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Posted in Unemployment-A Licence to Laze? on 2010-05-24 11:20:03

I indicated that claiming state support is made both too easy and too hard.

A woman I used to know told of how she supported herself for 6 months while she was in college by collecting unemployment. She had been working as a cashier and got laid off, so since she didn't really want to work, she'd just find 3 places each week that weren't hiring cashiers and apply for work at those places. The fact that, at the same time, many other places were hiring cashiers didn't matter. The unemployment office only required that she apply at 3 places each week in order for her to collect.

But when I became a victim of a corporate takeover nearly 2 decades ago, the unemployment office wouldn't regard as valid either of the methods of searching for work that actually had any chance of being successful. They required that you seek work with 3 companies every week either in person, by phone, or by resume. But, in my profession, if you go in person, they just tell you to mail them a resume, and the best you can hope for is that they don't remember you came in person, since an unsolicited in-person visit is likely to make a bad impression. If you contact them by phone, they will tell you to mail them a resume. And if you mail them a resume, it usually will just be discarded because they only accept resumes submitted by agencies. But the unemployment office does NOT consider having an agency do the search to be an "acceptable" method of looking. I ultimately found work by starting my own business, but the unemployment office does not consider that to be a valid method of looking, either. So while I looked for work through the two methods that might actually succeed, I also carried out a charade of mailing my resume to firms which had essentially no chance of being interested in someone like me (thereby wasting both their time and mine), just to meet the unemployment office job search quota.

Benefit payments are about right for some workers, but too low for others. Some workers get benefits equal to 40% of what their salary was, but when I was laid off, my benefits only covered about 25% of my salary, which wasn't even enough to cover my mortgage, property tax, community maintenance assessment, and health insurance.

There's no reason you should wait to apply for benefits. You've been paying for them through unemployment insurance deductions from your paychecks when you were employed.

Posted in Competitive Swimmers/Coachs Only on 2010-05-09 01:27:12

I'm a bit puzzled by this poll. The creator seems to be under the impression that the rules for swimming are established on a state by state basis.

The rules for backstroke to breaststroke turns in I.M. are the same regardless of whether you're swimming under:

FINA

USA Swimming

U.S. Masters Swimming

NCAA

The American Swimming Association, if I'm reading their rules correctly, does allow a backstroke turn to be used when going from backstroke to breaststroke, but they're the only ones, and the real question is why they allow it - not why the others don't.

The rationale for the backstroke-to-breaststroke rule in I.M. is that you're essentially swimming four events in succession, and must finish each event according to the rules for finishing that event when swimming it by itself. So you must touch with both hands when going from butterfly to backstroke and from breaststroke to freestyle, and you must touch while still on your back when going from backstroke to breaststroke.

Could the rules be changed so that it is the turn rules rather than the finish rules that apply during the I.M. transitions? Sure they could! The rules could also be changed so that when swimming a butterfly or breaststroke event, all that has to touch the wall when you're turning is some part of your body, which would make it practical to do flipturns in butterfly and breaststroke. There are all kinds of rules changes that COULD be made, but the burden is on those who want the rules changed to justify changing them - not the other way around! Every time you change the rules, you in some degree disconnect the sport from its historic roots. It becomes, in one sense, impossible for swimmers to set new records, because there will always be an asterisk by the new records in everyone's mind. ("Yes, but that record was set under the new rules. He/she probably couldn't have gone that fast under the old rules.")

The reason the backstroke turn rule was changed to allow rolling onto your breast to execute the turn was because it was too difficult for stroke judges to accurately observe whether a swimmer had rolled past the vertical during a turn. So there was a danger that races would be improperly decided because, e.g., swimmer A finished first and swimmer B finished second, but first place was awarded to swimmer B because swimmer A was DQed for rolling past vertical during a turn, even though swimmer B did the same thing but the judges couldn't see it.

Posted in Patents on 2010-05-07 06:51:42

Some of the questions in this poll are misleading.

A program cannot be patented. What may be patentable (if it's new and innovative) is a process, and while programs may contain one or more new and innovative processes, it is only those processes - not the entire program - that are patentable.

The way programs are protected is through copyright. If you want to improve on somebody's program (as opposed to writing your own), you have to have access to their source code and you have to obtain their permission, since your modified version of their program will be considered, in legal terms, to be a derivative work based on theirs. And all of this is true regardless of whether their program contains any patented processes. They may choose to let you use and modify their copyrighted code for free, or they may not.

When somebody patents a process that is used in a piece of software, the effect of this is therefore NOT that you need their permission to modify their program (which would be true even if no patents were involved). It is that you need their permission to use that process, even in a program that you have written from scratch. And this is true even if you came up with the idea for the process on your own, without knowing that they had already invented and patented that process.

Patent protection is not necessary to protect important processes. They can also be protected through trade secret. The differences are:

  • Trade secrets must be kept secret. You must restrict who has access to the process and the code used to implement it, and must require that anyone who is given access to it sign a contract in which they agree to keep the trade secret confidential. Patented processes, on the other hand, must be disclosed in the patent application and made public, since everyone must be able to find out what patented processes exist so that they don't infringe on anyone's patent.

  • Trade secrets don't have to be new or innovative, so it is possible to get trade secret protection for things that wouldn't be eligible to be patented.

  • Trade secret protection lasts as long as you keep the process secret (the formula for Coca Cola, e.g., is still a trade secret of the Coca Cola Company after more than a century), while patent protection lasts only for 20 years, after which anyone will be able to use the process, since you had to make its details public when you patented it. The 20 year limit on patent protection may be of limited importance for computer software, however, since computers are changing so rapidly that the idea may be obsolete by the time the 20 year patent period ends.

Posted in School or College Plays - revealing performances on 2010-04-19 18:56:41

I think the question you should be asking yourself is why you are hesitating. I gather that you would not be uncomfortable with someone else being nude on stage, but are hesitant in this case because it is your son. But why does that make you hesitant? Is it because you really feel there is something wrong with it, and while you are tolerant of other people making the choice to be nude on stage, it is different when it is someone like your son whom you are supposed to be watching over and protecting?

I'm going to assume that there are no legal problems with a 10-year-old boy being nude on stage where you live (I'd imagine that the director and producer would have looked into this before planning to do the play that way, but it wouldn't hurt to double check this with them).

It also seems pretty clear that your son is comfortable with being nude on stage. You shouldn't ever pressure a kid to do something like that, but it sounds like he is pressuring you rather than the reverse.

The next question is whether any harm could come to him (immediately or long term) from doing it. I gather, for example, that there's no chance he'd be molested by the stage crew (frankly, if there were any possibility of that, the danger would probably still exist even if he were clothed). Would he ever be photographed nude? Would any publicity be given to the fact that he was appearing nude, either by the people running the play or by the news media, and if so could that cause him to be harrassed by other kids or by adults in the community?

A question you might want to think about in this regard is who would be seeing this play. I could imagine people taking their kids to see a stage version of Mowgli and being shocked to find that the boy appears nude onstage. But they might also see it as natural and innocent. Hopefully, the director and producer have considered this sort of thing, but it wouldn't hurt talk to them about it.

Finally, I'd suggest that you think about this question: Would you feel comfortable having your son be nude on a clothing optional beach? Obviously, no one who goes to such a beach would be uncomfortable with or shocked by nudity, so if you'd feel uncomfortable with it, this would suggest that you're uncomfortable having your son be nude in public. And that would certainly be true if he were in the play!

Posted in Ticklish? on 2010-01-30 18:36:56

http://www.misterpoll.com/polls/371703