Mass Law Blog

The TimesMachine

If you have a home delivery subscription to the New York Times (even only the Sunday Times), check out the TimesMachine — a collection of full-page image scans of the newspaper from 1851-1922. That’s every issue and every page and article, advertisements and all, viewable in their original format.

April 16, 1912

To read how this was done, click here.

“Using Amazon Web Services, Hadoop and our own code, we ingested 405,000 very large TIFF images, 3.3 million articles in SGML and 405,000 xml files mapping articles to rectangular regions in the TIFF’s. This data was converted to a more web-friendly 810,000 PNG images (thumbnails and full images) and 405,000 JavaScript files – all of it ready to be assembled into a TimesMachine. . . . “

Evan Schaeffer's "17 Types of Lawyers"

Humor is just another defense against the universe.
Mel Brooks

Legal humor is almost always an oxymoron, but Evan Schaeffer, author of The Legal Underground blog, had me in silent hysterics (I was in the office) with his list of 17 types of lawyers. The descriptions are so cleverly written, and so on point, that … well, enough, here they are, with links :

Types of Lawyers #1: The Big Firm Summer Associate
Types of Lawyers #2: The Partner Who Talks Too Fast
Types of Lawyers #3: The Lawyer Who Advertises on TV
Types of Lawyers #4: The Lawyer Who Carries Another Lawyer’s Briefcase
Types of Lawyers #5: The Lawyer Who Brings Her Breast Pump to the Office
Types of Lawyers #6: The Mafia Lawyer
Types of Lawyers #7: The Modest Lawyer
Types of Lawyers #8: The Partner Who Golfs
Types of Lawyers #9: The Lawyer on the Run
Types of Lawyers #10: The Lawyer Who’s in the Wrong Profession
Types of Lawyers #11: The Lawyer from the Planet Og
Types of Lawyers #12: The Lawyer Who’s Writing a Legal Thriller
Types of Lawyers #13: The Stereotypical Lawyer
Types of Lawyers #14: The Lawyer Who’s on The Apprentice
Types of Lawyers #15: The Associate Who Knew Where the Bodies Were Buried
Types of Lawyers #16: The Lawyer with the Shiny New Gadget
Types of Lawyers #17: The Associate Who Finally Gets a Chance to Meet the Senior Partner

I think there are probably a few more kinds — the “ultra-high testosterone” lawyer, the “how did he pass the bar exam?” lawyer, the “lawyer who seeks to intimidate,” the “name dropping lawyer (judges, of course),” the “lawyer with absolutely no sense of humor,” the “lawyer who doesn’t own a TV and is inordinately proud of it” — and so forth, but to go much further is tiresome. Seventeen is probably about right.

If we can’t laugh at ourselves, we’re missing the easiest targets. The full blog entry is here.

David Byrne on the Evolution of Business Models in the Music Industry

David Byrne has published an interesting article in Wired on the various business models in the music industry, and how the Internet and digital music is changing those models and offering artists more opportunities.

David Byrne’s Survival Strategies for Emerging Artists – And Megastars

Where there was one, now there are six: Six possible music distribution models, ranging from one in which the artist is pretty much hands-off to one where the artist does nearly everything. Not surprisingly, the more involved the artist is, the more he or she can often make per unit sold. The totally DIY model is certainly not for everyone – but that’s the point. Now there’s choice. . . .

Recommended reading.

Life: What A Concept

Edge has posted as a free online publication the complete transcript of this summer’s Edge event, Life: What a Concept! as a 43,000- word downloadable PDF book.

This is a transcript of an event that took place at Eastover Farm in Bethlehem, CT on Monday, August 27th, 2007. Invited to address the topic “Life: What a Concept!” were Freeman Dyson, J. Craig Venter, George Church, Robert Shapiro, Dimitar Sasselov, and Seth Lloyd. These scientists are some of the most visionary scientific thinkers in the world. Warning: this is heaving going ….

Click here to download the pdf file.

The Greater Boston Innovation Map

Xconomy has created a Google Map showing the location of each company they have covered in their first six months as a web magazine (125 so far, and counting). The pins are color-coded to indicate software, hardware, energy, life sciences, finance, media and nonprofit. Clicking on a pin on the large map embedded in the article (scroll to the bottom of the article) gives you the address of the company and the Xconomy stories about that company. Very cool ….

You Can Judge a Man by the Poetry He Reads

According to the October 22, 2007 Time Magazine cover article on the Supreme Court (“Inside the Incredibly Shrinking Role of the Supreme Court, and Why John Roberts is O.K With That” (link)), every year, in January, Chief Justice John Roberts rereads the poem, “The Vanity of Human Wishes,” written by Samuel Johnson and first published in 1749. This is, the article says, a ritual John Roberts has followed since he was an undergrad at Harvard in the 1970s. The poem, according to Time, is “a devastating reflection on remorseless fate.” “Life protracted is protracted Woe,” quotes Time.

Here is the opening stanza of the full poem, and a link to the remainder of the poem, which is lengthy and, it almost goes without saying, challenging:

Remark each anxious Toil, each eager Strife,
And watch the busy Scenes of crouded Life;
Then say how Hope and Fear, Desire and Hate,
O’er spread with Snares the clouded Maze of Fate,
Where wav’ring Man, betray’d by vent’rous Pride,
To tread the dreary Paths without a Guide;
As treach’rous Phantoms in the Mist delude,
Shuns fancied Ills, or chases airy Good.
How rarely Reason guides the stubborn Choice,
Rules the bold Hand, or prompts the suppliant Voice,
How Nations sink, by darling Schemes oppres’d,
When Vengeance listens to the Fool’s Request.
Fate wings with ev’ry Wish th’ afflictive Dart,
Each Gift of Nature, and each Grace of Art,
With fatal Heat impetuous Courage glows,
With fatal Sweetness Elocution flows,
Impeachment stops the Speaker’s pow’rful Breath,
And restless Fire precipitates on Death. [continue ….]

I rather like this verse:

For Gold his Sword the Hireling Ruffian draws,
For Gold the hireling Judge distorts the Laws;
Wealth heap’d on Wealth, nor Truth nor Safety buys,
The Dangers gather as the Treasures rise.

And personally, I find it highly rejuvenating to reread Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream, every New Year.

Party Like Its 1999 is a well written and produced web site that describes itself thus –

the authoritative voice of on the exponential economy, the realm of business and innovation characterized by exponential technological growth …

Sounds a little Wired/Gilder-like, true, but this is the best way I’ve seen to keep up with developments in the Massachusetts technology markets. For example, their October 17, 2007 article, Boston: The Hidden Hub of Music and Technology, with its list of local music/technology companies, is an example of the kind of thing you would be unlikely to find elsewhere.

Supernova 2006: Connecting in Complex World

I usually find the Knowledge@Wharton reports and articles interesting. Here is a series of articles summarizing some of the topics discussed at their annual Supernova Conference, which was held in San Francisco in late June.

The topics include:

What’s the Future of Desktop Software — and How Will It Affect Your Privacy?

Kevin Lynch on Adobe‘s Plans for a New Generation of Software

The Rise of the ‘Videonet’


"If America Wants to be the Massage Capital of the World, We're Well on Our Way"

What I’m Reading.

Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, held in London on June 22, 1897, was one of the grandest fetes the world has ever seen: 46,000 troops and 11 colonial prime ministers arrived from the four corners of the earth to pay homage to their sovereign. The event was as much a celebration of Victoria’s 60 years on the throne as it was of Britain’s superpower status. In 1897, Queen Victoria ruled over a quarter of the world’s population and a fifth of its territory, all connected by the latest marvel of British technology, the telegraph, and patrolled by the Royal Navy, which was larger than the next two navies put together. “The world took note,” says the historian Karl Meyer. The New York Times gushed: “We are a part … of the Greater Britain which seems so plainly destined to dominate this planet’.”

Click here to continue reading this Newsweek article, entitled “How Long Will America Lead the World?”

Making Money Selling Music Without DRM: The Rise Of eMusic

What I’m Reading. A fascinating, in depth article about my favorite music download site,

The Holy Grail of online music sales is the ability to offer iPod-compatible tracks. Like the quest for the mythical cup itself, the search for iPod compatibility has been largely fruitless for Apple’s competitors, whose DRM schemes are incompatible with the iconic music player. For a music store that wants to succeed, reaching the iPod audience is all but a necessity in the US market, where Apple products account for 78 percent of the total players sold. Perhaps that’s why eMusic CEO David Pakman sounds downright gleeful when he points out that “there’s only two companies in the world that can sell to them-Apple and eMusic.”

Read on ……

Are We Losing the War for Innovation? (Part I)

What I’m Reading. Some interesting thoughts on American education (or the decline and fall of same) by blogger Bob Kronish [link]

This opening anecdote/joke on the evolution of teaching math since 1950 will give you a sense of his point of view:

Here is how it progresses: Teaching math in 1950: A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5th of the price. What is his profit? Teaching math in 1960: a logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80. What is his profit? Teaching math in 1970: a logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80. Did he make a profit? Teaching math in 1980: A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80 and his profit is $20. Your assignment-underline the number 20. Teaching math in 1990: A logger cuts down a beautiful forest because he is selfish and inconsiderate and cares nothing for the habitat of animals or the preservation or our woodlands. He does this so he can make a profit of $20. What do you think of this way of making a living? Topic for class participation after answering the question-how did the birds and animals feel as the logger cut down their homes? There are no wrong answers. Teaching math in 2006: Un ranchero vende una carretera de Madera por $100. El cuesto do la produccion era $80. Cuantos tortillas se puede compar?”

Link to the full entry, and read on ….