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Archive for the tag “law”

Text-to-911 advances

I recently read a story about the rollout of text-to-911 services in New Jersey. Rather than requiring someone to make a voice call, the person can send a text message to 911.

This has its advantages – for example, in situations where “people … fear being overheard when contacting 911,” the ability to quietly send a text is a plus. In addition, younger people who are used to texting in general may prefer this method.

It also has disadvantages. When two-way communication between the caller and the dispatcher is required, it’s much faster to do it by voice rather than by text.

Toward the end of the article, the following statement was included:

A representative of the state Office of Emergency Telecommunications Services did not return a call seeking comment.

Should have sent a text!

Wigging out

When comparing men and women, one complaint is that women spend too much time working on their appearance, while men are less vain about it.

The complaint is unfounded, and has been for centuries.

Take a look at any eighteenth century picture of people, and you’ll find that a lot of the men are wearing wigs.


Wigs were worn in colonial times to make class distinctions clear. The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation explains that even the color of wigs could indicate class and position. Professionals frequently wore gray wigs; tradesmen usually donned brown wigs; white wigs were reserved for judges and military officers. White wigs were also worn for formal occasions, but many men simply powdered a colored wig white because they did not own a white wig.

And some men would have multiple wigs for different occasions. (We’ll return to this later.) To read more about eighteenth century wig habits, go here.

Of course, after we gained independence, the whole wig thing died down and has never been resurrected since.

Um, not exactly – especially in the entertainment world. Mental Floss listed a number of confirmed wig and toupee wearers, ranging from Bing Crosby and John Wayne to Howard Cosell and Ted Danson.

But the champion of 20th and 21st century wig wearing has to be Phil Spector. Long a man of questioned mental stability, Phil Spector’s trials provided watchers with a bizarre assortment of hairstyles. The Telegraph has gathered a variety of these styles together, as well as Spector’s natural look (from his prison mugshot), and shared them here.

As for me, I don’t wear a wig or a toupee. But perhaps I should consider it.

tymshft talks about (fraudulent) time shifts


One evening, CBS aired an episode of MASH entitled Death Takes a Holiday. The premise of the story was that Hawkeye, BJ, and Margaret do not want a fatally wounded soldier to die on Christmas Day, and are feverishly working to keep him alive through the day.

As I recall the episode, the patient DOES die near the end of the day – until Hawkeye goes to the clock on the wall and moves the clock hands so that the time is after midnight. This elicits a comment from by-the-book Margaret Houlihan that she had never falsified a U.S. Army document before.

Presumably the U.S. Army of the 1950s did not have DigiStamp.

Simply put, you need proof of what you’ve done and when you did it. Our service provides strong evidence for both.

In fact, we provide uniquely strong evidence.

No one can use our service to produce a false time stamp. Even we can’t produce false time stamps. If someone offered us a million dollars, we still couldn’t produce a false timestamp.

Why not? A DigiStamp timestamp offers you three layers of security:

An audit trail from two independent authorities proving that our equipment does exactly what we say it does.

State-of-the-art software that meets the highest established standards.

Uniquely customized hardware that cannot be tampered with.

Now because of my industry background, I have a tough time with 100.0000000% claims. Ask Brandon Mayfield about 100% accuracy. Any “perfect” system can be compromised in some way, given enough time and money. And DigiStamp addresses the thoughts of people like me.

Of course, an overly optimistic attorney might claim that you paid us to install a corrupt 4758 to start with. But that claim would fail.

I don’t know. Has DigiStamp seen any recent jury decisions?

Changes in acceptable advertising, 1960 – 1980

In the United States in 1960, you could see cigarette advertisements all over the place, but you would never see a lawyer advertising.

Within twenty years, that would change.

Beginning January 1, 1971, cigarette advertising was banned on U.S. television and radio stations. Initially the ban would have started one day earlier:

“In a final concession to the broadcasters, the conferees agreed to delay for one day the blackout of cigarette commercials from December 31, 1970, to midnight January 1, 1971. That would give them a last shower of cash from the New Year’s Day football bowl games” (Wagner, 1971: 216).

As for lawyers, their State Bar Associations banned advertising until two lawyers, John Bates and Van O’Steen, challenged Arizona’s position. In 1977, the. U.S. Supreme Court ruled that outright bans on legal advertising violated the First Amendment.

So in the brief space of twenty years, the Marlboro Man left the airwaves, to be replaced by Jacoby and Meyers.

Do you own a radio?

So anyways, I have this whole new blog that I have to write stuff for, so I began conceiving a post about the history of music distribution. I was beginning to visualize it in my brain. First you started with sheet music, and then you had 78 rpm records, followed by 45 rpm records. followed by 33 1/3 rpm records. 8-track tapes fall somewhere in there. Then you moved from 33 1/3 rpm records to cassette tapes, and from there to compact discs, and from there to digital downloads.

It was all a nice neat progression, except for the 8-track tapes part. But then I realized that I had left something out.


After all, radio has been a major music distribution service for about a century. It has had a profound influence on the other distribution media. Services such as Billboard use radio airplay as one of their major determinants of song popularity. Plus, it’s a potential revenue source for the recording companies.

“But,” you may argue, “radio is different from the other media. You can own a CD, but you can’t own something you hear on the radio.”

Well, CAN you own a CD? The Electronic Frontier Foundation believes that Section 109 of the U.S. Copyright Act gives you ownership privileges, but the major record companies have consistently fought this over time.

For example, at the turn of the 20th century, book publishers tried to impose a minimum resale price on books by putting a notice in every copy. In the 1930s, record labels put “private use only, not for broadcast” notices on records in an attempt to block radio stations from playing their records without additional payment. In the 1980s, movie studios tried the same thing with video cassettes, trying to control the video rental business. Congress, the courts, and free markets have consistently rejected these efforts to undermine the first sale principle.

But that hasn’t stopped Universal Music Group (UMG). In May, UMG sued Roast Beast Music for auctioning “promo CDs” on eBay, CDs which Roast Beast Music had itself purchased from used record stores around Los Angeles.

And even if you believe that Section 109 of the U.S. Copyright Act gives you ownership of those CDs, it doesn’t necessarily allow you to own those digital downloads that you’ve purchased. Back in January 2011, Ed Bott spent some time looking over some legalese at the iTunes store. Here’s part of what he found:

You agree that the Service and certain Products include security technology that limits your use of Products and that, whether or not Products are limited by security technology, you shall use Products in compliance with the applicable usage rules established by Apple and its licensors (“Usage Rules”), and that any other use of the Products may constitute a copyright infringement. Any security technology is an inseparable part of the Products. Apple reserves the right to modify the Usage Rules at any time.

Now I will grant that there are also “usage rules” to a CD – I can’t wipe Whitney Houston’s vocal off a song, replace it with my own vocal, and sell it – but it looks like this whole idea of “ownership” is just an idea, with little basis in fact.

So your “ownership” of a digital download might be equivalent to your “ownership” of something you hear on the radio.

And if you want to test this theory, try to sell either of them.

Tech age discrimination, or something else? Reverse trends in the US and Japan

I have neglected to bring up Dave Winer’s January 30 post in which Winer, who is about the same age as I, discussed allegations of age discrimination at Google. Winer cited a New York Times artiicle that included the following:

Seth Williams, a director of staffing at Google, said his firm was looking for candidates who are “passionate” and “truly have a desire to change the world.”

After quoting similar statements from LinkedIn and Facebook, the article then states:

Some observers say much of this language is just code for age discrimination. They point to the case of Brian Reid, a 52-year-old manager who was fired by Google in 2004 — nine days before the company announced plans to go public — after his supervisors, including the company’s vice president for engineering operations, allegedly called him a poor “cultural fit,” an “old guy” and a “fuddy-duddy” with ideas “too old to matter.”

Winer notes that derogatory language is unacceptable in the workplace when speaking about race or gender, but that the language quoted above is completely acceptable.

But while age bias may be one of the EFFECTS of the practices of tech companies, I suspect that it’s not the underlying CAUSE. Something else is afoot.

I finally found the item that I referenced in the comments to Winer’s post. It’s something that was published a couple of weeks before Winer’s post. The item is entitled What It’s Really Like to Work at Google. Here are some relevant excerpts from the article:

There’s no doubt that working at Google comes with perks; not only does Google provide the traditional benefits like health insurance and extremely competitive pay, but Googlers are treated to free breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, free on-site massages, car detailing, on-site fitness centers, and even napping pods.

It’s almost as if you could live on campus and never leave.

Hold that thought.

Google features full showers and locker rooms, enabling Googlers to work as hard as they want, potentially for days at a time. A former contractor for Google noted that many of the engineers and sales teams “are always pushing themselves and each other. I saw a lot of really determined, competitive people there,” to the point that they would stay on campus for several days at a time.

Brilliantly, Google has designed all of its offices so its employees can stay at work overnight, without having to worry about a thing — such as their hunger, health, or hygiene.

Now at the time that I read the Winer post, I noted that the only people who could “live and breathe” Google were people without families. And since people who have families tend to be older than those without families, one can see the potential for age bias.

But if you look at the history of business, you’ll find that people who “lived and breathed” companies in the past weren’t necessarily young. Remember the salaryman?

When Akira got married, he recalls, he invited his bucho, or division chief, to the wedding, as all salarymen did. And during the reception the boss made a speech to the bride, as he always did. “Your new husband is a very good worker,” he began. “He is important to the company. So please understand that he may need to work many long hours.” All the guests nodded silently. “And when he is at home, please take care of him.”

Akira says that his bride—the marriage was largely arranged by their families—was not upset by the bucho’s remarks: her role of housewife was taken for granted. “But later she thought something must be wrong with the system,” he confides. Akira would return home in the small hours stumbling drunk; dutifully she would wait up, angered. The dinner is put away and the bath is cold, she might say. As he grew older, he no longer stayed out so late. But he did not share her reservations about his evening activities. “In Japan entertaining clients is a part of the job,” he explains.

A salaryman arrives in the office at 9am and ends his working day late, often around midnight. He does not dare leave the office before his supervisor—and managers stay late to show their loyalty. Is any work going on? Rarely. But long hours remain the norm.

In Japan, it’s the younger workers who have rebelled against the salaryman system.

Late-night carousing is becoming less common these days: younger colleagues treat the hours after work as their own, not the company’s. Nobu, an ambitious 31-year-old salaryman, is one such. He chose a job at an American company in part so that he could work reasonable hours. He didn’t count on having a manager of the old school, who kept the team in the office or in the bars. “My first year, I didn’t get more than three or four hours of sleep a day,” he says. Changing jobs was not an option. “I didn’t want to quit—because it was so tough,” he says. “Then I would have ‘lost’.” When he got a new manager, Nobu was able to relish his free time.

So in Japan, it’s the old people who give everything to the company, and the young ones who maintain a life of their own. In Silicon Valley, it’s the opposite – the older workers have tended to “get a life,” while the younger workers are more inclined to be the “salarypeople” for Google or LinkedIn or Facebook or whoever.

While the age discrimination that Winer rails against is probably real, it’s probably an accident of the times. If Google could get the fifty somethings to stay on campus all night, then perhaps it would be the college grads who would complain about an inability to get hired by Google, since Google hiring people would use code words such as “experienced” and “seasoned” to describe the people they want.

And who knows? Perhaps 10-20 years from now, when the current Google workforce starts having grandkids, those young people may be undesirable hires.

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