Slashdot | Web Pages Are Weak Links in the Chain of Knowledge (quoting the Washington Post's On the Web, Research Work Proves Ephemeral). It's true that linkrot is a serious problem. It's also true that archive.org is only a partial solution since it doesn't get anything and some big content providers — like the Washington Post — block it.
Is the only solution to make (copyright busting?) offline copies of everything? If so, where's the tool that will automate that for me, and — more importantly — index all that content on my drive, disk, or tape?
The voters of Florida made it clear they want small class sizes in Florida primary schools, passing a state constituional amendment mandating shrinking class sizes over a ten-year period. Then the Governor of Florida, Jeb Bush, future presidential candidate, made it clear that he intends to subvert the voters' will because nothing, not even children or democracy, is worth raising taxes for.
Now comes the the Republican leadership in the legislature to say that they just won't even try to pay for small classes, because, really, what's the point in doing that unless the voters again make it clear that they really meant what they said. Better first to try to get the voters to repeal the constitutional amendment in the hopes it will all blow over. King says state can't pay for smaller classes. And, hey, lets make the next vote in a special election in August, when turnout in South Florida is likely to be at its lowest! “The people have to speak,” one of the legislative leaders said…ignoring the fact that they already did.
I'm off to FSU to give a paper on national ID cards, and won't be back until late Monday. Getting around Florida is actually more difficult than going out of state. But at least there are some direct flights to Tallahassee. In January I'm going to Gainsville, and it turns out that it's not so easy to get there….
F.B.I. Scrutinizes Antiwar Rallies. It's of course legal for the FBI to gather intelligence on groups it thinks are dangerous. On the evidence to date, however, whether that assessment is correct in the case of anti-Iraq-war rallies is dubious. And the FBI's activities vividly awaken memories of the FBI's of civil rights violations the last time a paranoid Republican administration was in the White House and demonstrators were massing to protest a war.
Meanwhile, someone please explain to me how the FBI's large-scale, organized campaign of assembling dossiers on the polticial beliefs of citizens exercising their constitutional rights to demonstrate peacefully — even the FBI admits that it “possesses no information indicating that violent or terrorist activities are being planned as part of these protests” and that “most protests are peaceful events.” — is not intimidation but, “demonstrators' 'innovative strategies,' like the videotaping of arrests” is “'intimidation' against the police”?
Think of that — the police are being intimidated by the threat that the demonstrators' accounts might be corroberated by a video camera. Offhand, I think I approve of the sort of intimdation that records exactly what is happening and leaves no room for testilying.
Class preparation was an unusually heavy chore this year as I not only taught International Law for the first time, but the authors of my Administrative Law casebook issued a substantially revised (and actually much improved) edition. It taught much better than the old version, but making the best use of it required much more thought than just tweaking my old notes. It was all rewarding work, but it took time.
I'm one of those people who likes teaching new things to keep myself fresh. In 11 years of teaching I've taught Constitutional Law I, Civil Procedure I, Jurisprudence, Internet and the State, Internet and the Market, Trademark, and seminars on E-commerce, Digital Intellectual Property, and Internet Governance. And in the only course I've taught consistently since I started here — Administrative Law — I've used three different casebooks over the years. Perhaps that is why one of my students said I'm one of the most enthusiastic teachers he has. The way he said it, it didn't sound entirely like praise (it was almost, “what's your problem?”), but it made my day.
As the semester winds to a close, the focus of daily activity turns from preparing for class towards writing and then (*sigh*) grading the final exams. Every semester is the same cycle. My students are very good in class — indeed this year's International law students seem exceptionally good — and I get hopeful. Maybe this year will be the year I get a crop of great exams. And there usually are one or two great ones, and a few good ones. But the modal student cannot write a good paragraph, much less sustain analysis over several pages. I blame the high schools and the colleges. Surely it's not too much to expect that the possessors of BA's, and good to excellent grades, from excellent to good colleges, should be able to write? But again and again my hopes are, modally, dashed.
The third draft of the FTAA is now online. The Revised Intellectual Property Chapter, FTAA – ALCA – ZLEA – FTAA Draft Agreement – 2003 – Chapter XX, is still crawling with brackets (meaning there is no agreement), and Art. 13, which I criticized recently, is unchanged — but now it seems the whole chapter may be optional!
Not Geniuses has links to summaries of the overall course of the negotiations. It seems to have gone in the direction of 'FTAA a la carte' — and the IP provisions appear to be among the optional ones.
Of course this means the US will step up its pressure to put IP rules into bilateral trade agreements, but overall this is still progress.