Archive for the ‘uncategorized’ Category

Melania Trump Tries Again with Defamation Complaint – Without ‘Once in a Lifetime’ Language

Thursday, February 23rd, 2017

First Lady Melania Trump has filed a new complaint against the Daily Mail, this time without the allegation that the Daily Mail’s alleged defamation deprived her of a “unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity … to launch a broad-based commercial brand in multiple product categories, each of which could have garnered multi-million dollar business relationships for a multi-year term during which [she] is one of the most photographed women in the world.” (BBC, The Independent)

That allegation was an attempt to lay the groundwork for a theory of damages to take to the jury – one that would set up a multi-million-dollar ask in closing argument. But it is the perfect example of something that makes lawyer sense without making any practical sense.

What made headlines was indignation that Ms. Trump would try to profit from being First Lady. But it struck me more as an unsupportable damages theory: It just isn’t believable that a false and mean-spirited but fleeting accusation that Ms. Trump was a prostitute could be the straw that broke the camel’s back and caused the collapse of an incipient licensing empire.

It will be very interesting to watch this lawsuit unfold.

What It’s Like to Be a Victim of the Russian Fake News Machine

Saturday, December 31st, 2016

Applebaum columnIn this year of fake news, Anne Applebaum has written a column in the Washington Post, I was a victim of a Russian smear campaign. I understand the power of fake news.

I found the column particularly interesting for the way Applebaum dealt made-up facts about her that would be tedious to refute on a point-by-point basis. Here’s a sample:

Mix truth and lies — my book contract and royalties were described as mysterious income from questionable sources — make ludicrous claims, pass on the lies to other Russian-backed websites, and then watch them pass it on again.

Pew Research Report on Tech and Workers

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

Pew Research Internet ProjectA new report from the Pew Research Internet Project focuses on technology and workers.

The first-listed key finding of the report is this: “Email and the internet are deemed the most important communications and information tools among online workers.”

Two comments: First, I would say that the importance of the internet is not very surprising, particularly considering this survey finding was limited to “online workers.” Second, it needs to be pointed out that e-mail is one application of the internet. So saying “E-mail and internet” is kind of like saying “driving automobiles to work and driving automobiles.”

The report’s summary says:

What is potentially surprising is that even in the face of constantly evolving forms of digital communication, potential threats like phishing, hacking and spam, and dire warnings about lost productivity and email overuse, email continues to be the main digital artery that workers believe is important to their jobs. Since taking hold a generation ago, email has not loosened its grip on the American workplace.

To me what’s surprising is that after all these years we still don’t have more effective ways to deal with spam.

Op-ed on Nuclear Science Experiment and Planetary Disaster Risk

Monday, February 10th, 2014
Twin accelerator rings in tunnel.

Brookhaven National Laboratory's RHIC machine

Prof. Michael Baram of Boston University and I published an op-ed today in the International Business Times: New U.S. Science Commission Should Look At Experiment’s Risk Of Destroying The Earth.

The piece concerns the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider – the RHIC (pronounced “Rick”) – at Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island. The question is whether it might create a “strangelet” that would begin a process of converting all matter on Earth into hyperdense “strange matter.”

Prof. Baram and I argue that a new science commission created by Congress should look at the risks of experiments in addition to their benefits.

How to Stop Annoying Notifications on Your Phone

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

Does your phone give you a peppy little notification sound, but then not give you any indication of what it was notifying you about, even after you thought you turned all the notifications off in all your apps?

Would you like to set an alarm on your phone that vibrates silently, without forcing you to choose some sound to play?

If your answer to either of these questions is yes, then I have the simplest hack in the world for you: Silence.

Here you can download an mp3 file consisting of one second of silence:

[right click to download]

Put this little block of silence on your phone like you would a song.

To get rid of all default sound notifications across all apps, select the block of silence as your default notification sound. If you want a specific app to actually be able to notify you with a sound, then if the app allows you to select a different notification sound, then do so for that app.

To have a silent vibrating alarm, then, with your clock or alarm app, select this as the alarm sound, then optionally select vibrate.

You could also choose silence as the personalized ringtone for someone – if that suits your purposes.

The block of silence – or several of them together – is also a way to add spacers between songs in your iTunes playlist (or Banshee, Amarok, Clementine, or other music player software).

Why did I choose to put this up on the blog today? Well, you guessed it, my phone just made a little notification sound and it left no trace of why.

I like my little phone most of the time, but I’m tired of it acting like everything it does is the MOST IMPORTANT thing in my life.

DING! I JUST UPDATED YOUR AIRLINE APP!! Gee, thanks for letting me know that while I’m getting cut off in a construction zone during a rainstorm. And if your battery level gets too low for your comfort, why don’t you let me know that, too, and I’ll just pull over on the side of this bridge and try to flag down a trucker so I can take care of that for you.

After decades of advancement in electronics, we have somehow circled back to the equivalent of the blinking 12:00 from VCRs of the 1980s.

Maybe technology really is cyclical.

SocialFresh Offers Advice on How To Use Content From Other Blogs Without Infringing Copyright

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

Blogger on bloggin Jason Keath on offers a miniarticle called How To Use Content From Other Blogs Without Violating Copyright. Keath confesses he’s not a lawyer, and I don’t agree with everything he says in all the details. But his post is useful. Here’s a bit of wise pragmatism he offers:

The way you really need to think about copying the original work of another person is, will they sue you? … Even if you are in the right, but you piss off the wrong entity, you may still have to pay significant legal fees.


But let me add the corollary: If you are in the right and you do have the resources, don’t be afraid to peeve off the wrong entity. All of them need their cages rattled.

I’m Guest Blogging at PrawfsBlawg in April

Friday, April 1st, 2011

PrawfsBlawg logo
For the month of April, I will be guest blogging at PrawfsBlawg, a multi-author blog written by law professors about law and professoring. (I’ll continue to be blogging here, too.)

James B. Astrachan: Advertising, Bloggers, and Transparency

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

James B. Astrachan, a lawyer with Astrachan, Gust & Thomas, P.C. and an adjunct professor at University of Baltimore School of Law, writes about blogging and the FTC endorsement rules for the Legal ADvice column in the Daily Record: Transparency in the New Media.

(H’ap: Media Law Prof Blog)

San Francisco Landlord Sues Housing Activist Blog

Monday, June 14th, 2010

In the SF Weekly: Landlord Sues Blog, City-Funded Nonprofit That Runs Blog.

According to the SF Weekly, landlord Rita O’Flynn is suing, a blog operated by housing lawyer-activist Randy Shaw, for defamation.