Connections @BBC #physics #science #engineering #history #tv

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Look at me. Ending my streak of posts after an entire year, and the very next day posting every day for a week. Will it last? (No.)

I recently rediscovered the BBC show, Connections, hosted by James Burke. I used to watch this with my dad when I was a kid. This is a show about the marvels of science and engineering throughout history and, more to the point, their connections to one another. That is, a technology over here gets merged with a technology over there, and voila! A new invention. 

It’s enough to drive you mad.

I apparently remember it extremely well, because I find myself saying the host’s lines before he says them. Nevertheless, I’m relearning a lot of material. I recently learned about, and wrote a post on, the Cistercian numerals. To my recollection, I never heard of the Cistercian monks before learning about their numbers, yet they were mentioned in the one of the first few episodes, so my memory is exceptional, but not perfect. (My short term memory is failing, which is very unsettling.)

Another thing threw me off a bit. In the first episode – which is a bit scary, by the way – the host describes the New York City blackout of 1977, which left several planes circling overhead with nowhere to land. The flight he expressly mentioned was flight 911. A spooky an odd . . . connection.

Whether your academic or professional background is in science (like me) or history, this is still a fascinating and relevant show.

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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!

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Malpractice Watch: Boston Legal @WilliamShatner @itsJulieBowen @monicapotter @lakebell @ConstanceZimmer @MerEaton @SaffronBurrows_ #GoodWatch #BostonLegal #TV #media #movie #law #science

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Over a week ago — I’m waaaaay ahead of schedule on writing my posts — I finished a massive and tedious binging of Boston Legal. I had never seen the show before, but considering my love of so many of those actors, and the occasional scene hitting my social media streams, that’s surprising, but I’ve remedied it.

To start, I’ll say that I’m most certainly not one of those people that complains how badly movies and TV shows get things wrong. I have a physics degree. I’ve worked in software engineering for almost a decade. I have a law degree, and have worked as an attorney for more than twice that time. Some of you have medical degrees. Many of us have practical, professional experience that makes us experts in our respective fields. Every single expertise seems downright ridiculed by entertainment media, and sometimes experts get uptight about that. I don’t. I get it. Most people are not experts in any given area, so most people don’t notice the ridiculousness in any given show. That means that, even if what’s presented is utterly ridiculous, most viewers won’t know or won’t care. Moreover, experts in one area will be annoyed by only those shows getting their expertise wrong, meaning that they’ll usually wind up in the category of not knowing or caring. It’s about playing the odds, and the odds are stacked in favor of drama over reality. That makes sense. There’s nothing wrong with it.

But c’mon! Sneaking firearms into court and firing them off, and not getting disbarred and thrown in jail!? Are non-attorneys not annoyed by that?! Really?! There were just so many insane things that happened that would land these “lawyers” in jail long before the state bars could disbar them, though that would happen eventually.

But okay, okay! It’s fine. It was a fun show. The political pontificating was annoying at times, but it helped me relive the emotion of those days which are over a decade behind us. It genuinely triggered my nostalgia. Having my favorite actor, William Shatner, as one of the main characters certainly helped.

William Shatner!

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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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The Real Periodic Table of Elements #science #chemistry

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Like many of you, I took a year of chemistry in high school. I also took a year of physics. I started college as an engineering student and switched majors to physics. Both majors required that I have two semesters of chemistry there. Yet, in all that time, I’d never seen the periodic table of elements in its true form. Not once. I decided to do a Google image search, and sure enough, I couldn’t find one anywhere on the internet. So, I took one from Google and more accurately expressed its structure.

First!

Okay, I know. It’s harder to fit on a page like this. Nevertheless, I still find it odd that after a half a century, someone with a science education has never once encountered it in its true form. It’s just weird. So is this because some of those elements look human 🙂 , but it’s neat.

$12.99 cheap.

Science!

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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?)

I Can’t Wait Until 2620 #science #physics #astronomy #Uranus #Futurama

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Sundays now are lazy days for me. I either post something silly or other people’s work. Usually both. Today … I have no comment. Commenting will just get me in trouble.

If the title of this post confuses you, here’s the context.

Enjoy.

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