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)

Paul Weiss Alumni Directory 2005

I just received the Paul Weiss Alumni Directory 2005. It is always remarkable to read the great variety of things that former members of the firm are doing.

As one example, there is FirmSeek, a marketing and technology firm, founded by a “Paul|Weiss” alum, which caters inter alia to law firms, legal associations, government institutions, universities, non-profits and real estate and construction industries.

A particular sign of the times and a product of the internet age are the FirmSeek “solutions for law firms and professional services firms“.

For example, automation of traditional marketing tasks is a strong point, providing some unique information management solutions.

Definitely worth a look.

RollOnFriday: Law in the City of London

RollOnFriday is a rather unusual legal website devoted to a discussion of “news, views and gossip on City law firms (including what they pay)” plus “the latest legal news and salary information and everything else the slightly bored solicitor requires.”

Compare RollOnFriday to the American site.

A Podcasting Blog at Patent Pod

Patent Pod breaks new ground in the legal field by presenting a law blog which not only has text summaries of recent U.S. Supreme Court and Federal Circuit Court decisions in patent-related cases, but it also offers computer-spoken .mp3 audio files of entire judicial opinions (with some material, such as citations, omitted).

Although the site is intended primarily for patent attorneys, we get the feeling that this blog gives us another important glimpse into the future of law. Indeed, we can easily envision Justices and Judges themselves issuing various types of podcasts to both the news media as well as to the bar, whether regarding case filings, court rules, opinions or CLE. Indeed, such a development is probably not far down the road at all.

Note: We have added Patent Pod to the LawPundit blawg blogroll.

Winpooch: A Real Time Watchdog for Spyware, Trojans and Attempted Registry Changes

Winpooch is a simple free real time watchdog for spyware, trojans and attempted registry changes. Winpooch reports to you in a dialogue box about attempted registry changes BEFORE they are made and gives you the choice of allowing them or not. The default position after the elapse of a certain amount of time is NOT to allow the registry change.

They write about themselves:

“Winpooch is a Windows watchdog. By adding this free watchdog, you increase the safety of your anti-virus. It detects spywares and trojans as soon as they are installed in your computer. The Windows watchdog scans system directories and the registry in real time, and uses very few process resources.”

We have installed the still so-called “unstable” beta version 0.5.4 and it is working well, fending off undesired changes that our installed McAfee Anti-Virus and SpywareGuard programs did not ward off, such as for example a registry change disabling the anti-virus program itself.

We do not know yet how Winpooch will function over the long term, but it looks promising.


We have observed that Winpooch might interfere with the installation of new programs. If Winpooch is installed and running, it might have to be deactivated before installing a new program which refuses otherwise to install.

Update December 7, 2005 to digg visitors (we give up, we have joined digg too):

Welcome! Someone at digg (not us!) has placed a link to this page and we are somewhat overwhelmed by the traffic, which is probably going to put us over our traffic limit at our provider and thus create extra costs, so we are placing the following info for the intellects out there to help cover the possible extra costs due to your visiting this blog in such large numbers.

Stars Stones and Scholars


Book sales help to pay for this site. As long as so many tech-interested visitors are here, some of you might be interested in looking at our book Stars Stones and Scholars as the ideal Christmas 2005 gift for the intellect who has everything, is interested in everything, or thinks he knows everything. This is the perfect book to challenge what is known. Click for details.

Globalization and its Future Consequences

John Mauldin’s Weekly E-Letter of August 5, 2005 at InvestorsInsight presents his book review of The World is Flat, a book by New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman dealing with the globally important topic of the growth and extent of globalization.

Mauldin defines globalization as referring “to the increasing economic integration and interdependence of countries” and adds: “Economic globalization in this century has proceeded along two main lines: trade liberalization (the increased circulation of goods) and financial liberalization (the expanded circulation of capital). Friedman starts with insights on the ten forces that flattened the world. Things like: the fall of the Iron Curtain, search engines, out-sourcing and in-sourcing, the development of software which controls supply chains, a wired and wireless world and more”.

I sent Mauldin’s review of Friedman’s book to a good friend who it turns out had already read the book and offered the following perspicacious comments:

“Yup. I read the book and enjoyed it despite being somewhat put off by Friedman’s smooth-tongued assertions.

Mauldin states that “The shift from a US-Centric world to a more balanced world is going to create a great deal of pain and opportunity, but when the world does sort it out (and it will, if not easily!) we will have a more balanced world economy.” If wishes were horses!

And there’s the rub: the peaceful attainment of this so-called balanced economy, imho, remains very much in doubt. History teaches us that the competition for resources has often been the cause of some of the worlds great conflagrations…

And who’s to say that our competitive partners are prepared to view the world quite the same way we do. (After all, Friedman’s observations, are very self-serving and very US-centric).

– CaryGee”

There is lots of food for thought in those terse but incisive statements.

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Megaliths and Evidence

We find that the archaeologists largely ignore megalithic sites because they are simply unable to deal with this evidence of ancient man’s culture. The mainstream simply has no clue.

As one can see at Yahoo,

our book on the megaliths,
Stars Stones and Scholars: The Decipherment of the Megaliths as an Ancient Survey of the Earth by Astronomy

is currently ranked Nr. 1 at Yahoo!
out of 415 thousand hits for the search term “megaliths”.

In interpreting the megaliths, the major issue is:
Evidence vs. Mainstream (Unfounded) Opinion.

Yahoo Search Internet Law

This is simply the case of the application of normal legal research skills to a previously unsolved problem of archaeology, a discipline in which academic standing tends to rule the game and where actual evidence and proof and sound research appear to be disturbances of the status quo.

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Bookless Digital Libraries of the Future and the Law

The bookless digital libraries of the future are already on their way. CNET’s Stefanie Olsen writes in ZDNET News on “The college library of tomorrow” that book digitization has been well under way for some time, but that the major problem in digitizing books is the law:

“Yet the biggest challenge to digitizing libraries are the concerns of publishers and intellectual property rights holders. Copyright laws have changed over time and can be different outside the United States. As a result, many book-digitization projects must entail copious amounts of time researching the rights of works and obtaining permissions.”

Here again, sensible legislation concerning this inevitable development is once again lacking in the US Congress and elsewhere among the world’s civilized nations.

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RIM and NTP – Blackberry and the Continuing Absurdity of "Method Patents" in the Digital World

We have posted previously and extensively on the absurdity of the method patents being granted by the USPTO in the digital field, and we have pointed time and again to the related issue of the dangers posted by software patents.

We now have another case which manifests all of weaknesses of the current flawed patent laws and patent system.

That case is NTP v. Research in Motion [RIM, the maker of the Blackberry] (case number 03-1615 before the United States Court of Appeal for the Federal Circuit), in which the opinion and order were issued August 2, 2005.

That opinion and order must be construed long-term together with the re-examination of NTP patents being conducted by the USPTO, which indicates that none of the NTP patents may be valid after all. But this reexamination had no direct effect on the case.

The result is a judicial and administrative agency chaos for which the legislative bodies such as the US Congress are at fault.

These men and women, ensconced in their positions of privilege, are NOT doing their jobs, preferring to spend their time e.g. going after Supreme Court nominees rather than LEGISLATING appropriate laws for the modern age and serving their constituencies by so doing.

My mailbox is still full of spam because of ineffective legislation. What is being done here? Moreover, the legislative is permitting antiquated patent laws to be applied to modern high tech digital developments, rather than formulating sensible patent legislation expressly denying method patents and similar modern scams by people utilizing the gaping loopholes in our legal system.

Respect for the law? NOT A CHANCE if one reads what is going on in the patent world – read e.g. Slashdot or Technorati Patents or Blackberry Blog.

More commentary and reports on this case are found at:

Patently-O: Patent Law Blog
Good Morning Silicon Valley
My Likes and Dislikes
Red Herring
271 Patent Blog
Scared Poet

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