31 August 2011

George and Derek Independently Muse

The iniquity of the closed source publishing model raises it head again; this time in Derek Lowe's blog under the title, "Why Isn't There an ArXiv For Chemistry?", and in the msm Monbiot has a an article in the Guardian's cif titled, "Academic publishers make Murdoch look like a socialist".

If you don't know the background to closed vs open source publishing, Monbiot's subheading will give a taste,
"Academic publishers charge vast fees to access research paid for by us. Down with the knowledge monopoly racketeers"
This issue has gone unresolved for years. Back in 2004 (and millions of pounds of wealth transfered since) the Select Committee on Science and Technology tenth report told us all about the unsatisfactory state of scientific publishing.
"This Report recommends that all UK higher education institutions establish institutional repositories on which their published output can be stored and from which it can be read, free of charge, online. It also recommends that Research Councils and other Government funders mandate their funded researchers to deposit a copy of all of their articles in this way."
So far, this has been ignored.

It is a massive and ongoing, shameful failure for all involved. This includes not only the governmental funders of research but also charities. As to when and how this will change ... I don't know. I can present reasonable and logical arguments until the cows come home (eg), as no doubt, could anyone working in science who hasn't got access to the privileges of a University library (obviously, those in a similar position but who do have access to the library couldn't give a stuff) but thus far, this continually falls on deaf ears.

25 August 2011

False Flag

It appears that the BBC has produced another Jane Standley (aka an incompetent propaganda blunder) in their reporting of the Libyan Tet offensive ...

Here is the Libyan Flag,

See if you can see it on this broadcast,
Whilst here is the Indian flag,

Sefton Dalmer wouldn't have made such an egregious mistake. Pathetic isn't it?

Thanks to Aangirfan for his post.

Further thoughts ... NATO's mandate to bomb from the UN is running out; the resolution giving them the power to bomb Libya is due to be debated in September. Perhaps there's the sense that the mandate will not be continued and hence this is the reason for the Tet offensive gamble that we're seeing being played out.

16 August 2011

Grudgeful Informers

I'm thinking about the Grudge Informer cases which can be read about here,

"The 'grudge informer' problem illustrates a fundamental difference of views about the nature of law and its relationship with morality.

It is called the “grudge informer” to cover events where one person reported another for trivial crimes, which nevertheless carried the death penalty (for exampled speaking against the Fuhrer or the government), to settle feuds or to get revenge, but effectively using the state machinery to try to commit murder.

Fuller records the following case:

After the War a German woman was prosecuted for denouncing her husband to the authorities in accordance with the anti-sedition laws of 1934 & 1938. He had made derogatory remarks about Hitler, The husband was prosecuted and convicted of slandering the Fuehrer, which carried the death penalty. Although sentenced to death, the husband was not executed but was sent as a soldier to the Eastern front. He survived the war and on his return instituted proceedings against his wife.

She argued that she had not in fact committed a crime because a court had sentenced her husband in accordance with the law of the time.

She was convicted of 'illegally depriving another of his freedom' (rechtswidrige Freiheitsberaubung), a crime under the Penal Code, 1871, which had remained in force throughout the Nazi period. The Nazi laws were, the court said, "contrary to the sound conscience and sense of justice of all decent human beings," (1951).

There were other similar prosecutions."

I'm thinking about these cases with regard to the difference in treatment being meted out to looters and rioters compared to bankers/landlords/property owners. The latter all becoming rich by appropriating the property of others, using mechanisms that are set-up within the system of the law. It's trite to say that the looters/rioters broke the law whilst the other class of people listed didn't, but that doesn't give a satisfactory resolution. The grudgeful informer didn't break the law until the Nazi regime fell and she was prosecuted; if the regime had not fallen, she could have been happily living with her paramour. The same is true of the 'bankers/landlords/property owners': they're not breaking the law until the current regime of exploitation is swept away. As to whether or not this regime will be swept away and the property returned: I doubt it. I can see that we're going to be stuck in this loop for a long while, yet.

05 August 2011

Equity For Rent

I've been thinking about equity for rent.

As I once said before,
All rent paid on land will buy a beneficial interest as will any investment in the property. The renter will immediately become a beneficiary and will then have all the settled equitable rights and benefits that are already in place.
I think that this could be accomplished by repealing section 1(1)(b) of the Law of Property Act 1925 which provides,
The only estates in land which are capable of subsisting or of being conveyed or created at law are— ...
(b) A term of years absolute.
which would leave section 1(1)(a) of the same Act which states,
The only estates in land which are capable of subsisting or of being conveyed or created at law are—
(a) An estate in fee simple absolute in possession;....
If it wasn't possible to rent, what would happen?

By making the suggested change it would only be possible to have legal ownership until you decided to sell the property, if you wanted to rent the property you would only be capable of slowly selling portions of it. The money that passed to the landlord as rent would make the renter a beneficial owner, he would own a proportion of the property in direct proportion to the amount of money that he had paid as rent. In other words, his rental payments would buy equity.

When the tenant wanted to move on he could rely on trust law to ensure that his beneficial interest was secure. Overnight the country would become a property owning democracy. (Recall that the Thatcher government did something similar with council houses when they instigated their right to buy scheme. The amount that a tenant had paid in rent was taken into account when the tenant applied to buy the property).

Before dismissing the idea consider rentcharges. If you've never heard the expression rentcharge imagine that you own some property which you want to sell, perhaps to a builder. As part of the sale you negotiate that the owner of the land pays you money forever just because you once owned the land. The purchaser (builder) buys the land and pays you an annual income; if he's a builder, when he sells the property the rentcharge is passed on to whoever buys the property. Further, these rentcharges could go back hundreds of years. They aren't consider to be fair and are being phased out.

For more background on rentcharges consider, Report on Rentcharges (Report) [1975] EWLC 68 (pdf).

If we're prepared to scrap rentcharges: why not scrap rent? Aren't the reasons for scrapping rentcharges the same reasons for scrapping rent?