Brexit, ideology and abolition

My study/home office is currently in a state of disarray whilst I redecorate and I’m a few pints in on a rather lovely raspberry saision – so this may be a bit rambling. I , like may others, have noticed that most of the arguments still being trotted out against Brexit are entirely pragmatic in nature. There’s no particular case being made for the EU except fiscal and travel. All of the arguments about what rights the UK might abandon and what restrictions the UK might be put in place are things that are entirely mutable from within the UK. If tacking Eu regulations and laws is good, we can choose to do that. If allowing free movement of Europeans into the UK is good, we can do that. If opening up immigration beyond the realms of Europe is good , we can do that too.

The only things outwith our control are those that are within the gift of Europe. Students taking part in ERASMUS, the EU. Sending our goods to the EU with minimal cost and hassle – the EU. Freedom of movement for UK citizens within the EU – the EU. Post Brexit we are free to give the EU and the rest of the world as much freedom to come and live in , co-operate with or trade with the UK as we like. Now what the current negotiating team may or may not do is a different question but governments come and go and if this one closes a door the net may open it. So it’s entirely within our power to let our representatives know what form we want Brexit to take – and it always has been. We don’t have to leave the powers that be reading the tea leaves of broad referendum or inconclusive general elections, we can write to them and tell them “deliver this, or next time you’re out”.

Which rather brings me to the matter of abolition. I’ve been avoiding this for a long time as analogies are tricky and don’t stand up well to scrutiny. However every anti-Brexit article and post I’ve read of late you could quite easily substitute the word “Brexit” for “Abolition”.

If we abolish slavery costs will go up.
If we abolish slavery industry will suffer.
If we fight against slavery taxes will rise.
If we abolish slavery we’ll be the laughing stock of the world.

And so on and so forth. All of the “pragmatic” arguments being trotted out against Brexit, and how it will make us worse off could so easily have been applied to abolition ( and other well known historic events where the UK didn’t follow the crowd ). No it won’t be easy. No it won’t be without cost. No we don’t have the best people in place to handle it. But it’s still the right thing to do. If we want to allow immigration from the entire world based on merit we can only do that outside of the EU. If we want to stop charging crippling tariffs on developing nations – we can only do that outside of the EU. If we want to stop charging tax on tampons – we have to leave the EU.

When you look at the arguments put forth by the remain side, both before the vote right through to the current day – there is no ideology behind it. No sense of what’s right. No vision of a future beyond the convenience to university students traveling abroad, a cheap labour force, cheap goods, and the ability to have a cheap hassle free holiday on the continent. If you went back to the early 1800’s the people arguing to remain in the EU today would have been arguing against abolition, because of the cost and because who knows where it would lead.

The demonisation of ideology, and the abhorrence of paying a price and making a sacrifice for a cause – is somewhat of a plague across the modern political spectrum. Which doesn’t bode well for any of us.

Just 3D sue it


Image by Loubie

The saga of the charming folk at Just3D Print continues, or at least rumbles on, after their last missive to me, I obviously wrote back to them asking for a little clarification:

Thanks for getting in touch. Whilst you say that you’ve been “cleared of any wrong-doing in court” I can’t help but wonder about the veracity of this as:
1) You don’t mention the fact that you lost your case against TechCrunch which was based on very similar claims – so as you lost that one presumably you’ve been found guilty of thousands of instances of copy right infringement?
2) The case you won was on defamation and just because you win a defamation case doesn’t mean that you’ve actually been found to not be guilty of the things the person accused you of.
3) Also as I understand it Stratasys, the only one of your three cases you mention, only “lost” because they didn’t bother to turn up. Which again means that your claim hasn’t been tested.
4) I believe that even in the small claims court people can appeal judgements, I assume you’ll be doing this against Tech Crunch, so until any appeals process is complete it’s really quite hard to say if you’ve been cleared of anything or not.

If you could address these points I’ll be more than happy to consider the information you’ve provided before deciding if any changes are needed to my original article, I’ll also obviously make sure to publish updated information to make sure that an accurate picture is presented.

I would lastly note that whilst damages have been awarded against Stratasys that doesn’t mean they’ve paid if you could provide evidence that they have paid you that would give some indication that they accept the verdict. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to download the court transcript from the very helpful Philadelphia court web site, so if you could provide that so I can see just what the court said in both cases that clears you of all wrong doing that would be terribly helpful.


Quite polite and reasonable I thought, I left it almost a month and no reply so I got in touch with them again saying:


It is now almost a month since I replied to your request that I correct my article asking for clarification of a few points. If I do not hear from you within the next 14 days providing answers to the points raised in my previous e-mail then I will take it that you consider my previous article to be a fair and accurate account of events and that no clarification is required.

I await your reply.”

Well that elicited a reply from them. Their reply was I’m afraid to say to the usual standard, and the same connection to reality that we’ve come to expect from them.

“1. TechCrunch was able to win because they argued their statements were opinion, not fact
2. Not a single person has been able to provide a single copyright # for inspection in court or outside of court so the court held that the statement “Just 3D Print infringed on copyrights” to be false.
3. Stratasys paid $10,000 to an attorney to show up and the case was argued. They lost.
4. If you want to wait for all appeals to wrap-up, that is fine. But you should be aware that in all liklihood your statements are highly defamatory. The only reason you have not been to court yet is that we don’t want to sue blogs/individuals who cannot afford to pay a judgement. We would prefer if you voluntarily took down the piece to prevent any further damage to us.

Their tone isn’t quite as polite as previously, but it is at least direct and to the point. I think it’s worth going through their points to see if they stack up as well as they have in the past :)

1) I haven’t seen the TechCrunch court transcript so this may or may not be correct.

2) Nice to see that their grasp on how copyright works hasn’t improved any since this whole farce began. Obviously all of those copyright take down notices to e-bay which seem to have been upheld and which Just3dPricks seemed not to have contested don’t count in the magical realm which they inhabit. As to a court upholding that “the statement “Just 3D Print infringed on copyrights” to be false.” well I’ve yet to see any evidence of that.

3) Now this is an interesting and bold claim on their behalf as court records are a matter of public record and thanks to the excellent work of Michael Weinberg we can all read the relevant court transcript. It’s not that long and it really does make fascinating reading. One thing it certainly doesn’t do is in any way show that Ryan and pals didn’t infringe copyright, the matter of copyrights isn’t gone into and it’s really not very clear why the judge found in their favour at all. So I’m quite at a loss as to what court case found “the statement “Just 3D Print infringed on copyrights” to be false.”. At the moment it’s not been proven either way in a court as far as I can see, but there are many many e-bay copyright infringement notices against Just 3D Print that were up held. So at present I;d say the available evidence does point to Just 3D Print being knowingly serial copyright infringers. I am of course not a lawyer or anything like that so that’s just my opinion on the matter.

4) What can I say to this generous offer except perhaps “Hah! What a maroon!

whilst I’m half tempted to get back in touch to ask just where a court found ““the statement “Just 3D Print infringed on copyrights” to be false.”“, but I’m not sure I can be bothered at this point. Ryan seems quite divorced from reality and arguing with over delusional over privileged arseholes* isn’t the most fun use of my time I can think of. I will though of course watch how the legal situation develops in the US and post updates as and when.

Oh and for the record Ryan considers my account and opinions on his activities to be incorrect, but then he also things that publishing something under license revokes copyright so I don’t really put much stock in what he has to say.

* I apologise to arseholes everywhere for associating them with Ryan and co over at Just 3D Theft.

Regret, apologies, offense and upset

I recently got into a bit of a debate or if you prefer an argument with someone about uses of phrases such as:
“I’m sorry that you found that offensive”
compared to:
“I’m sorry that I offended you”.
Their view was that the former was a poor excuse of an apology and was worse than not simply not offering an apology, that if you were sorry then you should apologise for causing offense not try to make it the other persons fault, and that such phrases are attempts to invalidate the other persons point of view. Now obviously that’s a summary and from my memory only (as I’ve since been blocked so can’t quote anything), also obviously I held a differing point of view.

Now whilst I do have some truck with the opinion that people take offense and so being offended is very much the problem of the person who is offended. A view put rather well by the comedian Steve Hughes:

However on this occasion that wasn’t what I wanted to argue, my view was that there are times when being sorry that someone feels offended and not being sorry that you offended them is a perfectly valid and coherent stance to take.
The most obvious example being our archetypal bigot:

Bigot: That thing offends me
Person: I’m sorry that you find that offensive ( because it indicates you’re a terrible person and you’re making your own life miserable for no good reason, which is really sad – but I’m in no way sorry for whatever it is you took offense to).

I can think of numerous examples where similar sentiment might apply, you can quite easily be sorry that someone feels a particular way or has a particular opinion without being sorry that you caused that feeling or having any attention to do anything to avoid causing that feeling again. Now at this point something interesting happened they started using the word “upset” rather than “offended”. I commented on this as I consider them to at the very least imply quite different things, but I was then told two things:
1) That they were synonyms
2) That the person didn’t want to get into a semantic debate.

Now I’m really not sure how you can discuss the meaning and use of sentences without getting into semantics, you do after all need to make sure you all have the same understanding of the words being used. Which we clearly didn’t which I’d have quite liked to have discussed. However lets for now set that aside. The claim that the words “upset” and “offended” are synonymous is quite interesting. Firstly words being synonymous doesn’t mean they are identical at least not according to Merriam Webster:

“one of two or more words or expressions of the same language that have the same or nearly the same meaning in some or all senses”

So synonymous words doesn’t always mean the exact same thing, and “upset” and “offend” only nearly mean the same thing in their tertiary uses. So the change from offended to upset is not a trivial change to the argument. Which is where I think our confusion arose and where the false comparison between the phrases in question is made.

The other confounding factor is the word “sorry” which is also delightfully ambiguous.
1. feeling sorrow, regret, or penitence
So when you say your sorry it may be that you feel sad about the thing, you may regret it or you may be penitent, only in the last case does it apply an apology. Which I think comes to the nub of the confusion, when I read the two phrases I see it as being quite possible to read them as:
“I regret that you’re angry at my actions” or “I regret that you consider my actions to break your moral code”
“I’m penitent that I caused you to be emotionally troubled” or “I regret that I made an error that vexed you”
The phrases are saying quite different but equally valid things, in both cases the person offended/upset may be genuinely experiencing discomfort from an honestly and profoundly held position. Depending on the context I may or may not care and may or may not intend to do anything to ease that discomfort. I may just be saying that your response is making me sad.

I think however the person I was trying to discuss this with reads the same phrases as:
“I’m penitent that you decided to be vexed by my actions”
“I’m penitent that I caused you discomfort”
The first is obviously nonsense, as you can be penitent for someone elses behavior ( no matter what modern politicians try to claim), and thus it is a sorry excuse of an apology. So with a bit of discussion of the semantics we could possibly have determined that the confusion arose because they read both sets of statements as apologies, where as I only read the latter as an apology. If it were to have any meaning the former phrases couldn’t be apologies but could only be statements of regret. All of which hidden by just what particular meaning you ascribe to the words used, because English can be both very precise and remarkably vague ( not helped by the British habit of apologising for everything ).

So I regret that the points I was trying to make caused the other person to take offense and I apologise that I inadvertently vexed them. However one really can’t discuss the use and meaning of phrases without discussing both the semantics of the words used and the context in which they might be uttered.