc.).

1. Speed chess just shows who has more chess moves memorized.

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