Geoff Nunberg and Paul Duguid's "Quality of Information" class



I'm taking a great class taught by Geoff Nunberg and Paul Duguid, "The Quality of Information", where all the students will blog over the course of the semester... come join us:

The Atom syndication link is here. The course reading list and syllabus so that you can follow along is here.

NIH: Enhanced Public Access to NIH Research Information

copyright, open source


Establishing a comprehensive, searchable electronic resource of NIH- funded research results and providing free access to all, is perhaps the most fundamental way to collect and disseminate this information. The NIH must balance this need with the ability of journals and publishers to preserve their critical role in the peer review, editing and scientific quality control process. The economic and business implications of any changes to the current paradigm must be considered as the NIH weighs options to ensure public access to the results of studies funded with public support without compromising the quality of the information being provided. The NIH has established and intends to maintain a dialogue with publishers, investigators, and representatives from scientific associations and the public to ensure the success of this initiative.

This is a great sign... the NIH will open up the results of publicly-financed research and make it available to all. This is exactly what we want in an incentive system like public subsidation of research. (Did I mention that I'm taking Suzanne Scotchmer's "Economics of Innovation" class?)

Indymedia Reporter as "Political Prisoner in NYC"

elections, news, wtf?, secrecy, chilling effects


You really do have to read this if you have an extra 15 minutes. It's the complete story of an Indymedia reporter who was detained at the RNC for 40 hours. Amazing. Here's some highlights:

Once the five of us are done and recuffed we are walked down a hall to the mug shot room. I'm uncuffed and told stand at a particular place. There's a bright light in my face and I barely see two cops seated in front of me. One is at a computer keyboard and another is watching a football game on TV. Moments later, I'm told to leave. There was no flash or obvious clicking of the shutter. Everything is digital and happens quickly.

Our chain gang of five is led into another cell area that looks like a visiting area. It's a long room sliced into thirds with small octagonal stools mounted to the floor. Under normal circumstances, I imagine the middle section is where visitors enter to talk with prisoners through the grate walls on either side. Currently, it's occupied by two chain gangs of girls. Women! I haven't see women in like 15 or 20 hours. I see Nadxi and Liz. My spirits lift. I realize how grateful I am to live in a world where I see women every day. Prison really is one big sausage party. No thanks. Don't need it.


We are now in the Tombs, a multistory complex where prisoners wait for trial. Welcome to the care of the Department of Corrections. The first thing I notice is an 8.5x11 color printout of a large W covered by a red NO symbol pinned up on the wall by near the corrections officers' desks. I can't tell if that's irony considering who most of the prisoners are or if the officers are also not down with Bush. When I hear a correction's officer approach from down the hall chanting 'FUCK BUSH, FUCK BUSH', I think I know the answer. Or is he just try to make nice with all of us? Considering that 81% of NYC residents are not down with the RNC in their town, I think it's pretty likely that what I'm hearing and seeing is genuine.


I chat with an activist who has had some experience getting arrested during direct actions over the years. He tells me that during the Mayor Dinkins and Koch years, things weren't so bad, you'd get out fairly quickly, usually under 12 hours. When Guliani took over things became much different. He tells me that you get busted for simple possession of pot and expect to spend 3 days in the Tombs before seeing a judge. Part of Guliani's 'quality of life' initiative and all that. We talk a bit about different pleas and that's when I learn about ACD, which stands for Adjournment for Contemplation of Dismissal. ACDs are common outcomes in civil disobedience cases or situations where the charge is simply a violation. If the district attorney offers an ACD and you accept it, there is no judgement of guilt, but you have to avoid being charged with the same violation for the next 6 months. If you are charged, they can reopen the initial case and try you. Mr. Activist Dude tells me it's very rare that happens. Most of the time the city doesn't want to bother opening old cases, just too much work. He tells me has gotten 5 ACDs over the years.


Word comes from Scott that some lawyers for the National Lawyer's Guild have petitioned the court for a writ of habeas corpus on our behalf and that a judge has signed it. This is supposed to mean that anyone held for over 24 hours will be released by 1am. That's ME!! FUCK YEAH! I'm elated as balls. It's just after midnight now and I'm packing my bags, mentally of course as I have nothing. Then the bad news hits. The fucking district attorney has stayed or is ignoring the writ. If this sticks that means we're back in limbo. We're told to call the NLG back at 1:30am to find out the status.


Someone has a list of RNC staffers cell phone numbers. To while away the time, someone decides it's time to put the free calling card to more creative use. There's talk of pranking and social engineering. I find the whole thing ironic as Emmanuel Goldstein, the master of social engineering, lies on the floor nearby trying to squeeze in an ounce of sleep amongst the noise and glare.


A bit later, an NLG lawyer steps in to cage calls out my name. Finally, I get to see a real flesh and blood lawyer. He shows me some court documents and that's when I find out I have three charges against me. Officer Shore had told me I was just being charged with Disorderly Conduct but it turns out there are two counts of Disorderly Conduct and one count of Parading Without a Permit. Three charges total. I recount my story to the lawyer and explain that I was on the sidewalk on the opposite side of the street from where the marching band and action were when the cops penned us in. I was simply taking pictures, not parading or blocking the traffic on the street or sidewalk. Totally false arrest. He asks if I want to fight it. I ask what my options are. He explains ACD to me and says that would be typical in a situation like this. I ask if taking the ACD would make me ineligible for any class action suit that may arise and he says no. As much as I would like to fight this bullshit charge, I really don't want to fly back to New York for another court date which could easily turn into multiple court dates and flights. He says I could also plea guilty and probably pay a $40 fine and be done with it. No way. I would rather fight it and find a flight back than let the police get away with that. He says he'll check with the DA and see if ACD will be offered to me.


I pull out the piece of paper that describes where to go to get my property back. It's a few blocks away. I walk over and notice a line of maybe 75 or 100 people waiting in the hot mid-day sun. I ask how long some people have been waiting, the consensus is it'll take about 2 hours to get my property back. I decide to leave and come back later in the evening when the line thins out.

I had forgotten about needing to visit the DA to get my camera released. I double back to the courthouse and shoot up to the 7th floor. I sign in at a desk and am told to wait in the elevator lobby. Within about 15 minutes a clean cut suit shows up and collects my completely illegible pink property form. He soon comes back with a letter on District Attorney letterhead stating that my camera is authorized for release. That turned out to be much easier than I expected.


Nader op-ed in WP: "Parties to Injustice"

elections, news


This summer, swarms of Democratic Party lawyers, propagandists, harassers and assorted operatives have been conducting an unsavory war against my campaign's effort to secure a spot on the presidential ballots in various states. It is not enough that both major parties, in state after state, have used the legislatures to erect huge barriers, unique among Western democracies, to third party and independent candidacies. Now they are engaging in what can only be called dirty tricks and frivolous lawsuits to keep me and my running mate, Peter Miguel Camejo, off the ballot while draining precious dollars from our campaign chest.

Ralph, what the hell are those of us that want Bush out of office supposed to do in the face of your indifference to the facts?

What facts? Among others, that the majority-takes-all of electoral college mechanics means that we don't have more than two parties. And Ralph, as if you haven't been cozy with the GOP to get where you want this summer. You're a great guy with great ideas, but goddamnit... there are vastly superior ways you could affect change on the side of good instead of the side of (as we say in the South) shitting in the punch bowl.

Ahnold stumbles: The Nixon-Humphrey Presidential Debate Never Took Place



It will be interesting to see how this pans out... Arnold didn't even sorta mess up, he messed up pretty big here.

At the Republican Convention, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said he became a Republican after listening to a televised debate between Hubert Humphrey and Richard Nixon in 1968.

In his address, he described arriving in the United States from Austria and hearing Richard Nixon challenge Hubert Humphrey in a televised presidential debate:

"I finally arrived here in 1968.I had empty pockets, but I was full of dreams. The presidential campaign was in full swing. I remember watching the Nixon and Humphrey presidential race on TV. A friend who spoke German and English, translated for me. I heard Humphrey saying things that sounded like socialism which is what I had just left. But then I heard Nixon speak. He was talking about free enterprise, getting government off your back, lowering taxes, and strengthening the military. Listening to Nixon speak sounded more like a breath of fresh air.

I said to my friend, "What party is he?" My friend said, "He's a Republican." I said, "Then I am a Republican!" And I've been a Republican ever since!" (complete speech here)


Although Humphrey challenged Nixon to a debate, there was no debate between Hubert Humphrey and Richard Nixon in 1968. Arnold Scharzenegger could not have seen it on TV, because it never took place. In fact, there were no presidential debates between 1960 and 1976.

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