Daily Office:



Intellectual Property: A core tenet of free-market capitalism is that the best product or service wins. On the level playing field, blah blah blah, consumers beat a path to buy the better mousetrap. The brouhaha over Scrabulous, however, shows just how bent our markets have become, as corporations have pushed for expansive application of intellectual property laws — yet another instance of socialism for the rich.


Wallonia: The march toward breaking up Belgium inches forward. In a poll, half of the nation’s Francophones (or Walloons) say that they’d be happier as Frenchmen — and an even higher percentage of Northern Frenchmen agreed!


Naughty Bits: Father Tony went to a wacked-out art show in Chelsea. So far, it seems, none of Robert Fontinelli’s furniture designs have been executed in three dimensions, but that may change.


Morning, cont’d

§ IP. I won’t summarize this amusing but important story. The bottom line is that, in today’s intellectual property climate, nobody can build a better mousetrap — excuse me; online version of a popular board game — without the permission of Hasbro, because our courts will support the corporations claim that developers of a superior version of Scrabble have engaged in “clear and blatant infringement” of Hasbro’s intellectual property rights.

You’ll hear corporate spokesman whine that “inadequate” intellectual property laws will chill research and development. Perhaps. But this is just another way of saying that corporations demand and get (thanks to the corrupting nexus of campaign finance and lobbying) insurance for their innovations — and at no cost to themselves.

Noon, cont’d

§ Wallonia. Democracy is so recent a development that one of its biggest threats is only now coming into full sight. Today’s democracies are by and large the successors of monarchical or other autocratic states. That’s to say that the states were not formed by democractic means. Most ancestors of today’s French did not themselves elect to live in France. On the contrary: France (or its kings) decided the matter for them.

Belgium was created by the “concert of nations” — a convention of monarchs and their agents — in 1830. Its king, Leopold I, was appointed, again by outsiders, a year later. The good people of Belgium had nothing to do with it. Now, due to immense shifts in wealth and influence, the Walloons who used to prevail in Belgium — they made Brussels, a city in Flanders, into a French-speaking town — are in the back seat. As such, they’d rather sit behind a French driver than a Flemish one.

As we watch Belgium dissolve (or resist dissolution) we ought to reconsider what I hope will someday no longer be called “the American Civil War.” At the moment, it is almost impossible not to regard this conflict as a Good Thing, because it is thought to have “freed the slaves” — as if that were the end of black Americans’ crisis of freedom, and not its beginning. Setting that matter aside, however, how can the democratic will of the Southern States to defect from the Union have been justly thwarted?

The thrust of modern thinking seems to move in altogether the opposite direction, as a glance at the history of the former Yugoslavia suggests. Not for a minute was any of the international military force and humanitarian aid that was deployed in that troubled region intended to restore Tito’s federation of South Slav states.  On the contrary, the UN and NATO have sought nothing less than the preservation of Bosnian independence — a/k/a secession.

Night, cont’d

§ Naughty Bits. It took a while to find the Horny Sailor, but it was worth the search, I must say. The impropriety is contributed entirely by the mind of the beholder.

Comments are closed.