January 29, 2006
Top 10 Gems of Milwaukee
Summerfest is an impressive event. The organizers consistently get very big-name bands as well as hot up-and-coming bands to book Milwaukee on their tours. Many of these bands can be seen for the price of admission to the Summerfest grounds, and due to various promotions, that cost can be ridiculously cheap. When my wife and I went in 2002, we saw Jewel for $10 plus bus fare.
Despite that, we haven't been back to Summerfest, and I can't imagine why we'd go again. The "free" concerts are lousy events--if the band is a big name, the performance area will be packed with people (many of them smoking heavily) and will have lousy acoustics. Besides the music, the main attractions are greasy foods, alcohol and flirting. Those might have been big attractions for me when I was a lot younger, but they aren't so compelling now that I'm a middle-aged dad of 2.
2. Milwaukee Art Museum
This is a really cool building. Designed by famous Spanish architect Calatrava, the building looks like an alabaster ship setting sail into Lake Michigan. The lake views from inside the building are pretty neat too. The building never fails to impress out-of-town visitors, and it definitely deserves a place on the list.
3. Ethnic Festivals
Every weekend during summer, some ethnic group has a festival purportedly celebrating their heritage. Collectively, these festivals rightly give Milwaukee the title of "City of Festivals."
After our Summerfest experience, we haven't been to any of these. From my limited observations, Wisconsin "festivals" all have the same following ingredients:
* a series of bands playing in poor-acoustic facilities. Less-prominent festivals attract lower-quality bands; most festival bands are extremely low-profile.
* lots of greasy and non-vegetarian food
* lots of alcohol (and, as a result, lots of intoxicated people)
I'm a little surprised that the Wisconsin State Fair didn't come out above the ethnic festivals. I've never been, but the county fair has the same basic attributes (bad bands, bad food, lots of alcohol) but is also known for some traditions, including creampuffs and people-watching.
4. Milwaukee's Lakefront
This is a bit of a puzzler. Lake Michigan is very pretty to look at from palisades high above the lake. However, at lake level, the lake smells awful (mostly due to the raw sewage that regularly is dumped into the lake)! Putting aside the smell, beach-going isn't very much fun either--the water is freezing and usually unsafe to enter due to bacteria, a cold breeze often blows off the lake (which is nice during the hottest days) and the beaches are narrow and more dirt than sand. There is a nice stretch of lakefront near downtown that was designed by the designer of NY's Central Park--it represents a great example of early civic planning. My guess it that the voters were thinking of this area. Otherwise, I think the lake deserves to be on the list; the lakefront, not so much.
[UPDATE: Sonya sent me this article which provides a much better explanation of the complex dynamics that, collectively, make Lake Michigan disgusting]
I'm not a biker, but lots of Milwaukeeans are--and Harley is the bike of choice. A couple of years ago, Milwaukee celebrated Harley's 100th year anniversary, and it was incredible--a couple of hundred thousand bikers descended on the town. There were almost no cars on the road; virtually every moving vehicle was a Harley bike (some new, some vintage). I felt like I was in a surreal sci-fi movie like Road Warrior. In any case, Harley definitely deserves to be on the list.
6. Milwaukee County Zoo
I've never been to the zoo, so I can't opine on the choice. My wife has been, however, and she considers it unremarkable. A weak choice for top 10 gems.
7. Frozen Custard
Frozen custard is like ice cream but much, much richer. Think full-fat ice cream and then imagine squeezing more fat into the same space. If I were still in my teens and could eat 6,000 calories a day without gaining weight, frozen custard would rock my world.
8. Allen-Bradley Clock Tower
There are a lot of four-sided clocks around town, but there's none bigger in town--or the world--than this one. Big Ben is a mere toy compared to this behemoth (although Big Ben gets the nod for largest chiming four-sided clock in the world--whatever). I'm not sure I'd go out of my way to see it (it looks like a large clock), but I drive by the clock every time I go to the airport. And as I drive by, I think to myself: "Hello, largest four-sided clock in the world."
9. University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
It's hard not to be a little jealous that UWM made the list over/instead of Marquette. Congratulations, UWM!
10. Friday Night Fish Fries
Another gem I haven't tried (for obvious reasons), but no question that Friday night fish fries are a big deal in town. Restaurants that don't serve fish fries on Friday definitely see less traffic that day than those that do.
The Packers and Miller Brewery are big brands not on the list. The Milwaukee City Hall (prominently featured in the opening Laverne & Shirley credits) is a neat building. Beer and sausages definitely rival frozen custard and fish fries as Milwaukee staples. Something acknowledging Milwaukee's deep German Catholic roots would have been appropriate.
I mentioned before some of my overlooked favorites, including Schlitz Audubon, Beans & Barley and honeycrisp apples (which we buy by the bushel in season). I should also add that Lisa has gone crazy for Amy's Candy Kitchen in Cedarburg, which makes some of the most amazing, tasty and expensive apples covered in caramel and other confections.
January 26, 2006
Czarnezki on Legislative Interpretation
My colleague Jason Czarnezki has written a paper entitled Shifting Science, Considered Costs, and Static Statues: The Interpretation of Expansive Legislation where he argues that federal statutory language should be broadly interpreted. This struck me as a wacky argument as applied to the IP and Internet contexts, where broad statutory language can look pretty silly in light of technological evolutions. However, he makes some good points, especially as applied to the environmental contexts where (a) there is an administrative agency backing up Congress, and (b) there can be significant irreparable harm accruing between the time of judicial interpretation and any legislative or administrative agency correction.
"Congress often passes expansive legislation, frequently regulatory statutes, where both the definition of those items being regulated and the mandate have significant breadth. How should these provisions be construed? While it is difficult to establish a model which determines whether to broadly or narrowly construe an expansive statutory provision, factors that impact this choice include the existence of express limitations on the mandate, understandings of congressional intent, avoiding regulation that might do more harm than good, the nature of the regulated item, and intervening circumstances such as new understandings in law, policy or science. This Article sets out to establish how, why, and when courts should broadly interpret expansive legislation. Absent express limitations requiring cost-benefit analysis or technological feasibility, courts should broadly construe expansive legislation because courts are equipped to interpret the mandate, and it should be assumed that Congress, in recognition of changed circumstances, was aware of the breadth of the textual language; whereas courts should allow administrative agencies to narrowly or broadly construe statutory provisions with such limitations subject to Chevron deference."
January 20, 2006
Attitudinal Survey of IP Lawyers
Carol M. Langford, Depression, Substance Abuse, and Intellectual Property Lawyers, 53 U. Kan. L. Rev. 875 (2005)
This article contains the results of an attitudinal survey of IP lawyers. Like any survey, this survey is only as good as its methodology, and I'm not 100% confident that the methodology produced industrial-strength results. Further, the IP community is fairly heterogeneous--it includes litigators, prosecutors and transactional attorneys, many with a technical background but others without. Smushing all of these different subcommunities into a single IP community may mask some important differences.
With those caveats in mind, a few selected conclusions:
* "Eighty-five to ninety percent responded that they were either dissatisfied ("3") or very dissatisfied ("4") with their work hours, relationships with co-workers, schedule, compensation, personal fulfillment, job security, balance with personal life, intellectual challenge and sense of control over their lives. This seems to suggest that a majority of the attorneys in the field are not getting what they bargained for, or not living the type of life they thought they would be living once they started working in the field."
[Eric's comment: this statistic, if true, is fairly disconcerting, but it's hardly surprising and certainly consistent with other studies. The questions I have are (1) are these statistics any worse than other practice areas (my guess is no), and (2) how can law student expectations be better set to avoid disappointed expectations? I wrestle with the latter question constantly]
* "We then asked the respondents to tell us how satisfied they felt with their personal and familial relationships. Nineteen percent ranked their satisfaction a "3" on a scale of one to five, with "5" indicating very satisfied. Thirty-eight percent ranked it as a "4" and 41 percent ranked it a "5." This is the best indicator of the overall low incidence of depression and substance abuse problems within the field."
[Eric's comment: I'm not sure about the co-variables here. Is there a correlation or causation between personal/family satisfaction and substance abuse? This statistic is also both facially and implicitly in tension with the previous finding I critiqued; 85%+ of the respondents were dissatisfied with personal fulfillment and balance with personal life.]
* "What we learned from the survey responses seems to suggest that the intellectual property community is not afflicted with pervasive and rampant substance abuse issues."
[Eric's comment: this is good news if true, but I'm still troubled by the survey's evidence suggesting a high rate of professional dissatisfaction among IP attorneys. Even if that dissatisfaction doesn't translate into substance abuse issues, it lays the preconditions for other adverse outcomes.]
January 14, 2006
California Trip Photos
40 lightly-edited photos, virtually all featuring Jaoob or Dina, from our recent trip to California to visit family and friends.
January 13, 2006
Edelman/Technorati Blogging Study
I reviewed a recent report called Public RelationSHIPS: Communications in the Age of Personal Media. The methodology is a little suspect because people self-selected to participate, but a few interesting tidbits from the survey:
Why do bloggers blog? According to the survey:
34% = establish themselves as an authority in their field
32% = create a record of their thoughts [I'm surprised that a third of bloggers recognize this benefit--it often gets overlooked]
20% = "connecting with others"
Contacts with PR Agencies. "Nearly half of all bloggers (48%) reported never having contact with companies or their public relations representatives." (A methodology note reflects some inter-question inconsistencies on this point, but in ways that don't affect my comment). So, by inference, a majority of bloggers have been contacted by PR agencies...? If so, I'm shocked by how many bloggers are getting PR contacts--there are so many bloggers out there, and a lot of them don't have a whole lot of traffic. It appears that buzz marketing is growing, and PR agencies are treating blogs--even relatively small blogs--as a major publicity enterprise.
How Bloggers Correct Errors. I think bloggers generally struggle with the best way to correct errors. According to the survey, bloggers correct errors as follows:
39% = strikethrough error and correct
25% = create new post with new information
24% = remove post
6% = leave error but add correction
5% = leave error but rely on comments to correct
2% = leave post as is
I never make errors, but if the inconceivable happened, I generally add updates to my post. If there were new developments, I may add an entirely new post as well (with cross-links between the posts).
Conclusion. The report's conclusion: "The survey results and anecdotes demonstrate that online community members welcome involving company representatives into “the conversation,” as long as their interaction with them is truly participatory and honest—that it benefits both sides."
I think that's generally right. I always welcome emails about my blogs and suggestions of things I should look at, even if I blog on those suggestions fairly infrequently. If the person emailing me the tip has some skin in the game, I'd welcome the open disclosure of that--however, I don't view such disclosures as essential because I'm skeptical about the motivations of all unsolicited email suggestions I get.
January 12, 2006
"Gems of Milwaukee"
In connection with Milwaukee's imminent 160th birthday, some civic leaders ran a poll to determine the "Gems of Milwaukee." The standard seems a little amorphous--what makes something a "gem"? The website doesn't clarify the standard, but it does provide a list of the top 50 finalists as voted on by 7,000 Internet users.
Most of the results are very appropriate--the list includes famous companies like Harley and Miller; famous buildings like Milwaukee Art Museum and the Allen-Bradley Clock (the largest four-sided clock in the world--much bigger than Big Ben); festivals like Summerfest (although I don't know about Bastille Day); and quintessentially Wisconsin foods like frozen custard, brats and fish fries.
Interestingly, the list doesn't separately reference beer. I guess we don't consider ourselves Brewtown any more? And the inclusion of "Mexican Restaurants Along 5th Street" made me laugh out. If you want either authentic or good Mexican food, Milwaukee is probably not your first choice.
The list includes the Bucks and the Brewers "major" league sports teams, although I'm not sure anyone in town really considers them a "gem." However, the Packers are conspicuously absent. I know the Packers are located in Green Bay, not Milwaukee, but most Milwaukeeans think of them as our home team, and the city shuts down during games.
Interestingly, some of my favorite aspects of Milwaukee--such as the Schlitz Audubon park, Beans 'n' Barley and honeycrisp apples--didn't make the list. So, at least for me, Milwaukee has some "hidden gems."
Finally, nothing weather-related made the list of "gems." I wonder why...
Atlanta High School Cafeteria Has Separate Vegetarian Lunch Line
Atlanta is one of my least-favorite big cities to visit because of the paucity of vegetarian options. Even food that ought to be vegetarian is usually spiked with meat. Not infrequently, I'll hear from restaurant servers comments like "Yes, [X] is vegetarian--there's just a little [pig product] in it for flavoring." (I'm always fascinated by how many Southerners think of pig as a vegetable.)
So it was very surprising to read that Grady High School in Atlanta is one of the few high schools in the country to offer a vegetarian lunch line in its cafeteria. Among the offerings: veggie eggrolls, pasta salad, vegetarian pizza and--get this--sloppy joes made with tofu!
Further, the article notes how many meat-eaters "jump the line" to the vegetarian options. I'm not really surprised by this; instead, I am constantly surprised by how many restaurants don't offer a "real" vegetarian option or do so only as a clear after-thought. I think many meat-eaters will voluntarily choose vegetarian options when restaurants take those options seriously.
January 01, 2006
Save Toby Book
You may recall the pathetic tale of SaveToby.com. I blogged on it previously here and here. A short recap: two uproariously funny dudes threatened to eat cute Toby the Rabbit unless we do what they want--initially, pay $50,000 by June 30, 2005; now, buy 100,000 copies of their side-splittingly funny book by November 2006 (one place on the website says Nov. 6; another place says Thanksgiving).
I'm not sure if these charlatans have ever told us the truth, but at least they did deliver on one promise--they published their book about Toby. You can buy it on Amazon for $10, but why would you do that? If you absolutely, positively have to read the book, make sure to BUY IT USED so that the charlatans don't get another cent. (You can find used copies on Half.com and Amazon).
This likely will be my second-to-last posting about Save Toby. My last posting will be in November 2006 when I check in to see what happened. Here's my prediction: the hucksters won't sell 100,000 copies of their book (who the heck is buying this book anyway?), yet miraculously Toby will find a way to survive the latest pratfall. After all, I seem to recall a fable about killing the golden goose...er, golden rabbit... Then again, don't be surprised if November 2006 brings yet another new peril to Toby's well-being.
Meanwhile, read this expose on SaveToby and the copycats who lack both humor and originality.
Finally, the SaveToby story inspired my contracts exam question this year. Check out the fun my students had.