larvatus: (rock)
As savvy politicians are wont to observe, victory has a hundred fathers but defeat is an orphan. The progenitors of WebEx number four: high-powered financier Scott Sandell, salesman extraordinary Subrah Iyar, brilliant engineer Min Zhu, and his bodacious daughter Erin Yier Bargeld. Here is a graphic representation of their relationship:

larvatus: (MZ)
Dear Bay Area law enforcement personnel,

Over the following year, I shall reside and appear in your jurisdictions, exercising my fundamental rights under the First and Second Amendments to the Constitution of the United States in the course of ongoing peaceful public protests, as documented at http://www.subrah.com/ and http://larvatus.livejournal.com/tag/webex. The attached images and the article "Man with semi-automatic weapon protests on Sand Hill", published in a local newspaper, should give you an adequate idea concerning the parameters of my performances.


I conduct my protests in response to independently witnessed and officially documented death threats made against me and my family in order to deter us from pursuing claims recorded in a lawsuit subsequently filed in California Superior Court, County of Santa Clara as case No. 1-02-CV-809286, Zeleny v. Zhu and WebEx, in the names and on the behalves of Min Zhu and WebEx Communications, Inc. The evidence of these threats and their gravity sufficed for Judge Jacob Adajian of Los Angeles Superior Court to acquit me on 11 April 2003 of weapons carry charges on the grounds of necessity, in a bench trial of case No. 2CR11665. In accounting for his acquittal, he ruled:

He wouldn't get a gun permit. He wouldn't get a gun permit. We just don't issue those in L.A. unless you're a movie star or somebody who shouldn't have one. But they manage to get one. Attorney's [sic.] should have one. I couldn't get one when I was an attorney. I know when I became a judge, a responsible person, I was able to get one. Not as an attorney. I think he had a good-faith belief in the threat. He did go to the police. He did do the right thing.

Ten months after this decision, my father Isaak Zelyony, plaintiff in a related lawsuit No. 1-02-CV-810705, styled Zelyony v. Zhu, suffered fatal injuries in an apartment fire that appeared to start at two locations at once. A thorough investigation of causes and origins of this fire, which a retired Los Angeles Fire Department captain undertook on my behalf, failed to rule out the likelihood of foul play. My father was important to me. I am seeking amends for unlawful threats of violence that were followed by his violent death under suspicious circumstances. As of this writing, I have a pending lawsuit in federal court against callers who warned me that my father's death was not an accident and promised to arrange for me to rejoin him. I am protesting the ongoing institutional and individual support of a violent sexual deviant, who represents a grave personal threat to me and my family.


As law enforcement officers, you are well placed to assess my situation. For starters, you might consult the 1988 sealed police report of childhood sexual abuse made by Min Zhu's then 14 year-old daughter Erin. On numerous occasions Erin recounted Min's prior use of the terms that failed to dissuade me from pursuing my claim against him and his company, to persuade her to yield to his sexual advances. Her subsequent complaints of her molestation by Min Zhu can be found on newsgroup alt.sexual.abuse.recovery via Google Groups search for the terms "Erin Zhu sexual abuse". Additionally, they can be found along with her draft complaint against Min Zhu for childhood sexual abuse, her email correspondence with Blixa Bargeld to that effect, and various declarations by third parties attesting to the same facts, as matters of public record in Santa Clara Superior Court case 1-02-CV-809286, Zeleny v. Zhu & WebEx. Erin Zhu has authenticated the accounts of her rape by her father that she had authored and relayed or publicized, in sworn depositions in that case. Moreover, in a sworn deposition taken by John Walton on 3 November 2003, in Zelyony v. Zhu, Santa Clara Superior Court Case Number CV-810705, she confirmed under oath having settled her childhood sexual abuse claim against her father Min Zhu for $300,000, paying her lawyer David Affeld a contingency fee of 2.5%. She admitted having participated in the preparation of the draft complaint, which included a graphic description of her rape by Min Zhu. She acknowledged that after she settled her claim against them, her parents made her the beneficiary of a trust; and although she denied linking it to the settlement, she later settled a claim by her lawyer, who sued her for a contingency fee portion of the trust. While denying on that occasion that her childhood sexual abuse by her father involved "penetration", Erin Zhu confirmed under oath having told her lawyer when they prepared the draft complaint that it did involve penetration, and never having told him otherwise; and she further confirmed under oath that this sexual abuse occurred between 1 and 20 times. I urge you to consult the relevant parts of the transcript of Erin Zhu's referenced deposition, as entered in evidence and permanently consigned to the public record in NEA v. Zeleny, San Mateo Superior Court Case No. CIV499465, in the context of California Penal Code Section 263 providing: "The essential guilt of rape consists in the outrage to the person and feelings of the victim of the rape. Any sexual penetration, however slight, is sufficient to complete the crime."


My revelations of these facts failed to diminish the support of Min Zhu by the Menlo Park venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates (NEA). By NEA's accounts, its business relationship with Min Zhu began in 1999 when it invested in the company that he founded, WebEx Communications, Inc. According to SEC filings, NEA's General Partner Scott Sandell was on the Board of Directors of WebEx until February 2002. In his sworn declaration Sandell testified that "Min Zhu was a consultant at NEA, with the title Venture Partner, from March 17 2004 through March 2008." NEA has acknowledged that in 2004 I emailed them about Erin Zhu's claims concerning her childhood sexual abuse by her father Min Zhu. In my communications I pointed out that Erin verified under oath having made these claims between 1991 and 2001 in conversation with her friends, associates, and employees; in public Usenet postings and letters to her husband Blixa Bargeld; and in statements to her lawyer David Affeld in connection with the claim for childhood sexual abuse that he presented to her parents and settled on her behalf. My notices went unanswered and had no effect on NEA's support of Min Zhu and his position at WebEx. Meanwhile, WebEx's CEO Subrah Iyar attempted to cover up Min Zhu's rape of his daughter. In the course of defending against my lawsuit under his leadership, WebEx filed sworn corporate declarations claiming that there was "absolutely no truth" to the allegations that Min had raped his daughter seven years prior to its founding, while allowing him to use its corporate assets as hush money to buy her silence about his crimes, and employ its corporate counsel in defending against my claims made against him as an individual, independently of his connection with WebEx. Min Zhu resigned from WebEx and fled the United States to China only after I exposed him as a child rapist at the WebEx User Conference in San Francisco, on 2 May 2005. Yet in September of the same year, NEA funded Min Zhu's next venture in China, in full knowledge of the foregoing events. Witness this pointed observation published by China Venture News on 23 September 2005: "What's missing in the Private Equity Online article or any NEA release is any mention of the previous controversy surrounding NEA's venture partner, Min Zhu, who joined NEA in 2004, after his forced resignation as WebEx President and Director." Another side of Min Zhu's character is captured in the 2007 report of a joint investigation of WebEx by FBI and NSA, which found it illicitly transferring the records of its customers' confidential communications to China. To connect the dots, NEA's knowing sponsorship of a duplicitous child rapist has been an open secret in the venture capital community for over seven years. This is especially noteworthy in an industry, whose foundations can be shaken by a female partner's displeasure at receiving a copy of Leonard Cohen's The Book of Longing from her male colleague.

According to Min Zhu, as of 2008, NEA continued to invest money in his company Cybernaut. I have no reason to doubt that their business relationship has continued to this day. By all accounts, Min Zhu has established himself as an excellent profit earner, inspiring investments from numerous profit-seeking institutions and individuals undeterred by scruples about his character. In bringing to light its defects, I look forward to finding out, how far the turpitude of Silicon Valley capital is matched by its shamelessness.

Please be assured that I am sensitive to your concerns for public safety. Accordingly, in the course of my Constitutionally protected activities, I pledge to abstain from any unlawful actions, including, without limitation, the following:

  • loading any firearms in the absence of a reasonable fear for life or limb;
  • deploying or firing any deadly weapons or firearms in the absence of a clear and present danger to life or limb;
  • making any threats of unlawful violence, including, but not limited to, drawing or exhibiting any deadly weapons or firearms in the presence of another person, in a rude, angry, or threatening manner;
  • stalking, accosting, or harassing any individual, including, but not limited to, making harassing telephone calls to any individual or institution, or sending harassing correspondence to any individual or institution by any means;
  • making any statement or engaging in a course of conduct that would place a reasonable person in fear for his or her safety, or the safety of his or her immediate family, and that serves no legitimate purpose; and
  • capturing visual images or audio recordings of any individual who has a reasonable expectation of privacy, or otherwise attempting to frustrate such an expectation.
I am pleased to point out that my prior events in San Diego, Milpitas, Menlo Park, and Santa Clara were unmarked by any disturbances. I hope that the same will be the case on this occasion of scaling up my activities within the bounds of legitimacy sanctioned by the authorities of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and the United States Supreme Court. Owing to substantial gains in my quest for legitimate remedies, my protests shall include topical artistic performances by bagpipers, clowns, rappers, and a brass band. I shall employ portable generators, high-intensity floodlights, and night vision devices to discover the identities and whereabouts of other friends and supporters of Min Zhu. It is my position that the mounting of these performances and the use of these instruments are protected under the First Amendment, and therefore are not subject to local permit requirements. However, as an accommodation provided in the spirit of courtesy, I shall consider reasonable requests for placing time, place, and manner constraints on my performances on a case-by-case basis. Lastly, I continue to claim the right protected by the First Amendment, to hold press conferences at the sites of my protests and to film all passerby there being questioned as to their opinion of their subject matter. I hope to forestall dangerous misunderstandings and futile litigation bound to be costly and disappointing to your taxpayers by giving you this advance notice of my plan.

My protests will take place, without limitation, at the public grounds adjacent to the following institutions and residences:

  1. New Enterprise Associates (NEA), 2855 Sand Hill Road, Menlo Park, CA 94025;
  2. Cisco/WebEx, 3979 Freedom Circle, Santa Clara, CA 95054;
  3. Silk Road Software & Services, Inc. (SRS2), One Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94105;
  4. Subrah and Rupar Iyar, 15292 Kennedy Rd, Unit A, Los Gatos, CA 95032
  5. Scott Sandell, 120 Deer Meadow Ln, Portola Valley, CA 94028;
  6. Forest Baskett, 24 Alexander Ave, Sausalito, CA 94965;
  7. Robert J. Garland, 636 Melville Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301;
  8. C. Richard Kramlich, 3699 Washington St, San Francisco, CA 94118;
  9. Jake R. Nunn, 2120 Ashton Ave, Menlo Park, CA 94025;
  10. Arno Allan Penzias, 19 Calle Del Mar, Stinson Beach, CA 94970;
  11. Brooke A. Seawell, 1155 Trinity Dr, Menlo Park, CA 94025;
  12. Peter Sonsini, 350 Olive St, Menlo Park, CA 94025; and
  13. Sigrid Van Bladel, 1338 Masonic Ave, San Francisco, CA 94117.
This list will be extended and updated in future online postings and email communications. My protests will continue until I receive full satisfaction for Min Zhu's offenses against me and my family. All concerned parties may address their communications to my lawyers Michael D. Pinnisi <mpinnisi@pinnisianderson.com>, Pinnisi & Anderson, 410 East Upland Road, Ithaca, NY 14850, phone: (607) 257-8000, and David W. Affeld <dwa@agzlaw.com>, Affeld Grivakes Zucker LLP, 12400 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 1180, Los Angeles CA 90025, phone: (310) 979-8700, fax: (310) 979-8701. I may be reached at the number listed below.

--

Michael@massmeans.com ---- http://larvatus.livejournal.com/ ---- http://www.subrah.com
Zeleny@post.harvard.edu | 7576 Willow Glen Rd, Los Angeles, CA 90046 | 323.363.1860
Wronged by the high and mighty? Cut them down to size with legally safe and ethically sound degradation of unworthy moguls and scrofulous celebrities.

larvatus: (MZ)
The place:


The tools:


The performance:
larvatus: (MZ)
Mass Means Mail Michael Zeleny <michael@massmeans.com>

Re: Resumption of Public Protests at Rosewood Sand Hill Compound

Michael Zeleny <michael@massmeans.com> Wed, Feb 8, 2012 at 8:37 PM
To: sandhill@rosewoodhotels.com, policechief@menlopark.org, wadixon@menlopark.org, grojas@menlopark.org, sakaufman@menlopark.org, wlm@jsmf.com, danielprimack@gmail.com
Cc: Subrah Iyar <Subrah.Iyar@webex.com>, jchambers@cisco.com, john.chambers@cisco.com, "David W. Affeld" <dwa@agzlaw.com>, Ajay Vashee <avashee@nea.com>, Ali Behbahani <abehbahani@nea.com>, Amita Shukla <ashukla@nea.com>, Arno Penzias <apenzias@nea.com>, Brooke Seawell <bseawell@nea.com>, Chip Linehan <clinehan@nea.com>, Chuck Newhall <cnewhall@nea.com>, David Mott <dmott@nea.com>, Dick Kramlich <dkramlich@nea.com>, Ed Mathers <emathers@nea.com>, Forest Baskett <fbaskett@nea.com>, Frank Torti <ftorti@nea.com>, George Stamas <gstamas@nea.com>, Harry Weller <hweller@nea.com>, Hugh Panero <hpanero@nea.com>, Jake Nunn <jnunn@nea.com>, James Barrett <jbarrett@nea.com>, Jay Graf <jgraf@nea.com>, Jimmy Treybig <jtreybig@nea.com>, John Nehra <jnehra@nea.com>, Jon Sakoda <jsakoda@nea.com>, Josh Makower <jmakower@nea.com>, Justin Klein <jklein@nea.com>, Krishna 'Kittu' Kolluri <kkolluri@nea.com>, Louis Citron <lcitron@nea.com>, Mark Perry <mperry@nea.com>, Mike O'Dell <modell@nea.com>, Mike Ramsay <mramsay@nea.com>, Mohamad Makhzoumi <mmakhzoumi@nea.com>, Nitin Sharma <nsharma@nea.com>, Patrick Chung <pchung@nea.com>, Patrick Kerins <pkerins@nea.com>, Paul Hsiao <phsiao@nea.com>, Paul Walker <pwalker@nea.com>, Peter Barris <pbarris@nea.com>, Peter Behrendt <pbehrendt@nea.com>, Peter Morris <pmorris@nea.com>, Peter Sonsini <psonsini@nea.com>, PM Pai <ppai@nea.com>, Ralph Snyderman <rsnyderman@nea.com>, Ravi Viswanathan <rviswanathan@nea.com>, Richard Whitney <rwhitney@nea.com>, Rick Yang <ryang@nea.com>, Robert Croce <rcroce@nea.com>, Robert Garland <rgarland@nea.com>, Rohini Chakravarthy <rchakravarthy@nea.com>, Ryan Drant <rdrant@nea.com>, Sara Nayeem <snayeem@nea.com>, Scott Gottlieb <sgottlieb@nea.com>, Scott Sandell <ssandell@nea.com>, Sigrid Van Bladel <svanbladel@nea.com>, Sujay Jaswa <sjaswa@nea.com>, Suzanne King <sking@nea.com>, Tim Schaller <tschaller@nea.com>, Tom Grossi <tgrossi@nea.com>, Tony Florence <tflorence@nea.com>, "Michael D. Pinnisi" <mpinnisi@pinnisianderson.com>, "Hawk, Robert B." <robert.hawk@hoganlovells.com>
Dear NEA and associates,

Please be advised that our hitherto postponed protest will begin tomorrow and continue indefinitely, according to the terms previously announced in the email copied below.

I am attaching an image of a bumper sticker that we have created for your benefit, licensed under the terms of Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported (CC BY-ND 3.0). Please feel free to use it in advertising your investment practices.

--
Michael@massmeans.com ---- http://larvatus.livejournal.com/ ---- http://www.subrah.com
Zeleny@post.harvard.edu | 7576 Willow Glen Rd, Los Angeles, CA 90046 | 213.290.4699
Wronged by the high and mighty? Cut them down to size with legally safe and
ethically sound degradation of unworthy moguls and scrofulous celebrities.

On Fri, Sep 23, 2011 at 4:53 PM, Michael Zeleny <zeleny@post.harvard.edu> wrote:
Dear NEA,

I share your relief at settling our dispute regarding my access to your private property. As you know, I will no longer appear in front of your office. I am equally relieved that your single claim challenged only my "conduct in repeatedly trespassing on private property, leaving [me] free to express [myself] as [I desire], at any lawful place and time, with the sole exception that [I] cannot make unauthorized entry onto the NEA office complex." You objected to the location of my protest but did not dispute its content.

Starting on 31 October 2011 and continuing indefinitely, I shall resume my protest against your abhorrent investment practices. I shall do so on the public easement near the entrance to your complex. I shall also protest against anyone who would do business with you, based on their implicit endorsement of your immoral practices. I shall take photos and record videos of everyone entering your complex, post the images online and distribute them on bills posted throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, and offer rewards for the first correct identification of names and addresses of everyone who does business with your child rape sponsoring enterprise. I shall display signs and banners illustrating the purpose of my protests. As before, I shall be armed with legal counterparts of U.S. military rifles and pistols, in full compliance with all applicable federal, state, and local ordinances. As before, I invite you to comment on my plans, should you have any legitimate objection to the time, place, or manner of my expression of my Constitutionally protected message.

--
Michael@massmeans.com | Zeleny@post.harvard.edu | 7576 Willow Glen Road, Los Angeles, CA 90046 | 323.363.1860 | http://www.subrah.com
http://larvatus.livejournal.com | "All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better." -- Samuel Beckett




shot 2012

Feb. 4th, 2012 05:37 pm
larvatus: (Default)
I went to the SHOT Show. Here are my impressions.



Sauer’s Legendary P210 is back in three variants. The standard fixed sight model is complemented by two adjustable sight variants, the Target with its standard 120mm-barrel and the 150mm-barreled Super Target. This lineup suggests that the original Swiss micrometer sight fitted into the standard milspec dovetail is no longer cost-effective. Since Dobler’s dovetail-mounted compact adjustable rear sight can be had for around half the cost of the traditional unit, Sauer’s new adjustable sight shared by the Targets and the Super Targets, with its housing milled en bloc with the slide, is also an instance of deliberate branding. The new integral rear sight is a less dedicated target shooting setup, moderately compromised in its sight picture, stability, and adjustment in comparison with its dovetail-mounted predecessor.

The safety lever of the Super Target has been made more familiar to M1911 shooters by relocating its pivot behind the hammer action retained by a Torx T15 screw, from its traditional forward position in the foregoing P210 variants. As explained in my Legend review, this arrangement appears to have been derived from an Ergosign design exercise long touted by Karl Nill. In addition to this modification, the Super Target’s frame also differs from the standard frame employed by SAN in its 2003 longslide version of the P210, in its newly extended dustcover, presumably adding a little extra precision to its alignment with the slide. The retail pricing of the new Super Target model, at $3,626.00, is set on par with similar going rates for previous P210-5 variants, cutting in half the current collector value of the original P210-5LS long slide pistol. Its street price in Germany is around 2,300.00 €, including the 19% excise tax, which may be refunded for export shipments.

While Sauer may have the capacity to improve on the Swiss originals in the long run, its initial efforts to do so failed in several ways. Five shot test targets fired at 25m have shown a spread comparable to that of SIG’s original ten shot test targets fired at twice that range. Initial changes in the control levers of the Legend left them poorly secured, while the lateral magazine release caused the omission of the trigger stop. Newer Legends appear to correct these shortcomings with their reconfigured slide stop spring, augmented safety detent, and abbreviated trigger stop free of interference with the lateral magazine catch. In this connection, I recommend consulting Barhin Bhatt’s excellent review of his fixed sight Legend variant, briefly available on the SIGforum.

All Sauer P210 variants are built on heavy frames, descended from P210-5 SN P54980 designed by the Swiss marksman Reiny Ruess and his friends at SIG. A special series from SN P79101 to 79150 has a heavy frame. Around three hundred of P210-6 pistols with forged heavy frames, for example those numbered between P76521 and 76620, or between P79621 and 79720. They can readily be found in Europe, at around twice the prices of comparable standard forged frame specimens. According to Vetter and Armbruster, CNC guns with heavy frames are found numbered P309600, P309650, P309660, P312382, P316550, P321108, etc. All P210-8 variants made by SIG, and all P210-6S and P210-5LS variants made by its Swiss Arms Neuhausen (SAN) successors with a lateral magazine catch, also had the heavy frame. If the newly reconfigured spring can secure the slide stop in the frame of the P210 Legend, the Sauer heavy frame design will represent an improvement over the Swiss standard and heavy frames, in virtue of deleting the slide stop spring retaining pin, originally press fitted into a hole drilled in the frame at a location subject to stress during the firing cycle. Nevertheless, reports of fractured Swiss heavy frames are conspicuous by their absence in hundreds of thousands of recorded individual round counts, so the structural benefits of this arrangement are likely to be moot. Besides, stainless steels used by Sauer in the construction of their pistols, are unlikely to exhibit the same wear characteristics as carbon steels formerly used by SIG and SAN, in particular appearing to be considerably softer than their predecessors. Along similar lines, it bears notice that unlike the traditional Swiss oxide finish, Sauer’s Nitron, a vacuum furnace heat treatment of physical vapor deposition, creates a surface buildup that results in tolerance stacking and complicates the assurance of proper clearances, consistently with anecdotal reports of various malfunctions observed in the Legend by European and American shooters.

A NIB P210-6 might fetch between 900 and 1400 € on eGun.de, more for special variants. I don’t know of a comparable online resource in Switzerland, but Kessler’s prices for vintage SIG P49 and P210 pistols are running high. The SIG P 210-S, “Versuch Schweden” SN P59699, which the auctioneers had estimated at Sfr. 7,000/14,000, sold for Sfr. 19,000 plus the auctioneer’s premium. Its approximate counterpart among Swiss Lugers, the W+F P29, “Versuch” SN 100000, of questionable authenticity according to Bobba’s study of its kind, and estimated at Sfr. 18,000/36,000, sold for Sfr. 43,000 plus the premium. These prices are likely to represent world records for a SIG P210 and a W+F 06/29 Luger. As ever, the ongoing economic crisis is continuing to inflate the values of high-end collector items. Notably, these values suggest the ongoing emergence of the P210 as an object of serious collector interest.

I have been assembling published materials and tracking U.S. online sales on the P210 Facebook page. I invite my readers to contribute to this resource, as well as similar pages for Korth, Korriphila, and Manurhin MR73. Among notable trends, sporadic availability of newly manufactured P210 Legend magazines does not appear to have affected the $150-200 going rate for used originals. California shooters will be heartened to learn that IGB Austria now lists 120mm and 153mm P210 barrels for 245.83 €, with P210-5 front sight threads and slots and CIP proofs costing 45.84 and 12.08 € extra. (Ready availability of unthreaded 6" barrels make the P210 eligible for circumventing the CA DOJ drop test via the “single shot exemption”.) In Germany, Waffen Verwertung, a.k.a. Schäfer & Schäfer, continues to offer 120mm polygonally-rifled P210 barrels at 198.00 €, while Harald Berty lists like items at nearly three times the price, along with complete 6" top ends, at 1,995.00 €. Note that all claims on behalf of barrels stabilizing lead projectiles should be evaluated against the twist rate specification.



In related news, Fabryka Broni Łucznik-Radom returned with its elegant 2010-rollmarked Wz.35 VIS Semiautomatic Pistol, once again projected to retail for $450.00, less than one tenth of the current value of a decent Polish Eagle specimen. Regrettably, my inquiries about a wholesale import order in response to the 2011 appearance of the Radom VIS have gone unanswered by its makers. I would welcome the return of this classic M1911 derivative, second among them only to the SIG P210 in intrinsic accuracy, ruggedness, and durability. If I may be allowed to daydream, the revival of the long-lost 1937 Argentine test .45 ACP prototypes, would stand a good chance of rendering M1911 variants obsolete in the U.S. civilian gun market. The VIS Radom now benefits from a handsome Study and Photographic Album of Poland’s Finest Pistol, compiled by William J. York, more than sufficient to alert a new generation of shooters and collectors to the virtues of these remarkable handguns, documented among the official Swiss 1941 inspirations for the SIG P49 replacing the W+F P06/29 Lugers and M1882/29 revolvers in military service.

The sole Swiss gunmaker in attendance was KRISS Arms Group, with its subsidiary Sphinx, claimed to be the last remaining swiss handgun maker. Previously imported by ill-fated Sabre Defense Industries, Sphinx handguns, designed by the late Martin Tuma, have been absent from the U.S. market since 2005. It remains to be seen whether their customizable target handgun can succeed where Tuma’s previous design for ASAI failed, offered at less than one-fourth of the price projected by Sphinx for its deluxe CZ-75 derivatives. Likewise, I am not holding my breath for the XXIst century revival of the Tommy gun, touted by KRISS since 2008.

Italian gunmakers were well represented in both the traditional formats of double-barreled shotguns and black powder and cartridge historical replicas, and novel designs exemplified by the Chiappa Rhino revolver firing from the bottom chamber in the manner of its Mateba Unica and Stechkin OTs-38 predecessors. I was not surprised, though sorely disappointed, to see French firearms industry missing in their entirety. I would have loved to see such classics as sliding breech Darne shotguns, traditional doubles and up to date self-loaders made by the venerable Verney-Carron, or the constabulary wheelgun counterpart to the P210 service pistol that is Manurhin MR73, still produced in small batches by Chapuis. But that was not to be, as yonder cheese-eating surrender monkeys made themselves scarcer than accordions at a deer hunt, at the world’s most important gun show.



By contrast, the Germans invaded Nevada in force. I was pleasantly surprised by the presence of Korth, though their handguns, custom-made at the annual rate of around 300 units, are still not officially imported into the U.S. The most exotic piece on display was the Niebelungen Magnum revolver made out of Damascus steel pattern welded by Markus Balbach, and pre-sold for $32,500.00. Korth’s “classic revolver” with its externally adjustable trigger and cylinder yoke retained in the frame by a quick-release latch, starts at 5,000.00 €. Its current version is mechanically similar to the final iteration of Willi Korth’s design, and should be likewise capable of delivering the same accuracy even after firing 50,000 rounds of full-powered .357 Magnum ammo. I would not expect the same performance from revolvers made out of pattern-welded steel, but Korth’s top of the line products are clearly not made for such shooting duty. Zombified presence of Mauser’s latest incarnation was once again distinguished by the outrageously priced, traditional controlled round feed M98 rifles punctuating the banal lineup of their switch-barrel, push-feed M03 would-be successors. Among the real players descended from their Oberndorf am Neckar original, HK showed its piston-operated Stoner rifle derivative, which struck me as unremarkable despite its commercial success.

Surefire showed its innovative, 200 Lumen hard-anodized aluminum-bodied 2211 wristlight powered by a lithium-ion battery recharged through a mini-USB port. Like many of its other impending offerings ranging up to the 2,000 lumen UDR Dominator, it features an LED fuel gauge reminding the operator to recharge his light long before it begins to dim. If all goes as it did with its Invictus, we can look forward to Surefire delivering these lights before 2015. In the meantime, I invite my faithful readers to visit the web pages dedicated to my favorite service and sporting handguns:

http://larvatus.livejournal.com/tag/p210
http://larvatus.livejournal.com/tag/mr73
http://larvatus.livejournal.com/tag/korth

Shooters and collectors seeking advice or assistance in this regard are very welcome to address me with all their questions and requests. Lastly, I have a small assortment of Swiss, French, and German handguns available for adoption in good homes. Please look below for addressing your inquiries.

Michael@massmeans.com | Zeleny@post.harvard.edu | 7576 Willow Glen Road, Los Angeles, CA 90046 | 323.363.1860 | http://www.subrah.com |
http://larvatus.livejournal.com | “All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” — Samuel Beckett
larvatus: (Default)

Dr Thurgood: Larry! 
Larry David: Hi. I know I don’t have an appointment, but I got a bill in the mail today… am I to understand that you charge me for talking to me on line in a baseball card show? Is that possible? 
Dr Thurgood: Well yes, it is. 
Larry David: Dr Thurgood, we spoke for all of three minutes! 
Dr Thurgood: Let me just point out, Larry, that sometimes when people suffer with what I might call the more dramatic forms of narcissism, they have a hard time gauging how long they have been talking about their problems for themselves. 
Larry David: You’re saying I’m a narcissist? 
Dr Thurgood: Larry, maybe I can help you understand this way. I had a client, he was quite an illustrious, well-known director. I don’t want to reveal who he was, but he did direct Star Wars… And he enjoyed, in his repertoire of things that he liked, to see prostitutes. Now, in that particular situation, if he were to hire a prostitute, let’s say for an hour, which was normal for him… 
Larry David: You might as well call him George Lucas, I mean that’s who directed Star Wars
Dr Thurgood: Oh, well, I would never say that. I would never say that. 
Larry David: Well, you just told me who it was. 
Dr Thurgood: I merely alluded to the fact that he was a well-known director. Now, one of the things he needed to complete his work, it was important for him… 
Larry David: Everybody knows who directed Star Wars
Mr. Thurgood: Well, not everyone is in show business, Larry.  
Larry David: Okay, good… all right, go ahead. 
Dr Thurgood: My point is… 
Larry David: God only knows what you’re saying about me! 
Dr Thurgood: No one asks about you. 
Larry David: I didn’t ask about George Lucas, but you just brought him up! 
Dr Thurgood: I merely said “a well-known director”. And here’s my point: he used to frequent prostitutes. And very often he would hire them for an hour, which was their minimum, but it only took him three or four, maybe five minutes to complete the shot, if you understand what I’m saying. However! they considered it fair and he considered it fair to pay them for the full hour—that was the way they did business. 
Larry David: First off, I am appalled by what you just said to me… 
Dr Thurgood: He has a right to do what he wants. He is an adult. 
Larry David: It’s supposed to be confidential! 
Dr Thurgood: And it is. 
Larry David: You’re not supposed to be telling people! 
Dr Thurgood: It’s merely my way of illustration. My point is that people need various things to help them function, and my hope is that I was doing that for you. Well, it was good to see you. 
Larry David: And congratulations, doctor, I think you’ve stumbled upon the perfect analogy for exactly what you do. 
Dr Thurgood: Well, it’s somewhere between a hobby and a profession for me, just as it is for them.  
Larry David: Uh huh. 
Dr Thurgood: Good seeing you. 
Larry David: Okay. 
Curb Your Enthusiasm, Season 8, Episode 9
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Around the turn of the twentieth century, innumerable eggheaded wags took up and carried forth the wingèd words attributed to President Arthur Twining Hadley of Yale University: “You can always tell a Harvard man, but you cannot tell him much.” A little later, unsolicited avowal bolstered the certainty of recognition by invidious townies: “How do you know that someone you just met went to Harvard? — He’ll tell you in the first five minutes.” And thus, nel mezzo del cammin di sua vita, Zadie Smith felt compelled to tell everybody in the first paragraph of her essay-length review:
I can say (like everyone else on Harvard’s campus in the fall of 2003) that “I was there” at Facebook’s inception, and remember Facemash and the fuss it caused; also that tiny, exquisite movie star trailed by fan-boys through the snow wherever she went, and the awful snow itself, turning your toes gray, destroying your spirit, bringing a bloodless end to a squirrel on my block: frozen, inanimate, perfect—like the Blaschka glass flowers.
—Zadie Smith, “Generation Why?”, The New York Review of Books, 25 November 2010
A web search readily confirms that Zadie “was there”, as a 2002–2003 Radcliffe Institute Fellow. Only a churl would question her entitlement to peerdom with famous Harvard alumni of that vintage, ranging from Natalie Portman to Mark Zuckerberg, by way of Ryan Fitzpatrick, Noah Welch, and Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, media stars and athletes, whose XXIst Century Ivy League undergraduate experiences may have marked them no less memorably than Zadie’s XXth Century Cambridge Third in her Part Ones. Unlike most of her underprivileged readers, Zadie was at Harvard. Consequently, she understands the innermost motives of its overachieving élite:
Personally I don’t think Final Clubs were ever the point; I don’t think exclusivity was ever the point; nor even money. E Pluribus Unum—that’s the point. Here’s my guess: he wants to be like everybody else. He wants to be liked. Those 1.0 people who couldn’t understand Zuckerberg’s apparently ham-fisted PR move of giving the school system of Newark $100 million on the very day the movie came out—they just don’t get it. For our self-conscious generation (and in this, I and Zuckerberg, and everyone raised on TV in the Eighties and Nineties, share a single soul), not being liked is as bad as it gets. Intolerable to be thought of badly for a minute, even for a moment. He didn’t need to just get out “in front” of the story. He had to get right on top of it and try to stop it breathing. Two weeks later, he went to a screening. Why? Because everybody liked the movie.
Ibid.
Or not. Harvard takes care to inform its undergraduates that in the field of psychology, evidence consists of empirical research results rather than quotations and opinions of scholars. In the matter at hand, empirical data implies the unlikelihood of profound aversion to not being liked forming the characters overwhelmingly motivated by the expectations of “a generous starting salary at a prestigious, brand-name organization together with the promise of future wealth”. Likewise, the favorite industry of Harvard grads, the one that rewards its most accomplished members with the title of a Big Swinging Dick, can scarcely provide a worthy workspace for Harvard alumni obsessed with ingratiating everyone standing in the way of their advancement. More specifically, Zuckerberg’s career track employed a broad selection of peers, partners, and associates as stepping stones, earning his rightful place in Dickipedia. As a geeky digital performance artist, Zuckerberg resonates with the louche motives averred by Charles Baudelaire in then flourishing and now obsolescent paper media: « Quand j’aurai inspiré le dégoût et l’horreur universels, j’aurai conquis la solitude. » Once he has inspired universal disgust and horror, he will have conquered solitude. The same solitude postulated in The Social Network as the defining trait of Mark Zuckerberg, downgraded from one friend to zero in the course of its narrative.

It is all too easy to underestimate the potential of Facebook to inspire universal disgust and horror. Imagine that your government offered you the opportunity to consign all your communications with your friends and associates to its care. It would manage their posting, editing, and retraction, and control their transmission and availability to the intended audience. In return, you would grant its executive branch the right to bombard you with political and commercial solicitations. Each time you had to convey, receive, modify, or withdraw your message, you would expose yourself to a barrage of administratively approved pitches. You would have no privacy, but what degree thereof you had chosen to retain by opting out of the state’s oligopoly. That is our current predicament with Facebook, except in so far as all control therein vests into a preternaturally fortunate Harvard College dropout presumptively beholden to the economic interests of his shareholders, rather than our democratically elected head of state fully answerable to his electorate via its legislative and judicial branches. That private CEO is fully warranted to set aside all concerns of faith and fidelity not arising from considerations of profit and loss. His term is unlimited by expiration or revocation. The only means of divesting him depend upon manipulation of the marketplace.

As rumors circulate of Google offering its staff engineer $3.5 million to turn down Facebook offer, it makes sense to contrast their modes of operation. Google is a monstrous outgrowth of a traditional software company, purportedly run by engineers encouraged to give free rein to their technical fancies. Facebook is nothing of the sort. Its technical ambitions are limited to the traditional IT agenda of gathering, managing, and transmitting information. And yet both companies derive their revenue primarily from selling advertising whose value derives from targeting enabled by personal data they collect from their users. The difference is that Facebook’s users contribute most of their personal data deliberately, whereas Google mostly infers it from the usage patterns of its services. Correlatively, Google derives a competitive advantage from the speed of its services, whereas Facebook distinguishes itself by stickiness. It might seem that betting your net worth on stickiness of personal contribution is a safer long term bet than staking it on the fleeting contingencies of speed. After all, a speedier newcomer would have a harder time poaching a customer base vested into deeply rooted stores of prized records. And yet, as Zadie Smith implies, the life cycle of this very platform argues to the contrary:
At my screening, when a character in the film mentioned the early blog platform LiveJournal (still popular in Russia), the audience laughed. I can’t imagine life without files but I can just about imagine a time when Facebook will seem as comically obsolete as LiveJournal. In this sense, The Social Network is not a cruel portrait of any particular real-world person called “Mark Zuckerberg.” It’s a cruel portrait of us: 500 million sentient people entrapped in the recent careless thoughts of a Harvard sophomore.
Ibid.
On 14 December 1904, U.S. Civil War veteran Charles F. Porter of Denver, Colorado presented himself at the office of President Hadley of Yale, to ask for funds with which to get to Syracuse. Porter said that his father was an old Yale man and that he was absolutely without money. Upon digesting Porter’s plea, President Hadley telephoned local police headquarters for a detective, and got instructed to detain the beggar. After a rough-and-tumble fight, the President got the better of the importunate intruder and delivered him to police custody.

Over a century later, the Ivy League is proving itself much more hospitable to cadgers of free rides. Facebook got its start herding today’s lily-livered academics onto its free communications platform, to suffer commercial solicitations from far less deserving parties hell-bent on getting to college towns everywhere. This sufferance is the true cost of social networking access for 500 million of its users. Can you tell much to XXIst century Harvard men? Mark Zuckerberg told them to entrust their privacy to gatekeepers for a myriad advertisers. And Harvard men rose to the occasion.
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My only excuse for having two personal assistants is calling them executives in training.
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[info]ivan_ghandhi:
Вот я не верю, что все эти люди, которые “превзошли программирование”, на самом деле даже поняли вообще, что это такое было. “Как ебаться” — рассказывал чукча сородичам про вкус апельсина. А им, наверное, лимон попался. Или я не знаю.
    Не верю я им. Не верю. Я думаю, у них просто не получилось ни хера. Вот и пошли в критики, раз поэзия не идёт.

[info]larvatus:
«Или Вы не знаете.» Я Вам давеча рекомендовал Вейзенбаума. Порекомендую опять. Нищета программирования сводится к диалектической неполноценности. Программист делает компьютеру то, что он не может делать людям. А все настоящие достижения совершаются вне формального заповедника конечного автомата.

[info]ivan_ghandhi:
Не знаю, как у Вас, а у меня не получается пока что именно понять, что, собственно, делается, и почему. Каким образом вот программист выбирает вот такой-то код. Каков глубинный смысл? Да и вообще, как передать этот, в общем-то, малопознаваемый мир в виде штучек в компьютере? Тот факт, что у каждой собаки и у каждой мухи в голове есть какая-то модель мира (точнее, конечно, теория), не отменяет загадочности самого процесса моделирования (точнее, конечно, теоретизирования).
    Да та же математика… с точки зрения Вейценбаума она, наверное, состоит в нахождении и доказательстве остроумных теорем, вытекающих из самоочевидных (т.е. истинных) аксиом — т.е. как бы объективна и всеобъемлюща. А ведь в некотором смысле мы, для гипотетических существ полмиллиарда лет после нас, такие же мухи.

[info]larvatus:
Загадочность можно найти в чём угодно. Но не все объекты созерцания равнозначны, да и само созерцание полноценно только в меру своей независимости от желаний и склонностей. В отличие от математики, программирование ничем подобным не обладает. В рамках «Никомаховой Этики», оно является омфалоскопической пародией политической жизни.

[info]ivan_ghandhi:
Я совершенно не знаком с “Никомаховой Этикой”, но не вижу, почему бы это оно было пародией политической жизни. У нас, конечно, разный опыт и разные взгляды; для меня написание иного кода может быть ничем не хуже исследований в теории конечных групп или полей. Конечные группы тоже омфалоскопичны? (Мне раньше казалось, что да; то ли дело какие-нть спектральные последовательности).
    Но и конечность в нашей области довольно, имхо, условна.

[info]ivan_ghandhi:
О, да я неправ был. Конечно, нечего программирование с математикой сравнивать. Я отупел просто за все эти годы; алгебру уже не осилить, так вот с программированием разобраться пытаюсь.

[info]larvatus:
Я думаю, что Вы путаете божий дар с яичницей. Профессия математика созерцательна, в смысле принадлежности к чистой теории. Напротив, профессии юриста и страхового агента находятся в сфере политики, связанной с неудачами или неопределённостью. Обоим при случае приходится использовать математику, но это употребление никоим образом не делает их ремесло созерцательным. Точно так же, программист решает практические задачи, подчиняя компьютер нуждам своего работодателя. Если он считает себя математиком на основании своей профессиональной зависимости от математических результатов, с таким же успехом можно было бы объявить математиком парикмахера на основании его профессиональной зависимости от теоремы о причёсывании ежа.
    Насчёт программирования как пародии, господство над компьютером не более, чем симулякр господства над природой или господства над обществом, к которым стремятся действующие лица политической жизни.

[info]ivan_ghandhi:
Парикмахер-то, кстати, причёсывает не ежа — клиент, даже топологически — не сфера.
    Нет, радовать клиента — это не то, о чём я. Меня сейчас больше занимает вопрос “а почему так” — и вовсе не с практической точки зрения; поэтому и “практическая” конечность меня совершенно не бацает, всегда можно вообразить идеальную машину, о которой и речь. В этом смысле, программирование очень далеко от физики. Меня вот сейчас занимает, как “практически” коммутировать монады, которые у всех программирующих сидят в бессознательном; “практически” означает нахождение какого-нибудь конструктивного и легкопонятного решения. Много вопросов, которые никакого отношения к заявкам заказчика не имеют. Ну ту же теорию типов взять и, скажем,иерархия чтобы включала факт перечислимости.
    Много факторов в степи, как говорил Копёнкин.

[info]larvatus:
Платонов и монады, это конечно замечательно, но я ведь не о том. Математика бывает немного прикладной, только в том смысле, что женщина бывает немного блядовитой. А коли мы уж подались в бляди, достойнее блядовать в обществе или на природе, чем через компьютер.
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Мой отец рассказывал, что на Колымском лесоповале один из зэков самовольно взобрался на пенёк и стал давать всем остальным ценные указания. Когда они возроптали и потребовали у него приобщения к физическому труду, самозванный руководитель вальяжно заявил: «Кожен може працювати, але не кожен може керувати».

Это конечно правда, но далеко не всегда уместно. К примеру, основным недостатом ебли в общественных местах является склонность посторонних доброжелателей к невостребованному руководству.
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Michael Lewis dishes out definitive business advice:
Danny Moses, who became [Steve] Eisman’s head trader [at FrontPoint Partners], was another who shared his perspective. Raised in Georgia, Moses, the son of a finance professor, was a bit less fatalistic than [Vincent] Daniel or Eisman, but he nevertheless shared a general sense that bad things can and do happen. When a Wall Street firm helped him get into a trade that seemed perfect in every way, he said to the salesman, “I appreciate this, but I just want to know one thing: How are you going to screw me?”
    Heh heh heh, c’mon. We’d never do that, the trader started to say, but Moses was politely insistent: We both know that unadulterated good things like this trade don’t just happen between little hedge funds and big Wall Street firms. I’ll do it, but only after you explain to me how you are going to screw me. And the salesman explained how he was going to screw him. And Moses did the trade.
Hence the difference between business and pleasure. Thus spake Rod Stewart, thrice married, twice divorced, sire to seven children from five different women: “Instead of getting married again, I’m going to find a woman I don’t like and just give her a house.” No cause for inquiry there.
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― for Robbie Lindauer      
A society dame went slumming. As she left a seedy bar, a sailor accosted her with an offer to let her feel the most amazing penis ever for a paltry $10. She paid and he unzipped to exhibit a tool that exceeded her wildest expectations. The gentlewoman fondled his cock avidly and proposed: “Why don’t you come up some time and see me?”—“Lady,” responded the salt ruefully, “if I could come up, why would I peddle a feel for ten bucks?”

MORAL:The best device is the one that can be applied at home.
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                    The Whore of Mensa

One thing about being a private investigator, you’ve got to learn to go with your hunches. Read more... ) It felt good.

    — Woody Allen, Without Feathers, Warner Books, 1975, pp. 35-41
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Distributed Royalties in Interactive Media

For the purposes of this discussion, we shall understand royalties as the sum of money earned by and paid to the proprietor and licensor of intellectual property (IP) rights for the benefits derived by the licensee through the exercise of such rights under a licensing agreement. Initially we further restrict our discussion to royalties due and payable for copyright-protected content contributed by identifiable users to advertising-supported Internet discussion fora.

As experienced on the Internet, an online forum, also known as a discussion board, is an asynchronous communication platform realized as a website that is composed at its core of a number of discussion threads. Each such thread begins with one individual contributing a comment or question posted online. Other individuals who read that contribution may respond with their own remarks over time. Their responses may elicit further remarks, and so on. The resulting threads comprise and organize diverging sequences of multimedia messages that are freely contributed by individuals who may be allowed to do so anonymously, or may be encouraged or required to undergo optional or mandatory registration. We distinguish between visitors who passively browse the website, users who interact with it, and members who register on it by providing verifiable personal information. Contributing users and members may change or edit only the website content that has been submitted by them, identified as such by association with their registration, their IP address, or some other token of realspace identity. Further edit privileges are reserved for moderators.

An online forum may encourage freedom of expression by accepting anonymous or pseudonymous contributions, and even offering to warrant the privacy of its contributors against any inquiry that falls short of a court order. Nevertheless, the commercial value of an interactive website is thought to be closely associated to the demographics of its user base and its accessibility to commercial initiatives that emanate from its owners. In order to increase value, the owners of an online forum may encourage or enforce registration of its users that is more or less reliably linked to their authentic realspace identities. Such registration might be encouraged by a website policy embodied in software functionality that grants additional privileges to registered members. Alternatively, registration might be enforced as a prerequisite for serving pageviews, performing searches, or accepting user contributions of content. As is well understood, in the task of eliciting personal details online, the carrot works better than the stick. On the one hand, Internet populace tends to be very forthcoming with personal advice and anecdotes. On the other hand, its constituents are notoriously reluctant to engage in any online transactions, all the more so when these transactions require them to divulge their personal identities. Successful operators of online communities navigate between these conflicting tendencies. In other words, they succeed by converting visitors to users to members.

In pursuing their business, operators of online fora must accommodate a variety of laws. Special concerns include preventing sexual exploitation of minors, protecting intellectual property rights of their contributors and any unrelated parties, avoiding defamation and invasion of privacy, and controlling the distribution of politically sensitive speech in jurisdictions not bound by legal guarantees of freedom of expression. At the same time, their business depends on encouraging their contributors to submit content that attracts high levels of visitor traffic and user interaction. Visitor traffic yields the basis for the associated commercial transactions, whereas user interaction increases their conversion rates. We take a user clicking on a targeted advertising hyperlink as a paradigmatic example of such transaction. Such clicks are responsible for supporting some of the most commercially successful websites operated at this time. Our aim in this paper is to define a model for distributing revenue derived from advertising by operators of online fora in a way that optimizes the qualities of their content and the ensuing quantities of traffic and interaction.

At present, online fora generally abstain from creating commercial incentives for their contributors. This abstinence results in an unstable situation, in which user and member contributions are motivated solely by a desire for exposure, whereas this exposure, as provided by the owners and operators of communities, is motivated solely by a profit motive in harnessing this desire on the behalves of their investors and advertisers. In effect, this model serves the profit motive by actions grounded in cravings for esteem. Business models of successful Internet communities suggest their operators’ expectation for this motivational disparity to continue indefinitely. However, this expectation is belied by the historical record of commercial distribution of content in all relevant media.

It is true that early masterworks in literature and music have been freely volunteered by their creators unconcerned with any prospects of remuneration. But these selfless efforts became predominantly overshadowed by the products of self-interest. Early commercial composers sold their wares under the system of patronage. They sought royal, noble, or ecclesiastical patrons who would underwrite works by in exchange for favorable mention in the text or its dedication. The most adroit of them supplemented these lordly benefits with plebeian marketing. Thus Beethoven devised a system whereby a patron could pay a fee to receive a dedication for a major new composition together with rights to sponsor his own performances thereof until a certain date, whereupon the composer would regain possession of the work and arrange for its commercial publication. (David Wyn Jones, The Symphony in Beethoven’s Vienna, Cambridge University Press, 2006, pp. 167-168.) But inexorable advent of the Third Estate ensured eventual domination of market incentives. As the patronage system waned with the decrepitude of the old regime, an ethos of freelance composition gained ground in the XVIIIth century. By its last quarter, artists and their public alike understood all too well that “No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money.” (James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson, Vol. VI, Chap. iii, 1776.) This economic understanding underpinned a legal concern with vesting the rights to a literary work in its author instead of consigning them to its publisher. In its mature form, the concern found its expression in the system of royalties due to the author as a result of licensing his work to a publisher. (L. Ray Patterson & Stanley W. Lindberg, The Nature of Copyright: A Law of Users’ Rights, The University of Georgia Press, 1991, pp. 27-47, 109-122.)

Today, the amount of royalties tends to be calculated by a formula specified in the licensing agreement, under a definition of the royalty rate and the unit base to which it is meant to be applied. Typically, the royalty rate may amount to a certain percentage of the annual sales value of the product derived by the licensee, from the content created by the licensor. The calculation of royalties is subject to the licensing agreement for commercial use under specific terms within a circumscribed market, medium, or territory. At present, these agreements are tailored towards a single party responsible for creating the content and entitled to payment for its use. Our task is to extend their form to cover multimedia content created and contributed through collaboration in Internet fora. The immense value of this endeavor is borne out by a retrospective consideration of successes reaped by the publishers through timely and effective exploitation of incentives for writing.

As described above, each discussion thread within an online forum has the form of a conversation structured as an interconnected series of user- or member-contributed posts. A single individual is responsible for the root contribution. That contribution may elicit a number of follow-up responses. These responses may in turn precipitate further follow-ups. Under the Pareto principle, 20% of follow-ups will be responsible for 80% of the ensuing traffic and interaction. Further stratification of performance will attribute 80% of that top 80% of effects to 20% within 20% of the causes, and so on. This statistical truism results in the situation where a handful of content contributors are responsible for the vast majority of the website’s earnings. The most popular among them are bound to realize the benefit of guiding their fans away from the online forum that launched their careers, to their own personal pages. This benefit tightly correlates with their inability to profit directly from the traffic they generate for the community website. While the value of online fora depends on their ability to monetize the traffic generated by their contributors through ad sales and marketing, their remuneration is limited to providing the services of web development, hosting, and distribution, complemented by the benefits of community networking. In this trade-off, the services offered by the fora are rapidly diminishing if not reversing in their real and perceived value, owing to their commodification. On the other hand, the appeal of the online network effect is subject to the vagaries of fashion responsible for the undoing of thriving communities ranging from subscriber-era AOL to Friendster. In the long run, it is unlikely that the attraction of packaged social networking will dispel the readymade tedium of brand fatigue. Absent the profit motive, nothing can keep the trendsetters from defecting. A startup supported by venture capital and expected to maximize its popularity and revenues at all costs can scarcely afford such defections. (Michael Hirschorn, The Web 2.0 Bubble: Why the social-media revolution will go out with a whimper, The Atlantic Monthly, April 2007.)

Accordingly, rewarding top performers can be expected to come to the fore as the key issue of Internet social networking. In the online culture that thrives on free exchange of information, an effective policy of performance incentives must be regarded as fair by the majority of its constituency. The first step towards instituting a fair and effective reward policy is to formulate a metric of performance. It would not do to take the user-supplied measure of peer popularity as the basis for identifying the best performers. For it is often the case that the least liked contributors are responsible for the greatest amount of visitor traffic and user interaction. As Peter Cook explained it to Dudley Moore, “You love to hate the one who loves the one you hate to love to love.” (The Psychiatrist, BBC2, 1966, in Tragically I Was an Only Twin: The Complete Peter Cook, edited by William Cook, St. Martin’s Press, 2002, p. 95.) An important exception to any incentive policy based in this observation arises from the phenomenon of trolling, vacuous, vexatious, and invalid contributions motivated by a wish to cause disruption. It falls upon the moderators to formulate and execute an effective policy for dealing with the ensuing disturbances.

[SOLUTION WITHHELD AS A TRADE SECRET.]

It might be objected that creating financial incentives for participating in an online forum would reduce the quality of contributions to the lowest common denominator. But there is no reason to suppose that concern with quality poses itself more acutely in a setting motivated by profit than in one motivated by esteem. In any event, spam control is as applicable to the former scenario as it is to the latter. More importantly, extending the financial incentives enjoyed by the website owners to its user populace, appeals to the sense of fairness and equity that permeates and motivated Internet culture. The most effective salesmanship emerges organically from sincere belief in the value of the product. The current practice of fitting advertising links to keywords passively identified in the web page would greatly benefit from providing an active incentive for users to tailor their contributions to commercial ends. A fair and effective method for distributing royalties in Internet media creates a powerful competitive advantage for advertising-supported online fora through converting their participants to full-fledged partners of their proprietors.

The foregoing method can be extended to threaded interactive contributions of heterogeneous content, such as graphics, photos, or video files followed by comments or multimedia responses. Future attention should be directed to extending our model of distributed royalties to collaborative authoring in a wiki, a website that allows visitors to add, remove, edit and change content, typically without the need for registration. Providing the correct solution for this problem would depend on rewarding priority in persistent editorial contributions.

— Michael Zeleny, 22 March 2007 – 12 August 2008


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