Octopus Intelligence #nature #ocean #octopus #biology #intelligence

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Octopuses are weird, but studying them has a lot to teach us.

Yeah, I said “octopuses,” bitches.

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The Curious Legality of the Aspirin Trademark @bayer #trademark #ip #aspirin #Bayer #TrademarkTuesday

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Blog posts cannot substitute for legal advice. If the topics discussed in this post are relevant to a real case you have, please consult an attorney.

I’ve previously dispelled a common misconception between copyrights and trademarks. In summary, the “doctrine of laches” does not apply to copyrights. That is, if a copyright holder doesn’t enforce their copyright, they don’t lose the copyright. The doctrine of laches does apply to trademarks. Bayer’s Aspirin is an example of a trademark that fell prey to the doctrine of laches and was subsequently “genericized.” But there’s a legal twist to this story.

The German company, Bayer, held a patent in acetyl salicylic acid (“ASA”), and a trademark in Aspirin to identify it. The patent expired in 1917, but they continued to sell it under the brand name Aspirin, so the trademark lingered. Due to World War I, Bayer lost all its assets including its intellectual property. A new, company, bought those assets (including the trademarks “Bayer” and “Aspirin”) and continued selling ASA using the Aspirin trademark. Unfortunately, “considerably more than 220 tons” of counterfeit Aspirin flooded the U.S. market. This ASA was sold as “aspirin” throughout the general public, but with perhaps only an insignificant percentage of exceptions, manufacturing chemists, retail druggists, and physicians didn’t use or sell the infringing ASA.

In Bayer Co. v. United Drug Co., 272 F. 505 (S.D.N.Y. 1921), Bayer sued to enforce the trademark, and the result was, despite the Honorable Learned Hand’s claim, a first in the law. Here’s the relevant quote, which I’ll next explain.

The case, therefore, presents a situation in which, ignoring sporadic exceptions, the trade is divided into two classes, separated by vital differences. One, the manufacturing chemists, retail druggists, and physicians, has been educated to understand that “Aspirin” means the plaintiff’s manufacture, and has recourse to another and an intelligible name for it, actually in use among them. The other, the consumers, the plaintiff has, consciously I must assume, allowed to acquaint themselves with the drug only by the name “Aspirin,” and has not succeeded in advising that the word means the plaintiff at all. If the defendant is allowed to continue the use of the word of the first class, certainly without any condition, there is a chance that it may get customers away from the plaintiff by deception. On the other hand, if the plaintiff is allowed a monopoly of the word as against consumers, it will deprive the defendant, and the trade in general, of the right effectually to dispose of the drug by the only description which will be understood. It appears to me that the relief granted cannot in justice to either party disregard this division; each party has won, and each has lost.

Id. at 513-14.

What all of this means is that, to the general public, aspirin was no longer a trademark. Anyone could sell ASA to the general public and call it aspirin (with a small A), because to the general public, they were the same thing. However, Aspirin (with a capital A) was still a distinctive mark among manufacturing chemists, retail druggists, and physicians, because they never treated it as a generic term. As professionals in the industry, they weren’t burdened by having to call the generic drug acetyl salicylic acid (or monoaceticacidester of salicylicacid), so they continued to do so. Also, those professionals weren’t willing to trade in infringing goods, so they never did.

The net result was that the trademark was no longer applicable to the general public, but it was still valid when selling to manufacturing chemists, retail druggists, and physicians.

Weird, huh?

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Animal Alignment Chart #Caturday #ADnD #DnD #RPG #TTRPG

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I saw a few of these online and didn’t agree with any of them. I took it upon myself to make my own. My explanations follow. Your bullshit complaints will follow that.

LG: Dogs. They follow rules without ever questioning them, and they’re annoyingly sweet. Lawful good is always annoying.

NG: Hamsters. They’re largely chaotic, but they like their hamster wheels and other routines. They’re also never mean.

CG: Weasels. These creatures cannot be contained, but they’re always cool. Unless you’re a rabbit.

LN: Cow. Cows also follow the rules without question, and that’s the extent of their entire philosophy of life.

N: Goldfish. Too stupid for anything else. If you want something smarter, I’ll stick a human in there. Be careful what you wish for, disphit.

CN: Cat. I’ve seen dog lovers characterize them as chaotic evil. That’s only because those low-ego fools can’t handle anything but unearned and unquestioned loyalty. Any independent thought on the part of the pet is considered “evil.” The truth is that cats randomly alternate between sweet and mean, but always have an air of IDGAF.

LE: Ants. The colony will eat you, but always by the book.

NE: Rat. You have a rat as a pet? WTF you thinking? I hope you get the plague.

CE: Honey badger. These guys are like cats, but are never sweet.

Final answer.

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Dungeons & Dragons is a trademark of Wizards of the Coast, LLC, who neither contributed to nor endorsed the contents of this post. (Okay, jackasses?)



The Pufferfish Lich #science #biology #gaming #DnD #ADnD #RPG #TTRPG #pufferfish

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Sundays now are lazy days for me. I either post something silly or other people’s work. Usually both. Today, it’s (loosely) using science to imagine a D&D creature. I did that with the Ixitxachitl and now do it with the pufferfish. Behold the pufferfish lich!

I don’t care what spells it casts. I’m not afraid.

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Help!

Dungeons & Dragons is a trademark of Wizards of the Coast, LLC, who neither contributed to, nor endorsed, the contents of this post. (Okay, jackasses?)

Mountain Lions @NatGeo @dodo #Caturday #ADnD #DnD #RPG #TTRPG

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Today’s the day! I’m playing 1st Edition D&D for the first time in almost a decade and running it for the first time since 1982. (I’m old.) I’m starting them out with B2: The Keep on the Borderlands, and it’s Caturday, so I thought I’d give you something on mountain lions today. No particular reason. 🙂

Ssshhhh! My players may be listening!

Here’s a video comparing them to yeti. They’re so mysterious that they almost qualify as cryptids. They don’t because, well, they’re real.

Okay, it’s kind of dumb to compare them to a yeti, but everyone likes to be dramatic. Don’t shoot the messenger. Here’s a completely unrelated cat video from the DoDo that hit my stream today.

I’m interrupting the gaming session to post this.

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Help!

Dungeons & Dragons is a trademark of Wizards of the Coast, LLC, who neither contributed to nor endorsed the contents of this post. (Okay, jackasses?)



Mushroom “Art” @guardian #art #mushroom

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Sundays now are lazy days for me. I either post something silly or other people’s work. Usually both. Today is dedicated to gearing you up for the following two days that, for reasons I don’t understand, I’m dedicating to mushrooms. Here’s an article from two years ago care of the Guardian discussing a mushroom-obsessed trend among artists.

I’m not fashion expert — I consider myself lucky if my tie matches my shirt — but this doesn’t seem like something to wear when you’re out on the town.

Now that I would wear. To the Renaissance Faire.

Truth be told, I hate mushrooms.

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Paleozoic Monsters #DnD #ADnD #gaming #science #biology #paleozoic

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Sundays now are lazy days for me. I either post something silly or other people’s work. Usually both. Today, it’s a continuation of my obsession with how to deal with aquatic encounters.

I discussed how there are plenty of viable aquatic PC races in 1st Edition D&D (“1e“). This image contains more threats, much of which don’t appear (as far as I can tell) among official 1e bestiaries, and I’m sure there are plenty of options from other eras to add to what we have. If 1e weren’t so human-centric, the writers may have done a better job contemplating aquatic campaigns, and then we’d have more of these. Perhaps some reskinning is in order.

Oh, and happy Super Bowl Sunday! Go Sean McVay! Remind Daniel Snyder how much of a dipshit he is!

Someone stat that shit!

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Dungeons & Dragons is a trademark of Wizards of the Coast, LLC, who neither contributed to, nor endorsed, the contents of this post. (Okay, jackasses?)

Tiamutt #science #biology #gaming #DnD #ADnD #Tiamat

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Sundays now are lazy days for me. I either post something silly or other people’s work. Usually both. Today, it’s from a Facebook D&D group I frequent. Here’s what was shared (on this post if you can see it):

I know. This blog hasn’t been kind to canines (too many examples to count). But whether you’re a cat person or a dog person, everyone likes both kittens and puppies, and I’m no exception, so no backhanded compliments on this post.

Everyone’s reaction to this was some variation of “It’s a hydra!” Have they never heard of taxonomy? Reptiles aren’t even in the same class as canines. No, this is its own thing, and its name is Tiamutt, lord of all canines. Always check with me before classifying D&D monsters. I’m apparently much better at it than you guys.

Now someone stat that shit!

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Dungeons & Dragons is a trademark of Wizards of the Coast, LLC, who neither contributed to, nor endorsed, the contents of this post. (Okay, jackasses?)

Character Aging in First Edition AD&D #ADnD #DnD #RPG #biology

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I’m going to take you down the same rabbit hole my mind entered while gradually waking up one recent morning. Most (if not all) gamers have encountered those online quizzes that tell you what D&D class you are in real life. I’ve always been of the mindset that I’m probably best characterized as a monk. I’ve trained a lot in the martial arts, starting when I was 14 (almost four decades ago), and every online alignment test has pegged me as lawful good or lawful neutral (very heavy on law). All of that checks out, which is unsurprising considering I’m answering the questions about myself (which means my biases must creep in). I feel like I might be a bad monk because I wouldn’t consider my Wisdom score my maximum, but that’s my skill set. Of course, you have to suspend some disbelief here either way. We’re translating classes into a real world that doesn’t enjoy the effects of magic.

But even considering that translation, what concerned me the most is that, while my knowledge of that hobby continues to improve, my body can’t keep up. I’m old, and that’s no small matter. Everything is always injured. Usually, it’s just a strain or something like that, but at times I’ve had to take weeks off to recover, even having had my first surgery ever at age 51 a couple years ago.

Aging in 1e

All of that got me thinking about how much I like the aging rules from page 13 of the 1e DMG, but not the aging rules from page 12. On the one hand, I like the idea that characters’ ability scores change as they age. It’s yet another tool that promotes immersion in the game world, and anyone who’s read this blog knows how much I prefer that play style. On the other hand, I don’t like that age is determined randomly. These two positions create a tension. Players can game the system, setting, for example, a cleric as age, mature, to boost Strength and Wisdom by 1 with no downside. In fact, other than a magic user or illusionist who’d likely go with middle aged, what character wouldn’t benefit from that?

If the DM has draconian character creation guidelines (e.g., 3d6 assigned in order, or even slightly better ones), the characters are sometimes going to have some terrible scores, and if the scores can’t be assigned out of order, perhaps scores that prohibit playing the class the player wants to play. In such a situation, gaming the system may make an unplayable character playable, so it’s not a bad thing after all. However, in my game world, the characters will roll 4d6 dropping the lowest, and assigning in whatever order they want, so the danger of overpowered characters is greater.

Because I don’t want their ages rolled randomly, I’ll probably require that the scores as rolled stay as they are, but perhaps create my own schedule of ability score changes due to aging. I’ve noticed that imbalance in minor things like this often go unnoticed by game designers, resulting in design elements with either a benefit or a drawback, but not both (c.f., the 4e Invoker’s own powers always harming itself without any extra harm delivered to its target). No matter what I do, I’ll keep this 1e DMG rule on page 13: “The only ability which may exceed 18 due to age effects (unless age restricts this) is wisdom.”

A few days after writing this post, MerricB tweeted something relevant:

Which I’m only now publishing. I’m way ahead of schedule.

I don’t have any problem with optimism, but this is a game system, so gains in Wisdom should be accompanied by losses elsewhere, even if they make just as little sense as a rule.

Who says I don’t have an 18 Constitution?

If you’ve had a different experience from what I suggest here, please share your thoughts.

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Dungeons & Dragons is a trademark of Wizards of the Coast, LLC, who neither contributed to nor endorsed the contents of this post. (Okay, jackasses?)