Saturday, March 15, 2014

German Unemployment Programs as a Model

Glen Hutchins at the New York Times
examines Germany's success in dealing with unemployment at
Work Like a German
writing:
"There is a consensus to be won here: Liberals should get behind reforms that incentivize work, and conservatives should back the required government spending."
Take a look.

New Generations Tend to be "Free Market" on Economic Issues and "Libertarian" on Social Issues

At the New York Times, Jonathan Martin writes that Young Republicans Find Fault With Elders on List of Social Issues.

The world is necessarily changing in our information age and young people are not only better informed than ever, but as a result have different value systems than their elders.

Politicians of all nations should be careful in following "old guard" ideas that may well be greatly in conflict with the "will" of coming younger generations.

Russia, China, Putin, Crimea and Ukraine, the Baltic and Related Topics ... "I am Not Sure"

When I was invited by my late good friend Dietrich André Loeber to Europe to do some academic research on East-West relations at the University of Kiel in 1974, Professor Loeber (see Gert von Pistohlkors), whose father had been a Latvian Supreme Court Justice between the world wars, was from my point of view probably the most knowledgeable person in the West about important practical aspects of the Soviet Union, and remained so until his death in 2004.

Loeber was a descendant of Martin Luther by ancestry, a Baltic-German by heritage, spoke fluent German, English, Latvian and Russian, and had great affection for Latvia and Riga, which was his boyhood home. He was by predilection a jurist and academic through and through and had an almost naturally diplomatic character. If he disagreed with you, the worst that he might say would be, "I am not sure...." He may have been a quiet patriot, but politics "as such" was not his game, and that was his great strength.

He was able to travel to and from the Soviet Union with relative ease because he kept a low profile, was very fair and objective in his academic publications, rarely if ever took partisan sides on any issue, and maintained good relations with all persons he dealt with, East or West. As I wrote previously:
"Loeber himself was a consummate expert on Russia, and when he visited me in New York City in 1974 to invite me to work with him in Kiel, he predicted that the then Soviet Union (the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, also called the USSR) would fall apart within the next 20 years. Had I not believed his prognostication, I would never have left the United States to come to Europe. As it turned out, less than 20 years later, in 1991, the Soviet Union in fact ceased to exist, and the Baltic States regained their independence, just as Loeber had predicted. He viewed this development as inevitable, and, it would appear now, in an era of the global sharing of knowledge and information, as irreversible. The old days could never return. Something new was coming, and had to come."
What that "something new" will be in the Russian Federation is still in the process of development, as the current political situation clearly indicates. The impressive Winter Olympic Games at Sochi showed that a modern Russia is possible and that great strides have been made on the road to progress. At the same time, the current political situation in Ukraine shows that "old" Russia is to some unknown degree still present among the Russian leadership.

How would Loeber have viewed the present situation?

"I am not sure...."

One aspect of the present situation, as written by Ellen Barry at the New York Times, is surely that Foes of America in Russia Crave Rupture in Ties.

But is Barry fundamentally right in her analysis?

"I am not sure...."

There is unquestionably a strong "old guard" in Russia, as in all other countries as well. The resurrection of "old" Russia would invariably go hand in hand with the resurrection of countering forces in the USA and Europe. We do not see how that would be good for anyone. Do we really want their revival?

Indeed, the situation in Crimea and Ukraine could shift the next Presidential election in the USA to the advantage of the more conservative Republicans, who now have a strong argument that political moderation and appeasement are not the right solution for US foreign policy toward the Russian Federation. When one "iron fist" comes onto the table, more such "iron fists" appear elsewhere. The world is then "at odds" -- and who profits?

The older generations are passing and new generations are coming -- faced with a digital era that puts different demands upon them and requires new and different solutions than the often flawed formulas of yesteryear.

We live in an "information" age that would make new "Cold Wars" rather senseless. People simply know too much today, so that modern life is not possible by keeping citizens uninformed or isolated. It is an age of more expanded, not more limited communications. Nations should rather ask: how can we improve the lives of our people through that development?

This does not mean, of course, that countries can not take new directions, or shift emphasis from one part of the globe to another. Everyone has the right to follow their self-interest. Recognition of that fact would help everyone. See for its instant impact on future developments the new: Law on ratifying Russian-Chinese agreement on simplifying reciprocal travel procedures.

We ourselves are of the opinion that American influence is waning worldwide and that being a "Cold Warrior" or not has little impact on that development. Here in Europe, for example, America is no longer the vanguard of the future it was once seen to be. It has lost much of its role model status for others.

Indeed, the vast inequality of income and wealth in the United States and the battle over basic health care for its citizens -- an accepted fact of life in all other industrialized nations -- shows that America has strayed badly from its ideals, ideals which have always been the source of its strength as a nation.

Nations seeking the "best" for everyone and not just for themselves have always been rare on the world scene, and now appear to be rarer still.

In any case, historical "personalities" were an item of interest for Dietrich André Loeber in his academic studies, and I recall his interest in Mikhail Bakunin, part of whose -- what we might today call "libertarian" -- philosophy may be finding resonance in top echelons of Russian leadership:
"Bakunin ... rejected the notion of any privileged position or class, since the social and economic inequality implied by class systems (as well as systems of national and gender oppression) were incompatible with individual freedom. Whereas liberalism insisted that free markets and constitutional governments enabled individual freedom, Bakunin insisted that both capitalism and the state, in any form, were incompatible with the individual freedom of the working class and peasantry.
"[I]t is the peculiarity of privilege and of every privileged position to kill the intellect and heart of man. The privileged man, whether he be privileged politically or economically, is a man depraved in intellect and heart."
Bakunin's political beliefs were based on several interrelated concepts: (1) liberty; (2) socialism; (3) federalism; (4) anti-theism; and (5) materialism. He also developed a (resultantly prescient)[26] critique of Marxism, predicting that if the Marxists were successful in seizing power, they would create a party dictatorship "all the more dangerous because it appears as a sham expression of the people's will."[27]
Those, for example, who might think that the present Russian President, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, is a resurgent Communist or Marxist, would be very wrong. Quite the contrary, he surely views himself as being the leader for the true expression of the Russian people's "will".

For those who can read German, click the link below to read the somewhat dated but still greatly informative and superb article at Die Welt by Edith Kohn, from which it appears that Putin early saw himself as "a soldier", and today perhaps similarly may see himself as "a soldier for his country", whose aim it is to restore the strength and greatness of Russia.

Vladimir Putin: Ein Geheimagent im Geiste

Recall that we ourselves have a Baltic background and have no reason to write favorably about Russia. However, if one is to understand the world, as Loeber would have recommended, one must be objective in understanding events and personalities.

In the case of Russia, Putin and the future, Loeber might have said -- for now:

"I am not sure...."



The New Democracies of Eastern Europe Face Numerous Problems and Dangers, Many of Their Own Making

The new democracies of Eastern Europe face numerous problems and dangers, many of their own making.

These are analyzed at the Wall Street Journal by Milan Racic (), CEO of Indium, a Croatia-based management-consulting and business-development company,

in

Lessons in Democracy for Ukraine's Neighbors.

Hat tip to CaryGEE.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Crimea as a Matter of National and International Law, Modern and Ancient Borders, Nationalities and Languages

The Economist has an interesting mostly legally-oriented piece
on
Whether secession in Crimea would be legal
as a matter of national and international law.

Given our own roots in the Baltic, which currently has a significant Russian population, we can understand those who view this entire matter emotionally and politically, but it is a tough question when looked at objectively through the lens of the law, if only because we, as many others, support the free determination of peoples to select their own governments.

"Liberty" becomes a difficult issue in regions shared by various nationalities or even differing political and/or religious views.

Not too long ago, in fact, the Governor of the State of Texas in America raised the issue of the secession of that State from the United States, and indeed, America still suffers greatly from its own Civil War of secession fought over a century and a half ago, which was resolved by force in the favor of unity.

Wherever people unite together for mutual advantage, there are always disadvantages as well. That is why majorities must protect minorities in their own land, to keep the specter of secession from raising its head.

Still, if one looks at a modern map of the world, in spite of countless battles and wars, what has really changed over the millennia in terms of borders? Most areas, especially in Europe, are still inhabited and ruled by the nationalities of their inhabitants, regardless of the prevailing political, economic, social or religious systems in force.

Indeed, as we point out in our megalithic research, it appears to us that many of these borders in Europe were set ca. 5000 years ago by megalithic monuments and sites, i.e. border stones.

Many megalithic sites in Europe seem to mark political "language barriers", i.e. national language divisions that have prevailed over long periods of time -- these large groupings are not "natural" in terms of dialogue distribution, perhaps because those megalithically-marked borders were set at some ancient time and served to mark off large "tribal" territories, leading to "national" languages in those territories.

We think that this period of territorial division in Europe took place around 3117 B.C. and could be said to be recalled in the Bible (King James Bible at the Bible Gateway):
  • Genesis 10:25

    "And unto Eber were born two sons: the name of one was Peleg; for in his days was the earth divided; and his brother's name was Joktan." [emphasis added]
About Peleg and that territorial division, we find written at the Wikipedia:
"According to Genesis 10:25 and 1 Chronicles 1:19, it was during the time of Peleg that "the earth was divided"....
The meaning of the earth being divided is usually taken to refer to a patriarchal division of the world...." [emphasis added]
Our own chronology of the world by astronomy would put the era of Peleg to 2638 BC, which corresponds to the reign of Khasekhemwy (Chasechemui) in Ancient Egypt, a Pharaoh we take to be the ancient king who inserted the first 480-year (viz. 479-year according to his monument) calendric intercalation to the calendar, an intercalary period also used in the Bible (1 Kings 6).

480 (viz. 479) years prior to that puts us at 3117 B.C., which we have used for some time as the most significant ancient cardinal calendric date in our study of the history of civilization -- and that date also looks like the date of territorial division of Europe and the Ancient Near East, based, presumably, on the making of an ancient land survey via astronomy of the then known world, according to which such a territorial division of land could then be made.

Prior to that was arguably the legendary Tower of Babel, when all peoples spoke only one language. After the division, the common language became differentiated, as modern linguistics has recognized e.g. for Indo-European.


Wednesday, March 05, 2014

What is Actually Taught in Higher Education? Scholars Prefer to Research, Teach and Write "Concepts" Rather than Facts: Göbekli Tepe as an Example

 A Berkeley study found that scholars in the humanities prefer to teach "concepts" rather than "facts" - which is all fine and good, but it is a disastrous strategy if the concepts taught do not match the actual facts, which is the present situation in many areas of these academic fields.

The main problem of mainstream Archeology and related disciplines such as Biblical Studies, Near Eastern Studies, Egyptology and Historical Linguistics is indeed that people take arguably objective results and then invariably merge them with fantasy-based interpretations of what they think they have found.

The result is that subjective statements become the "main messages" in the publications of the various disciplines of ancient studies, a development which camouflages many serious errors in basic research.

This can easily be seen by watching typical television "documentaries" (sic) on the ancient world, which often consist to 90% or more of imagined "how it might have been" scenarios, which are later offered as "fact" rather than as the undeniably creative "fiction" they actually represent.

A typical view might be that there are mainstream scholars in the humanities on one side of the fence and esoterics on the other side of the fence, but in fact, we have found that many academics are only educated esoterics. Real fact-finders are few and far between.

As Stanford's Ian Hodder commented not too far back on previously prevailing scholarly archaeological opinion in light of the latest archaeological discoveries in Anatolia:

"All our theories were wrong."

How is that possible if previous research was -- as alleged -- "scientific"?

Hodder's statement clearly points to what we see as the prevailing methodological problem in Archeology and related disciplines, an error from which these disciplines do not learn and an error which they continue to commit, Hodder's comment notwithstanding.

Basic, sound, neutral and objective research publication is neglected in favor of the publication of the pet interpretations viz. theories of scholars. Established often unproven concepts are favored, while probative evidence is ignored.

What should be done, however, is simply to publish the facts, completely separate and free from subjective interpretations. But who does this?

A good example here is Gobekli Tepe [Göbekli Tepe], an ancient "megalithic" site for which a simple, neutral publication providing full photographs of all the standing stones together with a map of their location would seem to be the first thing to provide -- but exactly THAT is not available.

Those who wish to counter that statement should try drawing a map of Göbekli Tepe given the available resources and placing all the respective stones in situ so you can try to judge the significance of each stone in a possible interlocked system. Not possible.

To find at least a rudimentary map and photographs of some of the standing stones, we purchased Klaus Schmidt, Sie bauten die ersten Tempel: Das rätselhafte Heiligtum der Steinzeitjäger.

Already the title of that book, not even to speak of the content, which contains vast amounts of unproven conjecture, contains THREE unproven conclusions not verified by probative evidence:
  1. The title suggests that these were the FIRST temples. Not true. Sites of that size will obviously have had many "temple" precursors, just as a skyscraper is not the first "building". The first temples were surely very small and mundane. Things start small, not large. These are the oldest LARGE sites of this kind thus far found. The title is thus greatly misleading.

  2. The title states that Göbekli Tepe was "a holy place" (Heiligtum). That is an unproven assumption, as Schmidt himself admits on page 246, saying, however, that Göbekli Tepe had to have "a purpose". Yes, that is surely true, but it may not be the purpose that HE assigns to it. If Göbekli Tepe, for example, had an astronomical purpose, then its primary value was "practical". It could ALSO have been a "holy place" -- or not. Just compare Stonehenge, which could have been a holy place, but it might also have simply served astronomical purposes. The declaration that it WAS a holy place has not been proven by means of probative evidence.

  3. The title suggests that the builders of Göbekli Tepe were Neolithic (Stone Age) hunters (Jäger). Given the reliefs on the stones of domestic-type animals, that conclusion is highly suspect, and by no means proven.
But our purpose here is not to select Schmidt out for criticism and we are thankful for his digging up of the site and for the material he HAS provided, thank you. His book is, however, just too typical for the uncritical literature which dominates the archaeological field. There are pages and pages full of conjectures, suppositions and assumptions - some better than others.

If, for example, Göbekli Tepe was astronomical in nature, which Schmidt does not mention as a possibility, then most of what Schmidt has written there is simply wrong. This alternative is arguably not mentioned because the mass of the mainstream archaeological community has no real conception about the ancient period and avoid astronomy like the plague. They think the truth is found in the pot sherds they unearth. The latest dig is the latest truth.

Advice to academics in ancient studies might be to suggest trying avoidance of a repeat of Hodder's "ALL our theories were wrong", by doing the following:
  • FIRST publish what you have found, neutrally and objectively.... in the case of Göbekli Tepe, for example, what standing stones were found? what is pictured on them? how are they located? - exactly by photo.

  • SECOND, you provide a map (video, 3D, online, offline, the modern options are endless) from which the entire site can be viewed and interpreted by anyone with an interest in the topic, including photographs of all standing stones -- from all sides, and without interpretation.

    If one looks at Schmidt's map on page 168 of his book, it is almost useless for finding which pictured stones are where, which stones have which figures, and on which side of the stone, etc., and where those figures are found on the map in the book. That map is just lines and numbers on discontinuous plots -- and is virtually useless for making any sense of it.
After such a publication, only THEN should one go about the job of ASKING questions,  "leaving no stone unturned" and thus also investigating the possibility that the standing stones and figures have something to do with astronomy:
  • What if this site were astronomical?
  • What if the figures on the stones represented groups of stars of the heavens?

  • What would that mean for a possible interpretation of the entire site?
This does not mean that the "scientist" or "scholar" needs to accept the interpretation that the site is astronomical to begin with. But such a possibility must be considered and researched ... along with other optional possibilities. That is what "science" should be.

But that is not what we are getting. We are getting a one-sided view that concentrates only on singular objects rather than the big picture and it does so using the SAME systems of thinking that led to Hodder's comment:

"All our theories were wrong."

Maybe it is time for the people in these disciplines to modernize their approaches and to upgrade their scientific methodology and publication to the current state of the art.

To get a different view, e.g., about Göbekli Tepe, see in this regard:

Patent Trolls and Patent Infringement Cases

At the National Law Review, Lisa L. Mueller of Michael Best & Friedrich LLP covers Patent Trolls: A Global Perspective Re: Patent Infringement

Sunday, March 02, 2014

The Approaching European Union Unified Patent System via a Unitary Patent and a Unified Patent Court: Developments: Justice and Home Affairs Council 3-4 March 2014 in Brussels to Cover Legal Gaps

What is the deal on patent reform developments in the European Union?

One of the items on the agenda of the Justice and Home Affairs Council 3-4 March 2014 in Brussels is the filling of legal gaps for unitary patent protection  (EUROPA PRESS RELEASE):
"5. Filling the legal gaps for unitary patent protection
The European Commission proposed, on 29 July, 2013 to complete the legal framework for Europe-wide patent protection by updating EU rules on the jurisdiction of courts and recognition of judgements (the so-called “Brussels I Regulation”). The changes will prepare the way for a specialised European patent court – the Unified Patent Court – to enter into force once ratified, making it easier for companies and inventors to protect their patents (IP/13/750).
What is expected at this Council? The Greek Presidency will inform the Council about the agreement reached with the European Parliament a few weeks ago (see MEMO/14/101), allowing the adoption of the proposed Regulation at first reading.
Commission position: The Commission welcomes the progress achieved in the Council and European Parliament on this important proposal. A positive vote by the European Parliament at its April plenary session will pave the way for the entry into force of the 'Patents package', a regulatory framework which is crucial for innovation in the European Union (IP/11/470).
Background: At present, someone seeking to obtain Europe-wide protection for their invention has to validate European patents in all 28 EU Member States. The patent holder may become involved in multiple litigation cases in different countries on the same dispute. But this will change in the near future thanks to the agreement on the unitary patent package. The Unified Patent Court – established under an agreement signed on 19 February 2013 (PRES/13/61) – will simplify procedures and lead to quicker decisions, with just one court case before the specialised court instead of parallel litigation in national courts. The Agreement relies upon the “Brussels I Regulation” (Regulation 1215/2012) to determine international jurisdiction of the Unified Patent Court."
Several websites and blogs offer an opportunity to keep up on the approaching European Unified Patent System, originally scheduled to launch this year in April, but now delayed for various reasons. See:
  • Wikipedia - European Union Patent with EU patent map and details:

    • "The European Union patent (EU patent), formally European patent with unitary effect, also known as the unitary patent, Community patent, European Community Patent, or EC patent and sometimes abbreviated as COMPAT, is a proposed patent legislation in the European Union.... The provisions will apply once the related Agreement on a Unified Patent Court, which was signed by all EU member states except Croatia, Poland and Spain, enters into force, on or after 1 January 2014.
       
    • The proposed EU patent is closely related, but different from the European patent, which is granted under the 38-state European Patent Convention...."

Saturday, March 01, 2014

GEMA and the U.S. President: Not Even the White House is Immune from Absurd Video Blockage based on Greedy and Specious Intellectual Property Law Grounds

Here is another flagrant example of the greedy, absurd and INFORMATION-CHILLING consequences of outdated and ill-advised rights protection in intellectual property law.

It is an image clip from the U.S. President's White House page at Student Film Festival Selections, a page when viewed in Germany which informs us that we are not allowed to see video material from the President of the United States because it "may" contain music that GEMA has not yet licensed in Germany.

Talk about indirect and flagrantly chilling censorship.

We have added the comment in red below, right above the GEMA message that we got on the Internet in Germany trying to view this page and video.


Amazon Prime Tries to Impose a Forced, Unwanted and Unprecedented Price Hike

How do we put the clamps on human greed?
Frankly, we do not know. 

Read This is Money at:

Amazon Prime customers angered at unwanted upgrade as internet giant hikes cost of subscription by £30 a year.

We got the same rate increase message here in Germany in German and would like to tell the people at Amazon point blank that we will never support this kind of rip-off "doing business" and we are going to be taking our online business elsewhere.

Greed kills, and absolute greed kills absolutely.

We have no use for streaming and most certainly not at the forced point of a gun, and have cancelled our Amazon Prime account to the end of our prepaid period, which users can do under "help" at their Amazon user accounts.

Online shopping portals, are you listening?

This is a "prime" opportunity for online shopping competition to take advantage of this kind of shameful business gouging practice.



Mentoring and Leadership by Example: U.S. President and Vice President Show Their Moves

The first rule of leadership and mentoring is to lead by example.

Lack of individual physical movement invariably leads to circulatory illnesses.

The same is true for nations.
Political and economic inertia is similarly harmful.

See at the White House:

The First Lady Delivered:
Watch the President and Vice President Show Us How They Move


Especially members of the "affluent" society might profit from realizing
  • that "sitting on your wealth" is just as bad for the health of a nation
  • as "sitting on your behind too much" is bad for one's physical well-being.
It is not without reason that Shakespeare at a "banquet" wrote:
And you all know,
Security is mortals' chiefest enemy.
- Hecate, Act III Scene V of Macbeth,
  by William Shakespeare






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