The Watering Hole: March 30 – The Pencil

In 1858,  Hymen Lipman secured a patent on the combination of the pencil and the eraser in a single instrument. He sold his interest in the patent to an entrepreneur for $100.000, a princely sum at the time.

In 1875, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled against the entrepreneur (Joseph Reckendorfer) declaring the patent invalid as a mere merging of two prior devices. Think about that – every computer program or algorithm is actually an arrangement of ones and zeros. This view actually held until the early 1980’s when software patents were formally ensconced under copyright law. It was at that point that the courts realized that copyright law was actually more restrictive than patent law.

This is our open thread. Please feel free to offer your own comments on this or any other topic.

21 thoughts on “The Watering Hole: March 30 – The Pencil

  1. Pencil with eraser +paper = word processor.

    ‘Hymen’? Really?

    I seem to recall reading that when the Telegraph was patented the chief of the US patent office declared that anything that could possibly be invented had now been invented and that his job and the Patent Office had been rendered obsolete!.

  2. Remember that retired General who said that the Srebrenica massacre was the fault of gay Dutch soldiers?

    Well here’s his ‘apology’ , to Dutch General Van den Breemen:

    “To be clear, the failure on the ground in Srebrenica was in no way the fault of the individual soldiers. I am sorry that my recent public recollection of those discussions of 15 years ago inaccurately reflected your thinking on some specific social issues in the military. ”

    Of course the General didn’t incorrectly recall a 15 -year old discussion; he flatly claimed that Dutch soldiers didn’t stop the massacre because they were gay and therefore gays in the US military shouldn’t be asked about their homosexuality but should continue to be discharged if their homosexuality is made public by themselves or a third party==to ensure that the US Army never stands idly by vogueing like drag queens whilst people are being massacred (you know, like when the southern Iraqi Shia got massacred by Hussein’s helicopter gunships in 1991 because the US Army was so fucking GAY back then!).

  3. ‘Hymen’? Really? says 5th.

    His parents had a sense of humour – the last name is Lipman.

    A typical conservative ‘apology’. Don’t they ever think anything through before uttering nonsense?- ok, answered my own question.

  4. The guy who threatened Eric Cantor via YouTube

    has been arrested.and charged–thus supposedly proving that one YouTube threat equals 5 bricks through 5 different local Democratic office windows,

    a vandalized gas pipe at a Democrats house, and incidentally the pair who intended to go on a murder spree targeting blacks with the intent to assassinate Barack Obama, for which they had the weapons, ammo, vehicle and itinerary ( those two have just been founded guilty, sentencing is pending).

    Interesting that the Cantor threat was preceded by several months with threats against Obama, Pelosi and Reid as well, but nothing was done about that.

    And of course Cantor claimed SEVERAL shots fired AT HIS OFFICE, when in fact ONE randomly fired bullet in gun-happy Virginia happened to hit an outside window in A building IN which his office , along with many others, happens to be located ( Cantor’s is suite #100.)

    The lying Republicans are ALLOWED to play the victim and to draw false equivalencies and tell out right lies, ALL THE FUCKING TIME–by the right-wing sympathizers and whores in the MSM, and by most Democrat’s who constantly fail to draw distinctions, state the facts and recognized that the MSM is NOT THEIR FRIEND and the Republicans are complete fucking liars given special dispensation .


  5. 2ebbandflow,

    I looked it up. Hymen was the Greek god of marriage, so its a masculine name I guess.
    But by the time Lipman’s parents named him they ought to have known its function as a noun–or maybe not, but still, why name your son as the Gof of Marriage?

    Why not Hector or Ajax instead? Weird.

  6. It was my attempt at levity –
    Jewish Names, Greek Mythological Names
    Used in:
    English speaking countries
    Additional info:
    Hymen is a variant of Hyman, a name used mostly by Jewish families.
    Hymen is also used to refer to Hymenaios, the Greek God of marriage and weddings, who gave his name to the vocabulary word referring to the membrane that partly or completely occludes the external vaginal orifice.
    As you will note on this site – the popularity rank is nil after 1913.

  7. Here’s something that has completely slipped under the radar:

    Special relationship between UK and US is over, MPs say.

    The UK government needs to be “less deferential” towards the US and more willing to say no to Washington, a group of MPs have said. The Commons Foreign Affairs committee also said it was wrong to speak of “the special relationship” with the US, as it was fostering other alliances.
    The committee said although Britain and the US still had close ties, the UK’s influence had “diminished” as its economic and military power had waned.
    “The use of the phrase ‘the special relationship’ in its historical sense, to describe the totality of the ever-evolving UK-US relationship, is potentially misleading, and we recommend that its use should be avoided,” the committee said.
    “The overuse of the phrase by some politicians and many in the media serves simultaneously to de-value its meaning and to raise unrealistic expectations about the benefits the relationship can deliver to the UK.”

    This is no mere semantic gesture; it represents a serious policy shift just as Obama’s retiring of “The War on Terror” is reflective of his different approach to terrorism and foreign policy (though still not nearly different-enough from Bush and the status quo).

    This type of change in attitude towards allies, especially towards the UK’s closest ally the US, would normally be kept private.

    Why the change? I imagine it’s because of what the Chilcot Inquiry has revealed (and more often confirmed) about the Bush/Blair relationship regarding Iraq—and what may still be revealed and confirmed in the months to come. The Chilcot Comittee is looking to interview Dubya (though in private) amongst others. from his administration.

    It’s interesting to me that there still seems to be some confusion as to why Blair so obviously committed the UK to Bush’s already determined war plans without reservations, whilst he publicly bleated about being able to influence Bush.

    Not only did Blair lie publicly about his ‘influence’ and that he Blair was going to go along with it no matter what, he insisted that Ministry of Defense NOT begin ordering and readying equipment over the time frame they needed, in order to maintain the fiction that invasion was a last resort.
    That constraint got British soldiers absolutely killed–the limited body armor they were provided was suited for 5.56mm rounds, not 7.62mm rounds which is what the AK-47 uses.
    The MoD were proscribed from ordering the heavier armor and in sufficient quantity before the invasion, so as not to give the game away. The same rule applied to armoring-up Land Rovers and prioritizing helicopters which would be essential equipment. For a while the British soldiers in Iraq had their rifle ammo rationed to a couple or three magazines each, instead of the normal 10 magazines (300 rounds) for combat operations.

    This was all a result of the Bush/Blair special relationship, which I believe hinged on a shared sense of being on a crusade. Blair was and is a Catholic fundamentalist, in the political sense–a member of Opus Dei which is much the same as “The Family” in the US.

    It was also made possible by the perception that the US/UK had a special relationship that was institutional, which came from the friendship that Roosevelt and Churchill had before WWII but which was forged quite literally in steel during WWII.

    In fact the “special relationship” wasn’t nearly as special as it’s been made out to be, even then (I can back that up in another comment or post, but not now for brevity’s sake).

    On the face of it there’s been no reason for the US to regard the UK as an equal partner since WWII. The UK political establishment has not just imagined itself to be worth more and to be more respected by the US than a less invested view would permit, but from 1956 and most especially since 1980 the UK has allowed the US to take advantage of it increasingly with nothing but deadly aggravation to show for it.

    It seems that these MPs have finally woken up to that fact, courtesy of what the delusion led to regarding Iraq.

  8. 2ebbandflow,

    “Hey there! I’m Hymen, but my friends call me Occluding Vaginal Membrane” 😀

    Here’s mine:

    masc. proper name, from L., from Gk. Symeon, from Heb. Shim’on, lit. “hearkening, hearing,” from shama “he heard.” In Eng. O.T., usually printed as Simeon, but in N.T. almost always as Simon. Confused with Gk. masc. proper name Simon, which is from simos “snub-nosed.”

  9. 5th, it flew under the radar in the US because it’s true.

    Tony Blair’s face was the figleaf in front of the codpiece in Chimpy’s flight suit…..

    The ‘Special Relationship’ was dead by the time of the Suez Crisis if not before – at elast eveyrwhere except in British conceit.

    These days if you ask what the special relation ship is, you’ll be told more likely it was Jose Mourinho and Roman Abramovich.

  10. And Blair has cashed in, that’s why he did what he did. His whole Iraq adventure with other people’s blood was to cash in afterwards.

    He’s set for life to tour the states running his mouth and can pull in a ‘defense contract’ whenever he wants with the Carlyle Group or other, just like John Major and Margaret Thatcher before him.

  11. MSNBC Beats CNN in 1Q 2010 In Primetime

    MSNBC beat CNN in primetime in the first quarter of 2010, finishing well ahead of the formerly dominant news network among both total viewers and in the key adult demographic. MSNBC also beat CNN in total day in March among adults for the first time since August 2001. “Morning Joe” edged out CNN’s “American Morning” for the quarter in total viewers and finished the month 15 percent ahead of CNN’s “American Morning,” the first time that “Morning Joe” has topped CNN since launching in 2007. “The Ed Show” also beat CNN’s “The Situation Room” for the first time in March among total viewers. MSNBC bested CNN at 6, 7, 8 and 9 in total viewers in March, and at 10 p.m. in A25-54. March marked the seventh month out of the last eight that MSNBC has beaten CNN in primetime.

    Looks like CNN is losing it’s grip, catering to the middle. Keith and Rachel are beating Campbell Brown and Larry King like a rug in primetime. Keith’s repeat even beats Anderson Cooper 360 live at 10pm. That would be the West coast viewers who aren’t home yet at 5pm PDT.

    “Countdown” was also the #1 cable news show at 10 p.m. among younger viewers, A18-34.
    That can only bode well for the future.

    Some of the improvement could be attributed to the Comcast acquisition of MSNBC, increasing their footprint in cable homes, but the primetime numbers go back eight months, while the Comcast deal only happened in December. I like how Ed Schultz is doing against Wolf Blitzer at 6pm EDT. CNN has expanded Rick Sanchez to 2 hours, and cut Blitzer to 2 hours, putting John King in between Blitzer and Brown. Sanchez is the best young anchor at CNN. He needs to be on when the younger viewers are most likely to watch. CNN will have to shake up its schedule again, if these numbers don’t improve for them.

    I’m guessing CNN’s Lou Dobbs viewers went to Fox.

  12. Amanpour stuffed CNN royally by decamping to ABC. Fareed Zakharia is about all that’s even worth thinking about on CNN now.

    Wolf (AIPAC) Blitzer….. what a tosser.
    John King – another corporate patsy
    Sanchez – occasional moments of lucidity dominated by hours of dim awareness

  13. TtT & 5th:

    “Special relationship between UK and US is over”

    I was taking in and pondering the article; had some errands to run – forgotten what was in the player – the Oils and in the middle of

    “My Country”

    “And did I hear you say
    My country right or wrong

    Did you save your face
    Did you breach your faith
    Did I hear you say
    My country right or wrong

    My country oh so strong
    My country going wrong
    My country right or wrong

    I hear you say the truth must take a beating
    The flag a camouflage for your deceiving
    I know we all make mistakes…”

  14. Evening TtT and 2ebb,

    Amanpour stuffed CNN royally by decamping to ABC.

    Unfortunately for us, she won’t be on TW until August. The article I found recently about her said the Sunday show would discuss more world issues. I will be surprised if that happens at all until after the elections. She will be starting right in the thick of the midterms, in a very partisan atmosphere.

  15. houseofroberts, how are you this fine evening (well late evening for you)?

    Not having cable I rely on your reporting. Thanks for
    the updates.

    What’s the next ‘go fast turn left’ race?

  16. The Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, April 9-11, but it’s not an oval, it’s a natural terrain road course. So there will be right turns too. I still haven’t made a final decision to go down there and watch in person. It may depend on the weather. I did want to try and meet Danica and any of the Andrettis that I could.

  17. Hitchens looks like he’s at Stanford.

    Who was the ditz attempting to interview?
    Particularly liked the end when she attempted to say ‘curiouser and curiouser’ and Hitchens said emphatically: ‘no, clearer and clearer’ that the Pope knew and must take the blame.

    house, is the race close to where you live?

    Poizner has started airing an ad portraying Whitman as a liberal on immigration – equating her with Obama.

    A funny thing: Poizner says: “I’m going to be the truth-teller in this campaign. As governor, I’m going to stop illegal immigration once and for all.”
    Get this there’s a Twitter account Latinos4Poizners, and to date: nothing has been tweeted. Hmm, wonder why <;

  18. Who was the ditz attempting to interview?

    I don’t have a clue. One of the Fox blondies who can read off the teleprompter, apparently.

    I like Hitchens since he decided to take on the religious zealots. He’s not stupid, and he’s always well prepared for the topic.

    I’m two hours North of the racetrack. My favorite route keeps me out of Birmingham, and I could drive down and back each day.

  19. Oh a ‘fair and balanced debate’ – now I feel better knowing that Bimbo (there is life after cheerleading) says so, phew. I’d heard that Fox was a bit biased, I’m so relieved.

    So what did William ( leave the child-f**kers alone ) Donahue have to say?

    Hitchens ‘nails’ it (it is Easter after all).

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