opinions, everybody's got one...
Saturday, December 07, 2002
Delaware ratifies the Constitution
Delaware became the first state in the United States on this date back in 1787 when the Deputies of the State unanimously ratified the US Constititution.
[December 8, 2002 -- The Wilmington News Journal has information upon this year's celebration of Delaware Day]
rolling around in the blogoverse
These were some of the many things I came across today:
The Trademark Blog has a suggestion for turning the economy around, and it's an interesting one.
I don't know why, but I have a soft spot for fights over animated characters, via 1715 IP on the soft side
Flash fun on a 404 page pointed out by The Shifted Librarian
Andrew Raff, at Shameless Self Promotion, sums up what it's like to be in lawschool at this time of year with two location shots. To all those blogging law students out there gearing up for finals, good luck. You're almost there.
Larry Kestenbaum, at Polygon, the Dancing Bear, writes about his experiences in lawschool, Detroit, and Eminem's new movie in a lyrical manner that has me wanting to go see 8 mile.
The funniest blawg entry I read today is from the author of Lex Communis, Peter Sean Bradley, who writes about how Denise Howell, of Bag and Baggage, has forced him to adopt an alternative business plan.
I was excited when I heard that "I, Robot" was being made into a movie. The title was written by Isaac Asimov many years back, and a screenplay was penned for it by Harlan Ellison almost twenty years ago. The news from Kuro5hin is that the only thing really being used from the short story collection is the name. I'm hoping that it will at least use the three laws of robotics:
What I've heard of Howard Rheingold's Smart Mobs makes it sound like an interesting read. After hearing more about it at copyfight, I may have to stop at a bookstore this afternoon and pick up a copy.
pet peeve of the day
I get pretty aggravated when people approach an intersection with no understanding of traffic signal actuators. They will invariably either pull out into the intersection at the red light, to wait there for the green, or they will wait far back from the intersection. Then after a long wait, they will run the red light.
Traffic signal actuators control many of our roadways' red lights. They consist of wires buried in the pavement which are designed to detect the metal of a vehicle sitting on top of the actuator, and to then cycle the traffic light. If you don't stop on top of the actuator, you will never get a green light. Some of the lights still work on timers, but most seem to me to have been converted to these actuators.
Signal actuators don't work very well for bicyclists since they don't consist of a sufficient amount of metal, and they don't stop in the main traffic lanes.
Here is a picture of an intersection with traffic signal actuators:
Can you see the faded stop line and the patchwork that covers the actuator's wires? If you stop at the stop line, you will be in the proper position to activate the red light to change to green for you, and for me.
Thursday, December 05, 2002
filtering out the bad stuff
We've been following the studies of Jonathan Zittrain and Benjamin Edelman, from the Berkman Center for Internet & Society since July, when they looked at the filtering of web sites taking place in Saudi Arabia. Some recent updates regarding their look at filtering in China have been getting the media's attention, including an article at internetnews.com called China's Filtering Tech Evolving.
ReasonOnline has what I would gauge to be a satirical look at the subject named Filter Tips: What Europe can learn from China's censors:
Translating the protocol into filtering software may be tricky. Ideally, the filter should be sophisticated enough to catch a statement like, "Those French sure are thin-skinned and intolerant." But China has shown that you can make a dent in the problem of dangerous speech even if you can't be 100 percent successful.Zittrain and Edelman have already demonstrated that some European countries don't need the help.
it pays to be connected
But, maybe not always in a good way. An article from the New York Times from a couple of days ago called Doing Business by Cellphone Creates New Liability Issues discusses this topic while looking at auto accidents involving business related calls on cell phones.
media protection for bloggers
Eugene Volokh has written an interesting article about state statutory rights and other privileges given to members of the media, and considers whether those might also apply to people who write weblogs. His article raises a number of questions, without really giving any answers. But, sometimes just framing a question is a pretty good starting point for intelligent consideration of a topic. Another question -- would having an International Standard Serial Number for your weblog (as an electronic publication) make a difference? (link to Volokh article via Lawmeme)
researching the government science
Today was the official launch date for Science.gov. The Official press release (pdf) tells us that this e-government initiative brings us research and technology reports from "the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, and Interior; the Environmental Protection Agency; the National Aeronautics and Space Administration; and the National Science Foundation." There's even a section they've called homework help for students and teachers. There are some nice resources on the federal government's pages. If this makes finding them easier, then I think that it's great.
jurors and net don't mix?
Law.com looks at the potential problems that a court might face when jurors decide to do a little online research concerning information that they hear in court.
The forecast for Delaware is calling for our first snowstorm of the season, starting sometime this morning, and into the afternoon. The last National Weather Service message I looked at threatened the possibility of seven inches of snow for northern Delaware. The central and southern parts of the State are expected to see more rain, and less flakes. There's something magical about the first snowstorm of the season. I'll be reminding myself of that during rush hour traffic in the morning, which is predicted to be the most intense period of precipitation.
Blogging here tonight is going to be light, after preparing for the storm. (Do you know where your snow shovel, and salt, and gloves, and so on are?) I did want to point out Matt Haughey's post over at a whole lottanothing from late November called digital restrictions management. It's an interesting forecast of what might come, complete with screenshots.
Tuesday, December 03, 2002
in the fast food court of public opinion
McDonalds from two different angles, in the NY Times (reg. req'd). One article, Fast Food and the Obesity Problem looks at the fast food industry, and how its members are considering changing in light of the possibility of litigation. McDonalds also gets a mention in Advocates for Animals Turn Attention to Chickens, for their promise to "buy eggs only from producers who do not starve their chickens to force molting and who raise them in cages of at least 72 square inches for each bird, nearly double the current United States average of 40 square inches."
talking amongst ourselves
One of my all time favorite songs is from legendary local band Rocket 88, sung by Mark Kenneally, aka Dr. Harmonica. The first time I saw them perform, the good Doctor was swinging from the rafters, and filling the room with more blues than it could handle, in a place known as the Deer Park Tavern. The band counts amongst its contemporaries the more well known George Thorogood, and Tommy Conwell. The song had a chorus line, which may have also been its name, that went something like this: "I was looking back to see if she was looking back to see if I was looking back at her."
That was what I was thinking of when I read Ernie Svenson's blog entry yesterday called Weblogs are conversations too. It's kind of funny how information travels around the net. Rather than recap, I'll point you to Ernie's expanded take, an Anatomy of a conversation among weblogs . It seems that a number of us were excited to hear Federal Judge Richard Posner's thoughts concerning intellectual property and copyright extensions. One of the fun parts about the decentralized nature of blogs, and the conversation between them is watching how they grow. I've been searching for a transcript of Judge Posner's speech. While the Eldred site had a link to a pdf file of the talk, it wouldn't open correctly for me. Thankfully, Ernie pointed to a copy at the Tech Law Journal. Looking at the Eldred site again, it appears that they've accidentally put up an older (though still very interesting) speech, from the Spring 2002 issue of Dædalus. I'll point the webmaster to the TLJ page. The conversation widens.
Yesterday, I came across a couple of great brainteaser legal questions from Lily Malcolm over at The Kitchen Cabinet. While you'll probably want to look at Lily's much more charming framing of the questions, here are her brainteasers in a nutshell. (I hope that she does more.) One of them asked why a federal court might send a case back to a lower court for "proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion." Why the double negative? Why not "proceedings consistent with this opinion?" The answer has to do with the relationship between the courts. The other asked what might be the "most aptly named case in American constitutional law." (answers)
While I missed out on the glory of being the first to respond with an answer, the double negative question lead me to think of the unusual relationship between trial judges and appellate judges which existed in Delaware between 1897 and 1951. During that time span, the Supreme Court of Delaware was comprised of the state judges who had not heard the case below. This method of final appellate jurisdiction has been referred to as the "left-over judge system." In 1951, Delaware became the last state in the union to create a separate Supreme Court. There were some interesting developments in the way that the court system evolved during the "left-over judge" period. The Court's web site has a great article about that time, called The Supreme Court of Delaware: 1900 - 1950.
Somedays it pays to have a healthy dose of skepticism. One of the phrases that seems to have been repeated around the Law Office for years is "there's always something else." It's a warning to not always accept things complacently, but to also dig beneath the surface a bit. With entries like the hundredth monkey phenomenon, and Bach's flower therapy, I'm a believer in the value of the the Skeptic's Dictionary. And it's just one of many interesting sites that can be found through Tim van Gelder's Critical Thinking on the Web.
it makes calls, too
I thought that I had a pretty good grasp of what the term conspicuous consumption encompassed. After seeing a $19,450 phone (NY Times, reg. req'd), I'm going to have to stretch my definition a bit. (link via gizmodo.com)
Monday, December 02, 2002
There's gonna be no dancing
Last night I had a dream that Kevin Bacon moved to a new town where people weren't allowed to dance. Except, instead of it happening in a small town named Bomont, it took place in New York City. But, after reading the pages of Legalize Dancing NYC, I realized that was an unlikely dream. It may not be mentioned in the Bill of Rights, but I'm tempted to agree that dancing is a fundamental right. Even incidental dancing.
no child left behind
The No Child Left Behind Act is new federal legislation that "redefines the federal role in K-12 education." According to the US Department of Education web site:
It is based on four basic principles: stronger accountability for results, increased flexibility and local control, expanded options for parents, and an emphasis on teaching methods that have been proven to work.There's even a nochildleftbehind web site, which provides more information about how the bill will work.
There's a provision of the Bill that has a number of people worried. In addition to the educational aspects of the legislation, it also includes a forceful, and ham-handed requirement to give military recruiters earlier, and greater access to young teenagers. I looked through the nochildleftbehind site to try to find more on this subject. An explaination of the federal funding for access requirement under the provisions of the Bill. I couldn't find anything along those lines there.
The military does provide opportunities for many. But, should schools be required to report the names ages, addresses, and phone numbers of high school juniors and seniors to military recruiters or risk losing federal funds? Private schools receiving federal monies would also have to turn over information. Wired Magazine considers some of the issues involved in an article called Students Can't Get No Privacy. Mother Jones also covers this increased access to students:
Recruiters are up-front about their plans to use school lists to aggressively pursue students through mailings, phone calls, and personal visits -- even if parents object. "The only thing that will get us to stop contacting the family is if they call their congressman," says Major Johannes Paraan, head U.S. Army recruiter for Vermont and northeastern New York. "Or maybe if the kid died, we'll take them off our list."That adds a slightly different meaning to "no child left behind."
toons in copyrightland
If you've been visiting the Eldred v. Ashcroft web site, you've noticed that they have been regularly adding links to articles about the battle against the Bono Copyright Extension Act. If you haven't, there's some interesting commentary coming out on the litigation from a broad spectrum of the population. The latest addition is an article from Animation World which came out back in April, and discusses how the courtroom drama might affect toondom.
Speaking of toondom, I was exploring Donald D. Markstein's Toonpedia, which bills itself as "a vast repository of toonological knowledge." It definitely is. It surveys some of the early days of animation. While I thought that his page on Mickey was pretty good, I also discovered that before Mickey, there was Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, and before Oswald came Felix the Cat. In addition to the Toonpedia site, I also came across a page on Ub Iwerks, who was one of Walt Disney's closest friends and a collaborator on a number of characters, including Mickey Mouse.
regulating whoopee cushions
The Chronicle of Higher Education, in an article called The Making of a Policy Gadfly, (link via Lessig blog) has an insightful look at the writings of Princeton Professor Edward W. Felten at his blog Freedom to Tinker. The article focuses upon a series of postings in which the inventor and educator explains how Sen. Fritz Hollings' Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act (CBDTPA) will help us by requiring that copyright protections be developed by private industry to allow the federal government to protect digital content. Professor Felton provides a large number of examples of products that will need to be protected under the law in a category of his blog which he labeled Fritz's Hit List. Some of the many examples: Big Mouth Billy Bass, the Shop With Me Barbie toy cash register, the TinkleToonz Musical Potty, and the remote controlled fart machine (a definite must read entry).
San Francisco takes a stand
The Segway scooter has been quickly permitted to grace sidewalks in a number of states and cities around the country. Legislation has been passed which would allow the vehicle to be driven on sidewalks, along with pedestrians. Remarkably, there has been little protest about its use on public walkways. But, not everyone is entranced by the machine. The City of San Francisco is considering banning the scooter.
a law for us and a law for them
Do we have a separate and parallel legal system? That's what the media is reporting:
The Bush administration is developing a parallel legal system in which terrorism suspects -- U.S. citizens and noncitizens alike -- may be investigated, jailed, interrogated, tried and punished without legal protections guaranteed by the ordinary system, lawyers inside and outside the government say.It sounds like a pretty accurate assessment.
Sunday, December 01, 2002
15th annual World AIDS Day
A large number of web sites are taking part in the link and think campaign today to bring awareness of the AIDs pandemic to more people. This is a world wide problem, and while groups like the International AIDS Trust are working to try to make a difference with spokesmen like Bill Clinton (NY Times -reg. req'd) and Nelson Mandela, the most immediate difference you can make is to learn more about the disease, and its prevention and treatment.