A J.D. degree is not worth what it once was as the legal industry wrestles with unprecedented business changes.
Last evening’s total solar eclipse, the longest eclipse we will witness in all of the 21st century, was a little disappointing for some of the hundreds of thousands of Asian viewers in China and India due to intermittent cloud cover. But it was even more of a disappointment for Web users. Although there were many sites dedicated to streaming live video of the celestial event, Internet traffic overwhelmed most of the servers. People ”had the most difficult time accessing the live Web coverage in the United States due to high demand,” making what could have been a transformative moment for the Internet into a reality-check of IP technology.
The unfortunate lesson is that the Net is still not ready for prime time. Here in Northern Virginia, my Internet connection is rated at 5MB downstream, but despite numerous attempts I was unable to load even one live stream of the eclipse. Perhaps it was a local network issue. More likely, the traffic load from millions of HTTP requests locked out all but a relative handful of potential viewers. Meaning that as a mass medium, today’s Internet is still a failure. We’ve got a ways to go before the Internet can replace traditional media. That’s a sad truth, since other recent news events — from Michael Jackson’s death to the U.S. Airways crash in the Hudson River for instance — foretold a sea-change in substitution of the Web for legacy news outlets.
Mashable promoted the eclipse with a post titled “HOW TO: See the Longest Solar Eclipse of the Century Online.” Not there yet!
There’s an old adage that combat is best characterized as long periods of boredom punctuated by moments of terror. Physicist Brian Greene says that science is a “life of confusion punctuated by rare moments of terror.” I believe that the law is a “life of boring mendacity punctuated by brief moments of sheer terror.” So among law, war and science, that’s two out of three!
Alright, so more than 80% of Silicon Valley's 150 largest publicly traded companies have employees holding underwater options. Everybody's Underwater In Silicon Valley [AlleyInsider.com]. It's happened before, just eight short years ago (2000-03), and that did not deter innovation or investment. Markets are cyclical and sometimes even good companies, especially before positive EBIDTA, cannot maintain market valuations. Nothing unusual about the same thing happening to public companies when panic sets into the equity markets. Stick it out, guys; you've come a long way already.
I have tremendous respect for Prof. Larry Lessig of Stanford — developer of the Creative Commons license, author of Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace and a strong open-source software advocate. One of his most famous essays, from early in the Internet era, was titled “What Declan Doesn’t Get.” But Larry is also a dreamer, taking positions that as a practical matter are idealistic, not realistic. This one, I think, epitomizes that character trait. Lessig (and Others) Asks Candidates to Make Debates More Open [Post I.T.].
Who ever said these were really “debates” anyway? Lincoln-Douglas they are not, having calcified into a series of scripted mini stump speeches, in which the candidates are given a platform to offer bromides but never pressed by the media or engaged with each other. So to suggest that “new media,” bloggers and the like should participate misses the whole point. Major party candidates don’t want to debate. They like the dominance of debates by legacy television media; that’s the whole point, to STAY in their political comfort zone. It’s all good and well to propose otherwise, it’s just quixotic because no one who matters cares.
The offense happened two years ago, but the consequences are only now becoming reality. Ex-Judge Disbarred for Using Penis Pump During Trials [ABA Journal]. The judge, who entertained himself while presiding over capital murder prosecutions, saw his pneumatic proceedings came to an end after a police officer heard the pump’s distinctive signature during a case, and photographed the device during a recess. This is not just what lawyers call a “crime involving moral turpitude,” it’s revolting. (Does it run in the profession? See Cross-Dressing Bankruptcy Judge Lands at Boston Law Firm [ABA Journal]). Humans are sexual beings, but there is indeed a time and a place for everything, including penis pumps. Just ask Austin Powers.
A great headline out of Australia. It’s the Law: Men Do Fewer Chores [Sydney Morning Herald]. But the story is actually that because the Aussie Federal Sex Discrimination regulations offer “an inadequate level of protection for men against discrimination on the basis of family responsibilities it provides a strong disincentive for men to take on a greater care-taking role within the family unit.” Not so different from the US, where despite FMLA, men are still actively prevented from taking paternity leave or using flex-time work arrangements.
This is Judge Stanley Birch’s stirring separate opinion in the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit (Atlanta) to reject the appeal of Terry Schiavo’s parents under the special statute Congress passed last Monday giving federal courts jurisdiction over that single case.
A popular epithet directed by some members of society, including some members of Congress, toward the judiciary involves the denunciation of “activist judges.” Generally, the definition of an “activist judge” is one who decides the outcome of a controversy before him according to personal conviction, even one sincerely held, as opposed to the dictates of the law as constrained by legal precedent and, ultimately, our Constitution.
And if you think this comes from a liberal jurist, you’re way wrong. Birch is from rural Georgia, was an Army lieutenant in Viet Nam from 1970-72 and was nominated to the federal bench by by George H.W. Bush on March 22, 1990. That’s a conservative bio if I ever heard one. And as Ed Brayton from Dispatches from the Culture Wars cogently points out—
We need more judges like Stanley Birch, judges who have the courage to tell it like it is and not base decisions on political expediency.
Copyright © 1995, 2017 by Glenn B. Manishin
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