March 2008 Archives

Stop All the Hadron Collidin'

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In a rare intersection of freaky physics and freaky law, a couple of dudes are suing CERN, the Department of Energy, the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, and the National Science Foundation in U.S. District Court in Hawaii in an attempt to prevent CERN from activating the Large Hadron Collider this summer (story here).

The LHC is designed to re-create the conditions that were present immediately after the Big Bang. The plaintiffs fear that the LHC will create a black hole that will swallow the earth, or do any number of other unexpected disastrous things. Scientists have identified small yet real possibilities that things like this will happen.

From a legal standpoint, CERN is saying that the U.S. court in Hawaii has no jurisdiction over them. I suspect that when Justice Field wrote Pennoyer v. Neff he didn't envision personal jurisdiction extending to foreign entities hell-bent on world annihilation, and truth be told this is probably an issue best left either to military personnel or international super-spies.

But the best part of the article for me was the profile of one of the plaintiffs:

Mr. Wagner, who lives on the Big Island of Hawaii, studied physics and did cosmic ray research at the University of California, Berkeley, and received a doctorate in law from what is now known as the University of Northern California in Sacramento.

Nice to see another Berkeley physics student-turned-laywer making a name for himself in the world of jurisprudential cootery. Watch out for those cane spiders, Mr. Wagner.

Ninja edit: I just realized that that quoted sentence is really poorly constructed. It's supposed to be read like this:

Mr. Wagner -- who lives on the Big Island of Hawaii -- studied physics and did cosmic ray research at the University of California, Berkeley, and received a doctorate in law from what is now known as the University of Northern California in Sacramento.

But it could easily be read like this:

Mr. Wagner, who [1] lives on the Big Island of Hawaii, [2] studied physics and did cosmic ray research at the University of California, Berkeley, and [3] received a doctorate in law from what is now known as the University of Northern California in Sacramento.

Stupid New York Times.

Messin' Around with the New Camera


After Dr. M and I participated in a photo scavenger hunt earlier this month, we realized that our faithful digital camera, that we've had since before we were married, that has traveled with us around the globe and documented so many great moments in our lives, and whose technological wonders have been disproportionately dedicated to taking uninteresting pictures of our cats, was finally crapping out on us. Some pictures were unexplainably grainy, and some were just weird. For example, in the presence of a bright glare, the camera would begin to see the world through rose-colored glasses:

So, we bought ourselves a new digital camera, which arrived last week. Our aim was to acquire an updated, fancier version of our old one, since until the aforementioned out-crapping it performed exceedingly well and took very handsome pictures. The new one has a higher resolution, which we knew going in. Here is a picture we might not have been able to take with the old camera:

The detail of Ruby's reflection in the window is, I think, rather neat.

Yesterday, Dr. M was looking through the manual and messing around with the camera and discovered some additional features that we then proceeded to spend a great deal of time playing around with. For example, you can set the camera to only pick up one color:

When we discovered this, we tried to take a picture where only the blue of my eyes would show up, but it wasn't working well. The closest we got was this:

Upon closer inspection, we found that the blue in this shot wasn't really my irises, but the reflection of a nearby blue pillow. If you look closely, you can also see the reflection of Dr. M in my pupil, along with the shadows of the blinds:

As I said, very high resolution. Needless to say, we were eager to jump back into our tradition of using the camera on the cats. Unfortunately, color effects aren't terribly striking when you have a grey-and-white cat and a black-and-white cat. Here's a shot of Ruby with only the yellows picked up:

The camera also has a "color swap" function, where you can take one color and change it into another. Unfortunately the camera is extremely discriminating, and generally regards different shades of the same color as different colors. This can make it difficult for the color effects to come out properly. I tried to turn Pepe white, and he ended up looking like either a ghost or something that Predator would see:

"Green Pepe" came out a bit better:

We have until October to perfect our stupid camera tricks before we unleash our new-found talents on our hapless baby. I will probably limit the number of baby pictures on the blog, however, since the kid might want to be President some day.

Supreme Court Sitcoms


Top Ten Sitcoms Based on the Current U.S. Supreme Court

10. Five is Enough
9. How I Met Your Mother and Prevented Her from Having an Abortion
8. Kennedy Knows Best
7. U.S. Solicitor General Paul D. Clement Can't Lose
6. Welcome Back, Lochner
5. Justice Belvedere (starring Antonin Scalia)
4. Gunsmoke Generated by the Firing of Individually Owned Guns*
3. The Bad News Bench
2. Guantanamo Baywatch
1. Eight and a Half Men

* Yes, I know Gunsmoke wasn't a sitcom. Shut up.

Say Goodbye to Your Afternoon

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Flickrvision is irrationally mesmerizing. Watch people upload photos to Flickr all over the world.

This would make a groovy screensaver.

(This post was jointly written by Dr. M and me.)

Dr. M and I were idly browsing the Babies R Us website this evening (the child is a long way off, but hey, we're excited), and we came across something that bodes ill for providing a babyhood free of gender stereotypes.

The bedding section has a charming selection of animal-themed bedding, the vast majority of which were in neutral (earth-tone) or blue-tone color schemes. A representative example:

After about a dozen pages (not just of animals), we came across the one and only pink, and therefore decidedly girl-themed, piece of animal bedding:

Notice anything? I'll give you a moment.

Yes, while the neutral/male animals are all single, genderless, and free to go about whatever animal business strikes their animal fancies, the "girl" animals are all mothers. Their only purpose in life being to generate and care for smaller versions of themselves. Get those uteruses ready, ladies, you only have about fifteen years until peak fertility.

That's all we got.

After writing this I noticed that the lion on the girl blanket has mane, and therefore is technically male. We still think this is supposed to represent a female mother lion, however. Therefore, not only is the blanket indoctrinating stereotypes into our potential daughter, but it's also teaching potential her that girl lions have manes.

And yet, damn it all, it's still a cute blanket.

(Seriously, I promise not to turn this into a pregnancy/baby blog. I still like the law. And Lost. Howbout that fourth season, what? Non-stop insanity! OMGWTFTimetravel?)

On Subtlety


I'm often reminded that my affinity for extreme subtlety may render my communications completely opaque rather than cleverly coy. This is my own damn fault, I realize, and this is what seems to have happened with the fortune cookie post (either that, or there's just a general lack of interest amongst my readership).

So let's try this. On Saturday, Dr. M and I participated in our third Berkeley Photo Scavenger Hunt. One of the topics was "I've got good news and bad news." This was our entry.

(Note that it's important to realize from whose perspective the news is being received. Hint: In a constitutional sense, he or she does not yet exist.)

Careful with that Stock Footage

I've shied away from posting stuff about the elections on this here blog, but I think this is really funny. The little girl in the Hillary Clinton ad who will surely die if Obama becomes president is now (almost) all growed up and is campaigning for Obama.

I also like the idea of the Clinton campaign using footage from a ten-year-old railroad commercial in a political ad.

This is also an interesting right of publicity issue, of sorts. The girl obviously lost all control over the use of her image once the commercial was in the can and sold to Getty Images. You never know what nefarious use your likeness will be put to once your mug is part of stock material.

New U.S. News Law School Rankings Leaked

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Concurring Opinions has the scoop here.

The Berkeley/Penn/Michigan thing couldn't be more true.

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This page is an archive of entries from March 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

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