Monday, 17 May 2004

Hasta la vista, bobble

The governor's goon squad (his film company, actually) filed suit today against Ohio Discount Merchandise, the company that created the collectible Arnold Schwarzenegger bobbing head doll. I have little time to write about this tonight, but I will predict right now that this will be this decade's landmark publicity/free speech case. I just hope Judge Kozinski has a chance to stretch before he goes to the mat.

As a bodybuilder and movie star (i.e., a member of the private sector), Arnold had a strong claim that his persona and likeness were worth millions and protectible. As a governor, however, the First Amendment demands that he relinquish most of the control he used to enjoy. The doll at issue is obviously a parody, and it is part of a series that depicts public figures from Tom Daschle to Abraham Lincoln to Al Capone to Jesus. This lies somewhere between a Three Stooges T-shirt and Vanna White, circa 2012.

For ongoing news coverage, Google is your best bet. For the earliest round of stories, see the Business Wire, New York Times, and LA Times (editorial).

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Topics: Civil Liberties, IP, Politics

Sunday, 16 May 2004

Stem Cell Halfspeak

The Bush administration has started an interesting tango on the issue of therapeutic stem cell research. Since announcing his initial policy decision on 9 August 2001, Bush has clung to the false premise that already-existing stem cell lines are sufficiently numerous to support appropriate levels of scientific research. Until now.

Yesterday, Reuters reported that Dr. Elias Zerhouni, Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) penned a letter to members of Congress, responding to a letter signed by 206 Congressmen last month. (Links: letter, news coverage) According to Reuters, Zerhouni wrote that "the president's position is still predicated on his belief that taxpayer funds should not 'sanction or encourage further destruction of human embryos that have at least the potential for life.'" However, Zerhouni admitted that "it is fair to say that from a purely scientific perspective more cell lines may well speed some areas of human embryonic stem cell research."

The New York Times reports today that proponents of loosening the Bush policy are saying that this does not portend a policy shift but that it does indicate Bush's willingness to begin discussing the issue again. I am not so sure of Zerhouni's message. If they are right, this development may be the ticket for John Marburger to save his soul (to borrow from Bush's moralistic rhetoric).

I think this letter represents a shift in the articulation of Bush's position, but I do not see where it says anything about openness to change. It is refreshing, however, to see Bush move away from scientific doublespeak even if it is to equally incomprehensible halfspeak.

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Topics: Politics, Science

Thursday, 6 May 2004

CAN-SPAM Library

New: Gigalaw has launched the CAN-SPAM Library ( a collection of law, articles, studies, commentary, discussion, and links on the CAN-SPAM Act. Well worth reading (and linking). Via GrepLaw.

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Topics: Cyberlaw, Spam, Technology

Wednesday, 5 May 2004

Would-be Marburger critic

I am just getting back into blogging after taking a few weeks off. I set aside two hours this evening to write a long post on John Marburger's testament to dogma, only to find that someone had already made my argument for me. I speak, of course, of Marburger's now-infamous "rebuttal" to the increasingly-frequent charge that President Bush has beaten science to a bloody pulp. Specifically, he purported to respond to a report released by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Chris Mooney did such a good job stealing my thunder in his April "Doubt and About" column over at CSICOP that I cannot do the same to him. And since I now have a free hour and fifty minutes, I think I'll go watch TV.

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Topics: Politics, Science

Saturday, 1 May 2004

California decertifies Diebold eVoting machines

California turned up the heat yesterday in the evoting controversy. The New York Times reports this morning that Kevin Shelley, the Secretary of State, conditionally decertified Diebold voting machines now in use at least until their security is upgraded. He went so far as to accuse Diebold of "fraudulent actions" and recommended to the Attorney General that he investigate criminal and civil remedies.

It is no surprise that California is the first state to decertify evoting machines. It seems to have had the most problems with (or at least the greatest public outcry against) them. This is certainly an interesting time to be a Californian again.

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Topics: eVoting

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