December 3, 2008
What Don't We Know About the Bailout?
OpenTheGovernment.org has put together a nice page documenting the lack of transparency with regards to the financial bailout. Shockingly, What Don't We Know About The Bailout, draws mainly from news sources with very few official government publications. Check out LLB's earlier post Mark Cuban Launches Bailout Watchdog Blog for more information on the topic. [RJ]
Avoiding IT Project Disasters
According to Norm V. Brown, there are 11 “Laws of IT Physics.” These “laws” highlight hidden pitfalls the hurt many IT projects and help explain why some projects succeed while others fail.
- Planning is a continuous process, not a one-time event.
- Complexity kills IT projects since defects and security vulnerabilities increase non-linearly with increased complexity.
- Schedules and project chaos create event horizons, from which a project cannot recover.
- The initial requirements for any large system will be incomplete, independent of the resources expended to develop them.
- Unvalidated requirements pave the road to project failure.
- You can’t manage what you can’t see.
- Poor defect management causes high rework and leads to project failure.
- Unknown and untreated vulnerabilities originating in ineffectually implemented processes destroy IT projects.
- Thoughtful, knowledgeable, committed people operating as a team are critical to IT project success.
Details on Tech Republic. [JH}
December 2, 2008
Grade "Reform" in a Down Labor Market: Get Your Free 0.1 Point at USC Law
Above the Law is reporting that USC Law is proposing to tweak the School's grading curve by setting the average grade in each first-year course at 3.3 rather than at 3.2. The effect of this proposed change would be to raise each first-year grade by 0.1. The proposal will be voted on Dec. 18th.
According to ATL, the grade "reform" is "basically telling everybody 'look, the economy is in the toilet and we just can't get our students jobs right now. We're scared and they're terrified. So, we thought that if we gave them an extra .1, it might help. Really, we're out of options at this point.'" [JH]
Voting Underway for the 2008 ABA Journal Blawg 100
The editors of the ABA Journal have selected 100 law blogs for the Journal's second annual blog award contest. Voting in ten categories ends Jan. 2, 2009. Yes, it is a popularity contest but this one has the backing of the ABA Journal.
Congratulations to the five blogs in our Law Professor Blogs Network that were nominated this year.
Crime: Sentencing Law and Policy
Professors: Law School Innovation and TaxProf Blog
Niche: Brian Leiter’s Law School Reports and Legal Profession Blog
For more, see the ABA Journal's December 2008 cover story, The Blawg 100.[JH]
Google: The Open Access Ideal and Compliance with Foreign Laws
In Google’s Gatekeepers, a New York Times Magazine feature article, Jeffrey Rosen (George Washington) examines Google's attempts to provide open access to online content while complying with the demands of governments interested in censoring that content. Such demands range from denying access to Holocaust-denial sites in the German and French versions of Google because denial of the Holocaust is againat the law in both countries to blocking access to YouTube videos that insult Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey because that's a violation of Turkish law. And then there is China... [JH]
First Books on Heller Published
This summer the Supreme Court had its first opportunity in seven decades to decide a question at the heart of one of America's most impassioned debates: Do Americans have the right to possess guns? Two new books now present a history and legal analysis of the Court's ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008): Brian Doherty's Gun Control on Trial: Inside the Supreme Court Battle Over the Second Amendment (Cato, December 25, 2008) and the highly recommended The Heller Case: Gun Rights Affirmed by Alan Korwin and David B. Kopel (September 17, 2008).
It's far to early to characterize a work on Heller as definitive but The Heller Case: Gun Rights Affirmed is far more comprehensive than Doherty's Gun Control on Trial. It includes the events from how it all started to eyewitness reports from inside the courtroom -- to the earliest post-case legal briefs, lawsuits, gun-rights theories, statements from officials and news-media coverage following the landmark decision. The work incorporates a thorough description of every gun case the High Court has ever heard -- all 96 -- including 16 self-defense cases rarely mentioned publicly. Anti-rights activists are planning creative interpretations of the decision to continue their disarm-America campaign and that's covered too. Plus, all 67 friend-of-the-court briefs are carefully summarized, and 20 leading Second Amendment experts have contributed essays discussing the case and its implications. [JH]
Cornell Law Library's InSITE Website Reviews
Reviews published in the November 17th, 2008 issue of InSITE:
- Audiovisual Library of International Law
- FARAdb: Foreign Agent Registration Act Database
- Nuremberg Trials and Their Legacy
- Women's Environment & Development Organization
The UN Audiovisual Library of International Law (ALIL) serves primarily to facilitate the teaching, study, and appreciation of international law across the globe. It is a unique multimedia resource that combines still images, documentation, video clips, and audio recordings to illustrate and explain issues of international law generally, and within specific subject areas. The site is organized into three primary areas. First, the Historic Archives provide materials and documentation evidencing the negotiation and adoption of major UN legal instruments since 1945. Second, the Lecture Series features video lectures on a wide range of international subjects by leading scholars from different countries and legal systems. Third and finally, the Research Library contains extensive, well organized, links to free, reputable, and authoritative international law sites with jurisprudence, treaties, publications and documents, and scholarly works and research guides. While ALIL can surely be used to provide supplemental teaching materials, it also serves as an excellent international law research resource in its own right. [JJ]
The Foreign Agent Registration Act database (FARAdb) is a project of the Sunlight Foundation. The Foundation “supports, develops and deploys new Internet technologies to make information about Congress and the federal government more accessible to the American people.” With the FARAdb, Sunlight Foundation seeks to make available to the public information about lobbying done on behalf of foreign governments. The Act requires that lobbyists file biannual reports detailing which members of Congress were contacted, the country represented by the lobbyist, and the specific issues discussed during the contact. The database, dubbed “an experiment and a work in progress,” contains lobbyist filings from 2006 and 2007 representing fifteen foreign countries. While this is a fraction of the data available, Sunlight Foundation strives for geographical diversity in the database. Users may search the database by legislator, client, lobbying firm, or contact issue. Each record provides details of each contact made, including date of contact, lobbyist, lobbying firm, country represented, method of contact, legislator contacted, and the issues discussed during the contact. While the database is new, it is one to watch. [MM]
The Nuremberg Trials and Their Legacy is an online exhibition of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) and offers descriptions of various aspects of the trials including the laws and principles at stake, the profiles of the defendants and participants, the decisions reached and the long-term legacy of the trials. Most of these are links to relevant sections of the overarching "Holocaust Encyclopedia" maintained by the USHMM and with additional contextual links to "Testimony," "Artifacts" and "Programs" (listings of relevant upcoming events at the museum). The "Testimony" section is particularly compelling, presenting videos and accompanying transcriptions of the recollections of some of those involved in the prosecution of the Nuremberg trials. A good search engine is available on the site, but again this serves as an index for the overall Holocaust Encyclopedia, not the Nuremberg Trials online exhibit specifically. [JPC]
The Women’s Environment & Development Organization (WEDO), founded in 1991 by Bella Abzug and Mim Kelber, is a global human rights organization that advocates on behalf of women with an emphasis on social, economic, health and political issues. Working primarily within forums such as the United Nations, WEDO performs its advocacy through four specific programs: Economic and Social Justice, Gender and Governance, Sustainable Development, and U.S. Global Policy. A notable element of the website includes an effort to educate the reader about women’s issues through the “WEDO Library.” The WEDO Library provides links to free downloadable articles, governmental reports and declarations, and organizational newsletters. These resources are broadly organized by topic and most are available in either MS Word or Adobe PDF. There is no further organization of the articles beyond the primary topics under which they are grouped, and although there initially appears to be a fair selection of resources, there is some redundancy as several resources are listed under more than one topic. WEDO’s most recent newsletter dates back to July 2008; however the “Press Room” section does offer several current downloadable press releases including one as recent as November 10, 2008. The site is well organized and easily navigable with a consistent tool bar provided at the top and side of every page, but the most efficient way to find a particular author or topic is to use the basic search engine powered by Google. A user may sign up to receive news from WEDO by email, and may even designate the topics about which he or she would like to receive emails, and whether those emails should be delivered only in text. This is a simple website with a narrow focus on content, ultimately providing the reader with a full understanding of the organization’s purpose and the issues underlying that purpose. [AE]
InSITE contributors: J.P. Cusker, A. Emerson, J.Jones, M. Morrison, J. Pajerek (editor)
InSITE highlights selected law-related Web sites in two ways: as an annotated publication issued electronically and in print; and, as a keyword-searchable database. The law librarians at Cornell evaluate potentially useful Web sites, select the most valuable ones, and provide commentary and subject access to them. This information can be accessed via the channels below, in addition to this mailing list:
- Searchable database or by browsing current and archived issues on the web: InSITE home page (http://library2.lawschool.cornell.edu/insiteasp/)
- RSS feed (http://www.lawschool.cornell.edu/lawlibrary/insiteasp/public/rss.asp)
- Print format for the Cornell Law School community.
December 1, 2008
December Issue of AALL Spectrum Online
The December issue of AALL Spectrum is available online. This month’s articles feature:
- how to use online collaborative tools for long-distance teamwork
- a call for photographers for the 2009 Day in the Life photo contest
- why setting legal research benchmarks creates more effective training in law firms
- law libraries can save both energy and money with eco-friendly policies
- a quick-start guide to international legal research
- how to show upper management what law librarians do for them
Can Your Blog Give Your Boss Clues to What Projects Should Be Assigned to You?
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment is a personality test employers use as a means to sort out the workforce into productive assignments best suited to individual strengths and weaknesses. It has also been used in modified form to select juries. And now it is the "basis" for analyzing bloggers.
Typealyzer is having its 15 nanoseconds of blogosphere fame. Go to the site, plug in your blog's URL and out pops one of Myers-Briggs' 16 personality types. This blog and every law-related blog I checked except one are the INTJ (introverted, intuitive, thinking and judging) type. Interesting, Slaw.ca is not. Slaw.ca is the ISTJ (introverted, sensing, thinking and judging) type.
The INTJ type represents 2% of the US population. Folks of this type "have original minds and great drive for implementing their ideas and achieving their goals. Quickly see patterns in external events and develop long-range explanatory perspectives. When committed, organize a job and carry it through. Skeptical and independent, have high standards of competence and performance – for themselves and others."
The ISTJ type represents 11% of the US population. Folks of this type are "quiet, serious, earn success by thoroughness and dependability. Practical, matter-of-fact, realistic, and responsible.Decide logically what should be done and work toward it steadily, regardless of distractions. Take pleasure in making everything orderly and organized – their work, their home, their life. Value traditions and loyalty."
Typealzyer is all the rage for the moment but since the protocol for the Myers-Briggs assessment involves answering a series of forced choice questions, I seriously doubt the results; what is your blog's URL is not one of the Myers-Briggs questions. [JH]
Is It a Federal Crime to Violate a Web Site's TOS?
Court Grants Concord Law Student Permission to Take Massachusetts Bar Exam
In Mitchell v. Board of Bar Examiners, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court held that Ross E. Mitchell is entitled to a waiver of the state's rule that bar exam applicants must be graduates of accredited law schools. Writing for the Court, Justice Margot Botsford explained "in view of the fact that an online legal education program such as Concord's cannot qualify for ABA approval under the current ABA standards and that the situation with respect to online programs may change in the reasonably near future, equitable considerations weigh in favor of granting Mitchell a waiver of the ABA approval requirement in this case."
Justice Botsford was referring to the ABA's recent announcement that it is beginning a comprehensive review of its approval standards that will include consideration of schools providing instruction online. The Court emphasized that its decision to grant a waiver was confined to the unique circumstances surrounding Mitchell's case.
Hat tip to Robert J. Ambrogi, Legal Blog Watch. [JH]
Professional Reading: Problems with Current English-Spanish Legal Dictionaries
"In this article, the quality of the different bilingual legal dictionaries between the languages of the Member States of the European Union will be assessed. In order to do so, some general remarks will be made first about problems with translating legal terminology. Based on those remarks, criteria for reliable bilingual dictionaries will be formulated in the next section. Finally, these criteria will be applied on the available bilingual dictionaries containing the legal language used by one or more EU Member States. To illustrate this, we have attached an updated bibliography encompassing about 200 recently published bilingual and multilingual legal dictionaries in the European Union.
The bibliography in the Annex will be the evidence for our final conclusion that most legal dictionaries must be classified as a word list, which implies here that they are of dubious quality. To date, few legal dictionaries have attempted to meet our criteria. Dictionaries that are based on comparative legal research, on the other hand, offer advantages that render them useful to professional translators." [RJ]
ALL-SIS Faculty Services Committee Invites You to Join the Faculty Services Discussion List
The ALL-SIS Faculty Services Committee invites you to join the Faculty Services Discussion List on AALLNET. We will begin a discussion on “Blurring the Lines of Traditional Library Service” on December 3, 2008. The discussion will begin at 10:00 AM EDT on December 3 and run until 6:00 PM EDT on December 4.
What new non-traditional services has your library introduced? Has your library created any new professional positions to expand non-traditional faculty services such as a Business and Corporate Librarian, a Legal Information and Educational Technology Librarian, an Empirical Research Specialist or an Emerging Technologies Librarian? What kinds of new services have your faculty members asked you to provide? How have you responded to non-traditional requests? Have you had to collaborate with other law school departments to meet non-traditional faculty requests?
You need to be subscribed to participate in the discussion.
Subscribing is easy. Go to http://share.aallnet.org/read/all_forums/
Click on the tab “My Forums” to see if you are already subscribed. If not, locate ALL-FSR in the All Forums list (you may have to click on the “show more” tab at the bottom of the list), click on the “subscribe” link at the end of the line. Enter the information requested.
November 30, 2008
A 21st Century Right-to-Know Agenda
The 21st Century Right to Know project, coordinated by OMB Watch, has issued some 70 recommendations to the Obama administration and Congress. The recommendations emphasize the need to move the federal government's information policies into the 21st century by adopting Web 2.0 thinking and strategies. They fall into three categories: National Security and Secrecy; Usability of Information; and Creating a Government Environment for Transparency.
The report, Moving Toward a 21st Century Right-To-Know Agenda, identifies the following Right-to-Know principles:
- An informed public is essential to democracy and can help create a more effective, accountable government;
- Government should commit to openness as a principle, complying not merely with the letter of openness laws but with the spirit of transparency;
- Information available to the public should be defined as broadly as possible, including multiple formats such as electronic communications, audio, photos, and video;
- Exemptions to disclosure should be as narrow and specific as possible – and the burden of proof should lie with the government when exemptions are used;
- Access to records or meetings should not require people to provide name, address, or purpose for seeking access except in specific and narrow circumstances;
- Government should make greater use of redaction to release partial documents when it cannot provide full disclosure, as opposed to withholding the entire record;
- Information should be made available in a timely manner and should be accurate, complete, and authentic;
- Interactive technologies can improve access and use of information while decreasing long-term costs; and
- To the extent government outsources functions, contractors should comply with openness requirements.