"Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he."
-- Proverbs 29:18, King James Bible (KJV)

Saturday, May 30, 2015

The Legal Profession, Diversity and the Difference Between White and Black Mirror the Problems of Bias Faced at Every Level of Society, including Science

NPR has a thought-provoking piece at Diversity In The Legal Profession. Copies of the same memorandum of law were divided 50-50 and individually among two groups of partners in a law firm, one group being told that the memo author was white, the other group being told that the memo author was black. The partners were then asked to grade the memo (identical for both groups).

Those partners who thought the writer was white graded the memo at 4.1 on a 5-point scale and praised the writer. Those who thought the writer was black graded the memo at 3.2 on a 5-point scale and said it was "in need of work".

We have written about biases before, as bias has many facets.

At Do People Really Want Ancient Mysteries to be Solved? Facts as Unwanted Visitors in the World of Academic and Other Wishes and Emotions we wrote:
"The Little Prince" (Le Petit Prince) by Antoine Saint Exupéry ... is said to be the world's second most widely read book, after the Bible, so Artcurial....

[A] Turkish astronomer discovers a new asteroid, unveiling his discovery at an international astronomy conference, but no one believes him, because he is dressed as a Turk, gesticulating at a blackboard and pointing to mathematical equations -- just like astronomical drawings in our writings.
The Turkish astronomer attends a second conference later in the book, dressed as a Westerner, and his discovery is resoundingly accepted."
Yes, you can change your dress and, indeed, the right "threads" have had a lot to do with black culture over past decades, as blacks try to evade the initial fate of Exupery's Turk, but you can not change your color -- even though a person such as Michael Jackson tried in his day, and his album Dangerous had as its first single spin-off the song Black and White with the line "I'm not going to spend my life being a color".

How do we get people to look past color and at a person's actual qualifications?

Even without the issue of color, how do we get people to look at people's actual qualifications and works and not all the rest (money, family, race, tribe, religion, etc.)?

It is very difficult, even long-term, and surely impossible in the short term.

Human bias is widespread about nearly everything.
The problem is not just color.

At Advocates Attention! The Sequential Presentation of Information Can Be More Important than the Content of that Information : Frank I. Luntz and Words That Work: It's Not What You Say, It's What People Hear we touched upon the problem of people's biased attitudes defining how they view things and not actually what is going on in reality.

Along those lines, Gregory J. Feist points to bias in the scientific peer review process in The Psychology of Science and the Origins of the Scientific Mind, Yale University Press, 2008, and refers to Michael. E Gorman, Simulating Science: Heuristics, Mental Models, and Technoscientific Thinking (Science, Technology, and Society), Indiana University Press, Bloomington, Indiana, 1992. ISBN 10: 0253326087 ISBN 13: 9780253326089, which deals with negative aspects of peer review. The topic is such a threat to the established biases of science that the book is virtually impossible to obtain, though we did find one copy via AbeBooks.com (thank you!).

We think that people slowly acquire a set of biases in the course of developing from infant to adolescent to adult. These biases come from the entire process of growing up. Sons and daughters of kings, for example, pick up one set of biases. Sons and daughters of the lowest social strata, on the other hand, get a different set of biases. There are of course infinite varieties of bias.

These biases (some might say "views") are picked up from the people and institutions responsible and also not responsible for raising and educating children, including of course parents, grandparents, relatives, friends, neighbors, acquaintances, tribes and tribal-type associations, churches and similar community or religious organizations, peers, schools, teachers, educators, administrators, mentors, neighborhoods, religions, institutions, peer group pressures, societal role models, and all the other influences to which a person is subjected in formative years, including even such variables as language, dialect, dress, manners, etc.

Mankind is generally not educated to be a better human being.

Rather, mankind is generally educated to fit into a particular society in a given role, and is taught and learns the biases that go along with that. 

Issues of color are only one aspect of the way in which humans are "programmed" for their "localized" world from their earliest days.

In our experience, 99.999999% people live in more-or-less "localized" cocoons of bias and belief created by their environment.

Entering define:cocoon in Google Search results in the following verbal meaning: "envelop or surround in a protective or comforting way". Merriam-Webster defines it at meaning 2 as: "something suggesting a cocoon especially in providing protection or in producing isolation". These cocoons include the entire realm of lifestyle, attitudes, belief systems, values, scales of priorities, subjective feelings of societal position, race biases, etc.

99.999999% means that only 1 in 100 million do not conform, or about 3 or 4 people currently living in the USA. Worldwide, for 7 billion people, that means that there are at the most 70 people out there who have advanced significantly in development beyond their protective environmentalized cocoons, no more.

Expecting any significant change in human biases in the short term is thus simply a hopeless Utopian dream.

Working for significant long-term changes is the only possible alternative, and it is an educational process that will need countless years for success, judging by human history, which is a slow-moving process of human progress, very slow, and by no means constant or linear.

Just look at your daily news. People's biases become so ingrained in their localized environments, that they "live" those biases, and that begins in the family, the neighborhood, the tribe, the religion, the prevailing system of values, indeed, even in the legal system.

The only answer would seem to be better education,
but the exact formula for success remains unknown.

Can Billionaire Boom Continue?

The Billionaire Boom - ongoing since the 1980's - may be ending soon according to an article at CNBC News. http://www.cnbc.com/id/102706874
This is a minority view since many economic forecasters expect the boom to continue.

Friday, May 29, 2015

What People Use Pinterest For: The Example of Fashion

Understanding what people use Pinterest for and how they use it should help to guide Pinterest pins. Well, we are definitely going to make some changes to our boards based on this article at Business Insider. See http://uk.businessinsider.com/best-way-to-use-pinterest-2015-5?r=US

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Legal Week News Features First Innovation Awards for Law Firms in the UK

Speaking of innovation, how about honoring legal innovation in law firms?

Legal Week features the first Legal Innovation Awards for Law Firms in the United Kingdom. Take a look.

Friday, May 22, 2015

That Rare Road to True Character by David Brooks

The Road to Character by David Brooks, well-known for his New York Times Op-Eds, is reviewed by Angie Drobnic Holan.

Brooks is absolutely right that true character tends to be a rarity in our modern era of self-realization.

People do what brings in the rewards, and selfless service seldom does that, except in goodness being its own reward, but that still does not pay the rent.

Life makes demands that force virtue into the background. Who is immune?

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Free Webinar on Advanced Legal Research May 28, 2015 - Contains Link to Register

Via Technolawyer we were alerted to a free upcoming
Webinar on Advanced Legal Research, May 28, 2015
by Clio Legal Practice Management Software.

Register here to watch the one-hour seminar.
This is not an ad on our part - we are just passing along useful information.

Cognition of Geographic Information and Human Spatial Orientation and Navigation in an Age of GIS and Virtual Reality: Locomotion Wayfinding and Systems of Reference

One critical area of scientific inquiry that bears directly on our ongoing analysis of ancient rock art, megaliths, mounds, earthworks etc. as land survey markers sited by astronomy is the question of human spatial and geographic orientation in a given environment and the role of systems of reference used for this purpose. Far too little research has been devoted to this topic and it is the kind of thing that research foundations should be sponsoring and funding.

We refer here to fundamental articles in Robert B. McMaster & E.Lynn Usery (eds.), 2004/2005. A Research Agenda for Geographic Information Science, CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida, 402 p., ISBN-13: 978-0849327285 ISBN-10: 0849327288, eBook ISBN 978-1-4200-3833-0

and especially to Chapter 3 by Daniel R. Montello and Scott Freundschuh on the Cognition of Geographic Information, where they write, inter alia:
"Cognitive research about space and place has focused on several issues:  the responses of sensory systems that pick up spatial information, the development of spatial knowledge from birth to adulthood (ontogenesis) and upon first exposure to a new place (microgenesis), the accuracy and precision of knowledge about distances and directions, spatial language, cognitive structures and processes used during navigation, and perceptual and cognitive issues in cartography, and very recently, GIS. With the advent of new technologies like GIS, new questions about spatial perception and cognition develop, and old questions (both basic and applied) become focused in new ways. 
One of the most basic concepts in this area is that of the cognitive map. Introduced by Tolman (1948) in his work with rat spatial behavior, the cognitive map is a mental representation, or set of representations, of the spatial layout of the environment. According to Downs and Stea (1973), “cognitive mapping is a process composed of a series of psychological transformations by which an individual acquires, stores, recalls, and decodes information about the relative locations and attributes of phenomena in his [or her] everyday spatial environment” (p. 9). The cartographic map thus serves as a metaphor for spatial and environmental knowledge. Other metaphors have been offered as well, from topological schemata to cognitive collage (see Montello & Freundschuh, 1995). GIS and virtual reality provide our latest metaphors for environmental knowledge. 
Cognitive researchers are interested in comparing various sources of geographical knowledge. Montello and Freundschuh (1995) review the characteristics of acquiring knowledge from direct environmental experience, static pictorial representations such as maps (see Thorndyke & Hayes-Roth, 1982), dynamic pictorial representations (movies, animations), and language (see Taylor & Tversky, 1992). Montello and Freundschuh listed eight factors that may play roles in differentiating these sources of geographic information: sensorimotor
systems involved, static vs. dynamic information, sequential vs. simultaneous acquisition, the arbitrariness of symbols, the need for scale translations and their flexibility, viewing perspective, precision of presented information, and the inclusion of detail varying in relevance.
It is commonly thought that spatial knowledge of the environment consists of three types of features: knowledge of discrete landmarks, knowledge of routes that connect landmarks into travel sequences, and configurational or survey knowledge that coordinates and metrically scales routes and landmarks. In fact, inspired by Piagetian theory, it has often been suggested that these features represent a necessary learning sequence (Siegel & White, 1975; for an opposing view, see Montello, 1998). Landmarks in particular are thought to play an important role as anchor-points or reference points for the organization of environmental knowledge (Sadalla, Burroughs, & Staplin, 1980; Couclelis, Golledge, Gale, & Tobler, 1987).

Spatial cognition researchers have studied human navigation and orientation (Golledge, 1999). Navigation is coordinated and goal directed movement through space. It may be understood to consist of both locomotion and wayfinding processes.

Locomotion refers to perceptual-motor coordination to the local surrounds, and includes activities such as moving towards visible targets and avoiding obstacles.
Wayfinding refers to cognitive coordination to the distant environment, beyond direct sensorimotor access, and includes activities such as trip planning and route choice. Humans navigate and stay oriented both by recognizing landmarks (piloting) and by updating their sense of location via dead reckoning processes
(Gallistel, 1990; Loomis, Klatzky, Golledge, & Philbeck, 1999). Some of these processes are relatively automatic (Rieser, Pick, Ashmead, & Garing, 1995), while others are more like conscious strategies (Cornell, Heth, & Rowat, 1992).

A fundamental issue about human orientation concerns the systems of reference that people use to organize their spatial knowledge. Various possible systems have been discussed, including those that encode spatial relations with respect to the body, with respect to an external feature with or without differentiated appearance, or with respect to an abstract frame like latitude-longitude (Hart & Moore, 1973; Levinson, 1996). Several researchers have investigated reference systems within the context of verbal route directions (Allen, 1997)."

Patent Law Absurdity Continues with Gene viz. Genome Editing Patents for CRISPRs (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats)

Genome editing patents are one of the negative fallouts of
  • unclear judicial decision-making by the United States Supreme Court, and
  • weak law-making in U.S. Congress regarding intellectual property law

    and both of those regrettable situations have led to the
  • continued issuance of what we regard to be absurd patents by the USPTO.
As written at the Wikipedia piece on CRISPR:
"Since 2013, the CRISPR/Cas system has been used for gene editing (adding, disrupting or changing the sequence of specific genes) and gene regulation .... By delivering the Cas9 protein and appropriate guide RNAs into a cell, the organism's genome can be cut at any desired location."
As written by Antonio Regalado at MIT Technology Review in Who Owns the Biggest Biotech Discovery of the Century?
"There’s a bitter fight over the patents for CRISPR, a breakthrough new form of DNA editing [which] turn[s] that natural machinery into a “programmable” editing tool, to cut any DNA strand, at least in a test tube." [emphasis added by LawPundit]
Once again, the patent-happy USPTO is handing out patents left and right for technology that is based on laws of nature

-- as written above by Regalado in the MIT Technology Review

-- on "natural machinery" of the genes.

As written at the Wikipedia:
"CRISPR was first shown to work as a genome engineering/editing tool in human cell culture by 2012. It has since been used in a wide range of organisms including baker's yeast (S. cerevisiae), zebra fish (D. rerio), flies (D. melanogaster), nematodes (C. elegans), plants, mice, and several other organisms.
Additionally CRISPR has been modified to make programmable transcription factors that allow scientists to target and activate or silence specific genes.
Libraries of tens of thousands of guide RNAs are now available."
In other words, CRISPRs exist in nature and have not been "invented" by any human being, even though human beings may have discovered that CRISPRs exist in nature and can be used for practical applications such as gene editing. This does not make their use for cutting genes patentable by any means.

We simply do not understand how the patent happy people at the USPTO, as well as the clueless in the legislatures and in the judiciary seem not to understand that patent protection was not created to grant people vast monopolies on the natural machinery of nature!!!!! regardless of how discovered and no matter how that natural machinery is used!!!!!

Nature is nature!

Come up with something else NEW, and then you can get a patent.

Finding out how "nature" works and how it can be used can be a great discovery, as in the case of CRISPRs for gene editing, but the "cutting" work is done by nature, not by the inventor!!! NOT PATENTABLE SUBJECT MATTER!!!!

Inventions and Prior Art: Origin of the Triple-Bar Drop-Down Menu "Air-Vent" "Hamburger" Icon Symbol Now Ubiquitous on Smartphones Facebook Apps Etc

Xerox was the modern-day so-called "inventor" of the digital use of the now ubiquitous triple-bar "air-vent" so-called "hamburger" menu icon symbol.

BBC News has the story at Hamburger icon: How these three lines mystify most people - BBC News.

The Wikipedia writes: "The triple bar, , is a symbol with multiple, context-dependent meanings...."

The triple bar is hardly a modern-day invention, being already predated by two other significant "prior art" uses in long-gone eras, as noted at the Wikipedia:
  • , Qián, the trigram of the I Ching that consists of three unbroken lines
  • Ξ, capital letter Xi of the Greek alphabet
The I Ching trigram meant "heaven, sky".

The capital letter Xi Ξ of the Greek alphabet, as we analyzed in our book, The Syllabic Origins of Writing and the Alphabet, has comparable signs in Linear B, Old Elamite, the Cypriot Syllabary, and the Samekh of the Hebrew and Phoenician alphabets, and evolved as a symbol "out of fish signs and signs representing fish drying racks having two or three levels upon which to place the fish" as also found in symbols in Sumerian, Pharaonic Egyptian, and Luwian.

Indeed, the Hebrew Samekh means "support", i.e. the function of the fish rack, a concept which surely is related to the I Ching idea of a triple bar as meaning "heaven, sky", as the "supported" firmament of the ancients.


Thursday, May 14, 2015

New York Times Typeface Page Freezing Up Browser Due to Downloadable Fonts?

In the past several days we have accessed some New York Times articles online only have the browser freeze up for an indeterminate time because of the loading of something called typeface.nytimes.com.

We found a likely explanation for the problem at http://alt.fan.cecil-adams.narkive.com/o5LK6OJf/any-firefox-experts, which would indicate that it is caused by a browser glitch in dealing with downloadable fonts.

In about:config we found
set to true
and so one solution is surely to toggle the value to false
but we really have nothing against dowloadable fonts as long as they load fast.

Perhaps one can reduce the downloadable fonts fallback delay which is set by default to 3000 and which we will try to reduce substantially to see if that helps. See

gfx.downloadable_fonts.fallback_delay (default value at 3000)

Otherwise, we will simply have reduce our NY Times online viewing.
If fonts have been downloaded once it is not to be understood why they apparently have to be reloaded time and time again.