No Escaping Blogs and Legal Documentation (e.g. for Patents)

Why There’s No Escaping the Blog is a “Tech Trends” article at Fortune Magazine by David Kirkpatrick and Daniel Roth.

The excellent article also touches on law in the following context:

“Says Bill Gates, who claims he’d like to start a blog but doesn’t have the time: ‘As blogging software gets easier to use, the boundaries between, say, writing e-mail and writing a blog will start to blur. This will fundamentally change how we document our lives.’

Google, the company that Microsoft is playing catchup with (its Blogger.com division is the largest blogging service right now), also expects blogs to become as important as e-mail and IM. Right now, it’s working on ways to better help people find content they want in blogs, says Jason Goldman, Blogger’s product manager. But if Google’s internal use of Blogger is any indication, it also sees it as an essential business tool. Since 2003, when it bought Pyra Labs, the company that launched Blogger.com, Google’s employees have created several hundred internal blogs. They are used for collaborating on projects as well as selling extra concert tickets and finding Rollerblading partners. Google’s public relations, quality control, and advertising departments all have blogs, some of them public. When Google redesigned its search home page, a staffer blogged notes from every brainstorm session. “With a company like Google that’s growing this fast, the verbal history can’t be passed along fast enough,” says Marissa Mayer, who oversees the search site and all of Google’s consumer web products. “Our legal department loves the blogs, because it basically is a written-down, backed-up, permanent time-stamped version of the scientist’s notebook. When you want to file a patent, you can now show in blogs where this idea happened.” [emphasis added]

Read the whole thing here.

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Is all Justice simply "Local" ? – The International Court of Justice

Prof. Eric A. Posner has a Dec. 30, 2004 NY Times Op-Ed entitled All Justice, Too, Is Local, dealing with the status of the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

Posner outlines the decline of the International Court over the years, explaining that decline with a scathing commentary on judges:

“Why have countries abandoned the court? The most plausible answer is that they do not trust the judges to rule impartially, but expect them to vote the interests of the states of which they are citizens. Statistics bear out this conjecture. When their home countries are parties to litigation, judges vote in favor of them about 90 percent of the time. When their states are not parties, judges tend to vote for states that are more like their home states. Judges from wealthy states tend to vote in favor of wealthy states, and judges from poor states tend to vote in favor of poor states. In addition, judges from democracies appear to favor democracies; judges from authoritarian states appear to favor authoritarian states. This is not to say that the judges pay no attention to the law. But there is no question that politics matter.”

It can probably be presumed that judges around the world are no better, defending the vested political interests of their persons and their personal “localities”.

What does this tell us about the rule of law? Whose rule – in any particular country or place – is it?

Anyone who doubts that local “good old boys” run the world just about everywhere has just has not been around this world long enough.

German Parliament Demands 35% German Music

There is a popular play on words, arising out of the reunification of West and East Germany, which recites that former East Germany now has “the capital” of West Germany (i.e. the money) and that West Germany in turn now has “Das Kapital” (the book by Marx and Engels) from East Germany.

Indeed, vast amounts of money have been spent by West Germany on the former East Germany.

At the same time, reunified Germany resembles former East Germany more and more, increasingly impoverishing its inhabitants and moving toward being a less parliamentary republic.

There was in the former East Germany, for example, a strong Communist movement to eliminate hated “foreign” words from the vocabulary. The universally used Italian word pizza was one of these words. The Communists argued that they had to save the “mother tongue”. The East Germans thus created an artificial German word for pizza and required that this made-up word be used by the populace instead of the Italian real thing. Needless to say, that infamous synthetic word has not survived the reunification, perhaps also because there were few pizzas to be had under Communist rule.

How nice it would be if the Schroeder administration and the members of Red-Green had learned something from that past experience. But this does not appear to be the case. We are thus not surprised to read at Tagesspiegel Online that the Red-Green coalition in the German Bundestag (the lower house of German Parliament) has just set an arbitrary 35% quota for German music in the media. (Hat tip to jonet Medialog.) The quota is to be applied voluntarily for the first year and to become mandatory if German media do not toe the line of the new Red-Green “ukase”. [An ukaz was “a proclamation of a czar having the force of law in imperial Russia”].

Is this what the SPD (German Socialist Party) and the German Greens (Grüne) understand as their concept of “freedom” – a freedom of government to dictate to the media and to the populace what they are to transmit and to hear and what not? See also here.

The opposition CDU/CSU has rightly denounced the quota as reminiscent of the days and policies of the despots of the former East German government.

It is remarkable at a time when unemployment is topping 10% and rising (due in material part to the ineffective economic policies of the Schroeder administration), that the German legislators have time to fool around with this kind of media quota nonsense.

Rather than moving backward all the time, the Bundestag and the Schroeder Administration should try to find someone, anyone in their ranks, who is looking to move forward, rather than to return Germany to 1933.

The Catch 22 of Comfort and Pleasure

In a useful posting, especially for young people, but also for middle-agers or those in the later prime of life, we refer to the blog

kuro5hin.org

which has a posting entitled “Comfort and Pleasure” and asks “Are You A Comfort Addict?”

Judging by the sheer number of comments, the posting has hit an important issue.

“Catch 22” is defined at Wikipedia.

Hat Tip to skalpelis at Idiosyncratic Revolt.

German Recycling System Under Fire and Changed

We posted some time ago on the far-reaching incompetence of the Schroeder administration in Germany, citing as one example the absurdity of the German recycling system which has developed under their inept environmental minister.

We are thus pleased to report that the European Court of Justice has found

that the German recycling system violates EU law.

Update:

Apparently, one way to get the German´lawmakers moving in the right direction – few other things seem to work under this catastrophic Schroeder administration – is legal pressure from outside. Just a few days after having the German recycing system declared violative of EU mandates, the German Bundesrat finally approved a new “drink deposit law“.

Blogging in America – A Skewed View

Via The Asian Age we found a rather negative first article of a series on blogging entitled Blogging in America: A view from the Old World by Bertrand Pecquerie, writing out of Paris for MediaChannel.org which describes itself as “the global network for democratic media”. Pecquerie – in an article which in fact seems to have little understanding of “grass roots” democratic media – expresses his

“hope my selection will be appreciated as a European’s interpretation of the American scene”.

As someone living in Europe, we could not let Pecquerie’s statements go unchallenged.

Pecquerie – apparently not realizing that many people in the world do not regard e.g. Le Monde (and similar mainstream newspapers) to be the sole fountain of truth – writes incredulously about the emergence of the Drudge Report (per Google Zeitgeist, Popular Media Queries) as a main source of news for Americans:

“What is amazing about this piece of news is that very few people seem to be worried: the emergence of blogs — not just the Drudge Report but its newer cousins such as Wonkette, InstaPundit and Daily Kos — is now a part of the American media landscape. Organizations with hundreds of staff — including professionally trained journalists and small armies of fact-checkers — are now measured as equals to a single person working out of a basement. But nobody seems to care!”

Do the mentioned blogs gladly see themselves regarded as “cousins”? One really has to read the rest of the article for a good chuckle. Moreover, the Drudge Report main page has a plethora of links – ALSO to “old” journalism. He apparently does not realize that the Drudge Report – whatever its admitted defects – made its name by scooping established journalists (who had rejected the story) on the Bill Clinton / Monica Lewinsky affair and has since had an audience of millions.

By comparison, “news reporting” in France is heavily subsidized by the government and tends to be extremely one-sided due to lack of competition. Indeed, the government even controls the price of newspapers. Anyone who expects fair and impartial investigative news reporting from government-subsidized news media is kidding themselves, regardless of whether the staffs of such media are two or two hundred.

Pecquerie’s article is therefore marked by wishful thinking about mainstream journalism as he writes:

“I am, by now, perfectly aware of bloggers’ arguments regarding the CBS affair concerning the “60 minutes” report about George W. Bush National Guard service. It is said that, thanks to the “guys in pajamas”, truth emerged very quickly. To be frank, I’m not fully convinced. For the following reason: CBS’ competitors would have done the same job, criticizing the sources and the conclusions as they usually do. But it would have taken days and days.”

Or weeks and weeks, or months and months, or years and years, or not at all….

Besides, CBS’ competitors did do the job, and that job was done by bloggers.

Bloggers did not have “fewer” resources at their disposal concerning the “forgery” aired by CBS. Rather, by a combination of blogging efforts, they probably had “more” resources at their disposal than the mainstream could muster – or, more importantly, did muster. Mainstream journalism merely relied on the opinions of a few experts and was solidly beaten by bloggers who went beyond such a noncritical approach.

The lack of critical news reporting in France, especially toward its own politicians, is commented in the posting entitled “French Journalism 101: How to put on the kneepads” at E-nough!, the blog of two females living in France, one American and one French.

Pecquerie’s visualization of a blogger as someone “working out of a basement” indicates a lack of understanding of the persons driving the blogging movement (many highly educated, numerous legally-trained, blogging from offices). He also seems out of touch that a blogger with a laptop (and optimally wifi) can blog from anywhere in the world, even from the poshest cafe on the Champs Elysées.

Blogging may have its drawbacks and not all bloggers are our cup of tea either, but Pecquerie’s thinly researched article is an example of the kind of one-sided journalism that led to the rise of blogging in the first place.

Evidence and Religion

Douglas Harper is definitely one of our favorite internet writers.

In his posting on Christian Fallacies, which should be mandatory reading for all religious fundamentalists of all religions, he quotes Richard Dawkins on the conflict between religions:

“The virtue of using evidence is precisely that we can come to an agreement about it. But if you listen to two people who are arguing about something, and they each of them have passionate faith that they’re right, but they believe different things — they belong to different religions, different faiths, there is nothing they can do to settle their disagreement short of shooting each other, which is what they very often actually do.”

That is certainly one aspect of the explanation for the current world conflicts involving Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Obviously, we could discuss God peacefully on the basis of what is known to be fact, e.g. modern genetics, astronomy (God’s abode), anthropology, etc.

But facts and evidence have something to do with proof.

“Belief” and “faith”, on the other hand, are the “absence” of proof,

otherwise they would be called “knowledge” and “certainty”.

As Dawkins states:

“I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world… Religions do make claims about the universe–the same kinds of claims that scientists make, except they’re usually false… The trouble is that God in this sophisticated, physicist’s sense bears no resemblance to the God of the Bible or any other religion… Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence…. “

We agree. A modern man can believe in God, based on the modern evidence, but this God has no resemblance to the God of the religions and is surely not found in their religious works, which are nothing else but the creations and hypothecations of men who lived long ago in a world where knowledge was scarce and superstition rampant.