Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Fundamentalist Wingnuts And Their Odd Sense of Priorities

When FBI supervisors in Miami met with new interim U.S. Attorney Alex Acosta last month, they wondered what the top enforcement priority for Acosta and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales would be.

Would it be terrorism? Organized crime? Narcotics trafficking? Immigration? Or maybe public corruption?

The agents were stunned to learn that a top prosecutorial priority of Acosta and the Department of Justice was none of the above. Instead, Acosta told them, it's obscenity. Not pornography involving children, but pornographic material featuring consenting adults.

Acosta's stated goal of prosecuting distributors of adult porn has angered federal and local law enforcement officials, as well as prosecutors in his own office. They say there are far more important issues in a high-crime area like South Florida, which is an international hub at risk for terrorism, money laundering and other dangerous activities.

Another STUPID Patent

"Nintendo scored a patent Tuesday for a Sanity system for video game, which covers causing a game character to hallucinate - e.g., see bleeding walls and hear maniacal laughter - as its sanity decreases in response to encountering a creature or gruesome situation."

Sunday, August 21, 2005

What I'm Reading Now: The Grunch of Giants

There is no dictionary word for an army of invisible giants, one thousand miles tall, with their arms interlinked, girding the planet Earth. Since there exists just such an invisible, abstract, legal-contrivance army of giants, we have invented the word GRUNCH as the group designation—"a grunch of giants." GR-UN-C-H, which stands for annual GROSS UNIVERSE CASH HEIST, pays annual dividends of over one trillion U.S. dollars.

As world society divests itself of that which experimental evidence demonstrates to be untrue and embracingly enters into its computer the mathematical formulae of all that can be experimentally proven to be true, all the socially, selfishly malignant characteristics of the giant may vanish and the omni-pro-social-advantage-producing capabilities may prevail and flourish.

-- R.Buckminster Fuller, Grunch of Giants, 1983

Friday, August 19, 2005

Patently Absurd Patents

Patent Reform Legislation in Congress Amounts to Little More Than a "Get Out of Jail Free" Card for Microsoft

By Robert X. Cringely

Late last month, shortly before the U.S. Congress shut down for its summer recess, the Senate Judiciary Committee's Intellectual Property subcommittee held an unusual hearing -- unusual because the only committee member attending the hearing was the chairman, Orrin Hatch, a Republican from Utah. Why would such a prestigious committee hold a hearing in Washington attended by only one member? To slam through some controversial legislation, of course. Senator Hatch was trying to pass a new law "reforming" the U.S. patent system and apparently felt it would all go much more smoothly without the presence of the other committee members. And it might have gone smoothly, except someone in the press noticed the unusual hearing and decided to attend, essentially scotching the intended markup of the bill a week later and passage just as an unwary Congress was heading home.

Lord save us from patent reform.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

My Law School Path - Revised Yet Again

I was wary about returning to law school this Fall given the fact that my home life is (or was) in such limbo, so I deferred my return until Spring 2006.

My wife’s job sucks, or maybe I should say her job sucked as she had two alternatives she lined up when she decided to resign – one job option being in Madison, Wisconsin and the other here in Arizona. Just as I swore I’d never return to the upper Midwest, lo and behold she latches on to a position that stood to pay upwards of six figures (her MBA is starting to pay off). The money was very tempting, but threw my law school plans into a tail spin. I had already experienced airport life and home-life-from-a-distance with my experience at Cooley with my residence being in Arizona. Now, I was facing the same thing all over again (Wisconsin commute to California) in reverse. I refuse to do the 2100 mile commute gig all over again and I am less than thrilled about ever returning to the Midwest (although Madison is perhaps the closest exception I would ever make as it is a fantastic community).

In the end, my wife settled for a higher paying job here in Arizona, but it pays a lot less compared to the job in Madison. We’re going to give it a month in her new job to make certain it’s going to work out and not be a repeat of her last wacky company. Considering the owner was Best Man (a great guy) at my wedding – odds are everything is going to work out fine.

I still haven’t made up my mind as to whether or not I will ever indicate on this blog details about my new law school (assuming we don’t end up moving again), although I suspect it won’t be difficult to figure out after a few dozen blog postings.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Another Law Blog / Law Student Blog...

Insightful, depressing and sobering - all at the same time. A good one to add to help one remain firmly planted in the reality of law school and the legal profession itself.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

ThinkFree Office Online is VERY COOL!

I've been playing with ThinkFree Office Online and thus far I am AMAZED. It does have a few glitches here and there, but overall it's imported and exported files in Microsoft formats with near perfection. The 30mb of free space on the ThinkFree site is nice, although at this point I wouldn't trust saving important documents on a free server, as a proof-of-concept it's pretty darn cool. I might change my mind down the road once I have a better picture of the degree of security ThinkFree implements on their servers. Regardless, the service is pretty cool and product is feature-rich and demonstrates the impressive power of Sun's Java.

The best part about ThinkFree Office Online is that I can create and access my documents from anywhere that gives me web access (and supports Java). At this moment I'm using Mozilla to run the ThinkFree Office suite, although Firefox and that thing Microsoft calls a browser also seems to work.

An article about ThinkFree in the market can be found here.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Bush's EU man attacked for Microsoft links

C. Boyden Gray, a lawyer who lobbied on behalf of Microsoft during the US antitrust battle with the Justice Department, was named by Bush late last month as his choice to be America's next EU ambassador.

Georg Greve, the president of FSF Europe, claimed on Monday that this appointment shows the level of political control that Microsoft holds in the US. "[It] is quite an explicit statement of who truly holds the political power," said Greve in an email.

Friday, August 05, 2005

One Big Giant Mess

The link above is probably one of the better articles I have come across regarding the situation in Iraq. It's one hell of a mess.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

EU lawmakers threaten open source

It looks like the Microsoft/SCO lobby is hard at work in Europe. Mind you a company called Google runs on Linux (when you use Google, you are being served by Linux-based servers), so Microsoft can put itself in a win-win situation by not only killing Linux with such a law (something it is anxious to do) using alleged IP claims, but also get Google thrown into the klink as well (since Google uses Linux, which they will argue infringes on Microsoft IP, Google must pay tribute to The Beast of Redmond or die). Good strategy. It'll take time, but I think it will work.

The European Commission has proposed a law that could allow criminal charges to be pressed against businesses using software that is believed to infringe upon another company's intellectual property (IP).

The proposed directive, which was adopted by the European Commission last month, would allow criminal sanctions against "all intentional infringements of an IP right on a commercial scale".

Richard Penfold, a partner at law firm DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary, said last week that the proposed directive could "quite possibly" allow the imprisonment of the boss of a company that is using infringing software, although it would depend on whether the defendant can argue that the infringement was unintentional.

Is Microsoft preparing Linux law suits?

From Distrowatch...

Is Microsoft getting ready for patent infringements law suits against Linux? There are those who believe that this is indeed the case. Their reasoning was given further credibility last week when an independent survey company representing several major IT players conducted a paid survey among IT decision makers. A large section of this survey was devoted to public perception about how Red Hat Enterprise Linux infringes on Microsoft patents. Here is one of the questions: "Given this statement, would you be more or less likely to believe that Red Hat Enterprise Linux infringes patents owned by Microsoft?" The survey then went on to present a hypothetical situation that Microsoft granted patent rights to Red Hat, but not to other Linux vendors, then asked: "How would that impact your interest in deploying other brands of Linux in your IT system?"

Is this a beginning of a new Microsoft versus Linux battle? And are we going to witness an endless series of patent infringement law suits against Linux companies? Whatever it is, it seems that the largest software company in the world is getting more and more desperate every day....

Monday, August 01, 2005

Corporate Deals With Nazi Germany

Henry Ford, a notorious anti-Semite, formed a kind of mutual admiration society with Adolf Hitler. The German dictator enthusiastically applauded American mass-production techniques. "I regard Henry Ford as my inspiration," declared Hitler, who kept a life-size portrait of the American industrialist next to his desk. In 1938, Ford accepted the highest medal that Nazi Germany could award a foreigner, the Grand Cross of the German Eagle...

...After the German occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1939, GM Chairman Alfred P. Sloan commented that the Nazis’ behavior "should not be considered the business of the management of General Motors." The GM plant in Germany was highly profitable. "We have no right to shut down that plant," Sloan declared.

"When American GIs liberated the Ford plants in Cologne and Berlin, they found destitute foreign workers confined behind barbed wire and company documents extolling the ‘genius of the Fuhrer,’" writes Michael Dobbs.

Shamelessly, after the war both GM and Ford demanded reparations from the U.S. government for damage to their German plants caused by Allied bombing. In 1967, GM was compensated with $33 million from the U.S. government for the American bombing of its Russelsheim plant.