Saturday, February 28, 2015

The "wage gap"

You know the old saying that if a lie is repeated enough times, it becomes the truth? Well, it seems to me that the concept of the mythical "wage gap" appears to be such a thing.

The "wage gap" seems to be one of the core tenets of feminism, especially in the United States (but naturally it has been creeping into other countries over the years as well). It's the claim that women are, on average, paid less for the exact same job than men. In the United States in particular, the exact number of "77 cents for each men's dollar" is repeated like a mantra.

This concept has been repeated so much, and is so pervasive, that almost everybody believes it without question. Even the president of the United States himself believes it and has commented on it in his speeches.

Since that "77 cents" figure is supposed to be an average, and since demonstrably there are many companies that do not have that policy, that should mean that there are companies that pay significantly less to women than to men (so that we can arrive to that average.)

This is something that ought to be quite easy to prove with actual tangible evidence. Evidence of the sort of "company X pays $10/hour to male employees and $5/hour to female employees for the exact same job, and here are the documents to prove it, including job contracts and salary receipts". Yet this kind of hard evidence seems suspiciously lacking.

(I'm not saying that there exists no such company at all, even inside the United States. I'm certain that there exist some redneck-style small companies that do exactly that. However, for the average to be "77 cents for the dollar", such companies have to be everywhere. Over half of all the existing companies in the United States ought to have such policies for us to arrive at such an average, given that we know for a fact that there are many companies with no such policies. Companies that pay less should be everywhere and be very easy to point out.)

The wage gap claims are seldom based on hourly wages for the exact same job in the exact same company. So what are they based on?

What they do is that they look how much salary money is paid within an industry sector in total during a year to all male employees and all female employees, and see that this total amount of money paid to women is less than the total amount paid to men. They then divide the amounts with the number of employees of each gender, and arrive at such a number as 77% total money goes to women compared to the money that goes to men. They then jump to the conclusion that companies are paying lower wages to women than to men.

The flaw in this ought to be quite clear. The question arises: Are the women doing as many hours (in the exact same job) during a year than men? In other words, are the hourly wages really lower for women, or is it a question that women, on average, make less hours of work over a year than men?

(This is, in fact, the most common cause for the discrepancy. It can be demonstrated that on average women do indeed do less hours over the course of a year in most jobs than men. They do not work as much over hours, they take more leaves of absence, and so on.)

There are other flaws in these numbers as well. Many of the studies compare similar jobs, rather than exact same jobs. For example they calculate that female medical doctors are paid on average less money than male medical doctors. Again this ought to be easy to prove with actual hard evidence in the form of job contracts and salary receipts... yet once again this evidence seems suspiciously lacking. What's actually happening is that more women are working in less-paying positions such as pediatricians and more men are working in higher-paying positions such as surgeons. (There is a difference in pay between different branches of medicine, but it's not based on gender but on your expertise.)

Many such studies will object that they do take such factors into account and still come with the result that women are paid less for the exact same job. Yet if you dig deep enough, you will invariably find out that there's some factor they did not take into account after all, and thus their study is not actually measuring real hourly wages for the exact same job.

Again, if there really were such a prevalent wage gap, it ought to be very easy to prove with tons and tons of actual documents of actual individual people working for actual individual companies, rather than alluding to vague calculations based on averages.

There's also this point: Most companies are greedy. Companies exist to make money. Most companies are not charity organizations. The less money they could pay to employees, the better, because that means that the company gains more money that it doesn't have to give away.

Given that this is a quite well established fact, and if the wage gap were true, then wouldn't the vast majority of employees be women? After all, if women can be paid less salary than men, then why would companies hire men, who need to be paid more? Wouldn't they choose to hire the people who can be paid less, thus making more profits for the company?

The real reason why the "wage gap" is one of the core tenets of feminism is that it gives feminists a reason for their existence. It gives them ammunition to throw at their critics, an argument for why feminism is still so much needed in our society. It's an argument they use both for themselves, and to try to convince non-feminists.
The "wage gap" is one of the most successful pieces of deceitful propaganda that feminism has ever come up with. Almost everybody believes it to be true, even though actual hard evidence is lacking.

(To be fair, though, there's one situation where there may be a real gap. You see, there are some companies that do not have fixed salaries. Instead, when they are hiring people, they negotiate a salary with the potential employee. In other words, the employer asks the potential employee how much salary they would like, and there will be essentially a salary negotiation, with the employer essentially trying to "sell" the job to the employee, who is trying to "buy" it, and there's essentially a form of haggling. Thus different employees may have different salaries for the exact same positions, simply because they couldn't haggle well enough.

It may be that women on average may feel more intimidated in these situations, or for other reasons by less able to demand a higher salary, ie. may not be as good at "haggling", in which case women on average in this company may be genuinely paid less than men for the exact same job with the exact same work hours. However, to call this sexism one would need to point out how the company itself is discriminating against women in particular, rather than simply "discriminating" against people who are willing to do the job for less salary. If women on average are less confident at this kind of haggling, that's not the fault of the company.

Not that I agree with this kind of practice. I think this kind of "salary haggling" is morally questionable, regardless of gender or any other traits, and companies should not do that. But I don't think it should be attributed to sexism in particular.)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Feminist bias in Wikipedia

I'm not going to write about gamergate per se. Rather, I'm going to write about Wikipedia's attitude towards it.

The article "gamergate controversy" used to start for a rather long time with the sentence: "GamerGate refers to a 2014 video game culture controversy regarding video game journalism, journalistic ethics, and misogyny; the name derives from the Watergate Scandal, and was promulgated as a hashtag on Twitter." While this is a rather simplistic description, it's relatively reasonable and unbiased. This old version also mentioned the death threats attributed to the movement only once and in passing.

The current version of the article, however, has a rather different tone. Now it starts with the sentence: "Gamergate is a controversy regarding sexism in video game culture." That's it. And the rest of the introductory paragraphs are not any better. The part about ethics in videogame journalism is only mentioned in passing, and heavily dismissed quite verbosely with such strong words as "have described the ethical concerns that Gamergate has focused on as being broadly debunked, calling them either trivial, based on conspiracy theories, unfounded in fact, or unrelated to actual issues of ethics in the industry."

The bulk of the article really hammers into the notion of threats and harassment. The word "threat" appears in the article 31 times, and the word "harassment" a whopping 55 times. That's more appearances of those words alone than some articles have words in total. From the 12 (sub)sections in the article, 11 of them are dedicated almost exclusively to those two subjects.

Yes, there is one single section about the journalistic ethics thing... which consists solely of "debunking" and attacking those claims (rather than, you know, giving an unbiased view of the other side). Each pro-gamergate claim is immediately followed with copious amounts of "debunking" and criticism.

The quite lengthy article spends such a disproportionate amount of space to attacking gamergate, that the editors seem to be quite dedicated to make absolutely and completely sure that the reader ends up hating the movement with a passion, and not even consider what the other side actually has to say. (This form of writing has a name: "Poisoning the well." And the article is a perfect example of this.)

Needless to say, the article, and even its talk page, are under the strictest editing lock that wikipedia supports. No discussion is allowed at all. Moreover, and unsurprisingly, the talk page has for those editors who do have rights to edit such warnings as "This page is subject to discretionary sanctions; any editor who repeatedly or egregiously fails to adhere to applicable policies may be blocked, topic-banned, or otherwise restricted."

I have never, ever seen such a strong bias at Wikipedia.

Yet they still maintain being "neutral". How do they argue being so? By saying that they are only citing major publications. Except that there's quite a lot of source bias: Disproportionate amounts of article space (at least 90%, if not more) is dedicated to the anti-gamergate sources, while a small minority of the text is dedicated to the pro-gamergate sources, and even that is invariably immediately followed by an anti-gamergate response, which is the exact opposite of unbiased reporting.

As commented earlier, the article used to be more neutral in content, giving more proportional amount of attention to the diverse aspects of the phenomenon. The current version is nothing more than full-on anti-gamergate bashing without even an inkling of unbiased journalism. (Which, when you think about it, is rather ironic, given the subject.)

The current article is not academic nor encyclopedic. It's activism, in its purest form. It does not seek to inform, it seeks to spread a biased unilateral political message. It's, in other words, propaganda.

My respect for Wikipedia just sunk to an all-time low.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Redefining words to match an agenda

One very common characteristic of social justice warriors is that they throw namecalling at their opposition completely regardless of what those words actually mean or whether the word is accurate in the situation, just as generic insults. The intent is to be as condescending, hurtful and offensive as possible, while still maintaining the illusion of having the moral high ground. Thus the actual meaning of words do not matter, only the feelings they convey.

These words can be very effective in the place of more "mundane" insults. For example, rather than calling your opponent an "idiot" or an "asshole", call them a "misogynist". You immediately give an air of intellectual superiority instead of vulgarity, and the word can actually be even more insulting and hurtful than those other more vulgar ones. It doesn't really matter whether the other person actually is a misogynist or not. You can maintain your moral high ground while calling your opponent petty names.

Of course this raises the question of how they can justify using terms that don't fit, just to insult the other person. The solution? Redefine the words so that they include the other person you don't like.

For example, what is the actual definition of "misogynist"? The dictionary defines it as:
a person who hates, dislikes, mistrusts, or mistreats women.
Feminists love to throw the word towards their critics, but it can be hard to actually argue how these critics "hate, dislike, mistrust or mistreat women".

They also liberally use the word to describe, for example, works of media that present female characters in an overly sexualized manner. A man who is a womanizer is also commonly called "misogynist". However, it can be difficult to argue how such a work or such a person "hates, dislikes, mistrusts or mistreats" women. For example, it would require quite a lot of stretching to argue that a womanizer "hates" women (when in fact it would be quite the opposite.) You have to be really creative about the definition of "hate" to include this.

Almost invariably the word "misogynist", when used by a feminist, has an implied "opposes or critiques feminism" added to it. In the other context there's an implied "objectifies women" added to the term. (In this latter case a much better argument can be made, but it's nevertheless hard to find it in any actual definition of the word. It also shifts the question in many situations on whether something really objectifies women or not, and also here there's often much stretching of the meaning.)

In practice, in feminist vocabulary "misogynist" (and also "sexist") is pretty much a synonym for "non-feminist". And this is not something that only I claim; this is, in fact, what even some feminists say.

How about the term "patriarchy", which is something that many feminists love to use, and repeat like a mantra? Let's see what its definition is, shall we?
1. a form of social organization in which the father is the supreme authority in the family, clan, or tribe and descent is reckoned in the male line, with the children belonging to the father's clan or tribe.
2. a society, community, or country based on this social organization.
Hmm... Somehow this does not sound like what the feminists are talking about when they use the word. This might still be the case in some countries, but the vast majority of modern western countries do not adhere to this notion. Nor is it what feminists really mean when they use the word.

Thus we have to turn to the "feminist dictionary", which redefines words to better fit their agenda. There it means something like (and this is a direct quote from a feminist): "Social system in place that values masculine traits over feminine traits, and in which men are considered dominant to women."

The point here is not whether our society is like that. The point is that "patriarchy" does not mean that. But feminists need to redefine the word to make it mean it.

Feminists also love to use the word "bigot" to describe their opposition. This is actually quite hilariously hypocritical when you look at the actual definition of the word:
a person who is utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion.
The irony meter just goes off the roof with this one.

Of course not all word redefinition is related to feminism/sexism. Let's take another common insult: Racism. The dictionary defines it as:
1. a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human racial groups determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to dominate others or that a particular racial group is inferior to the others.
2. a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination.
3. hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.
Especially the third definition is the most common in practice. However, do you see what the major problem with all those definitions are, especially the last one, from the perspective of a social justice warrior?

No? Well, the major problem with those dictionary definitions is that they can apply to everybody regardless of ethnicity. In other words, according to those definitions, non-white people can be racists too.

Granted, some social justice warriors are fine with that (at least as lip service if nothing else). However, others are not, because they have this dogma that only white people can be racists, and only non-white people can be victims of racism. Anything else would be ludicrous.

So how to get around this problem? Append the definition of the word by adding the requirement that for a person to be racist, he or she not only needs to be prejudiced against other races, but also have the power to apply that prejudice and discriminate against people. If someone is not in a position to discriminate, then it's not "really" racism, no matter what their personal opinions might be.

This solves the problem for them. Since in their environment typically white people are in power (or at least that's how they see it), then only white people can be racists.

A closely related term that's likewise misused is "minority". Rather obviously, the word means in this context:
2.a smaller party or group opposed to a majority, as in voting or other action.
3. a group in society distinguished from, and less dominant than, the more numerous majority
However, this has the same problem: Any group of people could be a "majority" or a "minority" regardless of ethnicity. This won't do! Only white heterosexual people can be the "majority", and all non-white and non-heterosexual people must always be the "minority", regardless of actual numbers. The meaning of the word "minority" doesn't matter, only the political message that it conveys.

So how can we define the word so that only white-people can be the "majority" and all non-white people are always the "minority"? This is actually something that has partially got into the dictionary definition (emphasis mine):
4. a racial, ethnic, religious, or social subdivision of a society that is subordinate to the dominant group in political, financial, or social power without regard to the size of these groups
Of course this definition still has the problem that it allows for non-white people to form the majority and for white people to form the minority even in this sense. Fortunately for the social justice warriors, this minor problem can be largely ignored because white people are the major political power in most countries they care about, and those countries where they are not don't matter that much when talking about the subject.

Friday, February 13, 2015

I disapprove of what you say...

"... but I will defend to the death your right to say it" – Evelyn Beatrice Hall

This is, I posit, one of the core tenets of a free democratic society, and I subscribe to this principle almost religiously. (Granted, I might be too much of a coward to literally sacrifice my life to defend someone's free speech, but I do fully subscribe to the sentiment in the metaphorical sense.)

At places like YouTube you encounter all kinds of people with all kinds of opinions, some of which are outright abhorrent. I have had, for example, a neonazi respond to a YouTube comment thread I started, spewing the most vile and bigoted hate speech against jews, and admiration of Adolf Hitler. This angered me quite a lot, but I still did not remove that comment or even marked it as "spam" even though I could have. I responded to this person with pretty much the above sentiment (although using significantly harsher words.) In other words, I expressed how utterly sick his opinions were, and that I'm most definitely not interested in his hate speech, but I would not remove or mark his comments because I value the principle of freedom of expression over my hurt feelings. It would be hypocritical of me to subscribe to the principle and then censor someone's opinion, no matter how hurtful that opinion might be. He does have the right to express his opinion, and I will defend his right to do so, even if I don't defend the content.

This principle, however, is not something that everybody adheres to. And I'm not talking about some religious sects or some fringe political movements. I'm talking about so-called social justice warriors, especially certain branches of neo-feminism.

Not all of them, of course, but way too many feminists are all too happy to censor, remove comments, disable comments, and block and ban users. In fact, some of them even go so far as to actively go after critics by abusing technological and legal means (the most common form of this being, obviously, filing spurious and false DMCA claims to have videos removed and YouTube channels closed.) Many of them don't even limit this behavior to trolls and actual hate speech, but even to civil criticism of what they are saying. When questioned about this practice, they will invariably resort to playing the victim card, and also to hypocritically claim that they are not interfering with anybody's free speech because "they can express themselves somewhere else."

Yet even that excuse sounds quite hollow when you watch their behavior. Sure, some of them are content to have their personal church pulpit where they can preach to the choir and have the choir praise them back, and not having to hear any dissenting opinions, with dissenters being expelled from the church to where they don't have to be heard. However, others are not content with this. Instead, they are more active; they go outside their churches and try to silence the criticism wherever it's being presented. They will disrupt meetings, sometimes even breaking the law to do so (such as illegally pulling fire alarms for the sole reason to disrupt a meeting; real cases), they will do their best to shout over any discussion, they will file false (and thus illegal) DMCA claims, they will engage in smearing campaigns and character assassination both online and offline... (And if the excuse is "well, they do it too!", then shouldn't the feminists be better than their opposition? Shouldn't they be the ones with the higher moral ground and the higher standards? Shouldn't they be the ones fighting for equality and freedom?)

And before you say "hey, this, this and this vocal feminist does none of that, and is quite happy to allow conversation of any kind", I'm not saying that every single feminist is like that. What I'm saying is that too many of them are like that, many of them really vocal and influential, and that they are quite hypocritical in doing that.

This is not restricted to feminists, of course, but all kinds of social justice warriors (although most of them would classify themselves as feminist, if asked.)

The obnoxious thing about this is that these people are supposed to rally for a free equal democratic society where human rights are upheld and are the highest standard that defines our society, yet these people, by their actions, clearly do not subscribe to the principle of free speech. They are all too happy to silence, censor, harass and disrupt the expression of free speech, both within their own circles and elsewhere. And this behavior is not just from trolls and fringe extremists, but from well-known and respected people in the movement.

I seldom see this kind of behavior from well-known respected people on the critical side. Sure, there might be an example or two out there, but I have yet to encounter one. (And sure, there are and will always be trolls and extremists on all sides, but I'm talking here about serious people, not about internet trolls.)

If I wanted to pick a side, I would pick the side that subscribes to the principle at the beginning of this article, because I personally subscribe to it. I do not censor nor silence people just because they are expressing their opinion, and regardless of how hurtful that opinion might be, and I strongly oppose any such censorship and attempts at silencing. I strongly think that this kind of censorship is abhorrent.

And if you think I'm exaggerating, then you haven't seen enough feminist discourse. Just as a small quick example, make a google search for "no platform policy".

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Reality-TV shows

During the past decade or two, so-called "reality-TV" shows have proliferated like rabbits. Almost any subject you can think of, there has probably been at least an attempt at a reality-TV show about it.

The thing is, reality-TV shows are successful when there's interesting drama and conflict. Nobody wants to watch boring everyday life where nothing special happens. The problem? Well, most real people live "boring" lives without drama and conflict. How to fix this problem? Create drama and conflict.

In most reality-TV shows the people are genuine alright, ie. they are who they claim to be, not eg. paid actors playing a character. However, what you see happening on the show is very rarely completely genuine. The people making the show will often try to cause drama and conflict between the participants, often very obnoxiously. And of course everything that happens is exaggerated in post-production through clever editing tricks (such as things that two people said days apart may be edited together to make it look like one person is directly responding to what another just said, and directly to them.)

Most of what you see in these shows is "staged" in this manner. It's the product of the producers actively pushing the participants into conflict, and enhancing the apparent conflict even further via editing. Yet nothing of this behind-the-scenes trickery is conveyed to the viewer, which makes it deceptive.

Sometimes this mentality is so detrimental that it can ruin a show that could have otherwise been interesting on its own right; sometimes it can ruin it so badly that it doesn't even get finished.

The infamous Mountain Dew Game Jam held last year is a perfect example of this.

A game jam is an event where talented indie developers get together, form groups, and then have a very limited amount of time (such as 48 hours) to create a video game from scratch. These are very interesting events, and have sometimes produced very innovative and popular games. (Some popular indie games out there have started as the product of a game jam.)

Last year Pepsico, under its brand name Mountain Dew, wanted to sponsor such a game jam for publicity, and to make a TV show about it. This was intended to be a show with a quite large budget and production values.

The result was a complete disaster, and the major culprit was the "reality-TV" mentality of some of the producers. One of the producers on set was constantly trying to rally the teams against each other, to push people's berserk buttons, sometimes even with obnoxiously sexist remarks, clearly trying to make the participants show sexism themselves and to create conflict between the teams. This was not the only thing that was horribly wrong with the entire production, but it was so obnoxious that half of the teams just walked out of the event on the second day.

And all this was completely unnecessary. A documentary about a game jam would have been interesting on its own right. It didn't need any kind of personal drama or conflict between the people. But reality-TV mentality ruined it.

This is not to say that all reality-TV shows are bad. There are some that are made more genuinely and without such distortion and deception. They just tend to be a minority.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Misconceptions about copyright

I have written about this subject in my "old blog", but it never hurts to write an updated version with updated misconceptions.

People have all kinds of misconceptions about copyright, such as the following.

"It's not illegal to use it if I don't do it for money."

Whether you are making money from the copyrighted material doesn't matter, it's still copyright infringement, and you could be sued. (The only difference there may be is that the crime might be considered more severe if you made money out of it. However, even if you didn't make any money out of it, you could still be sued for quite a lot.)

"'Let's play' videos do not break copyright."

Actually they do. Most video games contain sound tracks, and unless you play with the audio muted, you are infringing copyright on that ground alone. The graphic assets of the video game are also copyrighted, so using them so extensively in your video could also be seen as infringement.

"But there are tons of "let's play" videos out there and the game developers aren't suing them."

That doesn't matter. Sure, most companies do not care about "let's play" and other similar videos of their games, but that doesn't mean they don't own the rights or that they couldn't sue. In fact, a few companies do send DMCA's and cease&desist demands to "let's play" videos of their games. They have the right to, under the law.

Most companies not doing so doesn't set any kind of precedent. This is also a segue to the next misconception:

"Copyright has to be enforced, or you lose it."

You are confusing copyright with trademarks. Trademarks need to be actively enforced and defended, or you might lose the trademark (in many jurisdictions). Copyright is nothing like that.

"A work has to be registered for copyright."

This might have been the case in some countries in the distant past, but it hasn't been so in a long, long time. Copyright is completely automatic and you don't have to do anything to get it. Publishing your own original work is enough. This is also related to the next misconception:

"If a work does not say it's copyrighted, it's not."

Marking a work with the word "copyright" or the symbol © is completely optional. You own the copyright to your original work without the need to say so or make any kind of markings or reminders. You can't assume a work is not copyrighted simply because it doesn't say so.

"Fan fiction does not break copyright."

In most jurisdictions copyright also covers derivative works, so most if not all fan fiction of existing works infringe copyright. Sure, most authors and companies don't care, but that doesn't change the fact.

Some countries make an exception with derivative works made for the purpose of parody or satire, but what exactly is and isn't considered such might not have been tested in court too many times, so it may not be completely clear.

 "This is not derivative work, it's transformative work, which is legal!"

You really don't want to wade in that swamp. The difference between derivative work (which is protected copyright) and transformative work (which is allowed) is really fuzzy, and it depends on the person, the lawyer, the court and the phase of the Moon.

If a big corporation sues you for copyright infringement, are you really ready to try to beat them by arguing that your work is "transformative"? Remember, they have an army of experienced ruthless lawyers, while you probably don't. And in most countries courts tend to side with corporations. So are you going to take the risk?

"But this lawyer's blog post says that this transformative work is legal." He's not your lawyer, and he's not defending you against a megacorporation.

"A performance of a public domain work can't be copyrighted."

Personally this one irks me the most, because it makes no sense, but I simply can't deny facts: An individual performance of a work that's unambiguously in the public domain (because its author died long enough ago) is copyrighted by the performer. You can't use copies of that performance without the author's permission, even though the original work is in the public domain. So no, you can't just download that Beethoven music from YouTube and use it in your video, because that performance will be copyrighted, sorry.

As said, in my opinion this makes no sense (because you are essentially re-copyrighting a PD work, which shouldn't be a possiblity), but it's just how it is, so you should be aware of it.

"If I declare my own work of art as public domain, it has no copyright."

"Public domain" is not a valid usage license. In most jurisdictions copyright is automatic and you can't simply get rid of it. Most jurisdictions do not have the concept of publishing something without copyright (usually with the exception of works published by certain branches of the government).

This being said, you can probably safely use a work that has been declared by its author as being "public domain" without worry of being sued in the future, as courts will probably consider it enough. The work will still have copyright (in other words, it will not actually be in the public domain), but since the author claimed so, most probably no court will allow the author to later take it back. However, this shouldn't be trusted. The work still has copyright, no matter what the author says. And you never know what a random court will decide if you do get sued in the future.

If you want to publish your work with a completely liberal usage license, use a copyright-based license that explicitly states so. There are many existing licenses you can use, such as the BSD and MIT licenses for software and the Creative Common licenses for other works.

Things that are not copyrightable

There are some things that, sometimes perhaps surprisingly, do not fall under copyright. Sometimes there are all kinds of misconceptions about this. Sometimes some corporations egregiously and opportunistically claim copyright on things that are not copyrightable.

Game mechanics, ie. the method by which a game is played, does not fall under copyright. (In some countries these may be patentable, but they unambiguously do not fall under copyright.) For example, if a Russian company tries to bully you into taking down a Tetris clone you have made because that company claims copyright on the mechanics of Tetris, you can safely ignore them. It's not copyrightable.

Individual sudoku puzzles fall under copyright (because they are considered non-trivial original creations), but the rules of how to play sudoku do not. You can safely implement a sudoku game without fear of breaking anybody's copyright, as long as you develop your own original puzzles. (If your game algorithmically creates puzzles on the fly, and it happens by chance to stumble across one that somebody else has already published, it can become fuzzy. I wouldn't be surprised if this has never been tested in court. A lawyer who is an expert on these things may have a more informed opinion on this. I would guess that since your game creates puzzles randomly and not based on anybody's work, it's probably not infringement. After all, you can't control what it comes up with.)

Computer algorithms do not fall under copyright. This is completely and absolutely unambiguous in most jurisdictions. If somebody claims that they have copyrights on a computer algorithm, they do not know what they are talking about (or they are lying). A specific implementation of that algorithm (iow. a piece of source code implementing the algorithm) does fall under copyright, but not the algorithm itself. You can freely implement the algorithm by writing your own original code. (Note, however, that some countries have software patents... They suck, but you can't ignore them if you live in such a country.)

Related to the above: Food recipes do not fall under copyright. Anybody claiming otherwise is wrong. The exact wording, layout and possible images in a recipe book are copyrighted, but not the recipe itself (which is, essentially, a method for doing something). You are free to copy an entire recipe book and publish it as your own as long as you use your own original wording and layout.

Board game (such as chess or go) transcripts do not fall under copyright. You can take the transcript of a famous game and distribute it freely. (Be aware, though, that in this case I'm not 100% sure. I'm perhaps 99% sure.)

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Completely stupid comments against vaccines

This is one of the stupidest comments against vaccines that I have ever seen: "I have never been vaccinated, and I'm completely healthy."

The sheer stupidity of this idea is worth a facepalm.

Firstly, and needless to say, a sample size of one is not sufficient to draw any conclusions.

Secondly, there's this thing called "herd immunity", which means that an unvaccinated person has little chance of contracting a disease when everybody else in their community is vaccinated, for the obvious reason that if nobody is a disease carrier, they can't get it from anybody. Thus the fact that an unvaccinated person has never contracted the disease only means that the vast majority of the other people are vaccinated, not that vaccines are useless.

And even then, most diseases don't exhibit a 100% infection rate. In other words, even very virulent diseases don't necessarily contract every single person.

If among some community 95% of people have contracted a disease, it would be rather stupid for one of the remaining 5% to come out and say "I am completely healthy; thus this disease is just bollocks."

Obviously herd immunity cannot be trusted. If you are not vaccinated, you are still at risk of contracting the disease from somewhere. And if more and more people become unvaccinated in your community, your risk grows that much higher.