Monthly Archives: May 2006

Win for Sanity

The US Dept. of Commerce just killed, or at least referred to a committee, a set of dumb and restrictive proposals for changes to our rules on the export of technology and ideas. You can read about it at Secrecy News, “Deemed Exports”: Commerce Department Retreats.

Not only did we have a proposed restatement of the current (not-enforced) rule that an “export” occurs when I teach a class here in Miami that has a foreign student in it, but also an attempt to stop giving full faith and credit to foreign naturalizations (which isn’t unconstitutional but seems dubious under international law and treaty obligations) .

Commerce proposed that “access restrictions should be based on an individual’s country of birth rather than on his current citizenship.” This wasn’t a proposal to discriminate among naturalized US citizens (which would be thoroughly unconstitutional) but rather to discriminate among, say, naturalized Canadians depending on where they came from. A record-keeping nightmare for US universities, and probably a foreign-relations nightmare too. Good riddance.

Posted in Cryptography | Leave a comment

Student Discipline Latest

Picketline Blog has an informative Update on Disciplinary Action Against UM Students. The key point is that the charges have been reduced from “major” to “minor” status — so it appears that no one is going to be thrown out of school.

This is a very positive development!

Posted in U.Miami: Strike'06 | Leave a comment

Awful, Terrible, Horrible Joke

Q. What is Iraq’s national bird?

Continue reading

Posted in Completely Different | Leave a comment

On Not Being Catty

In the course of a domain name arbitration awarding mymorganstanleyplatinum.com to Morgan Stanley, arbitrator Richard Hill had this to say,

Respondent maintains that it is a cat, that is, a well-known carnivorous quadruped which has long been domesticated. However, it is equally well-known that the common cat, whose scientific name is Felis domesticus, cannot speak or read or write. Thus, a common cat could not have submitted the Response (or even have registered the disputed domain name). Therefore, either Respondent is a different species of cat, such as the one that stars in the motion picture “Cat From Outer Space,” or Respondent’s assertion regarding its being a cat is incorrect.

If Respondent is in fact a cat from outer space, then it should have so indicated in its reply, in order to avoid unnecessary perplexity by the Panel. Further, it should have explained why a cat from outer space would allow Mr. Woods to use the disputed domain name. In the absence of such an explanation, the Panel must conclude that, if Respondent is a cat from outer space, then it may have something to hide, and this is indicative of bad faith behavior.

On the other hand, if Respondent’s assertion regarding its being a cat is incorrect, then Respondent has undoubtedly attempted to mislead this Panel and has provided incorrect WHOIS information. Such behavior is indicative of bad faith. See Video Direct Distribs. Inc. v. Video Direct, Inc., FA 94724 (Nat. Arb. Forum June 5, 2000) (finding that the respondent acted in bad faith by providing incorrect information to the registrar regarding the owner of the registered name). …

The Panel finds that Respondent’s assertions that it is a cat provide sufficient evidence to conclude that the Respondent registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith. And this despite the fact that the Panel, unlike Queen Victoria, is amused.

Posted in Law: Internet Law, Law: Trademark Law | 1 Comment

Not Everything is Related to 9/11

Picketline led me to Findlaw where I find an article by Jennifer van Bergen, “a journalist with a law degree” entitled Speech on Campus After 9/11: Less Free Than It Used To Be?.

The piece’s thesis is clearly stated right at the top:

Universities have traditionally been places where debate and the free exchange of ideas have been welcomed. But after 9/11, that may be changing — as some recent, troubling incidents suggest.

In this column, I’ll survey some recent incidents suggesting free speech on campus is in peril, …

Exhibit A for this thesis is the UM administration’s reaction to the strike. And Ms. van Bergen, described elsewhere as a south Florida resident, appears to be serious.

I don’t get it.

Please don’t misunderstand: I am not here to defend the UM administration’s appalling conduct during and after the strike. If students were hauled in on charges and asked to identify each other from photos while being treated in an intimidating manner, that’s a violation of our rules (and would be without the intimidating manner, too).

Threatening students with serious consequences for their failure to disperse when ordered is petty and mean, not to mention disproportionate and stupid. Leaving the charges hanging after the strike, instead of resolving them with an amnesty or a wrist slap is unwise (from the administration’s viewpoint): so far it has only martyrized them, and will probably radicalize them.

But all this reflexive administrative behavior has nothing to do with 9/11. It has rather more to do with the flawed temperament of our leadership (either the Board of Trustees or President Shalala, or conceivably both) and the poor judgment and limited capacities of certain mid-ranking administrators. In short, your standard story of people in power unable to transcend petty impulses for revenge, and people in a bureaucracy displaying some really lousy judgment during a pressure situation — then digging in their heels when tempers should have cooled.

But this is the way of the world. People are imperfect. Academic authorities don’t like being forced to do stuff by uppity kids, and they never have. And the fact that the kids are right, and that they enlist noble outsiders to say they are right and to force it down the authorities’ throats, well, that doesn’t help.

But all this has nothing to do with 9/11. UM was like this ten years ago — indeed, arguably, it may have been substantially worse.

If anything — and I admit this is reaching a little — the UM experience with the recent strike proves the reverse of the van Bergen thesis. At one point the administration here tried to float the idea that students protesting were anarchists, or colluding with anarchists, or at least inviting in anarchists, who we were no doubt supposed to believe would in short order turn this pristine tropical campus into some Beirut on the Biscayne.

To the extent anyone paid attention to this silly idea, we just laughed, and it hasn’t been heard from since.

Free speech is not in peril on this campus, and we won’t let it be. At worst, its ankle is being bitten. Whether that bite turns out to be by a mosquito or a Doberman will turn on what sort of treatment the administration administers to the students it has up on charges. And that remains to be seen.

Posted in U.Miami: Strike'06 | 6 Comments

Rebarbative

Heard an excerpt from Bush’s Memorial Day address on the radio while driving around today, including the line, “In this place where valor sleeps, we are reminded why America has always gone to war reluctantly, because we know the costs of war.”

Yes, he really said that.

Posted in Politics: US | 3 Comments

Good News from the NY Times

There’s a piece of really good news buried at the very end of today’s “White House Letter”, for years now a none so blind captive of the Standard Narrative:

This is the last White House Letter by Elisabeth Bumiller, who is going on book leave.

I should know better than to tempt fate, but unless they give the job to Katharine Seelye, they could hardly do worse, could they?

Posted in The Media | 1 Comment