Category: Politics


Posted by andrew on October 8th, 2008

Today is Google's 10th birthday. In celebration, the site has made the 2001 version of its search engine available. And so we can present here, in full, Sarah Palin's Google presence in 2001, five years into her tenure as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska (click to enlarge):

=> Read more!

Sen. McCain, Meet the Patent System

Posted by andrew on June 24th, 2008

We've known for months now that John McCain doesn't know how to use a computer, so it should come as no surprise that he talks about innovation policy as if it's an entirely new concept. We want a more efficient hybrid car battery, so let's pull a number out of the air -- $1 per U.S. citizen sounds good -- and award it as a prize to the person who invents one:

“I further propose we inspire the ingenuity and resolve of the American people,” Mr. McCain said, “by offering a $300 million prize for the development of a battery package that has the size, capacity, cost and power to leapfrog the commercially available plug-in hybrids or electric cars.”

He said the winner should deliver power at 30 percent of current costs. “That’s one dollar, one dollar, for every man, woman and child in the U.S. — a small price to pay for helping to break the back of our oil dependency,” he said.

And shame on Sen. Barbara Boxer for calling this a "gimmick." It's not like the federal government provides any form of ex post incentive for technological innovation already, does it?

The National Review loves the idea, of course. Conservatives just love it when government gets into the business of picking winners and losers in the competition for innovation. (Then again, maybe not.)


The First Asian American President?

Posted by andrew on February 28th, 2008

Barack Obama in traditional Somalian costumeWe're starting to see some of the first glimpses of the GOP strategy against Obama for the November election, and it isn't pretty. As Talking Points Memo summarizes (Youtube video -- relevant section starts at about 2:30 in), the real attack is going to focus on four falsehoods:

-- Obama is a Black nationalist
-- Obama is a crypto-Muslim
-- Obama has ties to terrorists
-- Obama is anti-American

Socially conscious Asian Americans should find this litany very familiar. For "Black nationalist," read "clannish and cliquish." For "crypto-Muslim" read "dog-eating, foot-binding male chauvinists." For "ties to terrorists" read "spies for communist China." For "anti-American" read "perpetual foreigners who can never be real Americans."

Obama may have succeeded in downplaying racial issues thus far in the campaign, but this summer and fall, he will be up against nothing less than the full arsenal of racial animus and oppression that constrains the Asian American experience. Our experience should warn us about just how durable and insidious these attacks can be. Let's hope he overcomes, and in doing so, shows us all the way forward.

Addendum (10/1): Jeff Yang has similar thoughts.

Redefinition Accomplished

Posted by andrew on February 21st, 2008

What a difference a day makes.

2/20: Democratic thinkers ponder how to redefine McCain (McClatchy Newspapers)

2/21: McCain and the Lobbyist (Guardian)

P.S. Obligatory cyberlaw content: Is Lessig really running for Congress?

Qualcomm's Adventures in Iraq

Posted by andrew on March 21st, 2007

Memory chip manufacturer Rambus Inc. has spent the past several years as a defendant facing multiple antitrust claims. Rambus allegedly promoted the adoption of its designs by an industry standards organization, while failing to inform the organization that it had pending, secret patent applications covering those designs. Rival company Infineon Technologies AG, accused of infringing Rambus's patents, won a jury verdict on an antitrust counterclaim, but had that verdict overturned by the Federal Circuit in 2003. The Federal Trade Commission conducted its own investigation beginning in 2002, however, and last August unanimously held Rambus liable for unfair competition in violation of section 5 of the FTC Act. The administrative litigation is still pending, and appeals will likely follow.

=> Read more!


The End of Gene Patents?

Posted by andrew on February 15th, 2007

There are many serious public policy objections to the patenting of DNA molecules. But the Patent Office has found it fairly easy to dismiss these objections with the response that until Congress and/or the courts change the patent laws, public policy considerations will be entitled to no weight in the patentability analysis:

"Whoever invents or discovers any new and useful ... composition of matter ... may obtain a patent therefor." 35 U.S.C. 101. Congress creates the law and the Federal judiciary interprets the law. The USPTO must administer the laws as Congress has enacted them and as the Federal courts have interpreted them. Current law provides that when the statutory patentability requirements are met, there is no basis to deny patent applications claiming DNA compositions, or to limit a patent’s scope in order to allow free access to the use of the invention during the patent term. (66 Fed. Reg. at 1095)

That's what makes this such an exciting proposal:

=> Read more!

Patent Reform: Again a Hot Topic in Congress?

Posted by Jay on February 14th, 2007

After the Senate bipartisan Patent Reform bill was introduced in August 2006 (see my earlier post), patent reform appeared to have taken a back seat in the new Congress in light of other pressing concerns such as the budget and the war in Iraq, but not for very long.

Members of the House Internet and Intellectual Property Subcommittee in the 110th Congress told Technology Daily that updating the patent laws will be their chief priority. California Democrat Howard Berman, the panel's chairman noted that too much time was being taken to get patents issued and "things being patented that shouldn't have been patented."

=> Read more!

Iraq War Deaths: Does the Truth Matter?

Posted by andrew on October 11th, 2006

Another example of the fundamental incompatibility between journalistic balance and peer review as organizing principles for the pursuit of truth. From President Bush's press conference today:

Q Thank you, Mr. President. Back on Iraq. A group of American and Iraqi health officials today released a report saying that 655,000 Iraqis have died since the Iraq war. That figure is 20 times the figure that you cited in December, at 30,000. Do you care to amend or update your figure, and do you consider this a credible report?

THE PRESIDENT: No, I don't consider it a credible report. Neither does General Casey and neither do Iraqi officials. I do know that a lot of innocent people have died, and that troubles me and it grieves me. And I applaud the Iraqis for their courage in the face of violence. I am amazed that this is a society which so wants to be free that they're willing to -- that there's a level of violence that they tolerate. And it's now time for the Iraqi government to work hard to bring security in neighborhoods so people can feel at peace.

No question, it's violent, but this report is one -- they put it out before, it was pretty well -- the methodology was pretty well discredited.

=> Read more!

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An examination of the legal and technological structures that keep almost all of us voiceless, by Prof. Andrew Chin (who?) at the University of North Carolina School of Law and Prof. Jay Kesan at the University of Illinois College of Law

voiceless is a new blog. If you like what you've seen so far, please consider making voiceless a little less voiceless by adding a link to it from your blogroll!

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