John G. Roberts Jr., Judge and Grammarian

Anne Kornblut has an August 29, 2005 article at the New York Times on Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr. The article carries the unexpected title, In Re Grammar, Roberts’s Stance Is Crystal Clear.

Kornblut writes inter alia:

“Judge Roberts’s emphasis on written language came as welcome news even to a Democratic partisan, Theodore C. Sorensen, who served as special counsel and speechwriter to President John F. Kennedy, even if it did not allay his concerns about the opinions Judge Roberts could issue from the bench if confirmed.

“The language ought to be used precisely, particularly by lawyers and judges,” Mr. Sorensen said. “This is the best thing I’ve heard about Judge Roberts so far.” “

[Note: According to the PaulWeiss 2005 alumni directory (p. 19), Sorensen is today of counsel to that firm, at which the Law Pundit was an associate in his younger years.

Many moons later, “Legal Writing” was a course which the Law Pundit taught at the law school level. Precise writing remains at the top of the list of skills which are required for success in law, whether in law school or in the later practice of the legal profession. We agree that Roberts’s penchant for grammar speaks for his nomination, which raises the question of whether it is correctly Roberts’ or Roberts’s? Why do you think so? Is it logic or convention? For an answer, see The Crossword Centre.]

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Law, Land Measure and the Imperial and Metric Systems

EUobserver reports in an article by Lisbeth Kirk that Brussels pressures Britain to go metric.

We have never understood what advantage this is supposed to bring to the UK or anyone else for that matter. After all, the two leading nations of the world, the US and the UK, both still use the ancient inches and feet sexagesimal-type “imperial” system, which is still also visible in the fact that we have 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, 24 hours in a day, and so on. Imagine – for the sake of consistency – now changing those as well to the metric system, e.g. so that we would have 100 deci-minutes in an hour or 30 deci-hours in a day.

It would be chaos.

To this we can add the powerful worldwide prevalence of the 360-degree circle, the change of which to a 300 or 400 degree circle would wreak absolute havoc in all the world’s mathematics and measurement.

At the level of computer users, various attempts have been made here in continental Europe to replace the inch descriptions of computer monitors and screens with metric equivalents, to no avail, since it simply leads to mass confusion and time-wasting relearning with no logical benefit. Computer monitors are advertised and almost everywhere in Europe still described to be 15, 17, 19, 20, 21, etc. inches.

We not only print by dpi = dots per inch, but the well-known pixel = one dot. Our screen resolution is given in pixels. It would then be completely idiotic not to also measure monitor and screen sizes by the imperial system.

It would be even worse for our use and understanding of text fonts if also here we had to go from the imperial to the metric system, since font sizes are give in points, and 72 points = 1 inch. The standard 12-point type is thus 1/6 of an inch, except that Microsoft Windows magnifies fonts by 33% so that only Macs actually render 12-point type accurately, which in the past led to different website text resolution on Macs than on PCs.

The American Bar Association has an excellent article by Mark Senn on its website entitled “Reflections on Some Forgotten Terms of Land Measurement” (published in Probate Property, March/April 2002, Vol. 16, No. 2, pp 8-11, here as a .pdf, and based on a similar article originally published in 19 ACREL News No. 3, Aug. 2001, at 5) which contains a useful summary of the development of both the imperial and metric systems in human and land measurement.

In Germany, e.g. the inch is called a “Zoll” and so now the “new” meter-measuring folding rule is still called a “Zollstock”, even though it generally no longer measures inches but rather centimeters and meters.

The inches and feet system will long be with us in one form or another.

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Cross posted to EUPundit.

OUT-LAW Magazine for IT and e-commerce

OUT-LAW Magazine, a free legal publication, is published by Pinsent Masons
one of the UK’s leading law firms.

OUT-LAW Magazine is produced by this team and has over 12000 subscribers.

It offers
“IT e-commerce legal help from international law firm Pinsent Masons”.

Back issues are available.

The presentation of legal developments as a law firm magazine is surely a futuristic information format worthy of emulation.

German Court Outlaws Links to Websites Offering Circumvention Technology

Immateriblog has an article entitled “German appeals court outlaws links to websites offering circumvention technology” and writes as follows:

“A Munich court of appeal upheld a lower court ruling, demanding that German IT news service Heise Online remove a link to, an Antigua based company selling software enabling users to make copies of copy-protected CDs and DVDs. Legal experts criticised the decision as endangering press freedom.”

(we quote only the first paragraph of that posting – to see the rest, go to Immateriblog, a blog about immaterial goods in the information age)

Life on Mars – A Golfer’s Paradise?

One reads a lot about man’s thus far futile attempts to find “Life on Mars” and elsewhere in our Universe other than on Planet Earth. The LawPundit would suggest that the researchers have simply not examined the ESA photographs carefully enough.

We reproduce a recent photograph of ESA here, showing an ice crater on Mars:

Life on Mars is Golf

Photograph copyright by – ESA – European Space Agency (G. Neukum)

(we of course have added the golf flag stick and the golf player)

Important European Union development: .eu Top Level Domain Name (euTLD) Coming to the Internet

The .eu internet top level domain (euTLD) name sunrise period is to start this October according to the August 15, 2005 report by Lisbeth Kirk at

PriceWaterhouseCoopers, which provides validation services for EURid (that last link shows that .eu already works), has an official FAQ for .eu domain name questions.

To apply for an .eu domain see here for general instructions and then go to the list of accredited registrars, but note first the following:

During the Sunrise Period:

Start phase 1 of sunrise
(public bodies and holders of trademarks may apply for the corresponding name)

Start of sunrise + 2 months : Start phase 2 of sunrise period
(those eligible to apply in phase 1 plus holders of other rights recognised in the national law of a member state may apply for the corresponding name)

Start of sunrise + 4 months
Sunrise period closes and registrations open on a first-come-first-served basis. Validation of names applied for during sunrise continues until task completed.”

The idea behind the .eu domain is to create a European domain identity in Europe to replace (viz. supplant over time) the currently used .com, .org and .net domains, which are registered in the USA.

The .eu domain will operate under the auspices of the European Commission of the EU (European Union). EURid, a consortium of Belgian, Italian and Swedish organisations will operate as the .eu registry.” EURid was selected by the European Commission and is the body which has made the appropriate agreements with ICANN, the governing body of the internet.

EURid has already accredited 200 registrars throughout Europe to allocate the .eu domains. See here for accreditation.

European Union institutions will ultimately shift their websites to new .eu domains. Currently, websites of institutions of the European Union are found at the .int domain.

Numerous .eu domain name websites are already specifically reserved for European Union bodies:

“In accordance with EU Regulation 733/2002 and EC Regulation 874/2004, some names are blocked from ever being registered and some are reserved for use by the institutions of the EU or the governments of member states, EEA countries and candidate countries.”

Such restrictions do not apply to business or private websites. Hence, we definitely expect some fierce legal battles over .eu domain registrations down the road.

Nevertheless, the .eu domain may create more of a “European Union” feeling in Europe than any comparable political or technological move which could otherwise currently be made.

It remains to be seen how the mass of Europeans will adapt to the new .eu top level domain name in terms of both domain registrations as well as surfing behavior.

Cross posted to EUPundit.

Google Library Digitization Project Delayed by Copyright Issues

As reported by Edward Wyatt on August 13, 2005 in the New York Times article “Google Library Database Is Delayed”, plans to digitize university library holdings of Harvard University, Stanford University, the University of Michigan, Oxford University and the New York Public Library have been put on hold because of copyright issues raised by publishing and library associations, who of course are not interested in authors rights of copyright, but rather fear the new digitally based competition. Go Google.

Some useful links on the issue are:

Google Blog

O’Reilly Radar

The Chronicle of Higher Education Daily News

Matt Pasciewicz at Educause

SearchEngineWatch – Google Agreement with U of Michigan

LibraryLaw Blog – Info regarding Stanford Library and Google

Harvard University Library

Bodleian Library – Oxford Google Digitisation Agreement

SearchEngineWatch – Summary of Extent of Planned Initial Digitization (2004)