Friday, August 17, 2007

Court Decisions

One of the few things I know for certain is that the mainstream media (blogs, newspapers, radio and especially television) get court decisions wrong. I know why that is, but that doesn't change that the reporters rarely understand what's actually been decided.

Legal parlance is obscure at best and very few reporters have any training in law at all. Add to that that most court decisions, especially supreme or appellate court decisions, are lengthy affairs. The reporter, who is generally results oriented, has to make a quick decision as to what the relevant bits are for the story. The story that results typically gets some of the results correct, but rarely the rationale.

Even the most activist court in the land rarely issues a broad change in the law. From a judicial standpoint, a Roe V. Wade decision can be a nightmare, triggering years of dependent litigation as the courts try to sort out what rights have been changed, created or eliminated.

Furthermore the press typically discusses courts, especially the Supreme Court in political terms, conservative or liberal. This is not very meaningful. For example, Justice David Souter was nominated by Pres. George Bush Sr, he was and (I presume is) a Republican. I'd be startled to find out that he does not vote the straight party ticket. Politically, he's a conservative fellow. Judicially, he is not a usual ally of Justices Scalia and Thomas. In judicial terms, he's a developmentalist, to a certain extent.

Moral of this entry? Don't believe what you read. The Internet is glorious in that even if you don't want to bother checking the source material, you can check out opinions of persons you trust about the source material.

In my case, that would be Eugene Volokh and his merry band of libertarian law professors.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


Ok, ok, I really am a total nerd. I want one of these.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Be still my heart!

An entire website dedicated to great tits!. Enjoy.



I think this is just plain cool. I really hope it proves to be commercially viable.

The End Justifies the Means

The American Red Cross is an organization that does much good work, no doubt about it. I've been very supportive of it over the years by donating my time, money and blood (5 gallon pin). But it appears that all the good they accomplish has given them a world class case of entitlement.

In 1887 Johnson & Johnson began using the red cross logo on their medical products. In 1895, Clara Barton, founder and head of the American Red Cross reached an agreement with Johnson & Johnson that allowed the American Red Cross to use the Red Cross emblem, but only for items that did not compete with Johnson & Johnson's commercial products.

In 2004 the American Red Cross began licensing products under its name for sale.

Apparently, Johnson & Johnson is somewhat upset that the 112 year agreement has been breached. What I find interesting is that the American Red Cross disputes none of the facts, but instead defends its conduct purely upon the idea that the American Red Cross is engaged in noble work and therefore is entitled to as it pleases. I'm amazed that Johnson & Johnson would take on the American Red Cross. J & J has the facts and the law, from what I've read, but the ARC has a tremendous reputation. Of course the press is already lining up on behalf of the embattled charity (and getting its facts wrong, as usual). On the other hand, the Internet is a wonderful place, and it's much more possible for a company to get the facts out these days than in years past.

Quite frankly, I don't understand why the Red Cross didn't use the alternative symbol for the commercial products. That would make such products usable internationally and avoid any possibility of trademark infringement.


I'm currently listening to Jasper Fforde's latest Thursday Next book, First Among Sequels. It's an excellent listen but I'm close to the end. That's good.

Up next is a book by Martha Stout: "The Sociopath Next Door". I suspect it's going to be fairly pop psychology, but I have a great interest in the subject of antisocial personality disorder. I've known at least two church leaders who were sociopaths, in my opinion. I've known others in the secular world that have shown signs of being that way. None of the ones I've known are anything close to the popular image of a sociopath as a serial killer.

The problem of sociopathy is this. Psychology has pretty much abandoned any hope of treating it. At least that's my understanding of modern psychology. How does one convert a sociopath? How do you bring a man without a conscience to Christ? I know that with God all things are possible, but this, along with the problem of pain are the two great challenges to my faith. How can a woman without love and without knowledge of sin come to God?

I wish I knew an answer to that.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Blinded Me With Science

And this is why I'm not PC.

Historical note

When people discuss the 'glory days' of Islamic science, they're discussing two different periods, separated not only by time but also by space. The first period occurred rather briefly in Baghdad around the 9th and 10th centuries AD. The second in Spain about the 14th century. Neither period lasted long and, maybe I shouldn't point this out, a great many of the scientists and mathematicians responsible were not Muslim. They were Jews.

I'm not belittling anyone's accomplishments. But intellectual curiosity basically died in the Arab world after the 11th Century. The Spanish period was probably an aberration under very special circumstances.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

What is it about Denmark?

I've just ordered Bjorn Lomborg's new book about global warming. I thoroughly enjoyed his previous book and so Amazon gets yet more of my hard earned shekels.

I'm not sure if there's something about Denmark that breeds a gentle, rational skepticism, but Lomborg and Kierkegaard are only two of my favourite Danes.