Archives for: October 2006

A Faustian Bargain for Academia?

Posted by Jay on October 12th, 2006

"When you’re working with the ultimate driving machine, you have to keep on your toes," said James F. Barker, President of Clemson University, as quoted in the New York Times a few weeks ago.

Having forged an alliance with BMW a few years ago to build an International Center for Automotive Research, Clemson has much to look forward to. After all, BMW has already contributed $10 million towards the building of a $1.5 billion center devoted to automobile research and education.

But there are some strings attached.

BMW wanted approval rights over the school’s architectural look, it provided Clemson with profiles of its ideal students, and it gave Clemson a list of professors and specialists that it considered suitable. BMW meets monthly to provide guidance on the curriculum in this graduate engineering program, and it reviews student papers to make sure that proprietary information does not get submitted for publication.

=> 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!

Looking Like George Allen's America

Posted by Andrew on October 11th, 2006

A letter to the editor in this week's (Oct. 16) Newsweek:

Beyond George Allen's is-it-or-isn't-it racial slur "macaca," his venomous "welcome to America" dig at a Fairfax County-born American who just happens not to look like Allen seems to me more offensive and more indicative of his nativist leanings. I'm not sure why that zinger of Allen's hasn't gotten more media attention. With that one line he has illuminated his view of what America is. -- Sean Riley, Los Angeles, Calif.

To answer Riley's question, media attention has focused on "macaca" because the public imagination has minimal awareness of the continuing prevalence of racism, limiting it to such rare and blatant acts as utterances of the "N-word" (or its Tunisian equivalent). The struggle against racism is thereby deprived of social relevance and relegated to history -- a history that has largely been taught in black and white. Most Americans, including most reporters, have never been asked to rethink their racialized views of "what America is," and certainly have never come to grips with the exclusionary effects of those views on Asian Americans like S.R. Sidarth.

Making Innovation Pay

Posted by Jay on October 4th, 2006

I have been reading a new book, Making Innovation Pay: People Who Turn IP into Shareholder Value, edited by Bruce Berman (John Wiley & Sons 2006), that is both informative and insightful. This edited compendium contains eleven chapters featuring easy-to-read contributions by Bruce Berman, Marshall Phelps, Daniel McCurdy, Peter Detkin, James Malackowski, Ray Niro, Bruce Lehman and Ron Schutz among others. The book is laid out well, and it is a breezy read. Although the target audience is senior executives and managers in the world of business, the book is a very good collection for anyone interested in intellectual property.

The contributors are carefully chosen to provide a wide variety of perspectives topics such as IP management, protecting IP assets, capitalizing on one's patent portfolio, effective corporate patent strategies, the fiduciary obligations of management related to IP, the costs and risks associated with patent enforcement, the uneven playing field for small companies and individual inventors, the quality and uncertainty in patent examination including the lack of international harmonization of patent prosecution rules and examination, and the associated need for reform. Worth the time, money and effort.

The Science Agenda

Posted by Andrew on October 3rd, 2006

A new political action committee, Scientists and Engineers for America, has committed itself to "electing public officials who respect evidence and understand the importance of using scientific and engineering advice in making public policy." Intellectual property and antitrust law don't seem to have made it onto the group's agenda, even though both are of critical importance to the nation's science policy and both have suffered in recent years at the hands of ideology and ignorance. From what I've seen of their "Bill of Rights for Scientists and Engineers," it also looks like they could use a legislative director. But their heart seems to be in the right place.

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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