Pick a Number…

How popular is your favorite number – and why? I’ve recently learned that numbers, like abbreviations, can be protected under the Lanham Act (trademark protection). Of course, like any trademark, we have to look at the mark in relation to the good. Thus, I couldn’t register “M5” and prevent anyone from using it, but I might prevent anyone from using it to identify a car. Indeed, just this month BMW registered “M5” for key chains, mouse pads, cuff links, etc. (D-oh, mental note: scratch that idea to start marketing M5 cuff links.) (For more info, check out uspto.gov and look up trademark registration #2683596.)
Okay, so “M5” isn’t really a number, but “777” is registered for cattle vaccines (1223871), sealants (1373772), vitamins (1135481), flashlights (1779611), and more – so there.
This morning however, I am truly fascinated not by the legal protection of numbers, but by their cultural popularity (keeping in mind that ours is a consumer culture). That’s why I’m so impressed with The Secret Lives of Numbers, a beautiful interface to illustrate the most popular numbers and the associations that make numbers popular (often products, but also years, codes, etc.) at various points in time. (via David Galbraith)

New Daypop Features

Daypop has recently added a couple of really cool new features. In addition to generating a list of the day’s most popular links from blogs, they are now generating lists of the most linked to blogs and the most popular words used in blogs. This last one is especially cool because it tells us what people are writing about, not just what where they are linking. I think that’s a better indication of what topics are hot.
This would be really useful to a search engine optimizer. He could look for newly popular terms and generate web pages about those topics. For example, the number two word for today is “Hersh”, referring to a PBS news reporter. A Google search for “Seymour Hersh” (without quotes) finds only 14,000 results – relatively low competition. Indeed there are 198,000 results for my own name “Andrew Sinclair” (without quotes), and I was able to get the number one spot with only a couple of inbound links. In a couple days an SEO could bring a page to the number one result for “Seymour Hersh”, just at the peak of his popularity.

Legal Follies Closer

Last night was the final night of the Legal Follies show. Musically, I think it was the best of the three nights, but Friday’s (sold out) crowd provided for the most entertaining of the three nights. It was a lot of fun to be a part of the show. It’s amazing what law students are capable of doing.
To who ever stole my guitar cable: please give it back.

Stop Thieving Thief!

Someone stole my sister’s computer from a study room last week. I think computer theft is one of the lowest type of thefts someone can commit. Computers are used to create and access information, but more importantly, they are used to store information. Stealing a computer is not like stealing a car. A car and its contents can be replaced with money (the law calls this an “adequate remedy at law”). Conversely, theft of intellectual property such as notes, documents, emails, etc. causes irreparable harm. The theft of a laptop for the laptop itself (where the thief is not going to use the information contained therein) is particularly bad, in my opinion, because it is economically regressive; the laptop is worth much more to the original owner than to the thief. (Contrast with a situation where the laptop is being stolen for its contents. In one sense this is a bigger crime because the thief has taken more for himself, but at least the value of the information is utilized and not destroyed.)
Despite the high damage and relatively low reward of laptop theft, it seems to happen all the time. I had a laptop stolen from an office, my sister had one stolen from a study room, and I’ve heard of about four similar thefts occurring at the law school this year. To the thieves: steal my money or my stereo, but don’t take my notes. (You won’t get my laptop anyway, because I take it with me when I go to the bathroom – I wish I didn’t have to do that.) To everyone else reading this: back up your computer right now.
Finally, the utility of computers and cars is important too, and it can certainly be an inconvenience to go without the things to which you’ve become accustomed. Upon calling Dell to order a new computer, my sister was asked, “You can do all of this online, you know?” She replied, “I know, but that would require a computer, which is the reason I’m calling…” Maybe Dell needs to put down the bong.

Legal Follies Opener

Tonight is opening night for the “Legal Follies” show. I’ve been practicing guitar for about four days straight, dawn to well after dusk, and trekking through the snow to do so. I was a little surprised to hear that other law schools also have law school musicals. At least Boston College and Harvard have them. It seems like an odd, but cool tradition. Anyone ever heard of this?


I have to admit, I love snow. I’m really excited for the big storm that has been heading up this way. The National Weather Service says 10”-12”, Boston.com says 10”-20”, Weather Underground says 14”-16”, and Weather.com says… 10”-12”. Hmm. That sounds familiar. Compare National Weather Service to weather.com.
In any case, signs point to snow.

Interview Poetry

It’s been a busy week. I went home to Seattle for a job interview and a wedding last weekend, and now I’m back in action as an overworked law student. I took a couple hours out last night to check out the poetry slam at the Cantab Lounge in Cambridge. This was my first poetry slam ever, and it was a great experience. I was trying to organize an event for the Arts Law Association at the law school, but almost no one dared to sign up. Apparently Saul Williams is expected to make an appearance at next week’s slam, but law school is going to get the better of me then.