March 24, 2007
CBO Report on Long-Term Spending on Entitlement Programs
In fiscal year 2007, spending by the federal government will amount to $2.7 trillion, or one-fifth of the nation’s economic output, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects. The three major federal entitlement programs -- Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security -- will account for about 45 percent of those outlays, or about 9 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). If policymakers leave current laws unchanged, federal outlays will claim a sharply increasing share of the nation’s output over coming decades, driven primarily by growth in the health-related entitlement programs.
Hughes Institute's Deal with Elsevier for (Semi-)Open Source Access
From the Chronicle: "In the ever-shifting terrain of scientific publishing, two big players have jostled the field by reaching an agreement that would trade cash payments for making peer-reviewed manuscripts freely available six months after their publication." (for subscribers) [RJ]
Salaries climb 3.8 percent for professors, survey finds
From the Chronicle: Faculty salaries rose 3.8 percent this year, in part as a result of larger increases at public universities than in recent years, according to a survey scheduled for release today by the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources. Extensive statistics from the survey accompany The Chronicle's report. (for subscribers)
March 23, 2007
Friday Fun: This "So Called Internet"
This interesting 1993 TV news report about a new phenomenon - the "so called internet" - has been in circulation on the Web for years now. In case you have never seen it, you can check it out here:
Mental Health Courts Have the Potential to Save Taxpayers' Money
"Special courts that sentence people with mental illness who are convicted of misdemeanors and low-level felonies to treatment instead of jail have the potential to save taxpayers money, according to a RAND Corporation study conducted for the Council of State Governments Justice Center.
“Justice, Treatment, and Cost: An Evaluation of the Fiscal Impact of Allegheny County Mental Health Court,” was funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare and the Staunton Farm Foundation. The study issued today by RAND, a nonprofit research organization, is the first to look at the fiscal impact of a mental health court anywhere in the United States." [RJ]
Rosen's Law as Culture
The next time someone asks me what books one should read before entering law school, Rosen's Law as Culture will be on the list.
Law as Culture: An Invitation
by Lawrence Rosen
List Price: $24.95
Hardcover: 230 pages
Publisher: Princeton University Press (July 3, 2006)
Book Description: Law is integral to culture, and culture to law. Often considered a distinctive domain with strange rules and stranger language, law is actually part of a culture's way of expressing its sense of the order of things. In Law as Culture, Lawrence Rosen invites readers to consider how the facts that are adduced in a legal forum connect to the ways in which facts are constructed in other areas of everyday life, how the processes of legal decision-making partake of the logic by which the culture as a whole is put together, and how courts, mediators, or social pressures fashion a sense of the world as consistent with common sense and social identity.
While the book explores issues comparatively, in each instance it relates them to contemporary Western experience. The development of the jury and Continental legal proceedings thus becomes a story of the development of Western ideas of the person and time; African mediation techniques become tests for the style and success of similar efforts in America and Europe; the assertion that one's culture should be considered as an excuse for a crime becomes a challenge to the relation of cultural norms and cultural diversity.
Throughout the book, the reader is invited to approach law afresh, as a realm that is integral to every culture and as a window into the nature of culture itself.
Website Usability Resources
CRS Report on FISA
THE FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE SURVEILLANCE ACT:
AN OVERVIEW OF THE STATUTORY FRAMEWORK AND U.S. FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE SURVEILLANCE COURT AND U.S. FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE SURVEILLANCE COURT OF REVIEW DECISIONS
CRS Publication Date: 02/15/2007
Document No.: RL30465
Author(s): Elizabeth B. Bazan, American Law Division
Abstract: This report examines the detailed statutory structure provided by FISA and related provisions of E.O. 12333. In addition, it will discuss the decisions of the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review.
Web Hosting Firm Targets Libraries
LISHost is a low cost Web hosting and design for the entire library world according to the firm's About page. [JH]
Opening: Graduate Assistant, Buffalo Law Library
JD/MLS Program in Law Librarianship
2007-2008 Graduate Assistant, Law Library
The University at Buffalo Law Library seeks exceptional candidates for a graduate assistant position in Reference and Faculty Services.
- A twelve-month, renewable appointment, requiring 20 hours per week of service, distributed as follows:
- Reference (13 hours):
- Provide reference service as needed by library patrons, including five hours on Sundays (noon-5:00pm) and eight hours Mondays through Fridays, possibly including one evening (5:00-9:00pm) per week.
- Update legal bibliographies, assist in identifying and updating links for the Law Library's homepage, preparing new web-based research materials, and preparing teaching materials for first year research and writing classes and other Law School classes.
- The graduate assistant will complete a research project, such as an annotated bibliography, in-depth webpage, or article, which could be submitted for publication or included on the Law Library's webpage. The topic will be determined in consultation with the Head of Information Services and the Director of the Law Library. Research for the project may be performed either when the Library has an abbreviated reference schedule or during quiet times at the Reference Desk.
- Mercury Faculty Document Delivery Service (7 hours):
- Assist with monitoring and filling faculty requests for library materials. Maintain statistics on the use of the service.
These are the hours expected while classes are in session during the fall and spring semesters. Adjustments will be made during intersession and summer.
QUALIFICATIONS: Applicants must be enrolled in the joint JD/MLS program, or hold either the JD or MLS degree while completing the complementry program. Applicants should have completed the first year Research and Writing course or one or more Legal Bibliography courses in the MLS program. Also required: knowledge of legal research and the Internet; demonstrated ability to interact well with individuals. Applicants must be available the week prior to the beginning of the fall semester for training.
EDUCATIONAL BENEFITS: Graduate assistants will gain a full range of professional experience in law library reference services, including in-depth knowledge of the legal research process and both print and electronic research sources, experience in serving multiple and diverse patron populations, and expertise in using bibliographic databases and the Internet to respond to reference questions and to fill Mercury requests. Graduate assistants will observe varying styles in responding to reference queries, and will have the opportunity to prepare their own research for publication.
SALARY: $10.00/hour, plus 9 hours graduate student credit tuition per semester. Graduate assistants in the JD program may also qualify for scholarship awards.
Applications, including a cover letter, resume, and the names and contact information for three references, must be submitted by April 7, 2007, to:
Associate Dean and Director of the Law Library
Professor of Law
University at Buffalo Law School
208 O'Brian Hall
Buffalo, NY 14260
March 22, 2007
New Tool for FEC Advisory Opinions
"The FEC announced that a new tool for searching information about Advisory Opinions is now available at www.fec.gov. An Advisory Opinion is an official Commission response to a question relating to the application of the Federal campaign finance law to a specific, factual situation.
The new process allows for full text searches of all Commission Advisory Opinions issued since the beginning of 1997. The FEC will also add additional material from earlier years as it updates the program with newly issued opinions. Searches can also be made using the name of the requestor and other information about opinions. When a specific opinion is selected, links to all related materials (e.g., the original request, any comments made by others, etc.) are also provided, making the system a quick and comprehensive research tool." [RJ]
Commercial Law Bibliography
See Michael G. Hillinger, Commercial law bibliography, 5 DePaul Bus. & Com. L.J. 179-190 (2006) [Westlaw]
New Book Examines Anarchy and the Law
Anarchy and the Law
The Political Economy of Choice
Edited by Edward P. Stringham
Independent Institute and Transaction Publishers, 2007
$89.95 | ISBN 10-7658-0330-5 cloth
$29.95 | 1-4218-0579-1 paper
Publisher's Blurb: Could society function without a state to provide courts and police? Is it possible for private institutions to be the sole providers of law and order, justice and security? If so, would they be subject to the same competitive forces that are indicative of a free-market, private-property economy? How can the delivery of law and order be improved upon by incorporating into them the responsiveness of market processes and customer-service orientation of market-based institutions? The questions are intriguing, and because they touch upon many disciplines—law, philosophy, economics, history, and more—there seems to be no end to the intense debate they have sparked.
Another reason for the controversy is that the classic texts on non-state legal systems are scattered across several books and hard-to-find journals, making it difficult to study this provocative idea in much scholarly detail. Anarchy and the Law: The Political Economy of Choice, edited by Edward P. Stringham, co-published by the Independent Institute and Transaction Publishers, remedies this deficiency by assembling many of the major studies that explain and debate the theory and practice of law and order under a rule of law without the State.
Part 1 shows how influential advocates of non-state legal systems, from the 1970s to the 1990s, have argued their case. In part 2, philosophers and economists debate the morality and viability of non-state legal systems. Part 3 looks at the history of anti-statist legal and political thought and includes classic writings from the 19th century. Part 4 presents historical case studies from medieval England, Ireland, and Iceland; the Law Merchant; and dispute resolution during the settlement of the American West and elsewhere.
From Google Blog:
"Search is all about finding the answers you need. Unfortunately, some kinds of questions--like where you should stay and what you should do on your Hawaiian vacation, or what kind of digital camera you should buy, or what the latest treatments for arthritis are--can't always be answered in one sitting, or by visiting one site.
That's why we built Google Notebook--to give you an online "notebook" where you can organize all your research, add personal notes to it, and share it with others. Google Notebook surfs along quietly with you as you browse, letting you clip and annotate whatever text, images, and links that help answer your question, all without ever leaving the webpage you're on.
If this sounds like something you'd like to try, you can find it here." [RJ]
Wikiseek Not Ready for Prime Time
Annual Energy Outlook 2007 with Projections to 2030
From the Energy Information Administration: "The Annual Energy Outlook 2007 presents a projection and analysis of US energy supply, demand, and prices through 2030. The projections are based on results from the Energy Information Administration's National Energy Modeling System. The AEO2007 includes the reference case, additional cases examining energy markets, and complete documentation." [RJ]
CRS Report on Changes in State Representation of Circuit Court Judges since 1891
"STATE REPRESENTATION" IN APPOINTMENTS TO FEDERAL COURTS OF APPEALS
CRS Publication Date: 01/24/2007
Document No.: RS22510
Author(s): R. Sam Garrett and Kevin M. Scott, Government and Finance Division
Abstract: Using a comprehensive scholarly database, this report provides an overview and analysis of changes in state representation of circuit court judges confirmed since 1891, when Congress created the modern regional appeals courts. The data reveal that some seats are consistently filled by judges from the same state. Other seats are filled by judges from various states in that circuit. Overall, changes in state representation have occurred in 24% of confirmed nominations since 1891. Changes in state representation were more common prior to the 1960s than in recent decades; 14% of appointments to circuit courts after the Kennedy Administration have changed state representation. The frequency of those changes has also varied by circuit.
March 21, 2007
Professional Reading: Wikipedia and the Future of the Past
In Can History be Open Source? Wikipedia and the Future of the Past, Roy Rosenzweig notes the following about he professional practice of history:
- "History is a deeply individualistic craft. The singly authored work is the standard for the profession"; and
- "Historical scholarship is also characterized by possessive individualism. Good professional practice (and avoiding charges of plagiarism) requires us to attribute ideas and words to specific historians."
These characteristics lead to the following observation:
"A historical work without owners and with multiple, anonymous authors is thus almost unimaginable in our professional culture. Yet, quite remarkably, that describes ... Wikipedia. ... History is probably the category encompassing the largest number of articles."
Can History be Open Source? Are Wikipedians good historians?
Rosenzweig's article seeks to answer some basic questions about history on Wikipedia. How did it develop? How does it work? How good is the historical writing? What are the potential implications for our practice as scholars, teachers, and purveyors of the past to the general public? Can history be open source? Are Wikipedians good historians?
Rosenzweig's evaluation of the athority of Wikipedia is one of the very best I've read. Strongly recommended.
Cross-posted on Law Blog Metrics. Hat tip to Ron Jones.
The FUD of Searching in the Dark
In Think Like a Search Engineer, Eric Enge explains why FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) improves the quality of search engines. He writes, "fundamentally, the value of [a search engine's] algorithm for ranking content is based on observations about natural Webmaster behavior on the Web -- natural behavior in a world without search engines." Webmasters, however, know that search engines do exist. "So the next-best thing is to make it difficult for the Webmaster to understand the nature of the algorithms used. Doing this ... provides a certain amount of randomness, the foundation of all probabilistic models."
In other words, keeping webmasters ignorant improves the quality of a search engine. Unfortunately, search engineers also keep researchers using their search engine in the dark. Webmaster FUD may be a good thing but researcher FUD makes it difficult to evaluate search engines and that's not a good thing. [JH]
Librarians Without Borders Announces New Board of Directors and Executive Officers
Read all about it in LWB's The Compass. As noted in an earlier post, Librarians Without Border's Angola Project (Oct. 25, 2006), LWB helped establish a library in Africa. The group's brick-and-mortar approach is, I believe, unique. It highlights the need to make information available in far-off places where information is not now readily accessible. See UN calls for development of libraries in Africa.
I believe I am the only US law librarian who is a member of this group at this time. Please consider joining. There are plenty of law librarians who are more talented, more energetic, and much more capable of giving their time than I am. I hope you will help LWB achieve its objectives. [JH]